Catwalk recently had the chat with "Rough Cut" author, Brian Pinkerton, about B-movies, ultraviolence, and all manner of murder and mayhem!
Cat: Welcome, Brian! Thanks for your time, and wow, I really loved "Rough Cut". Where did you come up with the initial idea for the story?
BP: Rough Cut actually began as a screenplay, a B movie turned inside out. It was intended as an exploitation movie about exploitation filmmakers.
The script made the rounds in Hollywood with some encouraging nibbles but no bite. I was told the audience for this kind of movie was too “specialized.” So I turned it into a novel as a way to reach that specialized audience.
Overall, the story appealed to me because I’m a fan of B movies. I’m fascinated by the quest of the low-budget filmmaker to strike gold with limited funds and scrappy perseverance.
I've dealt with the indie film scene for over a decade. It's obvious you have a great feel for the b-movie ecosystem. I got a strong Lloyd Kaufman feel when I first read Harry's introduction. Was the Troma films icon an influence in Harry's character?
Yes, in part. Harry is something of a hybrid of several low budget, DIY movie makers: Lloyd Kaufman, Roger Corman, Ray Dennis Steckler, Fred Olen Ray, and, of course, Ed Wood. I read Kaufman’s book (Make Your Own Damn Movie), Corman’s book (How I Made A Hundred Movies In Hollywood And Never Lost A Dime) and even some indie filmmaking “how to” books. I listened to Steckler’s commentary track on The Lemon Grove Kids Meet the Monsters. I watched more Grade Z horror movies than is healthy.
I loved the tie-in to the simple, middle Pennsylvania, Catholic couple. What was the influence to include a small-town actress wannabe in the overall feel of "Rough Cut"?
I wanted to paint the contrast between an outsider and insider’s view of Hollywood. Nora Hurley escapes her small industrial town to go west and live out her dreams in L.A. She expects a shimmering paradise of glitz, glamor and instant stardom. Instead, she encounters a dirty, drab city littered with broken dreams and opportunists. Her fate is one of the main drivers of the story.
I think I know the answer to this already, but give our readers an idea. How much of the horror movie legacy was already carved into your brain (pun intended) vs. what you had to research for Marcus' obsession?
Most of it was already soaked into my skull. As a kid, I watched the Universal and Hammer monster movies on TV. I devoured Famous Monsters of Filmland. I made my parents buy me back issues for Christmas. Later, I experienced the 1980’s “slasher” boom. I’ve always enjoyed the vicarious thrills of the horror genre. However, I do not collect movie props like Marcus or attempt to make my own movies.
I loved the pop culture references you worked in. There were two particular instances where you mentioned the modern struggle of indie authors vs. big print. Does your opinion match the characters'? What kind of opportunity do you think is out there for independent authors in today's multimedia markets?
I believe the playing field is leveling somewhat with the changes in publishing and distribution. To be a success, you don’t have to be picked up by one of the “big six” or receive featured placement in chain bookstores. With ebooks, print on demand and the Internet, there’s a much lower cost of entry and an immediate access to distribution. At the same time, this has created a glut of small presses and self-published works, so you have to work hard to get noticed. But many of the tools are at your disposal. You have more control over your destiny. Hopefully, the good books will get noticed.
I confess that "Rough Cut" was the first of your works that I've read. Can you tell our readers a bit about your other releases like "Abducted" and "Vengeance"?
Sure. Abducted and Vengeance are thrillers that came out in mass market paperback several years ago. Abducted is a melodrama about a missing child, while Vengeance is a Hitchcock-type suspense story about an ordinary man caught up in a deadly underground network of vigilantes.
In general, my books dance between thriller and horror, with elements of mystery and sometimes humor. I’m in the middle of a zombie trilogy for Severed Press that tells the story of the apocalypse from the point of view of the zombie who started it all. His name is Chaz. He feels bad about it, but a zombie’s gotta eat…
With "Rough Cut" now out on shelves, what's next on your list? More horror or a departure for something different?
Horror is still on the menu. This month, Samhain Publishing releases my new one, Killer’s Diary. This is by far my most disturbing book. I won’t let my kids or my parents read it. Killer’s Diary is about a young woman who stumbles upon a stranger’s journal in a coffee shop. She takes it home to read and discovers it might belong to the neighborhood serial killer. And he might be closer than she thinks. There’s murder, mayhem, and plenty to creep people out. After all those scary books and movies I endured as a child, it’s fun to pay it forward.