Michael Fisher, Fish to his friends and family, has worn many hats in his long life including US Navy Hospital Corpsman, club DJ, security specialist, psychiatric technician, painter, and currently, father, Mason, author and tattooer, not necessarily in that order. He has a love of ugly Hawaiian shirts (XXL & XXXL, if you want to send some, the uglier the better). He also bears a passing resemblance to Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski.
His work includes short stories in Midnight Remains, Rejected for Content: Splattergore, Floppy Shoes Apocalpse, the collaborative novel Feral Hearts, his first novel DC’s Dead, as well as the upcoming volumes Rejected for Content 2, Axes of Evil II, Under the Bridge: A Troll Anthology, and Urban Legends: Emergence of Fear in 2015.
Michael is an award-winning author, artist and editor. Awards include Honorable Mention for Short Story of the Year 2013 for the Return of the Devil Fly in Midnight Remains, as well as Top Ten Artist and Top Ten Editor from Critters Workshop Annual Preditors & Editors 2014 Awards.
Michael is on staff at J. Ellington Ashton Press as an author, editor and cover designer.
TDBW: When did you start writing?
Michael Fisher: That is actually a double edged question for me. I started writing stories with the intent of eventually publishing them in 2002, during a slow period at my job. I started my first novel DC’s Dead during the summer of 2002. My first published article goes back to 1991, with a review of the first Lollapalooza in a DC-area fanzine, followed in 1992 with an article on body piercing in Blue Blood magazine. When did I start creating stories for others to enjoy goes back much farther. I started playing Dungeons & Dragons in 1980, and soon after started creating my own campaigns for my friends, including detailed characters and locales. So, in a manner of speaking, I’ve been a storyteller for thirty-five years.
TDBW: What was the first story you remember writing?
MF: As I said above, it would be a D&D adventure, but I don’t remember the specifics. More recently, in early 2002, I ran an adventure in a zombie survival horror roleplaying game that became the foundation for DC’s Dead, my first novel, including locations and characters.
TDBW: What genre is your most preferred?
MF: I definitely have a strong preference for horror; the more extreme, the better. I’ve read the splatterpunks since the mid-eighties when I discovered Clive Barker, and all of a sudden, Stephen King seemed just a little too safe and clean.
TDBW: What challenges you the most in your writing?
MF: I can positively say my greatest challenge is find the time to write. As a full-time tattoo artist and family man, my free time is limited. Add in my editing and cover design duties with J. Ellington Ashton Press, free time is almost gone. I do most of my writing in waiting areas, be they the car pool line at my daughter’s school, at Boy Scout meetings with my son, or doctor’s waiting rooms.
TDBW: What is your favorite thing about being an author?
MF: My favorite thing about writing would have to be creating my own world, or variants of our world, where things are just a bit off. It is even better when I get to share it with the world, and, hopefully, someone will read it and enjoy it.
TDBW: What do you like least about being an author?
MF: That is a tough one. I think it would have to be that I can’t find as much time to work on my writing as I would like. Of course, writer’s block is that plague that strikes us all. I dealt with it for almost ten years, from when I started DC’s Dead to when I finally got it wrapped up.
TDBW: How many books do you currently have available?
MF: I currently have seven books available, with at least four more in the pipeline for 2015, plus a few others in the early stages of development. DC’s Dead is my only published solo novel right now, along with a tandem novel entitled Feral Hearts written with five other JEA authors. The rest of the books are anthologies in which I have stories, including Midnight Remains, Axes of Evil 2, Floppy Shoes Apocalypse, and Rejected for Content Volumes 1 & 2.
Visit Michael Fisher’s Amazon author page!
TDBW: What projects are you currently working on?
MF: I’ve been working on my next novel, titled It Always Bites You in the End, which is a police procedural with supernatural overtones. It is about a DC Metro homicide detective who encounters a series of bodies that could not have died in the manner that appear to have. It is his mission to trace down the cause of these bizarre deaths and put it to a stop.
I’m also have another novel in the early stages that is a modern day retelling of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, changed to be a zombie tale at sea. It is titled Water, Water, Everywhere. It tells the story of Sam Taylor, a crew member aboard the freighter Kubla Kahn, heading out of Jamaica, to deliver its cargo to the southernmost points of South America. During the fateful cruise, everything goes wrong, stranding the young man in the middle of open water, being hunted by a ship full of the undead.
TDBW: Do you have any books coming out soon?
MF: I have short stories in a few anthologies due out later this year from J. Ellington Ashton Press, including Under the Bridge: An Anthology of Troll Horror, Urban Legends: Emergence of Fear, Doorway to Death and A-Z, a collection of twenty-six short stories, each starting with a different letter of the alphabet. Due to involvement in a charity zombie anthology called The Tall Book of Zombie Shorts, I was brought aboard JEA Press. The Tall Book has gone out of print in the years since its original publication, so I am making it my goal for this year to bring it back to life, with some new authors and quite a few of the originals. A new cover will be on the slate as well.
TDBW: Which book, or series, is your favorite?
MF: DC’s Dead will always be my favorite, as it was my first, and longest, endeavor in writing. When I started it, I didn’t think it would ever be published other than through a vanity press, so I could have a hard copy for my shelf.
TDBW: Who are some of your favorite authors?
MF: That is the easiest question yet. I am a devout acolyte of HP Lovecraft, as well as Clive Barker, John Skipp & Craig Spector, Joe Lansdale. I have a dual nature in that I love the graphic depiction of all the wet, nasty stuff in splatterpunk, all the while fixating on the indescribable nature of Lovecraft’s Mythos.
TDBW: Which book(s) inspire you the most?
MF: That is a difficult question to nail down. There have been so many volumes that have been inspirational. If I had to give a top three they would be Clive Barker’s Books of Blood for the extremity, Skipp & Spector’s Book of the Dead for the variety of great interpretations of the zombie story and Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter Intl. for the narrative style and dark humor.
TDBW: Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what band(s) do you play?
MF: Music is a big part of my life. I have a hard time doing my day job, of tattooing, without music, but I cannot write to it. I need silence so I am not distracted from my work. Artists such as Megadeth and Iron Maiden have inspired me for some of my stories, but I didn’t write while listening to them.
TDBW: Any hobbies?
MF: Writing is my hobby, along with cover design. I have done the covers for more than a dozen books at J. Ellington Ashton Press, as well as independent authors.
TDBW: Tell us some more about yourself including your website and where we can find you on social media sites:
MF: I have done many different things in my life: US Navy Hospital Corpsman, club DJ, security specialist, psychiatric technician, painter, and currently, father, Freemason, author, editor, cover designer, and tattoo artist, not necessarily in that order. I love ugly Hawaiian shirts too.
I have won awards including Honorable Mention for Short Story of the Year 2013 for the Return of the Devil Fly in Midnight Remains, as well as Top Ten Artist and Top Ten Editor from Critters Workshop Annual Preditors & Editors 2014 Awards.
TDBW: Care to share a bit of one of your books with us?
MF: Here is a short excerpt from DC’s Dead. Warning for zombie violence, realistic profanity and gore.
The reporter was at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, while the pre-recorded voice-over spoke about the wars our country had fought and the many people who had lost their lives and were being remembered today.
Carl Mackenzie for Fox 5 News, broadcasting, live from Arlington National Cemetery. This has been a very somber occasion, but Mother Nature has seen fit to add a little beauty to the event. Those of you who have been watching will have noticed the gorgeous meteor shower that has been happening for the last thirty minutes or so. A wonderful preamble for the fireworks due to start at 8 PM.”
At the words ‘meteor shower’, Patrick emerged from the kitchen and dropped the green cardboard box on the floor by the table.
“There’s a meteor shower, and we didn’t even know it?” Patrick bounced out onto the balcony, leaving the sliding glass door open.
“The aliens are coming for me! It’s about damn time!” His face split with his usual goofy smile. Everyone followed out to gaze at the sky and oohed and ahhhed for a moment before going back to the TV. The colors were always so much brighter on Patrick’s set than in real life.
The reporter continued to speak for a bit about the fallen soldiers buried in Arlington when the camera picked up some activity near the graves.
“The President is due to speak in a few moments. Wait a minute! There appears to be some sort of commotion going on down there, some sort of a fight.” The microphone was picking up the sounds of people screaming while it appeared that the mourners were being attacked.
“Who the fuck would attack a Memorial Day celebration?” Fish asked, looking confused as he took another drag from his menthol.
“I have no idea,” Bobby said, as he popped the top on yet another Mountain Dew and drank deeply, wiping any stray droplets from his dark goatee with the back of his hand.
The chaos at Arlington continued to escalate, while the reporter was trying to encourage the cameraman to get the best shots possible without putting himself in any danger. A hero without concern for himself, he was not. The mic started picking up an arrhythmic slapping sound, like someone beating a tenderloin chop against a sidewalk.
“What is that? No, it can’t be.”
Carl Mackenzie, the reporter, looks around confusedly, a look of denial mixed with absolute horror as realization hit. Pointing behind the camera, the reporter started visibly shivering. The cameraman rapidly panned around, focusing the camera and microphone on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It sounded like the slapping noise was coming from inside the Tomb, the sound of many hands beating on stone. The camera turned back to the running crowd, zooming in on the details, FCC be damned.
The screen filled with the decomposing features of a large man in a rotten US Marine Corps dress uniform, taking a large bite from a matronly woman’s throat. Bright red arterial blood sprayed across his worm-eaten features. The camera hit the ground, skidding until it stopped at a skewed angle and pointing at the fleeing cameraman. He had only gotten a few yards when he was taken down by a group of what appeared to be Green Berets, their ragged dress uniforms hanging from their emaciated frames, the berets staying in place, stitched on by the undertaker. The Presidential motorcade could be seen speeding off in the distance. The audio switched back to the anchor in the studio.
“Let’s see if Bob Thompson at the Kennedy Memorial can shed any more light on the situation. Bob, what’s going on over at there?”
The picture changed to yet another skewed view, this time of the memorial built to honor the nation’s youngest President who was struck down in his prime. The screen picked up shuffling figures in uniforms and formal wear alike, slouching along but paying the camera no mind. A zombie clothed in the dress uniform of the US Air Force stumbled over the uneven stonework around the Eternal Flame at the center of the Memorial. It fell face first onto the metal gas jet that was the Eternal Flame. The rotting flesh extinguished the fire.
It was at this point, the main Fox station cut to The Simpsons with a scrolling banner stating that a live report was due in minutes. Thankfully, it wasn’t a ‘Treehouse of Horror’ episode.