RESONATOR! Frequency Shifting with Matthew M. Bartlett
RESONATOR: New Lovecraftian Tales From Beyond is in the world! Pre-orders have been filled and shipped, and that tingle you feel between your eyes is anticipation! Also, your pineal gland. DOING IT’S THANG. No, no, the ointment won’t help this time… but perhaps this insightful interview that anthology editor Scott R Jones did with RESONATOR author Matthew M. Bartlett will! (We’ll be rolling out interviews with most of the contributors over the next two weeks or so, so check back often for added awesome.)
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Matthew, you’re the author of maybe the most genuinely weird collection of stories I (and many others) read and enjoyed last year, Gateways to Abomination. Can you speak a little bit about your strange locale of Leeds, MA,and its connection to your story in the anthology, Machine Will Start When You Are Start?
In reality, Leeds is a village in the western part of Northampton, Massachusetts. The fictional Leeds is Northampton viewed through a funhouse mirror…or maybe a spookhouse mirror. Northampton still looks very much the way it did in the 1800s – most of the buildings are still there; only the banners and signs change. That visual proximity to the past is a daily source of inspiration for me. It is an art town, a liberal town, and as such it attracts a lot of New Agers, psychics, and weirdos in general. The Leeds of Gateways to Abomination is a place that draws witches, revenants, and wicked men. In my imagination I live on a line between my fictional Leeds and the real Northampton.
The guiding force behind the bad juju in Leeds (and beyond) is a corporation called Annelid Industries International (A.I.I.). In Machine Will Start When You Are Start, A.I.I. is the manufacturer, or, perhaps the distributor, of a knockoff of the Tillinghast Resonator. Or maybe it’s the “real” thing, acquired, repurposed as an “adult toy,” and then sold. Who can say?
Your writing has a wonderful visceral quality to it. Machine Will Start… is punchy, almost gonzo body-horror with a high surrealist edge. Who are your influences?
As you might expect, at least as far as Machine Will Start… is concerned, there’s a little bit of Cronenberg in there, a dash of Stephen King, a little Burroughs, even Donald E. Westlake. In general, I like my stuff dark…Ligotti, of course, Mark Samuels, Aickman, Lovecraft. There are too many contemporary authors to list, but I’ve definitely felt the influence of Scott Nicolay, Laird Barron, Scott Thomas, Ian Rogers, and others in the pieces I’m working on now.
This story is one of three in the anthology that pulls inspiration from the overcharged sexuality of Stuart Gordon’s film adaptation of From Beyond. Sex and horror are of course great bedfellows; do you find the pairing of the two easy, or is it a fine line to walk? Is it possible to cross the line, and how would you know if you did?
When I started this story, it was my intention to cross the line, to make myself uncomfortable, to do something that wouldn’t have fit at all in Gateways. In general I prefer to leave sex out of my fiction, or at least any description of sex, unless there’s something deeply twisted about it. This story seemed to unspool onto the page. It was terrific fun to write.
What’s coming up for you in 2015, Matthew?
So far I have new stories due to be published in High Strange Horror from Muzzleland Press, in Xnoybis, a Weird Fiction journal from Dunham’s Manor Press, and in the New England Horror Writers’ third anthology. In the next month or so I’ll be self-publishing an illustrated chapbook called The Witch-Cult in Western Massachusetts. The end of the year will see the release of my follow-up to Gateways to Abomination, a book maybe double the length of Gateways, with longer stories. That will be published by Muzzleland Press.