Friday, February 14, 2014

Interview with Alex S. Johnson.

Full Name:
Alexander Steven Johnson

Do you have a nickname or what do your friends call you?
Lemmy calls me “Teach,” so that has kind of stuck.
Wait… Lemmy Kilmister?
The one and only.  I have a few claims to fame.  *laughs*  Okay, that makes it sound like we’re best mates, and the truth is less grandiose.  I’ve interviewed him three times over the years—first for Metal Hammer, then for Brave Words and Bloody Knuckles, and the third time for Metal Maniacs in its online manifestation.  The third time I asked him some different types of questions, such as his views on education.  When I told him I taught English, he started to laugh and said “Yes, Teach.”  So my friends started calling me “Teach.”  But it is a legitimate nickname.
That’s pretty fucking cool any way you slice it.

San Francisco, California.

Current hometown:

Favorite city and why?
Los Angeles, because of the incredibly rich and diverse cultures that thrive separately and blend together there.
I loved Los Angeles the weekend I spent there.  Then again it was an all-expenses paid business trip and I was treated like a prince so my experience was probably a bit different than most people’s.

Birthday / Age:
October 31. 47.
Is it as awesome having your birthday on Halloween as I think it is?
It is fully as awesome as people might think.  Halloween has always been my favorite holiday, and I’m sure it still would be had I been born some other day.  There’s something magical about it, the barriers between this world and others are lifted and for 24 hours, we’re permitted to go beyond the mundane and play act our roles instead of being zipped into them. I think we need more Halloweens on the calendar.
Halloween’s the only holiday I refuse to work.  Even if I’m doing nothing but hanging out by myself, watching the Universal Monster movies, like I do most years, that night’s mine to do with as I please, and if you think I’m coming in to work on Halloween night, you’d better have a back up plan, because I’m not coming in.

How would you describe yourself physically?

How would someone else describe you physically?
That would depend a lot on the person. Big people think I’m small. Small people think I’m big.
I get that a lot too.  Sometimes girls ask me to walk them to their car, and I always think, and sometimes say, “That’s all fine and well, but who’s going to walk me back?”.  It’s all relative.
Like I said above about being zipped into roles, having to play a part just because it has been hammered into the social code quickly becomes tiresome. That applies to gender roles and body shape as much as anything. It is all relative and it depends on who’s making the call.

The first thing people notice about you is…
People tend to see in terms of the next immediate stereotype, so, a lot of people see me as a mild mannered academic.
Oh, if they only knew…
I’m not physically threatening and I don’t like to raise my voice unless I absolutely have to, so I get this ‘mild-mannered’ shit.  *sighs*

Religion, if any?
I find organized religion to be mostly a waste of time.  I try to cultivate some spiritual disciplines that don’t require me to believe irrational bullshit.

Are you superstitious at all? Any phobias?
I try not to be superstitious.  I’m afraid of stupidity.

Do you smoke / drink? If so, what? Any bad habits?
Yes to the smoking, I don’t drink.  I have some bad habits, yes—inflexibility, laziness.

Current occupation / Dream job:
I am currently unemployed.  My dream job would be to work as a full-time creator of texts, art, music, memes, films and artistic hybrids.
I wrote my first book while on unemployment.  It was a great opportunity having the rent taken care of and kicking back while I took back a little of what I had paid into the system.  I didn’t mind it at all.  Then by going to a horror convention I landed one of the coolest jobs I ever had.  So all things considered, getting fired was a pretty positive career move for me.
Okay, now we’re getting on to you, Scott, which is a relief. Please tell me more about your book, the horror convention and your job. I would love to know.
Oh, man, are you sure?  I do tend to take over interviews a bit and make my interviewees take them back.  I recognize it’s a bit of a dick move sometimes, but I do it to try to get a conversation going, like we’re getting to know each other over a few beers.  You know what I mean?  If you really want to know, I’ll tell you but I don’t think your interview is really the place to shoe-horn in my life’s story.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
I’m always working when I’m not asleep.

What is your zombie outbreak survival plan?
Fuck a zombie outbreak.
Yeah!  What he said!

Weapon of choice:

Do you have any special skills?
None to speak of.
You’re a writer.  Make one up.
Gryphon riding.
That’s much better.

Did you go to college and, if so, what for?
I have a Master’s degree in English Literature which I obtained to get employment as a composition instructor.

If you went to college, did you manage to pay off your student loans?
I worked and paid as I went.

What is your favorite animal?
I like dogs, bears, tigers, hawks and wolves.
So do I, but only at the same time… in a cage match.  Otherwise they’re kind of boring.
I also dig squirrels.  They’re fascinating to watch.  Like if you whittled animal nature down to the relentless quest for food and took away memory, you’d have squirrels.  And they’re so fucking cute!
I love the black squirrels they have in Canada.  They’re so fucking metal!
Without Canadian black squirrels the world would be listening to Miley Cyrus.

Speaking of pets, any pet peeves?
People who don’t know anything about me trying to define me to myself.  That really gives me the urge to chump-wax.

Favorite / Least favorite Food:
I am quite fond of pepperoni pizza.  Not so fond of tough, fibrous vegetables or any food that takes an hour to eat.
What food even takes an hour to eat?  I mean, are we talking about a bag of pistachios?
Did you ever see the sketch Christopher Walken did on SNL where he plays a mundane psychic?  “You will buy a bag of pistachios. You will get a bad nut.”
I did not, but now it’s on my list of things to do for tonight.

What is your favorite quotation / motto / saying?
Hunter S. Thompson: “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
Forming an alliance with Charie D. La Marr.

What is the worst thing that ever happened to you?
Getting married.

What is the best thing you’ve ever done?
Creating Special Snowflakes and the Heartcore benefit anthology.

What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?
I took a job for a substantial amount of money up front and didn’t finish it, but kept the money.

If you could kill one person, who would it be, and why?
I would love to put my ex-father-in-law in front of a firing squad, mostly for wasting my time and being a pointless ass hat.

What do you do?
I write and edit.

How did you get started doing what you do?
Since I was about 18 I have made sporadic attempts to write and publish weird fiction.  My first major editing job was heading up Juggernaut: The Magazine of Extreme Music. My first short fiction horror sale was to Bloodsongs in 1998.

What is your advice to other people that want to get started doing what you do?

What are some of the projects you’ve worked on/finished in the past?
Give us a little history if you will.
My weird western, Bad Sunset, was published last year by Chupa Cabra House.The novel Death Moon, published by Black Flame Press in 2005.  Five chapbooks of fiction and prose poetry—Black Tongues  of the Illuminati, Doctor Flesh and the Doom Hippies, published by Dynatox Ministries in extremely limited editions in 2013.  Akashic Shotgun, a poetry chapbook published by Scars Publications in 2013.  The Matador of Mirrors, a chapbook collection of weird/Lucid fiction published by Lucid Play in 2013.  The Death Jazz, a full-length collection of poetry and flash fiction, published by The Shwibly Press in 2013.

What projects are you working on now?
I am finalizing a new collection of funny horror fiction, Wicked Candy, for MorbidbookS.  I am currently editing two volumes of Axes of Evil, a heavy metal themed horror anthology.  I am also editing Heartcore, a benefit anthology, with Charie D. La Marr and Timm Tayshun for Chupa Cabra House.
I forgot you were the Axes Of Evil guy!  I appreciate the invite to participate in the next one.  I invited a few like-minded writer-types to check out the event page and I intend to put something together for it, but it’s going to be kind of a big production, because I was dead serious about throwing all of the metal band/album/song names into a document and pushing the words around and seeing if anything appears through the process of black alchemy.  And if that fails I’ll just write a story.  I just want to try the first method first.

What are you watching?
I have a lot of movies in the queue.  I think Trainspotting and Apocalypse Now are due for another spin.
Apocalypse Now is one of the films I’ve watched at least two hundred times.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve watched Trainspotting a bunch of times too, but Apocalypse Now at least two hundred times.  No joke.
Charlie don’t surf!

What are you listening to?
Black Metal by Venom.

What are you reading?
The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius. Skagboys by Irvine Welsh. Fatal Journeys by Lucy Taylor.

Favorite author / book?
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.

Favorite band / song?
Manowar, “Kill with Power.”

Least favorite band / song?
That fucking “My House” song from the 80’s.

If you could do anything other than what you do now, what would you do?
I would love to practice law and defend serial killers.
That’s an… interesting answer.  Why that?
I love exercising my brain in the defense of the indefensible, which is one of the reasons I adore satire.  I’ve found that if you interrogate any one “truth” long enough, it will turn into another equally valid-feeling “truth.”  One of the people I most admire was a guy named Jacques Verges, who died last year in August.  He was the lawyer who defended Klaus Barbie and Idi Amin.  Why?  Because he could.  The French government created this showcase trial of Barbie which was supposed to represent the triumph of democracy and freedom over the evils of fascism and Nazism.  Verges, who grew up in Algiers, turned the tables on the French by putting the government on trial for the racist atrocities committed against the Muslim world.  That’s balls.
That guy must have had to have his pants custom tailored to accommodate those huge balls of his.

Who would you want to meet that you haven’t met?
You get three choices: Alive. Dead. Fictional.
Marilyn Manson. Hunter S. Thompson. Holden Caulfield.

What’s the best and worst job you’ve ever had?
I spent five years as the most incompetent accounting temp in the history of temporary work and accounting.  The best job I ever had was working for EDA Business Support Services in Torrance, where I was put in charge of editing Seeing Lessons, a New York Times bestseller by Tom Sullivan.  I love teaching college English.

Are there any questions that I didn’t ask that you wished I had asked that you would like to answer now?
I expect we will sort that out as we throw the interview back and forth.
I expect we will.

Anyone you recommend I interview that you can put me in touch with?
Charie D. La Marr.
You make the introduction and I’ll handle the follow-through.
Will do.

Thanks for letting me subject you to being interviewed!
The pleasure is all mine, Scott.

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

Bad Sunset:

Wicked Candy:

Zeno Comes to Town:

About the Interviewee:
I would dearly love to know as much as I can about the interviewee.  Even the grisly bits.

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