“Bringing Out the Demons” gives us a character who is literally struggling with his own demons—which gives his friends a chance to step in and intervene. Is that also a fair description for a lot of horror fiction—albeit usually less literalized?
Well, horror is the fiction of worst-case scenarios. And the art is in giving it a mythic, symbolic, resonantly recognizable image to grapple with. A monster, a shadow, a mirror reflection. A something. And we face it, then deal with it or don’t.
As for literalization—if I understand what you’re asking correctly—yeah, I tend to wade in face-first with a wide angle lens, shooting the dream in my head with as much intense visual specificity as possible. As a soul made of meat myself (laughs), I tend to let physicality take the lead in momentum-based narratives like this. All mental, emotional, and spiritual concerns—pivotal as they may be—are very much along for the ride. I’m gonna show them some crazy, explicit shit. And they will tell me how they feel about it, and respond accordingly. Hope that answers your question!
Tell us a little bit about “Bringing Out the Demons.” How did you come to write it?
This is a love letter to one of my favorite people, who is going through a terrible time, and not handling it well. I wrote it when he did something so stupid and shitty that I could no longer hold back. (I’d been sitting on the idea for nearly two years, till the camel’s back snapped. At which point I had no choice.)
My great sorrow is that life isn’t as easy as that. If those of us who love him could simply stride in and do what these characters do, we’d fucking do it in a second. Teeth and soul. Splish-splash. Done and done.
But I truly hope he reads it. And that it is in any way helpful. At this point, it’s really all I can do, beyond telling him I love him.
This story ends on the word “salame.” What does that mean?
“Salame” is a nonsense word (with its own theme song!) from a very special episode of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Rather than try to explain it, you can watch the song itself, as performed by David Liebe Hart and his puppet, Kevin, at bit.ly/1wbeIRq.
Your career thus far has spanned a lot of different ways to tell a story—as a writer, an editor, and as a screenwriter and filmmaker. Do you have a favorite?
Personally, creatively, filmmaking is my all-consuming passion at this stage of the game. It’s my wild frontier. I’ve written a shitload of books—some bestselling, some barely noticed—and will doubtless write more. Love to do it. Love the process itself. I am a writer who loves to write. And I do it every single night.
But that thing I said about letting physicality take the lead? Flat-out, I love making movies, and giving genuine form to the dreams. Casting excellent actors to play the parts, adding dimensions undreamed of. Staging each moment, and shooting it precisely. Dialing the lights, the sound, the camera angle, the music, the costumes, the everything just the way you want it. Like you do when writing fiction. Only physicalized. Holy shit, is that fun!
My awesome co-director Andrew Kasch and I have made enormous strides in pulling together an insanely gifted creative family we could make movies with forever. Making Tales of Halloween opened a lot of doors for us. Which is a beautiful thing. I could spend the rest of my life doing that, no problem.
The downside, of course, is monetary. It cost King twenty-five dollars in paper and typewriter ribbons to write The Shining. It cost Kubrick twenty-five million to shoot it. And that was thirty-six years ago and counting.
As a guy who’s done both, lemme tell ya: being a writer/director of film is even harder than being a writer/director of novels. Cuz not only do you have to tell the story, but you have to stage it with precisely the same rigor you bring to the prose. Having already done what I’ve already done, this is next-level shit for me.
What are you working on these days?
Oh, jeez. On the book end, my hugest passion, by far, is running Fungasm Press. My goal is to publish genuinely rebellious, genre-busting books that might have a hard time getting slotted anywhere else, but which I absolutely fucking love, and think you might fall in love with, too.
We let out four new titles in February: Long-Form Religious Porn by Laura Lee Bahr, Ecstatic Inferno by Autumn Christian, I Will Rot Without You by Danger Slater, and Human Furniture (Or The Quest for the Perfect Woman) by Devora Gray. They’re all brilliant, idiosyncratic works by some of the freshest new voices I’ve found.
I like art that produces fungasms, by whatever means possible. Shocks the system. Induces light by wading through darkness and coming up smiling. Which is to say, I like the cool shit. Publishing these writers is one of the coolest things I’ve ever had a chance to do. For your own good, check that shit out!
Past that, it’s all about the next movie. The next book (this one is nonfiction). And a ton of short stories. Cuz I’m kinda on a roll with those.
You’re being chased down a dark alley. What’s behind you?
Mostly death, and my own sorry ass hanging out behind. They’ll catch up with each other eventually, of course. But meanwhile, I’ll just chase the light at the end of that dark alley all the way to the fucking end. And we’ll see who gets there first.
Spread the word!