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Friday, June 8, 2012

My Interview with Author: Ray Garton

If you don't know the name Ray Garton by now- first you need your head checked, second you better get your ass out there and buy his book (that i favor) Live Girls.   So sit back, relax and let's catch up with the Man himself.   

Chris: Ray, Please tell us a little about yourself for my readers. Where are you from?
Ray: I was born and raised in far northern California, and I still live there.  My first novel was published in 1984 and once I got my foot in the door, I just refused to go away.

Chris: You've written over sixty books, does it ever get tiring for you?

Ray: Not tiring, really, but it’s definitely changed over the years.  I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember.  It’s something I’ve always been compelled to do.  When I was growing up and throughout my twenties, I could immerse myself in whatever I was writing in an instant and completely ignore the world.  It wasn’t work, of course — it was a kind of refuge.  I was escaping my life, myself.  I wasn’t a happy camper, and I pretty much stayed in my tent.  My tent was writing.  Even after I started doing it professionally, it wasn’t work.  It came naturally.  But I’m not the person I was back then.  I feel a lot better about myself and my life, and I no longer want to escape them.  So writing is harder.  It’s work now.  It’s thoroughly enjoyable work, but I can no longer immerse myself in it instantly.  There have always been distractions, but now the distractions are a lot better at distracting me simply because I no longer get up in the morning and rush to dive into the imaginary world I’ve created.  I have to ease into it now, like an old man lowering himself into a hot tub.

Chris: You've been known to be a bit of a smart ass on the social networks, where does that come from, are you just naturally gifted as a funny guy?

Ray: I’ve always loved comedy every bit as much as horror.  Growing up, I was either watching some genre show or movie — horror, science fiction, fantasy — or some kind of comedy, or I was reading something scary or funny.  I lived for both.  They’re two sides of the same coin.  Both rely on surprise or shock, and both rely on the suffering of others, they just use those elements to achieve slightly different goals.  But even though the goals are different, they sometimes overlap.  I always wanted to be a writer when I was a kid, but for a while, I couldn’t decide what kind.  One day, I’d want to be a comedy writer like Mel Brooks or Rob Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show.  Talk to me the next day, and I’d tell you I was going to be a writer of “scary stories.”  Humor was a great place to hide when I was a kid, as well.  My family was very religious, and everything I liked as a boy was wrong or evil, and I was told so often that Satan was working hard through me that by the time I started school, I was convinced I was a repugnant devilspawn from whom people would naturally shrink away in horror.  Making people laugh seemed like a good way to keep the villagers from taking up their torches and chasing me up a windmill, or something.

I resisted Facebook for a long time for a couple of reasons.  I was afraid I would either bore people or piss them off.  I wanted to use it for promotional purposes, but I didn’t want to become a promotion machine and do nothing but hawk my books.  At the same time, if I made it a personal page as well as promotional, somebody would always be offended because I have opinions and a sense of humor that tend to offend some people.  I’m aware of the fact that I offend people without even trying.  Over the years, I’ve come to care less and less about that because I think people simply have gotten too sensitive.  If someone wants to get so offended that they pitch a fit and storm off in a huff, I don't lose any sleep over it.  I think a fair-minded person wouldn't storm off because of one comment or idea they don’t like.  I mean, our politics may disagree, for example, but I bet we’ve read some of the same books or seen some of the same movies, and once we start learning more about each other and finding the things we do have in common, politics — or any other potentially divisive issue — becomes less and less important.  I finally came to a compromise on Facebook
— a blend of all of it.  Because I love to laugh and enjoy making others laugh, most of the things I post on Facebook are pictures or videos or articles that I find funny.  Of course, I sometimes laugh at things that, it turns out, most people think we shouldn’t laugh at, and that can be a problem.  For them, not me.  That’s mixed with some promotional stuff and then the opinion-related posts that can make some people angry.  But it seems I’m doing the same thing I did back in school in a couple of different ways.  I post the funny stuff in part to make up for the promotional stuff.  I still have trouble with plugging my work, it’s just not a good fit for me.  But it’s absolutely necessary these days, so I do it, even though I kind of feel like I should apologize every time I post something about a new story or an interview or a review.  I guess I think the funny stuff will make up for the pimping.  And I also use humor, as I did in school, for protection.  Yeah, I know, my opinions may annoy the piss out of you, but look — here’s some funny stuff!

Chris I know you’re an avid cat lover as your wife is, how many cats do you own?

Ray: At one point, we had eleven.  Now we’re down to six.  In the last couple of years we’ve lost our oldest cats, and another is ailing now.  Some have been rescued from shelters, some have been strays we’ve adopted.  At some point, a stray cat somehow marked our house in a way that only other stray cats can see.  We have been identified as pushovers.

Chris: Who inspired you to become a writer?

Ray: I’ve been inspired by a lot of writers, but the earliest and biggest influence was Richard Matheson.  I found his first three Shock collections (I got the fourth a few years later) and was blown away by them.  Some stories were creepy, some funny, some thought-provoking, and they spanned the horror, science fiction and fantasy genres.  Then I started noticing his name in the credits of TV shows like Twilight Zone and Star Trek and TV movies like Duel and The Night Stalker and the traumatizing Trilogy of Terror, and so many feature films, most of which I saw on Creature Features, and I read his novels, like I Am Legend and The Shrinking Man and Hell House and the more I read and watched, the greater my awe of Matheson became.  It was like, at some point early in his life, someone had spun him — like a top.  After that, he’s just kept spinning and spinning through the years and spewing all of these great stories and novels and movies and TV shows, all these amazing ideas and characters and worlds, spinning like a top, spewing like a fountain.  And his latest book was published just last year, so as far as I know, he’s still at it at the age of 86.  I discovered other writers of that era who were brilliant and prolific and had great range and who were entertaining and thought-provoking and inspiring, but I discovered Matheson first and his work touched me in ways no one else’s had before or since.  He became a kind of mythical figure to me.  I’ve always wanted to meet him, but maybe it’s good that I haven’t, because it would bring him down to earth.  His work, and imagining what it would be like to spend my life as Matheson had — writing stories, novels and movies (although I’ve never done any screenwriting), made me want to do the same thing.

I should point out, though — especially for the sake of anyone who’s ever imagined what it would be like to spend one’s life writing — that everything I imagined about such a life back then was hilariously wrong.  And I’ve found that to be pretty constant through life — everything that everyone imagines about writers and their lives is hilariously wrong.

Chris: On your Facebook page you state one of your novels has been optioned for the big screen, can you give us any details about that?

Ray: My novel Sex and Violence in Hollywood has been optioned by producer Robert A. Harris (The Grifters).  I’ve been through so many movie options that have gone nowhere that I hardly give them any thought these days.  But I’m really hoping this one happens.  It’s my favorite of my novels and I know how serious Robert is about it.  If he can get it done, I think he’s going to come up with something wonderful.

Chris I
know you’re very political, so i must ask- does it matter to you who wins this election, or are we fucked either way?I

Ray: There are ways in which it does matter, yes, but us being fucked isn’t one of them.  We’re fucked either way.

Chris: If the end of the earth did occur, where would we find Ray Garton?

Ray: Either writing about it furiously or having sex with my wife.

Chris: What is your take on the current state of Authors and the E-book craze, is it good for the business or is it killing the art?

Ray: “Good for business” and “killing the art” are not mutually exclusive.  In fact, I think you’ll find them in one another’s company quite often.  But I don’t think that’s happening here.  I was skeptical at first, but I think electronic publishing has opened up new worlds of opportunity for writers.  People who never carried books with them are carrying Kindles and Nooks and maybe even reading more.  It has some pitfalls, but I think they’re outweighed by the benefits, and I’m sure that, before you know it, it’ll all be refined to a standard that will cut the writer out of as much money as possible.

Chris: Finally sir, i want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer these questions; if you have a new book to promote or website please do so.
Ray: My website is http://raygartononline.com/  , where you can interact on the message board, keep up with new releases, see my entire bibliography and occasionally participate in contests to win books.  My most recent novel was the thriller Meds, which is available as a trade paperback and as an ebook.  I’ve got a couple of novellas coming from Cemetery Dance — Vortex, a Moffett and Keoph story, and Dereliction — and a collection of my religious horror stories called Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth.  And I’m working on some new stuff.  Thanks for inviting me, Chris!

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