Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Interview with Joe Powers.



Full Name:
Joe Powers

Do you have a nickname or what do your friends call you?
I’ve been called all kinds of things. Nothing that’s really stuck though.
Well, with a cool last name like “Powers” there’s not a lot of room for improvement.
I’ll grant you that. Interestingly, when they gave me my grandfather’s middle name instead of his first, I narrowly avoided becoming the original Austin Powers.
That would’ve been shagadelic baby!  I mean, an unfortunate coincidence.


Birthplace / Current hometown:
Fredericton, NB to both. I’ve actually come full circle, in a way: I’ve spent the last fifteen years living in the house I spent the first four years of my life in.

Favorite city and why?
I’ve drifted around a little bit, but rarely very far, and I always come back. It’s a great area in so many ways. It’ll always be home.


Birthday / Age:
September 24th. I’ll be 44 this year.

How would you describe yourself physically?
Large, hairy, and unintentionally intimidating.
So, like a friendly bigfoot.
That’s about right. One of my sister’s friends likes to claim there are several sightings of me, but few clear photos.


How would someone else describe you physically?
I’ve been described as a big, scary biker or Viking.  The awful truth is that I’m just a big teddy bear, for the most part.


The first thing people notice about you is…
Probably my hair.  There’s a lot of it, even after a recent shearing during which I shed probably six or eight inches of it. 

Religion, if any?
I guess you could call me a non-practicing Christian.


Are you superstitious? Any phobias?
I’m superstitious to a point, but I certainly don’t go to ridiculous extremes. For example, I’m a big hockey fan. I spent about a year in a couple of sports writing gigs, in fact. Anyway, at one point early this season I decided to spend an evening hanging out with my better half instead of catching the game on TV or online, whatever. They won decisively, so we had a sort of running joke all year that whenever the Islanders played I had to be with her, and pay no attention to the game until it was over. It worked often enough that we’ve had some fun with it. But realistically, if they’d lost that night, you can bet I wouldn’t have insisted we avoid each other on game days. 

Do you smoke/drink? If so, what? Any bad habits?
Yes to both (update: I’m nearly two weeks smoke free as of mid-June). I’ve always been a whiskey man, Canadian Club being the perennial favorite, though in recent years my consumption has flagged considerably. Considering my once near-heroic capacity for the stuff, that’s probably not a terrible thing.
As for other bad habits: I’m a bit reactionary sometimes; I hear myself saying things before I’ve really had a chance to think them over. This occasionally has unpleasant results. Conversely, I also tend to overthink and overanalyze, which can make things a lot more difficult than they need to be.
The first time I got drunk, it was on a bottle of something I think was called “Canadian Rare”.  I had a friend whose father owned a bunch of properties and when the tenants left without notice, he’d keep their liquor.  He had a case of 48 different bottles of alcohol locked in the attic, but we were teenagers, so a lock isn’t much of an obstacle.  We took a shot from each bottle to try them out and them we each picked a favorite.  I’m French-Canadian by descent, so I stuck with the Canadian Rare and put down two 50/50 whiskey/root beers before the alcohol caught up with me.  I ended up puking in the sink because my friend locked himself in the bathroom and I was drunk for about a day and a half.  But, whatever doesn’t kill you…
That sounds like it might be R & R (Rich & Rare) Canadian Whiskey.  Dandy stuff, that.  Hell of a way to launch an alcohol-fueled lifestyle.  Kudos to your friend’s dad for his enterprising nature.  My first go-around was a godawful substance called Five Star.  Today that’s the name of a whiskey, but back then it was rum.  I think it cost about eight cents a bottle, and worth every penny.  The after effects of Five Star and Sprite added the term “Five-Star Flu” to the vernacular of my little group.



Current occupation / Dream job:
I’m currently an aquaculture technician, which I’ll delve into more later. The dream, of course, is to chuck the day job and write for a living. Ideally towering best sellers, one after another, with fat royalty cheques arriving like clockwork. 

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
When I leave the office, I leave whatever I was working on back there. I’m not the type to bring it home with me, obsessing and agonizing over stuff during my downtime. I spend a lot of time with Marsha and her daughter, doing anything or nothing together. Just enjoying the time we have, and being grateful for how much of it I get. Late nights are when I do most of my writing. Thoughts and ideas come to me whenever they come, but I carry a little recording device with me everywhere or I jot them down, and it’s only after the lights go down and the rest of my world is asleep that I try to piece it all together.
That’s really my whole world in a nut’s shell these days. And I’m pretty lucky, when I stop to think about it – which is often: I get to spend virtually all my free time doing the things that I love to do the most.


What is your zombie outbreak survival plan?
I live in a pretty sparsely populated part of the world, that’s uncomfortably cold nearly half the year. My best bet is to hole up and wait for winter, when all the zombies either die off, or migrate to Florida. Either way I like my chances.
I’d suggest waiting a while before trying to go to Florida.  Florida is fucked up enough already.  When the zombie apocalypse happens, that peninsula is going to go to hell a lot sooner than the rest of the country.
Good point. Honestly, I have serious doubts zombies would survive a Canadian winter anyway. This is maybe why we never see zombie movies based here.


Weapon of choice:
Against zombies, or in general? I like bows, but when push comes to shove, I’ll take a good old baseball bat any day. 

Do you have any special skills?
 
I don’t know… I guess I’m moderately good at a lot of things. I’ve been told I’m a fairly entertaining and compelling storyteller. After a twenty-plus year hiatus I’m trying to pick up the guitar again. I assumed there would be some muscle memory carryover, but apparently my muscles have developed acute amnesia. That, or I just wasn’t as good back then as I thought I was.

Did you go to college and, if so, what for?
I did two years of a business admin degree before deciding the hallowed halls of academia were not for me. A few years later I reconsidered and returned to college, where I studied broadcast journalism.

Any pets?   If so, what are they and what are their names?
I have a fourteen-year-old German Shepherd named Eddie, whose biggest claim to fame is being born on the morning of 9/11. In an aquarium at my office there’s a large algae eater named Zoidberg, but he doesn’t technically belong to me. Fish are generally pretty terrible pets, but his one redeeming quality is that he occasionally freaks out and cruises around the tank with his big dorsal fin in the upright position.

What is your favorite animal?
I’ve rarely met a dog I didn’t like, though I tend to prefer the large breeds. But aside from that I’d have to go with bears. They’re big, highly intelligent, solitary, misunderstood animals. I can relate to some of that. Even though I’m under strict orders not to do anything risky around them anymore, I’ve always felt a connection to the ones I’ve encountered in the wild.
“anymore”?
Well, I’ve often sought them out, and I’ve gotten up close and personal with a few of them along the way.  They don’t scare me as much as they probably should.  I have a healthy respect for them, but little or no fear.  My friends will sometimes hesitantly tell me about bear sightings, ostensibly so I’ll be careful in those areas but partly I think because they’re curious whether I’ll go looking.  These days, with new parameters at play – wife-to-be, impressionable nine-year-old – I’ve reluctantly agreed to rethink my approach toward things that could, in theory at least, kill and eat me.


Speaking of pets, any pet peeves?
Bad grammar, and ad hominem arguments. They’re both extremely lazy and uncreative. It also bugs me when people mispronounce common words, like supposedly or et cetera, as if they’ve only ever heard them aloud and never seen them written correctly. Or make them up entirely, like irregardless or alot.

What is your favorite quotation / motto / saying?
There’s a quote that’s often attributed to Mark Twain that I rather like. It’s the one that says “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” I think there’s a lot of truth in that. People shouldn’t be afraid to take risks and try the things they’re passionate about. If you fail, well… odds are good you’re going to fail at a bunch of stuff in life anyway. At least this way when you succeed, you’ve succeeded at something you enjoy. 

What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
Meeting my fiancĂ©e, Marsha. Hands down. It changed my life. 

What is the worst thing that ever happened to you?
I had to think about this one a while. Lots of unpleasant things over the years, but as for the absolute worst, it might have been the night I got swarmed by seven guys who were far less drunk than I was. Ironically the only real damage I suffered came when I slipped on the ice and broke my jaw in two places. It sucked at the time, especially being wired shut for so long – over Christmas, in fact - but now I kind of joke that I got into a fight with all these guys and still had to kick my own ass. 

Ever had your heart broken? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
For sure. I think most of us have at one time or another. I generally keep myself fairly guarded and protected against such things, but at the same time when you’re going into a relationship you really have to put it all on the line, or you’re beaten before you even get started. Not much in the way of stories here; you put yourself into certain situations, go into things with expectations high and defenses low. Sometimes it works out great. Other times it blows up in your face. You do what you can to learn from it and apply the lessons moving forward.

Ever broken someone’s heart? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
I have, a couple of times I guess. In at least one case I did it for the right reasons, even if it probably didn’t seem like it at the time. We’d been dating for a while, and she was far more serious about it going forward than I was at the time. The final straw for me was when she told me she was passing on going off to college in order to stay home with me. There was no way I was going to let her do that, so I broke it off. She was pretty devastated, but I understand she rebounded nicely and got married a few years later, and remains so today. So, everything worked out for the best in the long run.

What is the best thing you’ve ever done?
I think this question and the next would probably be better answered by those around me, whom I’ve affected in some way. But as for what I think the best thing was, it has to be the night I proposed to Marsha. I’d been kind of evasive and cryptic all day leading up to it and I think she might have been a little afraid of what I was up to, like I was about to drop some nasty bombshell on her or something. I won’t go into the squishy details, lest I ruin my reputation as a scary badass, but I will say her reaction was one of the best things I’ve ever seen.

What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?
Generally speaking, most of the worst things I’ve done have been to myself. Again, I’m sure others could answer this one more accurately than me. But in my mind, the worst thing – or at least the thing I regret the most - was probably a fight I had with an old and dear friend. It made me bitter and angry to the point where we lost contact for many years, close to twenty of them, in fact. We’ve since mended fences and are on great terms again, but the fact that I held a stupid grudge for so long and wasted so many years we could have had together makes me a little sad. Sometimes more than a little. I try not to dwell on it. 


What do you do?
I work in the aquaculture field. The short version is, I work on the design, layout and mechanics of fish hatcheries and the like. My primary focus is water quality monitoring, and the various equipment and procedures that entails.

How did you get started doing what you do?
More or less by accident. I’d recently left college and had been working in radio. I burned a couple of bridges in that industry and that, coupled with my growing distaste for the reporting/newsgathering life, gave me pause to reassess my career trajectory. An opportunity arose and, lacking a better option at the time, I took it. I not only changed paths, I dove off the path altogether and burst into the surrounding forest. It’s pretty far from glamorous, but it’s paid the bills for the past nineteen years. 

What is your advice to other people that want to get started doing what you do?
If we’re talking aquaculture, my advice would be: don’t. There’s an old joke in the business: how do you make a small fortune in aquaculture? Start with a big fortune. Seriously though, it’s a very risky industry with almost no margin for error, in which fortunes are lost far more often than they’re made.
If we’re talking about writing, I would wholeheartedly encourage anyone to go for it. Write as much as you can, as often as you can, about whatever strikes your fancy. Enjoy it, it can be a wonderful and rewarding experience even if it never earns you a dime or nobody but you ever reads a word of it. 


What are some of the projects you’ve worked on/finished in the past? Give us a little history if you will.
I’ve written I don’t know how many stories, about a dozen of which have been sold, with seven or eight published to date. I’m a little bit late to the party; I’ve been writing since I was a kid, but later on I took an extended hiatus and really only started taking it seriously in the last five years or so. I decided the best way to get myself established and start carving out a little name for myself in a timely way was to get a bunch of shorts published. It hasn’t been all smooth sailing, but all things considered it’s gone fairly well so far. I’ve gotten to know a number of publishers, editors and various people in the industry, made some good friends and had a lot of great experiences. I’ve learned an awful lot about the business in a relatively short time, and thanks to some very kind and generous people I didn’t have to learn most of it the hard way.
I was invited to participate in a round robin novel project about a year ago by a fellow named J. Richard Jacobs. He’s just about seen and done it all, and has been writing and editing longer than I’ve been alive. J, incidentally, was also the first editor to ever buy one of my stories. We’ve developed a friendship and worked together a few times since. When he was putting together his roster he invited me along, and I accepted. It’s still a work in progress, but I was happy to contribute a chapter to it.
That first story I mentioned appeared in an anthology called Twisted Tails VII. It’s a long-running and successful series that, for me, was a huge first step into the publishing world. It was the point at which I started to realize I just might have enough talent and desire to find some success doing this.
Somewhere in the middle of all of this I actually got the chance to put some of my journalistic background to work, this time in sports writing. I spent a year writing about the New York Islanders, first for a website under the Sports Illustrated umbrella and later for another site we pioneered called Islanders Insight that ultimately partnered with USA Today. My resurgence was relatively brief, but this time I left on my own terms, voluntarily, with an open door offer to return if I so choose down the road. One of my fondest memories will always be logging into the SI website and seeing something I wrote there on their home page. Who knows how many people read my articles? SI is read by millions. Kind of cool to think about. Sadly, I have serious doubts my fiction will ever reach anywhere near that large an audience. But hey, I had my fifteen minutes. And some closure on the whole journalism career. I’m cool with that. 


What projects are you working on now?
Most of my focus these days is on my first novel. It’s a paranormal thriller with horror elements that I’m quite pleased with so far. Up until now I’ve been focused almost entirely on short stories, so this is a whole new direction for me.
Along with that I’ve just finished compiling a collection of short stories, tentatively entitled Night Terrors. I’ve sent out some feelers, testing the waters for possible placement options. It’s my first “stand-alone” project, and I’m fairly excited about it.
Later this summer I’m collaborating with Marsha on an artist-in-residency project. Basically we’ll be on display to the public, plying our respective trades, answering questions and telling stories, combining writing and visual art into what we hope will be something pretty cool. 



What are you watching?
Criminal Minds is one of the staples; it’s like comfort food for my brain. I’ve recently discovered The Following, which despite some draggy stretches I’m really enjoying. I’m also slowly catching up on American Horror Story, which has such a cool premise.

What are you listening to?
It varies a lot from day to day. Under the right circumstances, any number of things can strike my fancy. Puttering around the studio the other night we dusted off an old Collective Soul disk and gave it a spin. I’m also experiencing a bit of a Led Zeppelin resurgence lately. When I’m driving, it’s usually set to the Lithium station on XM. Pretty nice mix of grunge and alternative staples, a lot of which I’d all but forgotten about. Offspring, Smashing Pumpkins, Live, that sort of thing. 

What are you reading?
I’ve been working my way through the Dark Tower series. I started them back when the first couple of books were still pretty new, but took a long break around the fourth one and for whatever reason never got back to them until last fall. I’m just about to start into the last one, The Dark Tower.
Have you ever seen Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai?
Sadly, I have not. It’s on my to do list for sure. I’ve heard nothing but good things, one of those must-see things that I, well, haven’t.
You definitely should see it.  Although the premise is going to seem a little familiar.  The book where the Gunslingers are protecting a village from the Doom-Bots is lifted from Seven Samurai.
So many things to catch up on, so little time. My pop culture awareness has diminished greatly in recent years. 


Favorite author / book?
Probably Michael Crichton. He had a real knack for making the most impossible scenarios seem at least plausible, whatever the subject matter. Also he wrote Jurassic Park, one of my all-time favorite movies, so that’s a big plus in my book. It’s hard to narrow it down to just one favorite book, but I guess if you were to put a gun to my head I’d have to go not with something from the Crichton library, but The Stand. I was in my teens the first time I read it, and it was so unlike anything I’d ever read before, both in terms of content and magnitude. 

Favorite band / song?
That’s a tough one for me, since I listen to such a wide variety of stuff. I was weaned on old twangy country music, but discovered and latched onto hard rock/metal in my formative years. Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin begat Anthrax and Metallica, then on to Godsmack, Pantera and Black Label Society, with a detour into Southern rock, and most points in between. Even Elvis, Jim Reeves and Johnny Cash find their way into my rotation. More recently I’ve been exposed to a bunch of alternative stuff I, and probably most people, had never heard of. It’s kind of hard to nail down where my preferences lie, even for me. When I write I like quirky, eclectic stuff like Tori Amos or Steve Vai.

Least favorite band / song?
This one’s kind of tough too, since if I don’t like a particular song or artist, I tend not to listen to it. I could say I hate Justin Bieber, but the truth is I’ve never really listened to him. It’s more the idea of him that I don’t care for – the whole manufactured, doctored, sterilized and homogenized sound that American Idol and all those type of shows have popularized. I don’t mean to imply these people have no talent – many of them do – it’s more of an indictment of the process by which they seek their recognition.

If you could do anything other than what you do now, what would you do?
Well again, if I could make my living by writing, I would absolutely do that. I was recently offered an opportunity to teach writing to kids, which also sounds pretty cool to me. While I’m not entirely convinced I’m qualified to do that, I’m more than willing to give it a shot. 

Who would you want to meet that you haven’t met? You get three choices:
Alive. Dead. Fictional.
Alive: Seth MacFarlane. I think we’re very similar in terms of humor, both the source and how it manifests, and I’m pretty sure we’d either hit it off incredibly well, or really dislike each other.
Dead: My great-grandfather on my dad’s side. His origins are shrouded in mystery – he seemingly appeared out of thin air one day, no paper trail, possibly under an assumed name – and I’d like to get the answers to a hundred questions I have for him.
Fictional: Tony Soprano. As odd as it may sound, we share some character traits too. 


What’s the best and worst job you’ve ever had?
Years ago I worked for Elections Canada briefly, as an enumeration supervisor. Basically, I got paid a ridiculous amount of money to send all of the people who worked under me off to take stock of who lived in every house in the province. Theoretically it was to give them an idea of how many potential voters there were. Whatever their motivation, it was an easy gig that paid well.
The worst job would have to be when I was the target guy at a shooting range. I can guess what sort of mental image that description brings to mind, and you’re not far from right. Basically, a bunch of us huddled in a ditch behind the targets they would shoot at. After each shot we’d have to drag the target down with a chain lift sort of thing, take note of where the hit was, put a sticker over the hole, and then send it back up for the next shot. Behind us was a big metal barrier, angled toward the targets. Its purpose was to corral any stray bullets, but this ingenious design would have deflected any errant shots directly down into the pit, straight at us. Kind of like trench warfare, except we were unarmed. It’s a miracle nobody was killed back there.


Are there any questions that I didn’t ask that you wished I had asked that you would like to answer now?
Despite my habit of answering direct questions honestly - sometimes embarrassingly so – and my seemingly gregarious, outgoing style, I’m actually quite a shy, introverted, intensely private person. I’ve come out of my shell a little bit of late, and if you catch me in the right mood I’ll talk your ear off well past the point where you’ve stopped caring, but it’s not uncommon for me to go through long stretches of tight-lipped silence and one-word answers. Some might (read: do) consider me on the moody side, which I guess is true to a point. Maybe my biggest stumbling block is the idea of letting people get too close, out of fear they’ll discover I’m not nearly as interesting as I may have first appeared.
I guess that’s not really a question, or the answer to one, is it? Let’s pretend you asked me “Joe, what are some of your insecurities most people really don’t know about you, and probably never will, at least until they read this interview?”


Anyone you recommend I interview that you can put me in touch with?
Got any questions for me?
If you haven’t already, you should reach out to our mutual friend Michael Kanuckel. He’s an interesting guy with a penchant for straight-up honesty. I’d love to see what he’d come up with in this type of interview.
I’m not saying you’re a bad friend for not knowing I already interviewed him, but I am posting the link to the interview I did with him here, just in case you haven’t read it yet.
http://youareentitledtomyopinioninterviews.blogspot.com/2014/01/interview-with-michael-kanuckel.html
I should have known you’d have gotten to him already. And I’ve read your interview with Jay Wilburn also, so I won’t recommend him even though I would have otherwise.


Thanks for letting me subject you to being interviewed!
Hey, my pleasure. Thanks for subjecting me to this!

Pitch parade:
Give me all of your links for things you want to promote.   All of them.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Joe-Powers-Author/714034288655649
Twitter: @Joe_SoWhatElse
Website: www.joepowersauthor.com
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Joe-Powers/e/B00NPC57B2
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=96977547
My collaborator/partner in crime: http://www.marshaclarkart.com/
Just because: http://islandersinsight.com/ (thanks for the great times and memories, guys!)



About the Interviewee:
Joe Powers is a Canadian horror writer with a fondness for literary sleight-of-hand. He loves the idea of prompting a strong emotional reaction using no more than words and his slightly off-center imagination, and delights in taking the reader on journeys to previously unexplored regions. He is a member of the Horror Writers’ Association, ArtsLink NB, the Writers' Federation of New Brunswick, the NB Authors Portal and the Short Fiction Writers' Guild, and is active in the local arts and writing communities. His work has appeared in several anthologies and magazines. You can follow Joe at www.joepowersauthor.com


About the Interviewer:
Scott Lefebvre can write about whatever you want him to write about.
Mostly because when he was grounded for his outlandish behavior as a hyperactive school child, the only place he was allowed to go was the public library.
His literary tastes were forged by the works of Helen Hoke, Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe, and H. P. Lovecraft.
He is the author of Spooky Creepy Long Island, and Condemned; and a contributing author to Forrest J. Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead, Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction, The Call of Lovecraft, and Cashiers du Cinemart.
His reviews have been published by a variety of in print and online media including Scars Magazine, Icons of Fright, Fatally Yours and Screams of Terror, and he has appeared in Fangoria, Rue Morgue and HorrorHound Magazine.
Check out his publishing imprint Burnt Offerings Books here:
http://burntofferingsbooks.blogspot.com/
Check out his electronic music here: soundcloud.com/master_control
And here: master-control.bandcamp.com
Check out his Etsy here: www.etsy.com/shop/ScottLefebvreArt
Stalk his Facebook at: www.facebook.com/TheLefebvre
E-mail him at: Scott_Lefebvre@hotmail.com

Interview with Justin Coke.



Full Name:
Justin Coke

Do you have a nickname or what do your friends call you?
Due to my last name, everyone just calls me Coke.
I can only imagine what that must be like.  So many “Coke versus Pepsi” jokes and cocaine references.  You must have super strong eye muscles from rolling them all the time.  Like, you could probably crush an aluminum can just by looking at it.
Oh yeah.  I think I've heard every variation on the joke possible, at least in English.  Perhaps there are new puns in Mandarin I'm unaware of, but that would be it.

Birthplace:
Oklahoma

Current hometown:
Columbia, MO

Favorite city and why?
Kansas City

Birthday / Age:
January 11th.  34.

How would you describe yourself physically?
Tall, dark, and fat.
As Meatloaf sings, “Two out of three ain’t bad.”
I think “I'd do anything for love but I won't do that” is about his experiences on the set of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  I hear Tim Curry really got into character.

How would someone else describe you physically?
Uh, are they feeling nice?
Are they?
Well, are they?

The first thing people notice about you is…
My height.

Religion, if any?
None.

Are you superstitious? Any phobias?
No superstitions.  I have a type of claustrophia.  It's not small spaces, it's not being able to leave.  Being locked in a room the size of a house will trigger it, but being in a plane won't.  I think it's because the plane is going somewhere.

Do you smoke/drink? If so, what? Any bad habits?
I am a mostly ex-smoker.  I vape now.

Current occupation / Worst Job / Dream job:
Lawyer.  Dish washer.  Full time writer.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
I love mountain biking, though I haven't been out lately.

What is your zombie outbreak survival plan?
Dig the guns out of attic and find a nice place in the middle of nowhere.
Now everyone knows where your guns are.
They know where most of them are.

Weapon of choice:
AK-47. 

Do you have any special skills?
I'm pretty good at doing math problems in my head.

Did you go to college and, if so, what for?
Yes, got an English degree.  Also law school.

Any pets?   If so, what are they and what are their names?
Three cats, Sam, Pippin, and Merry.

What is your favorite animal?
I have a soft spot for black labs.

Speaking of pets, any pet peeves?
Idiots who stick to their guns.

What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
I took my now wife, then girlfriend to Kauai.  It was a magical week.  Even having the car rental place freeze all my money and we had to scam our way into a luau.  Which was an amazing luau.
What is the worst thing that ever happened to you?
I grew up as  Jehovah's Witness.  It's a very silly, nasty religion.  I suspect I'd be much better person if I hadn't spent my childhood in a cult.
Weren’t the Jehovah’s Witnesses started as a turn of the century end of times cult?
I don’t even know what book they follow.  I read “The Bible” because living in a Judeo-Christian dominated culture it seemed like a good idea to read the source material.  I read the Book Of Mormon because it was different than The Bible and that was a really weird experience.  That book doesn’t make any sense at all and I’m amazed that anyone is able to base their lives around it.  I haven’t read The Koran, but it’s on my list of books to read.
The Witnesses were more or less a turn of the century end of times cult.  It's actually a descendant of the Millerites, who were predicting the end of the world in the 1830s. You may have heard of then in your social studies class. The Witnesses are like the second cousin to 7th Day Adventists.  Of course they don't tell you this stuff when you are in the Witnesses.  While the bible seems to have seeped into my brain in ways I can't get past, I pretty much immediately get bored when someone breaks out the God jabber.  One of my minor problems with the Witnesses is how BORING everything is.  It's like they think that by making everything feel like an insurance convention held in the conference room of a Motel 8, they're proving how much they love Jesus.  Because they obviously aren't there for the fun of it.  Say what you will about the Mormons, at least they have some badass architects.
All I remember about them is that they don’t let you celebrate your birthday or Halloween.  I don’t really care about my birthday, but requiring their followers to abstain from Halloween is a definite deal-breaker.

What is the best thing you’ve ever done?
Well, I started my own law practice in a very clutch maneuver after getting laid off.  So that is probably the most impressive thing I've ever done.

What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?
I stay up at night sometimes remembering stupid, mean things I did as a kid.  I wasn't a bully, but I had my moments.

What do you do?
I'm a lawyer.

How did you get started doing what you do?
Graduated law school.  Got laid off.  Started my own practice.

What is your advice to other people that want to get started doing what you do?
Look around, find all those things that are done that way just because they've always been done those ways.  Do them the way they should be done.

What are some of the projects you’ve worked on/finished in the past? Give us a little history if you will.
Writing wise, I have who knows how many half-finished novels, four or five fantasy worlds, and all sorts of fragments.  I have the three novels in this series in the can, and I'm about 80,000 words deep on my current project.

What projects are you working on now?
The working title is Before the Fire.  It's a bit of a genre bender.  I like to make discovering the world part of plot, so questions like this make me worry about spoilers.

What are you watching?
Women's World Cup at the moment.  I feel a Venture Brothers marathon coming on.

What are you listening to?
I love Alcest, Amesours, and Les Discrets.  They've been my main playlist for a year or so now.  Jimi Hendrix has been working his way back in lately.
Jimi Hendrix is such a powerful musical influence that you can spend your whole life trying to get out from under his shadow.
Why would I want to be out of his shadow?  He rules.
I mean, like, if you’re trying to do your own thing musically.  Because unless you’re some kind of crazy musical genius, nothing you do will ever hold a candle to what he did.

What are you reading?
2666 by Roberto Bolano.

Favorite author / book?
Neal Stephenson.  Moby Dick.  I know Stephenson didn't write Moby Dick.
But what if he did?
If it was early Stephenson, it would be a fun whale hunting adventure.  If it was later Stephenson, it would have a thirty page dissertation on the various types of knots.  So in a way, later Stephenson would be more like Moby Dick.  I'm mostly kidding.

Favorite band / song?
This changes so often.  Right now my favorite band is Amesoeurs, and I'll cheat and list their whole discography as my favorite.

Least favorite band / song?
Black Eye Peas, the one where they say Mazeltov. 

Who would you want to meet that you haven’t met? You get three choices:
Alive. Dead. Fictional.
Thomas Pynchon, Jan Zizka, the Joker.

Are there any questions that I didn’t ask that you wished I had asked that you would like to answer now?
Can't think of anything.

Thanks for letting me subject you to being interviewed!

Pitch parade:
Give me all of your links for things you want to promote.   All of them.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/justinwcoke
Twitter: @coke1J




About the Interviewee:
Justin Coke lives in the middle of Missouri. He enjoys mountain biking, scuba diving, Lovecraft, fishing, soccer, pizza, and good beer. He wrote Like Father, which appeared in Wicked Words Quarterly. He also has 42,769 comment karma on Reddit.



About the Interviewer:
Scott Lefebvre can write about whatever you want him to write about.
Mostly because when he was grounded for his outlandish behavior as a hyperactive school child, the only place he was allowed to go was the public library.
His literary tastes were forged by the works of Helen Hoke, Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe, and H. P. Lovecraft.
He is the author of Spooky Creepy Long Island, and Condemned; and a contributing author to Forrest J. Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead, Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction, The Call of Lovecraft, and Cashiers du Cinemart.
His reviews have been published by a variety of in print and online media including Scars Magazine, Icons of Fright, Fatally Yours and Screams of Terror, and he has appeared in Fangoria, Rue Morgue and HorrorHound Magazine.
Check out his publishing imprint Burnt Offerings Books here:
http://burntofferingsbooks.blogspot.com/
Check out his electronic music here: soundcloud.com/master_control
And here: master-control.bandcamp.com
Check out his Etsy here: www.etsy.com/shop/ScottLefebvreArt
Stalk his Facebook at: www.facebook.com/TheLefebvre
E-mail him at: Scott_Lefebvre@hotmail.com

Monday, June 8, 2015

Interview with Alexander Zelenyj.



Full Name:

Alexander Zelenyj

Do you have a nickname or what do your friends call you?
Alex, Al. My girlfriend calls me Xander. And Xand. And Xanadu.

Birthplace / Current hometown:
Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Favorite city and why?
I haven’t traveled too much, so I guess I’d have to say Windsor, although as with a lot of places you have to take the terribly bad with the good.  I’d like to live in the Muskokas, where it’s green and quiet and there’s no trace of the chemical city-stink I’ve grown so accustomed to here.

Birthday / Age:
Old enough to cleverly avoid answering that question, ha ha.

How would you describe yourself physically?
Tall and lanky.

How would someone else describe you physically?
An Adonis-like physique, a marvel to the human eye and a testament to the potential of the human body to be sculpted into a work of art. But more likely “tall and lanky”.

The first thing people notice about you is…
I honestly have no idea. My shyness maybe?

Religion, if any?
I’m curious and hopeful. I’ll let you know what I find out on the subject.

Are you superstitious? Any phobias?
Superstitious, yes, definitely. Phobic, not really.
So, what are some of your superstitions?  Delve, damn it.
Well, for one thing, I believe that there are good numbers, and that there are very, very bad numbers.  In terms of everyday scenarios, for example, if the numbers on a digital clock display are the latter, whether in their individual digits or as the sum of those digits, then I have to wait until a better number takes its place before even attempting to go to sleep.
Also, among my many weird little rituals is the following important one: the final image in my mind before I turn out the light in any given room has to be a positive one, whether it’s a person, a place, an object, whatever; if a negative image is the final one I see as I shut off a light I must immediately turn the light back on and repeat the process until I successfully envision something good. This sometimes takes some doing.
There are more, but that might be beyond the scope of this conversation, ha ha.

Do you smoke/drink? If so, what? Any bad habits?
I don’t smoke. I drink socially, but I’m not picky about what I drink.  As for bad habits...I eat an overabundance of cookies.  I am the Cookie Monster.  But there are worse vices, I guess.  I could be the Cocaine Monster, for example.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
Read books, watch movies, spend time in forested areas and on islands.

What is your zombie outbreak survival plan?
Now that I know I need one, I would say to retreat to a mountainous area in the far north of Canada, and build a fortress there which, given its altitude, would be easier to defend against all would-be invaders, both undead and human alike.  Growing food would pose a problem, though, now that I think about it.  We could hunt mountain goats and birds? But their populations would dwindle pretty quickly.  Hmm...I need to give this some more thought...

Weapon of choice:
Human ingenuity, second only to killer robots.

Do you have any special skills?
I’m a pretty formidable Dungeon Master.
The world needs more good Dungeon Masters.
Absolutely!  At the very least it needs more Fighting Fantasy Game Book players.  Do you remember Fighting Fantasy books?  I swear some of them are actually impossible to win, but no less fun to read for it.
I don’t remember Fighting Fantasy books.  But at least now I know what they are.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fighting_Fantasy

Did you go to college and, if so, what for?
Yes, I graduated from the University of Windsor with a degree in English Literature/Creative Writing & Psychology; I also have an Education degree from the same school.

Any pets?   If so, what are they and what are their names?
Yes, we have two cats, Lucy(fur) and Callie.

What is your favorite animal?
Extinct: the Ankylosaur
Living: the turtle. But monkeys are awesome, too.

Speaking of pets, any pet peeves?
Nepotism, and the pretentious, self-absorbed people who reap its benefits without deserving to.

What is your favorite quotation / motto / saying?
Ray Bradbury: “Get your work done.” Exactly!
That’s great advice.  I’m working on that as I type this.  I fell way behind on my interview homework.
Yeah, Sir Ray always was full of wisdoms.

What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
Re-meeting the girl that would become my girlfriend over a decade after originally meeting her. Aww...

What is the worst thing that ever happened to you?
Having to wait through the above-mentioned decade to re-meet the girl who would become my girlfriend. Aww...


What is the best thing you’ve ever done?
Writing-wise, one of the coolest things I’ve ever done happened a couple of years ago, when I was lucky enough to be asked to contribute an essay to a book called Back To Frank Black: A Return To Chris Carter’s Millennium, about Chris Carter’s (creator of the X-Files) Millennium television series, which was published by the amazing Fourth Horseman Press.  Millennium is one of my all-time favourite television series, and I was incredibly honoured to have been a part of the project.  Making it even better was the fact that Chris Carter himself wrote the book’s introduction, and series star Lance Henriksen contributed a foreword, and writer/producer Frank Spotnitz also contributed a foreword.
My editors sent me a picture of the actress Sarah Jane-Redmond (who played the character Lucy Butler, about whom I wrote my essay) reading the book. That was pretty fulfilling, to say the least.

What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?
Years ago, I wrote for a local magazine. I was given the job of writing an ongoing serialized fiction piece that was published on a monthly basis. The first couple of installments went okay but then the editors started doing hack-job edits on my submissions, omitting huge chunks of content for space constraint issues, making very questionable changes without asking me, and lots of other things that basically made the installments incomprehensible and un-readable. I stopped caring, though, and kept writing what I was writing, knowing that although what I wrote was destined to be put into the world in a much more awful version, I at least had my original version. So ultimately what was printed was just trash, despite the original material being better than that. The magazine was abysmal, though, so at least the editors helped sculpt my contributions to be a nice match for it.

What do you do?
I write; read; write; listen to music; read; write; escape into green places whenever possible; read; write.

How did you get started doing what you do?
I’ve always written fiction, as far back as I can recall. In the late ‘90s I had my first short story published, and it made me realize there were people out there who might enjoy my writing, so I began submitting my fiction to different editors. Before long I’d had quite a few publications under my belt. I’ve been going strong ever since.

What is your advice to other people that want to get started doing what you do?
The most important and obvious advice would be to write what you love, and to read and write every day.

What are some of the projects you’ve worked on/finished in the past? Give us a little history if you will.
In terms of bigger projects, I had my first book, Black Sunshine, published by Fourth Horseman Press back in 2005. My first short story collection, Experiments At 3 Billion A.M., was published by Eibonvale Press in 2009.  More recently, my fiction collection Songs For The Lost was published by Eibonvale Press, along with its companion volume, an essay and poetry collection entitled, Ballads To The Burning Twins: The Complete Songs Lyrics Of The Deathray Bradburys.

What projects are you working on now?
I recently finished work on two manuscripts – the first one is a novel influenced heavily by magical realism; the second is a fiction collection in much the same vein.  I’m really excited about them – they’re a lot different from my previous books.  The surreal motifs are woven into the gritty, realistic backdrop a lot more subtly.
Also, I’m working on another collection that’s a little more in line with the type of material of Songs For The Lost - it’s very slipstream in style and takes in influences from a lot of different genres.
I’m also finishing up work on an expanded version of my first novel, Black Sunshine, which is tentatively scheduled for re-issue later in the year as a collaborative release from Fourth Horseman Press and Eibonvale Press.
Eibonvale Press is also reissuing my first fiction collection, Experiments At 3 Billion A.M. in the weeks ahead, featuring new cover artwork by David Rix, a new foreword by author/Fourth Horseman Press editor Brian A. Dixon, and revised text by yours truly.
I’ve also been given the great honour of editing a forthcoming short story collection by the late, great Joel Lane, which is due from Eibonvale Press in the near future. It’s called Scar City, and it’s a great collection, and truly an honour to work on. I’ll be providing a foreword to the book as well, another huge honour.
I also freelance for our city newspaper.

What are you watching?
I just finished re-watching the X-Files in its entirety, in anticipation of Fox renewing the series. The truth is out there.

What are you listening to?
I’ve recently rediscovered my love of Sonic Youth, so I’ve been giving their entire catalogue lots of play.

What are you reading?
I’m currently reading 2666 by Roberto Bolaño, and Bill, The Galactic Hero by Harry Harrison.

Favorite author / book?
There are far too many to list, but a few of my favourites are Harlan Ellison, Robert E. Howard, Ray Bradbury, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Darcey Steinke, J.G. Ballard, Richard Matheson, Raymond Carver, and Frank Belknap Long.
That’s a really decent list of authors.  I’ve read extensively from six of them.
Yeah, the list just goes on, and gets regularly updated. For the past few months I’ve been obsessed with James Jones’ books, so I’d probably add some of them to the list, like The Thin Red Line. If you asked me the same question in a year there might be some new ones.



Favorite band / song?
This is also very tough to narrow down to just one.  If you could indulge me and let me list a top few here as well, they would be: Iron Maiden, Sonic Youth, The Gun Club, Black Sabbath, Bruce Springsteen, The Who, Tangerine Dream, the Stooges, the Misfits, and the Pixies, Faith No More, among others.

Least favorite band / song?
Is Mumford And Sons still allowed to make music?
Ye gods, I hope not.
Amen to that.

If you could do anything other than what you do now, what would you do?
I’d be a forest ranger. And I’d write X-Files and Millennium comic books and episode screenplays in my cabin in the woods.

Who would you want to meet that you haven’t met? You get three choices: Alive. Dead. Fictional.
Alive: Steve Harris (bass player and chief songwriter of Iron Maiden)
Dead: Robert E. Howard (author)
Fictional: Frank Black (of Millennium)

What’s the best and worst job you’ve ever had?
The best: I was a puppeteer for six years, and helped put on educational children’s shows at schools, libraries, summer camps, etc., and that was amazing.
The worst might have been when I worked as a resume writer/interview coordinator for a couple years, and my boss revealed herself to be a demon from the deepest bowels of Hell.  I’m lucky to have survived, though I’m a changed man.

Are there any questions that I didn’t ask that you wished I had asked that you would like to answer now?
I can’t think of any, but I’d be happy to answer any others you think of!

Anyone you recommend I interview that you can put me in touch with?
David Rix – writer, artist extraordinaire, and editor at Eibonvale Press; Douglas Thompson, prolific author and part of the Eibonvale team; Brian A. Dixon and Adam Chamberlain, writers and editors and the masterminds of Fourth Horseman Press; and Elizabeth J.M. Walker, author of YA fantasy novels and short stories.
If you’ll vouch for them I’ll let them take a turn at bat.
They won’t disappoint.  I can’t think of better interview subjects with more interesting and diverse backgrounds.

Got any questions for me?
What made you decide to start this great site? Who would you most like to interview who you haven’t yet had the opportunity to interview?
I was working on a crowd-funded/crowd-sourced book project and I put out a press release to try to generate some momentum behind it.  It got almost no response.  I was disappointed, and thought it was unfair, so I decided to start a blog where I would interview anyone about anything.  After some trial and error, I developed a formula so it wouldn’t be a considerable drain on my time and effort.  As long as they’re willing to play along, I’ll take all comers.
As for who I’d like to interview that I haven’t gotten to interview yet, I’d like to interview some of the creative types whose work I enjoy.  Henry Rollins, Bret Easton Ellis, Stephen King, Clive Barker, David Lynch, David Cronenberg.  But since I don’t work for Rolling Stone, I don’t really have any weight to push around.
Those would all be amazing interview subjects, for sure. I’m a fan of each of their work, so hearing them talk is always enjoyable for me. They’re always insightful and interesting conversations. Clive Barker always has something interesting to say. He did this great and epic interview in the magazine Amazing Heroes years ago, which confirmed in my mind how intelligent I’d always thought he was based on reading his fiction.

Thanks for letting me subject you to being interviewed!
Thank you for subjecting yourself to my answers!

Pitch parade:
Give me all of your links for things you want to promote.   All of them.

Websites:
My author website: www.alexanderzelenyj.com
My publishers’ pages for my books:
Eibonvale Press: http://www.eibonvalepress.co.uk/books/books_songs.htm
http://www.eibonvalepress.co.uk/books/books_experiments.htm
Fourth Horseman Press: http://www.fourthhorsemanpress.com/BlackSunshine/





About the Interviewee:
Alexander Zelenyj is the author of the books Songs For The Lost, Experiments At 3 Billion A.M., Black Sunshine, and Ballads To The Burning Twins: The Complete Song Lyrics Of The Deathray Bradburys. His fiction and non-fiction have been published in many different magazines and anthologies around the world.
He lives in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, where the mothership is due to arrive in the near future.

About the Interviewer:
Scott Lefebvre can write about whatever you want him to write about.
Mostly because when he was grounded for his outlandish behavior as a hyperactive school child, the only place he was allowed to go was the public library.
His literary tastes were forged by the works of Helen Hoke, Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe, and H. P. Lovecraft.
He is the author of Spooky Creepy Long Island, and Condemned; and a contributing author to Forrest J. Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead, Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction, The Call of Lovecraft, and Cashiers du Cinemart.
His reviews have been published by a variety of in print and online media including Scars Magazine, Icons of Fright, Fatally Yours and Screams of Terror, and he has appeared in Fangoria, Rue Morgue and HorrorHound Magazine.
Check out his publishing imprint Burnt Offerings Books here:
http://burntofferingsbooks.blogspot.com/
Check out his electronic music here: soundcloud.com/master_control
And here: master-control.bandcamp.com
Check out his Etsy here: www.etsy.com/shop/ScottLefebvreArt
Stalk his Facebook at: www.facebook.com/TheLefebvre
E-mail him at: Scott_Lefebvre@hotmail.com