AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Michaelbrent Collings

Meghan: Hey, Michaelbrent. Welcome to this year’s Halloween Extravaganza… extended edition. It’s always a pleasure to have you here. What is your favorite part of Halloween?

Michaelbrent: I’m a dad, so my favorite part is definitely stealing candy from my kids after we trick-r-treat, then scratching my head and positing on the possibility of candy-stealing gremlins when my kids notice all their Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups have disappeared.

Meghan: Do you get scared easily?

Michaelbrent: Absolutely. I’ll scream (loudly) during horror movies, because I love to let myself go and just enjoy the terror. And my kids love watching me when I play a scary video game. It’s like watching someone tapdancing during a seizure. And I’m okay with that: at least my cowardice is entertaining.

Meghan: What is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen and why?

Michaelbrent: Hmmm…scariest movie would be a toss-up. There are just so many good ones out there! But if you define “scariest” as “biggest effect on ME,” it would probably be either The Shining or Watcher in the Woods, both of which I saw when I was around eight years old, and both of which sent me (literally) screaming down the hall when it was time for bed. I’ve rewatched both since then, and no longer scream about it (at least, not as much), so I feel very brave as a human. Conquering fears for the win!

As an adult, I do scream and shriek with the best of ‘em in the theaters, but I rarely STAY scared long after credits. Though there was a film called Aterrados (in English, Terrified) that just hit me in the right spot: I not only screamed during the movie, and that night I woke up FREAKED because someone was looming over my bed. Turned out it was just a hat on the bedpost, but sleep had pretty much gone bye-bye at that point.

Meghan: Which horror movie murder did you find the most disturbing?

Michaelbrent: Probably the one with the four colorful children with bizarrely stretched bodies and faces. Teletubbies is a nightmare in the waking world.

Meghan: Is there a horror movie you refused to watch because the commercials scared you too much?

Michaelbrent: Nah. Though there are definitely plenty that I’ve said, “Looks like that’s not for me.” I love horror, but there are still images and ideas that I think are not great for me, so I avoid those things. Not a judgment on others who might think differently, just there are definitely “no-go” areas in media that I choose to avoid for personal reasons.

Meghan: If you got trapped in one scary movie, which would you choose?

Michaelbrent: Probably Prom Night or one of those ilk: something where pretty much everyone who gets killed is a super-good-looking teen. I’d be safe on every level.

Meghan: If you were stuck as the protagonist in any horror movie, which would you choose?

Michaelbrent: Final Girls. I wouldn’t make it through to the end, but at least I’d have fun deconstructing the movie before I died!

Meghan: What is your all-time favorite scary monster or creature of the night?

Michaelbrent: Hmmm… I don’t think I have one. There are SO MANY GOOD ONES!

Meghan: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?

Michaelbrent: Definitely that “stealing candy from my children” thing.

Meghan: What is your favorite horror or Halloween-themed song?

Michaelbrent: I love the Halloween main title song. Awesome, and so iconic!

MeghanL Which horror novel unsettled you the most?

Michaelbrent: Probably The Shining by Stephen King. Not so much for the story, but because I remember reading it as a kid in the one room in my house where I wasn’t going to be disturbed by parents or siblings: the bathroom. So there I am, sitting on “my thinking spot,” and I turned the page to the part where the topiary animals come alive…and right then an earthquake hit. The unsettling part was trying to decide if I should play it safe and run for cover (but sacrifice my dignity as my pants were still around my ankles), or just sit tight, as it were, and hope for the best.

Meghan: What is the creepiest thing that’s ever happened while you were alone?

Michaelbrent: I’m no longer allowed to discuss this due to the terms of the settlement. But it does have to do with six rubber bands, a rabid penguin, and a single phone call made to the Bolivian Embassy in Uruguay.

Meghan: Which unsolved mystery fascinates you the most?

Michaelbrent: Probably the Jack the Ripper one. Not about who he is (I know that, but am prohibited from revealing it due to the terms of the above-named settlement), but how he got so many of the bloodstains out of his clothes!

Meghan: What is the spookiest ghost story that you have ever heard?

Michaelbrent: The Haunting of Hill House, hands down. Shirley Jackson’s book is one of the greatest pieces of horror literature ever written, and still sends shivers down my spine every time I read it.

Meghan: In a zombie apocalypse, what is your weapon of choice?

Michaelbrent: I’d like to say “crowbar” or “M16” or “grenades,” but honesty compels me to ask if “whimpering” can be considered a weapon. Because that’s probably what my go-to would be.

Meghan: Okay, Michaelbrent… let’s have some fun —

Would you rather get bitten by a vampire or a werewolf? Werewolf. I’d have hair again!

Would you rather fight a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion? Z-poc, definitely. Stay out of crowds, aim for the head. Seems simpler.

Would you rather drink zombie juice or eat dead bodies from the graveyard? Probably zombie juice. Which I’m assuming is some kind of smoothie made of old fruit.

Would you rather stay at the Poltergeist house or the Amityville house for a week? Amityville.

Would you rather chew on a bitter melon with chilies or maggot-infested cheese? I have no answer for this one.

Would you rather drink from a witch’s cauldron or lick cotton candy made of spider webs? Definitely the cotton candy. Cauldrons are SO last-year.

Boo-graphy: Michaelbrent Collings is an internationally bestselling novelist, produced screenwriter, and speaker. Best known for horror (and voted one of the top 20 All-Time Greatest Horror Writers in a Ranker vote of nearly 20,000 readers), Collings has written bestselling thrillers, mysteries, sci-fi and fantasy titles, and even humor and non-fiction.

In addition to popular success, Michaelbrent has also received critical acclaim: he is the only person who has ever been a finalist for a Bram Stoker Award (twice), a Dragon Award (twice), and a RONE Award, and he and his work have been reviewed and/or featured on everything from Publishers Weekly to Scream Magazine to NPR. An engaging and entertaining speaker, he is also a frequent guest at comic cons and on writing podcasts like Six Figure Authors, The Creative Penn, Writing Excuses, and others; and is a mental health advocate and TEDx speaker.

Website

I Am Legion 1: Strangers — You wake up in the morning to discover that you have been sealed into your home. The doors are locked, the windows are barred. THERE’S NO WAY OUT.

A madman is playing a deadly game with you and your family. A game with no rules, only consequences. So what do you do? Do you run? Do you hide?

OR DO YOU DIE?

I Am Legion 2: Stranger Still — Your sins are Legion… and now you belong to him.

Legion is a teacher. An avenging angel. A murderer. A madman. Born in the blood of a dying mother, raised in the underground lair of an insane father, he travels the world looking for those who keep secrets and sins. He finds those who have fallen short, and teaches them the lessons they need to leave their mistakes behind. Even if he has to kill them to do it. Because sometimes murder is the only way to teach a proper lesson.

So when he sees a man kidnap two people on the side of the road, Legion knows it is time to teach again. Soon he finds himself caught in the crossfire of a coup in a Russian crime syndicate. He is captured, beaten, bleeding, in chains; cut off and alone.

It’s just the way he likes it. Legion has found his students. And for them, life is about to become frightening and so much… stranger.

I Am Legion 3: Stranger Danger — He will teach you the lesson… he knows you’re dying to learn.

Legion is a teacher. An avenging angel. A murderer.

A madman.

Raised in the underground hideout of an insane father, he searches for those who keep secrets and sins. Then he teaches them how to leave those mistakes behind. Even if it means killing them to do it.

Because sometimes murder is the cost of a proper education.

That’s why, when he comes to a neighborhood in the grips of a vicious gang war, he knows the time has come to teach.

Soon Legion – and his imaginary brothers, Water and Fire – are caught in the middle of a vicious fight for control of the Downs, the worst part of a city on the verge of anarchy.

Legion is facing enemies on all sides. Hundreds of men will stop at nothing to capture or kill him.

Legion will teach the lessons. And the students will never forget, no matter how long – or short – their lives may be.

The students are ready.

And the teacher will never stop.

I Am Legion 4: Stranger Sins — What happens in Vegas… slays in Vegas.

Legion is a teacher. An avenging angel. A murderer.

A madman.

Raised in the underground hideout of an insane father, he now travels the world searching for those who torment the weak, who harm the innocent. He uncovers the secrets and sins of evildoers, and teaches them how to leave those mistakes behind.

Even if it means killing them to do it.

But this time, the tables have turned. The ghosts of Legion’s past have come for him; the victims of his madness have returned to torment and destroy him. Wounded, weak, near death: for the first time, Legion is not predator, but prey.

Now, aided by a woman and her daughter—who have themselves been surviving in secret terror for a decade—he must survive long enough to battle his past, to destroy the ghosts that have come for his sanity and soul…and to kill all who would harm his new friends.

Tracked by a crime family more twisted than anything he has ever seen, threatened by a madman whose strength is greater than anything he has ever experienced, Legion has never been closer to danger. They want his pain. They want his death. And they will stop at nothing to achieve their aims.

But Legion is a good teacher. So he will run. He will hide.

And then, when the students are ready…he will teach.

And his lessons are always murder.

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