ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Weston Ochse is a former intelligence officer and special operations soldier who has engaged enemy combatants, terrorists, narco smugglers, and human traffickers. His personal war stories include performing humanitarian operations over Bangladesh, being deployed to Afghanistan, and a near miss being cannibalized in Papua New Guinea. His fiction and non-fiction has been praised by USA Today, The Atlantic, The New York Post, The Financial Times of London, and Publishers Weekly. The American Library Association labeled him one of the Major Horror Authors of the 21st Century. His work has also won the Bram Stoker Award, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and won multiple New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. A writer of more than 26 books in multiple genres, his military supernatural series SEAL Team 666 has been optioned to be a movie starring Dwayne Johnson. His military sci fi series, which starts with Grunt Life, has been praised for its PTSD-positive depiction of soldiers at peace and at war. Weston likes to be called a chaotic good paladin and challenges anyone to disagree. After all, no one can really stand a goody two-shoes lawful good character. They can be so annoying. It's so much more fun to be chaotic, even when you're striving to save the world. You can argue with him about this and other things online at Living Dangerously or on Facebook at Badasswriter. All content of this blog is copywrited by Weston Ochse.

Monday, November 19, 2012

42 Days of 666 - Day 8 with Ed Kurtz

For the next 42 days we're going to be counting down to the release of SEAL Team 666. Why 42? Because it's the answer to the universal question.

Today we have Ed Kurtz. Now, I met this jamoke last year at Killercon. He indelibly etched his name on my memory when, as I was doing a live performance of my rock and roll serial killer story, PLAYLIST AT THE END (Shock Totem), he texted me with a challenge to come drink whiskeys with him at the bar or else fisticuffs would ensue. Nevermind that he promised to attend said performance. To his credit, once he found out that he'd missed it, he was a little embarassed by his shenanigans. That didn't keep me from having a drink with him later, nor from befriending him. Ed Kurtz is one of the new fast movers and will be someone whom all of you will soon read, if you already haven't. So sit back a moment, and read his thoughtful position regarding my questions about milistrivia.

1. What’s your favorite military movie, book or television show?

I tend to enjoy (read: obsess over) movies that are more in the exploitative vein, so military-themed films that make my list include The Inglorious Bastards (Enzo Castellari, not QT), Eagles Over London, The Last Hunter—macaroni combat pictures of that sort. I also immensely enjoy John Wayne’s old WWII flicks, Sands of Iwo Jima specifically. Though in my view, Jean Renoir’s The Grand Illusion is probably the best war/military picture ever made.

Literature-wise, my tastes run more sober. And as I’ll explain below, my favorite military book is actually three books (I just had to break the rules, didn’t I?): Red Badge of Courage, The Killer Angels, and Coal Black Horse.

2. Why is it your favorite? Here’s where you can ramble a bit. 

I have a keen interest in history, particularly American history, and a solid half or more of my fiction output reflects that. Often this narrows down to the American Civil War, a setting for several stories and a novel of mine, and accordingly my reading treads those waters often, too. Three of the finest novels of the Civil War, in my opinion, are well read together: Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (1864), The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (1974), and Coal Black Horse by Robert Olmstead (2007). Between these three novels, a broad spectrum of war, its horrors and vile necessities, are covered from the lowly disillusioned private in Red Badge to the impossible decisions forced upon the top brass in The Killer Angels to how the aftermath of the bloodiest conflict in American history is seen through the eyes of a naïve boy from an isolated West Virginia hollow. And though the perspective and historicity varies, in all three books one point is made alarmingly clear: that no one escapes war untouched, whatever the color of his uniform or the medals on his chest.

To me, stories are very often best told in a historical context for a number of reasons, among them the heightened believability, the time-machine factor for the modern reader, and the simple fact that history makes us, and its “us” that I’m writing about in the broadest sense. To that end, I also find that the history of human beings is quite usually a history of violent conflict. Human stories are, therefore, frequently military stories. So when I find myself searching through volumes for a time and place to set a tale, more often than not that place isn’t far from a battlefield.

In most cases, what I write is generically classified as horror. In the widest terms possible, this amounts to fiction designed specifically to frighten, alarm, or disturb the reader. Yet I often find myself puzzling over how, in this day and age, the ghouls and goblins of yesterday can possible scare the globally aware, interconnected reader of today? My response is to take the Robert Bloch approach and make my monsters more human. And I’ll be damned if I can think of anything more human than the horror of war.

3. What themes are overused? And is it overused, or just truthful observation?

As I stated previously, the crystal-clear image of war as fundamentally transformative runs deep in all three of these novels, though I would be loath to call this theme overused. That would be like claiming the whole “Wow, the Holocaust was really terrible and fucked up and hard to understand” theme overused. Conversely, it can’t be said enough. From the lowest-on-the-totem-pole, fresh-faced private to the most grizzled, experience veteran of battle, war changes the course of historical and social experience on a grossly personal, individual level. And since that theme, as a message, clearly hasn’t hit all the way home yet, I expect it needs to keep being used.

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Thanks, Ed!

Ed Kurtz is the author of Bleed (Abattoir Press), Control (Thunderstorm Books), and numerous short stories. His work has appeared in Dark Moon Digest, Needle: A Magazine of Noir, BEAT to a PULP, Shotgun Honey, Horror Factory, Mutation Nation, and Psychos: Serial Killers, Depraved Madmen, and the Criminally Insane. He is also a contributing writer for Paracinema Magazine. Ed resides in Texas, where he is at work on his next novel and running his genre imprint, Redrum Horror.

And everyone please don't forget to Pre-order SEAL Team 666 from your favorite store:

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