Max Booth III
"The bond between author and reader has always fascinated me. Without the reader's imagination, an author's words are dead in the dark. Only when you open their book do you make them come alive. It's like a spell. And you spread that magic because you talk about the book, post about it, or give it away to someone." - Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Hex & Echo.
Our next author featured in our series is Max Booth III. I thought I'd leave it to a writer to explain why I am doing this series of author interviews and I couldn't have said it better than Thomas Olde Heuvelt above. In Maggots Screaming! on a hot summer weekend in San Antonio, Texas, a father and son bond after discovering three impossible corpses buried in their back yard. A family that decays together stays together. I'm looking forward to discussing this hilarious and gross summer read Maggots Screaming! in our upcoming Virtual Horror Book Club this August.
You can order Maggots Screaming! HERE via our website (support indies). I hope you all enjoy this interview as much as I did. I laughed out loud reading the Lightning Round.
Stephanie Rose: I don't even know where to start with Maggots Screaming! Please tell us how this story came to life?
MB: We were digging up an old garden in the back yard, intending on replacing it with new plants, when I leaned over and whispered to my stepson, “What if we find a body in here?” Then, after a moment, I added, “And what if that body is you?” He didn’t much care for this idea, which was enough to tell me it was worth exploring in a future book.
SR: Clearly you are a fan of The Simpsons. Any reason why you chose to incorporate it so much into this story? Favorite episode?
MB: My stepson, whose name is actually Dylan, and I watch The Simpsons all the time. It felt like a natural element to include in the narrative. I am not quite sure what led to me making it such an essential part of the story, except that sometimes certain TV shows can go a long way to forming a bond with others, especially early in someone’s life. My favorite episode varies constantly, but they tend to be ones written by John Swartzwelder.
SR: What would you do if you found a corpse of yourself in your own backyard?
MB: I would cry.
SR: If you could only choose one of your books to recommend to a reader which would it be and why?
MB: I think probably Maggots Screaming! since it’s my personal favorite work of mine. Not every book is finished exactly as you intended, but this one I managed to get exactly right, I think.
SR: Do you listen to any music when you write? If so what kind?
MB: Yes, usually movie soundtracks, instrumental stuff. John Carpenter especially. I also work to the sound of our dogs wrestling under my desk. During the writing of Maggots Screaming! I listened to a ten-hour loop of The Office theme song and a ten-hour loop of The Simpsons theme song over and over. I do not recommend doing that.
SR: What is the best piece of life advice that you've received?
MB: If you pour the cream & sweetener into your cup before adding coffee, then it’ll be better distributed throughout and you won’t even have to stir it.
SR: Can you tell us about your upcoming horror projects? Any other adaptations in the works?
MB: My novel Touch the Night has been optioned by a popular streamer and is currently being developed into a television series. It’s possible nothing actually happens with this, but I’m remaining hopeful that there will be some good news to share soon.
My next book will be Abnormal Statistics. It is a short story collection of familial horror. My new novella, Indiana Death Song, will be included in the collection, along with two never-before-published short stories and ten other reprints. It comes out March 2023 through Apocalypse Party.
I am also continuing the Ghoulish Book Festival next April in San Antonio. Badges are available now: https://ghoulishbookfest.com/?product=badge
SR: Any recent books, films, shows, or podcasts you want to recommend to our readers?
MB: I’m currently reading an early copy of Ghost Eaters by Clay McLeod Chapman and I’m really enjoying it. Another book I’d recommend is Moonfellows by Danger Slater (which I published through my small press). It’s about the real story of the original moon landing the government doesn’t want you to know about.
Movie-wise, I thought The Black Phone was pretty good.
TV…I loved The Bear on Hulu.
Podcasts…if you’re interested in writing screenplays, you can’t go wrong with Scriptnotes. I also would recommend This is Horror for great horror interviews. I’m a big fan of Secretly Incredibly Fascinating, too.
SR: What is your favorite word?
SR: What is your least favorite word?
SR: What is your favorite scary movie?
MB: The Thing.
SR: What is your favorite horror book?
MB: The Talisman.
SR: What sound or noise do you love?
MB: The weird communication noises my dog Frank makes when
he wants me to throw a ball.
SR: What sound or noise do you hate?
MB: Someone sucking up snot back into their nose.
SR: What is your favorite curse word?
SR: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
SR: What profession would you not like to do?
MB: The fast food industry seems like a nightmare.
SR: What is your favorite fall/spooky activity to do?
MB: Nothing better than carving pumpkins while watching a spooky movie
SR: If you knew you were going to die and only had a chance to read one more book what would it be?
MB: Fuck you for this question (probably Moby-Dick).
SR: You plan a movie night and can watch one movie with any one writer. What writer and what movie do you choose?
MB: I’m watching Maximum Overdrive with Stephen King, of course
SR: What author, dead or alive, would you want to spend a night in a haunted house with?
MB: I guess I gotta go with my own dead doppelganger, don’t I?
Since then, he’s worked as a real estate filing clerk, a cashier, an overnight grocery store stocker, a warehouse merchandiser, and a hotel night auditor.
Booth is the co-founder, publisher, and editor of the small press Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing (est. 2012) and its horror imprint Ghoulish Books (est. 2022).
He’s the managing editor of Dark Moon Digest, a horror fiction quarterly, along with its annual Young Adult spinoff Night Frights. GHOULISH, a weekly horror comedy podcast dedicated to celebrating everything spooky, was launched in June 2019. New episodes are posted every Monday and Friday. It’s available wherever you listen to podcasts. Booth is the author of several books, including Maggots Screaming!, Touch the Night, We Need to Do Something, The Nightly Disease, and others. In 2021 IFC Midnight released the film adaptation of We Need to Do Something, directed by Sean King O’Grady and starring Vinessa Shaw, Pat Healy, and Sierra McCormick. Booth also wrote the screenplay for it.
He’s written non-fiction for publications like LitReactor, CrimeReads, the San Antonio Current, Film 14, and FANGORIA. His short fiction has appeared in over 50 magazines and anthologies. He runs two newsletters: The Ghoulish Times (weekly horror newsletter) and Dog Ears (craft-based newsletter focused on the writing and publishing industry). He lives with his partner, Lori Michelle, and their dog Frank.