We appreciate your finding the time to give us this interview.
You have been extremely busy! This year you have contributed to
a multitude of works, such as The Elastic Book of Numbers, The Undead, Corpse Blossoms, Fedora IV, and Daikaiju! The year 2002 saw the publication of your brilliant collection,
Short of a Picnic. Now Permuted Press has published your apocalyptic novella Its Only Temporary. I have read the first chapter at http://www.rockcrown.com/iot/chapter1.php; its spellbinding. If one chapter can turn a routine question
into the question of a life (or death) time, I can only imagine
what the story as a whole can do!
1. Its Only Temporary made its debut at the 2005 Horror Writers Association Conference
in Burbank, California. How was the experience?
It was fantastic. We wanted to give the book a good launch and
create some word of mouth, so we distributed a bunch of copies
in peoples goodie bags. I went up to the HWA suite to help stuff
the bags, and met the owners of Dark Delicacies, a famous LA horror
bookstore. They invited me to attend the weekends mass signing,
among twenty-some horror authors. I got a chance to meet Chuck
Palahniuk and tell him how much he influenced my writing, and
I still cant wrap my mind around the encounter. The guy was standing
right in front of me, and his skull is four inches wide, just
like everybody elses, yet it houses more genius than I can comprehend.
2. I was not surprised when I read all the reviews lauding Its Only Temporary at http://www.rockcrown.com/iot/reviews.php. Would you elaborate on the reception your work has received
Knock on wood, the book seems to have good energy around it. When
we were searching for back-of-the-book blurbs, we connected with
15 authors who were willing to give it a read, and all but one
of them contributed a generous comment. That was a little surreal.
When it started getting reviews, the first couple were poor, and
Permuted Press and I were worried the fun was ending, but fortunately
most critics are getting it. Some people are saying the books
too short, but others are getting that its supposed to be like
a kick in the stomach, like literature inside a pill. One reading,
one dose, like an acid trip minus the health risk.
3. Your novella focuses on how diverse people react to severe
stress. Do you think your knowledge about mental disorders (about
which you wrote in Short of a Picnic) gave you insight to how people might react under end-of-the-world
I think so. I found myself sketching in mental health details
everywhere. You could actually read the book as a 100-page panic
attack, and as anyone whos panicked can tell you, an acute attack
can make you feel like the world is ending. On the other hand,
though, as someone whos had my share of attacks, once you learn
that its just a bunch of chemicals stirring around, attacks become
less scary andthis sounds strangeeven fun sometimes. So thats
why the book has a strong thread of humor; its like a mad slapstick
comedy on some level. Another subtle element is that lots of people
in the book, including the narrator, are suffering symptoms of
schizophrenia. You have to figure if something as extreme as the
apocalypse was occurring, schizophrenia would become prominent,
because its the most severe form of mental illness there is.
Then, naturally, addiction comes into play throughout: the narrator
is smoking opium, his mom tried ecstasy, and the misogynists he
runs into are drunk.
4. How much do you and your protagonist Sean have in common? Would
you make the same decisions he does?
Hes more or less like I was in my late teens: kind of self-absorbed,
smoking too much pot, not knowing who he is. His voice definitely
overlaps with my own, though I find him kind of bratty and syrupy
at points. He also kind of surprised me by being such a pacifist.
I dont think Id be as likely to stop and consider peaceful alternatives
as he is. Thats the fun part of creating characters; you think
youre going to lead them this way, and then they pull you that
5. Many of us have wondered how and when the world might end.
When you created Its Only Temporary you obviously went well past the wondering stage. Before crafting
this work, though, did the apocalypse hold a special interest
Not really in the literal sense, but after Short of a Picnic, I was looking for an atmosphere in which I could attempt extreme
emotional heat, so emotionally the apocalypse was appealing. Also,
I think the age were living in has potent apocalyptic energy.
Our culture is anxious about terrorism, theres visceral violence
in the air, its the start of a new century, and we have a long
road ahead. So all that energy is in the book. I think Seans
obsession about being robbed of the chance to grow up is a common
sentiment among Americans in their 20s after 9/11. Our generation
got handed some tough set of circumstances to grow up in, and
Seans position allegorizes the emotions that come with that.
Another thing is, Im interested in the 21st centurys acceleration
of thought. I think the Internet and digital technology are making
life more visceral and speedy, so I was trying to capture those
currents in IOT. Thats another reason its length is short; its like a book
you can download into your head.
6. I read that Its Only Temporary led to the formation of another creative work. The artist Bilvox,
inspired by your work, recorded Now a Days, which I heard at http://www.bilvox.com/bilvox_demos.htm. I think its a haunting, exquisite song. How do you feel about
your tale having such influence?
It feels tremendous, but I should say that Bilvox, also known
as Bill Neidlinger, is one of my best friends, and was the best
man at my wedding. (laughs) Better for me to say it before someone
else did. Nonetheless, I was shocked that the book brought that
song out of him; its another sign of good energy. Another friend,
Ian Jarvis, did the cover art, so the book has managed to call
up various muses.
7. Is there anything else youd care to tell us?
Ive done a couple interviews about the book, but I havent had
a chance to praise Permuted Press for contracting the novella.
The owner, Jacob Kier, is someone any author should want to work
with. Unlike most people on Earth, he always does what he says
he will, and hes very easygoing and supportive. So minus Jacob,
wed have no show, and Im thrilled he took it on.
Thank you very much for speaking with us!
Thanks for having me!
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