If you ever want to have a truly fascinating conversation, ask an author about his or her work. Seriously, there are few things more riveting than listening to the inspiration and their personal process of writing, and even more, the subjects that sparked an author’s imagination that brought a story to life. Fortunately for me, I get to do that a lot, and Mike Thorn, whose recent debut anthology Darkest Hours just released, had plenty to say about his work and his process.
This particular anthology came together for the author when he answered a call for unsolicited manuscripts.
“Most of the stories I pulled together had been written over a period of two years,” Thorn says. “I realized that there were certain recurring fixations and thematic tones that I thought worked well together in a close, concentrated way.”
Consisting of sixteen stories, eight of which had previously been published previously, Darkest Hours was soon well on its way to publishing. The collection delves deep into the human psyche, specifically into the realm of obsession and anxiety, with a deft and practiced hand.
“I always talk about my writing as a defensive thing,” the author explains. “I figure if I’m feeling a certain anxiety or negative impulses then these are things that other readers can relate to, as well. Mainly what I’m trying to do for myself and them is trying to fight off the things that terrify us.”
The author fulfills that promise sixteen fold. Each tale pushes the reader to confront those things that make us uncomfortable with the author as our personal Virgil leading us through the Inferno he created.
Take for instance the very first story in the collection simply titled “Hair”. It centers on a young man with an unhealthy fixation on hair. His fetish sends him to unhealthy lengths that all begins with finding his own hair wrapped around the asparagus he’s eating for dinner.
“It came from a desire to write something that was specifically about addiction through the lens of genre horror. Going into it, I didn’t know that it would turn into the kind of body horror piece that it became,” he says, “but I did pick up on that phobic reaction, kind of like an automatic affective reaction of finding hair in unwanted places. And it also dawned on me that I hadn’t seen anyone deal with that before in a horror story so I thought it was a great opportunity to explore addiction in a unique and disturbing way, as you said.”
Then there’s “The Auteur” in which a video store clerk finds out what true horror is when he’s made the subject of his co-worker’s film.
“Part of that was me reflecting back on a time when I worked as a video store clerk in my teens so I wanted to write about that environment,” Thorn points out. “The vibe of a video store is distinct and it’s now kind of a relic and so I wanted to write about that, but I also wanted to write about my love for horror films. I think there was also an unintentional homage to a Kathe Koja novel called The Cipher in there, as well. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but looking back, it’s definitely there.”
The author has a whole host of writing influences and authors who inspire him. From obvious choices like Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe to the reclusive Thomas Ligotti and the prolific Joyce Carol Oates, the great authors have informed his work and yet his voice is entirely unique.
Darkest Hours is currently available on both digital and paperback formats from a whole host of online sellers including Amazon and you can keep up with all the latest updates from the author about his future work as well as his own critiques and reviews of horror films and fiction on his website.