Evening all, and once again welcome to the quiet corner of the DrunkinaGraveyard site in which I’m allowed to leave my scribbles.
During the past five or so months I’ve created and submitted numerous interviews in hopes that I could post the answers and our readership could better understand the person in which they so find an interest. Many go ignored, some go so far as landing on the PR people’s desks only then to be discarded in order to line whatever it is they choose to use as a trash receptacle, or so I would assume. Suffice it to say interviews are something I once had unbridled excitement over but now have lost interest in due to the lack of responses I’ve received. Then. Suddenly, I got a note from the ‘powers that be’ to look into a set of books entitled The Knuckle Ballad series (of which there are presently two, though I’ve been told informed more are scheduled to follow). Ironically in the same hour I was also contacted by the author of said books himself, Drew Stepek, asking if I might be interested in giving a review, or a few words on what I thought after reading his prose.
In all honesty reading is something I love to do, although in the last few years have had little time to indulge in (I could blame the newest addition to my family but I’ll choose instead to lay blame on my laziness and hectic work schedule). The last book I read/reviewed, Black Devil Spine, took an annoying long time to finish/compose as I’m sure the author will also attest to (but perhaps not in the public forum). Alas I’m now placed in a rather hard position, I love reading and want to consume what I’ve been informed is a great read, though I fear I may not find the time to do so. Aha! What better way then, than to first drum up some interest by introducing the author, his style, possible influence and interests to entice those that have no knowledge of him or his works an inkling into what it is he is hoping to achieve, and what it is I’m letting myself in for.
Without further ado I give you…
Questions with Drew Stepek:
DIAG: After spending a little time researching I’ve discovered that your career spans several formats. You’re prolific in both the printed realm and creative input for several genres of television. Is there anything you have yet to achieve that you’ve always been aching to dive into?
DS: Yes. Great question. I’ve always wanted to get into horror films. There is a script for Knuckle Supper kicking around out there and hopefully someday it will see the light of day. My co-screenwriter and I, Dionne Jones, will also be doing scripts for all the Knuckle Balled (book came out on Thanksgiving), The Knuckle (which should come out next year) and the final book in the main canon of the series, The Last Knuckle Supper. Let’s hope it sees the light of day. It’s pretty hard R to Rated X material so… we’ll see.
DIAG: In much the same arena are there any shows (syndicated or not) be they current or cancelled that you especially enjoy? (Unrelated, I’m a rabid fan of Archer and Rick and Morty myself.) What makes a great series in your personal opinion?
DS: I’m a show addict and it’s so awesome that we live during this time of television renaissance. My list of shit I love (that is current or close to current) …Leftovers, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Mr. Robot, Breaking Bad, Jessica Jones, The Crown, Man in the High Castle, Catastrophe, Ray Donovan, Preacher, The Path, Luke Cage, House of Cards (not anymore), Stranger Things, Ozark, Mind Hunter, Black Mirror. The greatest show of all time is Twilight Zone… but we all already knew that. RIGHT?
DIAG: Are there any genres of films that you especially enjoy? Any films or directors whose works in particular that you cannot get enough of?
DS: Absolute horror freak. I have been my whole life. I will watch anything. I specifically like the giant monster boom that’s happening. I also really love anything that is insanely realistic and I am a big fan of Venom Mob movies… 5 Deadly Venoms being my favorite. My top 5 horror films. 1. Exorcist 2. Halloween 3. The Thing 4. Jacob’s Ladder 5. It Follows. 5 Favorite Films (not horror). 1. Angel Heart 2. Once Were Warriors 3. Fresh 4. Barfly 5. 5 Deadly Venoms.
DIAG: Thus far into reading the second entry of the Knuckle series I detect, perhaps, a slight Trainspotting influence with punk undertones, am I wildly off base here?
DS: Yes. There is a shake of Trainspotting in the series but there is also a lot of The Warriors and A Clockwork Orange. The third book in the series is going to really follow Shaw Bros. Kung Fu films and will be completely different than the rest.
DIAG: Have you drawn any inspiration from film or printed works for the area of fiction in which you contribute?
DS: See above. I’m a giant Clive Barker fan, as well. That said, I try to write horror novels and supernatural elements from the perspective of “this could happen” and try to make them as realistic as possible. My favorite books of all time are 1. Of Mice and Men 2. The Adventures of Huck Finn 3. Ham on Rye 4. The Great and Secret Show 5. Weaveworld.
DIAG: Given the success of your ‘Knuckle’ series is there any interest (from either yourself or others) to transform them into the visual realm? Are there any directors or creative teams that you believe might be able to do it justice?
DS: Indeed. More details coming soon.
DIAG: Who would you consider ‘in the running’ for such demanding roles?
DS: Ha! I hate jinxing myself with stuff like that but, if I were to draw up a dream cast for the Knuckle Series, it would be this RJ Reynolds – Aaron Paul, Bait – An Unknown, Dez – Dane DeHann, The Habit – Lindsey Lohan, King Cobra – Terry Crews, Linnwood Perry – Jack Gleeson, Nomi – Erika Ervin, Eldritch – Alexander Skarsgard, Pinball – An Unknown, Cody Walker – Graham Rogers
DIAG: Have you plans to expand the direction, perhaps using other characters in the storyline’s past, a prequel of sorts?
DS: Yep. The third book will have a lot of flashback to before RJ met Bait. Beyond that, there will be spinoff books featuring Cody Walker, Linnwood Perry and Eldritch.
DIAG: Can you drop any hints as to the further direction of the ‘Knuckle’ universe?
DS: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD. If you haven’t read Knuckle Balled yet, move on. You’ve been warned. The third book will take place in Mexico and RJ, with the help of Cody Walker and another transplanted gang from LA, El Reinado de Sangre, needs to find his way back to the States. That said, he has to go against a giant cartel in Mexico called Cinco Demonios.
DIAG: Moving onto other areas of interest. Where might someone find your musical interests?
DS: I am a huge fan of punk rock, reggae, industrial and old school rap. My favorite bands are Skinny Puppy, 7 Seconds, The Dead Boys, Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers, Steel Pulse, Peter Tosh, Ministry, Chemical Brothers, Public Enemy, GBH, PIL and KRS-ONE. I also love the Sex Pistols and anything that sounds like it was recorded in an alley.
DIAG: Have they changed drastically over time as your career has developed?
DS: Nope. Sadly, I’ve run a pretty solid listening regiment through the years.
DIAG: Are there any particular albums or artists you find dominate your audio device?
DS: Hmmmmmm. Depends how drunk I am. It’s usually punk rock or rap. There are some songs that I can listen to over and over again and never get sick of them.
DIAG: Are there any particular works or authors output you feel any aspiring genre writer should consume/digest?
DS: Strangely enough, I kind of shy away from extreme horror as I really want to read something that has significant value to what’s going on. If you haven’t read Stephen King, Clive Barker, Dan Simmons and Ray Garton… you probably should. As far as horror goes, that’s as good as you’ll ever get.
DS: At Drunkinagraveyard.com we strive to cover a multitude of topics. As the name suggests many members of the staff have a fascination for intoxicating beverages. What’s your ‘poison’ of choice?
DS: I’m allergic to alcohol. That doesn’t mean I’m not a drunk. The thing is that I can only drink lighter beer. I have a kegerator with two taps so I always keep them filled with Mexican beers. My favorites are Modelo Especial, Victoria and Pacifico. Weird, I know. If I do a shot of whiskey, I’m fucking wasted immediately. Got worse over the years but I’ll NEVER be a quitter.
DIAG: Alright let’s give this a shot – Rapid fire round
DIAG: Stephen King or Clive Barker?
DIAG: AC/DC or Metallica?
DIAG: Dario Argento or Lucio Fulci?
DIAG: Cannibal Holocaust or The Green Inferno?
DS: Cannibal Holocaust
DIAG: A Collector’s Edition or the same title in a Bargain bin?
DS: Bargain Bin
DIAG: Dillard’s or Goodwill?
DS: Aren’t they the same. POSERS on Melrose is what’s up. (*But are they in Nebraska? I’m just asking as I’m a cheap bastid!)
DIAG: Slayer or Cannibal Corpse?
DS: Slayer. Every day.
DIAG: Lethal Weapon or Die Hard?
DS: Die Hard. I always laugh when Detective John McClain says, “California” right when he lands in LA. It’s so out of place and dumb. It’s like the scene in Ghostbusters when Murray plays the piano and says, ‘They hate this.” Those two lines always get a laugh out of me.
DIAG: Hollywood or Indie?
DIAG: Book or Book on Tape?
DIAG: My apologies if that was frustrating or exhaustive. Here’s your chance to fly off the cuff. Is there anything you’d wish to say before I bring this interview to a close? The floor is, as they say, all yours.
DS: Not at all. I feel like I just sucked down an 8 ball. I burned through this shit. At the risk of being a self-promoting douche, if you want to read something completely different from all the dime a dozen survival horror novels or extreme horror novels but don’t want to sacrifice gore, then take a look at Knuckle Supper and Knuckle Balled. They are like nothing you’ve read and that says a lot because it’s about the most overused horror creature of all time (the vampire).
DIAG: Thanks again Drew. All the best for your future endeavors. And thanks for the interview.
DS: It was a blast. D
Well, there you have it, an introduction to the author and what to expect from the Knuckle Ballad books. If you’re excuse me I have to jump right back in. What I’ve consumed so far has been excellent and admittedly slightly off kilter. Expect my thoughts in the not so distant future.
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