Alex was interviewed on the Dale Hurst Writing Show on October 2022 to discuss horror, monsters, and Unquestionably Monstrous. Check out the interview in the podcast player below:
(The following interview was conducted by Grivante Press for the release of ‘MASHED’ on May 8th 2017. It has been condensed and reposted here for archival purposes.)
Please tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’ve been writing since I was eight, when I crafted ‘Squirrel Man vs the Terror Turtles.’ Thankfully, that atrocious volume has been lost. Older and wiser, I managed an M.A. in English and write humor fiction when I can find the time.
What attracted you to submitting your story to MASHED?
The anthology, quite simply, was fascinating. The mix of genres intrigued me. Horror, food, and humour? I didn’t know that could be done. Food seemed the best subject for executing such a versatile and ambitious project; I just had to try it. Also, the guidelines and website were refreshingly open and unpretentious and I was charmed by the very concept. They had me hooked right away.
For your story “Wrath of the Buttery Bastard-Taters” what was your inspiration?
My loathing of instant mashed potatoes inspired me. I was fed them throughout my childhood and hated them passionately. I once played a game with a friend where we had to come up with the most unpleasant sensation possible, and I won handily by describing the feeling of being physically sick amidst a bellyful of instant mashed potatoes. After that, I knew I had tapped into something culturally reviled.
When did you first discover that you wanted to be a writer?
When I was a little kid. I loved writing stories and inventing my own characters and scenarios. That way, I got to see exactly the kinds of stories I wanted.
Did you have any writing mentors?
Yes, I was lucky enough to be taught everything I know by the encouraging and critically-acclaimed Nicolas Billon when I was in undergrad. Bless him.
Who are your favorite authors? What are your favorite books?
Mordecai Richler, Hunter S. Thompson, and Cormac McCarthy are my favorites. Richler and Thompson for their senses of humor, McCarthy for the incredible ways he manipulates and re-configures the English language. My favorite books are Barney’s Version, The Moon’s a Balloon, and The Road.
What films or books have most influenced you as an author?
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas influenced me a lot. It was punchy, brief, explicit, and thoughtful without getting lost in exposition. No filler and no wasted time, which are the kisses of death for novels in my humble opinion.
Outside of Horror, what other genre’s do you write in?
Humor is the only genre I’ve ever seriously tried. I’d never tried horror until this project, and I found it really difficult to do! It’s tricky to pace and is harder to gauge than humor.
Is there anything else that has influenced you as a writer?
Overhearing supremely boring conversations at bus stops or restaurants taught me how not to write dialogue and what not to write about; stories need to be different from daily life, if only in the minor details.
What is the first book that made you cry?
Ha! The Animorphs series! I think I was 10 years old. I cried when the protagonists’ identities got exposed to their enemies and they had to leave their lives to hide out in the woods to keep up the resistance! It was a turning point in the series from an underground resistance to total war, and the shift was quite depressing. Plus, I hate camping. So reading about the Animorphs having to do it for survival hit me at a gut level.
How do you describe your writing style?
Insincerely earnest. I like to have very ironic and wary characters who deal with absurd circumstances in a straightforward manner. I’d like to think my style is witty and dryly charming, but we’ll have to see what my readers think.
What advice would you give to new writers just getting started?
Play to your interests. If you’re interested in sports, write about sports. If you love country music, write about that. That’s how you’ll craft work you care about. And use something like duotrope or submission grinder to keep apace with calls for submissions. Otherwise you’re stumbling in the dark.
What part of writing do you find the most difficult?
Ha, I find all of it difficult! But fun! I suppose it’s tricky to find the best way to tell a story. Which character perspective to use, which mode of storytelling works best. It takes a lot of false starts to get a story going.
What do you hope your readers take away from your stories?
My single goal is to make people laugh with my work. If that happens, then I’ve done what I could ever hope to do.
What is your next big writing project fans should be on the lookout for?
No idea, but I’ll keep all three of them posted. Har har.