A Conversation With the Monster Man

Hunter Shea 2Hunter Shea is an author I always enjoy reading and talking about. He’s got a head full of monsters and his pen flows with the blood they shed, spilling madness and mayhem on every thrilling page he writes. I’m going to be reviewing his newest book, I KILL IN PEACE, tomorrow but today I had the opportunity to talk with the Monster Man himself, an experience that is exponentially more entertaining than talking about him. Hunter is an interesting guy, both eloquent and funny, and I hope you enjoy this conversation we had as much as I did.


SL: For those readers who don’t know you, please tell us a little about yourself.

HS: I’m just a dude who likes monsters and ghosts, death and destruction, with the great fortune to be able to write about it. It’s very therapeutic, but I guess it doesn’t solve all my ills, since I still see a therapist. I live in the great state of New York with my family of ghouls and two were-cats. I sometimes have one way conversations with the ghost in my house, which the Shea clan now considers normal.

SL: When, and why, did you decide to choose writing as a profession?

HS: I started writing in earnest way back in the mid-1990’s, inspired by my friend Norm Hendricks, who is a writerly type himself. I’m the furthest thing from an addictive personality, but writing is the one obsession I can’t shake. From the moment I finished my first short story – as terrible as it was – I knew I wanted to be a writer.

SL: Are there any standout books or films in particular that inspire you?

HS: I know it’s cliché at this point, but Stephen King played a big part in my love of thei-kill-in-peace-cover horror genre. His story collection, Night Shift, was my first exposure to horror literature, and it hooked me like a trout. I’m a huge movie buff, so flicks like The Haunting, The Thing, Dawn of the Dead and Alien all inspire me, get my horror juices flowing. When it comes to books, anything by King or Clive Barker or Robert McCammon make me want to keep on writing and improving so I can be half the writer they are. Boy’s Life, The Girl Next Door, The Troop, Pet Sematary, and so many others fill my days and nights with the kind of love that should not be named.

SL: If you had to choose to pursue a profession other than writing, what would it be? Why?

HS: Baseball player, though at this point I’d be a retired baseball player. I love the game and back in the day, I could pitch my ass (and eventually my arm) off. I love the smell of the field, the sound of a ball slapping a mitt or coming off a bat, the organ urging the crowd on, the thrill of competition. I keep toying with the idea of writing a series of horror novels centered around baseball.

SL: If you had to choose one book–by an author other than yourself– that you favored above all others, which one would it be?

HS: Whew, that’s a tough one. I guess it would be Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon. It’s a wonderfully sprawling and creepy coming of age story.

SL: If you had to choose one from your own body of work, which would it be?

HS: The Montauk Monster wins, hands down. It was my first book for Pinnacle, my first paperback (which was always my favorite format for a book) and a total break from reality. My father passed away suddenly when I started writing it. Working on the book were the only moments of peace I had that summer. I wanted to write something that my father would have been proud of, bringing in elements of all the horror and scifi movies we watched together growing up.

SL: Describe your writing routine. Do you have a particular location/environment that you like to write in or particular times of day that you write?

HS: When I’m working on a book, I try to write every day, about an hour during the week and 2-3 on weekends. I write wherever I can find a spot in my crazy house. I tend to do a lot of writing in the kitchen (where I am now), despite having a bitching office surrounded by books and horror memorabilia. I’ve written in the car, on the beach, libraries, airports, you name it. I’ve learned to tune the world out when it’s time to write.

SL: Arguably, the largest portion of your work is dedicated to stories about monsters. What sparked that fascination?

HS: Monster movies. Plain and simple. My dad would take me to the drive in or movie theater down the block to watch Jaws, Grizzly, Empire of the Ants. On TV, we’d catch the classics on Chiller Theatre or back then, wait for PBS to air the Universal monster flicks. I loved them all, even the horrible ones.

SL: Is there any monster/cryptid in particular that you favor?

HS: You’re asking me to pick my favorite child? How dare you! I have much love for Sasquatch, and hope to revisit that sector of the cryptid world very soon.

SL: Of the monsters that you haven’t yet written about, are there any that you find particularly intriguing from an author’s standpoint?

montauk coverHS: I’m fascinated by the chupacabra, because it’s a relatively new entry into cryptozoology lore. People think it’s some kind of mangy dog, but original chupacabra reports are far from that. Very strange. Some other authors are doing great stuff with them, so I’ve stayed away…for now. I just read Fury of the Chupacabras by Raegan Butcher and freaking loved it. I don’t want to step on his toes.

SL: How much research goes into your books? I imagine even with imaginary monsters there must be some level of research involved.

HS: All praise the internet! I actually read up as much as I can on existing cryptids, checking out videos, books, drawing on the experiences of Loren Coleman (who owns the International Cryptozoology Museum). I’m always reading about different creatures, but when it comes time to write a book about one, I’ll spend weeks just living with them, so to speak.

SL: Speaking of monsters, you host the extremely popular podcast, The Monster Men along with Jack Campisi. How did that come to pass?

HS: The show started as a way to help me gain a web presence in anticipation of my first book, Forest of Shadows. Jack and I worked together and would shoot the shit about horror movies and books all day and at various bars. We have such a great rapport, we kept saying we needed someone to sign us up for a TV show. Instead of waiting, we made our own. We’re 5 years and over 100 episodes in with no plans of stopping. It’s just a blast.

SL: Talk about that in some detail if you don’t mind. How frequently does it air, what sort of content do you cover, that sort of thing.

HS: We try to get a new episode up every two weeks. We’ll talk about particular movies or TV shows, interview authors, cryptozoologists, ghost hunters, or wax poetic about the glory days of discovering horror movies at the video store or Hammer movies. We just have a lot of fun yapping about our passion. It keeps us young.

SL: You recently aired your 100th episode, which is a hell of a milestone to pass. How did that make you feel?

HS: Pretty damn good. Monster Men is a labor of love (and a lot of labor for Jack who does all of the editing!). We’re so happy that we have such loyal fans. They keep us going.

SL: Let’s talk about your newest book for a bit. I KILL IN PEACE is something of a departure for you in terms of subject matter. What sparked that idea?

HS: During the Christmas holiday, I started thinking about all of the people and types of people that just make the world a shitty place. Wouldn’t it be nice to just excise them like warts? So, I made my kill list and let my character, Peter Blades, do the dirty work.

SL: Any exciting projects you’re working on or upcoming books that you would like to talk about?

HS: My next Pinnacle paperback, The Jersey Devil, will be out in August. If you liked Thejersey-devil-cover Montauk Monster, you’ll plotz over this one. This is monster mayhem taken to 11. I have 3 other projects I’m working on for the rest of the year that will bring more monsters than you can shake a saber at, including one story that I think no one has ever done before. It’s going to be pretty nuts. If you want to be the first to know when I can let the cat out of the bag, I encourage everyone to sign up for my Dark Hunter Newsletter. It’s free and you’ll get access to tons of stuff and be eligible for free signed books and more. Just click here to join the madness – Dark Hunter Newsletter

SL: Is there any particular question you wish interviewers would ask that they never do? If so, what is it and what is the answer to it?

HS: No one ever asks what I think the most over-hyped horror movie is. The Exorcist. There, I said it.

SL: Before we wrap this up, is there anything else you’d like to discuss?

HS: I just wanted to thank you for having me here today and all the support you’ve given me over the years. We monster dudes have to stick together, along with the monster dudettes so we can make little monster tykes. I have a lot of irons in the fire for this year and next, so y’all stay tuned. Aaaarrrgggghhhhh!

Thanks to Hunter Shea for taking time out of his insanely busy schedule to come and talk with us today. Watch for my review of I KILL IN PEACE tomorrow and go here and check out Hunter’s Amazon author page. Buy ALL the books while you’re there. All of his books are top shelf horror novels but if you want a suggestion for an entry into his work, I highly recommend you start with THE MONTAUK MONSTER. One of the best monster stories I’ve ever read.

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