It’s Thursday, and that means it’s time for another Monster Hunter Interview!
Tonight we welcome Steven Gepp, a veteran of The Trigger Reflex and the upcoming Use Enough Gun.
Let’s see what he has to say, shall we?
MB – Hello Steven! Usually I start these by saying “good evening”, but in your case, time zone and all, it should be “g’day”.
SG – Yes, I’m from Australia – great that you noticed.
MB – I’ll bet you thought I was going to start with some cheap Crocodile Dundee reference, didn’t you?
SG – I was rather hoping that you would not.
MB – Well, you are in luck sir! We will begin with a serious horror question:
It’s time for a SÉANCE – What horror author would you bring back and what would you ask them?
SG – That is serious. Do I ask HP Lovecraft where he got his insane ideas from? Do I ask Edgar Allan Poe what happened in those last months of his life? Do I ask Robert E. Howard how he managed to write so well across so many different genres? But then, in asking these questions, where would it get me? I’d just feel depressed that I’m not as good as someone who wrote these things up to 100 years ago, and their answers would only help to heighten my inadequacies.
Augh! I’m depressing myself now just thinking about it. I think I’ll bring back Douglas Adams and try to work out what the hell he thought he was doing with the H2G2 film, and what he thought of Colfer’s book. Not horror, but, then hey, my own book is humour, not horror.
MB – I think we can allow Adams. Your reasoning is solid, and you did list the top three obvious picks.
This is a question that I plan on asking in future interviews, and I’m looking forward to hearing how they answer it – there are some really great, really creepy possibilities out there and I hope we get to explore them.
*shivers* Alright, that’s enough of the serious stuff for now. Time to go for the low-hanging fruit…
Being from Australia, one monster I expect you see a lot of is the Jabajada Arderdah. Are they tough to bring down?
SG – Oh, goodie, a Crocodile Dundee reference…
Walking crocodiles… pshaw. Like crocodiles needed anything extra to make them scarier! Those things can run at 30 mph, can jump 2 metres up out of the water, have no natural predators, eat literally anything, and will wait at the bottom of a tree for a week until you fall down into their waiting open mouths. And you want to make them bipedal to make them scarier?
Look, in Australia, it’s simple – if it’s an animal, it wants to kill you. Deadliest snakes in the world? Yep, we got them. How about spiders? More than you can poke a stick at – a very looong stick. Jellyfish? Oh yeah, lots, including one so small you can’t see it until you’re already dead. Octopus? The blue-ringed one is a right bastard. Mammals? Surely cute and cuddly Australian animals aren’t deadly? Well, the platypus is venomous. Think about that for a second – the creature which looks like a menagerie of leftovers actually has venomous foot spurs! Oh, and our kangaroos, those cute things that jump around and look like rabbits that have worked-out a lot? They can disembowel you with one solid kick. And when the wildlife isn’t out to get you, the place is either on fire or flooded out, so the country itself is out to get you. Bipedal crocodiles? Bah!
In fact, looking at this, is it any surprise there aren’t more Australian horror writers? Our reality is scarier than most things people could come up with.
MB – You make it all sound so beautiful and romantic…
That last paragraph alone is tourism gold, and might very well put Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee) out of a job as the official welcome wagon.
Speaking of which, I’ll bang that drum again. Is it true that all Australian garments have a special “shrimp pocket”, just in case they have to, well, you know…
SG – *sighs* Hopefully this marks the end of the stunningly bad cultural stereotypes, hmmm?
But, to be honest, barbecued shrimp isn’t the best – what you want is to pan fry them in garlic butter and serve with sticky steamed rice and a gob of extra butter.
MB – That sounds delicious, but it won’t get you out of one more cultural stereotype. And, in my own defense, this question is near and dear to every monster hunter’s heart:
Do you carry a large Bowie knife wherever you go, just in case you get to use “the line”?
SG – Ahh, you mistake Australia for a country with freedom. I could go off on some sort of political rant about that now, but shan’t. Let me just say that most people I know don’t carry knives. We don’t have to. We carry Sydney funnel web spiders in our pockets and tell the muggers to help themselves.
MB – You know, that would actually make just as good of a scene in a movie…
A couple walks in the park, enjoying each other’s company in the coming dusk…
Mugger 1 pulls a spider out of his pocket and shakes it the couple – “Give me all of your money!”
The man just smiles, reaches behind his back… “That’s not a spider…”
He pulls out a huge, fanged, Sydney Funnel Web… “That’s a spider!”
I’ve been working on my screenplay ideas lately, and I think this has legs…heh. I kill myself…
Did you ever watch Ultraman as a kid?
SG – No, not as a kid. But I did watch Ultraman: Towards The Future in the 1990s, but only because I…
I appeared in it. There, I said it. As an extra. It was filmed in Adelaide (where I have lived my whole life), I was a performance acrobat who had dabbled in professional wrestling and managed to wangle my way onto the set. I got to run away, screaming along with a bunch of others. So much for utilising what we shall laughingly call my skill…
MB – Laughingly? You just jumped into the number one spot of most famous people that I know. That’s awesome.
That’s also a hell of a coincidence – I still have Kaiju-on-the-brain from the last interview, and loved Ultraman as a kid, so I thought I’d just throw it out there. I gave it equal odds that the show wouldn’t even be recognized, and here you are, one step away from being the man in the silver scuba suit. Cooool.
Alright, I’m pulling myself back together. Favorite horror novel?
SG – Christine by Stephen King, hands down. My favourite book ever as well.
Pig by Kenneth Cook is my favourite Australian horror novel, and my favourite Australian book. And a mention has to be made of The Shaman by Frank Coffey, the first horror book I read that felt sort of like one of mine (though far, far better; I really like it) – as opposed to King whose books were so far ahead of anything I could ever hope to do – and so encouraged me to keep on going.
MB – That’s why he’s the King. Favorite monster movie?
SG – I am a complete sucker for stop-motion animation, so stuff like The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms is really cool. I love Jaws and Jurassic Park, and the early Mummy movies (Boris Karloff et al). But my absolute favourite is John Landis’ An American Werewolf In London. Even now, 30 years later, it’s still awesome.
A brief rant here – I think filmmakers are losing something with the whole CGI thing. They lose the humanity, and the reality of their beasts. Sure, stop-motion may look a little odd at times, but the creatures have substance and a solidity. Jaws relied on mechanical beasts. And American Werewolf… relied on stunningly beautiful make-up. Maybe the old ways are still the best.
MB – I think a lot of folks here would agree with you, and that the popularity of modern horror movies reflects it as well. The current trend of exorcism movies kind of strikes me as an easy way for filmmakers to not have to deal with the “monster problem” of make-up and animatronics vs. CGI. I know that I’m a lot less likely to shell out a few spiders to see CGI, and I absolutely miss the suits.
Also, I’ll agree with you on the stop-motion stuff as well – Harryhausen made some of my favorite movies growing up, and CGI will never be able to match the movement and look of that medium. It’s one of those perfect blends of “this is a movie” with you seeing something that looks real enough to not pull you out of the moment *sighs*.
What do you know? Looks like we both got a rant in.
Next question: MONSTERS WITHOUT BORDERS – You’re a werewolf guy, but are there any other monsters or cultural myths that inspire you?
SG – Therianthropes of all sorts feature rather heavily in a lot of my works, including my longest (and as yet unpublished) novel, which is about a whole subculture of them. As a monster hunter, the werewolf, though, I feel lends itself to such a better hunt scenario. Werewolves can be found anywhere and they’re a tricky bunch, but also killable. And, as will be seen in my story in Use Enough Gun, that whole pack mentality thing can be nasty…
But I’ve written about bunyips, lizard-men, dragons, vampires, demons, and all manner of other fantasy-type monsters, as well as the standard animals running amok. Basically, if something scares me, I’ll write it. However, I’m coming to realise that the evil that men do can be the scariest thing out there – and a good example I’ve written is the story that’s been accepted into the upcoming Psycho Cinema anthology (note: cheap plug for a PHP book). People are worse than nearly anything. Maybe not those nasty parasites that invade your brain and turn you into a shambling idiot capable only of dribbling or running for public office, but pretty much anything else.
MB – It’s time to NAME THAT TUNE – give us your top 3 monster hunting songs.
SG – Since I started reading these, I’ve been wondering what answer I could give. So I’ve decided on the three tunes that get me pumped best for a workout in the gym, or before stepping into a wrestling ring.
‘Toccata And Fugue in D Minor’ by Sky (1980)
‘Thunderstruck’ by AC/DC (1990, though I prefer the live version from 1992)
“Love Missile F1-11’ by Sigue Sigue Sputnik (1986)
And I’ll just say it was tough culling it down to 3…
MB – Right on. Sigue Sigue Sputnik brings back memories…
Last question, and this is a new category: FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE – Describe your ultimate Monster Hunter crib.
SG – Hmmm. Suburban area. You can hide better out in the open, with the façade of ordinariness as a cloak. House, two storey, with windows on all 4 sides of the 2nd storey. Oh, also solar powered with battery-generator back-up. Those pesky power cuts may not entirely be the fault of the 40-yr-old coal-powered turbine 100 miles away. Some simple to use fire-arms, already loaded, and a lot of medieval weaponry. They may not have had guns, but those knights knew how to slay dragons with well-honed steel. A book of ancient sorcery – a pile of money in at least ten or twenty different currencies, but definitely Euros and US dollars. Passports and ID’s in at least half a dozen different names. Power adaptors for different countries. Maps. Reference books. Computer with ghosted IP. Trophies of various successful hunts…I’m sure my wife would love all that.
MB – I’m sure all of the monster hunters will love that! Way to take the new question and hit a homerun. Book of ancient sorcery…niiice choice.
Tell us where we can find you out there on teh interwebz:
SG – For a discussion of my many unpublished novels, you should check out my blog at http://stevengepp.wordpress.com)
For a published novel, check out Amazon http://www.amazon.com/RELICK-Steven-Gepp/dp/1909049034/
And, there are also a number of anthologies on Amazon featuring me – a full list can be found here: http://stevengepp.wordpress.com/bookshop/
MB – Very cool. It’s been a pleasure talking with you.
And if I’m ever in Adelaide, I’d love to buy you a Fosters!
SG – *throws a Sydney Funnel Web spider into the interview*
MB – I deserved that. And I’m outta here…