“So, Chris, what do you do? For a living, I mean.” Jim sipped his Stella Artois — it was the perfect blend of flavors and easy on his gut. It was the only beer he drank.
Chris looked him in the eye and deadpanned his response.
“I’m a muse, Jim.”
Jim carefully kept his expression neutral. It was the face he used whenever he had to deal with someone who might be unstable. “Huh.”
“I was Susan Telling’s muse, but she’s tired and doesn’t want to do it anymore. So, she cut me loose. I asked her to find me another writer, and she sent me to you. I’ve read some of your stuff: it’s pretty good.”
“I’m sorry, but you’re a guy. Aren’t the muses supposed to be beautiful girls in diaphanous gowns?”
Chris nodded. “Diaphanous. Good word. Some are definitely that. Some are guys. The pretty girls get all the press. Not surprising, right? Male muses are largely overlooked.”
“You’ll forgive me if I’m skeptical.”
“Of course. I’d expect you to be. But, let me ask you something, Jimmy. You had some story ideas at the bar? About me?” Chris leaned across the table and met Jim’s eyes.
“I did.” It was a whisper.
“I did that. And I can do that as many times as you need. You can write again, Jimbo. Short stories, novels, whatever you want. That’s my gift. That’s my job.”
—from “No Muse is Good Muse” by Ken MacGregor
Which god(s) did you write about in your story, and why?
I took the myth of the Greek muses and came at it from a slightly unusual
angle. The story imitates life: when I was first starting out (writing fiction at
least—I’ve been making stuff up in one way or another for my entire life), I had
a friend I always bounced ideas off of. He’d give me great feedback, and
occasionally provide new ones that never would have occurred to me. I jokingly
referred to him as my muse, and the character in “No Muse is Good Muse” is
based rather heavily on him. I also loved the idea of exploring the potential
dark side of having a muse. Like…what do they get out it anyway?
What are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?
My main project, currently, is my first solo novel (I co-wrote one with Kerry
Lipp: HEADCASE, that’s already out). It’s a fascinating process, as I’ve mostly
written shorts, and one novella. I have several scenes already written (some of
which were short stories before that all had a similar feel), and am really
enjoying a) finding the narrative thread that fits them together, and b)
discovering where the story leads. I have an idea of how it ends, but characters
have a way of capsizing the ship you thought you were sailing and building a
raft to go somewhere completely different. I’m excited to see where we end up.
You started off writing scripts, then switched to short stories. Was this a hard transition to make, and do you miss performing as an actor?
I actually started off writing sketch comedy! I’ve been involved in theater since I
was in 6 th grade, off and on. I’d done a lot of stage shows, all amateur, but with
some wonderfully talented people. When I was in St. Louis (for three years), I
worked with professional theater companies, got an agent, and did several TV
and radio commercials. I was even on the Discovery Channel! (New
Detectives—I played a murder victim. My friend John was my killer. Fun!)
When I returned to Michigan, I auditioned for a short horror film, and ended up
working with that group of filmmakers for quite a while. One of them said he
wanted to make “the scariest short horror movie ever”, so I started writing
scripts and sending them to him. He said “no” a lot, but one ended up getting
made (“The Quirk and the Dead”. It’s a zombie comedy/romance/horror film
available on YouTube. It’s only 16 minutes long. Check it out.) Finally, he said,
“Ken…I can’t possibly make these. Turn them into short stories, join the Great
Lakes Association of Horror Writers (I did. Still a member, ten years later), and
get them published.” I owe him a debt of gratitude.
I do miss acting! I plan to get back into it at some point.
Anything you’d like to share with the readers, promotional or otherwise?
Not long ago, I released my third story collection, LIONS & TIGERS & WERES,
and I’m insanely proud of it. It’s all my animal stories, including several that
have never appeared in print. I firmly believe it’s some of my best writing.
Okay. That’s the promotional stuff. Mostly, I’d like to say I very much
appreciate you. Without readers, we’re just vomiting words for personal
catharsis. I mean…we would do it anyway, but you make it worth something.
There is no greater feeling than someone telling me that my work moved them
in some way. You make our dark little hearts happy. Thank you.
About Ken MacGregor
Ken MacGregor writes stuff.
He has three story collections: AN ABERRANT MIND, SEX, GORE & MILLIPEDES, and LIONS & TIGERS & WERES, a young adult novella: DEVIL’S BANE, a co-written (with Kerry Lipp), novel: HEADCASE. His work has also appeared in dozens of other publications. He is an Active Member of the Horror Writer’s Association (HWA) and is a member of the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers (GLAHW). He has also written TV commercials, sketch comedy, a music video, a smattering of poetry, and a zombie movie. He is the Managing Editor of Collections and Anthologies for LVP Publications, and he curated two anthologies: BURNT FUR for Blood Bound Books, and STITCHED LIPS for Dragon’s Roost Press.
When not writing, Ken drives the bookmobile for his local library. He lives with his kids, two cats, and the ashes of his wife.