Today, Hartford Books Examiner offers ghoulish greetings to Michael Gore.
The reclusive author of the newly released Tales From a Mortician (AuthorMike Dark Ink, $14.99), Gore is a pen name meant to protect the identity of this mortician-turned-storyteller. He hails from a small town in New England, where his family owned a butcher shop. At the age of sixteen, Gore, by then a self-professed horror film fanatic, secured a job at a local funeral home; this was in addition to the sixteen hours a week he would spend cleaning intestines for his father to make sausage out of. His tasks there eventually evolved into assisting with the embalming process, further solidifying his interest in the macabre. In 2000, Gore graduated from Mortuary School and found employment as a mortician, where he continues to commune with the dead. When asked why he writes such dark tales, his standard reply is, “To keep me from doing them in real life…”
Tales From a Mortician is a collection of twenty short stories that celebrate the horror genre and its many elements, from ghosts and serial killers to bed bugs (and beyond). Author/publisher Michael Aloisi (AKA Author Mike) acquired them after inadvertently observing Gore slip one of his stories into the jacket of a corpse. Following a year-long friendship, Aloisi finally convinced Gore to share his writing with the world, albeit with several sordid stipulations (such as an agreement that the two of them would fill a coffin with copies of the book and bury it in the woods upon publication). The book has received an enthusiastic response; reader Nicole Moreau praised (via Amazon customer review), “Every story was uniquely bizarre, and I loved it. Great writing and some out of the box thinking on scary topics that have been done before.”
From the publisher:
From bed bugs that get under your skin, literally… to necrophilia, serial killers, the paranormal, cults, freak shows, jilted lovers and even a old curse are told within in the twenty horrifying stories from Tales From A Mortician. Each story will have your skin crawling or your stomach turning. Masterfully told by a writer who has more experience with the dead than anyone ever should, Michael Gore, who is a mortician by day, horror writer by night. Mr. Gore uses the bodies that come into his basement everyday as inspiration for his terrifying tales. While each uniquely haunting story is told in a grim light, they all have one thing in common, someone always ends up dead. Which makes sense being that Mr. Gore’s favorite saying is…. “Every Body Has a Story.”
Now, the author known as Michael Gore offers a rare glimpse into his craft…
1) Tell us about the origins of TALES FROM A MORTICIAN. Your introduction to Michael Aloisi sounds like it was quite memorable…
Tales comes from… my everyday life. Working with bodies, especially ones whose death are suspicious, makes my mind wonder… how did they die… or what if they died this way. Pretty much each story came from an idea from one of the bodies I embalmed. At first they were each individual stories written for my own pleasure, but when I met Mr. Aloisi, he was the one who encouraged me to put together a collection. And yes, meeting him was interesting for me. At first I was nervous at his approach, but when he gave me encouragement, it really helped me come out of my shell… a bit.
2) “Michael Gore” is a pseudonym. What can you reveal about the man behind the myth – and what are the benefits of keeping these identities separate?
I prefer to keep my personal life, or lack thereof it, personal and private. I don’t really like the living and don’t want them bothering me any more than they are already do. And the reason for the pseudonym is that I do not want my stories destroying my daily life. Who would bring a loved one to a funeral home where the mortician might turn their death into a morbid story?
3) The term “horror” encompasses a lot. What do you see as being the essential genre elements – and how can immersing oneself in these things (books, movies, etc.) serve as catharsis?
Horror to me is anything that is scary, creepy, gross or thrilling in an offbeat way. Horror as entertainment does several things for our culture. First, it reminds us how frail life can be. By seeing people die, it reminds us to live. It is also an escape to get aggression out through the safe means of just a story. And a good story, one that gets the blood pumping, makes us feel even more alive.
4) As the book’s title suggests, you are a mortician. What can the living learn from the dead – and how do these experiences influence your fiction?
The living can learn a lot from the dead, but most importantly, to live while you can. Because no matter what, all of us will end up on that cold metal table one day. I’m reminded of that fact every second of my work day. As for its influence on me, when blood is draining from a body, you have a lot of time to wonder about death, during that time, that is when my stories come to me.
5) Rumor has it that you’ve got more short stories, and even novels, in the pipeline. What can your fans expect next? Also, how do you find the writing process to differ between these two formats?
I do have a finished novel that Mr. Aloisi wants to publish; it may come out next year, if I can let him tear it away from me. And I should have another collection of short stories coming out next fall as well.
The process between the two for me is very different. With a short story, I really only spend a few days on each, it’s a quick visit to a world. With a novel, it’s a long process that takes months. I love both in different way, but I have to say shorts are my favorite as I love to be able to complete something that I am happy within a few days.
6) For those in search of a good scare this Halloween, what would you recommend (in addition your own book)?
Well, most of my suggestions would be illegal… but for a good scare, go to the oldest cemetery you can find, at night. Go in alone and lay down on the ground among the graves. Then picture the dead below you and around you. Close your eyes and see how long you can lay there. Just make sure you respect the dead and don’t disturb the graves…. for you will regret it, as you can read in my book.
With thanks to Michael Gore for sharing insights into his bodies of work – written work, that is! – and to Michael Aloisi for arranging this interview.
Stay tuned to HBE for more special Halloween content coming tomorrow…