Sunday, April 28, 2013

MADHOUSE FINDS LOVE IN PATIENT'S FASHION


PATIENT: RANDI LOVE
ILLNESS: FASHION
 
• When did you start creating? Why did you pick the genre/style you work it?

I have always drawn and painted since I can remember but I really started getting into designing clothes when I was around 13. I have notebooks and notebooks full of fashion illustrations and designs. I started to make purses for my friends and I. By highschool, I could not find anything in the stores that I felt made a statement or defined me, so, I made my own. I didn't really "pick" a genre or style I just have always created what I love and what I would want to wear. I've always been into horror movies, heavy metal, and vintage everything so all of that gets incorporated into my creations.

• Did you go to school for it? If so, where and what did you study?

Yes I did. I graduated with a BFA in Fashion Design from the Columbus College of Art & Design in Columbus, Ohio.

• Where you get your ideas from? Do you journal, sketch, photograph at all to start?
I get a lot of my inspiration from movies, different genres of music, and different time periods. I am very inspired by fashion in music such as 80s heavy metal and punk rock. I also get very inspired from vintage styles/prints and love 1950s pin-up style.

• What’s a normal designing day like for you? Do you tend to get more down at one time versus another?

Before I start a new project I always have to clean and organize my sewing studio. I feel like I can't start something new until everything is cleaned and put away from a previous project. A clean, clear space helps me have a clean and clear mind. Then the door gets shut, and the music goes on. I usually really like to start working in the evening and into the night.


• Favorite artist or designer? Who are you currently following?

It is way to hard to ever choose a single designer to be my absolute favorite. Some of the high fashion runway designers I always follow are Betsey Johnson, Rick Owens, Michel Berandi, and The Blondes to name a few. I've never really been into name brands though. I also really look up to Sharon Ehman's Toxic Vision and Micheline Pitt's Deadly Dames clothing lines. They both are artists and designers who really inspire me by being able to create and run clothing lines from scratch.

• Do you prefer working in one medium over another? If so, which one and why?
Being that fabric is my favorite medium to work with, I really enjoy working with leather and suede the most. I also really like working with the metal hardware I put on my creations(chain, studs etc.)

• Do you work in silence or with noise (TV, movies, music)?
I can not work without music on.

• Do you have any weird habits when it comes to working on your art?

I probably do a lot of things that are weird to other people, but to me its normal so I wouldn't really know.
 
• Would you consider yourself a Plotter or a Pancer?

I try to plan things out and sketch an idea before I start, but my design usually comes out completely different so I try to just have a vague idea in my mind before starting.

• What do you think is the hardest aspect of the craft?

Sometimes I go through a designers block which would be similar to "writers block" I suppose. For days nothing will come out right in my eyes. To me, that is the most frustrating part of my craft.

• Current projects?

During the spring/summer I set up a tent and sell my clothing, bags and jewelry at local concerts. I am working now to stock up on hand made, printed tank tops and horror movie charm bracelets.

• How do you balance work with art?

Aside to having my own clothing line, I also wait tables. I would love to just do my design work but sometimes being an artist does not bring in as much money as I would like. I try to work my serving job on the weekends that way during the week I can focus on my designs.  

• What do you think people expect from you with your art? 

I want them to expect me to make different, alternative clothing that will make them feel confident and good about who they are. I want people to be able to express themselves with my art.

• Advice for aspiring artists or designers?
Just follow your heart and don't let anyone ever tell you that you can't do something. I've heard so many times that I "should of went to school for something more practical" but its never about getting a job that pays well for me. If I'm not doing what I love doing, I'm not going to be happy no matter how much money I get. Put your whole heart into your work and always give it all that you've got.

You can catch me at SCUMBAGS in Natrona, PA on MAY 11th. I am sponsoring Bad Wolf Productions all day music festival Pandorica. I will be there selling all kinds of good stuff!



BIO: Randi Love is a 25 year old fashion creator, inspired by horror, heavy metal and everything black. Randi studied at Columbus College of Art and Design where she majored in Fashion Design. Since graduation, Randi has put all her time and energy into her original clothing line which focuses on making everything by hand and one of a kind. 

www.facebook.com/randiloveofficial
Etsy Store: www.randiloveclothing.etsy.com
 

Monday, April 22, 2013

WYTOVICH FINDS PATIENT BRAINSICK AND DAMNED

PATIENT: STEPH SCIULLO
ILLNESS: ARTIST

"I am a visual Artist from Pittsburgh PA. I am self taught, undisciplined and unapologetic. In art and in life...I've never taken well to being told what to do, say or think. Art is about freedom and imagination run wild. I have no time for technique, for -isms or labels. I also have no name to hang on whatever it is I do, nor do I have any interest in trying. That is for others to decide. Art is what it is: created in the moment, experienced in the moment. If you appreciate my end result, I thank you."

When did you start creating?

Can't remember a time when I haven't. It's just my nature. Even if all I have is a shred of paper in my hand I'll scrunch it, or tear it ,or shape it into something. Sort of a compulsion I suppose.

Why did you pick the genre/style you work it?
 I didn't pick it. It picked me. My eyes go to certain colors and shapes. Certain subject matter. I know what I like to look at, and I tend to work on something until my eyes approve.

Did you go to school for it?
No, I didn't. In all honesty, I'm glad I didn't. I fear I would have limited myself by having certain techniques and methods pushed on me. Being self taught has given me more freedom of creativity.

Where do you get your ideas from?
99% percent of my stuff is not planned out. So, I don't know that I really work from specific ideas. There are always things floating around in my head and when I sit down to start creating, they eventually manifest themselves in my work. Once in a while I'll think of something specific that I'd like to try and make happen. That's about as specific as I get. With my sculptures, I'll sit down and know that I'm going to make a head or face or body part. What it will look like specifically by the time I'm done, I've no idea.

Do you journal, sketch, photograph at all to start?
I sketch regularly, but I never turn my sketches into something else. They remain as is. If I tried to take a sketch and turn it into a sculpture or a painting, it would be forced. I wouldn't be working with the same flow and feelings I had when I was doing the original.

What’s a normal designing day like for you?
Depends on my mood. It's nothing I can force or schedule. There are days where I'll sit down in the middle of the afternoon, and there's days when I don't start anything until midnight or beyond.

Do you tend to get more done at one time versus another?
I'm a night person. Always have been. It's when I seem to be at my best.

Favorite artist or designer?
There are a few artists who I can specifically sight as influences. Stephen and Timothy Quay, Joel Peter Witkin and Harry Clarke. More than anything though, I am a fan of and have been hugely influenced by anatomical and medical art. The wax sculptures of Joseph Towne and Anna Morandi Manzolini. The botanical and anatomical illustrations of Frederik Ruysch. Countless others.

Who are you currently following?
 I don't really follow anyone in particular, but I look at art in some form or another every day. There are some insanely talented tattoo artists out there doing such inspiring and innovative work. There are people taking chances. People who aren't afraid to let out what's inside of them. People who aren't concerned with keeping it safe. They are making the art they want to make, and that's what I'm interested in seeing. There's some good stuff out there. Instagram is a great place for checking out art these days.

Do you prefer working in one medium over another?
No. I work with whatever I can get my hands on. I don't limit my materials and you'd be hard pressed to find a piece of mine that only contains one medium. It's all mixed in there. Even with a painting, you're likely to find graphite, inks, plaster and wax mixed in.

Do you work in silence or with noise?
Always noise. Although music is such an integral part of my life, you'll mostly find me listening to spoken word while I work.  Either to old horror radio broadcasts like Suspense, The Creaking Door, Beyond Midnight, and Inner Sanctum, to True Crime audio books or to my boyfriend who will sit with me and read aloud.

Do you have any weird habits when it comes to working on your art?
I don't know that anything I do can be considered anything other than weird. I don't know that I can point to anything in particular though.


What do you think is the hardest aspect of the craft?
People not taking what you do, seriously. You're an "artist"? So, you do it all for fun and in your spare time, right? It's hard to even call myself an Artist because of the stigma that seems to be attached with the title. People that wear a shirt and tie to work everyday and punch a clock, usually have a hard time wrapping their heads around the concept of an Artist and the arts. They tend to look down on you and consider what you do to be unimportant. You have to have considerable intestinal fortitude to choose this path.

Current projects?

Odds and ends laying around. Lumps of clay waiting to be shaped. Boxes of rusty parts waiting to be assembled. Paper waiting to be scribbled on. Wood waiting to be painted. That's as specific as I can get :)

How do you balance work with art?
There was a time when I airbrushed in the malls and decorated cakes at various bakeries, and did graphic design work for screen printing companies and had to push my art into my spare time. Now, my art is my work.

What do you think people expect from you with your art?
Don't know. That might be a question for those "people". If I were to venture a guess though, I'd say they're expecting.....fucked up.

Advice for aspiring artists or designers?
Make what you want to see, not what you think others want to see. Put it out there. Chances are, there will be people who appreciate it. Don't let anyone tell you you can't. The people who tell you that you can't aren't worth knowing.

Upcoming Appearances:

I'll have work for sale at the Atrocity Exhibition on May 4th. Work at the Demon House Dark Arts show on June 15th and 16th as well as a feature in Gore Noir Magazine. I'll have a two person show with Macabre Noir opening on June 22nd at ArtForm. I'll be set up at the Eerie Horror Film Fest (next to my boyfriend who will be the festivals guest of honor) on October 18th, 19th, and 20th. There's also talk of a show at Trundle Manor in July but we're still working on dates. I've been working on sets and will be doing the puppets for an upcoming Daggervision film as well. You can always check out my Etsy shop too.


Follow me on Instagram: @stephsciullo
FaceBook facebook.com/brainsickanddamned

Monday, April 15, 2013

IT'S A NEW DAY IN THE MADHOUSE

PATIENT: DAVID DAY
ILLNESS: WRITER

   When did you start writing? Why did you pick the genre you write in?

Like most authors, I started writing at a young age. One of my earliest stories was an assignment in third or fourth grade. We had to write something like 5-10 pages, one sentence per page with an illustration, and then we bound them by hand. I wrote about a warrior who had to battle demons, avoid traps, travel through dark caverns, and reach the top of a mountain. Or something like that.

I'd like to say I've been an avid writer all my life, but that's not exactly true. I've been an avid reader, but when it comes to writing, I've had something of a rocky relationship. 

I wrote stories on and off until the end of my freshman year of college, when I transferred universities and switched my major from Mathematics to Creative Writing. During my college years, I leaned heavily toward poetry. I joke now that I didn't have the attention span to write anything longer than a few lines, but there may be some truth to it.

Anyhow, I told you so much about that early story as a way to answer the second part. While we can pick genres to work in, I think partly we're drawn to them. Very early on, I had a fascination with the fantastical, and that interest has been a part of me all my life.

   Where you get your ideas from? Do you journal at all?

My ideas come from a combination of observation, imagination, and a healthy dose of "What if." Part of my personality is to be the quiet observer, and I've always been a dreamer. Nearly every report card during grade school came home with the comment, "does not use time wisely." I realize now I was using my time wisely, because dreaming is healthy, but I wasn't using my time the way my teachers expected.

My mom used to say (and still does occasionally) that I was just content in the playground of my own mind. I spend a lot of time being introspective and pensive, exploring and relating memories and dreams. I don't really see the ideas as coming from somewhere. Our ideas are already inside us, remnants from Yeats' Spiritus Mundi or snippets from the Akashic Records. I just spend a lot of time sifting through them. I get sparks from the outside world--religious texts, classical mythology, other stories, movies, good conversations, the list is endless--but the actual ideas themselves come from internalizing, contemplating, sifting, sifting, sifting...

I've tried journaling and blogging. Fact is, I'd much rather just make things up. Journaling feels too much like homework, and blogging feels like shouting at the wind. That's not to say I don't capture stuff, I just don't focus my efforts on blogs or journals. I used to keep a couple of notebooks and stacks of index cards in strategic places around the house, but in recent years I've made liberal use of some electronic tools, namely Evernote and Remember the Milk, as a dumping ground for ideas. So I gather on the fly and organize later.

Personally, I just don't buy into the idea that every writer must have a blog. If a writer has the time, energy, and enthusiasm for a blog, hey, that's great. There are a lot of writers who make blogging work for them (Stephanie, for instance). As for me, I have to be very economical with my time and energy. I have a tubmlr account I loosely refer to as my blog, but when I set it up, I gave myself permission to post only when I felt like it.

   What’s a normal (writing) day like for you?

I get up early--somewhere between 3:30 and 4:00 in the morning. First thing I do? I go to Facebook (gasp!) and post birthday wishes to anyone I care about who has a birthday that day.

My first drafts are always the stories I want to tell. But fiction is a serious, challenging form of communication and for communication to work there has to be an audience. Wishing people happy birthday in the morning reminds me that a first draft is never enough. I have to put in the extra effort to refine the work, craft it carefully as if it were a present.

The rest of my time varies. Until last week, I had been splitting my mornings between drafting short stories and minutia related to the release of TEARSTONE. A few months ago, I finished a first draft of my next project, and now that TEARSTONE is out, I've turned my attention towards revisions. My mornings are: Happy Birthdays, type up one or two chapters of revision from the previous day, revise one or two chapters by hand (yes, on paper), nap, shower, breakfast with family, then on to the day job.

I'm also focused on developing my short story skills in 2013, so between novel revisions, I'll take a week or two to work on short stories. I also recently volunteered to slush read for a magazine (intentionally not saying which one). They're closed for submissions right now, but once they reopen I'll read a story or two from their submissions each morning as well.

   Favorite author or book? Who are you currently reading?

My all-time favorite book is Kurt Vonnegut's Sirens of Titan. It's rife with Vonnegut's unique sense of humor and appeals to my perspective on organized religion.

Wait. Actually, Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End might be my favorite. Then again, maybe it's Stephen King's Dark Tower series. Phfft. This question always frustrates me. I hate trying to pick one piece of fiction, holding it up, and saying, "This is it! Best. Book. Ever." I can't do it. But King, Vonnegut, and Clarke--and specifically the works I mentioned--are always somewhere at or near the top.

Here are a few books I'm reading or have read lately:

* A History of Secret Societies by Arkon Daraul

* Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

* Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

* Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

* Floating Staircase by Ronald Malfi

* Far Dark Fields by Gary A. Braunbeck

* The Croning by Laird Baron

* The Men Upstairs by Tim Waggoner 

   Do you write in silence or with noise (TV, movies, music)?

I usually write in silence, but sometimes I'll play a little music to pump some extra energy into the work. My favorite band is Nine Inch Nails--even the mellow stuff seethes with a raw power, like a quiet breeze just before a raging storm. That energy comes in handy when writing scenes that draw heavily on my emotions.

   Do you have any weird habits when it comes to writing? Do you type or write longhand?

I wear glasses with a fairly mild prescription. I can see without them, even drive if necessary, but the world becomes a bit fuzzy. When my internal critic starts making too much noise and I lack the strength to mentally choke out the little shit, I'll take my glasses off. I can see well enough to type (I suppose because I touch type), but I have to strain to actually read the words on the monitor, and I definitely can't tell if I've misspelled something (no squiggly lines, I turn spell check off for first drafts). My critic falls silent, as if I've plucked the eyes from his head and stuffed them in his mouth. I'm always amazed at how well this works.

 

 
   Would you consider yourself a Plotter or a Pancer?
On the surface, I'm a pancer. However, I believe that we're all plotters. The real difference is in how we plot. I don't see how a writer can finish a work without having noodled out the plot. Some people plot using outlines, some use index cards, and some use the first draft.
I'm working hard to put plotting first. I mentioned before my need to be economical with my time, and I've come to realize that plotting by first draft is highly inefficient. Somewhere about half way through the first draft of my current project, I forced myself out of the word processor and into an iPad program called Index Card. I plotted out the rest of the work in a program that forced me to think only about plot and made it impossible for me to wander across pages, spilling out words behind me like transmission fluid. I finished the plot, then went back and drafted the actual pages. I cut my time in half roughly. For my next project, I plan to use Storyist, which is a more elaborate plotting / writing tool, and I plan to test out a rigorous timeline. Ultimately, I'd like to be able to produce a first draft of a reasonable size (say 100K words) in three months.

 
   What do you think is the hardest aspect of the craft?

Here is a quote by T.S. Eliot I keep at the back of my mind:

"When forced to work within a strict framework the imagination is taxed to its utmost - and will produce its richest ideas. Given total freedom the work is likely to sprawl."

This is the hardest part of the craft: finding and adhering to a strict framework.

I tend to ramble when I write, and for the longest time I struggled with creating tight prose. And this tendency is true of me on a larger scale. I'll go back to that ever-present comment on my grade-school report cards about not using time wisely. My mind wanders easily, ideas swirl, converge, break, and reform in my head, sometimes so much so I have trouble focusing on a conversation or an activity. 

I am sprawl.

Over the past five or so years, I've worked at becoming mindful of my tendency to sprawl. In my day job, my responsibilities have steadily increased, and I reached a point where there was no hope of ever getting things done just by randomly tackling tasks. So I studied personal productivity, experimented with different ways of organizing the things I needed or wanted to do, and wrestled with understanding my life priorities.

Writers are creative creatures. There's a wonderful book by master choreographer Twyla Tharp called The Creative Habit. She makes a great case for creativity happening not through random sparks or epiphanies, but through careful planning and preparation (among other things). This is the framework I'm talking about. Our lives, when left to chance, produce random results. The same holds true for writing, or any creative endeavor. I'm learning to approach my writing with a structural framework to tax my imagination. Learning to plot is part of that framework, as are setting aside a regular time to write and setting specific goals for those designated writing times.

This takes a lot of the "sexy" out of writing, but it's necessary. We hear this advice time after time from successful people across creative fields. Make a schedule and stick to it. Plan your work. Set goals and measure your progress. I think creative types tend to buck these notions for fear the structure will squash their creativity the same way a droning, repetitive, soul-sucking job would. But we have to come to terms with the need for structure.

Repetition and structure do not suck the soul out of us. Repetition and structure provide the discipline that helps us excel in our craft. Our souls dry and wither when there's no meaning in what we're doing, not because we approach the act of creation methodically.

   Current projects?

I mentioned earlier that I'm starting revisions on a novel. It's called THE GALVANIZED MAN. It's still a bit of a mystery to me, but here's what I can tell you so far. The story centers on a young woman who lives in a near-future society damaged and altered by the failed invasion from a strange race of angelic beings. Her father's dying, she's broke from medical bills, and her abusive ex-boyfriend shows up after doing a stint in prison. She's forced to take on a quest by a man who promises to save her father. She and her companions must travel deep into the desert in search of a missing part of a mysterious machine. She becomes a pawn in a war between two cults to control reality. What she finds when she reaches her destination changes her, and her world, forever. 

In the next few months, I plan to start plotting out a sequel to TEARSTONE. During edits and revisions with my publisher, and a great conversation with my mom (an ordained minister) about Leonid Andreyev's wonderful short story "Lazarus," I discovered a minor factual error in TEARSTONE. Fixing the error in no way changed the novel, but it clarified the larger story arc I'd been mulling over. I know now there are at least two more books in this story, possibly four. I know the arcs of the two biggest characters. I know how it all ends. I have my framework.

   How do you balance being an editor and being a writer? (Or double jobs, being a mom/dad, etc.- apply to your situation)

I like to say I have two jobs: writing, and my day job. My wife says I have four jobs: father, husband, writing, and my day job.

She's right, of course. 

I hate to sound like a broken record, but balance comes from planning. I know how many hours my day job requires (gotta eat), and how much time I have left for my other three jobs. And sleep. Yeah, I should do that too.

It's like this:

1. I work eight or so hours a day. I have no choice right now.

2. I sleep roughly five hours a night. Used to be more but I experimented with sleep, measured my quality of sleep, and got it down to about five. Some nights it's four, some nights it's six, but that's okay. Gotta give the body what it needs and roll with it, baby.

3. I get up before the rest of my family and write for two or three hours. I get this in before the chaotic carnival of life can drain my energy.

4. Last, but most importantly, I spend time with my wife and kids. Sometimes it's just with the wife (rare); sometimes it's just with one or both boys. Sometimes we have planned activities (zoo, skate park, vacation, snipe hunting), and sometimes we wing it. But whatever we do, it's family time. 

That's how we make it work. Writing may be a solitary act (and boy is it), but I don't believe for an instant that most writers live a life of solitude. We make it work because my writing isn't just a part of my life; it's a part of who I am as a father and husband, as a person.

That's my answer, but I'm going to wander off here a moment to share. Logan (my oldest son) is in first grade, and part of what he's learning at school is storytelling. It absolutely thrills me. His teacher is great about sending daily emails on what they did in class, and I talk to him (as much as he'll let me) about the importance of stories and storytelling. My wife sent his teacher an email to let her know I'm a writer and asking if she'd like to have me come speak to the class. Logan's teacher was very excited, to say the least. She said Logan's talked a lot about how his dad is a writer and that she'd love to have me come and talk about her class and maybe even read a little from my book if I could find something appropriate. (TEARSTONE has absolutely nothing appropriate to read to a first grade class, so I'll be reading one of Logan's favorite stories.) My point is a writer makes multiple jobs work in part through the support and excitement of the other people in their lives. Our families, our communities, and our fans all contribute to helping us balance our lives.

   What do you think people expect from you with your writing? EX: Can they always count on a good gross out? 

My career is too young to say what people expect from me specifically. I suppose in broad terms they expect creepy and disturbing mixed with touching and sorrowful. I will do the gross out or bloody when it fits, but I don't rely them.

   Advice for aspiring writers?

A well-worn aphorism chanted by writers is to write what you know. I think that statement is incomplete. Too often, I've seen it interpreted as meaning a writer should only write about things they've experienced personally. Let me modify and clarify: 

Write what you know in your heart.

Fiction isn't about facts; it's about the human condition. It's about the emotions we all feel regardless of if they're rational. Be they romance, western, mystery, bizarro, horror, science fiction, fantasy, inspirational, and on and on and on... the stories we connect to best are those that reflect what we feel to be true regardless of what we know as fact. Suspension of disbelief comes from listening to that soft-spoken voice inside, the one that says satyrs and the Graeae are real, that magic really happens, and that for one brief moment whether the world is round, flat, square, or otherwise no longer matters.

--------- 

Bio: David L. Day grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and spent many childhood summers camping in Hocking Hills, a place full of wonder and mystery, fertile soil for a dark imagination. He’s always had a deep interest in writing, scribbling poetry in notebook margins from a very early age. Having lived in a couple of different places, Day now resides in the Columbus area with his wife Denna, their two sons, their two suspicious cats, and their loyal dog, Zoe. He’s a 2011 graduate of Seton Hill University’s Master’s in Writing Popular Fiction program. TEARSTONE is his first novel.

 
Website: http://www.davidlday.com



ANNOUNCEMENTS:

TEARSTONE, my debut occult horror novel, published by Belfire Press.

* Publisher: http://belfirepress.com/main/our-titles/tearstone/


I'm actively looking for reviewers. Connect with me via my website (http://www.davidlday.com/social.html) to request a reviewer's copy.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

MADHOUSE PATIENT DIES AFTER WATCHING TAPE

PATIENT: JOE BORRELLI
ILLNESS: WRITER


• When did you start writing? Why did you pick the genre you write it?

I got started writing pretty early in my life. I was a voracious reader as a child and I always assumed writers were just hardcore readers who discovered they had a story to tell. I picked up a copy of William F. Nolan’s How To Write Horror Fiction as a tween and that’s when my identity as a writer really kicked in. I remember writing 80-page Friday the 13th fanfic pieces after picking up the young adult novels by Eric Morse, which I think was my first big work, and I learned the fundamentals of storytelling through running games of Vampire: The Masquerade and Call of Cthulhu.

I’m a little leery of saying that I “picked a genre” to write. It sounds like I made a monogamous commitment to one style or motif. One of the things I love about writing is the sense of opportunity. I feel like I can take a shot at many different media because I’m sharpening my skills at creative expression. I started writing comic scripts and plays, I’m doing my first horror novel, and I’ll probably try my hand at scriptwriting and see if I can’t make any inroads into video game stuff.

Horror fiction works for me because my sense of aesthetics runs dark. I think you can find tremendous beauty in crumbling gothic manors, creepy old cemeteries, abandoned Shinto shrines, and other lonely haunted things.  I don’t necessarily have a bleak or cynical outlook on life, but my tastes have always run a little macabre. I find fake-y, spooky darkness very pretty.

• Where you get your ideas from? Do you journal at all?

I write stuff I want to read.

I don’t journal per se but I do host two blogs and a podcast, mostly dealing with horror or pop culture. It’s the closest thing I have to a personal journal. Talking about myself always seems a bit self-involved (he says while doing an interview) but, when I discuss things that are important to me, I find it a more honest reflection of where I am at a particular time of life.

• What’s a normal (writing) day like for you?

I write every day, usually after work. I suspect I should be writing earlier in the day but I lack the discipline to crawl out of bed at a reasonable hour. I like to set small word count goals, usually somewhere between 300-600 words a day. I go on write or die, set all speeds to “ludicrous” and go. As I’ve gotten to the end of my thesis novel, I’ve ditched word counts and gone for the pomodoro time-boxing technique: I write hard for fifteen minutes, take a seven minute break, write for fifteen, take another break. After four sessions I take a twenty five minute break. It’s a programmer trick and it totally works. 

Weekends are either writing marathons or partying marathons. Or, these days, Mass Effect 3 marathons

 
• Favorite author or book? Who are you currently reading?

I tend to gravitate toward fearless writers, people who write tough-guy crime fiction, and Japanese misery porn. The inspiration for my thesis novel is the crime fiction of Natsuo Kirino. Aside from creating work that almost directly addressed my personal hang-ups, she has a way of taking the most ugly and mundane brutality and unraveling the threads around it.

Hands down, my favorite author is the Irish graphic novelist Garth Ennis. Selling him to people involves talking past his flaws, but he’s fantastic at creating characters of different genders, ethnicities, and cultures. He writes confidently and it’s a trait I would like to pick up for my own work.

Finally, there’s a blogger named David Brothers (4thletter.net/iamdavidbrothers.tumblr.com) whom I admire greatly. He writes about pop culture subjects with an honesty and humanity that astonishes me. I do think non-fiction writing is a very different skill set but I strive to incorporate influence into my work.

Right now I’m mostly reading books for class. My pile of get-tos include:

  • Snuff by Terry Pratchett
  • Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone by Eric Klinenberg
  • Darth Plagueis by James Lucero
  • All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka
  • The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by John Ronson
  • Ninja: 1,000 Years of the Shadow Warrior by John Man
  • The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie.

• Do you write in silence or with noise (TV, movies, music)?

Music, mostly.  I like hanging out in thumpy club environments and I like to recreate that energy. Depressing music slows down my thoughts.

The one odd quirk is that I’m more likely to play obnoxiously American music (country, hip hop, psychobilly) when I’m writing scenes in deeply foreign settings. For all its other faults, American music is high bravado. You need bravado when you’re creating anything.

And, of course, the theme song for any person engaged in a creative endeavor is “Die Vampire Die!” from Title of Show (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DDdM66_nSI)    

• Do you have any weird habits when it comes to writing? Do you type or write longhand?
 
I tend to rely on external structures in all aspects of my life. For example, I can’t just go to the gym and hit the weights and jog on the treadmill. My attention will eventually wander off. Instead, I go to Barry’s Boot Camp and have gay body fascists scream at me to work harder.

The same applies for my writing. I can’t just sit down and write without something keeping me focused. Instead, I use Write or Die or the aforementioned pomodoro technique. It can make my first drafts feel frenzied, but without them I end up farting around on Reddit.

Crutches often get a bad rap. When all is said and done, they help get people moving.

• Would you consider yourself a Plotter or a Pantser?

I’m emphatically a Plotter and I think a writer does a tremendous disservice to the reader by being a Pantser. You have better story control and you come up with more satisfying endings if you really sit down and think about what you are doing. I’ve long suspected that Pantsers are a little to enamored with the mythology of writing, where you sit back and let the muse come and wander through the story all starry-eyed. Plotting sounds like WORK and WORK is never fun or fulfilling.
My favorite example is Legendary Genre Writer Whose Name Everyone Knows. He/She is one of the most acclaimed and successful writers in modern times and, in his/her book on writing he/she describes heavily plotting stories as being flat and devoid of life.

Most of the major books he/she writes end with a bunch of stuff blowing up. It’s not hard to see why. He/She writes into a corner while following their muse willy-nilly and they have no solution at the end except for an explosion.  

Which is not to say that Plotters aren’t loose or inflexible. The hook of my novel is a bullying ritual called The Torment Game. When I was originally laying out the book, I conceived of it as a sort of fake occult ritual my powerless protagonists could do to give themselves a feeling of control. I kept writing and that idea never sat well with me.

While doing my research, I discovered a Japanese ghost story game called hyaku monogatari, which involves creepy tales and all sorts of occult paraphernalia. Aside from being great visuals, it fit the story better. No matter how put-upon and desperate they are, smart girls won’t believe they’ll get superpowers by emotionally tormenting each other. I planned out the scene but I tweaked it as I went.

Pixar has a piece of writing advice that I consider essential: “Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.” The more I write, the truer this becomes. You owe your work the best you can do, and you can’t always do that if you charge ahead blindly.


• What do you think is the hardest aspect of the craft?

Probably the fact that writing is a marathon. I have friends in other creative disciplines that start and finish projects incredibly quickly. Five weeks might be fine to make a really lovely composition but that wouldn’t be much of a dent in novel. Finishing something is euphoric but that feeling comes after a lot of work. I won’t burn out, but I get why people do.

The other problem is how people react to writing. You can look at a play or listen to a piece of music and have an instant emotional reaction to it. If someone dumps a manuscript in front of me, I groan. It takes a lot of focused attention to get through prose. Plus, while people will cheerfully say they can’t draw or play music, everyone thinks they can write a novel.

On the other hand, writers are a needy bunch. I’ve never seen any other creative endeavor that generates as many advice books, self-congratulatory websites, upbeat memes, and other “my identity is a writer so pay attention to meeeee” stuff. It’s just writing, dude. Either do it or don’t.  

• Current projects?

My primary project is my thesis novel, which is about three Japanese foreign exchange students trying to rebuild their lives after accidentally killing their friend in a bizarre bullying ritual called The Torment Game. They come to San Francisco and quietly try to rebuild their lives, but the ghost of their dead friend follows them to torment them further. It’s my story of identity, cultural immersion, and guilt.  

My other thing is working on my horror podcast, CreatureCast.net. A couple friends and I get together every other week and talk story about the horror genre. It’s fun and we’re good at it.

On the backburner are a couple of independent comics I’ve been trying to get off the ground for a while. One in particular combines my love of classic animation and cosmic horror. I call it The Doom That Came To Toonland.

• How do you balance being an editor and being a writer? (Or double jobs, being a mom/dad, etc.- apply to your situation)

I tend to choose day jobs that don’t leave me physically or psychologically exhausted. I like to keep my life balanced around three circles in a Venn diagram. Circle One is creative fulfillment. Circle Two is exercise. Circle Three is farting around.

• What do you think people expect from you with your writing? EX: Can they always count on a good gross out?

Honestly, you can probably expect a dead Japanese girl with her hair in her face.

In all seriousness, I’m fascinated by Asian horror in general and K/J horror in particular. Yeah, it’s as trope-y as its western counterpart but few things have scared me like the classics of the Japanese horror genre. The horror tends to come from human weakness rather than religious repression, so I connect with it a little better. 

I also write a lot of what I playfully term as “hipster horror.” I grew up and have lived in big cities my entire life. I currently live in Bushwick, which is the most hipstery part of Brooklyn, and it doesn’t take much for me to look at my environment with a darker lens.

In short, I want to be the older male Lena Dunham of horror fiction.


• Advice for aspiring writers?

“Be regular and orderly in your life so you may blah blah blah.”

BIO: Born in San Francisco and currently residing in Brooklyn, Joe Borrelli has been a lifelong fan of horror fiction, having spent his childhood and early
adolescence submerged in the franchise horror of the 80s. He started his high school horror film club, ran dozens of Call of Cthulhu convention events, visited the actual Castle Dracula in Transylvania, and is currently working toward his MFA in Horror Fiction
at Seton Hill University.

When not daydreaming about becoming a vampire, Joe writes fiction, climbs rocks, collects comic books, plays capoeira, and makes ill-advised decisions on his love life. Follow his blog at creaturecast.blogspot.com.