Author Lorne Dixon Talks Blue Eel, Progressive Horror, and More! - Dread Central
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Author Lorne Dixon Talks Blue Eel, Progressive Horror, and More!

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blueeels - Author Lorne Dixon Talks Blue Eel, Progressive Horror, and More!

Cutting Block Books is releasing Lorne Dixon’s new psychedelic thriller Blue Eel on November 30th so we thought it was a good time to sit down and chat with the author about the style in which the book is written, which he dubs “progressive horror.”  We asked Dixon for a bit of clarification of the term as well as more details about his belief that the time of traditional monster novels and rewritten urban legends is over.

lornedixon - Author Lorne Dixon Talks Blue Eel, Progressive Horror, and More!

Dread Central:  You’ve referred to Blue Eel as “progressive horror,” which is rooted in current social anxieties, and said that it should especially appeal to Millennials and GenX’rs. But horror has always had a conscience – dating back to the Sixties when Night of the Living Dead was released, and even way before that in literature like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. What’s different about your concept of “progressive horror” today and what socially conscious books and films had to offer in the past? And will those of us who are a bit beyond the Millennials and X’rs in years also find something to like in the novel?

Lorne Dixon:  The difference between today’s progressive horror and the forward-thinking works of the past is immediacy. In 1818, Shelley’s Frankenstein appropriated the fear of advanced medicine (at the time indistinguishable from sorcery in the public consciousness) at a time when that fear had over a century of relevance to come. Our world today moves at a much faster speed. There wasn’t much fear of identity theft fifteen years ago. In 2015, I doubt there are any of us that don’t think twice about how and when we use our social security numbers. Point is: What scares us changes, and it changes faster today than ever. The “mortgage” metaphor used by so many haunted house novels in the ‘70s and ‘80s is too tame for young adults raised in a culture of global financial crises. At the same time, regardless of age, we all have modern fears, so there’s no risk of alienated more seasoned fans.

DC:  Have you abandoned all the typical horror tropes in the book? You’ve specifically said not to expect “creaking castle doors or cursed family trees,” but what will hardcore horror fans find that’s familiar, if anything?

LD:  “All” tropes? I’m not even sure that’s possible. But yes, there was a definite push away from the obvious iconography of the genre. I wasn’t very interested in creating a new “monster” as much as concerned about redefining what the world “monster” means in today’s culture of extremes.

DC:  A majority of the adult characters in Blue Eel are morally ambiguous. In modern films, TV series, etc., the anti-hero is king. What do you hope to add to the discussion about moral relativity and situational ethics?

LD:  Our main character, Branson Turaco, doesn’t fit the mold of an “anti-hero” in the conventional sense. I don’t tell the reader how to judge his actions. Some will find him 100% justified in all of his actions. Some will think he’s crossed too many moral lines for any sort of redemption. That’s part of what makes the novel so unique and credible in today’s world: There’s a democracy of storytelling at work here. The reader isn’t forced to interpret the story the same way as the writer. That’s real moral relativity. And it’s a great deal of what sometimes makes life today so frightening — heroes and villains are largely a matter of perspective. The final line of the back cover synopsis on the book reads “What remains of a man once he sheds his humanity in the name of vengeance?” The answer to that question is up to the reader.

DC:  The book concerns a missing child. That can be such a touchy subject – what influenced you to tackle it, and what type of research did you do?

LD:  Child abduction is a “touchy subject” specifically because of its relevance. It isn’t an urban myth or a fantasy monster; it’s real. Kids go missing. Horrible things happen to them. This book is far, far from torture porn. The subject is handled with gravity. The scariest thing any parent can imagine is for their child to disappear. The second scariest is to be blamed for the crime. There were several real life cases that I looked into for inspiration, ranging from Lindbergh to JonBenet Ramsey, but the story here didn’t necessitate deep research. I had no desire to dive straight into a realistic account of those kind of crimes. This is a horror novel that uses a child abduction as the jump-off point. It’s not a study in misery. There are revenge and noir notes throughout. It’s buoyant.

DC:  Blue Eel is set in a “psychedelic world of uncontrollable substances and bizarre evolutions.” Not to mention that our lead character is pursued by “post-human assassins with glowing skin and a symbiotic relationship with a mysterious species of eel!” So there are sci-fi elements in addition to the horror? What can you tell us about that?

LD:  I’m pretty sure “science fiction” is the wrong term. Is a fictitious cryptozoological creature, such as the eels of the title, based in any kind of science at all? I’d place it more in the realm of fantasy. I hate the term “dark fantasy,” but I’m tempted to use it instead of “sci-fi,” if only because of that term’s baggage. There’s nothing in Blue Eel to evoke traditional science fiction. Horror has always fantastic creatures and the like. The eels are only one construct in a larger metaphor about Branson Turaco’s journey.

DC:  What authors – horror or otherwise – have influenced you?

LD: So, some of these names may be very obvious. Some might require a little research for anyone who is not a heavy horror reader. But here goes: Brian Hodge. William Peter Blatty. Kathe Koja. H. P. Lovecraft. Dan Simmons. Charles L. Grant. Gary A. Braunbeck. Elizabeth Massie.

DC:  Can you share a few of your favorite horror books, movies, TV shows, etc.? Our readers like to compare notes with the folks we interview.

LD:  Read: Prototype by Brian Hodge. Legion by William Peter Blatty. Cipher by Kathe Koja. Watch: Bride of Frankenstein. Fulci’s The Beyond. Detention. Tune in: “Millenium.” “Twin Peaks”… “Ash vs. Evil Dead” (because I can’t resist).

DC:  Now that Blue Eel has left the nest, so to speak, what’s coming up for you? Have you started on your next project already?

LD:  Sure. Next up is a much, much darker novel about dementia and memory loss. It’s straight-up horror in every way. The basic idea is to recast a disease like Alzheimer’s as the Big Bad in a horror novel. To give some idea where I’m headed, readers should google “Synapomorphy.” And if you already know what that is… go outside and get some sun or something. It’s been a challenging novel to write, but exhilarating as well, knowing that it’s not been attempted before.

If Blue Eel sounds up your alley, then you can pre-order it from Amazon now.  Our thanks to Lorne – to keep tabs on what he’s up to, be sure to follow him on Twitter @lornedixon.

Synopsis:
Long suspected of guilt in his daughter Madeline’s disappearance, Branson Turaco takes an abrupt turn in his life when a lock of Madeline’s hair is found in a child predator’s home. Branson buys an unlicensed handgun, enlists the help of a disgraced filmmaker and a desperate intern, and heads out onto the open road.

Clinging to the dim hope that his daughter might still be alive, Branson finds himself pursued by a team of post-human assassins with glowing skin and a symbiotic relationship with a mysterious species of eel. Lost in a psychedelic world of uncontrollable substances and bizarre evolutions, he must decide how much he is willing to sacrifice in order to unravel the mystery of Madeline’s disappearance.

What remains of a man once he sheds his humanity in the name of vengeance?

blueeel.jpg?zoom=1 - Author Lorne Dixon Talks Blue Eel, Progressive Horror, and More!

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