Clifford Meth Interview

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

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 wanted desperately 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. He 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: I'm a very lucky man, in some ways. I've been blessed with personally 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 ending 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 very lucky. I'm a great fan of the artists I've worked with. If you'd told me, when I was a boy, 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 coming out 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.

Westfield: Any closing comments?

Meth:It's always good to hear from you, Roger. I appreciate Westfield's attention. With so many books to choose from, it's sometimes difficult to get a new reader to take a chance on your work. That's why Aardwolf Publishing is offering METHo.d. with an unconditional money-back guarantee. People can actually return this book directly to the publisher for a refund if they don't like it. I'm delighted by their vote of confidence and hopeful that they don't end up swimming in a stack of copies!