• Urhi


Updated: Sep 1

The ninth of our Q&A features directs the conversation to M.C. Schmidt, a baker, writer and lover of music and horror cinema. Hell is Empty and All the Devils are Here is a short fiction piece included in The Needle Drops... Volume One, which we discuss alongside modern society, horror films and bread to name a few. Not all artisanal baked goods make it out alive.

MCS would like to see the works of Richard Matheson tackled by modern filmmakers (collage: @charliehillart6)

M.C. Schmidt is a baker of artisanal breads, fanatical consumer of music and horror films, and best friend to a cat who barely tolerates him. His recent short fiction has appeared in New World Writing, BULL, Spectrum Literary Journal, Litro Online, Abstract Magazine, and Every Day Fiction among other publications. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing. His novel, The Decadents, is forthcoming from Library Tales Publishing.

So, MCS - you mentioned that Hell is Empty and All the Devils are Here’s premise is “the (Charles Caleb) Colton quote that idleness is the most active cause of evil.” For yourself, what led to your desire to express this in the form of fiction, if anything? Was there a particular final provocation that comes to mind?

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed a deeper appreciation for the Colton quote. Anecdotally, I’ve seen that idleness creep into lives on the back of good fortune and success, as well as (and more often) in the opposite circumstance where hardships have broken the wills of people I’d known to be idealistic youths. This story was starting to take shape in the summer of 2020 at the height of the BLM marches and when various other political protests were making news, so that cultural climate certainly influenced the direction of the storytelling. Ultimately, though, I wrote this story as a cautionary tale as much for myself as for any sort of social commentary. The main character in this story is demographically similar to me, but very much the man I don’t want to become. It seems to me that idleness and complacency are the ways in which that could happen.

Whilst Hell is Empty… expresses a bleak vignette of modern society, you tackle such dark subject matter with some satirical levity -- does this come from your love of horror media directly?

Probably so. I love well done horror, but I’ll just as readily sit through a horror movie that’s laughably bad. I don’t have the perspective to know whether those films appeal to me because I have a dark sense of humour, or if I have a dark sense of humour because I've spent my life watching cringe-worthy horror films that inadvertently bring levity to dark subject matter. I’m sure it’s all related though.

Keeping in mind your childhood favourites, what dream horror filmmaking project are you desperate to see come into fruition?