A visit from Michael J Moore

Michael J Moore is the author of two horror novels, with another on its way, as well as many short stories.  He is married to Cait Moore, another author.

In his novel Highway Twenty Michael J Moore offers us insect-like alien parasites, who consume their human hosts and borrow their bodies and identities and memories.  Residual human exteriors and vestigial human personalities allow them to merge with the ordinary inhabitants of their town, but they are taking over. Breeding prodigously and permanently hungry, they need more and more humans, both as food and as hosts for their reproduction. Before long, there will be no real humans left.

I invited Michael J Moore to my site after reviewing the book, but with so much going on, it had rather slipped my mind…

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Hey, you two! Freeze!  Put your hands up!  Who are you and what are you doing on my site?  (I must get more guards – I’ve not seen my last ones since Mr Beech was here – it’s hard to get staff these days.) No! Keep your hands up!

Oh! Oh forgive me… I see.  You’re the Parasite Man.  And you’re…. his sidekick?  Apologies.  I wasn’t expecting you to come to the front door.  I don’t want to be snobbish, but really, this is a literary site.  I’ve had the Great Miles Watson here, you know. Yes really, even Bob van Laerhoven. And last month I had Jesus.  There’s a tradesmen’s entrance for people like… Well, you know…  But anyway, I suppose you’d may as well come this way now. 

Please put on these hats.  Health & Safety.  As you can see, the site is still under construction. So tell me about your business: Michael J Moore & Partner: Parasite Whisperers – that was it, wasn’t it? 

It was writing actually. I’m a writer. Horror stories. And Young Adult. Cait is a writer; she was a lawyer.

Oh – forgive me, I must have misread your Amazon advert. You mean you don’t supply….? Either of you….? Disappointing.

Well you’re here now I suppose. Come to the window. Let me get a good look at you. Well, we may still be able to come to an arrangement. Sit down please, let’s have a chat. Have some tea. I’ve got no snacks left I’m afraid, but, well, we might see a mouse… 

Thank you. We are both great tea drinkers.

So… writing then. Of course, it’s a great way of pulling people in – we high-brow types have been doing it for years. Back in the old days – when publishing was a little more exclusive, the world was our buffet. Never short of a good meal then. But these days – it’s getting hard. Don’t get me wrong, but frankly the problems started when people like you started getting in on the act.

For me, it wasn’t by design, I can tell you that. Writing isn’t something I do because I’ve always dreamt of being published. It’s these pestering stories. They find me. Keep me up at night. Haunt me. Drive me batshit crazy until I give in to them. If I refuse, it can turn very ugly. If I submit, it can be worse. Somewhere along the way, however, I learned to find joy in it, until finally it became an obsession. 

Ah yes, I know that feeling. An urge. (I get them too, particularly when I’m hungry. ) But horror?  Weren’t you drawn to anything more respectable? Journalism? Children’s stories? Instructional manuals for flat-pack furnishing?

If only I were qualified for such distinguished positions. No, I’m afraid I just write scary books with the hope that they make a guest appearance in your nightmares from time to time. 

I see! Rounding people up through their nightmares eh? You don’t look old enough, either of you, to be messing about with such a dangerous approach. 

Thank you for the compliment. Cait and I always say we are as young as we want to be.

But writing horror actually stems from when I was young.  As soon as I learned to read, I tore through the Goosebumps series. Then, in the third grade, I found a box of dusty Stephen King and V.C. Andrew novels in a closet in my Mom’s bedroom. I used to read every Christopher Pike book I could get my hands on. The entire young adult and horror genres have been major influences on me from early on. Mixing them in my own writing comes so naturally that I tend to do it without meaning to sometimes.

Sounds like you may have a natural talent then. Your business might take off. But you’re going for a dangerous method. Tell me, are you really qualified to operate in these genres? Do you have any relevant experience?

When I was a young child, I kept a monster under my bed. I used to invite the neighbors’ kids over for play dates and trick them into crawling down there, which is how I kept it fed.

Unfortunately, just after my thirteenth birthday, a representative from the city showed up and informed me that I needed a permit to keep a monster in my home, so I was forced to set it free into the world of literature.

Hmm. So you think that qualifies you? When you had this pet, did you study it? Did you get any certificates ?

Wait, for my monster? Do you mean like, training or how to handle it?

Accreditation? A permit to terrify? A license?

No. That’s why I had to get rid of the thing. Are you even listening?

Disappointing! Really, I was looking for professionals … It’s a competitive field and getting harder every day. Do you really know what you’re doing at all?

Doubtful. Very doubtful. I wanted to keep the monster. Cait said she’d prefer we had a cassowary. Or a fox.

Cassowary? Fox? Really?

So: limited experience; no certificates; no evidence of risk assessment; no permits. Any recommendations from satisfied customers? 

My book Highway Twenty got shortlisted on the Preliminary Ballot for the Bram Stoker Award 2019. Does that count? Have you seen the reviews on Goodreads and Amazon? I’m stoked!

Oh yes, I remember now! I looked at your website. Impressive. All those honorable mentions – very up and coming… And getting your book onto a univerity curriculum: clever move. (Get them young!) And yes, great reviews. In fact, come to think of it, that was why I called you. Perhaps you are what I need.  You see, it’s embarrassing, but I’m having difficulty pulling people in. I’ve tried to lure them with my blog, and it’s not really working. But clearly the humans are still reading your books.

I’ve heard rumors of this happening, though I’ve yet to catch one in the act.

They clearly like you, Mr Moore, but do you like them? Really?  The humans? Do they interest you?  Authors vary of course.  I  remember Mr van Laerhoven: he didn’t like them much, he was quite upfront about it.  Ms Schmidt was rather fond I think, and Jesus – well, he really really loved them.  But you?  

I have to say, my wife interests me. I’ve become a bit of a recluse over the years, and I tend to spend most of my time with her. You’d think it would get old looking at the same face, and hearing the same voice, day after day, but it hasn’t yet, and it isn’t likely to any time soon. Others? They interest me as character studies, I imagine.

Interesting. But character studies? You have enough supplies to worry about character? Do you have a lot of…. friends?  When you have them over for a meal, do you feel for them?

Only if they must endure my cooking. When they’re not around, it’s pretty much top ramen and microwave burritos for me, so I don’t come with mad cooking skills. My advice for any would-be friends: Don’t come over for dinner unless Cait’s cooking.  It’s not Cait’s favorite pass-time either but she can cook, mostly Italian food and desserts.  Boy, oh boy, can she make desserts!  Her cupcakes are infamous. 

Interesting bait. Perhaps she could sell me some? Or would you feel that was plagiarism, building up a following using someone else’s cupcakes? Do you think that’s OK? Ethically I mean.  Would you say that horror writers are interested in ethics?

I would dare to say the entire genre is centered around them. Most fiction is, right? But horror, tends to push readers to, and past, their ethical boundaries, and force them to question their own codes. Especially some of the psychological stuff that’s been trending lately.

Oh I’ve tried psychological! Barely got me a single hit. So what about your partner?  I’ve heard she uses erotica rather than horror… Is that true?  Does she find the humans (please don’t mind me asking, my interest is purely scientific)… is she attracted to them? Does she find them sexy?

Cait is a very independent person and has learnt to survive alone. She grew up as an only child until she was sixteen and is happy in her own skin.  As a busy mother, these days, she’s happiest when it’s just the two of us and the kids.  Yes, she likes humans but to be completely honest, she loves her family the most and she finds me sexy; nobody else.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I see.  I was hoping, with that specialism, she might be able to advise. I’m worried about declining populations. The humans don’t seem to be keeping up : it’s rather worrying.  In short, they seem to be running out.  Have you noticed this?  There used to be so many of them… it was almost a problem, but recently… they’re getting hard to find. So their reproduction.  I’m getting the impression it takes them quite a while.  Do you have any information here? Have either of you… well, tried it?  The reproduction thing?

Well, I think that’s obvious. We have five children between us. I’m sure anyone can make deductions if they wanted to.  People might ask questions… Let’s just say, we are always smiling in our photos.

Hmmm. Very cryptic. But five in a lifetime – that won’t get me far – not when I need to change a couple every day. And the alternatives… Well, I’ve heard of people changing dogs, but frankly I can’t find even dogs these days. What’s that? Cassowaries? Foxes? Oh pur-lease. Actually – OK I have to tell you – of late I’ve been reduced to changing squirrels.  (I’m sorry.  It’s mortifying.  I didn’t want to tell you. Squirrels are seriously irritating after they make the change).   And one of my children has actually gone vegan.  Have you ever tried to change a carrot?  Most unsatisfactory. So what can I do about the humans?  Please don’t suggest farming them – I couldn’t face the muck – I’m sensitive.  But can you think of a strategy that would stop them dying out? I mean, the way it’s going, all of us could starve…

I’m thinking I’ll leave it to better minds to worry about such matters. Lately the World Health Organization can’t even seem to get a handle on that one. Right now, I’d say stay home and enjoy your family.  Cait always says to me, “If the British could get through World War II, they can endure anything.”  She’s a big World War I and II fan and loves the British spirit portrayed during that era.  She also quite fancies the American soldiers and civilians.  Hence, she now has one of her own.

Endure anything? Well that’s all very well, but clearly, you’re not facing the pressures that I am! But almost done. Just one last question. I don’t usually use this one for tradesmen’s-entrance-people, but since you barged in through the literary door I’ll give it a go. It’s my ‘closing on a high moral tone’ sort of question, though after your comments on ethics I rather wonder…   Anyway, I’ll try. It’s this. If you could tweak the human DNA to insert one drive or principle that would modify their psyche – something that humans would instinctively feel obliged to follow – what would that be? 

A gene that allowed every person to recognize, and appreciate the wonderful complexity that is Michael J Moore. It would also drive a desire within these people to come together as a species to perfect new ways to make him happy. But Cait Moore doesn’t agree with me on this one. In fact, she wasn’t happy about my tweak one bit, as she’s not keen on sharing me.  So, because I love her, I’m going to, with her encouragement, amend my comment to say that I’d like every human to have DNA that made them go out and read and purchase all of my books or short stories.  Now, Cait’s happy!

Ah yes. How refreshingly honest. Anyone who could achieve that little change would never go hungry. And what about you?  Anything in yourself you would change if you had the choice?

Easy. Make me taller, please.

I see. Well there’s a rack in the basement… (Oh yes! Of course! That may be where I left Mr Beech!) I’ll get back to you when I’ve sorted that out. In the meantime, thank you both for coming.  If you care to send me a proposal, I’ll be happy to consider it. Feel free to bring any friends with you next time. Or your lovely children… These are lean times, but we could have a bite together.  It’s been a pleasure meeting you – yes, the door you need is that way…. 

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