The Roots and All Drive-by: Brian Hodge

Normally, I cobble together bios for my drive-by victims … but why would I try to write anything other than what the man himself has on his website when it starts with the words ‘Bootlegger’ and ‘International assassin’? His novels include World of Hurt, Hellboy: On Earth as it is in Hell and The Darker Saints. His latest collection is Picking the Bones. I present to you Mr Brian Hodge, whose A Book of Horrors tale is “Roots and All”.

Bootlegger. International assassin. Rakish pilot of vintage British fighter planes. Explorer of far Eastern lands and opener of a new spice route to the West. None of these terms has ever been applied to Brian Hodge, an oversight he deeply resents. He is, however, content to be known as a pretty good raconteur.

raconteur, n. [Fr.] A skilled teller of anecdotes; one who tells a good story.

He’s written an armful of novels of horror and/or crime, nonfiction beyond reckoning, and somewhere around 100 short stories and novelettes, many of which have been chained like galley slaves into three highly acclaimed collections, with a fourth in the works.

In a review of his first collection, The Convulsion Factory, esteemed critic Stanley Wiater wrote, “This writer knows where the sad people, the bad people, and the mad people live.” Indeed. Over the years, Hodge has racked up an eclectic list of favorable comparisons … from Clive Barker to Elmore Leonard, from Honoré Daumier to David Cronenberg, and in one obscure source, even Carl Jung.

No, really.

He’s a longstanding award nominee, having occupied numerous finalist slots for the Bram Stoker Award, the World Fantasy Award, and Britain’s CWA Dagger Award for crime writing, among others. In 2004, he broke an equally longstanding Susan Lucci-like losing streak, taking the International Horror Guild Award for outstanding short fiction, for his story “With Acknowledgments to Sun Tzu.”

When not writing, he enjoys weaving together strange sounds for an alter-ego project dubbed Axis Mundi, shooting photographs of green things and decaying things, and hiking the hills on the edge of town. He lives along the Colorado Front Range with his love, Doli, and his office manager, Fionn.

And he’s never quite managed to get over the obituary-like feeling of writing about himself in the third person.

1. If I wasn’t a writer I would …
Probably be up a tower somewhere, polishing a rifle. Well, maybe at one time. Not so much anymore. Actually, at this moment in some parallel universe, I’m doing sound design and effects and other audio textures for film.

2. Why do we read horror?
At first, to piss off our parents, and then after a while it gets to be a habit.

3. You get to be any monster you choose for a day – no consequences – who/what do you choose and what do you do in your monstrous guise?
A. I’d go with the shapeshifting title entity of John Carpenter’s version of The Thing. By the end of the day, the political landscape would be considerably altered.

4. The 5 greatest horror stories ever written?
I’m genetically incapable of calling any five the greatest at the expense of all the other greats, but here are five deservedly enduring pieces that left a lasting impression with me:

“The Great God Pan” – Arthur Machen

“The Colour Out Of Space” – H.P. Lovecraft

“Grail” – Harlan Ellison

“In the Hills, the Cities” – Clive Barker

“Stephen” – Elizabeth Massie

5. Donuts or danishes?
Donuts, I suppose, but that’s just a technicality. It’s been years. They’re against my training religion. Err, regimen.

His site is here.

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