The Gore Spotlight

HMS Q&A with Scott M. Baker

Our own PJ Griffin recently had the pleasure of chatting with Scott Baker the author of "Rotter World", “Vampire Hunters Trilogy" and most recently "Yeitso". Read on as Mr. Baker discusses his work, his creative process and his undying love for all things horror!

HMS: Scott, thank you so much for taking the time from your writing schedule to sit down with us and talk about a shared love of the horror genre.

SB: Thank you for hosting me. I enjoy chatting with people who love the genre as much as I do.

HMS: First off, what drew you to the horror genre? Do you consider being a fan and being a contributor to the craft of horror writing go hand in hand or are they very different things?

SB: I’ve been a Monster Kid as far back as I can remember. I built all the Aurora monster models, read Famous Monsters of Filmland, and even collected Castle Film’s 8mm mini-versions of classic horror and monster movies (back in the pre-historic days before Blu-Ray, DVDs, or even VHS). When I decided to write, it was only natural that horror would be the genre.

You have to be a fan to be a contributor, especially within your own subgenre. You have to know what the fans want and expect, and you have to have a good grasp on what the competition is doing. Everyone loves to make fun of Anne Rice’s vampires with souls or Stephanie Meyer’s glittery vampires, but let’s be honest. How many horror writers wished they had been the first one to bite into the paranormal or teen romance veins? Knowing what the competition is writing is even more important in the vampire and zombie subgenres since the markets are so glutted right now. If you’re not a fan and aware of what’s being published, it’s too easy to write something that’s been done before.

HMS: You write novels as well as short stories. Do you prefer one over the other? Are there different challenges in working on more small-length projects?

SB: It depends on the plot. The Vampire Hunters and the Rotter saga are trilogies because I couldn’t fit everything I wanted to do into one novel. In those series, I had subplots I wanted to go into, characters I wanted to develop (and usually kill off), and different themes I wanted to touch on. The trilogies provided the perfect venue to let my imagination run wild. Other times I get ideas that are just one-shot wonders, unique concepts that would make a boring novel, so they lend themselves ideally to the short story format. One example that comes to mind is “Deck the Malls with Bowels of Holly” in which an alcoholic mall Santa battles zombie reindeer. It would never have washed as a novel, but it made a perfect short story (and it would make a great movie with Bruce Campbell).

The challenge to each venue is in the characters. In a novel you have to develop your characters and constantly challenge them, force them to face an increasing number of horrors and impossible decisions, and still keep those characters believable. That, to me, is the most difficult part of writing a novel. On the other hand, in short stories you have to introduce your main character in no more than two or three paragraphs, develop him/her in a few pages, and still make the readers buy into that character. It’s a lot harder than it seems.

HMS: You've authored both “Rotter World” and the “Vampire Hunters Trilogy.” Is it hard going from one project to the next? Is there a difficulty in getting in the mind of new characters? Especially in the case of the Vampire Hunters Trilogy when you've had more time getting into a specific story/set of characters?

SB: I had written all three books in The Vampire Hunters trilogy before Rotter World, so it was easy to transition from one series to another. After Rotter World was completed, I started three other major projects. Then the publisher of Rotter World contacted me and said they wanted two sequels. Now I’m finding it difficult to switch from one concept to another. Usually I stick with one project until I hit a mental block, then I shift to another. The plus side is I’m always writing. The down side is sometimes it’s months before I get back to a project, and by then I’ve lost my continuity.

HMS: You have a soon-to-be-released novel “Yeitso.” What spoilers can you dish out for us here at HMS? How does it compare to your previous works?

SB: Sorry, no spoilers. Though the cover art does provide a few hints as to what the monster is.

Yeitso is unlike anything else I’ve written. I grew up in Boston watching Creature Double Feature on WLVI Channel 56, and fell in love with the giant monster movies of the 1950s. Big bugs, enormous reptiles, underwater creatures. If Hollywood made a movie about it, I watched it. As my homage to those movies that influenced me so much, I wrote Yeitso so that it reads like a 1950s monster movie. There is no explicit sex. The language is toned down (not a single F bomb in the book). And even the blood and gore are dialed back to a PG-13 level. This is the type of novel I’d let my twelve-year-old daughter read.

HMS: What do you feel your novels/stories bring to the horror genre? What do you hope to get across to fans who are maybe just discovering your work?

SB: My novels are pure entertainment. There are underlying themes in them; for example, The Vampire Hunters is an allegory for the war on terror. But I don’t believe in beating my readers over the head with a political or social subtext. My books are meant to be escapism. If you liked the bad-ass vampires from Blade or 30 Days of Night, then you’re going to love the bloodsuckers in The Vampire Hunters. If you like gory descriptions of decayed zombies eating their way through groups of humans, then you’ll enjoy Rotter World.


"Yeitso is unlike anything else I’ve written."

HMS: Horror is often mixed with other genres. Do you like to explore others or do you consider your projects to be deeply rooted in horror specifically?

SB: I don’t mind mixing genres. It forces me to write outside of my comfort zone, which is always a good thing. Several years ago I wrote a steampunk zombie short story titled “Last Flight of the Bismarck” in which I came up with the idea of a patient zero zombie driven by a steam engine and hydraulics. The young adult series I’m working on now also draws a little from fantasy and steampunk.

HMS: What is your primary influence for your characters? Are they ever based on people you know in real life or do you like a healthy separation between fiction and reality?

SB: Only one of my characters was ever based on a real person--Drake Matthews from The Vampire Hunters. He was a cigar-smoking, whiskey-swilling, iced coffee-drinking Bostonian who kept a pet rabbit, just like me. And I admit, I lived vicariously through Drake for three novels.

Other than that one self-indulgence, my characters are created based on the needs of the story. I may borrow a personality trait, a physical feature, a life event, or even a name to help flesh them out, but beyond that they’re all figments of my imagination. And no, I’ve never killed off an ex or a bad boss in any of my stories, though I have been tempted.

HMS: What does your creative schedule look like? Are you neat and organized or more of the scattered purges of expression type?

SB: I’m very neat and organized. I plot out my novels on 3x5 cards before I begin writing, so in most cases I know exactly where the novel is going. On those occasions when new ideas or characters emerge during the writing process, I write those thoughts down on cards and use them to help keep track of plot. As for my schedule, I usually write in the mornings and early afternoon, and then later in the evening after the family has gone to bed. But I’m never without a writing companion. Before they all passed away, I used to share my study with three rabbits. Now my furry muses are either my two boxers, Walther and Bella, or the cat, Archer.

HMS: What can we hope to see from you in the future? What can our horror-lovers at HMS look forward to from your work?

SB: The second book in the Rotter saga, Rotter Nation, is currently with my publisher; I’m working on the third book in the trilogy now. I’ve finished Hell Gate, the first book in a young adult post-apocalyptic coming-of-age series about a portal that has opened up between earth and Hell, and the sixteen-year-old boy that must deal with the fact that his mother created the portal. Finally, I’m researching and plotting the concept for another series that pits American intelligence officers against the Nazi occult during World War II.

HMS: Finally, you're locked in a house full of Zombies, Werewolves, and Vampires. You have to encounter at least one in order to escape. Which monster do you choose?

SB: Zombies. They’re slower, less coordinated, and not as smart as vampire of werewolves.

HMS: Scott, thank you once again for taking the time to titillate our readers and share your contributions to the horror genre.

SB: Thank you. It was my pleasure. I look forward to doing it again sometime.

Find out more about Scott and connect with him via social media by checking out these links!


PJ Griffin, HMS

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