Tag: writers

An Interview With Writer Alexander M Zoltai

Alexander M Zoltai

 

 

Alexander M Zoltai is the author of the novel, Notes From an Alien; here is a link to his website:

 

https://nfaa.wordpress.com/

 

Q: What is Notes From an Alien about?

A: Notes is the history of an alien family and the role they play in their worlds’ struggles to attain lasting peace and tranquility. It’s also about the final stages of a 500 year war between two planets that are in sharp contrast with each other; one a drippingly greedy Corporate world; one a completely superstitious Religious world. It’s also about a third planet that is, in its structure and function an Alien Being. So, there’s the ending of war, the beginning of peace, and the interaction of a number of different aliens. Ultimately, Notes is about what people can stand, how long they can stand it, and what they’d really rather have…

Q: What inspired you to write the book?

A: Well, I actually tried to write it four different times over an eleven year period—each time was a different way to deal with the major themes of corporate greed, religious fanaticism, justice, and peace. The first three attempts died of swift stillbirths; number four turned into the novel. My deeper desires for writing the book were all tied up in how people relate to each other—the power-grabbing types, the overly-passive types, the rational types, and the mad-as-a-hatter types—how they interact and what might be necessary for them to achieve some form of unity…

Q: What makes Sena a character worth writing about?

A: Well, her ancestors—who appear in the story well ahead of her—are part of what makes Sena a worthy character. The other thing is she’s my “co-author”. She wrote the Prologue for the novel and she gives folks the option to believe she’s real, or not… Within the confines of the book’s reality she’s the character who reaches out—in “electro-mental” ways—with us folks on Earth. The connection to Earth is my way of letting readers know, for sure, that what’s happened in their worlds clearly applies in our world…

Q: What made you interested in interviewing authors?

A: My blog’s primarily about writing; but, also about reading and publishing. I began the interviews because some of my early readers left such interesting comments on posts that I thought they deserved a spotlight post, so other readers could get to know them and their way of working. After the first five or so, I began to range wider—folks I’d met on Twitter, people I’d blogged about, friends I’d made in the Virtual World I visit every evening… I have, as of right now, 84 interviews—people with many books to their credit, many not yet published, many struggling with how to best publish, a few who seem to have figured it all out—the whole enterprise is totally fascinating…

Q: Who was your most memorable interview subject?

A: That has to be Jane Watson. There are two interviews now and I’m hoping to have a third, soon. The best way to indicate why I think her interviews are memorable is to quote just a few of her comments — On why she writes: “To find out, to access an inner world, to explore the possibilities of an image (because I think am a very visual writer), to process my experience.” — On her source of inspiration: “I find inspiration everywhere. Someone once said that a writer’s own life experience is like the piece of grit in an oyster, which the writer’s art and skill then transforms into a completely different and wonderful pearl.” — On what blocks many writers: “It’s my experience that many writers have a wonderful story that they could tell but they go out of their way NOT to tell that story. I believe this is because we are often fearful of recognising our own true authentic self that the story contains; i.e., we are fearful of accessing our own Inner Worlds.”

Q: Who are some of your writing influences and how is this evidenced in your writing?

A: My main “writing influence” comes from C. J. Cherry, Hugo award winner of over 60 Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels. This is “evidenced” in my writing by the way the experience of reading her has bolstered my commitment to write—not “like” her; but with the same devoted attention to character, theme, and plot she exhibits. Also, reading her helped set my mind free of the many misconceptions about writing that the Internet “Experts” poison minds with—she showed me how to write from “vistas” that aren’t derived from what other people are doing. Then, there are John C. Gardner, Robert Heinlein, and Ursula K. Le Guin. They “influence” me by the integrity and passion they exhibit in their work; which, I hope, is noticeable in my own work…

Q: What is the most successful thing you have done to promote your book?

A: Stopping the production of the print version through FastPencil (which stopped the book’s appearance on Amazon {except for a very few copies that are selling for exorbitant prices—prices set by God-knows-who…}) and publishing it on Smashwords for free; which is in concert with making it freely available on my blog and on Wattpad. Then, tweeting about it, in amongst all my other tweets that are about interesting Writerly things…

Q: What kind of formal training have you had?

A: I assume the “training” is about writing? If so, my training (which is “formal” to me but probably not others) is a life-time of reading everything I could get my hands on; plus, years of actually sitting down at the computer and writing, every day…

Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your writing?

A: My day job is writing; and, it influences my writing because writing, if pursued faithfully and regularly, will always positively influence one’s writing; but, I live on a small military pension…

Q: If you had a close encounter with an alien, what questions would you ask him or her?

A: Well, I feel like I’ve had a “close encounter” with an alien in my novel; but, that’s another story… A “real” alien? Hmmm… Assuming we could communicate, I would have to ask them for any advice they could share about writing. Then, I’d want to know their opinions on what could help Earth attain lasting peace and tranquillity. Then, ask if I could have a ride in their spaceship…

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

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An Interview With Writer Chris Minnick

 

 

 

Chris Minnick is the author of Ferment; here is a link to his website:

http://ferment.chrisminnick.com/

 

Q: What is Ferment about?

 

A: Ferment is about a guy who grows up in the circus, and then spends his adult life running away from it.

 

Q:  What made you want to write about carnival life?

 

A: I spend about 5 years writing the first chapter about a depressed and scared guy who drinks too much. Then I got over myself and decided to just have fun with it and write a novel. The first thing that came into my mind was a fireside scene I had a dream about that involved dwarfs. I just took off from there.

 

Q: You decided not to do any research for this book; what was the reason for your decision?

 

A: I wrote the book in short bursts every morning right after waking up. Many of the chapters are based on dreams or whatever I happened to be thinking about at the time — eating, showering, going to the bathroom — these things are all featured prominently in the book because these are the things that go on early in the morning. It wasn’t so much a decision to not do any research as it was a decision to not slow down my writing to think about what I was doing. Once I had a few hundred pages written, I went back and spent several months editing it, rearranging it, and chopping out the lame parts. But, when I was editing, I liked how it was coming together and how you just didn’t know whether to believe the narrator or not. It added a level of depth to the book that I never intended, but that I’ll happily accept when it falls onto my lap.

 

Q: Your biography says you have been compared to Kurt Vonnegut and Charles Bukowski; who compared you to these authors and what was the basis of the comparison?

 

A: My sister’s husband’s mother was the first to make these comparisons. I thought it was cool that I could say that I’ve “been compared to” Vonnegut and Bukowski and that it doesn’t really mean anything positive or negative to have been “compared to” something, so I ran with it. I’ve certainly been influenced by both, and I think they are good points of reference for anyone who might be wondering if they’ll like my writing. But I would never go so far as to claim that I’m in the same universe as either. I haven’t been compared to John Steinbeck yet, but while I was writing this book, I was reading nothing else and I became pretty obsessed with his writing.

 

Q: What kind of day job do you have and does it help or hinder your creative efforts?

 

A: I make a living by teaching computer programming and writing computer books. Until 3 years ago, I ran a website development company. I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked for myself (I haven’t had a boss) for the last 20 years, but it wasn’t until the last 3 years that I really figured out how to not be a jerk to myself all the time and to let myself have creative efforts that weren’t related to my money-making efforts. Writing computer books has taught me to be disciplined with my writing time and to stick with it and finish big projects. But, lately, I have to travel pretty often to teach and that throws me out of my writing routine. So, I’d have to say that my day job both enables my creative efforts and hinders them.

 

Q: How would you describe your creative process?

 

A: The only way I can get anything done is by making it into something that I do habitually and that I feel superstitious about not doing. Once I convince myself that if I don’t finish writing 3 page every morning someone I love will get sick, I’m unstoppable. It’s messed up, but that’s my process. If I’m writing, things come out and I enjoy the process. But, sticking to it and doing it every day takes extraordinary efforts.

 

Q: What is the best and worst advice any instructor has ever given you about writing?

 

A: Best advice: You can’t edit what doesn’t exist. This wasn’t actually an instructor, I think it’s from Stephan King’s book ‘On Writing’.

Worst advice: Wait until you’re older and you understand life better before you write a novel. I spent a lot of years waiting and I eventually figured out that I’d never know anything. I wish someone would have told me that would happen.

 

Q: What trends in literature annoy you?

 

A: I wouldn’t say that I’m annoyed by anything, but I generally don’t like magic or supernatural things or rare diseases or overly sappy stories. I’d like to see a trend towards people ignoring trends, but that’s probably not going to happen!

 

Q: What are some of the things you have done to promote yourself as a writer?

 

A: Lately, I’ve been reverse shoplifting. I bring my book into bookstores and put it on the shelf in the appropriate place. I don’t know how effective of a promotional technique this is, or what would happen if someone tried to buy it, but it makes me feel like I’m doing something to be seen by more people.

 

Q: In what ways is Los Angeles like a circus?
A: I haven’t spent a lot of time in Los Angeles, actually, so I can’t speak to it too much except to say that the old saying about the grass is always greener applies everywhere you go. Any sort of job or lifestyle — whether as a clown or an actor or an electrician — can get to be a routine that you need to run away from. Running away to the circus used to be the ultimate escape hatch dreamed of by kids growing up in small towns everywhere. Running away to California replaced the circus dream at some point. But, for people who grew up in the circus or in show business in L.A. — where do they go when they can’t stand their environment? Do they dream of having a quiet desk job or a stable family? This is the main idea that Ferment tries to explore. The book is also a lot of fun — like the circus should be, but probably really isn’t all the time.

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

An Interview With Writer Stuart Canterbury 

stuart

 

Stuart Canterbury is the author of Turning Blue a novel which takes readers behind the scenes of x-rated movie production; here is a link to the books Amazon page:

https://www.amazon.com/Stuart-Canterbury/e/B00K5JN008

 

 

Q: When did you know you were a writer?

 

A: I started as a writer, then became a director, then became a producer.

 

Q: What made you interested in writing about the porn industry?

 

A: Much of what is written about the porn industry is lurid, sensational or dark, with evil pornographers coercing innocent victims.  But this has not been my experience.  People in the industry are warm and colorful, with families and interesting lives, and most of what goes on behind the scenes is fascinating and  hilarious.  Many people have asked me what it is really like, so I decided to write this novel.

 

Q: What sets Tiffany apart from other fictional porn stars?

 

A: Of course, I try to avoid stereotypes because there are as many kinds of porn stars as there are kinds of people.  Tiffany is a hell-to-handle diva, but the other stars depicted in the book have different personalities.  Ginger Vitus is emotional, and sensitive, Traci is an easy-going professional.  Tiffany is the most fun to write.

 

Q: What kind of research did you do for the book?

 

A: Much of the book is taken from personal experience or witness, but it is all fictionalized so that I can actually tell the truth.

 

Q: Who are some of your writing influences and how is this evidenced in the book?

 

A: I have a background in English Literature, so I have a love for the classics.  I particularly like Dickens so the larger than life characters and the stylistic voice are deliberate choices.  The idea was to take the formal and humorous tone that  Dickens uses and lay it over a contemporary setting in the x-rated industry of Los Angeles to make it funny.

 

Q:  What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your writing?

 

 

A: I am a well-established, award-winning producer and director of adult movies, so this book is the ultimate insider’s view.

 

Q:  What is your strangest LA story?

 

A: What is always strange about LA is how one encounters movie stars and celebrities just going about their business.  But because you are so used to seeing them as characters on the screen, it often feels like you yourself have now migrated into the fictional world.  You cannot help associating them with their performances.  I suppose the same is true of x-rated stars, one of whom once complained to me that her fans think she wakes up in stilettos.

Q: What have you done to promote your book?

 

 

A: I have done interviews, mostly on radio and the web, and we had a very successful signing and reading at Book Soup on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, where the book was their number one bestseller.  There has been a lot of word of mouth, especially inside the industry.  It was covered by all the industry press.

 

Q: What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of self publishing a book?

 

A: Self-publishing is the vogue these days, so it does not have the stigma it used to, and you get to keep all the profits.

 

Q: What books to you think Hugh Hefner will read in the after life?

 

A: Penthouse and Hustler.

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

An Interview With Author A.J. Wright 

rose

 

 

A.J. Wright  is the author of Extraterrestrial Love and Lusting for Lei; here is a link to the Amazon page:

 

https://www.amazon.com/Extraterrestrial-Love-Different-J-Wright-ebook/dp/B01NBFWW7S/ref=redir_mobile_desktop?_encoding=UTF8&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&qid=1497332536&ref_=sxts_1&sr=1

 

Q: What is Extraterrestrial Love about?

 

A: It is about a young girl, named Seyai, who came to earth with her parents to find her one true love. They are aliens, that originate from a planet, named Oceana. This planet survives and thrives on love. Everyone on the planet travels at a very young age, to earth to find there one true love.

 

Q: What gave you the idea for the story?

 

A: I was 19 years old at the time, taking a medical coding and billing course. I was in the classroom, at my cubicle, on my computer and some of my classmates were talking about this new song that they loved. I couldn’t hear it clearly because they were playing it from a mp3 player. It wasn’t very loud, but from what little I did hear, the song reminded me of a fairy tale. I knew the singer as Katy Perry so when I went home that day, I was able to look up the song and hear it for myself. I fell in love with the song immediately. The words felt so incredible and powerful. The song just made me imagine and fantasize about this young, teen girl who is just too beautiful, too precious and too innocent for earth that she must be an alien, from a beautiful planet. I also thought about this powerful cosmic type of love that could overcome anything and everything, thus, Extraterrestrial Love: A different world was born.

 

Q:  What makes Seyai Narvez a competing heroine?

 

A: The fact that she is strong, never gives up on anything and believes in the most powerful force in the universe, which is love. Her courage, determination, strength and even her beauty all come from love. The love she feels, the love she has, the love she is made and born from and the love she would die for.

 

Q: What gave you the idea for Lusting for Lei?

 

A: Lusting for Lei, is very dear to me. Not a lot of people I think would find a gorgeous, Korean male running away to Europe with a young wife and son and then falling in love with a beautiful, French prince an everyday gay, romance story. The thing is I was watching a suspense, thriller Korean movie with my boyfriend. The movie is called “Memories of Murder” It is a very disturbing movie, but one of the actors was very beautiful to me. Not many times I saw a young, Korean male that was gorgeous. He was so gorgeous I thought of a male find him gorgeous as well. I thought he could be considered gay. That is when I started brainstorming the part of a French Prince I do not know where that came from it just pop into my head and I really wanted to write a short, gay erotic book and after I had the visualization in my head on what my main characters would look like I just started typing away.

 

Q: What themes does the book examine?

 

A: With Lusting for Lei, obviously I wanted it to be very passionate and sensual, so erotica was one of the main themes. However, I didn’t want that to be the main focus or all that was in the book. I want my readers to also truly feel the love, between the two main characters. Some people I have spoken with have told me they don’t believe two men can truly be in love and it is just about the sex when it is two guys, but I don’t believe in that. Love knows no boundaries in that aspect. I have always believed that two, mature men can be in love and have a healthy, beautiful relationship just as a man and woman can. Real true love is another main theme my book examines.

 

Q: Who are some of your writing influences and how can we see those influences in your work?

 

A: J.K. Rowling has always been an influence to me because of her amazing story about her life and how she created a legacy that will live on forever. I think all authors strive for that success. I admire Zane a lot. She and J.K. Rowling are the main reasons why I fell in love with reading and through that I also discovered that I love writing as well. Zane is very bold and creative in her writing. I love how she communicates with her fans. I love and started reading erotica books because of her. The imagination she has and her charisma in her writing is mesmerizing to me. I love Stephen King. There are so many questions I wish I could ask him about his genius mind. He is brilliant and a master piece to admire as an author. I don’t use any of my influences in my own work because I being unique and making my own rules in writing will always be my main goal as an author.

 

Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your work?

 

A: I am a customer service agent. I work from home. A lot would assume, that because I work from home I would have a lot of time to write, but that is not true. When your an adult and you have bills and things to worry about it is hard to find time for yourself. I always make time to slip into my writing, imagination world. I just wish I had more time to do so. Hopefully, I will only have to write to make money one day, but I will always write because it is apart of my soul.

 

Q: What is the most successful thing you have done to publicize your book?

 

A: Publicizing your book is hard, especially when your not well known. Your not sure what promotion techniques will work and what company is actually real or not. It is also hard to predict what readers are looking for and you need a budget plan. When I tell people about promoting my book they tell me not to waste my money. I admit sometimes it is just not worth it with some companies, but other times with legit companies it is really profitable. After all how are people going to know about your book if your don’t promote it. I have to say the best company I have used so far is “Books Butterfly” Still I have to work harder on getting my books out there.

 

Q: What are the advantages of disadvantages of publishing on Amazon?

 

A: Advantages are everyone knows about Amazon, millions visit the site everyday and it is worldwide. Amazon does offer a lot to authors who want to self publish. Disadvantages are so many books are on that site it makes it hard for one book to stand out, unless your in the top #100 and that is hard.

 

Q:  To what character from literature would you most like to introduce Seyai?
A: Of course I would want Seyai to meet Harry Potter. I think he would have a crush on her. Katniss Evergreen and Seyai would be close friends, though Katniss would make it difficult at first.

 

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

An Interview With Writer J.J. Hemmestad

jj

 

 

J.J. Hemmestad is the author of Visions of a Dream; here is a link to her website:

 

http://jhemmestad.wixsite.com/justine-j-hemmestad

 

Q: What is Visions of a Dream about?

A: My story begins after Alexander the Great is king and as he takes his army to conquer the Persian King Darius III in Asia Minor in order to liberate the people from his oppressive rule.While there, he begins a spiritual journey that takes him through the universe of his mind, and answers as well as questions are revealed to him through his closest, most intense relationships (one with his closest officer Hephastion, and one with a Persian girl named Baphomet, who is fictional). He was inclusive of all people, and immersed himself in each culture he liberated, dressing like them, worshiping their god in their temples, and allowing them the freedom to retain their beliefs. He believed that each religion ultimately worshiped the same god. The end rift with his Army came when they insisted on spreading the Macedonian/Greek culture and were offended that he adapted to other cultures; and they mutinied.

 

Q: What made you interested in Alexander the Great?

A: I watched an A&E Biography about Alexander in the 90’s and I found his perseverance and persistence so familiar that I began to research him (especially through Arrian). In one of his battles he was hacked on the head with a cleaver that split his helmet in two, but he persisted.

 

Q: What made you start writing in the first place?

A: Writing was and is therapy for me. In 1990 (I was 19) my car was hit by a city bus – I sustained a severe brain injury, was in a coma, paralyzed, and the doctors thought that I would never recover. Within months I was walking again though and my husband and I eventually had seven kids (when the doctors told us we wouldn’t be able to). Reading was especially hard for me to learn again. In addition to my injuries I had severe PTSD and writing helped me cope. I used to have several stories going at one time, but my Alexander the Great story was the one I gained the most from. After my TBI I was essentially personality-less and the traits that I admired in someone I found myself adapting, which was the case with Alexander.

Q: What kind of day job or income source do you have and how does it influence your writing?

A: I’m a mother of seven kids, so I had to write through any turmoil and amount of noise. I learned to have intense focus, which was also something that was not supposed to have been possible with my severe brain injury. Sometimes I got up very early in the morning to write, too. Now three of my kids are adults and I only have four at home and I have a good routine I stick with. I’m also on disability due to my brain injury and my husband works full time.

 

Q: Who are some of your favorite characters from literature?

A: My ultimate favorite characters are Heathcliff and Catherine from Wuthering Heights because they have to fight through so much and though their love gets warped in the end, it extends beyond death. I also love Frankenstein by Mary Shelley because people freak out so much when they see the creature and he’s banished, which is therapeutic to read because I felt very much like that after my accident.

 

Q: What have you done to promote your book?

A: I’ve hired a publicist, who has gotten many interviews; it’s a new thing for me but I’m very glad I did it. I was interviewed last year by a newspaper for my novella, Truth be Told, and I found that publicity is the most effective tool to gain readers.

 

Q: What made you chose Turtle Shell Publishing?

A: I spent 20 years writing, but only a few years trying to get published (split into different time periods), and I often felt belittled or taken advantage of by the publishing world. I knew I wanted to have a small publishing home which was run by a woman, which is exactly what I found with Turtle Shell Publishing. I can also talk to her about how exactly I would like my books to appear and my oldest son Bradley Hemmestad has the freedom to create the cover art for my books (Truth be Told was also published through Turtle Shell, formally Faith by Grace Publishing).

 

Q: What makes your writing style unique?

A: I write what I feel, from my heart, and I write in the sense of the story that I’m telling, so my writing styles shift because I want to be faithful to the characters and the story itself.

 

Q: What is the oddest piece of advice anyone has given you about writing?

A: No one has ever really given me advice because I’ve been writing on my own, not connected to people who may otherwise advise me. But I’ve taken many writing courses through the Iowa Writer’s Workshop (I’ve earned a BLS from The University of Iowa and am currently working on my Master’s Degree in Literature through Northern Arizona University), and what I’ve learned about writing has been invaluable.

 

Q:  If Alexander The Great could meet Donald Trump, what advice do you think he would give him?

A: Great question! I think Alexander would give the advice that he lived himself, which is that sincere, pure interest in a culture other than your own overcomes any fear of that culture. Also, he would advise Trump to think less about his pride and how favorably he’s seen as a leader and find his center (the source of his inspiration), and let that be his guide. Alexander knew his spiritual core and was willing to learn even greater wisdom than what he thought he had. He was never stagnant in his beliefs, but he was always evolving.

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

An Interview With Writer John Kildemm

bounce

 

 

John Kildemm is a writer for the Eric Andre show and the author of the autobiographical book series, Hey Doorman; here is a link to his link to his Amazon page:

Q: When did you know you were a writer?

 

A: I knew I was a writer once I got into my major of electrical engineering in college. I disliked it so much that I actually started to read books again, which this sent me on a path of writing, in particular comedy. My mother would say that I was a writer before 5th grade, as all of my montessori teachers thought that I would grow up to be a writer based on all of my advanced reading (Stephen Hawking, Ian Fleming, Stephen King, Dean Koontz) and the fact that I used to write stories all of the time. These stories were some amalgamation of James Bond, sci-fi, and Kung-Fu as those were my biggest influences at that time. These are still major influences to this day, just add in Tarantino, Scorsese, Coen Brothers, David Fincher and Lynch, Spike Jonze and Lee, Jim Jarmusch and Bong Joon-ho.

Q: How did you come to be a bouncer?

 

A:  I became a bouncer due to two factors. (1) I am 6’3″, 200lbs, black, and look like I can whoop your ass. (2) A comedian buddy of mine introduced me to another comedy buddy of his in LA who worked as a bouncer. And that bouncer wanted some nights off, so he offered me some of his shifts. In other words, it was my physical appearance in combination with a lazy man that began my all too long career as a bouncer. Which is how at least two thirds of people get their jobs, right?

Q:  Is it true that they tell you not to let people in based on race, age and looks?

 

A:  It is true that at certain night spots in LA there are unwritten rules on who to let in which are based on beauty, race, age etc. I actually know a couple bouncers who work at those places. But for myself, I have never worked at one of those places. That being said, pretty women are ushered in at almost all costs, while a guy slipping a bouncer money will get you in just as quickly. The tricky part comes when pretty women are there with their male friends or boyfriends, because once we are near capacity a single penis will send your group to the back of the line. This is when, in my case, you need to have a witty/smart pretty woman to talk your group past the line. Because there is almost nothing a guy can say to me to get his group in, that isn’t sponsored by Jackson, Grant and/or Franklin.

 

Q: Did you ever actually have to rough anybody up, or do you just look intimidating?

 

A: Ninety-nine percent of the time I do not have to rough anybody up. Primarily because I work in West Hollywood, where there’s a bunch of models and actors. In other words, people who really need their faces intact and are generally of average human height and below average human weight. The few times I have hit someone it was more than called for. One time a guy was assaulting a woman. Another time a drunk guy was pummeling a small patron. Another time a guy intentionally knocked my book (Art Linson’s What Just Happened?) out of my hand so I had to strike him. If you don’t know that book, it has Robert De Niro on the cover. And no one fucks with De Niro, despite his poor movie choices the last decade.

Q:  Who was your most memorable drunk?

 

A: My most memorable drunk is a tough one, as there are too many to count. Plus I chronicle the best of the best in each volume of my ebook series, Hey Doorman. So I will go with the one that occurred when I wasn’t even working. It was at our company Holiday Party. A company employee got so drunk that he attacked the manager on duty that night for no reason and proceeded to pummel him until the barback stopped him. I saw this unfold on video the following day. The funny part was that the guy who attacked the manager had no recollection of what he did. He even showed up to work the next day, only to be informed that he was fired and formal charges were being filed against him.

Q: Why are people so fascinated with Hollywood nightlife, isn’t a drunk a drunk?

 

A:  Drunks are drunks are drunks. This is true. But people are fascinated by anything Hollywood (I.E. Los Angeles), because of what Hollywood represents: The American dream. Coming from nothing and rising to the top of everything. You can make an argument that, the actor, is the top spot in American culture. Our current president became pop culture famous from TV and former president Ronald Reagan was a b-movie actor. These two men became the most powerful men in the world and they weren’t even good actors. Imagine what a Meryl Streep or Denzel Washington could do? On the other side of this Hollywood coin, you have the greatest falls America has ever seen. Look no further than OJ Simpson. His meteoric fall was something that the nation, nor world, could look away from (so much so that his trial gave birth to an entire TV network). This immensely watchable dichotomy is why people are forever fascinated by Hollywood.

 

Q: How did you become a writer for the Eric Andre show?

 

A: I became a writer for The Eric Andre Show through my standup comedy connections. I have been performing standup for over 10 years, beginning in Chicago, where I met and became friends with Hannibal Buress. He and I share a similar comedic perspective and he thought I would be a good fit for Eric’s show, so he forwarded some sketches I wrote to Eric. Eric liked them and brought me into his writers room for Season 4, which I could not be more proud of as I have so much respect and admiration for his show. Since then I have also become friends with Eric, who by the way, has hands down the coolest birthday parties that I have ever been to. But due to a Non Disclosure Agreement I can not say any more (wink).

 

Q: What would surprise us about Eric?

 

A: Nothing would surprise me about Eric as I have known him for a while. But what would surprise some people is how diligent and un-crazy he is in the writers room. Eric is a good boss and writing partner. He is nurturing, kind, and open to creativity. Period. Just a good creative dude, who may or may not whip his penis out.

 

Q: Do you think the shock value of the show will ever wear thin or do you think you can keep taking it to new levels?

 

A:  I don’t think The Eric Andre Show’s shock value will ever wear thin, primarily due to Eric. He would rather walk away than not keep taking things to another thoroughly crazy level. Secondly, the format of the show doesn’t allow things to get comfortable as it has a running time of about 11 minutes. If the show was 30 minutes or if Eric was not so hands on, I would feel differently.

Q: Who do you think would win in a fight, Eric Andre or Lauren Conrad?

 

A: Lauren Conrad versus Eric Andre… Hmmm… While I am 100% sure that Eric can win the fight, I also know he is business savvy. Meaning he knows that the real money is in the rematch or rematches. So while Eric would not throw the first fight, he would most certainly exploit it for all that it is worth. There would be a lot of Vaseline and he would most certainly show up naked or at least wearing a banana hammock with Lauren’s face on it. He would then proceed to push the boundries of sex (without being pornographic; he needs the reruns to play on television), drug use, and violence. In the end, Lauren would be declared the winner. But the real winner would be the viewers.

 

 Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

An Interview With Writer Preston Fassel

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Preston Fassel is the author of Our Lady of the Inferno and an editor at Cinedump.com; here is a link to his Amazon page:

 

 

 

 Q: What is Our Lady of the Inferno about?

 

A: Literally, it’s about the intersecting stories of two different women in 1983 New York: Ginny, a runaway from the Midwest who ends up overseeing the prostitution operation of a Times Square gangster in order to help care for her disabled sister; and Nicolette, a waste management executive who moonlights as a serial killer, kidnapping prostitutes and ritualistically hunting them down in her own dump after hours. At the start of the book, Ginny has sort of become a criminal kingpin in her own right, but the moral compromises she’s made are beginning to take a toll on her, and a series of personal tragedies and professional missteps push her over the edge. Meanwhile, Nicolette is entering her third year as a serial killer, and her ability to isolate her “normal” persona from her “killer” persona is slipping. Nicolette learns about Ginny while scouting for victims one day, and she becomes obsessed with making her the next victim.

 

Thematically, it’s an ode to the 80s movies I grew up watching that had these very vibrant, appealing female characters like Night of the Comet and Modern Girls, and I used that template to explore a wide range of ideas and topics, like PTSD, and retaining your identity after trauma; body image; and gender relations and gender roles.

 

Q:  Who inspired the characters of Ginny and Nicolette?

 

A: Ginny is an amalgamation. Consciously, I started her out as the kind of girl I’d have liked to have dated in high school, mixed with 80s archetypes—I once referred to my original concept as “the valley girl from Hell”— mixed with bits and bobs of several women I’ve known and worked with. Her surname “Kurva,” for example, is a bit of wordplay inspired by something that a filmmaker named Jen Soska once said to me during an interview. As I got deeper into the book I started to steal bits and pieces from my wife. She used to be an inner city high school teacher and I took a lot of Ginny’s interactions with her girls from the way I saw my wife handling her rougher students. My wife’s also very good at convincing people to get things done and I took Ginny’s talent for talking people into doing stuff from her, too. Physically, I modeled her on Andrea Rau’s character Ilona in the film Daughters of Darkness, on whom I had something of a crush in college.

 

Subconsciously, I realized after I’d finished the book, a lot of Ginny’s darker elements had come from me—her drinking, her depression— but so does her fascination with outer space, her scientific background, and her taste in music and movies. I don’t know what it says about me that I made my literary analogue a strong, sexy, 21 year old woman…

 

Nicolette was initially born out of my desire to write a story about a serial killer who thinks they’re the Minotaur. It’s such a scary idea but so many people have tried and failed to do it well. Dexter had like one episode where he was the throwaway killer of the week. The Venture Bros. had an episode where the Monarch thinks he’s the Minotaur, and it’s all played for laughs. American Horror Story had their minotaur die pretty much offscreen after one episode. So much wasted potential. I also wanted to create a frightening female horror villain, and I figured that if Ginny eventually emerges as this feminist ideal—independent, brilliant, ambitious, nurturing—then Nicolette should be the opposite of that. She’s the sort of woman who thinks that all women should conform to her standards, who views women solely through the lens of their sexuality and who sees the world very narrowly, who figuratively and literally cuts down other women to get ahead in the world.

 

 

Q: What makes them worth reading about?

 

A: I tried to make Ginny a real, strong, yet flawed female protagonist, and that isn’t something there’s really a lot of. Writers are still trying to figure out how to do that. They think that “strong woman” means either she just beats a lot of people up, or she makes a lot of sarcastic remarks, or she’s super disaffected. And when a female character is strong she’s 100% strong and when she’s vulnerable she’s 100% vulnerable. They have about as much complexity and depth as an 80s action movie hero, and that’s not interesting. I wanted Ginny to be real and I wanted the reader to fall in love with her. I made her funny, and smart, and vicious and petty and loving and spiteful and strong and weak. She’s the kind of woman that most other women would want as their girlfriend. She’s the kind of woman most guys would want to date.

 

Nicolette is, I think, genuinely terrifying. I tried to make her, to all outward appearances, seem simply shy and withdrawn but otherwise very normal. And inside she’s completely and utterly consumed by hate and also very rapidly losing her mind. Her sections of the book are focalized through her deteriorating mental state, and the things she thinks and sees become more wild and hallucinogenic as the book goes on. At the same time, though, I also put a lot of dark humor into Nicolette’s sections because the more unhinged she becomes the more bizarre her thought processes get. Like there’s a point where she sees a woman at her office wearing the same blouse as her, and she has to look down at herself to make sure that the woman didn’t steal it from her when she wasn’t looking.

 

Q: What interested you about the 1980’s?

 

A: I’ve had a fascination with the 1980s since I was about twelve. I think part of it is that every generation tends to romanticize the era they were born into, either because it’s colored through their fond childhood memories or because there’s a natural tendency to feel like you “just missed out on something”. Another reason is because I grew up in a fairly rural town in Oklahoma called Broken Arrow, and into the late 90s and even the early 2000s it still pretty much was the 1980s there. If you look at my high school yearbooks some of the photos look like outtakes from a John Hughes movie.

 

Then, too, I just grew up on the pop culture of the 1980s, both what I lived through myself and then what was on television growing up, the movies my parents owned, the music on the radio, stuff I’d rent from Hollywood Video and Blockbuster… There was a certain je ne sais quoi about films from the 80s that no other decade has ever produced or been able to reproduce. In a lot of ways I had a great adolescence but in a lot of other ways it was also very traumatic, and in those darker moments the 80s—more specifically its’ pop culture—became an escape for me. A safe place. I saw the 80s as this romantic time full of bright colors and incredible music and the sort of possibility I felt was missing from my own life.

 

Q: You work for an optical magazine and website. How did you come to work in that industry?

 

A: After I graduated college I got a job as an optometric assistant and optician for a Texas State Optical location in Magnolia, Texas. The office subscribed to a magazine called 20/20, and its’ online supplement, The Optician’s Handbook. One day, during downtime, I was reading Optician’s Handbook and came across an article that I thought was just terrible. In addition to it being written very poorly, it also advocated, I felt, lying to patients about certain aspects of their lenses in order to get a sale. So I wrote this super-pissy letter to the editor explaining what I thought was wrong grammatically with the article—I actually copy-and-pasted the text into the email and dissected it line-by-line— and also taking them to task for running it in the first place. I didn’t think anyone would actually read it. Instead I got a letter back from the editor, Mark Mattison-Shupnick, thanking me for bringing it to his attention and saying that they were going to pull the article. Then at the end of the letter he asked if I would be interested in writing for them and inviting me to submit a sample story.

 

In retrospect I really think that it was more backhanded than anything, like, “Oh, you know so much about writing, why don’t you try writing something for us?”  At the time, though, I took it literally and I submitted an article about the history of Pince Nez glasses. I was really surprised when Mark accepted it, and even more surprised when he offered me a consistent, paying job writing monthly articles for them.

 

After about a year of writing for The Optician’s Handbook, I got an email one day from a man named James Spina, the editor of 20/20, the print magazine, who said he was impressed with a piece I’d done on the influence of Mad Men on optical fashion. He said that he wanted to start having me write articles for the print magazine, as well. My first article ran in the late fall of 2013, and I’ve been consistently writing for them ever since. When I entered journalism, James—who used to be a music journalist himself—became a sort of mentor to me, and helped me get my footing in the entertainment writing world and gave me advice on interacting with celebrities.

Q: You are an editor at Cinedump.com. How do you go about procuring writers for your site?

 

A: We don’t really actively pursue anyone. We have an open-door policy that anyone can submit material at any time. Our editor-in-chief, Jessie Hobson, will review it and if he likes it he’ll share it with my assistant editor, Jason Howard, and myself, and if we all like it then we’ll run the article and offer the person a consistent position writing for us. We recently added a fourth writer, Pennie Sublime, with whom I’ve worked at Rue Morgue in the past. I’d really like to see a few more people come on board through 2017 to generate more content for the site.

 

Q: What defines a “Grindhouse” movie?

 

A: Grindhouses were movie theaters on 42nd Street in New York (and more rarely the Tenderloin in San Francisco) that specialized in playing films that couldn’t or wouldn’t be shown anywhere else: really sleazy horror movies, violent kung fu movies, more mainstream pornography, and even some foreign arthouse films that were too sexual or violent for more commercial arthouses of the time. The term “grindhouse” itself comes from the 42nd Street theaters, which tended to run double-and-triple features back to back, continuously “grinding out” films. Over time, “grindhouse movie” became a catchall term for the sort of movies that would be shown at these theaters.

 

Q: What steps did you take to get your book published?

 

A: I sought out small, independent presses and submitted to them. It’s very hard, if not impossible, for a first time writer to get his or her debut novel published by a major press, and it’s just as hard for an unpublished writer to find an agent. My high school writing teacher was P.C. Cast, who’s now well known for the House of Night series, and she was my earliest writing mentor. I remembered that she’d gotten her first novel, Goddess by Mistake, published through a smaller press and built her career from there.

 

On top of that, all the places I submitted were horror and thriller publishers. I always intended OLOTI to be a literary story with horror elements, as opposed to a straight horror story; but there was also enough there in the way of horror, and so much of the story was an homage to 80s horror movies, that I didn’t feel dishonest shopping it around to horror publishers. It’s much easier to get attention from a genre press than one focused on “straight” literary fiction. At the same time, I was also doing book reviews for Rue Morgue and developing contacts in the horror publishing world who could act as advisors or guides.

 

Several horror presses turned down my pitches and query letters; a few asked for the complete manuscript and then ended up passing anyway. I think about a dozen places passed on OLOTI before Fear Front picked it up.

 

Q: What compels a person to write movie reviews?

 

A: There’s a degree of narcissism to it, I guess. The idea that you’ve got unique enough a perspective on a movie, and that you can articulate it in unique enough way, that it warrants you putting it down in print for other people to read. Then, too, I think there’s a sense of ownership of a movie once you’ve critiqued it. Anyone who reads that review is going to be made to see the movie through your eyes. You’re literally changing other people’s perception of a work of art. And when you do that, you are, in some small way, changing the art itself; and there’s a sense that, in doing so, you claim a piece of it for your own.

 

Q: What famous person would you most like to have Nicolette meet at the dump?

 

A: What famous person would I like to have my deranged serial killer hunt down and axe to death… I don’t think there’s an answer that I can give to this question that won’t result in a visit from the FBI.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.