It was a treat to get to interview Laird Barron for Miskatonic Musings, along with my faithful co-host Charles Meyer. Enjoy!
It was a treat to get to interview Laird Barron for Miskatonic Musings, along with my faithful co-host Charles Meyer. Enjoy!
“Shadows of the Past,” is currently in ebook for a buck ninety-nine, and will soon be available in a hard copy, with flippable pages, and the like. The anthology is a collaborative effort on the part of members of the Arkham Horror Book Club, which has a definite penchant for the works of one H.P. Lovecraft, though discusses other works of horror fiction.
“Shadows of the Past” is filled with stories of history, and horror. My story in the antho is entitled “A Smile Too Wide.” The story takes place during the Haitian slave revolt, and explains the origin of the vodun cult mentioned in Louisiana in “The Call of Cthulhu” by H.P. Lovecraft.
Check out the cover, made by one Farah Rose!
You can purchase the ebook here.
First and foremost, here is the link for this ol’ blog tour jazz. This is the person who nominated me for this. T.J. Tranchell, writer of Horror Warning Signs, and new cohost of There Are Other Worlds Than These.
So, I was asked by a fellow blogger T.J. to talk about my writing process for a blog tour thinga-ma-jig which I’m far too lazy to read the other posts in right now. Being the awful narcissist I am, I jumped at the chance to talk about my process, of creating shit none of you really rightly give a fuck about right now.
Being ADD as all Hell, my first step is getting motivated to write. Soon after, I have to isolate myself, and give myself a good five minute warm up period, to get my brain in the right headspace. If it’s fiction, sometimes I need more than that. A post like this I don’t really care if it’s stylish, ya dig? This is closer to just having a conversation with someone. When you talk to someone at a BBQ, you rarely fret too much about the word choice, at least too much. But, when you’re writing something you want to make an impact, the nerves can get in the way. Hence, getting back to the point, it takes a little longer to get into “the zone.” So, most of the initial writing process is motivate, isolate, and then get the brain ready to create. I find some kind of background noise helps, but I can’t handle anything to thrashy initially. I can’t listen to screechy vocals for some reason when I try to write, and I can’t do rap music either. So, either something with no lyrics, or something with low key vocal styles. Right now I’m listening to the new Daman Albarn, called Everyday Robots. When I wrote my first book, a lot of it was to the Ravenous soundtrack. I realize that soundtrack is also partially produced by Daman Albarn (lead singer of Blur, guy from the Gorillaz) so maybe I should just stick to writing with Albarn stuff.
My note process I’m still in the process of figuring out. Sometimes I go off of notebooks, sometimes text documents I save on my laptop. I usually have to write names down, those are the things I forget instantly. You must understand, I’ve probably written 30ish stories at this point, and many of them are in the short form. So, in my head, I remember the guy or girl, but especially if it isn’t a character from a novel, I might only discuss them for five to ten pages. It’s akin to remembering the name of a person you talk to a party one time, and then you meet them again, and have to remember what their name was. I’m awful with names, man.
The writing rituals have become a lot healthier lately. Creating the first book most every writing sesh I’d smoke a bowl, then have a cup of coffee, then write. In college, writing the two scripts I crapped out, I chain-smoked cigs. A lot of writers turn to the hooch. I will admit to having written while drunk, and it is a lot easier, because your inhibitions are lowered. I believe it was Hemingway who said write drunk, edit sober. Well, I’m happy to report a cup of caffeine, or even just some gum can do it for me now. I find things I can repetitively do are good for writing. Chewing gum, eating pretzels or some other snack akin to it, where not too much is left on your hands. Being perfectly frank, I’ve been prescribed Adderall for my ADD since I was 12, and so if I really need to work on something, say to hit a deadline, I’ll take one or two of my little blue friends. But, I try to avoid prescription speed whenever possible; tt wreaks havoc on the bowels.
The hardest part of writing for me is staying consistent, and continuing to plug away at projects. There’s a definite reason I have at least 30 short stories, and only one novel. A novel is a long commitment, and short stories come a lot easier. Much less of a commitment with a short story. A major problem is that I have three podcasts, this blog (which I never update, so it isn’t a problem) and Adventures in Poor Taste on my plate. So, again it comes down to motivation. There is no right answer as to what I should work on. All of the projects and sites I write for are rewarding in different ways, so I kind of just have to stick to one or the other for a certain period of time, then double back, so as to try and keep everything somewhat up to date. But, I make no bones about the fact with so much shit in the air, occasionally stuff gets left by the wayside for a while. My second novel, for instance (which might not even stay a second novel, we’ll see) is on the back burner, because I decided I finally wanted to write a comic script, and try to find an artist for it.
The hardest part of the process is convincing myself it’s worth it. I know, I know, so many have the whole “if it isn’t fun, don’t do it,” line they spout off. Guess what? It’s not always going to be fun, even if you love writing today. Sometimes it is simply work, and you have to come to grips with that if you’re going to be a writer. But, take this silly blog. No one reads it anymore, and at this point I just view it as a domain I want to hold onto, which can work as an online writing resume. And, occasionally, it can also serve as a place to do fun stuff like this.
I had a site drop me one time because an editor said I was rambling and incoherent. I sort of am, so not sure how I should end this post. I guess the main point I’m trying to get at is you do have to get into a routine, but most importantly, you have to get into a sort of hypnotic state. So, if you have anything you can do to ritualize the process, I think it helps you make it a routine. I was experimenting with a playlist per project, but I shitted out on that. Still, a steady stream of sounds you get used to, or snacks to snack on, Hell, even a place to go, which is only for writing and nothing else, these things help.
So many things to do, how do I know which one to do? I don’t. I just try to stagger all my creative projects out. All is creation. I figure it’s the same part of the brain, so whatever I work on is good. Listening to The Winding Sheet by Mark Lanegan right now.
I worry a lot about seeming stupid, scatter-brained, and, dare I say, rambling, and incoherent. I guess the only shit that makes it uniquely horror-based is that’s the genre I tend to gravitate towards.
I lose motivation real easy. You might notice I don’t update this blog a lot. You gotta understand, i have a lot to do, and the traffic on this is quite low. Right now, I’m just trying to build up an audience in the most effective fashion.
But shit, let’s talk horror cruuud. Just watched You’re Next for the first time. Loved the score, though it was overbearing, and loved the look of it, though I thought the story was a bit nonexistent. Watched some movie called Contracted. Terrible acting, but the practical effects were rad.
Just read a story by Julio Cortezar, known as Headache aka Cefalea. Cortezar released it in the fifties in his short story collection Bestiario. It was a cool story, real paranoid. However, perhaps it was the translation, and all the latin, but it was quite confusing. Nifty story though, here’s the link where you can read it. Has a very awesome picture by Dave Mckean at the top above the story. It is pictured below.
I’m trying to get There Are Other Worlds Than These back up. Line up change, and I don’t feel like throwing anyone under the bus, so I won’t discuss it much. I feel bad enough about the change, so let’s just leave it at this; sometimes in this life you have to make decisions. You have to do things you feel are for the best in the interest of getting your projects off the ground. The King cast was fucking stagnating, and I am far from without blame for that. I’d lost steam on it. Hopefully the new cohosts will help me get There Are Other Worlds Than These off the ground. I plan to have a lot of fun, and if I don’t, I’ll just hand it off to one of them. Not like I don’t have way to much other shit going on right now.
For instance, Spooky Sean’s Podcastery… I gotta get a guest and record a new episode of that fucker! Perhaps AJ and TJ from There Are Other Worlds Than These? I just realized they both have abbreviations, and the letter “J” in their names…
We talked of Frankenhooker.
Oh, by the way, I’ve been on this ol’ Miskatonic Musings podcast for like a fucking year now!
Lauren Ashley Carter RULES!
Just finished up the Carrie episode of my new Stephen King themed podcast with Todd Chicoine of Asylum House Images, which is entitled There Are Other Worlds Than These.
I was struck by the amount of times Margaret White talks about how “they,” will “take you,” in “road houses.” And, of course, Todd made a bunch of Swayze jokes.
Carrie gives me hope as a novelist, because frankly, it isn’t amazing all the way through. Todd also told me it’s King’s fourth novel, and let me fact check… yup, according to the wiki (which are always one hundred percent accurate), it is in fact his fourth novel, but his first published. Well, cool, that means I get a pass on three more novels, until I have to release one semi-good one.
The story was originally started as a short planned for the now defunct men’s magazine Cavalier. Most of them went the way of the Dodo, but back in the 70s, and beforehand, they’d let you send in stories, which they would pay you a decent amount for, and publish. King had many early stories published in men’s magazines. Apparently it was also started as a dare, because a lady told him he couldn’t write about women.
Surprisingly, neither Todd or myself had ever read Carrie before, despite our obsessive dweeby proclivity to devour his published works. When the episode goes up, I’ll link it somewhere above this post, but I figured I’d write something brief about the novel, since it’s still fresh in my mind.
There are four films based on Carrie. I watched the 76 and the 2013 before recording the podcast episode on Carrie, to cover my bases. However, I have never seen the made for television version of Carrie, or The Rage: Carrie 2. I might watch them, at some point?
And no, Carrie has nothing to do with that other lady from Sex and the City.
Oh yeah, and Cemetery Dance is releasing a fancy pants special edition of it soon.
This was fun.
Check out Izzy Lee’s Picket, and Legitimate at the Boston Underground Film Festival!
My first ever live Random-Ass Interview… or series of questions… what the fuck ever.
Like many writers, I get preoccupied with monetizing my hours of work. It only makes sense; you bust your ass, you expect to get a reward for it. Yet, I’m here to tell you that the writing might end up being the only reward you get.
Sure, you might get some fans, might get some people who enjoy reading your stuff. But, the bottom line is, don’t expect to become a millionare, or even a thousandare, from this. It’s a difficult thing to hear, and to accept, but your writing might not lead you anywhere. You might not see fame or fortune in your lifetime from the thing you spend hours doing.
This of course raising the next obvious question. If all of this hard work might not lead to anything, then why do it at all? Now, we get to the heart of this. Of all this.
H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe are two of the most, if not the most, influential writers on the horror genre; the genre which I love, and am proud to be a fan, and contributor to. Neither of them saw much money, or fame in their lifetimes. Yet, their vision continues on, and their work has influenced more writers than I can name.
There are still days when I forget my own advice, by the way. Days I get angry I have to stay at a retail job I hate to make money. But, you need money. And there isn’t a great chance you’ll make a living wage being a writer. So fuck it. Write because you love it, because it makes you feel like you’re accomplishing something. But, there’s no shame in trying this out, and realizing it isn’t for you. If you love it, do it, and if not, go do something else that makes you happy. Because at the end of the day, life is about trying to find your own personal place, in which you are content. I’m getting there. It’s a slow process.
There are still days when I forget my own advice, by the way. Days I get angry I have to stay at a retail job I hate to make money. But, you need money. And there isn’t a great chance you’ll make a living wage being a writer. So fuck it. Write because you love it, because it makes you feel like you’re accomplishing something. But, there’s no shame in trying this out, and realizing it isn’t for you. If you love it, do it, and if not, go do something else that makes you happy. Because at the end of the day, life is about trying to find your own personal place, in which you are content.
I’m getting there. It’s a slow process.
True Detective follows Rust Cohle (Mathew McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) as they attempt to solve the murder of a woman in Louisiana. It contains many elements, from classical horror stories, to modern horror stories, and from old and new horror films and shows.
There are many references to the classic Robert W. Chambers series of horror stories, “The King in Yellow.” The main reference is through the visual use of something somewhat similar to “The Yellow Sign,” on the victim in the first episode, though I’m not sure yet whether or not this show is in a universe where the stories were published. The first victim in episode 1, former prostitute Dora Kelly Lange, has something that appears to be “The Yellow Sign,” on her back.
However, when looking for a picture of the design on Lange’s back, I discovered an article which says it is actually derived from the Illuminati. I know nothing about the Illuminati, so I’ll leave it up to you, the reader, to make your own judgement call on what the sign is supposed to be. It could easily just be a spiral, representing the cyclical nature the killer thinks life and time exist within.
Any time you hear about “The Yellow King,” or “Carcossa,” or even “The Black Stars,” that’s the show drawing from “The King in Yellow.” Indeed, “The King in Yellow” was before it’s time. First published in 1895, most of the stories revolve around a fictional play, aptly named “The King in Yellow” that drove readers to madness.
As the show progresses, Cohle’s character grows increasingly unsettling. We start to really question his sanity. This doubt fits perfectly with the theme of the most influential of stories in, “The King in Yellow,” namely that of “The Repairer of Reputations.” In “The Repairer” a man named Hildred meets with Mr. Wilde, who has a book that contains shocking truths about lots of people. Mr. Wilde uses this book, with its secrets, to blackmail individuals, makes his money in this fashion. I’ve talked about these stories on one of the podcasts I contribute to, Miskatonic Musings, on the episode entitled The King of Creol
so if you want to hear more about my thoughts on the stories, listen to that.
Recently, I was thrilled to read in an interview at The Wall Street Journal with Nic Pizzolatto that he is a fan of the work of Thomas Ligotti, and indeed some lines in the show are almost word for word from Ligotti’s books. Pizzolatto even references other modern day weird fiction writers I’ve yet to even take in. It’s a really great interview, and has made me an even bigger fan of Pizzolatto, and even more excited for the next season of True Detective.
Visually, there are of course other influences, which dare I say are borderline derivative. The devil’s Trap is a Southern thing, I haven’t checked yet whether they are a legit thing, but they remind me an awful lot of the little stick designs and people from The Blair Witch Project.
There’s also the glaringly obvious comparisons to be made between all the antler stuff on True Detective which also features prominently in Hannibal.
And, the use of the gas mask on Ledue reminds me of the character Bing from Joe Hill’s Nos4a2. The description of Bing as a gas mask wearing killer is a hard one to escape, when you compare him to the gas mask wearing killer in True Detective.
No matter what, the show True Detective is great for horror. It is just police procedural enough to draw in the mainstream audience who wouldn’t normally indulge in these horrific things (Well, save for the Hannibal crowd), on their own. It combines the mystery and thriller genres with horror in a seamless and beautiful blend. And at the end of the day, who cares what the genre is classified as, as long as it’s good.