Steve Stred is one of horror’s nice guys. Super supportive and a terrific writer in his own right, it’s nice to give him his own moment. He joins us in the Inferno in the Seventh Circle, with his story ‘Alone’.
Infernal Clock: What was the inspiration behind your story?
My story was more about the despondent levels people can get to when they make poor choices or things happen and everything they’ve ever loved gets taken from them. As a father, I could never imagine my life without my child and I think that really drove the narrative.
Infernal Clock: What is your idea of hell on earth?
I think that’s a very tough question. I’d think with where I’m at in life, hell on earth would be the slow degeneration of my mind. Losing the ability to remember people, memories, and the ability to read and/or write. I’ve had a few people in my life deal with chronic illness/degenerative illness and friends who have had parents deal with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s etc, and to just watch that change is horrible. I hope I never get to experience the other side of it.
Infernal Clock: The Inferno was created on old ideas of sin. If you had to label the nine levels now, what would you call them? Would you keep it at 9? Increase or decrease?
I think so much has happened now in the world that it’d be difficult to rename them, as the idea of sin itself has, at least for me personally, seemed to fall to the wayside for the most part. Growing up ‘sin’ was a scary word, because that meant you’d be sent to hell. I think for most people who are not overtly religious, the word sin is just that – a word. This question is one that could end up being a Masters Thesis!
Infernal Clock: They say the Devil has all the good tunes. What song would you recommend as an accompaniment to your story?
I typically write to music and use it as a sense of the emotions I want to infuse into each work. For this one, I’d suggest one of my favorite songs of all time – ‘In Praise of Bacchus’ by Type O Negative.
Infernal Clock: If you were able to visit the Inferno, what level would you want to go to and who would you want to see there?
Oh jeez, what a question! I don’t know if I could even answer that. Hmm. I’d suspect that if you went to the level that my story is on, The Seventh Circle, and specifically violence against oneself, you’d find a lot of musicians who’ve taken their own lives. So, at least there you could catch a concert? I don’t know, that feels horrible even typing that!
Infernal Clock: What is the hottest food you’ve ever eaten. Can you share a recipe?
I don’t do hot or spicy well. And as I don’t cook, I can’t share a recipe! I will say, years ago, I was hanging with my friend Robert Esmie. He wanted to take me to a restaurant he loved, which was Jamaican. He had a dish named after him (he was part of the Gold Medal team for Canada in the mens 4×100 relay race) and he said I had to try it. I think it was jerk chicken, but I couldn’t tell you. The entire place was laughing so hard as I started coughing and crying. My mouth was on fire!
Infernal Clock: Who is your ‘favourite’ villain in history or fiction?
I’d say it’s a tie between Jareth the Goblin King and the mist in Stephen King’s novella The Mist. Labyrinth was one of those movies I watched at such a young age that had a profound effect on my imagination. Just seeing this world open up. But the entire thing is based around Jareth taking Toby and being in control of all of these hazards to prevent Sarah from trying to get him back. As for the mist, well, that novella really scared me. To the point I’m still petrified of dense fog. The basic idea that you really don’t know what might be lurking in there is one of my biggest fears.
Infernal Clock: What is your long-term ambition for your writing?
To continue to challenge myself and write the stories I want to read. To inspire my son to use his imagination and follow his dreams.
Infernal Clock: Top-tip for other writers
Have fun. Be kind. Support others and build people up.
Steve Stred writes dark, bleak horror. He is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections and has appeared alongside some of Horror’s heaviest hitters in some truly amazing anthologies. He is proud to work with the Ladies of Horror Fiction to facilitate the annual LOHF Writers Grant. Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog OJ. You can find everything he has going on at stevestredauthor.wordpress.com.
One of my most recent releases is my collection ‘Of Witches…’ which features 8 short stories as well as 15 stunning illustrations and photographs from my friend Miranda.