Today I welcome fantasy author Douglas Kolacki to Exquisite Corpse. Douglas began writing while stationed with the Navy in Naples, Italy, published numerous stories in San Diego, and recently completed a cross-country trek to his new home in Providence, Rhode Island. His short story credits include Weird Tales, Dragons Knights & Angels, Haunted: Ten Tales of Ghosts, Bites: Ten Tales of Vampires, Cutlass: Ten Tales of Pirates, Spells: Ten Tales of Magic, Undead: Ten Tales of Zombies and Big Pulp. His published novels are Elijah’s Chariot and On the Eighth Day, God Created Trilby Richardson.
I see that you have spent some time living in Australia. What was the best thing about Australia? And the worst? Did your Aussie experience inspire any stories?
The best thing about Australia was living in a faraway land, near a tropical ocean, when I was young and had never really been out of America before. And the wildlife: big brown emus, bouncing roos—if you were out driving after dark, you had to watch out for those. A lot of cars had “roo-bars” on them.
The worst was living in a crowded barracks; that’s always been difficult for me. Greenpeace came out and protested us every year, because we had a VLF tower broadcasting out to the submarines, which made us a nuclear target. This was in the mid 1980’s. One night somebody snuck onto the base and draped a sign on the water tower saying, “Yanks go home, no nukes!” We actually thought that was cool! Someone audacious enough to pull that off, I’d like to shake his hand. Years later I wrote a short yarn based on it.
They’re almost always rooted in reality. It’s more fun, I think, to take our own mundane world and turn it on its head. In Elijah’s Chariot, the dead come back as four kinds of “Revived” and bring elements of the afterlife back with them, like demonstorms.
Your stories have appeared in five of Rayne Hall’s seven “Ten Tales” anthologies. How did you come to be involved in this series? Which of those five stories is your favourite, or the one you’re most proud of?
Rayne asked if I would like to contribute. And it was fun brainstorming for ideas about each book’s particular theme. For the devil anthology, I had just been jerked all over the place by the bus lines traveling from Phoenix to Washington, D.C. I got to thinking, what if there was some sinister reason for this, behind the scenes? And it all got into the story, with a twist I hope readers like.
The yarn I’m most proud of is “The Explanation for Ghosts” in the ghost anthology. I’ve noticed that solitary, loveless men are so often portrayed as sociopaths or mentally screwed up, and I wanted to give them some dignity.
Common questions put to writers are, “Who are your literary influences?” or “Who are your favourite authors?” My question is, “Which famous author would you consider to be your polar opposite?”
Quite a question! I’d say Nicholas Sparks, because he seems to specialize in romance novels set in the real world, whereas I’m drawn to adventure stories and weird tales set in improbable places.
There’s a yarn in the pirates anthology called “The Book Of Adventures,” in which a character can project himself into any tale he likes, changing things around and adding items from history. For example, a Roman trireme and modern guns in a book like Captain Blood. I’d love that.
Pirates versus zombies – who would win?
Pirates! Then they’d set the zombies to work scrubbing the decks.