interview by Joe Vaz

From Issue 11 (July 2011)

Where is home?

Home is in my head most of the time, but if you’re referring to a physical home, the answer would be with the love of my life in the heart of downtown in California’s capital. I grew up in the country, but decided I liked city life better.

 

Where did the inspiration for “Unstitched Love” come from?

Writing starts with a thought, and this particular thought was a recollection of making stuffed bears when I was a kid. My mother used to sew, and my sister, brother and I would take scraps and make bears to play with in forts we’d create around the house. It was sort of like the Care Bears, but we’d come up with designs using various materials, and we’d draw pictures on their stomachs and give them unique names. I wanted to turn this innocence around with “Unstitched Love” and create something shocking. I gave the bear a name, but innocence was sort of thrown out the window by the end of the story.

 

Did you do a lot of research into bear making?

While writing the story, I took a small break and actually made Thatch. It was the first time I had sewn anything since childhood, but it came naturally. I cut the design from a worn pair of pants—two identical bear shapes—and sewed them together, then turned him inside out through the hole I left in his neck. The bear was about a foot tall and I filled his arms and legs with dried beans before sewing him shut. After adding the eyes, I set him onto the floor and he drooped over. I was hoping he’d stand, but I ended up liking him better this way and put it into the story. I used pink thread to color his ears and painted his button eyes silver, but I never gave him a mouth. I put that into the story as well.

 

Unstitched Love is told from the point of view of a young girl. How did you get the child’s voice?

About a third of my fiction is from female perspective. I’m not sure why. My sister and I were close growing up, so maybe that has something to do with it. I always like a challenge, so maybe that’s part of it too. If the child’s voice made the reader forget he or she was reading a story written by a man, I guess I’d call that success. My next novel is told entirely from the perspective of a young woman.

 

Do you have children of your own?

No kids. Not yet.

 

If Yes to above, how did you get through writing the ending, as a parent it scared the crap out of me.

I’ll answer this one anyway. The “waking from a dream to realize it wasn’t a dream” idea has been done to death, yet I wanted to try it out with my writing style. Horror, in my mind, is much more horrific if what happens is conceivable. It’s not the scary monster that scares us; it’s the conceptual monster hidden inside us that is more terrifying. Sometimes it’s what we don’t see that scares us most. Some famous person said something similar to that, and I live by it. If you were told one of two things: 1) a nonexistent creature is going to kill you in your sleep, or 2) your twelve year old daughter is going to kill you in your sleep… which one would scare you most?

 

What actually happens at the end of Unstitched Love? Who killed whom?

That one is for the reader to decide. I like to keep my writing open-ended.

 

Why is there stuffing coming out of Megan’s mouth?

Same as the previous question.

 

Do you primarily write in the horror genre?

I consider a small amount of my work to be actual horror, such as “Unstitched Love.” Unfortunately, a lot of writing today is labeled with the horror stamp because it doesn’t fit molds of mainstream genre fiction… what people are actually buying. Some of the best contemporary writers are cursed with this horror stamp, such as Gary Braunbeck. There’s more emotion in a single page of his work than in books of more popular storytellers. I’d like to think of my work as psychological horror, and it’s typically nonlinear, but I like being considered horror because it seems like a nice place to be, given the company. I like bending traditional rules and staying away from mainstream. My sales can prove that. But it’s all about quality. If someone called my work literary and compared me to Gary, I’d die a happy writer, whether or not I ever sold anything. If my work sold millions of copies and I was compared to Dan Brown, I’d start writing under a different name.

 

Are you working on anything right now?

Always. A third nonlinear novel is in the works: Psychotropic Dragon, about a troubled young woman addicted to a drug taken in the form of eye drops; a second collection of short fiction and poetry: Inkblots and Blood Spots; as well as a second anthology of short fiction I’m toying with as editor. A handful of short stories for various anthologies and magazines are also in the works.

 

Where might we be able to read more of your work?

Some of the writing I’m most proud of can be found in anthologies such as In Bad Dreams, The Phantom Queen Awakes, and Pellucid Lunacy, and magazines around the world like Something Wicked. An easy place to find my short fiction and poetry is in my collection: Scales and Petals, and Inkblots and Blood Spots (coming soon), all of which can be found on Amazon.com, along with my novels. Some of my darker stories will appear in Beyond Centauri and The Shadow of the Unknown later this year

Joe Vaz

Joe Vaz is the founder and editor of Something Wicked, which occasionally affords him the honour and good fortune to hang out with really cool people.
In his other life he is a film and television actor who gets small parts in big movies, most recently in Dredd 3D, due to be released in December 2011.

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