Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?
Initially I don’t think of them as characters. It’s kind of like arranging furniture. I need something tall here, wide there, elegant there. I often just plop them in for the energy they lend to the development of the story. When I’m unable to sit at my laptop and write I will often sketch out backstories for some of the characters with pen and paper based on what seems reasonable according to how they act/function in the story and then weave those details back in later.
Q. What inspired your story/stories?
I suppose most of my stories are inspired by a frustration with the status quo and comfort zones. Particularly when there is needless pain or discomfort. A little orderliness and predictability can be nice, sure. What breaks my heart is watching and listening to people take a rote approach to life that’s making them miserable. Whether it’s their job, their relationship, their sexuality, drug of choice, inherited system of morality, or favorite hockey team… hanging on to some inherited or cultural obligation that blocks a person off from experiencing all that’s great with the world as they tick closer to death is truly tragic.
Recently, I’ve been learning about the Toltec concept of Mitote which is basically an inner demon made up of all the baggage a person has accumulated in life about how they are supposed to live. Maybe I’m simultaneously exorcising my inner demons and forging a tool or weapon out of my personal experience that others can use to confront theirs. A tool or weapon in the form of a book.
Q. Do you “get lost” in your writing?
Yes. I know method acting is a thing. Sometimes I think I get really close to method writing, to the point where I might try to ape the patter or idiosyncrasies of a character in real life. I’ve used social media to create a sort of “mock up” of an idea or scenario I’m developing.
Q. Who or what is your “Muse” at the moment?
Clinically, it’s always been adrenaline. Let’s use thrill-seeking or excitement and see how that works. I think there’s something redemptive about well-choreographed intense experiences. Making it through a haunted house or scary movie might steal power from traumatizing nightmares.
I love to go fast and fly high. To push my limits. With that, it’s important to know what they are, not exceed them too much at once. I’m becoming more technical about this because I like helping others find their thrills.
The thing is, it’s way more than just extreme sports/physical peril that gets me going. Comparative philosophy, trying to stay abreast of developments in quantum mechanics, social justice activism, experimenting with different chemicals or spiritual/religious practices, lucid dreaming, watching babies take in the world around them for the first time, cooking, going to large arena concerts with impressive light shows, long walks in the woods where I’m tuned in to the dense hush of the forest, an hour and half in the hot tub. It’s anything that forces me into, or allows me to be fully present in the moment.
See, I thought thrill-seeking and excitement sounded too small.
Q. When did you begin to write seriously?
Writing, and reading before that, has always been a coping mechanism of sorts, imaginative escapism. First with reading, I used books as social shields to deal with being shy and somewhat intimidated at school, both in high school and college. I quickly realized the power of stories to alleviate uncomfortable feelings and wanted to try my hand at the magic making power of words. So, seriously, as a coping mechanism, I began to write in middle school.
Now, seriously, as in publishing, the adventure began in 2003. I had never forgotten the power of words and stories. I was in a tough spot personal and financially… just a ridiculous amount of fear and uncertainty in my life. I had discovered the user forum on the Fangoria website in my desire to track down buzz about the release of Rob Zombie’s movie House of 1,000 Corpses. There was a section of the forum called “Self Mutilation” where users would post and discuss their own creative projects. I was up late one night, with a painful urinary tract infection, waiting for the pain meds to kick in and I decided to write a story exploring the pain as a way to cope. That story, “Urethra,” which I basically wrote live on the forum, a chunk at a time, became the catalyst for a number of us to band together and self-publish a book. My first time self-publishing. We even got a mention in Fangoria magazine.
Q. How long after that were you published?
That book was titled Self Mutilation as a nod to the forum section in which it gelled. The book was released in fall of 2003. This was back when Createspace was still BookSurge and hadn’t yet been acquired by Amazon. A couple of us started doing horror conventions to promote the book. We partied hard, met really cool people, and had a lot of fun.
Q. What makes a writer great?
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