Ken MacGregor writes horror, fantasy, mystery, comedy and children’s fiction, the elements sometimes overlapping. His short stories have appeared in anthologies by Siren’s Call Publications, Hazardous Press, Blood Bound Books, Mystery and Horror, LLC and more. Cellar Door, which includes one of Ken’s stories, won the Gothic Readers’ Choice Award in 2013. Ken is a member in good standing of The Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers. He lives in Ypsilanti, Michigan with his brilliant wife Liz and astounding children Gabriel and Maggie. An Aberrant Mind is his first fiction collection, published by Siren’s Call Press.
I had a chance to take a peak at “First Person Shooter,” from An Aberrant Mind, his debut fiction collection. Naturally, I had some questions.
Hi Ken, how’s it going?
Very well, Sean. Thanks. Hope it is for you too.
First, can you tell me how this fiction collection came to be?
A little over a year ago, I was putting out a lot of short fiction with several publishers, pretty much answering every submission call I could find. Two publishers approached me about doing a collection of my stories. I was flattered, of course. It had never occurred to me that such a thing was even possible. Which is silly, because I’ve read dozens of collections by other writers. Anyway, one of the publishers was Sirens Call Publications; I had worked with them several times, and had grown to appreciate their professionalism and we’d developed a good rapport.
Do you feel you have an aberrant mind?
Yeah. I mean, I don’t think I’m crazy or anything, but I know I look at things differently from other people I know. I can tell, because I often forget to filter the stuff that comes out of my mouth and I get some very weird looks from my friends. So, yeah – I’m different. I’m good with that.
What made you want to write horror?
I get a huge kick out of it. It’s like playing a game where you make the rules and get to kill all the other players. Haven’t we all wanted to do that? No? Just me? I’m good with that, too.
Reading the title, I thought this story was going to be about video games in some way, but you surprised me. Without giving anything away, the title is a pretty good glimpse into your sense of humor. I won’t presume to ask where you got this idea, since the answer any writer gives will always be a shrug and a fumbling explanation about what your were doing at the moment of inspiration, as if that has anything to do with it. But I will ask, how did you develop this idea from its initial conception to the finished story?
First Person Shooter is an intentionally misleading title. I wanted the reader to assume they were going to read a story about a video game. Then, once they realize who the protagonist is, the play on words rears its head. It’s hard to talk about this without spoilers, but I had long been fascinated by the idea of someone stuck somewhere forever. What would they do? How do they feel about it? How long before they run out of patience with the whole thing and do something drastic? I like to think it would pan out pretty much the way I wrote it. I’ll tell you one thing: I had a blast writing the dialog for the Big Guy.
You dedicated An Aberrant Mind to your children, who aren’t allowed to read it until they’re older. How does being a father affect your approach to writing dark fiction?
Being a father affects everything in my life. Any time I’m making plans or someone asks if I want to do something, the first thought is always, how will this affect my kids? Once you have kids, your whole life revolves around them in one way or another. The biggest impact lately is that my son, who is seven, can now read. So, I have to ask him to step away from the screen if I’m writing or editing my work.
What are you working on now?
I have several short stories that are works-in-progress and I’m trying to nail down a novella. This is daunting as the longest piece to date has been seven thousand words. But, I have this weird urge to write something significantly longer. For me, this is aberrant.
In addition to the novella, I also want to write a novel by the time I’m fifty. Well, I’d like to at least write a first draft of one. I’m forty-seven now, so this deadline is way too close for comfort.
ABERRANT is defined as unusual, abnormal or different. The stories in this book not only differ from most of what you read, but also wildly from each other. A retired school teacher takes on an elder god and his minion; a werewolf picks fights with sea creatures; a neighbor’s lawn may be eating people. Twenty-two stories: scary, funny, weird and different.
In these pages, you will find darkness and fear, revulsion and terror. Mixed with it, however is quite a bit of humor. Sometimes both happen at the same time. So, open it up, join Jim as he fights off zombies with a potato cannon; witness the bloodbath reunion of the first man and his homicidal son; enjoy the monsters, the demons and the deranged.
A word of warning, though: you may never eat a bagel with lox again.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Ken MacGregor’s work has appeared in over fifty anthologies, magazines and podcasts. Ken is a member of The Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers and an Affiliate member of HWA. You can find Ken on Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, and at ken-macgregor.com. Ken’s the kind of guy that, if he found himself stranded somewhere with you, would probably eat you to survive. Ken hopes you enjoyed the stories in this collection and that you sleep just a little less well because of them. Ken lives in Michigan with his family and two unstable cats.
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