joezGet a glimpse into the mind of one of the creators behind Motel 666. Joseph Zettelmaier authored the final piece in the anthology, and shares a bit about his journey into the realm of terror.

Do you consider yourself a horror fan? What is your favorite genre of horror?
I absolutely consider myself a horror fan. When my DVD collection is remotely organized, horror films make up the largest genre. As for my favorite genre…they’re like candy. I like almost all the flavors (torture flicks are my sour gummies, as in I’ll have none of them). But my heart truly belongs to creature features. I love my monsters, be they man-made, environmental mutations, or long-forgotten creatures of lore…the less human they are, the more fascinated I am. The only ones that legitimately unnerve me are demonic possession/satanist-esque films. I blame my Catholic upbringing.

What was the first time you encountered horror in entertainment? Was it a book, a movie, a play or something else?
I certainly grew up with Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and collections of mythologies, but the moment that really stands out is watching Alien with my dad when I was somewhere between 7-10. I was absolutely fascinated, loving it, but the moment when the chestbuster made its appearance? That’s the first time I remember thinking “Oh, I’m too young for this.”

What is the main challenge to creating short form horror stories? Have you done any horror writing before, or is this your first time? What is your favorite part about writing a horror piece (no spoilers!)
The main challenge for me when writing horror is tapping into something simple, something primal, some very basic fear that is common among many, then putting my own spin on it. That’s the starting point for me, finding something that provokes a revulsion response. My favorite part is mixing in a dash of humor. Horror loses its punch if it is the only flavor; we turn off the part of our brain that feels fear as a defense mechanism. I think horror and comedy actually mix beautifully together, and allow for our emotions to reset in time for the next shock. As for my experience writing horror…I’ve got a few horror plays, and was honored w/ a Bloody Axe Award from Deathscribe 2012. I’ve always loved horror novels, but I’m terrible w/ prose.

How have motels played a role in your life?
Hotels are a semi-regular part of my life. It’s been a while since I’ve stayed in a motel, tho’ there’s one I drive by a lot that I’m convinced is a nest of evil and ancient horrors. The motel stay I remember most was as a child of maybe 12, traveling to Florida w/ my family. We stayed in a motel in Georgia and…if you’ve ever smelled a paper factory in full production…that’s nose-horror. Indescribable nose-horror. Way scarier than the bathroom at the motel, and if you’d seen that bathroom, you’d know how scary that truly is.

When did you first find clowns to be scary? Or do you?
Believe it or not, I’m actually not at all scared of clowns. Part of it was growing up w/ the Bozo show. I always thought of clowns as jolly jesters who gave kids buttloads of toys, so they were good in my book. I was actually a clown for my first Halloween. And a few years ago, my costume for my yearly Halloween shindig was “Hillbilly Clown.” That may have been when I first noticed how uncomfortable clowns make people. The pitchfork probably didn’t help.

Motel 666 opens June 5 – get tickets here!