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Digging into the Garden of Fiends


You may know Mark Matthews best from his Milk-Blood books–a dark and brooding, heroin-laden nightmare of a world where heroin and it’s victims are the monsters who do the unspeakable.  Matthews has recently compiled an all-star anthology where addiction plays the ugly antagonist in each tale, featuring authors Jack Ketchum, Kealan Patrick Burke, Jessica McHugh, Max Booth III, and more, including Matthews himself, and we’ve managed to get an inside look at the project.

What made you decide to create an anthology with this theme?
Dark truths need a piece of horror to do them justice. Horror is at its best when it reveals something larger about the reality we live in, either through metaphor or by shining a light into the dark places. Addiction has touched everyone in some way or another, and I expect this anthology will resonate with readers. Garden of Fiends is certainly socially relevant as well as personally therapeutic.

You’re putting the anthology under your own Wicked Run Press. Does this mean we can expect to see more future releases under it?
I think it’s like child-birth, or what I imagine child-birth to be. During the pain of doing it, you swear you’ll never do it again, but once you see the beautiful product and watch it grow up, you forget the pain and want to produce again. Without the help from a small team, the endeavor would have been too much. I’ll continue to do some special projects, but I am not insane enough to think I can compete as a small publisher. Doesn’t mean the books aren’t worthy, it just means that I don’t expect the proceeds to pay my mortgage.

Seeing how this is your first time compiling and editing an anthology, what is the biggest lesson you learned while doing it? And what is something you didn’t anticipate.
It was incredibly illuminating. (Everyone should drop acid or compile an anthology at least once.) Some lessons learned: there are more writers out there than I imagined. The webpage soliciting submissions got 10,000 hits. And many of those who then submitted just completely ignored the guidelines. I think writers machine-gun fire from their back-list when they see an open call. I don’t mean to whine, since I realize I’m ‘just me’ but half of the submissions I received were well outside the theme. The other half were very difficult to choose from.

Most of your own work deals with the horror of drug addiction. Why do you think you’re so drawn to it?
As might be (or might not be) obvious, I’m a recovering alcoholic and addict. I’ve been clean and sober over 24 years, and have been working in the field of addiction treatment for 20 years. There were so many people in recovery who helped me get sober, and I wanted to pay it back, but after a while, the material soaks into one’s soul. I’ve seen my share of miracles but can get drenched in despair. Odd thing is, some of the darker elements of my stories are actually an understatement from reality. I think most horror writers are in touch with the fragile light of the human spirit, and that is why we write.

After the anthology is out, what’s next for you? Have we seen the last of the Milk-Blood world?
The well might be running dry, and I think I need to move on. Sequels for sequel sake turn into shit unless there is a new character, a new arc, and a story that exists by itself rather than just a long denouement of the initial. When I wrote All Smoke Rises, the follow up to Milk-Blood, part of my goal was to provide some hope. I needed some rising up from the ashes of despair, but I also gave it a whole new style and characters. I’ve revisited the world of Milk-Blood again in my Garden of Fiends novella, but it was just a small dip. As I believe any writer will tell you about their own stories, the world of Milk-Blood lives on in my head and the characters still speak to me, whether I write about them or not.

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Check out Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror

 

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About Chad Lutzke (12 Articles)
Chad lives in Battle Creek, MI. with his wife, children, and far too many dogs. For over two decades, he has been a contributor to several different outlets in the independent music and film scene including articles, reviews, and artwork. Chad loves music, rain, sarcasm, dry humor, and cheese. He has a strong disdain for dishonesty and hard-boiled eggs. He has written for Famous Monsters of Filmland, Rue Morgue and Scream magazine. He is a regular contributor to Horror Novel Reviews, Halloween Forevermore and Heavy Planet. His fictional work can be found in several magazines and anthologies including his own 18-story anthology, NIGHT AS A CATALYST. He has written a collaborative effort with horror author Terry M. West, THE HIM DEEP DOWN. In the summer of 2016, Lutzke released his dark coming-of-age novella OF FOSTER HOMES AND FLIES which has been praised by authors Jack Ketchum, James Newman, John Boden, and many others. Later in 2016, Lutzke released his contribution to bestselling author J. Thorn's AMERICAN DEMON HUNTER series with AMERICAN DEMON HUNTERS: BATTLE CREEK, MI. Winter 2017 will see the release of WALLFLOWER, a story about addiction, delusions, and flowers. Chad can be found lurking the internet at the following address: www.chadlutzke.com

1 Comment on Digging into the Garden of Fiends

  1. Sounds like an excellent read. Great selection of authors here, Rgabks.

    Like

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