Saturday, September 5, 2015

Interview with Derek Vasconi.

Full Name:
Derek Vasconi

Do you have a nickname or what do your friends call you?
No, I wasn’t cool enough to have a nickname in my real life. However, I used to be in a band called From a Second Story Window, and my nickname in that band was “tuna,” because I flopped around so much onstage when I played my guitar!

Lovely old Sharon, PA, which is about an hour north of Pittsburgh. So I just tell people Pittsburgh because I suppose that’s cooler? Or something like that.

Current hometown:
Los Angeles.

Favorite city and why?
My favorite city? That would be Tokyo. I lived there on and off for about five years, and it’s so culturally different from any city in America. For example, you can walk down a street in Tokyo and visit a café where you pay a few bucks for a tea, then you can sit and play with owls that fly around in the café while you try not to get pecked by them. Or you can go to a maid café and have beautiful Japanese girls dressed in maid costumes treat you like a king. I mean, what’s not to love?
I’ll need the address for that owl café if I ever make it to Tokyo.
Haha, sure. Here’s a link to what I’m talking about, in case you want to visually see it as well:

Birthday / Age:
Just had my birthday yesterday, actually. I’m 25 in my heart, we’ll just say, but maybe a few years older than that is somewhere close to my real age, sadly enough.

How would you describe yourself physically?
Blond hair, blue eyes, and about 80 hours of tattoos all over me. That’s the official description I would put on Match.Com if I ever decided to use a dating website, such as

How would someone else describe you physically?
A kind of short dude who thinks he’s really tall, but his tattoos seem nice? I guess? I have never really had feedback from others about my looks, which I dunno if I should be worried about that because the people I am friends with don’t really want to tell me what they think of me, physically speaking? Now I’m getting kind of paranoid thinking about this…

The first thing people notice about you is…
I think two things. Physically speaking, I think when somebody first meets me, they probably think I’m a huge cunt because I always look like I’m pissed off at the world. But when you start talking to me, I think that’s when they realize I’m very polite and hopefully they consider me unassuming as well. I think the other thing people notice about me but may not even realize it is that I ask a ton of questions. I am an extremely curious person.

Religion, if any?
Not particularly religious, though when I was in high school, I really thought I was going to hell, so I spent four years reading only The Bible and basically descending in Christian fundamentalism hell. I never even watched a movie in four years, which was really disorienting because I didn’t know who Forrest Gump was, or why so many people wanted to know what was in the briefcase, or what was in the box either, for that matter. However, now I’d like to think I’m okay with what I believe about God. I know there is a God, and I know I’m not that God, and I’m okay with that for the time being.

Are you superstitious? Any phobias?
Definitely not superstitious, but I do have a raging phobia of somebody breaking into my apartment. Maybe not so much a phobia as this deep anxiety about it. Not sure why, as I live in a nice neighborhood here in LA, but it’s so bad that I have seriously booby-trapped every window and door in my apartment, and have camera monitors too. It’s a little too much, probably.

Do you smoke/drink? If so, what? Any bad habits?
Never smoked a cigarette in my entire life. Not even once. Drinking is a whole other story. I had a time in my life when I had more alcohol in my bloodstream than blood. That was when I was in a band though, as it came with the lifestyle I suppose of being around four other dudes who did nothing but drink. Not that I minded at all. Drinking is awesome!
Bad habits… way too many to even begin discussing, but I would say that one of the biggest habits of mine that I definitely shouldn’t have is procrastinating. I think on any given day, I make a list of what I have to do that day, and the list is so overwhelming when I look at it that I do everything I can to avoid doing anything on that list. I end up getting into these rather unproductive phases. It fucking sucks when that happens to me.
Oh, and I suppose I’m a night owl, which may or may not be a bad habit, depending on how much I have to do the next day on one of those epic daily lists.

Current occupation / Worst Job / Dream job:
I actually do about ten things for money these days. Things like selling shit on ebay/amazon, being a shipping distributor for some German company selling their natural products, and doing SEO for companies and also developing websites. Writing is now something I would consider a job, but not in a negative sense that you would associate the word “job” with. I love it. My dream job is to be a writer and get paid doing it, or actually going back to playing music again for people to enjoy. The only problem with doing music is that I have to depend on other people to play music, being that I can’t sing, and this is where things get all screwed up usually. My worst job would be any fast food place because I can’t cook, can’t figure out food at all, can’t even microwave anything properly. I once burned spaghettios trying to heat them up! Seriously, not joking about it, when I took them out of the microwave, they were burned so bad they looked like one big giant plate of red goo! I guess I shouldn’t have put them in there for 45 minutes though.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
I work at home, so this is kind of a fun question to consider, because I’m always at home, even when I’m not at work. But I think the main thing for me that I love to do when I’m not working is watching a movie in a nice theater, or maybe going to a concert. I particularly am obsessed with Japanese JPOP idols and other JPOP artists, so I am always on the lookout for these type of artists to go check out. It’s always a good time.

What is your zombie outbreak survival plan?
Go find Rick and ask if I can join his group there in Alexandria. Actually, I would probably try to find the cast and crew of The Walking Dead because they have killed so many fucking zombies in all the seasons of that show that, even though it’s fake murder, they probably actually WOULD have no fear of dropping zombies left and right. They probably would be the most experienced people in the world right now to lead the charge against the undead. So yeah, I would join up with them, for sure.

Weapon of choice:
I can’t shoot a gun for shit, so probably my special edition Kill Bill Hattori Hanzo Katana. I keep it pretty sharp and sometimes swing it around and I think I could decapitate somebody with it, especially anyone that tries to break into my home.

Do you have any special skills?
Hmmm…. Maybe my sense of empathy, when I choose to employ it with people. Back when I was going through that terrible religious phase, I thought I wanted to be a priest, so I took what is called the “priest test,” which is what every Catholic priest has to take before they enter seminary. I was grounded in Christian fundamentalism, but still went to my normal church, which was Catholic. So anyway, what happens is you are put into a room, and then a priest asks a bunch of moral questions and general things about religion and tapes your answers. Then a panel of priests listen to your responses and evaluate you on everything you’ve said for different categories of what they think makes a good priest. Things like spirituality, wisdom, and empathy. Well, I scored the highest anyone at that particular seminary has ever scored in the empathy department, so I guess that might be my special skill. I tend to get into people’s heads a lot.

Did you go to college and, if so, what for?
Went to Penn State and got my Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development, which is like Psychology lite. I guess that helped me develop my getting into head skill.

Any pets?   If so, what are they and what are their names?
Yes, I have a pet cat named Gachapin. She’s five years old and a black and white short hair cat. She hates the fucking world and everyone in it. I am not even safe from her… so many times when I get out of the shower, she waits in the hallway just outside the bathroom door and slashes at my feet… for no apparent fucking reason. I love her randomness though, but yeah, if you are a stranger and you enter my house, she will fucking try to eviscerate you. It’s hilarious.

What is your favorite animal?
My cat Gachapin. If I don’t count her, then it would have to be jellyfish inside an aquarium with lights at the bottom of the aquarium illuminating their translucent bodies. And kimodo dragons.

Speaking of pets, any pet peeves?
Too many to list. I can be rather cranky when I’m tired, so that is when the pet peeves come out in me. My biggest is people who can’t drive, as I hate it when I’m on the road and have to deal with morons who seem like they just got their license that day. That and I hate having to wait for service anywhere. I am the worst with that sort of stuff.

What is your favorite quotation / motto / saying?
“We accept the love we think we deserve.” It’s from the Perks of Being a Wall Flower. I think that’s probably one of the greatest things I’ve ever heard anyone say, because it’s so, so true it hurts to even think about how true it is.

What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
Ah, I gotta go the parent route here and say the birth of my daughter, Miyuki, that happened last year. When you end up being completely responsible for another human being’s life, your whole paradigm about what is important in the world, i.e., yourself, disappears, and you start to really think about how fucked up the world is, and then you become super protective in your thoughts and way of thinking. Miyuki probably has kept me out of jail from wanting to beat so many asses at 7/11 when I’m standing at the counter and the dick stain that is working there decides it’s okay to continue stocking shelves while he sees me waiting to pay for my nachos and slushy. I don’t want to spend my daughter’s formative years in jail.

What is the worst thing that ever happened to you?
When I quit my band in 2006. I really wasn’t in a right state of mind when that decision was made, and I have regretted it every single day since. I wasn’t getting along with the guys in my band, and the sad part is that I believe that all could’ve been fixed, but I just had it in my head that they hated me and didn’t care about me. I was so stupid and selfish back then. Maybe I still am, I dunno, but if I could rewind time, I would have definitely not made that choice twice.

Ever had your heart broken? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
Many, many times. So many movies break my heart with how much anticipation I had for them to be incredible and they turned out to be dogshit. The Star Wars prequels come to mind. I’ve never really had my heart broken by anyone, but I think when you’re young and you break up with somebody, it SEEMS like your heart gets broke, you know? But the thing is, I’ve never been truly destroyed by another person, and I’m grateful for that.

Ever broken someone’s heart? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
I think I’ve hurt a few girls in my lifetime, though I feel bad about that stuff now. But not worth talking about, as all these girls I hurt I’m actually good friends with now, so maybe it’s best to leave sleeping dogs lie?

What is the best thing you’ve ever done?
So far, I would say it’s a tie between writing the first two albums for my band, and writing KAI, my first novel. I put so much time and energy into both, and I feel that everything I am, creatively speaking, went into these projects. I am proud of both achievements.

What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?
I think maybe not paying attention to my health. Back in 2009, I ate a bag of nachos and a jar of salsa and drank a 2 liter of Coke, not kidding, every single day, for like three months straight. And then I ended up in the hospital because my appendix nearly burst and my diverticulum got shredded. Definitely the worst thing ever that could’ve been avoided.

What do you do?
Right now? I’m enjoying the marketing promotion for KAI. It’s been intense how much goes into this whole idea of getting people to pay attention to something you’ve devoted five years of your life to writing and obsessing over. But I am enjoying it because of how curious I am to see if people will absolutely ignore my creation or embrace it.

How did you get started doing what you do?
Sort of explained that one already, I suppose, but I created a rather large… you guessed it…. LIST of all the things that I want to do for promoting KAI. Things like reaching out to my favorite bloggers, new bloggers who I hope will consider my book a favorite of theirs, and working on the SEO for my website to get it on page one of Google for my book’s top keywords. Things like this are exciting to me.

What is your advice to other people that want to get started doing what you do?
Troll Google for at least ten hours a day. That might be the best place to start, given that there is such great, free advice out there to learn how to market and promote a book. I think I must have spent two months just doing research so I could try to have the best shot possible at getting somebody other than a family member or friend to buy my book. Actually, family and friends haven’t even bought my book yet because they expect me to just give them a book for free, so I’m hoping my research hours translates into sold copies of my book, or else I’m going to go broke really fast doing all this marketing for KAI.
Yeah, that’s the worst part about being an author and the best part about shopping the promotion out to a third party. It’s ironic how your friends and family, the people that you would expect to be the most supportive of your writing usually aren’t.
I mean, my brothers and sisters seem to care about the book, but like one of my closest friends who I gave the book to hasn’t even sent me a text or anything saying he’s enjoying it. Maybe he isn’t enjoying it and that’s why? But even so, if it was him who had put out the novel, I would buy a copy, text him about it, call him up and talk it through with him. I mean, this is a big thing in a person’s life to publish a book, right? I spent five years meticulously writing and researching the book. I went to Hiroshima and lived there for a period of time JUST to make sure I could properly showcase both the city of Hiroshima and my main character who is from there. I have put so much effort into this, and yeah, it would be nice if the people who have heard me talk about it incessantly for half a decade could at least let me know they like what I’ve written. Or even better, buy the book to support the next stage in the book’s life, which is to get it turned into an adapted screenplay, you know? So happy you understand this!

What projects are you working on now?
As mentioned, KAI is my main priority right now. However, I also started my next novel, which is a two book epic about cryptids and the end of the world as told through the Pan Gu myth, but with a twist. I also have another story I’m developing about a Japanese girl who is very lonely and obsessed with Ikemen porn and the ebola virus. And another story about a JPOP idol group who has an extremely fucked up side to them. All good stuff I can’t wait to write!
Those ideas all sound interesting.  Keep me posted.
I will for sure.

What are you watching?
Well, like everyone else in the world, I just got done watching the latest Game of Thrones season. I was pretty disappointed with the finale of this last season. Jon Snow is dead? Really? I also finished watching True Detective’s second season, which was a clusterfuck of stupid dialogue and convoluted plot lines. I did love the season finale of that one though. I also just saw Kumiko the Treasure Hunter, which was a fantastic little indie starring Rinko Kikuchi.

What are you listening to?
Music is my lifeblood, so right now, it’s Perfume (A Japanese trio of girls from Hiroshima that plays EDM), AKB48, Namie Amuro, and Mono, plus this great band from New York called So Hideous.

What are you reading?
I am nearly done with Hiromi Kawakami’s STRANGE WEATHER IN TOKYO. I have a stack of books waiting to be read by me. I try to read at least two to three books a month, if not more. I’m a voracious reader for sure.

Favorite author / book?
Haruki Murakami is my all-time favorite author. His book, 1Q84, is my favorite book. I’ve never been more moved in my entire life by a book like I was this story. It’s incredible, all consuming, big as a Bible, and totally insane.

Favorite band / song?
I have two that always come in first on my list of favorite bands and songs. The first is that girl group, Perfume, I mentioned. Their song, EDGE, is my favorite song by them. The second group is Glassjaw, and their song PIANO always moves me to tears every time I hear it.
Oh, man!  I was just talking about Glassjaw the other day!
Hopefully it was good what you were talking about? I’ve seen them something like five or six times, been onstage with them a few times singing with Daryl, even talked with Manny, their original bass player, when I was recording my band’s second album, so that we could get a similar bass tone that he has. I’ve loved them for so many years and always have a great time at their shows. It would’ve been a great dream for me to play a show with them.

Least favorite band / song?
Pretty much anything on the radio these days. I fucking hate so much of what people consider to be “music” in the mainstream. Anything country really needs to disappear entirely from the universe of music. I dunno the name of the song, unfortunately, but there was also this rap song, if you can even call it a rap song (I don’t want to discredit rap as a genre by even calling this song a rap song. I actually happen to enjoy some rap a lot), and it was some girl barely saying anything except the same thing over and over again. There was a sparse beat to it, and the music video for it was this girl and her friends robbing somebody and then going to a party with all these people waving guns around and wearing masks. Do you know what I’m talking about? I saw it one night really late on MTV and almost threw up in my mouth. It was the worst thing I’ve probably ever both heard and seen. And we wonder why people in America think it’s cool to commit crimes and rob people.

Who would you want to meet that you haven’t met? You get three choices:
Alive. Dead. Fictional.
ALIVE:  Tani Marika from SKE48. She’s mentally unbalanced and totally hysterical. I would love to hang out with her for a whole day. I probably would laugh more than I have in twenty years.
DEAD: James Gandolfini. But only if he was in character as Tony Soprano. The Sopranos is my all-time favorite TV show, so it would be really fun to see Tony in real life, as played by the late James Gandolfini.
FICTIONAL: Larry David. I think it would be amazing to get into a fight with him about anything he likes to fight about, such as how he hates when people don’t park entirely in a parking spot but are partly in another parking spot. He’s seriously me in about thirty years.

Are there any questions that I didn’t ask that you wished I had asked that you would like to answer now?
These questions were honestly awesome! I rarely get to talk about myself. I’m like one of those people stuck up in an old folks home that nobody visits. So when I get a chance to unleash about myself, clearly, as you can see from my answers, I like to let it all out. So thank you so much for giving me that chance!

Got any questions for me?
All kinds, but maybe we can just chat on the phone? I’ve liked your blog for awhile now and wonder how you manage to do all the reviews that you have? That’s always on my mind when I read your blog. You are pretty intense with your reviews too. I love it.
Hey, I’m always down to chat on the phone.  I usually prefer it to having to go back and forth via text or e-mail.  I always feel like a teenaged girl when I’m tapping out texts.
As for how I manage to do the volume of work I do, whenever I do anything it’s usually with a mind towards how I can turn it into content.  Sometimes I let myself do things that aren’t productive, but usually even my procrastinating has a purpose.
I downloaded a bunch of comic books to read and I converted them from CBR to JPEGs so I could manipulate the image files if I wanted to.  I was taking out the ads, and found that I was kind of nostalgic for the ads and I figure I wasn’t the only person that was nostalgic for those old ads and started putting together a blog to talk about them.
The book and film reviews are actually from a huge backlog of reviews that I’ve accumulated over the years.  I used to review books for a miscellany of magazines and websites and I kept my copy for all of my reviews.  If I actually reviewed everything I watched or read or listened to, I’d probably have three times as much content, but I have a standing policy that if I can’t say anything nice I don’t do a review.  I’d rather promote the things I like, than insult the things that I do not like.
Now that everyone everywhere is a “reviewer” the authority of being a reviewer is much less powerful, so I mostly do them for my own amusement and my small audience.
You know, I really respect your position about not reviewing something if you don’t like it. That’s a great way to keep the karmic wheel turning in your favor, so to speak. Also, I had always wondered what your process was for what you put on your site. Thanks for explaining that to me. And I agree, everyone seems to think if they whip up a blog and call themselves a reviewer, that makes them the authority on whatever it is they choose to review. But often I find that most people who approach reviews like that tend to be more about just getting free books to read than they are about helping the authors who are really putting forth the effort into making something creative. The authority mentality, I think, comes from the fact that when these reviewers get overloaded with all the authors out there desperate for a review, it makes that reviewer feel probably powerful or something to that effect. But the reality is that authors are really just people who want very much to see feedback from somebody who takes the time to read their book. Because, you know, authors don’t get any love from their friends and family!
It’s a bit like that.  But with the recent advances in self-publishing the market is flooded with authors competing for a limited number of readers.  I usually get at least one review request a day at least via e-mail and it would be impossible to keep up with the review requests unless I made it my full-time job and I haven’t figured out a way to get paid to review books yet.

Thanks for letting me subject you to being interviewed!
The thanks is all on this side of the table, guaranteed. Thank you so much.

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

About the Interviewee:
Derek Vasconi is an author who likes to write about horrific things. He’s obsessed with Japanese culture, considers himself to be an otaku of the highest order, and also when he’s not writing, he’s either playing music or obsessing over his favorite music. He graduated from Penn State with a degree in Human Development and after doing counseling work for six years, decided that was something he never wanted to do ever again. He wanted to always be a writer, but started out by helping others write first, creating Sakura Publishing, and releasing over 30 very successful books for authors all over the world. This proved to be a great way to learn the publishing business and prepare himself for writing KAI, his first novel. This is a Japanese horror story that centers around a young girl from Hiroshima and her desire to destroy the world.

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:
Check out his electronic music here:
And here:
Check out his Etsy here:
Stalk his Facebook at:
E-mail him at:

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