Brutal Dreamer interviews Ken Kupstis
"HELL-o again, my Eminent Empress of Brutality. I am honored by your request (Sound of K.K. genuflecting)."
How would you describe yourself as a person and as a writer?
"Bugs Bunny's Brain in Mark Harmon's Body". As a writer, a 'One-man Skipp & Spector" (John Skipp & Craig Spector wrote ANIMALS, THE SCREAM, THE BRIDGE, etc.)
What do you enjoy most about writing stories? Why?
It keeps me pretty mellow and non-violent. If I wasn't able to write horror, I might've done some horrible things by now. Also, I get to entertain, communicate some new ideas, etc.
How would other authors describe your writing techniques or style?
Danielle Naibert (ART OF HORROR) heaped a stupefying amount of praise on INHUMAN RESOURCES, comparing me to the 'older' Stephen King (before he left straight horror for literature, or whatever he's doing now). Nice, but also tough to live up to! Garret Peck (HELLNOTES) said my prose was very reader-friendly, that my tales had very little 'fat' in them, moved point to point quickly and never slowed down or bored the reader. I grooved on that, because our collective attention spans seem to be shrinking, and that includes even die-hard readers. So I think today's writers have an obligation to keep stories lively and engaging.
What can you offer us other authors that other writers cannot?
1. I combine horror and humor in such a way that they don't cancel each other out. 2. My plots move at mach speed. 3. I use mostly blue-collar heroes that are rarely seen elsewhere but are easily identified with: laborers, artists, teachers, firefighters, etc. The protagonist of JAWBREAKER is a janitor, for example. Everyone else seems to be using the same template of jaded detectives, doctors or lawyers. 4. My monsters are somewhat new: possessed clowns, alien drug dealers, alcohol-based djinns, sentient money...the antagonist of FIGHTING is called The Myrmidon; it's a combination of a Frankenstein monster and a Golem made up of insects. All it knows is hand-to-hand combat, and it cannot be beaten. 5. I inject a lot of crazy sex wherever possible. 6. I give God a lot of credit in the victories over evil, and can (hopefully) make readers think of God in a new way, not as some tyrannical law-maker but a powerful force of intelligence and love.
What about writing attracts you? Why?
I like how stories just float into the mind out of nowhere; it's almost like channeling. And when a scene comes out really well, I'll actually jump back and kiss myself, or laugh crazily.
What is unattractive about writing? Why?
The business element. You feel like a demi-god when you finish a story or a book, and then you feel like scum when you get a rejection slip.
How long do you see yourself as a writer? What is your ultimate goal as a writer?
Hopefully I'll still be writing in the nursing home (or the insane asylum!). Ultimately, I'd like 6 or more novels that sold well, and to be the showrunner/main writer for a TV series that lasted more than three seasons (Syndication! $$$$$$$$$!!!!!!!). I'd also like a few nonfiction books that had a decent social impact: for example, I hope INTO HER ARMS, NOT INTO HER HANDS lets some guys experience cool, fair, loving relationships without turning themselves into wusses.
How would you describe your ideal writing environment?
A cool room, with brandy and cappuccino close by and decent power metal playing in the background.
What are your greatest achievements in your writing career thus far?
Just seeing CLOWNWHITE in print was an orgasm. Having it recommended for a Best First Novel STOKER was another one. And I'm already getting good responses from INTO HER ARMS, NOT INTO HER HANDS. Having MTV ask to see a series was cool, too, even if they ultimately passed on it.
What has been your greatest challenges in your writing career thus far?
The business element, as above. Seeing a return on the investment of time and effort. The ridiculous waiting period to hear back from people. But sod it, even if it pays in nickels and a few 'attaboys', I'll keep doing it anyway. I don't have a choice.
Put the Monsters in order 1 being the greatest and 5 being the less:
Dracula 4 (Yawwwwwwwwn. Maybe if I was female, I'd be more impressed.)
Freddy Krueger 3 (Original, with a twisted sense of humor and some cool powers...but after a while he got 'too commercial'. Ha.)
PinHead 2 (I got with 500 nails in his face would be pretty damned intimidating. Also he's very eloquent, and he can pull hooked chains out of nowhere)
The Wicker Man 5 (This was an execution device if I'm not mistaken. A good movie, though.)
The Tall Man 1 (Mysterious, powerful, classy)
What is your VERY favorite Hollywood/Novel MONSTER? Why?
Hollywood: a three-way tie. 1. THE PREDATOR!!! Invisible, deadly but also noble. 2 The Djinn of WISHMASTER--really good, because it can't harm you UNLESS YOU ASK IT TO, and it's still incredibly destructive. 3.CHUCKY; he's got humor, style and that creepy doll look. For novels, currently I like SPIKE from JAWBREAKER because I'm making he actually has good intentions but still lays waste to an entire city (like some dealers I knew.) I also like TAK from The Regulators/Desperation and FRIEND from Swan Song.
What is your favorite horror subgenre in order 1 being the greatest and 5 being the less:
Witches 1. (The only monsters I've actually slept with.)
Ghosts 2. (My Voodoo Highway series is crawling with ghosts. I think ghosts are a lot more romantic than vampires; they're clinging to reality by sheer emotional force.)
Zombies 5. (Lousy conversationalists.)
Demons 4. (They're REAL--I did an exorcism once. But unlike the other 4 these are just evil for the sake of evil; no redeeming qualities whatsoever.)
Werewolves 3. (Ecompasses the struggle between human & inhuman)
If you could collaborate with any author in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Poe. We could do shots together while we were writing, and then I could chuck him into rehab.
What is your all-time favorite Cult Classic? Why?
KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER. Got 8 episodes on VHS. Carl RULES!!!
Put the Authors in order 1 being the greatest and 5 being the least:
Wes Craven 3. A real legend of horror, but known more for his films than his writing. I haven't read his novel yet, but most of his films are effective.
Clive Barker 2. Seems to have left horror behind, but his early work was great. Poetic writing with great drama, sex and humor.
Poppy Z. Brite 4. I've only read a few things of hers, and they were all about disgusting people doing disgusting things. I was more disgusted than frightened.
Stephen King. 1. What can I say, he's got 300 million or more books in print? Also, he seems to have his own hotline to hell...his characters say things that would make a marine sergeant blush (I can't even write them!) "The Boogeyman" in NIGHT SHIFT was the first story that scared the hell out of me.
Dean Koontz 5. Wildly overrated. His books are great cures for Insomnia.
The best book ever written is? Why?
The Bible. It's not only a book, but it's an actually tangible miracle.
If a story your wrote was ever to go to Hollywood, what would the title be? Who would star in it? What would the rating be? What would the genre be? Would it be a BOXOFFICE bust or BOXOFFICE hit?
My only feature-length script right now is DYING TO MEET YOU; it'd be horror/action/humor, rated R. I'd play the lead (Rick Tusgrin), I'd like Susan Anton to play Amanda Pierce, Lemmy Kilmister to play Dr. Coyne, Grant Cramer to play the TYRANT and Corinna Harney to play VAL HALLA.
If CLOWNWHITE was picked up, I'd just want Alice Krieg to play Malice. Anyone else could play the other roles. I'd like to think they'd both be hits, but it's all speculation.
If you could pick any woman in the world to star as your leading lady - who would she be? Leading man - who would he be? Leading monster - who would it be? WHY?
JENNIFER CONNELLY ot TARA REID, just to do a love scene with them and die happy afterwards. Male leads would be Adrian Pasdar, Linden Ashby or Richard E. Grant. Great actors that don't have 'action hero' stamped on their foreheads. Monsters..is there anyone scarier than Tom Noonan, Billy Drago or Tony Todd?
If we were to ever plan to publish a novel or short-story together what would it be about?
You and I? Hmmm...how 'bout this: A past-his-prime actor and a desperate-to-get-famous actress are both cast in the same film. turns out to be x-rated. turns out to be directed by the infamous vampire-sorceress Countess Bathory, and her lover, a female werewolf...Of course, any idea you've got is cool with me.