Q: Welcome! First off, if you could tell a little bit about yourself and what types of stories you enjoy writing as well as which genres you write in?
A: Hi! Thanks. You bet. I’m Ken MacGregor, and I drive the bookmobile for my local library, have two completely ridiculous children, and I keep the ashes of my dead wife next to my writing chair. As you may have guessed, I primarily write horror. However, I like to dabble in lots of genres, though I rarely stray far from Speculative Fiction. I’ve written all over the map, but my favorite is dark and funny, and sometimes titillating. Great word, ‘tittilating’.
Q: I’d love to share a bit about your most recent work, if you could let our readers know about it?
A: The last big project (I’ve sold a few short stories since) was Stitched Lips: An Anthology of Horror from Silenced Voices. It’s my second curated anthology, and it features some amazing writers, including multiple Stoker-winners. I wanted to give writers who are traditionally underrepresented a platform to be seen more widely. Also, the proceeds are going to support the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization which fights discrimination. I could not be more proud of this book.
Q: You’ve edited multiple anthologies now, what put you on that path?
A: It happened by accident! I’ve been a member of the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers (GLAHW) since 2014 and served on the board for quite some time. A while back, we were brainstorming ideas for new ways to engage writers and readers, and to raise money for literacy (we do an annual fundraiser). I suggested, since we were all writers, that we offer someone a chance to win an appearance in an original story. This expanded into a mini-anthology featuring the winner, and our annual book “Recurring Nightmares” was born. At first, I had no editing experience, so I contributed a story to the first book. After that, they insisted I edit them, since it was my idea. Turns out, I have some ability to do that, but I had a ridiculous amount to learn about it; I still do, but I’m better at editing now. After this, I was a slush reader for LVP Publications for a while. The Editor-in-Chief sent me more and more stuff to read, looking for feedback. Then, she announced that I was the new Managing Editor of Collections and Anthologies (a title I still hold). When Blood Bound Books announced a call for anthology ideas, offering to pay to have them made, I suggested a “furry” antho, and that’s how Burnt Fur was born. I had a lot of creative control there, though it was definitely a team effort. Once I had a taste for it, I kept thinking it’d be fun to do one completely on my own. So, I asked my friend Michael at Dragon’s Roost Press (who published my second collection and my novella) if he’d be willing to handle the publishing aspects of an original antho I was planning. I put up all the initial costs (I’m paying myself back with half the profits; the other half go to the SLPC; once my investment is paid off, 100% goes to them), and sought out some of the authors I was hoping to entice to contribute. I got most of them, along with some wonderful stories from the open call.
Q: Where were you born (and/or are you from) and how has that affected your work?
A: I was born in Detroit, Michigan, and live not far from there once again. However, I grew up in New Jersey and Massachusetts (just outside of Boston). I also lived in St. Louis, Missouri for three years, just after I got married, while my wife was in law school. As far as how that affected my work…I’m not sure it would have made much difference where I lived. I’ve always seen the world through a “What if?” filter, and I never really lost that childlike sense of wonder that makes for a good story. Oh, sure, the edges have been dulled by time and experience, by cynicism and age, but I can usually still open up the little kid in me and let him cut loose on the page.
Q: When did you fall in love with writing and has anyone supported or detracted from your love of the craft in a significant way?
A: I’ve been making stuff up for as long as I can remember. I’ve loved books since before I could read. My parents read to me from the get-go (as I did with my own children). My very first piece of published anything was a poem I wrote in fourth grade. It appeared in the school newsletter, and, fact, inspired poems like it by two other students. I still have a copy. Of course, I didn’t get published again for over thirty years. I was writing though! I wrote short stories (for me, for kicks), screenplays (a few of which were made into films), sketch comedy (Performing it too. That was a hoot!), and the odd TV/radio commercial and truly awful poem. To the second part of your question: most of the people in my life have been supportive. Those who weren’t tend not to be much on my radar anymore. Who needs that kind of negativity?
Q: You have always been open in your posts on Horror Tree. Thank you for trying to help support marginalized voices! Is there anything specific that put you on that path outside of just being a great guy?
A: Aw, thanks! Yeah. Definitively, my wife put me on that path. She was a champion of the oppressed. I know it sounds over-the-top, but it’s true. She really made me think about who I was, and who I wanted to be, as a person. She was a damn fine example to follow. Being with her made me a better person, and I try to live up to her memory by proactively doing the right thing(s). I could probably do more, but I’m trying.
Q: What was the first story that you published (and if it was a short story, where?)
A: The very first short story I had published was called “Cross Beau.” It was about a guy who picks up a woman in the bar. Her name is Psyche, and, as it turns out, she’s the goddess, who is romantically involved with Cupid. Cupid shows up the next day, all jealous rage and razor-sharp arrows and it gets kind of ugly. It’s really not very good. I was pretty green. Cool idea though.
Q: As they are two different beasts, do you prefer putting together anthologies or writing stories?
A: I will always prefer the act of creation: that raw process where the story comes alive in my head and the characters begin to live on the page. There’s nothing quite like it. Having said that, I do love editing, especially when it give me the chance to work with talented, dedicated writers, and together we create something better than it could have been otherwise. That’s so gratifying. But, yeah. Writing still wins.
Q: Do you have a favorite quote, either about writing or one that you live by?
A: I suppose this one could qualify as both: “Hustle and Gumption are the twin steeds on which I ride into battle against mediocrity.” I said that. It’s pretentious as hell. Sorry.
Q: Thanks again, do you have any teases of what you’re working on next that you could hint at?
A: I have plans for a few things, and they are in various stages of development. I’m writing a sequel to my award-winning novella, Devil’s Bane. Kerry and I are (allegedly) writing the sequel to Headcase (though we haven’t done any actual writing on it for some time). I want to put out a collection of stories prominently featuring Gavin the werewolf, a recurring character in my fiction. I’m toying with the idea of doing another anthology, but I want to make it even better than the last one, and I’m not sure how I can top that. When I figure that out, I’ll jump on it.
Finally, if there is anything else you would love to share with our readers, please do so here!
Just this: if you like a book, please tell your friends. Put it on social media. The single most effective tool for writers to reach readers is word of mouth. Also, you’d be sharing something wonderful: something that gives you pleasure. The world needs more of that. Thanks.
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