Michael S. Gardner

This week brings Michael S. Gardner into the isolation tank. Once inside, I put a spotlight on him and made him read his latest grocery list to the monsters hiding in the darkness. And as an added bonus, the toilet paper doesn’t glow in the dark.

Why writing?  What drew you to it? Why do you continue?

I’ve always been a fan of writing – there’s just something about creating your own world that makes me smile. First, when I was a teenager, I started writing poetry and songs. Then, one day in English class back in the ninth grade, I had to write a three page paper on something (I cannot exactly recall, I’m sad to say), and I’d finished it in twenty minutes. That’s pretty fast for a kid, and my English teacher thought so, too. So she gave me an extra credit F (no joke). And that was her Christmas gift to me. I had stopped writing since then; that put a bad taste in my mouth. Then, one day, an ex-girlfriend bought me World War Z. I devoured that like a man starved for weeks! Next came the first installment of the Morningstar Saga. After reading that, I picked up the laptop and started writing my own zombie tales. The rest, as they say, is where the magic happens. Wait, that’s not it…

If you were freezing to death and the only thing left to burn were the books in your library, what 5 books would you burn last?  (And yes, everything else burnable has been burnt.)

Stephen King’s On Writing and my The Walking Dead comics a few friends had gotten me. I cherish my gifts – especially the zombie gifts.

What’s the most challenging thing you’ve done (in life or in writing (your choice))?

Hmm… This one made me ponder for a while. I think, and this is just my opinion, the hardest thing anyone can do is public speaking. So, for me, it was sitting next to Brad Zipprich at Horror Realm a few years back and reading aloud the first chapter of my Working Class Zombie story. I really don’t get it, though. I’ve played in numerous bands, in front of hundreds of people, and I wasn’t the least bit bothered. But when it’s just me up there? Yeah, I keep an extra roll of toilet paper around.

What’s one word or phrase that drives you nuts?  Why?

Toward(s).

For me, it’s not really the word; it’s how it’s used. There are far too many works that use both ways interchangeably, and to me, that’s just lazy writing. Pick one way and stick with it.

Do you have a favorite character you’ve created?  If so, who is it and why?

Doctor Frank McQuade. He’s a mad scientist I’ve created. He makes his first appearance in my novella, Betrayal, though it will be far from his last. I think of him as my go-to guy when I’m looking to take stories in a whole new direction. For those that follow my work, you will be seeing him again shortly.

Creepiest place you’ve ever been?  Has it appeared in your fiction?  Why or Why  not?

The creepiest place I’ve ever been? I’d have to say a church that I once had to exterminate. The place is old, and downright chilling. They had this crucifixion that just gave me the creeps. And they have a recreation building right behind it, after the cemetery. There arises a strange sensation when you’re in a church all by yourself, killing God’s creations.

What’s the best rejection you’ve ever received?

Sadly, all my rejections were the same old “Sorry, your work just fit with what we’re looking for.”

I’m being totally honest when I say that I’m waiting for a rejection that says: “Your writing makes me want to drive a short bus into a church,” or, “I am now dumber from reading your horrible excuse for a story.” THAT would be one for the books!

How did you get that scar?

What, this old thing? Bowie Ibarra and I once wrestled Bubba Ray and Devon Dudley in a Tornado Match. Was a few years ago, but I’ll never forget taking that hit from the spiked bat. Thankfully, I’d just caught up on my insurance policy. Really, it used to look much worse than this. Imagine an upside down smiley face on your bum.

What song would precede your entrance into a room if we all had personal soundtracks?

The original NWO theme from WCW.

Promote yourself and/or your writing

Okay, the fun part.

I have a few things out at the moment. If you like time travel and zombies, vampires, more zombies, and serial killers, you might be interested in checking out my short story collection, Death in the Times of Madness, which is out on Amazon.

Also, I have just released a zombie novel. Betrayal is a fun story about the End, and one where quite a few zombies have been “cured,” which permits them the ability to hunt and stalk the living.

And if you’re in for a really different take of the zombie apocalypse, then I highly recommend you check out my forthcoming Working Class Zombie series. The first episode was just released. In this tale, you’ll follow a man who is living-challenged, and experience what it’s like for him trying to find his place among the living.

Final thoughts before you run screaming for your life?

Just one: Shoulda brought the ringer.

Many thanks to you, Mr. Gardner, for enduring the excruciating torture…let me rephrase that…for enduring the prying questions of the creatures. Now, make your way TOWARD(S) the stairwell…the one past the giant pit filled with church bugs.

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