Meet Simon Alkenmayer @SAnthropophage #HorrorLounge
Tell us about your webcomic The Creature's Cookbook (found on Tapas, which has 390,000 views).
My Creature’s Cookbook series is my diary, published as an ongoing immersive thought experiment to see what humans will do when confronted with the truths behind their mythology. I’m a monster, you see, one who eats people. Yes, a real one. I’ve grown tired of watching humans turn their fear of my species into amusing fireside stories, from real threat to amusement. Fiction is the fast food of the mind, and it is slowly rotting your brains. I suppose it takes a connoisseur to make that point.
This experiment is real, multi-faceted, and ongoing. It asks only that the participants read the associated materials, which are kept tightly beneath my control, available in my published books, my interactive short story collection, my website, and my various social media platforms. Via these many outlets, readers can review my truths and interact with me, and come to an answer to the question: “Am I real?”
First memory of reading horror
The original publication of Frankenstein.
Which 3 horror books do you keep returning to?
Frankenstein, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
For readers new to horror which 3 books would you recommend?
Anything by Lovecraft, Barker
Who do you consider the King and Queen of horror fiction?
I don’t, because that image puts me in mind of the reign of Mary Tudor and King Ferdinand II or Isabella I, and I’d rather not think of those things, if you don’t mind.
Greatest horror film (adapted from a book) & why?
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. You don’t think Roald Dahl is horror? What’s wrong with you?
Horror book that you’d like to see adapted to film & why?
Malleus Maleficarum, because it was a textbook on how to torture witches, and terrible things were done with it.
Best horror TV?
I watch anything to do with horror and find most of it lacking in some way, largely because it either reinvents my species or relies to heavily on old mythology.
Did you write in other genres or straight to horror?
I don’t write fiction. What horror you see in it is entirely due to the instinctual self-preservation you ought to maintain.
Tell us briefly about your route to being published
I began my experiment on a website. It was discovered by an agency and eventually was placed in a serial publication app. This is because I wanted to maintain control over the text, and wanted absolutely no intrusion on the experiment. Tapas and I have had tremendous success together, and I am very pleased that soon the Cookbooks will be out in paperback form.
Tell us about your fans
My gentle readers, as I call them, are of every walk of life and every age. They are exceptionally intelligent and involved in the “fandom” largely because it is not a fandom, but a community. I have very strict rules about etiquette and my own involvement, and so those who participate are usually quite lovely people. They ask questions, interact with me routinely, and send me all sorts of gifts - from food to crafts. I am very fond of them and am enjoying the friendships I have formed. It is nice to be accepted for what I say I am.
Horror doesn’t seem to be as well respected as other genres of fiction. Why do you think that is?
Likely because it, more than any other genre, relies so heavily on suspension of disbelief. You see, in the past, even as contemporary as a hundred fifty years ago, science was still very mysterious. There were gray areas. There were unknowns. It was easier to suspend disbelief. Now there is no way. There is fact. There are databases. This is one of the primary theses of my experiment — that humans require fiction to process reality, but that it is a dangerous tool. In horror, we confront the relative ease and enlightenment of the modern age. We must force people who have never known real fear to feel it, and to somehow believe it, even though they’ve no real point of reference.
Do you think horror is ready for a renaissance?
Horror cannot be a tool of the ego. So long as it reflects man’s lusts and dysfunctions, it isn’t frightening. Real horror has to be alien to break the state of complacency in which man finds itself. So the answer is, yes. I think it’s about time man feared something other than themselves.
Tips for new writers of horror fiction.
Learn history. There’s plenty there for inspiration.
Do you believe in evil?
No. There are choices and consequences, but in a way, isn’t that more horrifying? Wouldn’t man love to believe that there is some absolute out there? Some foe that creeps behind their errors and explains those times they simply went mad or became wrathful? This is what I mean by reflecting the ego. When man paints evil, he is looking for an escape. With real horror, there isn’t one.
What scares you?
Do you celebrate Halloween?
It is my favorite time, because it is the one time of year I can leave my house without wearing a costume. That sounds like a joke, but it isn’t. I wear cosmetics all the time.