Interviewed by Stuart Young

NB This interview previously appeared on the Terror Tales website

What if The Truth brings no comfort, spiritual insight leads only to despair, and the whole of reality is a freakish cosmic aberration doomed to perpetuate ever-increasing amounts of misery? Welcome to the world of horror author Matt Cardin.

S Y: Many of your stories revolve around matters of spiritual horror. Indeed, Divinations of the Deep dealt exclusively with tales of religious terror. What exactly are your own spiritual beliefs?

M C: Not to sound contentious, but Id rather not espouse a belief in anything, since to believe implies that one doesnt know. Id rather be like Jiddu Krishnamurti and claim up front that I have no beliefs whatsoever.

At present my spiritual life and practice, such as they are, consist primarily of remaining mindful of the present moment and focusing upon my immediate experience of first personhood. This is very much in line with the idea or realization of headlessness as taught by your fellow Englishman, the philosopher Douglas Harding. Beyond that, I hold all beliefs, doctrines, dogmas, and so on at arms length, as objects of interest and occasional studysometimes very intense personal interest and study, but distanced nonetheless. I was raised an evangelical Christian and have remained formally involved in and affiliated with various Protestant churches throughout my adulthood, so its probably no surprise that Im still overcome now and then by lingering inner tendencies toward Protestant theological orthodoxy. Ive pretty much learned to follow Emersons advice by simply yielding to those devout motions of the soul whenever they occur. But this predisposition for experiencing wholesale inner revolutions made for a very stormy ride a few years back, especially during the early and mid-1990s when I had just graduated from college and gotten married. I could tell you a long, detailed story about the near philosophical and psychological meltdown that I experienced during those years when I was overcome by a kind of philosophical schizophrenia. I could go on and on about the literally hundreds of authors and books that both contributed to this problem and helped me through it. But I suspect this account would be of interest only to me, and to tell the truth, Im tired of rehashing it (as Ive done many times before in my private journals). Suffice it to say that the point where I now find myself in my religious, spiritual, and philosophical understanding of things is to a considerable extent the result or outgrowth of everything I experienced, read, reflected upon, and struggled with during that time. What it has really amounted to is learning to wake up to the reality of my immediate experience, stop abstracting away into various invented dream worlds that lead to nowhere but more suffering, and embrace the fact that truth, meaning the fundamental nature of things, cant be encompassed intellectually or stated propositionally.

SY: You studied Okinawan goju ryu karate for several years. Was that due to your interest in Zen or was it just in preparation for dealing with anyone who gave your stories bad reviews?

MC: Actually, I studied Japanese goju, not Okinawan. A man named Gogen Yamaguchi studied under Chojun Miyagi, the founder of Okinawan goju, and then took it to mainland Japan where he formed the Japanese version.

The main reason I got into karate at all (at age 12) was that I had seen it performed in movies and on television and had come to believe that it was absolutely the coolest thing in the world. My chief interest in Zen came afterward, after I had stopped my formal martial arts practice. I practiced for a total of six years and earned the rank of Shodan (first degree black belt). Now I feel like something of a bum for allowing this part of me to lie dormant for so many years, especially since I was fortunate enough to fall by complete accident into a very impressive teaching lineage. My first teacher was Jeff Speakman. I studied under him for almost two years before he left for California to study Kenpo under Ed Parker. He then went on to star in The Perfect Weapon and a few other martial arts movies. When he departed for the west coast, I moved up to study under his teacher, a man named Lou Angel who is today a living legend. He in turn had studied under both Peter Urban, who brought goju to America in the 1950s, and then Gogen Yamaguchi, under whom Mr. Urban had studied. What with all this impressiveness in the background of the senseis under whom I studied, I feel a little sheepish that the only thing I did with my training after quitting it at the age of seventeen was play a ninja warrior in a satirical fantasy movie that my roommates and I made in college.

SY: So do you go out of your way to research esoteric topics for your stories or do you just kind of stumble across them?

MC: The esoteric topics that find their ways into my stories do so naturally, simply because theyre the things that fascinate me. My story Teeth , for example, which appeared in The Children of Cthulhu , contains a slew of philosophical quotations and dark metaphysical speculations because thats what had been obsessing me for quite some time when I wrote it. I actually wrote the first version of that story back in 1995, when I was in the thick of my personal philosophical problems. All the stories Ive written since then have similarly been literary outpourings based on various issues that have preoccupied me for extended periods, and these have invariably revolved around sundry dark spiritual things.

SY: Given the way that the general public tend to view horror as the tackiest of all genres it might seem strange to them that you deal with spiritual matters in horror stories. Do you ever feel that perhaps the concerns you wish to address would be better served by being examined in the context of another, more respected, genre?

MC: I dont think about genre at all when I go to write a story. I mean, I do consider myself a horror fan, and I know that the stories I have written are properly classified as horror. But all this means is that I am deeply, personally drawn to things that just happen to fall under the horror category label. Im independently interested in both religion and spirituality on the one hand, and horroras an emotion, experience, and aesthetic modeon the other. This means I am extremely exhilarated by stories, films, philosophical and spiritual ideas, poems, and so on, which display a distinct interface between these two realms. I really couldnt care less if anybody views this connection as unfortunate or demeaning to either subject.

And anyway, the deep connection between spirituality and art horror is well established. To a large extent, the whole subgenre of the weird tale, which has been my personal favorite area of endeavor as both a reader and a writer, revolves around this very connection. I mean, look into the tales of Machen, Blackwood, Hodgson, Lovecraft, Aickman, Ligotti, and many more, and you immediately see dark spiritual themes interacting with classic horror themes all over the place. In a more general sense, supernaturalism is one of the major classic themes of horror as a literary mode, and supernaturalism is closely bound up with religion and spirituality. So I think its perfectly legitimate from a historical and aesthetic viewpoint to explore spiritual matters in the context of horror fiction.

From the other end of things, I also think its completely appropriate and legitimate to explore horror in the context of religion and spirituality. Within the Christian tradition and the Judeo-Christian scriptures alone, we can see horror breaking out all over the place and playing a central role. What in the world is up with that awful darkness and dread that come over Abram in Genesis when he is visited by Yahweh and informed of the future enslavement of his people in Egypt? Why does the New Testament author of Hebrews assert, It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God? Why does Yahweh sometimes come across in the Book of Isaiah as a chaos monster who is even more terrible in his character, intentions, and ultimate nature than the primeval chaos dragons Leviathan and Rahab, against whom he is supposedly working to save the cosmos? Why does the original ending of the Gospel of Marknot the longer ending which appears in all New Testament translations, and which is now known to have been tacked on at a later date, but the original ending, which comes several verses before thatshow the two Marys and Salome discovering Jesus tomb standing empty after the resurrection, tell of their encounter with the angel inside, and then conclude the account simply by saying that they ran away from the tomb in extreme fear, for trembling and astonishment had come upon themand thats it? Why are people seized with fear and awe in the New Testament whenever Jesus calms a storm or performs an exorcism or raises a person from the dead? Why is the Book of Revelation full of intense horrific imagery? In short, why does it so often happen, and not only with Judaism and Christianity, but in many other religious traditions as well (think, for example, of Arjunas horror when Krishna reveals his true appearance in the Bhagavad Gita), that the unveiling of God, Ultimate Reality, the Ground of Being, whatever, is often portrayed as an occasion for intense horror? This is something that fascinates me. Certainly, there are orthodox theological answers to all of these questions, answers that manage to keep the traditional, reassuring view of things intact. But I find that Im drawn to subversive speculations that tend to invert traditional notions of the character of divinity and deep reality. Rudolf Otto, the great German scholar of religions, claimed in his seminal book The Idea of the Holy that the earliest stirring of religious or spiritual emotion in the human race wasnt a sense of comfort, peace, or divine joy, but instead was an intense emotion of daemonic dread. He goes on to explain in great detail how this primal emotion was elaborated into all of the higher religions and still maintains a place of great importance within them today. Whether or not one thinks its reasonable to agree with Otto about this, the idea itself is so potent its positively stunning, and it has had quite a long, varied, and fruitful life in the field of religious studies.

So the point Im making hereand at such length that I fear my answer would make even Colin Wilson blush at this pointis that whether we consider the matter from the viewpoint of horror and its internal integrity as a genre or mode, or from the viewpoint of religion/spirituality with its own internal integrity, the crossover between the two fields is longstanding, permanent, well-established, fascinating, potent, and extremely profitable for further investigation.

SY: Your horror fiction is very bleak, particularly as its not just gross-out physical horror. Often during the course of one of your stories it seems that you take your protagonist and then actually crush their soul. But religion, generally speaking, is quite optimistic. How do you reconcile these two very different outlooks?

MC: In general terms, I reconcile them by making reference to all the stuff I just talked about. I tend to think in terms of modern industrial civilization being characterized by its spiritual desolation, and I speculate that one obvious and effective way for people to experience an actual opening-up to the forgotten spiritual side of life is to seek out and undergo the sort of dark initiation into transcendence that one finds in the reading of horror fiction. But this is a somewhat trite answer, no matter how attractive is sometimes seems to me.

As far as my own work as a writer goes, Ive sometimes said that the outlook I put forth in my stories is rather like the dark underbelly of my actual spiritual attitude. But in reality the relationship between the two is a little more complicated than that. I seem to exist in a perpetual state of suspension between believing the worst and believing the best about life, the universe, and everything. By worst I mean the kind of twisted metaphysic I build up as the spiritual foundation of my stories, where individual conscious existence is framed as a nightmare, and the reality to which one awakens when one experiences some sort of spiritual illumination is even worse. By best I mean a world in which ultimate reality turns out to be what all the great mystics and gurus have pointed toward: the experience of ecstasy in divine union, the sat-chit-ananda or being-consciousness-bliss of Vedantic Hinduism. I lead my life as a consumer of ideas according to what moves and excites me, and for some reason, I find that both of these scenarios excite my imagination equally at different times. I find that Im forced to put on a kind of fiction-makers attitude in order to maintain the first, whereas when Im truly mindful and aware, the fears that accompany this darker view seem somewhat silly and impossible. So in essence, I hold to the darker view with a quasi-fictional attitude and the lighter view with a greater sense of its existential validity. Why they should both happen to engage my intellect and emotions with such intensity is anyones guess. Ive never been able to figure it out myself.

SY: You mainly work on short stories and novellas. Have you any plans for longer stories?

MC: From time to time I think about writing a novel. Ive toyed with a couple of them in the planning stage. But Im fairly certain that if I ever end up writing a novel, it will be by accident. It will end up running to novel length simply because thats the way the particular story will want to be told. Ive written only a few successful stories and many abortive ones, and one thing the successful stories have always had in common is the fact that Ive simply told them as they wanted to be told, without regard for length, classification, genre, or any of that.

SY: Youve also written several academic essays on the subject of horror fiction. Could you tell us a little about those?

MC: They all stem from my twin interest in horror and spirituality. Ive written literary essays about Thomas Ligotti and an academic paper analyzing Frankenstein as a parable about the alienation in Western civilization of the human intellect from the visionary powers of the psyche. Ive written about the possible use of horror films as tools for aiding in spiritual awakening. Ive written a paper about the biblical Book of Isaiah in which I argued that the text seems to portray Yahweh as a kind of Lovecraftian extracosmic monster bent on the destruction of the cosmos. Ive analyzed George Romeros Living Dead trilogy in terms of its possible use in a kind of Buddhist corpse meditation. Awhile back, I realized that Ive been pursuing academic scholarship as a sort of artistic or poetic activity. I havent really cared about scholarship thats geared toward producing something hard, factual, or objective. Instead, Ive instinctively used the tools of such scholarship, and employed its standard forms, in order to meld together disparate ideas and deal with issues that engage me imaginatively and emotionally. In essence, I simply dont care about real academic work, the kind guided by an adherence to dry, unyielding facts.

SY: Actually some of these essays are available for download arent they?

MC: A couple of my Ligotti essays are still available at Thomas Ligotti Online and The Art of Grimscribe. A year or two ago I found one of them reprinted without my permission at another site, along with some complimentary comments by anonymous readers, so this was a weird if gratifying experience. Theres a downloadable ebook by me titled Mindful of Horror that contains two of my academic papers, along with some excerpts from Divinations of the Deep . Its easily findable by doing a Google search. My paper that reads Isaiah as a horror story is available to members of the Yahoo discussion group Horrabin Hall.

SY: You teach English at a high school. Do you ever slip any horror fiction into the syllabus in an attempt to corrupt Americas youth? Or do you leave that to MTV?

MC: All Ive done in this direction is to incorporate Frankenstein into the sophomore English class that I teach. I make it something of a multimedia event by supplementing the novel with information about the Frankenstein myths long and varied history in show business. I screen extended clips from James Whales Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein , as well as from Young Frankenstein . I show the full-length Branagh-directed film adaptation, which, despite its many failings, still has much to recommend it. I also fill them in a little bit on the history of the various nineteenth century stage adaptations, such as Presumption, Or the Fate of Frankenstein , which provided more of the basis for the 1931 Whale-directed version than did the novel itself. And of course this is all subordinate to the goal of having my students read the novel and get a handle on the various philosophical, scientific, and literary allusions that pepper it. For the past two years Ive had us all read the whole thing together out loud, since, as I discovered during my first year of teaching the book, Ms. Shelleys imposing vocabulary and complex early nineteenth century English prose style can be quite baffling to contemporary American 15-year-olds.

Besides that, I did include a passage from Tim Lebbons The Nature of Balance in a final exam I wrote a couple of years ago. But I think thats as far as Ill go with the idea of bringing horror into my teaching job. Ive thought several times about bringing Lovecraft and Ligotti into the classroom in minimal form, but I know Ill never do it, because it would undoubtedly be a disaster in terms of student comprehension and interest, and I cant stand the thought of encountering all the hostility, bewilderment, and distaste that many (although certainly not all) of my students would exhibit toward two of my most cherished authors. Besides, I think the best introduction to HPL and Ligotti is to discover them by accident, on ones own, and to have the impression that one has uncovered a magnificent secret.

SY: I know you enjoy reading books on creative writing. Speaking as both an author and an English teacher are there any books that you would particularly recommend?

MC: Speaking as an English teacher, I would advise people with an interest in creative writing to avoid becoming English teachers. But to answer your question from the viewpoint of my authorial role, I personally have derived the most enjoyment and benefit from Ray Bradburys Zen and the Art of Writing , Dorothea Brandes Becoming a Writer , Victoria Nelsons On Writers Block (which is really a book about creativity, writing, and the life of the soul), and John Gardners The Art of The Novel . I also enjoyed Stephen Kings On Writing immensely, as well as Lawrence Blocks Telling Lies for Fun and Profit and Writing the Novel . The anthology How to Write Tales of Horror, Fantasy, and Science Fiction , edited by J.N. Williamson, has some great stuff in it, particularly Colin Wilsons article titled Fantasy and Faculty X . Most recently, Ive been utterly captivated by a new book titled The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writers Block, and the Creative Brain . Its written by Harvard neurologist Alice Flaherty, who introduces the world at large to the concept of hypergraphia, which is defined as the irresistible urge to write, and then goes into great detail regarding the neurological origins of the human drive to write as well as its opposite, writers block. Her book caught me unexpectedly at just the right time and bowled me over, as most books that mean something to me have always done. Currently Ive been stalled halfway through the thing for over a month, simply because Im letting all that Ive read percolate within me. Im really looking forward to reading her final chapter, where she sets out to talk about the neurological and other biological factors involved in the experience of inspiration or being visited by the muse.

Ohand theres a book titled The Writers Desk thats really inspirational in my opinion. Its put together by photographer Jill Krementz, and consists of some really attractive black and white photographs she has taken over the years of famous writers at work in their native environment. The photos are accompanied by copious quotations from these writers as they talk about their craft. The mere fact of seeing so many contradictory opinions coming forth from this admirable gallery of writerssome claim that you have to establish and follow an outline, others deny this; some claim that discipline and regular writing are necessary, others advocate the sporadic, inspiration-driven approachhelps, I think, to dispel unnecessary guilt feelings when you start feeling that youre doing something the wrong way. The point is, there is no right or wrong way. Theres only what works and doesnt work for you personally.

SY: Okay, Im just going to throw some names at you. These are various people who I know have influenced your writing and/or your philosophy. If you could just give me a quick summary of how and why each person has influenced you. First off, Thomas Ligotti.

MC: I read around Thomas Ligotti for a few years before I actually set out to read his work. I saw his name cropping up in various places, heard him compared to Lovecraft, and even thumbed through his collection Grimscribe at a Wal-Mart bookrack. (Today, in retrospect, the thought of encountering his work in a Wal-Mart blows my mind.) And from what I saw, I knew this was somebody whose work I would eventually have to read. Two things finally clinched it. First, I browsed through editor John Pelans first Darkside anthology (this time standing in a supermarket) and read the final lines of Toms story The Nightmare Network , which describe a camera view that zooms out to encompass the entire universe. The story ends by saying, There is no one behind the camera. That dovetailed so perfectly with certain things I had been thinking and feeling for a very long time that it set off a kind of alchemical explosion in my brain.

The other deciding factor was my bumping into, and then becoming fast friends with, a man named Jonathan Padgett in the alt.horror.cthulhu newsgroup in late 1997 or early 1998. Jonathan was a long-time Ligotti fanatic, and had been nursing a plan to create a Ligotti Website for several years. Our mutual enthusiasm, mine that of a newbie and his that of a veteran, influenced us both. He created first a Ligotti newsgroup and then the Thomas Ligotti Online Website, while I set about reading Toms books, starting with Grimscribe .

I dont want to make too much of this, but it really did feel as if I had been waiting my whole life to read something like what I discovered in that first collection. The overpowering emotional and intellectual impact of reading those first few stories was literally life changing. Here was an author who was saying things, and even using various specific expressions, figures of speech, and symbols, that I had been brooding over for a very long time in the privacy of my own thoughts. I had already written Teeth at that point, and I saw in Toms The Last Feast of Harlequin, The Spectacles in the Drawer, Flowers of the Abyss , and Nethescurial a kind of confirmation, fulfilment, and awesome extension of everything that had driven me to want to write a horror story in the first place.

Now, these several years later, I have read Toms entire body of work. I have written extensively about his stories both singularly and en masse. I have been fortunate enough to strike up a friendship with him via email correspondence. And perhaps not surprisingly, I seem to have linked my name and reputation inextricably to his (at least among the tiny handful of people who have read my work). Ive seen myself described online as someone who tirelessly promotes Toms work. Ive been told to my face by a well-known figure in the fantasy and horror field that Im simply trying to ride Toms coattails to success. Ive seen someone comment that my Divinations of the Deep collection, while enjoyable, is a little too Ligottian. The irony here is that Ive never imitated him or anybody else. Ive written solely from the depths of my own personal passion. Any inspiration that Tom has exercised over me has simply been in the form of inspiring me to write, not in determining what or how I write. He and I just happen to share a remarkably close kinship of vision and disposition when it comes to certain things. Ive had this impression confirmed from his end by certain things he has said to me in private about both my stories and the things I have written about him.

Please excuse the unsolicited mini-rant. I just thought Id set the record straight. And of course I have nobody to blame but myself if I indeed seem to have been laboring wilfully in Toms shadow.

SY: H.P. Lovecraft.

MC: Lovecraft was my arch-passion before I encountered Ligotti. He will always remain one of my literary lights. I devoured his complete works in high school and college, as well as a mountain of secondary information in the form of biographies, critical studies, appreciations, and so on. His cosmic nihilism played an enormous part in undergirding my emotional and philosophical outlook during those turbulent years of my philosophical disease. I would give anything to have been able to meet the man or correspond with him.

SY: Stephen King.

MC: The first book I read by him was Pet Sematary . The last was Dreamcatcher . Ive only read a comparative handful of his novels (compared to how many hes written, that is), and among those, It stands far and away as my favorite. Ive not really turned out to be much of a novel reader, although back in high school I was a fan of epic fantasy and read lots of thick paperback novels in this genre. My later predilection for shorter works has kept me from making King a staple of my literary diet. In my various academic writings about horror, I have referred several times to his Danse Macabre , which I consider to be a really wonderful resource, as well as a thoroughly enjoyable read. From what I hear, his Dark Tower mythos is fairly grandiose and interesting, but theres no way that Im ever going to make time to read all of those gargantuan novels in which the mythos is laid out. Many years ago I read The Gunslinger . Today I can hardly remember a thing about it, other than the mescaline scene. Dreamcatcher was diverting but disappointing. Im more inclined to admire King from afar for who he is and what hes done (writing such a enormous amount of popular fiction, much of it displaying a certain degree of real literary quality, is no mean feat) than to count myself an active fan and actually keep up with his work.

SY: T.E.D. Klein

MC: I read The Ceremonies and then Dark Gods back in the early and mid-1990s. Both of them enthralled me with their dark cosmic visions of horror, and I sensed the intelligence and literary skill of a magnificently talented author behind them. I certainly wish the man would write more, although if hes anything like me, hes not really in control of his output, and Ill remain happy to wait for whatever projects satisfy him when they reach their organic completion. Interestingly, Gene ONeill, who is friends with Klein, has told me that Klein and I would probably have a lot to talk about, since we share so many interests in common and also shareaccording to Genea kind of common outlook or mindset.

SY: Robert Anton Wilson.

MC: Wilson blew open a lot of mental doors for me and gave me a delicious feeling that I was absorbing all sorts of subversive, secret knowledge. Ive speculated in the past that a certain amount of my philosophical schizophrenia may have been due to Wilsons influence. When I was in the middle of that painful period, I thought back several times to Wilsons and his co-authors Robert Sheas claim in the appendices to Illuminatus! that they had secretly programmed the reader in all sorts of strange ways via various hidden things coded into the book, and that many of the results of this programming might not become apparent until years afterward. All things considered, I think Ive been influenced more by the inspiration and excitement that I derived from reading his books than from any actual content or methods that I gleaned from them, although God knows I did absorb a huge amount of formerly unknown information from him. When I was an undergraduate, I wrote him a very fanboyish letter that I can only hope he never received.

More recently, he made me a nice little lump of spending money when I sold my entire collection of his books on eBay.

SY: Ken Wilber.

MC: I get a real charge out of seeing the guy's native brilliance on display in his various writings. The first thing I ever read by him was an article titled A Spirituality that Transforms , wherein he delineates two distinct functions of religion, which he terms "translation" and "transformation." The first, he says, refers to the role of religion in helping to create meaning for the separate self by giving the self moral rules, formulating interpretive myths for it, providing rituals for it to perform and participate in, and so on. The second function, transformation, cuts directly across this first function and is intended not to fortify, bolster, or console the separate self, but rather to shatter or explode it in the service of allowing the individual to recognize higher and wider levels of being. Both functions, he says, are vitally important, for without translation we could never stabilize and learn to live authentically at the level where we presently find ourselves, while without transformation there would be no possibility of a real liberation or awakening to the higher levels of being.

Its this kind of clarity that endears him to me. I didnt start reading his work until fairly late in my spiritual education, so he hasnt impacted me as much as some of the people I encountered earlier, such as Alan Watts and Huston Smith. But I still really enjoy what he does, and I feel Ive derived real benefit from it. He lays things out so lucidlysuch as in his contention that the mystical or nondual vision is something you simply have to cultivate, just like you have to train yourself in science or literary criticism if you want to understand the subjects with which these fields dealthat I think its difficult not to be charmed by him. In particular, his identification of the pre/trans fallacy, which refers to the confusion so many thinkers, especially the Romantics, have expressed in their equating of prerational thinking, which is actually irrational, with the higher type known as transrational thinking, has been of real personal value to me.

SY: Is there anyone else youd like to mention that hasnt been covered so far?

MC: Interesting that you would ask. Some months ago I found myself stranded in the midst of an extremely boring group training session. The subject was brain-based learning, which is only the latest in a seemingly endless string of fads to march through the world of education theory. Since I know that by the time anybody actually learns what the new theoretical model is trying to teach, the next theory in line will already have taken its place, I didnt feel any obligation to listen to the presentation. And I found myself idly making a list of the authors who have meant the most to me throughout my life. I ended up with a list of nearly 120 names. Then I went back through and tried to identify the ones who have really meant the most, the ones who have been most special to me.

Thanks to your asking this question, I now possess a justification for having ignored the training session and made my list. By the way, I generally skip such lists of favorite authors when I find other people reciting them in interviews, because I find them boring. So Ill fully understand if nobody gives a damn about the names that follow. But anyway, in addition to Ligotti, Lovecraft, and Robert Anton Wilson, about whom you have already asked me, my list of finalists includes, in no particular order, Homer, Douglas Harding, E.F. Schumacher, Eckhart Tolle, Alan Watts, Thaddeus Golas, Richard Bach, Oswald Chambers, the Bible, Jan van de Wetering, Allan Bloom, Tao Teh Ching, Shunryu Suzuki, Scott Morrison, Ray Bradbury, Jung, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, William Barrett (the philosopher and existentialist writer), Huston Smith, Joseph Campbell, Ayn Rand, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lloyd Alexander, Ravi Zacharias, Hugh Prather, Walker Percy, Richard Tarnas, Theodore Roszak, and Robert Pirsig.

SY: Any plans for the future?

MC: In the way of writing, Im slowly looking at marketing a few more finished stories. Ive not written much new fiction in the past two years, although that certainly doesnt mean I havent tried. Ive found a publisher whos willing to look at a manuscript made up of copious selections from the journal Ive been keeping for nigh on fifteen years. I have another collection of fiction tentatively planned for the future. A fellow horror writer and I have been discussing the possibility of team-writing a collection of stories.

In the way of life in general, I think my school teaching days are numbered. If Im lucky, theyre numbered specifically to around two more months. My wife Teresas health has been deteriorating for some years now, and were looking at moving to a climate that will be more salubrious for her, perhaps in the very near future. If its at all possible, after the close of the current semester I will never again darken the door of a high school classroom as a teacher.

SY: Finally, is it true that youre David Hasselhoffs evil twin?

MC: Let me put it this way: in the past week, Ive been told by one person that I bear a resemblance to Mel Gibson and by another that I bear a resemblance to some American actor Ive never heard of. Mark McLaughlin, in the ongoing spot the celebrity game that he conducts at genre fiction conventions, has compared me to Michael Landon, Roger Delgado, and Anthony Ainsley. (These last two each played The Master at different points in the annals of Dr. Who .) When I was a freshman in college, a number of people commented that I looked a little like Elvis, and I ended up playing The King in a skit performed before an audience of around 2000. So with all of that celebrity blood mixed in my veins, I wouldnt be at all surprised if there turned out to be a little bit of Michael Knight in me.


Here for Matt Cardin at Authors Den

To buy Divinations of the Deep go to Shocklines

Thomas Ligotti Online is here

And lastly, a thread on Whispers Forums for anyone who feels inclined to discuss the matters touched on in this interview

Return to Whispers interview archive