Now that I have you here, I will ask you a question, and you should attempt to answer truthfully…
First, what is your favorite word?
And are you happy?
Are you happy when you write?
What Are Your Happiest Writing Memories?
In terms of happy writing memories, I have none specifically, though I am often reminded of Erasmus the Scribbling Ghoul.
I’m sure you’ve heard the rustling of dry parchment in the dead of night, or seen his bony shape from the corner of your eye down some dark alleyway on a long night home from whatever caramel tinted glass of substance you’ve spent the night peering down into, only to find nothing but nothing.
Ah, yes. No one really knows a thing about Erasmus. Only that he carries a stick of charcoal and a long, long sheet of ancient parchment, which scrapes along the pavement as he shambles in the shadows of back-alleys, empty lots, and barely-lit streets.
You might awake to the sound of his arcane mumblings, and the scritcha-scratch of his dusty charcoal on that crispy scroll. Do not be alarmed! I myself have been visited by the Ghoul! He’s completely harmless, just curious about human sleep patterns—REM ‘n’ stuff like that, I guess. A visit from the Ghoul brings dreams of hermaphroditism or of arthritic knees.
A Writer must have friends… They must have confidants who they share a pen with…
Who Are Your Writer Friends?
Writing companions—that is, friends who I write with, or near, or on—“On?” I hear you say… I guess that’s what a tattoo artist does, don’t you think?—anyway, I don’t gottem, though I am often reminded of the Bones of Akusilaus.
These bones were the friend of the wandering prophetess, Glaukē of Antinoöpolis. She carried them in a gazelle-skin pouch around her neck. Supposedly, they whispered fortunes at a frequency that only she heard, in a language that only she could understand. Sometimes, the bones would even tell a joke, or a funny anecdote.
She traveled up and down the River Nile, entertaining the local nomarchs and nobility, so that she never found herself without a place to stay. She made it a point to wreck her skiff at every landing, just so that the gracious aristocrats might fulfill her desire to always ride off in a brand new one (after all, they were eager to be “Maa Kheru” [justified]).
The legend runs that she was given the bones by Antinous himself in the guise of an aquatic mint. The bones were hidden in the sand just beneath its roots.
Glaukē died of drowning, purportedly due to the jealous wife of the treasurer of Aswan, who tampered with the boat so that it would fall to pieces mid-voyage. The Nilotic mud has preserved her body, the bones, and the skiff.
Archaeological evidence shows that the bones are probably goat, Nubian.
Where Do You Write?
In which room of the house? Where?
In terms of where I write, I consider myself lucky to own a handsome, affordable IKEA desk and a handy HP printer. My diploma hangs on the wall above it, and across from it is an ironic wine calendar (the theme for October is “YES-WAY, ROSÉ”). I often think of those less fortunate than I, like Brant Ilyavich, the infamous sixty-seven-year-old poet who rents the cabinet under the kitchen sink in his mother’s house.
They say that he dredges gravel for money. They say that he chases stray dogs, barking and running on all fours.
They say that he bathes in the canal, and that his breath smells like milk.
They say that he’s married to two pictures of Marylin Monroe torn from an old magazine. They say that his mother is a hundred-and-one years old, and slowly fading away.
They say that his poems are the most-heartbreaking, but no one will publish them. Despite the fact that the poems are quite good, the publishers are waiting for the author’s death, to increase the sales of his voluminous body of work. Once the last of his impoverished line have passed, there will be no one to pay royalties to. Until then, the poems are known only in small circles, but few wish to know the man, Brant Ilyavich, at all.
They say that once an interviewer from Birmingham had come to Romania to interview the elusive figure. They say that the poor fellow disappeared a day later. Some say that he became so depressed at the miserable life-story of Brant Ilyavich that he could no longer bare to live himself. Others, that the fellow was taken to the house of Brant’s mother and eaten alive, completely cannibalized.
Many believe that the cause of Brant’s death will be auto-cannibalism. But these are just rumors and speculation.
“Hghnnmnn… sommmnosssss… hrgnh… currrsssus… eghnghr… annimusss… auribusss… hlghrghugh…..”
– Erasmus Ghoul in the corner of the room while you try to sleep
What About Glaukē, the Antinoöpolitan Prophetess?
At Gebtu, Glaukē dreams of floating peacefully downriver in a boat made of reeds. Papyrus fronds brush up against her cheek as she passes by. This, she determines, is the gentle caress of the god, Min, who watches from the shore. She plucks a blue lotus from the river, deeply breathes its dizzying fragrance. A voice from the bones tells her to lay back and listen to the cries of birds, to the river. The bones admonish her to enjoy these things for what they are, to respect their temporality, to accept that all things end up alike. Those old bones were like her too, in better days. Now, they rest in a pouch around her neck. Glaukē listens. In the morning, she arises with the sun.
At Abydos, Glaukē dreams of drowning. The waters of her demise are darker than wine. Her body struggles against an otherworldly pressure, as if Hades himself were pulling her down. She reaches for the bones around her neck, but they fall from their gazelle-skin ossuary. And as she sinks, they seem to rise, leaving her for dead. She tries to speak—to call out to Akusilaus, the daimon in the bones. But the bones are quiet as a tombstone. She awakens in the pitch-blackness of night, crying as if she had really died.
I don’t care about Glaukē, you never answered my original question…
What Is Your Favorite Word In The English Language?
Yes, I remember. Forgive me for having some fun.
And when you asked me the same question a week ago, I was badly hungover from a brilliant night-out, watching Ren & Stimpy and eating greasy food to ease it off.
In the afternoon, I slept until four. I paced around the apartment listening to music, thinking about the question, mulling it over. By night, I decided that I didn’t want to answer it at all. Fuck it.
The next day, I finally put up the black-out curtains.
Oh! They’re a dream. And I’ll tell you what I realized on further reflection: Asking a writer their favorite word is like asking a bricklayer their favorite brick. How can I choose when I need all of them?
I guess that’s a little hyperbolic… and somewhat of a clumsy metaphor.
Sometimes, I’ll get a word stuck in my head, much like a song. For the past two weeks, that word has been “ossuary” (a container or room where human bones are kept). I encountered it while reading a scholarly work on the theme of resurrection in Judaism and Christianity. I was finally able to put it to good use (see above). It’s a good thing, too. Otherwise, I would have wound up hurling it like an insult at my faultless younger brother, “I’ll throw you into the fucking ossuary, bro!”
By the way, here’s a new character: Don The Bricklayer.
Let me know if you would like to hear his backstory.
I don’t want to know about Don The Bricklayer, or any other miserable character that you have invented.
Let me understand your process, your Vinyasa flow… Do you pound it out night after night, word after word? Tell me about your process, the paces and steps!
Talk Writing Rituals!
In terms of “writing rituals”, this is an area where I actually have a lot to say. Writing rituals are important, especially when you love the genre of horror as much as I do. A well-written ritual is the difference between heart-rending terror and mediocre hubbub.
There are a lot of things to consider when writing a ritual. Let’s start with chanting. Most rites involve chanting. You could just make up some nonsense—“Grungo Grungo Grungo”—but don’t. Remember that all rituals are religious in nature, and most religions are founded on old texts. For that reason, Latin and Greek are good languages to learn because they are so old. Good ol’, plain-ass English is a good choice too—again, words are not nonsense, they always communicate some desire.
Setting is important. Where are these rites being performed? Is it a site with a lot of history behind it? I don’t think that it has to be, especially if the adherents of this strange sect have no access to something like that. Make sure that it makes sense. Ritual sites aren’t random. They have meaning, or they’re someplace secret… usually both, actually.
Finally, remember that a cultist is just like any other character in a given work of fiction: they want something. The cult, as a whole, wants something collectively. And the cult leader—usually a charismatic fellow—wants that same thing, or else something that even the initiates don’t know about. No one stands around chanting for no reason. What’s the point? Eternal life is usually a good answer to this question.
Well, those are some of my thoughts on writing rituals, kind of a strange question if you ask me. Just remember, the password is “Fidelio”.
Your process is awful and makes no sense…
What About Snacks? Do You Partake?
I myself am a glutton for Fried Onions…
In terms of snacking and writing, I don’t do that.
The closest thing is my flask of Jameson, which I take sips from, but only when necessary.
It makes me think of Don The Bricklayer. His drink of choice is mezcal, but not for its rich, smoky flavor.
Don The Bricklayer once had a favorite snack, and that snack was the gusano de maguey—that is, the little worms that they drop into bottles of mezcal. After a day of hard laying (of bricks), he’d spend up his hard-earned cutter on an expensive bottle or two, just to eat the worm at the bottom. The drink, for him, was really an after thought. Sometimes, he would pour it down the drain, laughing as the pricey liquid entered the sewers where his friend, Artie the Pipelayer, spent his days—mostly, he’d laugh at the name, “Hah hah, Artie. Couldn’t paint to save his life”.
One day, upon confession of this strange habit, the guy at the liquor store told ol’ Don that he could phone the distillery for him an’ ask for a big jar of larvae, gusano de maguey and/or the gusano rojo, which is supposedly tastier.
Once he found out, he no longer wanted to eat the worms at all. That man at the liquor store killed his obsession. No more brick-dollars wasted on nice mezcal. He would have to find some new, avant-garde thing to do. That was just his way.
We’ll stop here, for now…
“I was a man once too”
—the Irish Whispering Rock.