Next up in our line up of author profiles from the Dead of Winter anthology is Stuart Conover. We first got to know Stuart when we posted our open submissions call to his list on Horror Tree. (If you don't already subscribe to his list, we recommend it!)
We were delighted that he submitted a story for our anthology. "Fry Machete's Monsters, Munchies, and Mayhem" is a really great spoof on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives with a nice horror twist. It really rounded out the anthology with its blend of horror, a murder mystery, and a touch of humor.
So, read on to find out more about Stuart and what makes him tick as an author. Be sure to read the excerpt of his story too.
How did you get started with writing?
That's a tough one. I was probably writing Super Mario Brothers fan fiction in grade school. I really enjoyed writing in high school and was actively encouraged by all of my English teachers though kind of fell out of it. After college, I had a few part-time jobs writing content for various websites. That slowly got back into it and was heavily encouraged by my girlfriend at the time (now wife) to follow up on it if it was something that I enjoyed and was passionate about. I had my first short story published in 2011 and have slowly been raising that every year with 10 out in submission land at any given time and a multitude of shorts and novels at various points of being written.
Do you tend to write in just one genre or do you like to write across multiple genres?
While nearly everything I write falls under horror or at least using horror tropes, I really tend to write the gambit of genre fiction. Horror, science fiction, fantasy, etc. It's all fair game as I'm a huge nerd when it comes to these things and really like to go with whatever I'm geeking out about the most at any given time. The reason it all falls back into the horror genre though is that has always been my favorite to watch and tied with science fiction as my favorite to read. One of these days I also plan on getting a comic book together but that will probably be pretty far down the line.
What made you decide to write this story? Is there a particular backstory to it?
So, for 'Fry Machete’s Monsters, Munchies, and Mayhem' it was clearly a spoof of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on Food Network. My wife is in the restaurant business and has cooked since she was just a lil tot so is a total foodie. Thus, I have slowly evolved into a part-time foodie over the years. (When we met I was a shallow excuse of a man living off of take-out and instant noodles with being able to burn water my only notable kitchen accomplishment and can now actually make a few decent meals.) I've been thinking that many of the shows on the network would be great if set in a more horror themed genre so decided to take my stab at it. Why this one in particular? The network has ruined my love of the show by showing it for about 10 hours a night every night. I just had to run with it.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Well, when I'm not writing I have my wife who I mentioned above, two boys, a dog, and a full-time job in IT. If that wasn't enough to keep me busy I also run the author resource HorrorTree.com, write for ScienceFiction.com, and am the editor-in-chief of the JournalStone network of sites which includes: HellNotes.com, BuyZombie.com, HorrorReview.com, and HorrorWorld.org. I also still attempt to see some of my friends now and again and.. What's that thing where people close their eyes and shut down for a bit? That too... Somehow. Another coffee? Please?
Where is the best place for readers to find out more about your work?
I have a link to everything I've done under "My Work" on StuartConover.com or can also be followed on Twitter! Just please don't track me down and try to take any of my hairs or skin samples for cloning attempts. I've seriously had enough of that at this point!
Thanks, Stuart! And, now for an excerpt from "Fry Machete's Monsters, Munchies, and Mayhem".
Fry Machete’s Monsters, Munchies, and Mayhem
“So, when I’m in California, I like to take a load off and have a good time. If I’m at the beach, I want to get something quick and easy. What’s easier than a food truck when you’re just looking to kick back your feet and soak in the rays? Not much!
“If you’ve got a taste for something a little different than your standard dogs or may not be quite of the human persuasion . . . I want to introduce you to the ‘The Cryptoid Truck' which has been serving the hunger of all types all day and all night. It opened a couple years ago by two of the most unlikely of friends and they have cornered the market on this ghoulishly fun and original take on finger foods.
"With a mobile meat wagon and a tolerant attitude, they've been able to dominate the late night scene. At least for those brave enough among the living, dead, undead, dying, and even some merfolk to keep things fair across the board. You can find a little of everything here in this rolling sliver of SoCal and it's all coming up right now on "Monsters, Munchies, and Mayhem."
The camera cut and Fry Machete sighed as he leaned against his 1996 Lamborghini Diablo and lifted his sunglasses to rub his weary eyes. He might feasibly live forever at this rate but thirteen seasons of crossing the country showcasing food joints for the fiendish wore thin, even on him. One would have to make a deal with the devil to find this much success and keep ratings up after so many years. Or, if not the Devil, maybe a deal with the next best Evil God out there available on short notice.
Of course, any deal like that would come at a price as Fry knew all too well. He had a job to do, though, and not sucking up to the audience at the other end of the cameras. No. His real job involved slaying some of the monsters that lay in plain sight among the human populace and fed off them. The information came in packets he had mysteriously been receiving since he had started hosting the show. The ones that linked together murders which had been committed by the nightmares made real. The ones kept secret from the public and, per his latest batch of information, death was sticking to The Cryptoid like white on rice.