THEY HAD GOAT HEADS is D. Harlan Wilson’s latest collection of bizzaro and surreal flash fiction. The Cavalcade of Terror was lucky enough to have access to an ARC version of the manuscript. It is now available for purchase. There are approximately thirty stories contained therein, some as short as six words, some as lengthy as one-thousand, and everything in between. The content and themes vary as drastically as the length. From the oddly introspective The Movie that Wasn’t There to the overtly Oedipal The Womb, Harlan manges to cover an entire invisible spectrum of weird and unusual perspectives on contemporary life. The frequent use of first person narrative lends intimacy to some bewildering turns of phrase, and keeps the prose flowing despite a steady stream of thought-provoking non-sequiturs. Harlan makes no secret of his love of language with his puckish prose; for example, “A cautious man always eats the bait before he catches the fishes,” resonates with the reader but defies much heavy analysis. Above all, this collection is true to its genre and a heck of a lot of fun. THEY HAD GOATS HEADS is best taken in small doses as a daily sacrament to the absurd and bizarre. Much like the differently-abled and far-too-lucky Mr. Gump and his box of proverbial chocolates, you never know what you are going to get, but you can be sure it will be something that will make the guy sitting next to you mildly uncomfortable if you talk about it.
Some background on D. Harlan Wilson, Ph.D
CAVALCADE OF TERROR: Who are your literary influences?
D. HARLAN WILSON: Existentialist authors and philosophers, originally (e.g., Kafka, Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche.) Later, when I got into science fiction, Philip K. Dick, Harlan Ellison, J.G. Ballard and Steve Aylett all profoundly influenced my thinking, style and narrative voice. So did postmodern theorists like Baudrillard, Debord, Lacan, Deleuze and Guattari.
COT: What are your production (writing) habits? (Inspirations, hours per week, etc.)
DHW: I’m a fulltime English professor and father of two little girls, so life is busy. I prefer to write early in the morning, but usually I have to do it whenever I can, in fifteen to thirty minute increments. I try to write every day, even if it’s only taking notes, recording ideas, revising, etc. And I usual juggle fiction with criticism. This morning, for instance, I worked on a novel-in-progress tentatively called Curd; at some point this afternoon I’ll work on a book of film criticism I’m doing on John Carpenter’s They Live for UK publisher Wallflower Press’s cultographies series.
COT: What other fiction besides flash do you write?
DHW: I guess I run the gamut. I started out writing novels, then reverted to flash fiction, then longer stories, then back to novels. And the novel-in-progress I mentioned is essentially a collection of intimately linked novelettes featuring the same protagonist. I like to mix things up. I get bored with the same form if I do it for too long.
COT: Opinions on token or non-paying markets?
DHW: Research them carefully and make sure they are run by sound editors, stylists, etc. When I started getting published in the late 1990s, I gave my stories away to some crummy places just because I wanted to be published. I wish I hadn’t done that.
COT: Opinions on educational background?
DHW: Don’t get a Ph.D. in English unless you’re independently wealthy.
COT: Where do you see your literary career in ten years?
DHW: Not much different than where it is now, I suspect. Maybe I’ll win another award or two. And I’d like to land a few six figure book contracts, right? But I don’t really think about those things. I just keep my head down and do what I do.
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D. Harlan Wilson is an award winning novelist, short story writer, screenwriter, literarycritic, and English professor. Visit him online at www.dharlanwilson.com.