As a longtime fan of horror and a car girl books and movies like Christine, Trucks, and The Car have always held a place in my heart. Part of the reason I love the show Supernatural is Baby, Dean Winchester's 1967 Impala.
Today I'm happy to have Robert E. Dunn visiting us here at Horror Maiden's to talk about his newest book, Motorman. Motorheads and fans of grindhouse horror will find much to love in this gem of a novella. You can find my review of Motorman HERE and follow along with the Motorman blog tour, hosted by Erin Al-Mehairi over at Oh, for the Hook of a Book. Now I turn you over to the man in the driver's seat,,,,
My Machinery Museum
By Robert Dunn, Author of Motorman
My upcoming release, “Motorman,” has me thinking about machines. I’m a car guy. It is something that shows up in my writing a lot. My last book from Necro Publications, “The Red Highway,” included a 1972 Impala convertible. It was a mode of transportation, facilitating fight and flight, a refuge, and a home that helped define the people that dwelled within. At the same time the car was a character itself. The Impala changed, evolved as the story progressed. I hope it reflected the desperation and tattering of my main character. That car was a lot of fun to write and I’m proud to think of it as a part of a long history I think of as, the machineries of horror.
In my mind there is a museum, a collection of mechanical characters that I wander through finding both inspiration and touchstone to my own history. The first acquisitions were cars. I grew up with Matchbox and Hot Wheels toy cars in my hand. Of course the cars needed roads so I also had Tonka Trucks and a wide assortment of equipment toys, tractors, bulldozers, etc. The first time I associated the cars with anything scary on television. What boy of the sixties does not fondly remember the Batmobile? It was not an object of horror but the dark look and bat theme hinted at something. It is amazing how much even a hint can resonate. I kept my eye out for more cars that fed into my new point of view. It being the sixties I didn’t have to look far to find the George Barris creations for The Munsters, the Munster Koach and Grandpa’s Drag-u-la.
As my love of cars and monsters I searched out the overlap wherever I could find it. Imagine my joy when I found Big Daddy Ed Roth and Ratfink. My school notebooks were covered with stickers of these characters and the required STP and Champion spark plug decals. Kids these days, my own kids, have monsters with better, slicker stories and glossier imagery. Harry Potter defined things for them. I shared their ride and loved it with them but I honestly lamented the missing piece. They were not experiencing the joy of finding characters their parents would disapprove of. The monsters in my youth had bulging eyes, buzzing flies, and tongues dragged out by rabid, mindless acceleration pointed at certain death. In my youth Ron Weasley would have been road kill under the wheels of a nitro powered carnage cannibal.
The sixties gave way to the seventies and my museum reflects a couple of changes. The cars became less ferocious and the mechanical monsters more refined. Our first indication of how the coming digital age would bland out the horror was HAL. “I can’t allow that, Dave,” was creepy but not terrifying. Maybe I was jaded at 10 but I needed monsters to rage at me not gently scold no matter how dire the consequences. “Fail Safe” was a step in the right direction but that was more error than intention. I needed something more. Then the decade exploded. Steven Spielberg’s “Duel” hit TV in 1971. Mechanical thrillers were suddenly a thing just as I was developing the person I would be. I lived through the era of Westworld, Futureworld, Rollerball, even Killdozer and The Car. I don’t care what anyone says, the seventies were a great time to be a kid and teen.
I wasn’t just watching TV and drive-in movies. I was reading and writing my own stories. Killer robots were a favorite theme. At the same time I was working with my dad on projects. We took a dead 1965 VW bug and chopped it into a baja buggy, fitted in a larger 1972 Super Beetle 1600cc engine, and painted it with house paint. It was my first car and a death machine my father sold off before I could follow the natural course of things. Next came the Renault he bought me for $300 and we rebuilt. It was a safe but boring choice. After that were the Corvairs. One we repaired and the other we made into a dune buggy. My father died before we finished that one.
The museum gets jumbled with imagery and meaning then. All this… the little bit of my history of personal machinery, leads up to “Motorman.” Oddly enough it is a horror story about a young man running from life and the consequences of his fear and self-pity. He runs from one junk yard to another and finds people who owe their lives to mechanical parts. The metal parts, mostly salvaged from cars, are chromed and imbued with the power of alien life in the form of a glowing blue energy. In the story the monsters are people, bonded to metal, V8 powered rage machines. Is it any wonder I wrote this? The real question is what took me so long?
Check out the cover art by the great Erik Wilson. It captures perfectly the spirit of the exploitation movies, pin-up girls, and car monsters I grew up with. Sometime I’ll have to take you through the later rooms in my museum. Some of them are happy nurseries and family rooms. A lot are garages filled with cool cars and afternoons of frustration, fun, and rusted bolts. Quite a few are dark laboratories where monsters are made. I hope you will visit them all with me.
Thanks for being here Robert! You're welcome back anytime!!
About the Author
Robert Dunn was an Army brat born in Alabama and finally settled in Nixa, Missouri. A graduate of Drury College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications/Film he also earned a second major in Philosophy with a minor in Religion and carried an emphasis in Theatre. This course of study left him qualified only to be a televangelist.
An award-winning film/video producer and writer, he has written scripts for or directed every kind of production from local 30-second television commercial spots to documentary productions and travelogues.
A writer of blognovels and contributor to various fiction websites his work has also included the book length prose poem,?? Uncle Sam, the collection of short stories, Motorman and Other Stories and novels?? Behind the Darkness ?? and?? The Red Highway.
Mr. Dunn now resides in Kansas City where he continues to write genre fiction and experiment with mixed media art projects using hand drawn and painted elements combined through digital paint and compositing.
From the Description
Running from a night of humiliation and murder, Johnny Burris leaves the city and his junkyard home, fleeing into the Ozarks countryside. While on the road, mysterious streaks of blue light in the night sky drive him into a forgotten bit of nowhere lost in the hills. Johnny thinks he's found home and good work in an odd little gas station from another time.
Johnny quickly gets pulled into a world where the cars aren't the only things all chromed out and everything seems touched with the energy of the flying blue streaks that led Johnny there.
Enticed and torn between two sisters, one an outcast for her normality, the other a beautiful monster, Johnny becomes the pawn of their father. The old man is both the town's mechanic and its Doctor. He's looking for a replacement and Johnny Burris is the man with just the right skills.
When Johnny learns the truth behind the doctor's plans, he runs, taking one of the sisters with him. But the town, and the girl, turn out to be even more than he imagined. And his w hole world comes down to just one choice, live as a monster, making monsters or die like a man. If he chooses to die, who will he take with him?
Praise for Robert Dunn
"A thoroughly gripping read. Dunn is a writer with guts and the chops to grab his readers by the eyeballs and dare them to look away."–Hunter Shea, Author of?? Tortures of the Damned?? and?? The Dover Demon
"With beautiful descriptive imagery, frequent bursts of sarcastic humor, and a healthy dose of dread, Dunn moves his tale forward with well paced cadence. He takes his time building things up, developing a strong sense of place, a meaningful conflict, and outstanding characters. In the final, fiery confrontation I found myself on the edge of my seat, clinching my teeth and rooting for the full-bodied, convincing, and likable cast of characters." — Shane Keene, ShotgunLogic Blog
"The Red Highway is a powerful and chilling read. If you’re looking for an original and intriguing thriller, give this one a look for sure." — Matthew Scott Baker, Shattered Ravings Blog