Introductory Note by Adam Howe
Before we start this Q&A, I have a confession make, a scandalous confession for any man, let alone the editor of an anthology of wrestling fiction…but until recently I was not really much of a rasslin fan. Sure, I loved it as a kid. But once I found other combat sports – dare I say REAL ones – I never really looked back.
That all changed with my story DAMN DIRTY APES, the first of the Reggie Levine escapades, which you can read in my DIE DOG OR EAT THE HATCHET collection. There I wrote what I presumed to be a throwaway line, in which I suggested that the mating call of the Arkansan skunk ape (a type of redneck Bigfoot) sounds like “Ric Flair being sodomized by a moose with his pecker greased in pepper spray.” (And who’s to say it doesn’t?) To my surprise, I was deluged with messages from readers asking if I was a wrestling fan; mostly I was surprised that wrestling fans could read. One of these readers pitched me the idea for a book of wrestling fiction. The idea held little appeal for me, at first. I felt I didn’t know enough about the sport(s entertainment) to do it justice. But I did a little research, and soon found myself immersed in a cartoonish world of rival promoters and warring wrestling territories, not to mention the larger than life personalities of the wrestlers themselves. Professional wrestling, it turned out, fit the kind of pulp Americana I write like a pair of spandex rasslin briefs.
WRESTLE MANIACS was originally set up with an established small press publisher, who authorized me to assemble a team of writers and have at it. Things were moving along when, due to circumstances I won’t go into here – no sense adding to the ongoing dramas within the indie publishing community – the project unexpectedly lost funding, and the publisher and I parted ways within a couple of weeks of the deadline for stories, a bunch of which I’d already received from my writers. Now these things happen in publishing. Publishers go under. Projects fall apart. It’s certainly happened to writer-me before. But editor-me was pissed off. So I dug my heels in, and decided to self-publish the book under my new Honey Badger Press banner. Financing the book myself meant I had to downscale my ambitions, and lose a bunch of great writers – I’m hoping these writers will be onboard for any future volumes of WRESTLE MANIACS. Still, I’m gotta-pinch-myself amazed at the line-up in THIS book, and I’m grateful to these writers for not bailing when the project hit that early speed bump. You guys rock!
Name: Adam Howe
Story Title: Rassle Hassle (A Reggie Levine Clusterfuck)
Firstly, how would you pitch your story to potential readers?
My story, RASSLE HASSLE, marks the return of anti-hero Reggie Levine, ex-boxer turned strip club bouncer, and perennial shit-magnet, as he attempts to assist a past-prime Jake “The Snake” Roberts-style wrestler at a small hall rasslin’ show. This is now the third Reggie Levine misadventure after the novellas DAMN DIRTY APES and TIJUANA DONKEY SHOWDOWN, and for regular readers I’m happy to report that Reggie’s luck hasn’t improved this time out.
Did it turn out how you expected?
With Reggie, it rarely ever does. Things tend to snowball. Often bodily fluids.
What is the first wrestling match that you can recall watching?
I don’t recall a specific match, but “my” era was the early 90s. Back when WWE was the WWF. Before pandas got involved. WWF wrestling wasn’t on UK terrestrial television, only SKY, and my old man was too much of a miser to shell out for a satellite dish, which meant I only got to watch the odd big event (a Summer Slam here, a Royal Rumble there) at a buddy’s house. So I remember the likes of the Ultimate Warrior, Sgt. Slaughter, The Million Dollar Man, Big Boss Man; the Undertaker was making his first appearance around then – hard to believe that guy is STILL wrestling at the top level; and of course, Jake “The Snake” Roberts. I felt Jake’s pain when Earthquake squished Damian. Heartbreaking. I’m getting misty just remembering it… Before I could get too carried away with this wrestling malarkey, my dad used it as a gateway to his sport, boxing. After watching a Mike Tyson knockout reel, it was hard for the likes of Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake to compete, and I gradually lost interest in wrestling.
Do you have any favourite eras, or matches?
While developing this project, I did my research, tried to catch up on some of what I’d missed, and I’m sorry I didn’t catch the Attitude Era as it happened. That seemed like a lot of fun. The Stone Cold Steve Austin / Mr. McMahon rivalry in particular.
If you had to compare your fiction to any wrestler, who would it be and why?
Ric Flair. Why? Well, to quote The Nature Boy: “Whether you like it or not, learn to love it, because it’s the best thing going.” The “Wooooo!” is optional.
Which of your fellow contributors would be most likely to win a Battle Royale?
Ed Kurtz. If only because the man is so damn handsome that no one would have the heart to lay a hand on him, he’d walk it. Ed’s basically the Kelly LeBrock of fiction: Don’t hate him because he’s beautiful.
Finally, do you have any additional publishing plans for 2017/18 and beyond?
Up next for me – hopefully in 2018 – is SCAPEGOAT. Co-written with fellow WRESTLE MANIAC James Newman, it’s an 80s-set occult thriller about a group of dudes on a RV-trip to Wrestlemania III, who take an ill-advised shortcut through the woods and find themselves hunted by a cult of religious crazies. We’re looking forward to sharing that one. Beyond that? I have a few other projects (wrestling and non-wrestling related) in various stages of development. Perhaps even a second volume of WRESTLE MANIACS. Depends how this one fares. Have I overestimated the reader demand for a book of hard-hitting, high-flying rasslin’ fiction? Time will tell.