Cliff interviewed by Worlds of Westfield - 1/27/06

by Roger Ash

Clifford Meth is the author of such books as Crawling From the Wreckage, The White Man Dancing, and Crib Death & Other Bedtime Stories. He recently stopped by to discuss his latest collection, Metho.d..

Westfield: How would you describe the sorts of stories you write and what can you say about the stories in this new collection?

Clifford Meth: I grew up reading Harlan Ellison, Charles Bukowski and Hunter Thompson, and very much wanted to write in any of those traditions. Failing that, I came to write like me, but I think the influences are apparent. I write dark fantasies. It's never the same thing twice, so it's hard to pin, but my characters and atmospherics are largely a reflection of the chaos in my head. I like to think of them as anti-profound.

The stories in this collection revolve around a character named Hank Magitz who experiences a perpetual midlife crisis, complete with strip clubs, lap dances, depression and fatigue. When I created Hank some years ago, I was approximating his moods. Now that I've caught up with him in age, I identify better with him. We can actually get drunk together and not start arguing.

Westfield: You have different artists illustrate each story. How do you decide who you'd like to have work on a particular piece?

Meth: In some ways, I'm a very lucky man. I've been blessed with knowing some of the greatest creators on my generation, and previous generations. It's a terribly small club, at the end of the day, and being a writer or an artist in a cottage industry tends to make you antisocial, but many of us end up knowing each other in a bizarre e-community sort of way. We might meet once and never again; perhaps share a pint at a convention. But once met, we seem to always know each other.

I don't think I write stories so much as I wait for them. And when a certain story is finished, it's just a matter of picking up the phone and saying, "I have a story for you." I think Steve Ditko was the only one who turned me down, but he turns everybody down. But, again, I've been lucky. I'm a great fan of the artists I've worked with. When I was a boy, if you'd told me that one day I'd write a book and Jim Steranko would do the cover, I'd have been shot out of a canon.

Westfield: What other work by you should people keep an eye open for?

Meth: There's an omnibus of my collected work scheduled for late this year, with a painted cover by Neal Adams and art by Alex Toth and quite a few other artists. I've also completed the screenplay for Dave Cockrum's Futurians, which I hope will actually be made, and there's another screenplay in the works.

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