The destinies of a serial killer and a police officer intersect during their search for a missing child. Both run a labyrinthine gamut populated by malevolent, unknown creatures.
William Chandler, former prosecutor, repulsed by his past inaction, seeks to redress it. He spills the blood of child abusers, and then attends the funerals of his own victims in order to come to terms with himself by truly understanding the nature of violence.
M. R. Gott, author of WHERE THE DEAD FEAR TO TREAD and the forthcoming sequel WHERE THE DAMNED FEAR REDEMPTION, discusses what led him to write about the macabre, his inspiration for the character Luke Chandler, and why he seeks to provide his readers with more than just an enthralling read.
Apart from your predilection for family, pets, writing, strong coffee, dark beer, red wine, and fading light, what else would you let your readers know about you?
Of all the books you could have read, if you took the time and placed your faith in my work I hope it does not disappoint. Hopefully you are entertained and come away with something that is not soon forgotten, but was honestly an experience that elicited a personal reaction, even if it was fear.
Is M.R. Gott your pen-name? And what do the initials stand for?
M.R. Gott is my pen name. Gott is my last name and M.R. are my first and middle initials respectively.
If so, have you written under another name, and would you consider sharing that authorship with your readers?
WHERE THE DEAD FEAR TO TREAD is my first published work.
How did you become an author of the macabre?
I have always admired those who set out to provoke a reaction with their work. I find an inherent honesty to this. To me nothing is more obscene than banality and the ultimate sin is a canned laugh track. Stories of the Macabre require an internal element of conflict. Stories of extreme danger do not always go hand in hand with fear. As an example most action heroes demonstrate almost no level of fear. Within my writing, despite the admittedly deliberate fantastical elements, the stories are about confrontation with fear. Not fear of another, but why you are afraid.
Do you work on an outline, or do you start writing on a flash and let the story lead you?
WHERE THE DEAD FEAR TO TREAD initially started as two separate projects. A pulp influenced noir kidnapping mystery and a separate large scale dark urban fantasy storyline. I was not content with the how either project was shaping up and began to combine scenes and characters. Eventually I took all the elements I liked from each, and the first leg of the greater story became WHERE THE DEAD FEAR TO TREAD. When writing I spend a great deal of time outlining and mapping the series of events and character’s growth. I am a bit envious of writers who are able to start writing on a flash.
In your case, is it theme to story or story to theme?
There was a consistent theme in both my abandoned noir pulp and urban fantasy outlines that provided the glue that helped to combine the stories. Ultimately, in each case I was trying to create a mystery with characters in a violent world, where the violence always had repercussions. You can’t just kill the “bad guy” make a quip and walk away. You can’t commit such an extreme action without it changing who you are and how you see the world. Once I realized this was the theme in each story, combining them became easier. My characters are meant to embody various aspects of how various people can change in extreme situations.
How did you handle the inevitable snags during the process of writing WHERE THE DEAD FEAR TO TREAD?
I’ve found its best to step back from writing when you find yourself failing to create what you have envisioned. Often during these times I will re-edit a previous section. While editing I will try to not only focus on finding errors, but finding sections that are particularly strong. You can’t force creation, but you can always edit.
Is Prosecutor William Chandler a typical, paradoxical, or a typically paradoxical lawman?
William Chandler is a paradox. His revulsion at man’s inhumane treatment of man has led him to commit inhumane acts of violence. William is very aware of the fact that every time he kills someone he is stealing a family member, or friend from someone else. The horror of William’s situation is that he realizes the role he plays in the world’s cycle of violence, but feels more guilty when he takes no action. His character is very much the embodiment of the well-worn paradox; you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. William has accepted his damnation and is now freer in his actions.
What part of William Chandler’s character is imagination, and what part observation?
William’s evolution as a character was an interesting and ultimately very fulfilling process. The core of the character is based on a man I met in college. He was older than the late teen/ early twenty somethings that comprised the bulk of the class. He had recently retired from his job working as a prosecutor for the state. He had worked exclusively on cases involving child abuse. He had done this job for about twenty years and said he realized it was getting to him when he came home to the apartment he shared with his wife to find a burglar. My classmate charged the thief yelling. The thief fled, and my classmate continued to chase the man into a horrible part of town before he lost the thief. As his anger subsided he looked around him and realized this was not where he wanted to be. After this realization he decided he wanted to continue his work with kids, but in a more positive environment. He also wanted to raise a child of his own. He and his wife began looking into adoption
agencies and he enrolled in classes to become a teacher. The rest of William is a product of my imagination. My classmate looked nothing like the character described. Using this man’s background I tried to imagine a character in the Death Wish, Punisher vain who truly demonstrated a disdain for violence. There needed to be a genuine remorse to the actions he commits. William’s remorse, however, never reaches the point where he stops systematically killing people. William feels trapped in a world where violence is the only outlet for him to accomplish his goals. I thought of William as a pragmatic fatalist, who with this background can intellectually justify his violent actions, but emotionally cannot.
To what extent is your authoritative penmanship of the macabre based on personal experience?
We all have less than pleasant experiences in our lives. My literary journey into the macabre is most likely a product of my inability to walk away when something disturbs me. I feel the need to understand academically what provokes this reaction within myself, and then face it.
Is WHERE THE DEAD FEAR TO TREAD based on or inspired by any real events?
Aside from the character basis for William Chandler each situation is purely a work of fiction.
What’s your position on vigilantism?
I am academically opposed to vigilantism. Ultimately when it is condoned it results in the escalation of violence, because people can always justify the actions they choose to take. The personal control a person would need to become a truly just vigilante is nearly impossible.
At what stage of writing WHERE THE DEAD FEAR TO TREAD did you start planning the sequel, WHERE THE DAMNED FEAR REDEMPTION?
WHERE THE DEAD FEAR TO TREAD was always part of a much larger story. The most difficult part was choosing a place to end the first book and how to pick up the second in a manner that it is accessible to a reader unfamiliar with the events of the first book, but is not a retread for those wishing to continue the story. Ultimately I chose to end the first portion of the story around the personal growth of a specific character. Through each novel a character will have a chance to grow and confront what they fear.
Is there a particular time or space that brings out the best of your writing talent?
Personally it’s about when I feel ready. I need my mind to feel sharp and my body to be relaxed.
Is there anything you’d like to share with us about WHERE THE DAMNED FEAR REDEMPTION?
To anyone who read the first and is worried that second won’t fulfil the promises of the first I would like to say, WHERE THE DAMNED FEAR REDEMPTION contains both; my favorite moment of catharsis for a character, as well as without a doubt the scariest sequence I have ever written. Much of WHERE THE DEAD FEAR TO TREAD is me trying to really scare you, my reader. In the sequel I am going to show you what I find to be terrifying.
…”one of the most disturbing and atmospheric things I’ve read in a long while.” ~Dana Fredsti author of PLAGUE TOWN
“Where the Dead Fear to Tread is … jam-packed with great action sequences and wonderfully horrific monsters that will chill you to the bone.” ~Dark Rivers Press
“…frantic, horrific, brutal, and without doubt the darkest thing I have read in years. Maybe in my life.” ~Marc Nocerino of SHE NEVER SLEPT
M.R. Gott, the author of WHERE THE DEAD FEAR TO TREAD and the forthcoming sequel WHERE THE DAMNED FEAR REDEMPTION, is a resident of New Hampshire, content with his wife, two cats and a dog, while his controlled imagination produces spine-chilling works, leading readers to self-knowledge. With disciplined skill, Gott binds disparate scenes of truth flashing across his “imaginaire” into a coherent whole achieved through “outlining and mapping the series of events and character’s growth”, followed by rigorous editing. Aside from writing, M.R. enjoys strong coffee, dark beer, red wine, and fading light.
You can visit M.R. at his website Cutis Anserina.