The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview with Robert Mackey

Stacey – Tell us a little about yourself and where you’re from?

Robert – I’ll just use one of my bios here to say a little about myself and give readers an idea of my sense of humour.

Robert Mackey is a retired construction worker and real estate investor turned writer. Robert’s works intended for the mg/ya age groups are free of sex, killing and profanity. His works for adult audiences can’t even begin to make this claim.

Robert currently resides near the megalopolis of Addy, Washington, a hamlet working desperately to attain the coveted ‘One Horse’ status. So far all they have is those stick ponies you know, the stick with the little plastic head at the end that you hold between your legs and run around playing cowboy? Actually, half the people in town have those and the other half have stick cows. Every spring the people with the ponies round up the people with the cows and chase them into the hills to pasture for the summer. It’s pretty quiet around town in the summer. (Got a little sidetracked there.)

Robert lives there with his lovely wife Janice and his teenage son Joshua who has a vocabulary consisting of two sentences which Joshua feels are sufficient to get him through the balance of his life. They are as follows, “Huh?” and “I don’t know.” In case you have any toddlers and are trying to teach them to speak, these few words should be all they need to master in order to make it through high school. These sentences must always be used in conjunction with one another and in the order in which they’ve been presented.

Robert lives by the following adage: No matter how many heads have to roll in the attainment of you goals, be certain to smile and wave at them as they pass. It’s best to do your beheading on a hill with your opponent uphill from you to insure the head actually rolls and to prolong the amount of time you get to smile and wave. (Very important.)

Stacey – Has your kid/s ever read any of your work?

Robert – My eldest read the Antonio series to his girlfriend’s daughter who loved them. He also read both of my adult novels. My youngest read the youth books as I was writing them, but never the finished product. He said he liked everything. What else was he going to say? Prior to going off to college he was an insatiable reader, but if there weren’t dragons, magic and waring, he wasn’t really interested.

Stacey – When did you start writing?

Robert – I started writing about five years ago when my son and his friends were reading The Hunger Games series. I was troubled by the thought of kids reading about kids killing each other for food and the entertainment of adults. I thought it would be interesting to see if I could come up with something free of killing, sex, and profanity that would still be engaging to a young audience. I think I succeeded.

Stacey – You write Middle Grade fiction, is it rewarding?

Robert – I love writing for the MG and YA age group. It’s a lot of fun.

Stacey – If you could meet any author living or dead, who would it be?

Robert – I would love to meet Tom Robbins. One of my new neighbors informed me he used to live next door to him.  He gave Mr. Robbins one of my books. I was hoping for an endorsement. Mr. Robbins replied, informing me he was now blind and could no longer read. His writing is insane and quite brilliant.

Stacey – What do you enjoy most about writing?

Robert – I think character creation is my favorite aspect of writing. There’s somewhere around forty characters in my The Amazing and ludicrous Adventures of Doctor Antonio series…maybe more. Quite a challenge to keep them all participating in the action.

Stacey – Where do you get your inspiration?

Robert – I have a very twisted and active imagination. Ideas just kind of pop up.

Stacey – What’s your writing process like?

Robert – I never outline. Once an idea I like presents itself I just sit down and start typing. I just ask myself, “What happens next?” Most often the answer comes in dreams. Beyond that I have one rule: something must always be happening…very little room for descriptions of people, places or things. I let dialogue and the character’s personalities paint most of the picture.

Stacey – Do you need music or complete silence to write?

Robert – Silence, phone off, internet off, no one in the house. I usually write from about 1:00 AM until someone else in the house stirs.

Stacey – What’s the best writing advice you’ve come across so far?

Robert – Put your work down for a considerable time. 90 days at the least. Six months would be better. There are many others. Don’t be in a hurry to publish your work. It can always be improved upon. Join a writing group. In one I recently joined, the author is not allowed to read his or her own works. Hearing the ease which others can read your wok aloud is a great help in deciding whether or not your work is ready for the public. The input others give can be a great help in perfecting your work.

Stacey – What was the first story you had published?

Robert – The Amazing and Ludicrous Adventures of Doctor Antonio-Trouble with Howlers.

Stacey – Do you have a favourite character from your own works?

Robert – I am very fond of little Abigail Farnswoth Fisk III from Something’s the Matter in Hell. She is an exceptionally brilliant, totally fearless eleven year old with a pure heart, but isn’t afraid of using profanity or lying to attain her goals.

Stacey – Which character from your stories/novels would you get along with?

Robert – I simply adore Satan from There’s something the Matter in Hell. She’s one of the thrill seeking nuns from The Sisters of the Eternal Wave. (They love surfing.) Satan is a smart-ass. She makes up scripture to fit her needs. She’s my kind of gal.

Stacey – I’ve never heard of comedy horror as a genre before, but it seems to work. Was it fun to write?

Robert – I have a very difficult time keeping comedy from any genre. Hard Way Out is a tragedy but contains some seriously funny scenes.

Stacey – Do you find book signings and readings rewarding? I find public speaking nerve wracking myself. What about you?

Robert – I just held my first signing engagement and found that I just love talking to people. I’ll be holding my first reading in a week or so and am quite nervous. One of my shorts was read in a local writers group I recently joined. I was thrilled with the laughs my work got but when there was silence as the next funny bit was being set up it was quite unsettling. I’ll see how this one goes. I’ve been in a room when a comedian’s bit wasn’t well received. Don’t know how they survive it. The thing about comedy is that one is always at risk of offending. Especially in this day and age. Don’t know how the excerpts from There’s Something the Matter in Hell is going to be received in my little right-wing community.

Stacey – How do you select names for your characters? At random? Or do you take names from people you know?

Robert – I almost always use the names of my son’s friends. They seem to get a kick out of it.

Stacey – I noticed your latest release The Other Side of the Wall was released in September, I love the idea of talking animals and magic. It seems to be a perfect combination for a middle grade book.

Robert – Well it worked for C S Lewis. Not too many kids who don’t love animals and magic.

Stacey – Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share?

Robert – Here’s a little something not yet published. I’m creating a story told exclusively through newspaper articles.


    This Thursday, Addy’s city council, which is comprised of Shandra Gotnothin and Jenny Loafer, two of Addy’s most active do-nothings and its biggest welfare recipients and crack whores, decided amongst themselves that Addy needed to elevate its standing of ‘Shithole on the Side of the Highway, to ‘One Horse Town’ status, due to the fact that neither of them had been paid for services rendered for at least two weeks.

     The two held the meeting under the back steps of the Addy Inn. The quorum consisted of the two low-life whores and seven flea infested cats. The vote came in at eight to one in favor of the status elevation. The one holdout was a tabby named Guinevere who was adamant that should the proposal pass, she would in all likelihood be trampled by at least one of the horse’s four hooves; that is if they chose to get a four legged horse.

    It was decided that the following morning there would be a parade. And there was one. I’ll try and explain the circumstances and outcome of said instance in a somewhat cohesive manner. Yours truly has had several shots of Jim Beam’s honey flavored whiskey, a number of really crappy bears, wait, not bears, beers, several hits off the weed pipe and a handful of Kim Lawson’s dearly departed mother’s Oxy. (Which I look at as a gift from God.)  So…here it is. Hope you can follow.

    The total losers who somehow elevated themselves from the level of ‘Dirt bags of the Valley’, to ‘Representatives of the Community’, had decided that they would put on a parade to promote their agenda. So precisely at 1:00 pm, one hour past the time welfare recipients pull their useless asses out of bed, the one and only entry in the parade walked…no galloped… no, stumbled, drunkenly down whatever the newly paved street with no name is, which parallels Highway 395. The entry consisted of twenty of Addy’s High Society Club members, all of whom live day to day suckling at the welfare teat, hence the reason they could afford to purchase their costumes. The costumes? Those little stick horses. You know, the ones with the plastic, fluff- stuffed horse head that comes in red, white, or black, and is stapled to a stick? Yeah…those, and a cowboy hat.

     Now as these idiots were parading south down the street, chanting “ONE HORSE TOWN” to an audience consisting of, well, me. And the only reason I was there was due to the fact that I had been holding a parlay with Captain Morgan at the Addy Inn on the previous evening. While trying to find my way home, I got my foot stuck in a hole and immediately toppled over and passed out. Upon waking, I discovered the offending hole was the first and only fencepost hole dug for a project which the city council, (Shandra and Jenny), had started sometime in the past. They intended to put up a sound barrier designed to reduce the noise from the traffic on 395. This was supposed to keep them from waking before they were finished sleeping off the previous night’s Meth consumption. It seems traffic noise is very disturbing to paranoid, tweakers. How do I know this? No, as an intelligent person might surmise, it is not from personal experience, but from living in a hamlet inhabited by connoisseurs of the meth.  Well, being an investigative reporter, and a pretty damned good one I might add; upon waking that morning…well early afternoon actually, I found my head wasn’t really ready to engage the day. So, I fluffed my pillow before turning over and going back to sleep. That’s when it hit me. I’m lying on the side of the highway. I shouldn’t have a pillow. So I unfolded my pillow and low and behold, I had found that it was actually a set of blue prints. It was very professionally done. A light, blue-print-blue background, obviously created by pealing the paper off a crayon and dragging it back and forth over the butcher paper, which was splattered with what I’m guessing to be the bloody drippings of venison or some other unfortunate wild or domesticated creature which our city crackheads…I mean council members, had probably run over with their three wheeled bicycles during some early morning Tweaker Olympics or some such drug inspired activity. These meth heads can be pretty darned creative around two in the morning. Anyway, across the top of the paper, in midnight blue Crayola, was printed, by an obviously quite shaky hand, GOTNOTHING AND LOAFER CIVILIAN ENGINEERS TOOT TOOT. (I’m guessing the ‘TOOT TOOT’ was added as a result of our under educated city council members thinking that any time the term engineer is used that both types of engineers need to be honored or in some way mentioned. I mean, who knows what these people are thinking? Anyhow, under the company’s logo was a drawing: two vertical lines about three inches tall at either end of the sheet of paper with an horizontal line connecting the two vertical lines about two thirds the way up the vertical lines. At what were semi-regular spacing’s, little tiny x’s were drawn through the horizontal line. Printed under the intricate drawing were the words. 395 SOUND BARRIER. Personally, I’m not sure that two posts and a single strand of barbed wire would do too much to reduce the traffic noise. Having never taken physics in high school, I am not qualified to judge the merit of the concept. It’s possible there might be something in the, ‘two thirds up the post strategic placement of a single strand of barbed wire theory’, that does something to soundwaves emanating from passing vehicles which diminishes their vibrational frequency or some such thing. Again, I’m not the one to ask. Anyway, the whole project had obviously been scrapped, because in addition to the fact that there was only one hole, this hole had, over time, again, just surmising here, collected enough trash and drunken journalist feet to render it useless for the planting of posts.

    Anyway, as the herd of drunken and drugged cowboys…and girls, tore down the street on their majestic steeds, a relatively large group of the local Colville Indian tribe’s well intentioned MC, (That’s motorcycle club.), Geronimo’s German Chocolate Cake Lovers came barrelling up the highway from the south. When the MC saw the cowboys and cowgirls charging in their direction, they thought the wicked, white devils were mounting an attack. The white, horse-mounted folk, were in fact, headed in the direction of the Chewelah Casino.

    Well, it was the Little Big Horn all over again. The Indians encircled the platoon of horse-mounted soldiers and cut them to ribbons with their cake forks and little, triangular spatulas. It was over in a heartbeat. No life was spared by the Indians, not even the livestock. Oh, the horsemanity! There were broken black sticks and shreds of red, white, and black vinyl, as well as little bits of fluff, everywhere, not to mention the bodies of a number of Addy’s elite, which isn’t nearly as great a loss as the deaths of all the stick ponies.

    When I interviewed the MC’s president, Chief Leanshardtotheleft, a devout Democrat, he had this to say, “We were unknowingly blessed when Jack Toodumbtogotothestore traded the tribe’s one and only cow for a hand full of magic casino beans.  Imagine our surprise when the things actually sprouted and flowered into a nice little casino! The white devils were obviously headed for the Chewelah Casino. As everyone knows, people from Addy don’t have jobs, so it was highly unlikely they were on their way to do some harmless gambling. They had to be stopped! Sorry about the horses though. Anyway, gotta ride! Colville High School is holding a cakewalk!

     So back to the headline of this article, EMERGENCY CENSUS NEEDED, I thought it would be easier to take a census than to count the bodies of the vanquished so I can change the population sign. Because I really hate false advertising.

Thank you so much for your time Robert! If you would like to find out more about Robert and his writing endeavours, check out the links below.

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