Q: Hi Max. Thanks for taking the time to do what turned out to be a Godzilla-size interview. People have always been fascinated by tales of giant sea creatures and would like to believe in them. Stories of sea serpents and sea monsters go back almost as far as recorded history. Your book even references the leviathan from the Bible’s book of Job. There have been more than a few stories in modern times as well. There was the fabled story of the Japanese fishing boat that had supposedly caught a plesiosaur. More recently there was a story of an attack on a whale by an unknown giant predator from the depths. There have been other stories sightings of giant squids and strange things in the water. It also seems like a lot of species of fish have been caught over the last few decades that were previously thought to be extinct. I know you are probably familiar with many stories like this. What are your thoughts? Do you think there is any credibility to these stories? Do you think any of these prehistoric sea beasts are still around?
A: It’s my pleasure, Mike. Thanks for having me. I’m pretty familiar with a lot of the reports you’re referring to. In fact, if the whale attack you mentioned is the 65’ finback that beached itself off the coast of England, in August of 2012, I was the one who discovered the bite marks on photos of the dying animal last month and reported it on the Kronos Rising fan page. My editorial has been featured on several cryptozoology web sites, including Frontiers of Zoology (The Whale-Eater Strikes). Before I found those pictures and wrote that editorial, however, I tended to take reports of sea monsters in stride. As a writer, there was a part of me that always wanted to believe them, but the realist in me kept me grounded. Once I saw the punctures on that whale’s face, however, I changed gears. There’s only one animal I’m aware of that lived in that area and has a bite pattern like that, and it’s been “extinct” since the dinosaurs. With the oceans as deep and vast as they are, I think it’s a certainty there are some prehistoric marine beasts still out there, keeping their distance from humanity’s big, noisy ships, and surviving quite nicely. If and when we do end up with proof of one of them, it will be a day to remember.
Q: What giant prehistoric sea creature or creatures is your new book based on? Have you always been interested in prehistoric aquatic reptiles? If so, what is so special about them to you?
A: Without any spoilers, there are several primeval terrors featured in Kronos Rising, the primary of which is a gigantic marine reptile that once ruled the Cretaceous seas. And it is the scariest thing imaginable. In terms of my passion for prehistoric life, my dad is a consummate rock hound, so I grew up with fossils. When it comes to writing about marine reptiles, I think they have more “personality” than a lot of other predators. Sure, anything big, cold-blooded, and predatory is frightening, but it’s the eyes and what’s behind them that matters. A lot of people like big sharks. But if you look into the eyes of a great white, for example, they’re just a flat black. Sure, that’d be scary coming at you, but if you stare into the eyes of a crocodile, you get the sensation of something dark and malevolent looking back at you. It’s as if the croc has intentions, and they’re not very nice ones.
Q: The readers of this page are obviously interested in giant monsters. What do you think makes real prehistoric monsters, as well as fictional ones like Godzilla, so appealing to people these days?
A: I think anything huge, hungry, and primeval is automatically a terrifying entity. At an instinctive level, being menaced by such a creature brings us back to a time when our ancestors lived in constant fear of becoming a snack for some hungry dinosaur. We’re frozen with fear when confronted by such an animal, yet that dread and the rush that comes with it are also thrilling. That’s the appeal of, say, a genetically re-engineered T-Rex, and Godzilla, even more so.
B: Without any spoilers, do you think you could share with the giant monster fans why this book would appeal to them?
A: Kronos Rising has all the components of a traditional Kaiju movie (a ravenous monster destroying all in its path, and likable characters struggling to survive its onslaught), but with the added elements that come from a suspense-filled horror story. It’s also grounded in reality. And with all the findings that have come to light lately, not only might it be real, there’s a good chance that a lot of what’s in the book is real.
Q: Some people don’t see Godzilla as a sea monster, the fact is, his species is supposed to be amphibious. The first glimpses of Godzilla on film were of the beast rising from the depths destroying ships at sea. In fact, parts of your book reminded me of a Godzilla film. What authors, books and films did you draw inspiration from in creating Kronos Rising?
A: I’ve seen more horror and science fiction movies than I could list, and I’ve also read quite a few books in my genre, including White Shark and Beast by the late, great Peter Benchley. Believe it or not, though, I’ve never read JAWS. I have seen the movie, and it’s an immortal classic. Even with all the advances in special effects, it never loses its appeal. I’ve also read Megalodon by Robin Brown, and Extinct, by Charles Wilson, both of which were enjoyable “monster-shark-on-the-loose” novels. There are so many talented authors in the genre. At the end of the day, I feel that everyone who writes “marine terror” owes a debt of gratitude to the man who started it all, Herman Melville. Moby Dick was monstrous (pun intended) and groundbreaking in its implications.
Q: Can we expect more to come from the Kronos Rising universe?
A: Definitely. I’m writing the screenplay for Kronos Rising now, and book two, Kronos Rising: KRAKEN, will be “unleashed” next summer (according to one of my editors, my books are too powerful and ferocious to be released in the traditional manner – you don’t release them, you unleash them).
Q: You have had a very active presence on Facebook and have interacted with the fan base a great deal. In fact, I found out about you and your books on social media. How has social media helped you relate to the fans and get the word out about what you are doing?
A: I am a huge Facebook buff. My experience with my last publicist was such a disappointment that I prefer to do a lot of my publicity work myself. And it’s been great. I get to interact with my readers on a daily basis, and by and large they’re terrific (I’ll resist the urge to give a shout-out to some of my peeps, but if you guys are reading this, you know who you are!). In fact, some people who started out as fans I am now proud to call friend. I’ve met so many fascinating individuals through social media; it’s been wonderful. Sure, you get the occasional oddball with an axe to grind, but that comes with the territory. That’s what the almighty “ban” button is for.
Q: Please tell some of those readers who may not be familiar with your books about some of your other projects like your investigational book, Memoirs of a Gym Rat.
A: Back when I was freelancing, I paid the bills by working in the health club industry. During my years there, I became privy to unimaginable things. Sex in the gyms, drugs, violence, scams – you name it, I saw it. When I left the industry, I was so sick of seeing people victimized by money-hungry fitness chains. I wanted to warn people about what really goes on in those places, and what they were walking into. I actually put Kronos Rising on hold so I could write and publish Memoirs of a Gym Rat. I was compelled to. So, although MOGR is not my genre of choice, nor does it have anything whatsoever to do with Kronos Rising, it is a very entertaining and informative read. If you’re a member or employee of a gym, or you’re thinking about becoming one, you owe it to yourself to read Memoirs of a Gym Rat. Knowledge is power, and that book just oozes it.
Q: And finally, a question unrelated to Kronos Rising, if you would indulge me. What do you think of Godzilla? Are you a fan? Have you seen or do you plan on seeing the new Godzilla film currently in theaters?
A: As can be expected from someone with a passion for prehistoric animals and marine life, I’ve seen pretty much every Godzilla movie ever made. Growing up, I had scores of Gaiju-style kits and action figures. I had the complete set of Shogun Warriors, complete with Godzilla and Rodan. You probably remember them: the big guys with the spring-loaded rockets, fists, etc. They were perfect for tormenting my brothers while they watched TV – and from a safe distance, too. Just because we have to “grow up” doesn’t mean the kid in us has to vanish. I still own a complete set of “Gigantics” models from the early 70’s, MISB. I’m also friends with Mara Corday, the beauteous star of such classic 50’s ”big-bug/monster” movies as Tarantula, The Black Scorpion, and The Giant Claw. In fact, Mara was kind enough to proof-read Kronos Rising for me. My favorite Godzilla movies are the original 1954 version and Godzilla Final Wars. I have seen the new Godzilla, and I thought it was excellent. I like that they didn’t have him moving around at high speed. It lets the viewer enjoy the effects more, and gives the “big guy” more weight and majesty. If I had any complaint about the film, it was G’s heat ray. Like mine, when I first wake up, Godzilla’s breath is absolutely lethal. They made us wait a long time before they finally unveiled it, but when they did, it was a little weak (IMHO). If you’re going to make me wait through 90% of a picture to see something, you better blow me out of my shoes with it. Literally! I’m sure the next one will be better in that department. And even if it isn’t, I’m sure I’ll still be sitting there with one of my Shogun Warriors by my side, loading popcorn in the rocket launchers, and sending it zinging overhead into the audience when no one is looking ; )
Max Hawthorne, author
(original interview 6/11/2014)