What the Writers Say: Fiction Edition

Alumnus publishes book of short stories titled: Darkest Hours

Mount Royal University alumnus Mike Thorn is establishing himself as a premier horror fiction author. His book of short stories titled Darkest Hours is being released in both digital and print form on Nov. 21, and one of his first stops is his alma mater.

He will be reading from his collection during the What the Writers Say: Fiction Edition event on Friday, Dec. 1 at 2 p.m. at the University BookStore.

"This is the first time I've done anything of the sort," explains Thorn, who graduated, with honours, from the Faculty of Arts with an English degree in 2015. "I'm still deciding whether I should read one of the collection's most grotesque selections, or go with something a little more family-friendly."

Robert Dunbar, author of The Pines Trilogy and Willy, says, "Mike Thorn is inescapable, and he understands that most terrifying variety of monsters, the hidden ones, the inner ones. They're on display here. Savour the experience."

Thorn is "equal parts excited and nervous" about the mass distribution of Darkest Hours, which will be available for purchase Nov. 21.

"Although my fiction is abstracted from reality and doesn't resemble my day-to-day life in any literal way, it's still intensely personal.

"It's a bit strange to think that the people I know might read Darkest Hours," says Thorn.

Thorn's debut reading will be a joint event, including readings from two MRU professors: Bill Bunn and Randy Schroeder, PhD.



Why MRU?

"I would characterize my undergraduate experience at Mount Royal University as open and collaborative," explains Thorn.

"The English professors were remarkably warm, supportive and nonjudgmental, and to this day I'm amazed at the number of ways in which they re-framed the hierarchy between faculty and students."

Randy Schroeder, PhD, took the extra step and collaborated with Thorn to develop a Direct Reading study specific to Thorn's interest in horror fiction. This empowered the up-and-coming author to pursue readings that were of significant interest to him outside of the formal course, which he was then evaluated on.

"I took a Directed Readings course with Randy Schroeder, which equipped me with a better understanding of narrative structure, genre and the fiction-writing process," explains Thorn.

Bill Bunn is a founding member of the Intensive Genre Writing Inquiry Group, which both Schroeder and Thorn are members.

"I helped found the group partly because I'm a genre writer," says Bun.

Additionally, "I believe story traditions are in tremendous flux at the moment - classic genres and technique are transforming."

"Lots of forces at work are fueling this change, things like reluctant readership, premise fatigue, and other factors."

"As a writer, I have to hang out with bright, adaptive writers who are looking for similar things."

Life after MRU

Thorn has gone on to successfully defend his Master's thesis at the University of Calgary, which is eerily connected to his interest in horror fiction.

"My thesis, Ghosts and Shadows: Epistemophobia and the Disintegration of the Subject in John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness, addresses Carpenter's film in relation to epistemophobia, defined broadly as the fear of knowledge," explains Thorn.

"The thesis also grapples with Prince of Darkness's deconstruction of human subjectivity and human exceptionalism, engaging extensively with Dylan Trigg, Anna Powell, Eugene Thacker and H. P. Lovecraft (a seminal influence on Carpenter).

"By reading this film within the context of both philosophy and literature, I argue that Carpenter's cinema deeply interrelates with these other disciplines, necessitating acknowledgment of their connections.

"The concept of epistemophobia is my main philosophical intervention: how does one extract knowledge from that which is horrifically unthinkable?"

Schroeder continued to correspond with Thorn after his time at Mount Royal. While working on his Master's, "he continued writing horror fiction, and we would correspond and edit each other's work, and pretty soon we were functioning as peers," says Schroeder.

Thorn's full-time job as a communications and marketing assistant at the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning occupies much of his time, however, "I allocate as much daily writing time as I can manage, which is currently about one hour a day." Thorn continues to produce new short fiction.

He has written an adolescent horror novel about toxic masculinity in suburban environments, which he hopes to publish in 2018.

Additionally, he is conducting research for a new novel that will address late '80s/early '90s Satanic Panic and the metal music that coincided with the cultural paranoia.

Thorn also writes Thorn's Thoughts, a critical review column on Unnerving Magazine's website, and co-writes the horror-themed series Devious Dialogues with A.M. Novak for Vague Visages.

"He has no problem getting things done," says Schroeder.

Check out What the Writers Say: Fiction Editionfeaturing Mike Thorn, Bill Bunn and Randy Schroeder at the Mount Royal University BookStore on Friday, Dec. 2 at 2 p.m.

Nov. 16, 2017 ― Rob Petrollini

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