- It’s not hard to figure out from reading the first few pages or even the description of
your newest story, For We Are Many, that it’s a pretty heavy piece about mental health.
How does mental health impact your art? How do you incorporate into your stories?
I’d be lying deeply if I said that ideas about mental health had nothing to do with my work. For
We Are Many is a very blunt and personal piece about suicide, abandonment, and depression. I
tried really hard to get this aimless and hopeless angle into the story. A lot of the feelings of
being suicidal are captured pretty well, in my opinion. I’ve struggled to a large degree with
depression and I’ve been in therapy before. For We Are Many is probably the most personal
piece I’ve ever written. While I’ve never committed suicide (obviously,) there are a lot of things in
there that are very real and true.
It goes beyond my honest attempts to capture mental health. Seventh Circle, which also came
out this year and is available on my website is about societal pressures to lose your virginity
and something of an obsession with another person. It’s about using another person and their
intoxicating presence to fill a hole within yourself.
The Egg, another free short story, was written about confusion about sexuality and my personal
fear of becoming a father. It deals a lot with co-dependence and having your meaning stripped
While not all of my stories are as blunt as saying a main character has OCD, anxiety, or
schizophrenia, I think I incorporate concepts about mental health quite heavily.
- Your work is considered fiction, but you’ve said before that you incorporate little
pieces of the real world into your writing, like basing characters and their interactions off
of things you’ve really seen. How does that work?
This is a hard question to answer. On a more surface level, I will use someone’s name who
has helped me with writing. I have a habit of sending little pieces of writing to certain people and
as a thank you, I’ll name a character after them. For example, I named May Elizabeth Dawes
after my cousin’s girlfriend, Stephanie Dawes.
On a deeper level, there’s a large portion of For We Are Many that is written about infidelity. The
protagonist’s girlfriend has a quite obvious sex addiction, and after cheating on him multiple
times, she insists she’s going to try and “get better.” She turns herself into the victim, even
though she is the one cheating on him. This was based off of a close friend in high school who
cheated on his girlfriend in a similar way. He’s changed his life around for the better, of course,
but it greatly disturbed me when it happened and slipped its way into this story. I also use a lot
of conversations that I hear and turn them into elements of the story.
A lot of my other imagery is based on some of my weirder dreams. It’s probably not hard to
determine how this manifests itself in my work.
- Do you implement your personal beliefs or philosophies in your books?
Yes! One hundred times, yes! I can’t talk a ton about it, but I have a concept floating around
in my head right now for a story called “The Goat and The Whore.” It’s going to be about karma
and reincarnation. I was raised catholic, which I think shows in some of my work, but as I grew
older, I began to gravitate towards some Buddhist beliefs. I really love using the Four Noble
Truths in my work.
I also believe that people have a duality of being inherently awful and inherently good. I rarely
write a character that is 100 percent good. Sure, there are people I write who are more “good”
than others, but most of my people are very human. I don’t like writing protagonists who don’t
make tons of moral mistakes.
I’ve talked countless times about how much each story is based on a thought or fear I’ve had
before, but the one I’ve neglected to mention is about symmetry and infinite loops. I believe that
life is a series of circles and mirrors. We are never exactly in the same place twice, but many
events in our lives mirror one another and echo one another. These “echoes” are most apparent
in beginnings and endings. The first example I can think of is the Seventh Circle. The first
chapter, where our main character falls in love, is called simply “Mia.” This is pretty straight
forward in meaning. The final chapter is called “Persephone,” also known as the queen of hell. If
you’ve read the story, then you most likely have a pretty darn good idea as to why,.
- Do you use writing as an escape or as a form of expression?
Some people might read my stuff and flip either way, and I agree. I think that some of my
work lies pretty deeply on the expression side of things, while also as a form of escape. I’m a bit
fan of creating characters that resemble me or people I know, but also being very nuanced and
quite different. My characters are all connected to one another and me in very specific ways, but
they also exist in something of a vacuum. For example, I relate to some aspects of Roman
Toguri from my second novel, Grey Skies, but I don’t personally find myself identifying as a
New York Onions is based a lot on a family member who overdosed on heroin, but it’s obviously
in this strange, dream-like place that resembles very little of the real world. I would say my work
is not unlike very abstract paintings. It might represent or pull elements from reality, but it exists
as something of a mix between expressionism and escapism.
- What drew you to writing horror?
I wouldn’t say I necessarily gravitate just towards horror, but darker work as a whole. Sure,
things like Grey Skies or The Egg are obvious horror, but New York Onions doesn’t really count
as a horror story in the traditional sense, and neither does For We Are Many. I would argue I
mostly write work that is dark and features strange imagery, not necessarily “horror.” It gets
exhausting hearing family members say, “oh, he writes spooky ghost stories.” I don’t think I’ve
really ever written something that resembles a hollywood horror film with lots of jumpscares and
demon possession. My work feels more ethereal and honest than that. Maybe I’m tooting my
own horn and sound like a pretentious jerk with that, but...
There’s something I find easier about writing things that are dark. I love to challenge myself with
different genres and I know for a fact that I’ll write something more positive and family friendly
one day, but that being said, it’s easier to experiment in the darkness. I like to think of writing
darker content as working in a really dark room. I’m not exactly sure where the limits are, how
large the room is, or how much space I can actually work with. It’s easier for me to just feel my
way through and make something that is very grotesque and strange, yet also very natural and
drenched in feeling. Writing work that is more… Hallmark, for a lack of a better word, feels much
more obvious and in your face. It’s like working in that same room and turning on the lights.
Suddenly, you know what’s directly in front of you. You have limits when it comes to genre,
mood, and content. I feel like it’s harder to write something true without being able to
incorporate anything that exists. It’s the reason why dark and abrasive music like Swans is more
experimental and interesting to me than Taylor Swift.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing about a four minute pop-country song about someone’s ex
that I don’t love, but a very fluid composition that’s thirty minutes long and features a sixty year
man shouting obscenities always has a lot more feeling. Once I have my plate more clear, I’m
going to write something more normal and tame as a form of challenging myself, but for now, I
find darker work to be the easiest way to express myself.
- You talk a ton about music and how it influences your work. What are some albums
you’ve heard recently that have excited you?
I listen to an absurd amount of different genres and going through the discographies of full
artists is one of the things I love to do in my free time. I’m currently working as a delivery driver,
so I have a lot of time to listen to music. I suppose it’s easiest to list them out by genre.
Electronic: Maniac Meat by Tobacco
Country: Black Ribbons by Shooter Jennings
Metal: Pain is God by Pig
Rap: Anti-Icon by Ghostemane.
- What’s the worst part of writing in 2020?
Oversaturation. Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing to have access to such amazing artists who
wouldn’t have had the same exposure thirty years ago, but it also makes it much harder to get
random people to actually check your work out. In between all of my creative projects, it’s very
difficult to dedicate a ton of time towards marketing. On top of that, knowing where to market
yourself is very hard. Instagram hasn’t been great recently because hashtags have been
blocked in response to election disinformation. Thanks to *whoever* is responsible for that,
cough cough. Currently, I’ve been up close and personal with authors on Wattpad and that’s
been giving me a decent amount of success. I tried for a while to send my stories out to blogs,
but I found that I felt like something of an annoying person just shipping my work off to anyone
who would read it. It was hard to develop meaningful connections with these people who are
more than sick of dealing with indie authors.
- What’s your favorite scene you’ve ever written?
I’m just going to use this one. It’s unreleased right now and for that reason, unedited. It’s
VERY NSFW. It just personally interests me.
“I dreamt again of my birth home that night. I was young again, only my mother wasn’t standing over me, watching me dig into the sand. I was completely alone in the middle of the desert. I glanced around me and saw that the place where we had lived was gone. For miles in each direction, I was surrounded by sand and nothing else. Digging in the vast ocean of sand seemed pointless. I felt
exhausted even in my dreams, but something about the desolation felt wrong. I was out of place. I didn’t belong here.
Suddenly, the sand seemed to slowly sink into the earth where my hands were, creating a miniature canyon that opened into a black abyss. The slit in the sand couldn’t have been wider than an inch, but it seemed to go down forever. I felt a shiver go down my body. The slit called for me. I needed to be inside of it. The blood flowed from my head, all the way down to my groin, filling me with a jittery sensation. The sand smelled of roses and other exotic scents. The hole in the sand
grew ridges along its edges, becoming more organic, more alive, yet still made of sand. My body throbbed with ecstasy, an ecstasy that was so intense that I lost all other sensations. My mouth was watering. I bit down on my tongue. It wasn’t right for me to be here, staring into the slit of the earth. I crawled over the ground, ignoring the grains digging into my palms.
My breathing became the beat of all life, heavy and rhythmic.. I needed to be inside of her slit, to put my hands inside of her. My right hand grazed the ridges at first, but I wanted more, shoving my index finger into the hole. It was wet and sticky. My penis throbbed beneath my white robes.
Maggots. Neurosis. Rot. Filth. Decay. Circle. Beginning. Growth. Birth. Reclamation. End.
I tore my robes off with ease, as if I was gliding through the clouds. As if they were a weight on my ankles, I felt free once they were removed, as though I could fly off of the ground.
My naked body felt comfortable on the sand, as if the earth was a blanket that wanted to swallow me whole. I took my erect penis and slammed it into the wet, tight, slit. My eyes rolled back in my head with pleasure. Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt. My mind and body were overwhelmed by the sheer bliss.
I was panting in a pool on my own fluids, which seemed to be rejected by Mother Earth. The slit was gone and once again, I was alone. The sun had disappeared, leaving the desert vacant and black. My feelings of arousal had been replaced by a feeling of emptiness. I had satisfied her and she had rejected me. I shivered, rolling in the sticky pool of semen.
My eyes shot open as a cold breeze grazed my skin. It was still dark out, too early for us to start moving again. My face was wet with my own drool, which I wiped with a swipe of my hand. Beneath my blanket, there was another wet spot on the mat that was thankfully not visible. I adjusted my flaccid penis that had mysteriously been pulled from my pants. I sighed, taking my finger to the mat and whiffing the oceanic scent of my semen. Hopefully, no one would notice the smell. I began quietly rolling up my mat.”
- What other creative things do you do outside of photography and editing?
Right now, I host a podcast called First Degree Tea. You can hear me awkwardly talk about
serial killers and criminals on that. I also created the theme song for that. I also compose a
different score for each new episode. I also edit two other podcasts, one of which is called We
Talk Too Much, the other is Jersey Girls Don’t Pump Gas.
I’ve done some music stuff with JaredMiller, I’ve directed two music videos for Bury Me In Black,
and I’ve edited a few novels, most notably, The Night Made This Decision by Alexis Sundquist.
One of the coolest projects I’ve got coming kind of soon is an audiobook that’s more of an audio
experience. Most audiobooks are just some guy reading in a relaxed voice, which certainly has
its time and place, but I want to make something more exciting. I want to make an audiobook
where I do the narration, but I have a different voice actor for each character, ambiance for each
location, and lots of background music.