Lucky me, my friend sent it to me! Thanks Emily!
So I put this on the top of my "nightstand reads" and continued with my regularly scheduled TBR. But that cover! It kept calling to me.
So I finally gave in to temptation and picked it up. The first story hooked me in and I couldn't put it down until I binged the whole collection. Each time I finished a story, I'd flip to the back of the book and read the author's notes for it (I love when authors do that!). Even though the notes aren't long, a reader gets a glimpse into Jeremy's casual voice and I decided he would make a great interview for the blog. So here we are!
I've been recommending this book to fans of dark, strange fiction and eagerly anticipating Jeremy's email back to my set of questions. Yesterday, the eagle landed (his words) and now you get to enjoy getting a personal look into the life of a writer:
|Photo cred: Christopher Cleary 2017|
I see in your bio that you are from and currently still live in Portland, Oregon. I recently moved from California to the PNW and I love it so much. Literally everybody I knew in Cali gave me some kind of warning or wise ass remark about gray skies and rain. I’m curious to hear your thoughts about Portland—the pros and cons.
I moved to Portland in my twenties because I was driving here for shows and events every weekend anyway. Just made sense to set up camp. So in the beginning, it was all about having easy access to the arts culture and writing scene in the area. Rent was nowhere near as hellacious as it’s become, the California condo infestation had yet to transform some of the sleazier territories, and Gus Van Sant/Chuck Palahniuk/John Callahan-spottings were a-plenty. Also, and always: Powell’s is here. My favorite bookstore on Earth, and they support independent writers like crazy. Now I’m here as a father and husband, which means I don’t really have the time for the “see a concert per night, then go out drinking, then eat a human-head-sized burrito from a cart at 3AM” thing. But we still love Powell’s, and my kid digs the vintage arcades, and we’re relatively close to the beach and mountains, which is great. Schools ain’t bad either. And I know it’s kind of a writerly cliché—the whole booze and coffee thing—but if do you happen to be a beer and coffee enthusiast, Portland has some of the best.(My note on this: Powell's was totally overwhelming to me. It has multiple stories, new books, used books, out-of-print books...EVERYTHING. I kind of stood in shock and wandered around aimlessly)
2. I just finished Entropy in Bloom and I’m still blown away by the diversity you gave us in that collection. You have such a wide range of narrating styles and a talent for mashing up genres. What would you say is your favorite genre to write in, your most comfortable narrative—like first person or third, etc—and which story from that collection is your personal favorite (why)?
Favorite genre to write in: Fictionalized personal trauma and deepest fears rendered through the tropes and techniques of horror/crime/absurdism.(My note on this: Persistence Hunting was one of my favorites as well. You can read my whole review HERE)
Most comfortable narrative style: First person, because it’s the most forgiving. The deep subjectivity of it, the speed of moving in a stream of consciousness, the ease of conveying emotion—it really feels like you’re creating a ride out of an empathetic experience, and it lets you take people to very strange places which might feel overly-bizarre in other narrative forms. Favorite story from Entropy in Bloom: “Persistence Hunting” because it feels like I mostly got that one right. I can’t really see the forest for the trees with my work, but every once in a while I get lucky and write something I actually like. “Persistence Hunting” is one of those rare birds I feel okay about, and it’s generally a reader favorite, even with people who dislike a lot of my other stuff. Esquire almost published it back in the day—the fiction editor at the time tabled it, but in the end they decided it was too long and I was too unknown. A few months later they ran new fiction from some guy named Stephen King, and painted the opening line from his story on a supermodel. To be fair, that was probably the wisest use of their fiction budget.
3. Obviously I couldn’t help but notice all the amazing (favorites of mine) authors that provided review quotes for your book. A forward by Brian Evenson; blurbs from Chuck Palahniuk, Craig Davidson *AND* Nick Cutter, Paul Tremblay and Jack Ketchum, just to name a few. It got me curious about the writers that inspired you, the books that you would call favorites and what you currently have on your nightstand right now? So basically like three giant questions all smashed into one and I expect you to fully address all of it.
Well, the writers you listed above are pretty obvious inspirations, and like most writers who grew up during the 80’s horror boom I was raised by King/McCammon/Straub/Barker/Lansdale/Skipp & Spector/etc. And Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing was an absolute, mind-blowing game changer to me. Then I went to college and had to pretend I wasn’t a philistine and I became semi-literary and my favorites from that era are Selby and Atwood and Burroughs and Welsh. I know DFW and James Ellroy and Mailer are divisive authors, but they always figured large for me too. I like big, bombastic books. Then, since leaving college, I’ve just read whatever the fuck I want. I try to cover a wide spectrum, though I’ve probably read more horror fiction than anything else. The nightstand stack right now: Perfidia by James Ellroy Strategies Against Nature by Cody Goodfellow Ecstatic Inferno by Autumn Christian and a bunch of ARC’s for blurbs that I really needed to get caught up on.4. Some rapid fire questions:
*Mountains or Oceans? Mountains, easy. No sharks.
*Music or Movies? Movies, which contain and subsume music to amplified emotional effect.
*Favorite meal to eat out? Anything spicy with a good, cold beer.
*Ideal snack while reading? Wheat Thins (ingrained since childhood). Pepsi on the side, though now I drink that mutant Zevia junk because high fructose corn syrup fucks up my triglycerides.
*Spring or Autumn? Spring. No huge holidays looming.
*Best Restaurant in Portland? Podnah’s Pit BBQ comes in at #2. Not going to tell you my #1 cause it’s starting to get too busy.
*Favorite Stephen King Book? Dark Tower series as a whole (though I’m especially fond of books 2, 3, 7, and Black House). But goddamn does The Shining come close to the top spot.
(My note on this: I love when people say Waste Lands is a favorite. It's one of my favorites too. Blaine is a Pain)
5. Do you have a Man-Bag, a Murse? A book bag you carry around? If so, dump it out and tell me what’s in it. If not, just describe what’s on your desk or the top of your dresser. Please and thank you.
No bags, but here’s the desktop rundown: list of home improvements to do this summer, running calendar, school district calendar, letter from my dentist saying they’ve dropped my insurance provider, aloe plant, photos of my kid, art by my kid, a heavily marked-up print out of my next novel, and one sugar ant (soon to be deceased).6. A weird bird told me that you were finishing up a novel. I love that bird. Can you confirm this salacious rumor and tell us a little more about it? When can we preorder it?
The rumor is true, but the thing is so poppin’ fresh it’s still sitting with my agent and not to the point where I have a final title/publisher/pub date to announce. Fingers crossed for that, though. Some very serious editors are waiting on the novel thanks to the surprise success of Skullcrack City, so I’m hugely excited to see what happens next. I can say that fans of Skullcrack City who are looking for another fast-paced, borderline insane horror/sci-fi/romance/comedy/conspiracy thriller are going to have a fun time with the new book. If you always felt like Dazed and Confused needed more Cronenberg-style body horror and class warfare, this will be your jam.(My note on this: That book sounds amazing. *already standing in line waiting* also, I need to buy Skullcrack City right now.)
7. In reading reviews of your work and various blurbs on your website, the word gross or grotesque often comes up. Tell me about what fascinates you, what scares you, what turns *your* stomach?
The fear and fascination are intrinsically linked, and I’m obviously obsessed with parasites, nuclear war, sharks, and all the different paths we take toward self-destruction.(My note on this: Sharks are the worst. Why are they even here?)
The interesting phenomenon I’ve noted recently is how being a father has changed my fears. Everything used to be about self and identity and expectations, but being a dad kind of shifted the gears in my ego, and now I worry way more about the health and safety of my son, and the future we’re heading into together. Related to that, it’s been very interesting to look back through the work of my favorite authors because I can spot when the same phenomenon happened to them—their books suddenly fill up with dead kids, fears of dissolution and disappointment, etc. And writing along those themes hits me differently now—I re-read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road last year, from a father’s perspective, and it fucking melted me. As far as stuff that turns my stomach, the one thing that still guarantees a cringe out of me is a good compound fracture. The arm-wrestling scene in The Fly hit me harder than any of the rest.
8. If an ice cream company said they would make YOU a flavor of ice cream and slap your face and name on the label, what flavor would you be?
Andre’s Cold Duck Sparkling Wine Sorbet with Rainbow Sprinkles and Oxycodone.9. What’s the worst thing that happened to you in high school?
As a clearly exploitable asset for future work, I cannot divulge that anecdote here. Here’s Worst Thing #83, though: Once, at lunch, a bully spit a yellow-green loogie down my half-consumed Capri Sun straw when I wasn’t looking. You can formulate the rest of that story yourself.10. What five movies would you recommend to me right now off the top of your head?
Sexy Beast, In Bruges, Closer, In the Loop, and Under the Skin. Typed that up without stopping to think and in review it’s clear I’m a pushover for stage play levels of dialogue (except for that last film, which was so singular and unsettling that I find myself attracted and repulsed by it in equal measure). Of films seen in the last year, Benson and Moorhead’s The Endless stands out as being really lovely and sweet and weird.Thank you Jeremy!
Buy Entropy in Bloom