I have this amazing job. You have no idea. In the last year of writing for iHorror, I have had the opportunity to review amazing films, introduce our readers to the work of brilliant authors and filmmakers, and I’ve even had the opportunity to piss off the internet a couple of times. (You have no idea how fulfilling that last one is.) But, my favorite part of writing for iHorror has been meeting and interviewing some of the most talented people in the horror business. Brian Moreland was recently added to that list. We had a great interview about his writing and upcoming projects. If you haven’t read his work, yet, you really must put him in your queue.
A native Texan, Moreland is a graduate of the University of Texas in Austin. It was there, while taking a class on screenwriting, the he began to develop his voice as a writer..
“It turned me onto more scene driven fiction. Someone taught me once that everyone can imagine what a castle or the forest looks like so you don’t have to spend a lot of time on description. All you have to say is the character approached the castle or was walking through the woods and the reader’s mind can build that.”
The result is quick paced story telling that draws you in almost immediately. What keeps you turning the page, however, is the blend of mythology, folklore, and family relationships that invariably speaks to the primal facet of our natures.
Take, for instance, Shadows in the Mist. Taking place primarily in the Hurtgen Forest during World War II, Shadows is the tale of a small platoon a small platoon of American soldiers battling a Nazi army heavily influenced by the occult. The book has everything. Runic magic, Jewish mysticism, and a seemingly unstoppable army of supernatural German soldiers. It’s the wraparound story, however, that first grabs you. A young man named Shawn is given a letter by his grandfather to deliver to a high ranking officer in the U.S. military. The letter and accompanying journal opens Shawn to the a mystery he had never imagine about his grandfather’s tour of duty. It’s a story inspired by Brian’s own life and his grandfather.
“My grandfather was a war hero and he would never talk about. As a kid I walked down into the cellar and found an army box with a padlock on it. He said he could never open that chest because it would bring up too many painful memories. That curiosity was really the set up for Shadows in the Mist. My grandfather read the book when it was published. A short while later, there was a family gathering and he was sitting on the couch in the living room. Suddenly, to everyone’s surprise, he opened up and started telling stories about the army, about his missions. It was amazing because somehow the book had made it possible for him to talk about what he had seen and experienced.”
These themes inform much of his work. In The Devil’s Woods, my personal favorite of his novels, Moreland presents us with a fantastic tale involving the Cree Nation in Canada, Dutch immigrants, and an ancient race of shapeshifting demons, an archetype drawn from cave paintings and lore from around the world. When I asked him about the incredible amount of research that must go into a piece like that, he admitted that his research style is a very organic process.
“I research as I go,” he says. “As I get into the writing of something, my imagination writes it first, but I want everything to be authentic. And, I want three sources for anything before I use it. Shadows in the Mist, all the Norse stuff came from my study of the Nazis and the Third Reich’s interest in the occult and I built a mystery around that. If I’m creating Dutch characters, I want it to feel real. I like that there is something primordial in the feeling of that kind of ancient belief and cultures. ”
Primordial is an excellent word for Mr. Moreland’s monsters. They terrify as they slowly slip into your consciousness. What you don’t realize is that fear is the same our ancestors felt during the hunt for food when they, in turn, realized something was stalking and hunting them. You are never fully in control in Mr. Moreland’s stories, and just when you think you have figured out the ending, he is waiting to gleefully pull the rug from under you, and he’s not done, yet.
“I’m working on another historical story, probably a novella, and it’s set in Egypt 1935. It’s called Tomb of Gods, and at first it seems to be a mummy story, but I don’t want to give too much away about that. I hope to release it next Spring. I’m also working on a collection of short stories, as well, though I’m still deciding how to put it all together. I’ve always wanted to do my own Books of Blood like Clive Barker, so that’s what I’ve been working on bringing together.”
There’s plenty more you can jump into before these new stories arrive, however. All of his work is available via Amazon and the official website for Samhain Publishing. And, if you are on the go and don’t have time to read them on your own, they are all available as audiobooks, as well.