The second in an ongoing series of posts profiling members of the STL Scribblers writing group at Central Library. Steve Erdmann has been one of our most consistent members since the group’s inception in 2011. Reading Steve’s work, you’re never quite sure when you will stumble upon a terrifying Lovecraftian monster, a cannibalistic rite, or a secretive cabal, although the fantastic elements of his work are also grounded by encyclopedic pop-cultural recall and a strong sense of place. Here he poses at the Central Library’s summer Wizard of Oz exhibit, of which he said, “That’s what my life’s been like.”
Your work shows a lot of diverse influences, from old Warner Brothers horror movies to The Twilight Zone to rock music. How do these influences work their way into your own writing?
I try to be unique yet universal, capture the genre and the mood and tone of various authors into my own work, yet leaving my definite ‘stamp’. Since I derive inspiration from multiple sources, my writing can reflect different styles.
You’ve written about St. Louis, specifically the Carondelet neighborhood and how it has changed over the years. Talk a little about why this city appeals to you as a fictional setting.
A lot of good and bad happened to me in my childhood that has shaped my worldview. I am primarily a slice of ‘time’ from World War II through the Space Age. One of the big events in my early life while in an orphanage was watching the atomic bomb tests on TV out in Nevada.
We haven’t talked a lot about this, but I know you’re interested in secret or suppressed U.S. history, UFOs, paranormal activity – what a skeptic might call “conspiracy theory.” Do you see a connection between these interests and the urge to write fiction?
Certainly, science-fiction/fiction is often prophetic. Reality can often be stranger than fiction, or visa versa. I do believe that there is a psychic/paranormal side to humanity and that quantum physics is beginning to scientifically prove that.
You’ve named H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King as some of your favorite writers. Are there any other important writers working in the horror/weird genre that we may not have heard of?
Michael John Moorcock, James Dickey, Philip K. Dick, H.G. Wells; Richard S. Shaver and Ray Palmer of AMAZING STORIES fame, and his inauguration of FATE Magazine. There are so many.