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Less Than Pulp, Issue 34
Interview with Daniel J. Volpe & Lord of the Rings Rewatch
Daniel Volpe is an author who needs no introduction. Breaking onto the scene with extreme horror hits like Talia and Billy Silver, he made readers take notice, even garnering praise from the likes of World Horror Grandmaster Award-winner Brian Keene and splatter legend Edward Lee. He’s also cohost of the Written in Red podcast, a show where I’ve given my favorite and most comprehensive interview so far. You can check that out here. Daniel’s also a great guy, always taking the time to support other authors and share what he’s learned in the time he’s been publishing. Graciously, he’s taken the time to answer some questions for this week’s issue of Less Than Pulp, a newsletter for family, friends, and fans of my work. You can check out previous issues here and read my interview with Daniel below.
Lucas Mangum: You've accomplished a lot in the time you've been publishing. What's the one thing you feel has most contributed to your success?
Daniel Volpe: I try to stay consistent with my writing. I set a schedule and try to adhere to it. I put wide restrictions on myself to allow for some flexibility, while still holding myself accountable. For instance, I set my wordcount goal for the year and a secondary monthly goal. If I hit my monthly goal, I’ll go well over my yearly amount. Another huge thing is not being an asshole on social media. Just being decent to people and respecting them will go a long way. Plus, it’s the right thing to do.
LM: If you were put in charge of curating a reading list of the horror fiction canon, what are some titles or author names you would include?
DV: There are so many good ones out there, so it’s tough to narrow down. A couple of authors that shaped me and inspired my writing will not be a surprise to anyone. First and foremost has to be Stephen King. The guy is a legend and even into his senior years he continues to pump out novels. He’s a workhorse and still writes daily. Top picks for new readers from him: Pet Sematary, The Shining, Under the Dome are some of my favorites. The next is another legend in the world of hardcore horror. Edward Lee is not only an amazing extreme horror author, but his literary stuff is just as good. He’s another one that’s been around for decades and still pumping out filth. He’s also one of the nicest and most approachable guys around. Top reads: The Bighead, The Haunter of the Threshold, The Pig, Operator B. I’m going to give you a two-author combo for the last bit. That would have to be Richard Laymon and Brian Keene. When people talk about ‘pulp horror’ these two come to mind. I know I can pick up any book by either of them and enjoy the hell out it. What some of them (not all) lacked in plot, they made up in characterization, setting and gore. A couple of my faves: Laymon-The Traveling Vampire Show, The Beast House books. Keene- Earthworm Gods, Darkness on the Edge of Town, The Rising.
LM: Splatterpunk was a label given to a very specific type of fiction written by very specific authors in a very specific time period, but over the last few years, the term has come back into everyday use. What do you think is the main difference between the splatterpunk of today versus that of the late 80s? What are the most striking similarities?
DV: The biggest difference between the new vs the old is the diversity. Yes, the old tropes still exist, but many of them have been flipped on their heads. I also think that self-publishing has led writers to explore more with taboo subjects, whereas in the past, books still had to make it through editors and publishers. The authors are still the ‘punks’ of the horror genre. When someone, even a horror fan, hears splatterpunk, they cringe a little. Going back to Skipp, Spector, Schow, Lee, Miller, Barker, we’re all in the same boat. We like our horror hardcore and don’t give a fuck what anyone else thinks.
LM: Left to You saw you stretching your skills (and it definitely paid off). What are some other subgenres of horror (or separate genres altogether) that you would like to explore with future works?
DV: I’ve always been a fantasy nerd, so I think a blend of horror and fantasy might be in order. I actually have two complete fantasy novels and a few steampunk novels sitting in a file somewhere. I definitely like the western genre as well, and wouldn’t be opposed to doing a straight western at some point.
LM: What's a little-known fact about you that you would like to share with readers of this newsletter or fans of your work?
DV: I’ve trained train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu on and off since 2015 and have a love/hate with it. I love the sport, but damn, it’s fucking hard. I’ve won a competition or two and there’s nothing better than getting your hand raised. I’ve been on a bit of break due to work and injuries, but I’ll get back on the mats soon.
You can check out Daniel Volpe’s work here or on Amazon.
History became legend, and legend became myth…
Jean and I are showing our oldest Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films. I haven't seen these since the theaters, whereas Jean revisited them quite a bit with girlfriends who crushed hard on Aragorn and Legolas. I’m not the biggest fantasy fan, but I do think that when talking about the best films ever made, this trilogy should at least be in the conversation. They *feel* like a big deal. Larger than life stakes, rich worldbuilding, and characters I hadn't forgotten after twenty years. Unlike Marvel blockbusters, they don’t have one gear. Instead, there's something for everyone in each film, even moments that show Jackson hadn't completely abandoned his horror roots (“Looks like meat's back on the menu, boys!”). Our oldest is enjoying some parts but is bored by the downtime; he is six, remember. As an adult, I appreciate the downtime in these films just as much as the epic battles and fully realized creatures. He loved the Balrog, of course. He's loved fire/lava monsters since he was two and saw Ta-Ka from Moana.
We're getting to Return of the King this week.
On our own, Jean and I are watching the first season of Yellowjackets. I have a LOT to say, but this issue is already on the longer side, so I'll save it for next week.
On the reading front, I burned through Choke Hold by Christa Faust. It's fast-paced and trashy, just the way I like it. Now I'm reading Minion by the late LA Banks. Every time I read urban fantasy from the early 2000s, I fins myself wishing I'd gotten my shit together as a writer back then. I’d have had fun writing about vampire hunters and city-dwelling demons. I guess there's no reason I can't take a crack at something like that now, but I’m a different writer than I was then. I still very much enjoy reading this type of stuff, though.
That's gonna do it for this week. As always, thanks for being here. I truly couldn't do this without you.
The latest episodes of Make Your Own Damn Podcast are on The Deadly Spawn and a Behind the Scenes look at the show's new direction. You can check out the former here or wherever you get your podcasts. The latter is on our Patreon for just a buck.
Until next week…
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