** S. Craig Zahler was part of Decibel’s oral history on the illustrious rise and untimely demise of stateside metal bible, Metal Maniacs. Mr. Zahler interests, however, span more than writing reviews and making publicists fret. He’s a noted author, a script writer, and singer/drummer for doomy epic metal outfit Realmbuilder. The Metal Maniacs oral history is available HERE.
You were known to most metalheads as a metal “journalist” while at Metal Maniacs. But your skillset extended beyond writing reviews and interviews. How’d did you get into authoring books and writing screenplays?
S. Craig Zahler: I was writing fiction in some form since I was very little, long before I did any criticism. I was a “journalist” mainly because I am a metalhead and a vocal fan with a lot of opinions, and I wanted to support what I liked and point out some garbage (and still do, I have reviews on Metal Archives and write some for wormgearzine.com). Eventually, writing about music improved my skills as a writer and also enabled me to write actual music, which I do in Realmbuilder, where I also sing and play drums.
Did one come before the other? Books before screenplays, for example?
S. Craig Zahler: I worked on scripts in college, and then it was back and forth, though actually, the first pieces of fiction that I took to proper completion were theater pieces that I also directed. This was avant-garde stuff influenced by guys like Richard Foreman and Eugene Ionesco.
There’s heavy interest in your screenplays. What’s it like to have a producer or director option your work?
S. Craig Zahler: Yes, there is a lot of interest…and there is also a lot of fear since my pieces are quite dark and very unlike 99.999 percent of what’s made in Hollywood. I’ve optioned or sold or been hired to write a lot of different pieces–more than twenty different scripts of mine have been in play in the last six years, and I have had a lot of heroes give me compliments about my work. Still, only one piece has been made–Asylum Blackout–and I wrote that when I was a kid and don’t like it nearly as much as most of this other stuff. The end result of all of this is why I am taking things into my own hands and directing one of my pieces, a horror western entitled Bone Tomahawk, which will star Kurt Russell, Peter Sarsgaard, Timothy Olyphant, Jennifer Carpenter, and Jim Broadbent.
You’re also in Realmbuilder. Two albums have come out on vinyl and CD. What’s Realmbuilder up to now and how can fans get more info?
S. Craig Zahler: The third Realmbuilder album of doomy epic metal, Blue Flame Cavalry, will be coming out later this year on the same label, I Hate Records of Sweden. We update our Myspace page on occasion, and I Hate also posts notices. I recommend for curious folks to go over there and check out our tunes.
What are you working on now?
S. Craig Zahler: A lot. I’m in pre-production for Bone Tomahawk. I’m writing the script adaptation of my own crime novel, Mean Business on North Ganson Street, to which Leonardo DiCaprio and Jamie Foxx are attached. I’m prepping a sitcom I wrote called Villain-Super, which has been revived by a big company. I’m doing a revision of my script The Brigands of Rattleborge, which has Park Chan Wook (Old Boy) is attached to direct. And I’m also pushing my new novel, Wraiths of the Broken Land, a horror western which is the darkest thing I’ve ever written.The book is now available from the publisher–Raw Dog Screaming Press–as well as places like Amazon.com in both hard back and trade paperback editions. This novel (my second published) has received support and accolades from authors like Joe R. Lansdale, Jack Ketchum, and Ed Lee, as well as praise from Kurt Russell (who is a great, great guy…and obviously likes my writing!) and booklist. I recommend it to people who are into westerns or horror or dark crime fiction.
Blue Oyster Cult – Spectres
Thin Lizzy – Thunder and Lightning
Reverend Bizarre – Crush the Insects
Morningstar – Kalevala Mysticism
Cirith Ungol – One Foot in Hell
Triarii – Muse in Arms
King Crimson – Red
WWIII – WWIII
Dio – Dream Evil
Kraanium – Post Mortal Coital Fixation
Craniotomy – Fresh Supply of Flesh Just Came In
Black Sabbath – Tyr