The revenant is like a tenebrous red rose
It wilts, it dies, losing its color to the darkness
It almost welcomes the literal and cerebral decomposition
Of its spectral resonance
Departing this mortal coil and venturing unto the veil
The revenant is like a tenebrous red rose
It wilts, it dies, losing its color to the darkness
It almost welcomes the literal and cerebral decomposition
Of its spectral resonance
Departing this mortal coil and venturing unto the veil
It brings me great pleasure to introduce a new book out called The Vampire and the Black of Night by my pal Blackie. We met in the horror community on Twitter and he has fast become a great influencer. It was really great to find out about his book and wanted to make sure other people got to know him and his writing. The book is evocative, bringing back stories reminiscent of Stephanie Meyers’ Twilight and A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest with a great blending of fear, intrigue, and romance. So let us get to his illuminating answers to my questions:
1. When did you first realize that you were a fan of horror?
When I was five-years-old. The Blob played on Creature Feature, put on by the Acri Company in the Quad Cities, then years later I worked for the Acri Company in Peoria, Illinois: meant to be. My love of horror grew from there as I continued to watch brutal horror as a little boy—my sick parents let me—Trilogy of Terror with the killer voodoo doll, The Legend of Boggy Creek, Carrie, Salem’s Lot. I can still remember jumping when Carrie’s hand came out of the grave, what a rush! It just grew from there.
2. What are some of your favorite horror films?
All Hallow’s Eve with Art the Clown, which went there with extreme horror—SPOILER ALERT!—beheading the kids. Hereditary, which revived American horror (for the longest time only other countries were doing horror), and the usuals: The Exorcist, The Shining, Jaws.
3. When did you get the writing bug?
I knew when I watched The Ring that I wanted my first monster to be a little girl. I was up half the night thinking that creepy kid was going to come out of my TV. I came up with the idea for a Wiccan horror novel with a sadistic little girl who’d been through the mill, losing her parents who were killed gorily, and she was becoming a Hedge Wiccan—Hedgers can hurt people, no “harm none, do what thou wilt”—and going after a man, this Christian at her church. It demanded to be written. Of course, I gave it the ax because it was my first novel, so I put it under the bed and wrote another one, a horror novella called Under the Bed, in the Closet, Dread, which was a little better. I’ll provide that at the end of one of my novels, for the other two are around 50,000 words, not 90,000 like my current one. From there it just infested me and took over my life.
4. Favorite authors and or books that inspire you?
Everything from Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, and The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, to The Vampire Diaries by L. J. Smith and iZombie by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred, the latter a series of graphic novels. It just has to interest me and not have sparkling vampires or other twinkly monsters. Then I can put up with the romance.
5. This book is a little different themed, what made you want to write about it?
I don’t consider it different themed at all. Dracula by Bram Stoker had romance as well as terror. For me, it’s just natural. In real life, we have fears, but we also fall in love, have sex, get married. Also, it was a challenge to write about romance as a guy, and I rose to it.
6. What is it about vampire lore that you think find so interesting?
Honestly, I think it’s because Nosferatu lore and vampire-and-human hookups are sexy. I saw this vampire skin flick on Skinemax, and it was just so fucking hot I can’t tell you. Just burnt me up on my couch. The Hammer films knew this.
7. What did you find difficult about the writing and publishing aspects of this book?
I embraced everything difficult. I think it’s better to rise to the occasion then bitch and whine that it’s too hard. The hardest was writing 80,000 words of this stuff. I had to go through things too quickly, the protagonist’s marriage and child, which shouldn’t have happened till the sequels, but it’s also cool that there’s so much going on. Vampire ancients from other countries were tricky too. I had to learn other languages. No agents would touch it, but that doesn’t bother me. So many great books had to be self-published. I’m thinking of Ania Ahlborn and Seed, as well as her other novels. I’m going to see the challenges though.
8. What are some of your hobbies?
Fitness: eating right, martial arts, weightlifting, jogging. I just became a black belt in Kung Fu, and I’ve been taking Karate forever. Extreme metal. Right now, I’m listening to tons of Malevolent Creation and God Dethroned. I’m a musician too, a one-man band. I have guitars, a bass and drums.
9. What are your next projects we should look out for?
I wrote a rough draft of a werewolf novel and another one of a zombie novel. The zombie book is the best, in my opinion. Both have plenty of romance and agony. I’m going to take on sci-fi at NANO in November, and I’m reading sci-fi right now to learn how to do it. Next year at NANO, fantasy. I have two erotica short stories I’m going to put out as eBooks.
I want to thank Blackie so much for taking the time to answer my questions! I hope you will enjoy his work and keep a look out for new projects. Have included the link to his site and his Twitter handle so you can explore and learn more!
Hey guys, Jaye here again to bring you another amazing author for you to go check out: horror author John F Leonard. John hails from the England and is an author who can spin an incredible read from the usual and the mundane by turning the topics on their head. Beautiful character crafting and scenarios that will have chills running up and down your spine and leave you thinking about them long after you are done reading. A dash of social commentary, a morsel of suspense, and a huge dollop of terror will have you clamoring to read more! So let’s get to the questions for him:
Why horror? What got you interested in writing in that genre?
The simplest answer is that I like reading horror and I think you’re best writing something you would like to read. That was all I ever really wanted to do when I started out – write something for myself. A book I’d see and think, yeah, I fancy reading that. I’ve still got the same ambition.
It also depends on your definition of horror. For me, it has clear cross-overs with science fiction – apocalyptic and dystopian stuff – and yet goes beyond that. Elements of horror are found in a lot of the ‘mainstream’ genres. I wouldn’t want to tackle a romance, for example – believe it or not, I have been asked – but a horror romance, now that’s not entirely out of the question. : )
Who are some of your favorite authors, or inspirations or who inspired you?
Too many to list them all. Some of the earliest include James Herbert, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Stephen Donaldson, A.A. Attanasio, Robert McCammon.
It’s a toughie – the early ones are the easiest and still difficult – how far back to go, how do you identify/isolate influence?
I’m holding off on mentioning newer writers because I haven’t read enough recently. That’s a sad admission, but it’s the truth. There are only so many hours in my day and I’m spending most of them writing/working – that’s set to change, once I’ve got through my backlog of work/rejigged my schedule.
Your art work is amazing, any formal training?
I had an excellent education, and it included art. Your strengths (to whatever degree) are invariably your interests – Art, English, History. They were all subjects that fascinated me. Of course, that was a long time ago.
As far as art goes, I sold quite a few sculptures and paintings and came to the awful realisation that it wasn’t going to pay the bills. I drifted away, like you do. Got lost in trying to survive the world.
Sometimes you go back though, rediscover your first loves. Sculpture, drawing, painting – I wasn’t sure what I had left in me for those.
Language, the written word, was a different matter.
It felt like I’d never really explored what I could do there. I think the desire to write is probably the last great motivation I’ll have in my life. When that urge is spent, I’ll be happy to watch the grass grow.
Where do you get your ideas?
Everywhere and anywhere. I have a list of ideas – it grows nearly as quickly as my To Be Read books and To Be Watched movies list. Reality and its subversion is something currently grabbing my interest. The Scaeth Mythos/Dead Boxes have their foundation in that concept.
What frightens you?
Mortality – my own and that of my loved ones. There’s a terrible fragility to life. It wasn’t something that concerned me when I was younger, but I worry about it a lot these days.
There are other things. Stupidity, for one. That scares the brown stuff out of me. Not being able to intelligently reason is a surefire recipe for bad decisions and worse outcomes. It’s great friends with greed, you often find them skipping hand in hand through the wastelands they’ve created.
Heights is another, more prosaic one. Not in and of themselves – nothing wrong with simply being up high, its height combined with a feeling of vulnerability. Standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower is an amazing experience. Beautiful and breathtaking. Stuck at the top of a stepladder trying to fix your roof is insane!
Thinking on it, probably doesn’t count – comes under mortality.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Nothing very exciting. I love to read when I’m not knee deep in my own writing.
Television – I can vegetate in front of the box with the best of them. My viewing mostly consists of horror, science fiction, comedies. Some drama, although a lot of it is dross. Some sport, football and snooker. Current affairs (when you can filter the truth from what the networks want to give you).
I like a drink and relaxing with family and friends. Don’t do enough of that.
Sleep! I know that sounds factitious, but there’s nothing like a genuinely restful spell under the duvet.
Do you have a writing muse or mantra?
I don’t think so. Not sure I actually subscribe to the idea (on a personal level). I believe the need to create exists in most of us. How it comes out is down to the individual – art, writing, learning how to fix the plumbing. Whatever.
For me, the process isn’t always easy. It’s often hard work. Putting in the effort and hours. What makes it worthwhile is the end result. Well, sometimes anyway. Now and again, you finish up, wipe your hands on the oily rag, and find out you’ve written a turkey. Or the damn tap is still dripping : )
Whilst I love it, writing doesn’t belong on any sort of pedestal. It’s an admirable ability, but ultimately just another skill.
Where did the Scaeth Mythos come from?
It began with me asking family and friends to suggest a name for an Irish vampire (I’m of Irish heritage and very proud of the fact).
I was inundated by ideas – seems my folk can’t resist taking the pee. ‘Mick the Biter’ was one suggestion that made me howl with laughter.
Anyway, I cogitated and researched and eventually got to ‘The Scaeth’.
The vampire side of it also morphed into something else. Broadened into a bigger concept. The Scaeth is a kind of cosmic vampire. A parasite infesting the walls of reality. It’s hollowed out a space for itself and no longer resides in any universe, just plunders those it can access. Dips into them to interfere and feed. It loves to feed.
If you could have dinner with any 5 people, living/dead/real/fiction who would it be and why?
That’s a killer question! Can’t even begin to factor in fictional. This would change with my mood, but here we go:
George Best – knew how to enjoy himself and my favourite footballer.
Peter Cushing – a gentleman, part of the Hammer Horror crew so lots of gossip/insights.
Siouxsie Sioux (from the Banshees) – a punk presence.
James Herbert – ignited my love of horror and struck me as a bloke with hidden depths.
We’d need an extra seat – my wife is usually at my side for big events.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve been busy lately with some shorter fiction, novellas of varying lengths. I may put together a collection of what’s already out there along with new, unpublished stuff. After that a novel is most likely.
My latest is A Plague of Pages – another story from the Dead Boxes Archive. In the same territory as Bad Pennies and Call Drops. Old school horror, to my way of thinking anyway, about the perils of writing under diabolical influence.
What happens when a normal guy wants to redefine himself and become a horror writer …it doesn’t work how he plans. Not surprising, there are supernatural, cosmic forces cooking the books, so as to speak : )
I want to thank John so much for taking the time to answer my questions and may I say his dinner guest list was inspiring. If you would like to know more about John, read his works or connect with him on social media, just follow these links:
A Plague of Pages:
AMAZON UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07N7MPMGN
AMAZON US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07N7MPMGN
Get in touch with John on Twitter – https://twitter.com/john_f_leonard
John F Leonard Author Pages:
Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/l/B01BHUE6Z6/
Hey guys, I wanted to introduce you to one of my favorite new authors Ellie Douglas. In conjunction with this being Women in Horror Month I wanted to interview a woman whose work is so visceral and thought provoking, chilling with both gore and wonderfully thought out horror narratives. I recommend most highly and if you are a fan of the horror genre, you can not go wrong with any of her works! Ellies books personify horror.
She is a multiple award-winning author who comes from New Zealand. She is also a freelance graphic artist who designs and creates beautiful, imaginative, and professional pre-made book covers and coloring books. She has also spent ten years working with autistic children.
So let’s get down to it and ask her some questions:
What is it that drew you to the horror genre?
That is a good question. A lot of things have drawn me into the horror genre. It started from a very early age. I would sneak up and watch horror movies that my dad was watching. He did not know I was there. I’d be watching from behind the half-closed living room door. I was scared, actually I was terrified, but I loved the thrill of it. I believe watching horrors from such a young age is what sparked my love of horror. It grew from there. My brothers and I would do some seriously crazy things after watching movies like Friday the 13th for example. After watching that, we were being silly kids and decided to pull a prank on our mother. So we ripped the head off of one of my dolls, stuck a screwdriver into it, leaving the top part of the screwdriver sticking out through its now matted hair. Then we poured tomato sauce all over it. Smeared it with black and blue ink to look like bruises and dirt and then we put it on a plate and left it in the refrigerator for our mother to find. Needless to say when she did, she gave us the thrill we were after when she screamed bloody murder; however, when she was calm and realized it wasn’t a real babies head, we got into big trouble. My brother was 14 at the time, and I was 13. So it’s really been running through my veins since I was a young girl.
Who are some of your favorite authors or books?
Some favorite authors. Stephen King. James Herbert. Dean Koontz.
Your short stories are so intriguing. How do you decide whether to keep them short or to develop them into a novel?
I had already written five full sized novels, and I wanted to challenge myself by writing short stories. I discovered I was good at it. I enjoyed it a lot and kept ongoing. Some of those shorts will be turned into full-sized novels. Deciding to keep them short was the challenge, and because of that headspace I was in I already knew ahead of time that they were going to be shorts 🙂
Where do you get your inspiration for your writing?
I get my inspiration from so many different things. Sometimes I will create a cover of a book before I’ve even written it, to use that as my muse. Other times it will come from something I’ve experienced. Other times from movies or books. Wherever I am, be it at home, or out and about, ideas hit me hard and fast. My imagination is pretty wicked.
Being a graphic artist where do you get your ideas for your custom book covers?
As with the answer above, it can come from anywhere. Something I’ve read, watched in a movie or TV show, something the kids have said or done. Images elsewhere, my inspiration for creating covers and for writing both arrive from the same place. Also talking to people, finding out what they want and working with them often ignites my imagination, and it just takes off.
How did you get into developing adult coloring books?
I have always loved to color and thought how fun would it be to have a zombie coloring book. I’d not seen one, ever. Especially in this country, New Zealand. So I created my first adult coloring book and then decided I would make more. They are fun and very therapeutic, plus they make excellent gifts to give to the adult who has everything.
What inspired you to create an online casino slot game?
I love playing the slots, and I hate wasting money. So I thought why not make a game that I could play. One that would give me the best of both worlds. It would be the kind of game that one would win no matter what. No losers in that game. I need to say unfortunately it has been taken off the market due to the people at ITunes claiming that it shows too much skin. One of the characters from a fairy game is wearing a bodice that shows too much cleavage. So they pulled it down. I can not get it back up at this time, due to not having the money needed to remake that particular game.
“Hounded” has won multiple awards. Why do you think zombies resonate so much with horror fans?
I believe that it resonates well because of the damage that zombies can do. In particular, my book Hounded is not about human zombies. It is about K9’s, man’s best friend turned zombies. Four legged zombies cause way more damage and are a lot scarier. It for me I believe is because of what they can do and how scary zombies are no matter if they are human or animal. They will tear you apart, and that’s a thrill we all love. Also, it is hyped up about the possibility of a zombie apocalypse actually happening. I personally don’t believe that one will happen. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say it would be cool and that I could instantly become prepared for one lol.
Can you tell us something about your work with autistic children and why it is such a passionate cause for you?
One of my own daughters is on the Autism spectrum. This is what got me started in working with other children who are autistic. It is very close to my heart. Raising a special needs child comes with a lot of difficulties, but it also comes with a lot of rewards too. For example, when you see them achieve mainstream goals for the first time, it is very rewarding.
What new scares or projects are you working on right now?
I’m working on a top secret project. I’m unable to say what at this time, but I can say that it is going to blow the minds of readers. I’m pretty sure readers won’t have seen anything like what I’m currently working on. Trust me, it will be something that readers will be very excited about.
My final thoughts is an offer of a short story, for free. If readers of your awesome blog are reading this and would love a taste of my horror, then I have one just for them. If you visit my website, you can join my newsletter and be rewarded instantly with a free book.
I want to thank Ellie so much for taking the time to answer my questions and for writing such fabulous books! If you would like to learn more about her or you would like to read her work, just follow the following links:
https://plus.google.com/101411492847090012799 Google Plus
My next author interview is with horror writer Erik Handy. His stories are spine chilling and engaging, dark and imaginative and I really encourage you to check them out! So let’s get to the questions and find out what he says:
When did you first fall in love with horror?
I grew up in the VHS Boom of the 80s. My parents constantly rented just about everything horror and sci-fi. It was probably then.
Favorite horror films?
Fright Night, Predator, and The Fog.
Favorite horror authors and books?
I don’t really read anymore, but when I did, I liked Bentley Little a lot.
Favorite comic books?
Watchmen. It’s a well-told story first, comic book second, if that makes sense.
Where do you get your inspiration for your books?
Sometimes from my hyperactive dreams. Sometimes from a stray thought.
Why are you the King of Horror and Suspense?
Because no one does it better than me.
You work and you write which probably doesn’t leave you with much time, but do you have anything else you do to decompress from these activities?
I’ll get all the rest I need when I’m dead.
Is there anything that scares you?
Knowing there is probably nothing after death. NOTHING.
I know you write screenplays. If you had all the power, which of your books would you like to see made into a movie and who would direct and star?
Just one?! Noooooo . . . . I wouldn’t mind seeing some of the stories in Demonica being filmed for an anthology a la Creepshow. A different director for each segment . . . John Carpenter, Stuart Gordon, and Rob Zombie. It’d have to star Jeffrey Combs and Brad Dourif in multiple roles.
Lastly, what projects are you working on for the future?
I’m cleaning up my screenplays for publication. After that, I’m going to reissue and finish my Demon Hero series. After THAT, a new short story collection, then maybe a new Bad Boogeyman novel. 2019 is going to be a busy year!
I want to thank Erik Handy for taking the time to answer my questions. If you would like to learn more about him or read his works, just follow these links:
Official site: ErikHandy.com
Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00476PH5G
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/erikhandybooks/
Twitter page: https://twitter.com/ErikHandy
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCB2-bhZHAXtuMUNrwJHKsdQ
Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/erikhandy
It is a new year and I would love to present you with a new author interview from one of my favorites, Ken Stark. I just love how he describes himself on Twitter…Horror writer, questionable painter, unapologetic nerd, and committed beer enthusiast. Author of the award-winning Stage 3 series of books.
As a fellow nerd I so enjoy his attention to detail and meticulous crafting of each novel. Exceptional characters, provocative scenarios, and fast-paced reading that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat. I encourage you to give him a read, but in the meantime get to know a little more about him here.
Where did you get your love of horror?
The books and movies and TV shows I remember from my childhood are almost always the ones that scared me. I can remember those scenes in perfect detail decades later while I’ve already forgotten a movie I might have watched only days ago. I’m not into gore for the sake of gore, but I’ve always loved any story that drops a normal, average person into a nightmare, because it’s just so easy to imagine myself in that spot.
As a writer, the prospect of having that same effect on a reader just thrills me to no end. If I can make someone hesitate for a fraction of a second before they throw back the shower curtain, or if I can send a chill down someone’s spine as they come home to a dark house and reach into the shadows for the light switch…. well hell, what writer wouldn’t want that superpower?
Favorite disaster films?
The Day After. It was a made-for-TV movie from 1983, and it was probably the first movie that accurately depicted the devastation of a nuclear war. Despite the subject matter, it was actually very subdued. Just real-life people struggling to keep their loved ones alive. It was chilling because it was plausible, and I’m afraid to say, it still is. Most disaster movie take place in one building or one city or one state, and it usually ends with our heroes making it out of that location to safety, but when the whole planet’s involved, it becomes a fight for survival in a microcosm. Powerful stuff indeed.
What scares you or just gives you nightmares?
Well, I do have one phobia, but come on, you don’t expect me to tell the world my Kryptonite, do you? As for nightmares, they are so few and far between that I honestly don’t remember what any of them were about. The only exception is one that I had after Stage 3 came out, and I found myself in the very world I’d created. It was certainly scary, but it was awesome! After all, here I am trying to give other people nightmares, and I gave one to myself. But I love that nightmare. Recalling the sensations I’d felt being plunged into that world helps me convey that sense of dread as I continue the series.
Favorite horror/ science fiction novels?
Oh, I fell in love with science fiction early on. I’m sure I’ve read every Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke book ever written. It’s tough to pick a favorite, but I’d have to go with the Asimov’s Foundation series. It astounds me that he was able to pack so much imagination into those books that spanned galaxies and centuries and still have it make perfect sense.
As for horror, I always fall back on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The man wrote not only a great book with a brand new monster, but look at what’s followed since. I can’t think of any other piece of literature that’s had that kind of effect on modern culture.
What inspires you?
My inspiration to write it simply the number of years I spent keeping my passion on the back burner. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but after a few disappointments in my younger days, I abandoned the dream. Of course I kept writing, but from then on, it was only for myself. Now that I’m doing it for real and can actually call myself a writer, I need zero inspiration. Give me a pen or a keyboard and I’ll write ’til I drop.
As for what inspires a particular story, those can quite simply come from anywhere. All it takes it a dark little tweak on reality and following it to its most horrifying end. Stuck in traffic? Look at the mousey little guy in the next car over and wonder what he might get up to in his spare time. Stopped-up drain? Just what horrible thing is down there, and why? Dining out? What if that chicken isn’t really chicken? Honestly, if you give your imagination free rein, anything and everything can provide inspiration.
What do you like to paint?
I taught myself to paint by watching Bob Ross wield that big ol’ brush of his, so most of my stuff is landscapes. I’ll throw in an elephant here or a deer there, and once in a while I’ll add a person, but I don’t paint people well. I did a few zombie pieces for an online promotion recently, and they were a lot of fun, so I’ll definitely be doing more of those. What do you think, would Bob Ross approve? ‘And let’s put a happy little reanimated corpse right here….’
Does music influence your writing?
No, not at all. I love music and I usually have something on while I write, but I’m barely even aware of it. You could fire a gun next to my ear when I’m writing and I probably wouldn’t hear it.
You have a lot of technological/ scientific information in your books, is this learned or researched?
A little of both, actually. I studied sciences through high school and into University, so some of that will naturally creep into my stories. Sadly, school taught me nothing about zombies, so coming up with a mechanism for getting the dead to walk was tricky, and it required a ton of research. What I came up with might stretch science to the limits, but my background made me want to at least try to make it plausible, and I think it works. Most of my research now is a quick Google search for the kinds of things that can get a person on an NSA watch list. Bullet velocities. Rate of decay of human flesh. Effects of blunt force trauma. You know, casual bedtime reading material.
What do you like to do when not writing?
Pat answer alert! When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing. Honestly, though, it depends on the weather. For most of the year, I’ll do anything that gets me out in the sun. In winter, I tend to hibernate, so I’m always either reading, writing or throwing paint at a canvas.
Do you have a mantra or philosophy that you live by?
I believe that everything happens the way it’s supposed to. That belief doesn’t help one iota when things go bad, but I do believe that it all happens exactly how it had to happen. There is a scientific theory that suggests that everything we know is really just information spread across the surface of the universe, in which case, time is an illusion and everything we think we experience is simply information stored in a 2D hologram. I don’t know if I’d go that far, but it’s good to know that there are a few physicists out there who’ve got my back.
What can we expect from you next?
My plan this year is to write two books. I don’t know if I’ll be able to, but I’m going to try. I will keep the Stage 3 books coming as long as someone out there likes them (including me!) but I want to alternate between those books and other books entirely unrelated and non-zombie. I think you’ll like what I’m working on now. I can’t tell you what it’s about yet, but it’s good and creepy!
Until then, I always have several short stories on my website that anyone can download for free and share around, and I plan on posting another every month or two. It’s just my way of thanking people for stopping by. The latest is ‘Killing Joe Prince’, about a writer who take hero worship a little too far. Make of that what you will;)
I want to thank Ken so much for agreeing to this interview and for giving such fabulous answers! I cannot recommend enough that you read his wonderful work. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and I hope by reading such engaging responses from Ken that you will go check his work out as well.
Ken Stark’s Website: https://kenstark.ca/
Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/Ken-Stark/e/B01D911QC2
The glacial night sky of the lupine month
Opens the door to the crimson heart of winter
A sanguine orb floating across the darkness
Claret colored clouds dancing upon it
The celestial sphere so large in the stratosphere
Calls to the nocturnal animals to carouse in its blushing illumination
I am so pleased and honored to introduce you great readers to an astounding writer by the name of RW Spryszak. I have a few interviews under my belt but have never felt like I was reading literature when reading answers. Mr. Spryszak has done that for me here. So eloquent and illuminating that they are a joy to read, I hope that you will enjoy them as much as I did. His book Edju was very hard for me to put down. So without further ado, please enjoy and here is a small bio to get you started.
Bio- RW Spryszak’s recent work has appeared in Peculiar Mormyrid, A-Minor Magazine, and Novelty (UK), among others. His early work is archived in the John M Bennett Avant Writing Collection at the Ohio State University Libraries. He is editor at Thrice Fiction Magazine* and recently produced “I Wagered Deep On The Run Of Six Rats To See Which Would Catch The First Fire*,” a collection of contemporary surrealist and outsider writing from around the world for 2018 under that banner, which is also available on Amazon.
Who are some of your favorite authors, or authors that have inspired you?
What inspires me to work is work that isn’t produced. I go into a bookstore just to browse and leave without buying anything. You could ask my wife this. She would verify what I’m saying. This happens a lot. And a long time ago I asked myself, well, what did you want to find that you couldn’t find? And maybe that is what you should write. Write what you’d like to read but can’t find. This is how I work. So, it isn’t what authors have written that inspires me, as you say, it’s what they haven’t written. It’s only a void I’m filling. In my own universe anyway.
Now, as an example of writers whose work has influenced me I have to go back to when I was young and didn’t know what I liked but found things that stayed with me. Gogol’s Dead Souls, first of all. I still have that old worn Penguin Classic copy from when I was in high school. The pages are quite yellow now. Of course, everybody who is a reader discovered Kafka as a teenager I think. But it was people who wrote things that made me go – “You can do this??” I mean when you’re young or naïve you expect a story to go from A to B to C, and twists and unexpected things make your head snap. So, there are the poems of Dylan Thomas and Guillaume Apollinaire. Thomas creates these spiraling images and ideas that blend and weave in and out of each other until you find yourself trapped in his crazy tornado. And Apollinaire writes the kind of things that make you say – “you can do that??” His work is one hundred years old and a lot of it reads like it was done yesterday.
But there’s Robert Walser. Naguib Mahfouz. Jan Potocki. I’m saying these names but I’m quite sure no one is going to look them up or anything. Still, I don’t think – for your audience – you can call yourself a true fan of horror if you haven’t read Potocki’s A Manuscript Found in Saragossa. Just saying. Maybe kitsch horror, but not gothic horror. Dracula, Frankenstein, certainly. But if you haven’t read Manuscript you have a missing part in there. An aspect that would make you say – “you can do that??”
When did you start writing, or what prompted you to start writing?
So how do I answer your question? I don’t know. I used to make up stories in my head as a little boy. Full technicolor epics before I would fall asleep. Wash up. Brush teeth. Go to bed. Roll around making up movies in my head.
And my first rejection letter came from Stan Lee. I wrote a story that pitted Doctor Strange against The Hulk. I was 10 years old. I sent it in and, with the innocent expectations of a kid I also sent along 12 cents to buy the issue my story would appear in. Well, of course, Marvel Comics would never use a hand-written story from a 10-year-old who didn’t know the highway from a footpath. So, here’s my Stan Lee story. 1963 or 4. I got a hand written note back from Stan Lee saying he enjoyed the story but could only use their own material. And – get this – the 12 cents I included with my submission was taped to the blue card he sent back with his note in an envelope. Was he the coolest guy ever? Yes, he was. By the way, Doctor Strange did face The Hulk in one adventure eventually, I think, sometime in the 1990’s I believe. I ought to sue, don’t you think?
How would you describe your style of writing?
I don’t think I think like a writer. I’m influenced by the visual. I look at things like a painter or a sculptor but I couldn’t paint or sculpt to save my skin so I write the form. Writing and acting were always easier than painting. Concepts. Visuals. I think probably because I was influenced by TV and movies when I was small. In Edju, in particular, I used something I learned from my long-ago acting days. How to stay in character from start to finish. Edju is a first-person story, so it’s vital you don’t “break character,” as actors would say.
Though I’m not in the Surrealist camp, so to speak, and never claimed to be, I do use the techniques they’ve developed. They try to bring the unconscious truth to things and so Arp’s ideas about Chance often come into play. Then there’s the process of automatic writing or even sentence collage. These are things I’ll utilize. Take for example in Edju, I used automatic writing as prompts. The start of some chapters is in italics. That was straight from the back of the brain and unedited automatic writing. Then I connected them. I left the strictly Surrealist process when I connected these prompts with a willful, consciously-produced narrative – which makes me not a Surrealist, I think. I don’t know. You’d have to ask them if I’m one of them or not. I mean, several Surrealists, people who have been with that worldview for decades, have supported my work – Max Cafard, J. Karl Bogartte, the New York Surrealist group – but I think that’s because I love the work they produce and have spoken up for their movement – which never went away, contrary to what the New Yorker may think – for years.
And, really, I think this is a question better asked of my readers than of me. There are people who like my style and people who can’t stand it. Folks who tell me they can’t put it down and folks who can’t get through the first two pages without screaming and burning the damn thing. I know my stuff is difficult sometimes. So, what do I say?
Do you set a certain plot, or go where your writing takes you?
I could never work from an outline. I tried when I was younger. I couldn’t do it. It was like – I’ve written the outline and so the book is done, right? I have nothing but a vague idea and I’ve never known how things were going to end. Not ever. In Edju, I was going along and going along and wrote “If I didn’t need to eat I would never trust your world again, and I would stay in these rooms till the spiders wept.” And I stopped and looked at it and said – Okay. That’s the last line. I’m done, now for the edits. And that line will lead into the first line of the next book because Edju, conceptually, is a trilogy. I have two vague notions about the two next pieces but I have no idea where they are going to go. The second book has been started at least five times and I think I only just settled on what to do last week. So, I guess my answer is I go where it takes me after a vague notion, or something like that.
If, while writing, I can’t visualize a title for the thing? I know I’m onto something. Whenever I’ve had a title first, nothing ever works. I don’t understand that. When I get to the point where I can’t come up with a title no matter what and it comes down to I don’t even care what anybody wants to call it, just get it away from me, you decide – it gets published. When I start with a title, it never even gets finished. It’s weird.
What are some of your favorite works of literature?
Well, yes, I mentioned these. Dead Souls, The Manuscript Found in Saragossa. Mahfouz’s The Journey of ibn Fattouma. Walser’s Jakob Von Gunten. But also, from a writer’s viewpoint, there’s technical aspect too, that you have to have. I’m not a big fan, but even if you don’t like him you have to say that Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea is the perfectly executed novella. And it’s good to have a grounding. In fact, I’ve always felt you need a grounding in the classical and traditional before you can go off “experimenting.” You’ll find Picasso’s early stuff more traditional than you’d at first think it would be, being Picasso. Then, when he “got it,” so to speak, he created his own world and his own rules. But I’d say he couldn’t do it until he understood the starting point. I think that’s true for everyone to some degree. So, until you can read Dickens and explain why he’s a lousy writer, and he is, you should keep reading the traditional until you “get it.”
What is the most important aspect of writing for you?
Well it’s a compulsion that has to be fulfilled, isn’t it? When I was in my twenties I used to worry about getting published. Have to get published. It must happen. And so on. Of course, that’s when nothing ever happened. It wasn’t until I finally said, you know what, it doesn’t really matter if it gets published or not because I’m going to sit here and write anyway because I have to or I’ll just explode or go crazy. I would write because it was going to happen whether anybody was ever going to read it or not. That, of course, is when people started to accept and publish things.
Oddly enough, after that, I got this crazy notion that I wanted to bust into the mainstream. I had all this alternative work done and it was archived and I had a tribe and – for some reason – I said I’m going to try to break into the big time or something and – poof. Came the drought. I wanted to get published. I needed to get published. And nobody wanted anything I was doing. A couple of the bigger wigs even laughed at it. Because it was actually pathetic stuff, to be honest. So, okay, I went back to just doing what I’d always done and forgot about “trying” so hard and… what do you think? All of a sudden (to use a term that should never appear in anything you ever write), there I was back in print.
That’s the long way around the barn to say the most important aspect of writing, for me, is to not only be yourself, but if it’s working there’s nothing that needs to be fixed. If it ain’t broke. Stay true to your own voice, no matter how trite that may sound. Find your tribe and dance with them.
Do you put any of yourself in your writing?
Yes. There are dozens of things that happened to me, mostly filtered by metaphor, in Edju. Shards of dreams I had. People I’ve met. Or aspects of them. There’s even a scene in the book that I wrote forty years ago for something else. Something I wrote, never kept, but never forgot. It goes on for pages as if I was copying out of an old notebook. I never forgot the scene and it just came into the book on its own. That scene came from a particularly intense part of my growth as a writer. But, yes, they are all over the place. However, well-disguised. And this is all I will say about that.
What led you to write in this genre?
This is crazy because I didn’t write Edju to a genre. I just thought – a book. Maybe Literary Fiction. Maybe Dystopian. I didn’t have a target. When Spuyten Duyvil*, the publisher, first put it on Amazon they listed it as “Gothic.” To be honest, I didn’t even know what Gothic was. Gothic Horror – sure. I’d heard of that. And I didn’t know if there was a difference. Then a few people contacted me and said “Horror,” or “Speculative.” To tell you the truth, I don’t know what it is, exactly. So, my approach is like that old song – “any world that I’m welcomed to.” I’m becoming convinced it belongs in that Gothic category that the publisher listed it in. But you’ll have to believe me when I tell you I seriously didn’t have any kind of thing like genre in my head.
Do any movies or TV shows influence your writing?
Not off hand, no. I don’t watch a lot of TV anymore. My TV is mostly old movies and Baseball. Baseball is my escape hatch. Outside of that it’s just all noise. I suppose, growing up in the late 50s and 60s there were influences that happened then, but I couldn’t specifically tell you one thing or another.
Any future writing projects you would like to talk about?
The plan is to complete a trilogy with Edju as the lead before I croak. I have no idea what to call it, and that’s a good sign I think. But – you shouldn’t take anything for granted. I’m doing this but there’s no guarantee anyone will take it. Life in the small press universe is like that and you have to expect it. Unless you’re a best-seller you don’t make much money in writing. All the writers I know have a regular job somehow. Teaching, editing, or anything. Every one of them. You have to stay real.
I want to thank RW Spryszak so much for his valuable time and marvelous answers to my questions. For more information or to read his works please check out the following links:
*Spuyten Duyvil is at http://www.spuytenduyvil.net/
* “I Wagered Deep, etc.” is at https://www.amazon.com/Wagered-Which-Would-Catch-First/dp/1945334045
*Thrice Fiction Magazine is at http://www.thricefiction.com/
I always seem evil when I tell you my plan
I go on ad nauseum explaining who I am
To try to expound or maybe to trick
I give details up but never too quick
I lie, I deceive, I do dastardly deeds
Maybe not giving it away is what I most need
But I brag, and I bluster, and sometimes I gloat
For your weakness, and fear just make me emote
Your running offends me and try as I might
I can’t stop getting off on all of your fright
Some call me a malefactor, some call me a cad
You can cry all you want but I’ll always be bad
But outlaw or miscreant no matter the name
You’re always caught up in my winning game
So my monologue is done, run away if you want
I’m just wicked and cruel, and this I will flaunt
Villain I am and of this I am proud
Especially when you’re screams are always so loud
So goodnight little victims, hold onto your heads
Fore I am the scary thing underneath your little beds