Welcome to another author interview. This week Joe Borrelli is in the hot seat, and as usual, the interviewee will do the talking.
-What book and/or experience made you want to be a writer?
My flip answer is that I found a copy of “How to Write Horror Fiction” by William F. Nolan in my local library. It broke down the way a story is constructed in simple, conversational language. I spent my adolescence writing rip-off monster stories without much skill or brains and convincing myself I was deep and sensitive.
Even then, I knew the stuff I was writing was crap. I kept at it, but everything felt half-formed and frustrating. Around the same time I got into running role playing games. Aside from playing to my strengths at public speaking and improvisation, it taught me how to structure a story so that it survived the whims of a bunch of destructive nerds, how to keep people interested, how to create characters with distinctive voices, and how to convey powerful images with a few simple words.
There came a point when I got all I could out of telling small stories to a small handful of people. I had ideas that needed a bigger home.
-What genre do you write?
I write…shit, I dunno. I write horror stories, I guess. But either I’ve got bad information on the genre’s potential or it’s a bunch of underachievers, but I’m a bit embarrassed about my genre choice. My shit involves ghosts and zombies and monsters, so I guess it’s horror. When I’m at my pretentious hipster artsy fartsy parties I tell people I’m writing literary fiction.
-What project are you working on now?
The big project is my thesis novel, The Torment Game. From my somewhat ham-fisted write up:
After accidentally killing their friend in a bizarre bullying ritual known as The Torment Game, our hapless trio arrives in San Francisco to be their lives as exchange students in the richest private Catholic school in the city. As they struggle to acclimate to their new home, their relationship has frayed from the strain of getting away with involuntary manslaughter. Unbeknownst to them, the spirit of their dead friend has followed them. She’s lonely, wounded, and very, very angry….
It’s my love letter to J-Horror, featuring psychic teenagers, homicide investigations, anime, and dead girls with hair in their faces.
I also do a graphic novel called The Doom That Came To Toonland, which is a fusion of Looney Tunes and Lovecraft. My buzz phrase is what would happen if Pinky and the Brain tried to summon Azathoth in order to take over the world.
Finally, I do a great podcast. Go to iTunes and search Creature Cast. It’ll knock your socks off.
-For other aspiring writers, any tips?
Demystify the process. It’s just writing, dawg. Don’t make it a thing.
Your first job is to figure out the way you write. What’s your process, how do you work. Do you write a little bit daily? Once a week? Figure it out. It helps you get comfortable.
Write. If you are spending way more time either:
1) Reading books about writing or…
2) Blogging about writing
than you do actually writing then you are doing it wrong!!!
“Be regular and ordinary in your habits so you can be spontaneous in your creations!”
-What’s your favorite book/genre to read?
Strangely enough, I read very little horror. I mostly read non-fiction, especially social and cultural studies, but I also read a lot of crime fiction or “literary fiction.”
The three biggest influences on my style are Joe R. Lansdale, Lawrence Block, and Natsuo Kirino. My entire friggin’ thesis is basically a riff on Natsuo Kirino’s work, especially Grotesque.
-What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?
I love the doomed trio from my thesis. They have helped get me through some tough times recently. I privately fantasize that one day some kid at a convention will come up to me in cosplay of my characters. That’s when I’ll know I have made it.
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