Editor of Tales from the Crust
David James Keaton is an award-winning and prolific writer who (along with Max Booth III) has just edited and released a book of pizza-themed horror stories titled Tales From the Crust: An Anthology of Pizza Horror. In our opinion, this is undoubtedly the greatest thing to happen in American literature since Twain penned Huck Finn.
Mr. Keaton was kind enough to participate in a Q&A with the Indiana Pizza Club. Enjoy our conversation below and please check out Tales From the Crust, which is available through most online booksellers.
Q. We read your introduction (which mentioned Dignan from Bottle Rocket, instantly gaining our admiration) to Tales from the Crust, so we know what inspired you to put together this book. But can you briefly describe to our readers what caused you to dream up what might be the greatest concept for a short story collection of all time?
A. I've long been convinced that no one really wants to hear anyone describe their dreams so how about a pizza delivery story instead (and who knows how much future influence that had over young Dave!). So I'm delivering pizza in a snowstorm in Perrysburg, Ohio, and get an order from "The Hamlet," which is the rich, gated area of town along the river, so right away I know I'm going to get a lousy tip because they're a bunch of monsters at The Hamlet (more Capulet than Montague. wrong play, I know ), so trying to stack the deck best I can, I take off my jacket so I'm just wearing the thin "Pisanello's" T-shirt in the snow (old delivery trick), hoping to give off that pathetic Oliver Twist vibe. I get there, and as I'm getting out of the car, this couple is walking out of the house, and they say, "Oh, sorry, we're heading out to dinner. You took too long. Would you move your car, please?" So I get back in my car, which is blocking them in, and I proceed to listen to the entirety of Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again" while feeling sorry for myself. They couldn't get out until I moved, so, while we glared at each other over our headlights, I rewound the song and listened to it one more time.
Q. When reviewing and compiling stories for this collection, in what ways were you pleasantly surprised by the way pizza acted as a muse for these horror writers?
A. I was mostly surprised how they were able to make it such an ORGANIC part of the story. Organic. Get it? Like an organic pizza! Zing! I'll be here all week! Nothing? [distant glasses clinking/awkward cough] Are organic pizzas any good, by the way? If anybody knows, it would be you guys, right?
[Editor’s response: Organic pizza is pizza, so by default it is good.]
Q. In your opinion, what classic horror movies or stories would be improved if a pizza scene or two were added?
A. I crowdsourced this question just now and the consensus was there was a distinct lack of pizza in The Thing (1982 version, the porridge in the middle that was just right!). Because if the alien took the form of a pizza, they'd all scarf it down without even thinking, no questions asked, no chilly afterhours debates, no backstabbing or betrayals. Humanity conquered with no shots fired. Just some chewing noises. That feels like a happy ending all around.
Q. What is the most "horrifying" combination of pizza toppings you can imagine or have ever eaten?
A. I've always been able to tolerate eating most any combo, though some pizza toppings LOOK horrifying. Something about yellow pepper rings in particular and how they leave like these nasty lesions in the cheese, like they're burning down to the muscle? Sometimes I have to close my eyes on those slices, or do the dreaded fold.
Q. If you could eat a pizza dinner with any three people from history, who would you choose to eat dinner with and why?
A. This is a hard question because I have to imagine it being just one dinner with all three of these people at the same table. In that case, how about that old Star Trek episode with Lincoln, Billy the Kid, and Genghis Khan. Wait, that's from Bill & Ted. And maybe if it's Genghis Khan, it has to be the John Lone version of him from The Shadow, because John Lone made me cry in Iceman when he held onto the helicopter at the end. Okay, I got it. Genghis Khan, Chaka Khan, and Khan. Chaka Khan would have great Prince stories, Genghis Khan (Shadow version remember) can cloud server's minds to get us unlimited pizza, and Khan only wants the leftovers, because he says pizza is best served cold. In space. Or something.
You can find Tales from the Crust at http://perpetualpublishing.com/product/tales-from-the-crust/