I recently read and enjoyed 28 Teeth of Rage, by Ennis Drake. Mr. Drake was kind enough to answer a few questions for me (not at gunpoint!), and here they is.
BMK: Congrats on the release of 28 Teeth of Rage! It’s a great story, and folks are going to love it. We talked a little about this privately… Since reading 28 Teeth of Rage, I found myself putting up a bunch of wood trim in J.O.’s room. Oak. It’s nice. So every time I went to the old chop saw, I couldn’t help but think of Rage and those 28 teeth. Are you happy that you could make me fear my own tools?
ED: It’s a funny thing, really. I never set out to write about things I fear, but it certainly turned out that way with 28 Teeth of Rage. Of the many jobs I’ve had, one was working as a wood floor installer, so, naturally, I was using a chop saw, table saw, etc. . . on a daily basis. And, naturally, I’ve seen some nasty accidents. On one occasion, when my partner was injured by a piece of wood that was caught, and thrown, by the chop saw, there happened to be a crew installing cabinetry on the same job site. The boss of that crew told me later that day that the table saw behind him had taken two fingers from two different guys. . .it wasn’t long after that I had the idea for a story about an anthropomorhic saw. Twelve inch metal blades spinning at 4800 revolutions per minute demand fear, in my opinion.
BMK: As a novel, 28 Teeth of Rage is not long. Around 120 pages, I think. There’s a lot of story packed into those pages, and there’s no reason to make it longer. Were you ever worried about the word count? Was there ever a temptation to inflate it?
ED: I was worried about the word count! Kate Jonez was interested in the story as I’d presented it to her, but at that stage it was just a novella. Maybe fifteen thousand words, or so. As most of us on the keyboard-side of this business know, novellas are incredibly difficult to sell. Unfortunately for me, most of my short stories end up 10k on the light end (which is how 28 Teeth of Rage began; as a concept for a short story). Not really short stories at all, in other words. So, Kate was interested in the story, but not at novella length. She asked me if I could expand it and what did I say? You bet your ass! I said: “Absolutely!” I knew there was room to grow because I’d been restraining the story since I began writing it. It wanted to be more. I didn’t want it to be more. I wanted to have some kind of shot at selling it! Luckily, Kate helped me rescue it from going into a drawer by giving me a shot at novelizing it. However, as I approached the end of the expanded draft, I realized it was going to be a very short novel at best. But, and I paraphrase here, Kate said the magic words: “Let the story dictate its own length.” And that was that.
BMK: How did you come to be published by Omnium Gatherum? Are you worried about getting hazed by the other OG authors?
ED: It came down to an e-mail. Providence, maybe?
Nah! Everyone’s been great! Wait, should I be worried? Now I’m worried.
BMK: Was there anything surprising you’ve learned about the book industry that you didn’t know before getting published?
ED: No. Not really. Before I made up my mind to write for publication I spent about a year researching the industry. I’m obssessive-compulsive that way.
BMK: Every place has a spirit that can inspire juicy horror writin’. What is Florida’s spirit like? How much or little does that spirit effect your writing?
ED: Florida’s a strange place. Particularly old Florida and rural Florida. There’s a lot of history here. A lot of bloody history. Tourists come and they see the lakes, the rivers, the beaches, the palms and the sunshine, but there’s shadow, too. Darkness. You can’t have light without the darkness.
BMK: What do you end up wasting time on when you know you should be writing?
ED: I’ve recently discovered Facebook. I probably don’t need to say anymore about that. Then there’s Twitter, which is like social-media crack. I like my Wii and my XBox a little too much, too. Thankfully, I don’t watch much television, so there’s that.
BMK: Just how deadly are gnomes, and should we fear them above robots?
ED: If you dig into Indo-European folklore enough you know gnomes aren’t necessarily benign spirits of the forest. On the other hand, I’ve seen all the Terminator movies, so I’m gonna go with robots. Once they start travelling through time we’re pretty much fucked.
BMK: Do you write short stories, too?
ED: I do. I don’t sell many because short-story writing is an art I struggle with. I tell myself, “You only have 5,000 words, Drake,” but I can rarely get them under that and be happy with them. The few that are out there are the infrequent gems I’ve been able to pull from my mind and translate to paper in a length that was “acceptable”.
BMK: Come mow my lawn.
ED: Come mow my lawn.
Oh, snap! That’s a full on jinx, buddy. You owe me a soda.
BMK: Are you working on another novel? I’m sure you are. What’s it about? And what are some spoilers?
ED: My next novel is titled “50 Shades of Gray”. It started out as “Twilight” fan fiction, but hopefully that won’t stop everyone from buying billions of copies.
In all seriousness, I’m trying to wrap a collection of “short” fiction. It includes expanded and revised versions of my handful of published work and several pieces of long fiction. It’s titled “50 Shades of Gray” and it started out as “Twilight” fan fiction, but hopefully…. What?!
Thanks for your time, Brent. Always a pleasure.
BMK: Thank YOU, Ennis, and congrats again.
28 Teeth of Rage is available from Omnium Gatherum at Amazon.com. Get it.