Hi, guys. Thank you for joining us. I hope everyone’s week is going well. Today, I have Ken MacGregor here to tell us about the serialized novel he co-authored with Kerry Lipp, Headcase.
Ken MacGregor writes stuff. He has two story collections: An Aberrant Mind, and Sex, Gore, & Millipedes, a young adult novella: Devil’s Bane, and a novel: Headcase (being released serially right now and co-written with Kerry Lipp) and is a member of the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers (GLAHW). He has also written TV commercials, sketch comedy, a music video, some mediocre poetry, and a zombie movie. He is the Managing Editor of Collections and Anthologies for LVP Publications, and he curated an anthology: Burnt Fur for Blood Bound Books. He’s currently working on curating another for Dragon’s Roost Press, expected to be published in 2021.
When not writing, Ken drives the bookmobile for his local library. He lives with his kids, two cats, and the ashes of his wife.
EB: Welcome, Ken. Can you tell us more about Headcase and what inspired it?
Ken: I’d be delighted. Headcase was a total fluke. I had written a short story with Kerry Lipp once already (“Stiffed”, about a guy who wakes up physically dead and starts to decay but is very much aware of his body rotting; hilarity ensues) and sold it. I asked if he wanted to do it again. He said yes, and I sent him this weird little scene I’d written that I didn’t know what to do with. In it, this aging, tough guy is interrogating a punk. He said he loved the character, and we ran with it. That’s the first scene in the first book (of four. They’re small, though. Don’t be afraid). We tossed this story back and forth, leaving the other one on a ridiculous cliffhanger, and laughed and shouted and said, “Fuck! This is crazy!” several times. We got carried away and ended up with a (serialized) novel. You can get all four on Kindle here:
EB: What was it like collaborating with another author? Would you do it again?
Ken: It was a blast! Kerry and I had so much fun. I think a large part of that was that we have similar senses of humor (sophomoric). We’re (agonizingly slowly) writing the sequel to Headcase. I’d work with him again in a heartbeat. Now, it’s not always so smooth. I’ve tried to write with other people, and, so far, it hasn’t worked out too well. Haven’t finished anything with anyone else. Kerry and I just click. Maybe I’ll find that with another writer at some point. I hope so. I’m game to keep trying.
EB: What’s your next project, and where can readers learn more about you?
Ken: I’m working on curating my second anthology as editor right now, as well as writing the sequel to my YA novella, Devil’s Bane (released earlier this year). The antho is really exciting! It’s got some heavy hitters in horror already attached, whose stories just blew me away. This is gonna be one to watch for. Should be out next spring. The title is Stitched Lips: An Anthology of Horror from Oppressed Voices. I’ve also been kicking out some shorts and the occasional Brain Babies article for Horror Tree. You can easily find me on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Ken-MacGregor/e/B009MOY6KA/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1) and Goodreads (Ken MacGregor (Author of An Aberrant Mind) | Goodreads) where, inexplicably, my profile picture still has a mohawk; I should really fix that one of these days. I’m in my fifties, for expletive’s sake. When the world gets back to normal, assuming I survive, you’ll be able to find me haunting the halls and dealer’s rooms of SF/F/Horror cons in Michigan and/or anywhere I can drive without getting too tired I fall asleep behind the wheel and kill us all.
EB: What’s the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Ken: Great question! Honestly, it’s books. One of the huge perks about writing professionally is that any book I buy I can write off as a business expense. Oh, there’s a new Josh Malerman novel? Tananarive Due has another one out? Clearly, I need that. It’s research.
EB: What’s your schedule like while writing?
Ken: Sporadic. Chaotic. Unpredictable. The only constancy in my writing schedule is that I find time to do it. I will go for long periods of time where I write little to no words. Then, I’ll go through phases where I’m constantly churning them out. It’s madness. The thing is though, and this is key: even during dry spells, where the words aren’t coming… I’m thinking about them. I’m making connections in my head about characters and what they want and need. I’m out in the world (masked and socially distant) living my life, soaking up experiences, listening to people talk, studying their body language, facial expressions (though not in creepy, stalkery way, I hope), so I can use that information in my fiction. Also because life outside of work, whatever that means to you, is important. Fresh air, exercise, conversation, slow kisses with your lover, laughing until your face hurts. These are the things we need. Also, they’re grist for the mill.
EB: Is there any author you’ve read that you disliked at first but grew to love?
Ken: No. I wish I could spin you a tale of growth and acceptance, but, honestly, every author I have initially disliked, I have continued to dislike. On the plus side, there are so many authors I love that I don’t have to read the ones I don’t. Here’s some good advice for your readers: you do not have to finish a book. Or even a short story. An article. Any of it. If you’re bored, or insulted, or appalled, move on. Put it down. Find something better to read. You won’t catch me reading something bad… unless I’m being paid to edit it. At which point, you will find me doing my level best to help that writer make whatever it is the best it possibly can be.
EB: Is there anything else you would like readers to know about you?
Ken: Ah, my tragic backstory. I was born in Detroit, Michigan, grew up on the east coast (outside of Boston), and returned to the land of The Great Lakes, sometimes horrific winters, people who say “Ope” and Vernor’s (which, if you believe the locals, can cure nearly any ailment) ginger ale. Before writing, I acted professionally for several years. I did improv, sketch comedy, theater, film, TV, and radio voiceover work. I have these two amazing creatures who share my DNA. They have their mother’s too, but she’s dead so I get to take all the credit now (insert maniacal laugh). I joke because gallows humor is my jam. When my wife died, it pretty much destroyed me for a good long time, and I expect to continue to be recovering from that for the rest of my life. See? Tragic backstory. Told you. I started trying to sell stories about nine years ago. Completely unsuccessfully, I might add. Eight years ago, I got paid for some, but not very much. I got better over time. I’m still getting better. I hope I never stop. One of my goals is to make each new thing better than the last. To be constantly learning and improving. Am I doing it? How the hell should I know? I can look back at my early work and cringe at how amateurish it was. So, I guess I am. Maybe. Do I have imposter syndrome? I mean… who doesn’t? I guess that’s about it. Thanks for taking to time to listen to me ramble on about myself. If you get a chance to read Headcase, I’d love to know what you think of it. The best way to tell me and Kerry how you feel about it is to leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads.
EB: I’m definitely looking forward to finishing all four books. Thanks for being here with us today. It’s been a pleasure.
That’s I have for today. I have another full week of interviews lined up, so make sure to check back often. I want to say that I appreciate each and every one of you. I wouldn’t have made it this far without my readers. You guys are amazing! Thanks for reading. -E.B.