Pseudopod 125: The Interview

By M.C. Norris

M.C. Norris is a bestselling author of six novels in dark speculative fiction, all traditionally published through Severed Press, in addition to numerous short stories. For a closer look at his brand of weird fiction, visit

Read by Dani Cutler

“With eight years property management experience under your belt, I really see no reason to fax over your resume. Tell you what, I’m wide open this morning. I need to run an errand, pick up a few things for the interview, but why don’t you just come on down to Grisholm’s Corporate Towers and we’ll have a quick chat?”

“Right now? I mean … sure, I’d love to meet with you. But what time were you thinking?”

“I’m thinking eleven o’clock. And when you get here, Becky, just come on down to the basement. I’ll be waiting.”

January 19th, 2009 5:42 am

what a delightfully evil little story! Horror assa genera loves forgone conclusions and the remorseless machinary of fate and Al the janitor is a perfectly crafted example of both. The parts all fall into place soooo neatly! What clever clever writer peoples. Their brains must be obtained and squeezed in a large garlic press so we may enjoy more of such spiffiness.

Changwa Steve
January 19th, 2009 11:08 am

This story was structurally sound, but the overuse of strained metaphor made it hard even to get through. Ice pick voices stabbed ears (repeatedly), stilettos stabbed marble (twice), and “Mr shiny-shades plowed up and down the aisles like a zamboni buffing the ice between hockey periods” while I resisted the urge to skip to the end and find out what would become of the fat lady.

January 19th, 2009 1:58 pm

I thought this was a great story! I could envision the basement and what Zora was in store for. I was relieved when Becky was not another practice session for Al. Good plot and enjoyable to listen to.

January 23rd, 2009 3:28 pm

I hate to say so, but I completely missed the point of the story. Could someone please explain?

January 23rd, 2009 8:58 pm

so, i hate to sound shrill and i know it is a staple of the horror genre, but doesn’t the totally undigested misogyny and violence against women bother anyone else? this story and “let them bleed” really bothered me. this because it was such a classic “kill the bitch” story, the other for more complicated reasons.

it’s not that these stories get podcast that bothers me, it is that no-one, most egregiously our well-spoken presenter, seems to have anything to say on this point.

i dunno, i am new to this genre. maybe yall got that in 101.

January 23rd, 2009 9:32 pm

“there is nothing more beautiful than the death of a beautiful woman.” Edgar Allan Poe

January 24th, 2009 3:10 pm

Ollie: What specifically didn’t you understand?

TKA: What constitutes a “kill the bitch” story, apart from a strong, admittedly rather unsympathetic, female antagonist? Bearing in mind, of course, that your average horror story is going to tend toward violence regardless of what kind of characters people it. “Interview” has what I would call a highly sympathetic female protagonist as well — so I have to say no, I didn’t find it misogynistic overall.

Not to say that misogyny is closely guarded against here. It isn’t. See disclaimer.

January 24th, 2009 7:03 pm

we have: beautiful, mean woman in power
we have: weepy, chubby, powerless woman
we have: male under economic control of bitch-lady.

this maps on to a hilariously blatant bad mom/good mom theme. good mom proves her willingness to not economically subjugate the male and crush his ego (because she is a good mom!), so she gets to live. bitch-lady, on the other hand, gets her comeuppance.

presto, a+b = classic.

dose that make sense?

i get what you are saying about misogyny and horror in general “let them bleed” bothered me for more personal reasons.
but this story is, like i said, a classic. it rehashes these psychological themes without taking them any further. it’s so blatant to me that i just find it surprising that no-one else noticed.

January 27th, 2009 5:02 am

i never know how to respond when people do not respond to my clarifications. have i convinced you, and therefore do not consider it worth responding, or have you written me off?

January 27th, 2009 10:48 pm

I really don’t see how it can be misogynistic, other than something bad happens to an unsympathetic female character, which would imply that violence against women is inherently worse than violence against men. Isn’t violence in general bad?

If it had happened to an unsympathetic male character, would that make it misandristic? If it had happened to an unsympathetic character of unspecified gender, would that make it misanthropic ?

As to the good mom/bad mom idea, again i don’t really see why gender is important to the story. The only thing the story says to me (if anything) is “Mean people suck.”

ps. I’ve been finding the last batch of stories, quite enjoyable, with few exceptions. Ben and Al, you guys are doing a bang up job.

January 28th, 2009 5:05 am

tka: Thank you for the clarifications, I do see what you’re saying now. FYI, I don’t check the comment boards daily, and in fact sometimes go lengthy stretches without doing so. But Alasdair and I do read all the comments sooner or later.

As an aside to all, more involved discussions tend to work better in the forums. You have to create a login to post, but there’s less spam and you can reply to a specific message, quoting it as you do — fancy modern stuff like that.

January 28th, 2009 5:22 am

thanks. these things are important to me.

January 28th, 2009 5:35 am

J: the point is, it’s structural. the mean woman is economically powerful and the nice women is economical powerless. to my mind that theme organizes the story. that is a patriarchal theme that is about how women should/should not be.

a sympathetic female character does not save a story from being misogynistic any more than violence against women makes a story misogynistic.


January 28th, 2009 10:36 pm

Themes, structure, patriarchal mysogyny.


It’s a great story coz it’s funny. Stop over analyzing and enjoy it !

Duane Steiner
January 30th, 2009 11:14 am

An instant classic… Is this guy related to Bob Berdella?? I really hope not though.

March 27th, 2009 8:44 pm

I agree with TKA totally and completely. Doesn’t matter how funny or amusing it was–it was definitely a duck with a meat cleaver.

Mike: the author
May 19th, 2009 5:46 pm

Wow. I evidently missed a lively and socially poignant debate.

Everyone is entitled to their opinions, of course. One person’s junk is another’s treasure, and so forth. But I wondered, TKA and Lisa, if the negative impact my story had on the both of you would at all have been different, had it been a female author? I only throw this question out there because this story was quite different from any other that I’ve written, in that I wrote this story for my wife, who devised the plot. She, in turn, devised the plot after suffering through an interview wherein she posed to be a “bitch on wheels” that she is not, and as she returned to the dark parking garage, she contemplated the irony of being targeted by a serial predator who preyed upon the sort of career woman that she was misrepresenting.

Any thoughts?

May 19th, 2009 8:53 pm

Very good point, Mike. Its interesting hearing the background on the story too. I love learning about that first little seed that sprouts into something big and wonderful. I found The Interview to be funny and suspenseful and highly enthralling. It seems like you’d have to burn a lot of good fiction out there if you don’t want to risk touching on anyone’s nerves. Of course, sometimes a story sets out to deal with specific issues. I think this one is just meant to be a really good horror story.