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Random-Ass Interview: Ted E. Grau

tedjacket

I hate to judge a person based on fiction, as it’s an easy way to mistake fiction for reality. However, I get a sense you might have had some partying days in you? Anything you care to share?

As a kid growing up in Middle America who idolized people like Hunter Thompson, Samuel Coleridge, Jack Kerouac, and Jim Morrison, I’ve clocked my late night hours on the weird end of the dial, but I don’t really care to share anything specific, as I find that sort of conversation so incredibly boring. Anyone who constantly talks publicly or romantically about drinking or drugs probably hasn’t had any experience with either.

Favorite mixed drink?

A rocket strength Jameson Irish coffee with a splash of Baileys. Remove the “mixed” and it’s Jameson neat. Keep the “mixed,” and I like this concoction called a Thirsty Crow, served up at this little hipster dive of the same name in Silverlake. They make them with a dank Rye, ginger beer, lemon juice, bitters, and mint. Kind of like a cowboy mojito. Refreshing as hell, with a nice warm kick. Cadillac margaritas in the summertime are also nice. I’m not too snooty or macho when it comes to a quality cocktail.

What scares you?

What terrifies me more than anything else is the thought of my wife and daughter being in danger, threatened, or scared. I would rip through walls and take on armies to make sure that never, ever happens. I think and worry about it daily. Either of them becoming seriously ill also scares the shit out of me.

Moving down the priority list a bit, I personally don’t like the idea of imprisonment or being immobilized and at the mercy of others, squeezing into small, enclosed spaces, and humanoid figures with unnaturally long appendages. Things with large, unblinking eyes. An unexpected knock on our front door. Marionettes, old masks, and unintentionally bizarre clowns also rank in there somewhere. As I’ve gotten older, and after several recurring dreams of falling from buildings several miles high, I don’t like great heights anymore, either.

In a general sense, people scare me. Males of the human species in particular. The made-up horrors I tend to write about pale in comparison to what has been unleashed by human beings. Aside from a very close circle, I don’t trust a one of them. How can you? It’s not like the monsters amongst us wear placards.

Favorite monster?

Godzilla as a child, and probably Cthulhu as an adult (I think you can see the running theme here in terms of size, dramatic aquatic entrance, etc.). Victor Frankenstein’s monster in Mary Shelley’s book is quite fascinating, and from a purely visual perspective, Slender Man is pretty spooky, what with the featureless white face, long proportions, and watchful total silence.

Favorite swear?

“Horseshit.” Old timers and football coaches use it with such aplomb. I also like a good non-specific “cocksucker,” perfected by Al Swearengen on Deadwood. Personally, I use “motherfucker” way too much. I’m pretty trite with my own expletives.

If you could ride an elephant to work, would you? It seems like it’d be a real pain to park the thing/ keep it from trampling people to death.

Hell no. No proper turning signals and shitty handling in LA traffic. I’d let my daughter name it, then take that beautiful beast out into a protected wildlife area and set it free, posting up with a .306 in case poachers got some ideas.

What if the Dark wasn’t actually Nameless, but had a really lame name like Bartholomew?

Then Bartholomew Dark would get his own self-titled show on the CW, starring nine people that all look way too much like actors.

tedlaughs

What do you think of the term “torture porn”?

I think the term is accurate, as it appeals to a base, apparently popular desire to see relatively innocent human beings – primarily women – endure terror, pain, and a gruesome death. People are fucked up like that. I don’t think it’s very interesting, though. WHY these twisted individuals are doing what they do is far more fascinating than HOW they do it, or the end result. If I was hired to write some stupid torture porn movie, it would be all background, lead-up, and counterpunch, with the gore happening entirely off-screen, sometimes heard but never seen. Your brain will construct an infinitely more horrifying death scene than any filmmaker can ever stage. Hitchcock understood that.

I’m more of a fan of “revenge porn” than “torture porn,” as I do have a soft spot in my grayish heart for bad things happening to bad people who truly deserve it. And there are so many who do.

Do you think William S. Burroughs ever really did use his bare hands to dig into the dirt, hence being a Burroughs who burrowed?

I think Burroughs was rather soft in the underbelly, being a man born of great means and devoted as he was to shooting junk into his veins. He’s no doubt buried a few bodies, but probably either hired out, or used a shovel. Guys like him don’t do the heavy lifting. They just write checks and watch.

Pistol or revolver?

Bazooka. The old timey kind that all my green Army men used. Or that classic Russian-made RPG. The kind they used in Red Dawn, and are the favorite weapon of jihadists and insurgents of all stripes around the world. Those things are like souped-up bottle rockets. I’ve had daydreams about shooting one of those for years.

Do you like spicy food? It hurts me stomach.

I do, indeed. Although I have a pretty sensitive stomach, the irony of which is never lost of my wife when I toss back raw peppers and then wait for my night to be ruined.

Worst job?

Detasseling corn at age 14. Child labor laws didn’t really exist out on the Upper Plains back in the 80s, and so my first “corporate” job other than working for other farmers (walking beans, bailing hay, scooping animal waste of every kind, etc.) was a forced march through endless rows of seed corn alongside a motley crew of inner city kids, migrants, and ex con hard cases who couldn’t get hired on anywhere else. Getting up at 4 am, being bussed across the river to Iowa, then herded into fields of wet, razor sharp green sword blades while line bosses with bad prison tats degrade you like drill sergeants for every tassel you miss – that’s not the way you want to spend your summer. I forgot to bring gloves the first day, and still have the scars all over my fingers. I don’t mind hard work, but that was pure hell.

Favorite fruit?

Rainier cherries. Thank goodness I married an Armenian girl.

Dogs or cats?

Bunnies.

You ever had a story you wrote you hated, but everyone else seemed to like?

Not really, as I wouldn’t try to sell or publish a story I hated. It is interesting to see which stories get the most response, and why.

Shower, or bath?

Shower. I grew out of baths when I grew out of my Toughskins.

Granite counter tops, or marble?

Granite. Slate gray, rough hewn, hopefully containing the petrified remains of many ancestors.

If you got any plugs, let the readers know, Ted.

Well, my first collection of short fiction, The Nameless Dark, is available through Lethe Press.

thenamelessdark

A novelette, “MonoChrome,” that doesn’t appear in my collection, can be found in the anthology In The Court of the Yellow King, published by Celaeno Press. It’s a Los Angeles tale and introduces Henry Ganz, a character that I want to revisit in future work. I’m presently working on a few novellas, the first of which has sold (announcement coming soon) and the second of which might come out through the same publisher, as they have interest in publishing both. I also have some novels that are piecing themselves together in the back of my mind, and dozens of short stories I either need to finish or start. Once completed, one of my upcoming fiction collections will be titled Salt Creek: Tales of Prairie Horror and will feature horror and dark fiction that all takes place in the Midwest, primarily Nebraska.

As always, there are too many ideas and projects spinning in the ether, with so little time to pull them in and clean them up.

Thanks for participating.

Thanks for having me, Sean. It’s been fun.


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