From where did your inspiration to become a fiction writer originate? Were there any authors you read when younger whose writings spoke to you making you want to write fiction of your own?
I grew up enjoying a great many writers, everyone from Shakespeare to C. S. Lewis to Stephen King. I was a great fan of Tolkien, William Golding and Isaac Bashevis Singer. Writing has always been a form of escapism for me, but I never took it seriously until I was well into my 20s (I'm 45 now).
Golding's Lord of the Flies has always resounded within. I think that we all can relate to the Ralph versus Jack struggle every day of our lives. There is such a thin line of civilization that keeps us in check. I've always been fascinated by books which show the absolute cruelty of humanity towards one another. I want to know why. What motivates a person to abandon their morality? What makes them cross that line?
Tanith Lee was also a great influence. She has such a beautiful way with words. She's very descriptive. She wrote some fairy tale adaptions which were both beautiful and terrifying. I first came across her short stories in a Marvin Kaye collection many years ago.
The first that I read was her Cinderella adaption, "When the Clock Strikes." It brought me to my knees with the imagery and her creative use of language.
Lastly, I have to credit C.S. Lewis. He had it all. The Screwtape Letters was a masterpiece. I imagine that it must have been very hard for him to write, as a Christian. He had to basically strip away everything that he believed, and occupy the mind of the enemy--in this case, a demon. I am a Progressive Christian myself, and in my own work, I take on the voices of both Lucifer and the Messiah. It can literally drive a person mad. You have to think on a much broader scale, without the petty prejudices of man. C.S. Lewis was my first true philosopher that I followed. Through his work, he taught me how to think.
Stephen King’s name has appeared more than once in my interviews with authors and poets. I’ve been a fan as long as I remember, though for the most part I prefer his books to their film adaptations. Which of his works have you most often read and in what ways did you personally relate to the narratives?
I love all of the King classics: It, The Shining, Carrie, Firestarter, Pet Cemetery, etc. I also liked his short story collections. My very favorite King novel would have to be The Stand. It really affected me. Anything about the end times--or about the end of society as we know it--strikes a chord of truth. I think that we--as humans--will destroy each other. I read The Stand and Carrie at least twice a year, apiece. Another work of his that I really love is Apt Pupil, from his Different Seasons collection. It's about a bored teen who finds a Nazi war criminal living nearby, and decides to blackmail him. It is one of his most stunning pieces, in my opinion. Who is the monster, and who is the tormented? I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't read it! The film version is stellar. It stars Ian McKellen and the late Brad Renfro. It still gives me chills. Look for the scene where the boy forces him to don the Nazi uniform once more. It's very powerful. It's a savage respect between the two main characters that gives the film/story its tension.
I also liked King's Dolores Claiborne. The book shows how far that women have advanced in society in current years. It's not so long ago that women were considered the property of first their fathers, then their husbands. I loved the character of Dolores. She seemed weak on the outside, but she was very strong.
Elaborate on how The Stand struck you as indicative of mankind’s potential to destroy itself, and the role of women as represented by Dolores Claiborne? Does Carrie speak to you in a similar way as the latter novel?
I think that mankind is inherently evil. It's the beast within all of us that should be exercised, not exorcised. When we try to suppress our natural urges, chaos ensues. We will bring about our own end, simply because we cannot help ourselves. It's our nature and our destiny to do so.
Women such as Dolores Claiborne were basically slaves to their families. They owned little property, and their husbands controlled the quality of their lives. In an isolated community (such as in the novel), religion is at the forefront of everything that they do. In the very first book of the Bible, women have been ordered to be submissive to men. Many men of today still see women as property and little more. I think that Stephen King captured that philosophy very well in his book. The character Vera Donovan said it all: "Dolores, sometimes being a bitch is all a woman has to hang onto." How very true.
Carrie spoke to me on a more intimate level. I was severely bullied in high school, with near-tragic results. Many people who choose to be unique rather than cookie-cutter make life very hard for themselves. I applaud those brave folks, especially the kids who are still in school. Stephen King's Carrie is our heroine. She was one of my favorite characters because she was so real to me. She was beaten down so much that she couldn't speak up for herself anymore. She didn't even have a loving home to find refuge. She was completely and utterly alone. I think that many of us feel like that to this very day. We are misunderstood because we refuse (or are unable) to conform.
On the other hand, novels like Carrie clearly demonstrate it is those who misunderstand and bully who are responsible for making life hard for those who are different. Bullies don’t; want you to know they are insecure, but I remember reading somewhere that “bullies are bullies because they are hiding their LACK of self-esteem.” Stephen King made the point through his novel, in a non-violent and even educational way, that hatred and violence breeds more hatred and violence. The same can be said for novels like Dolores Claiborne and so on. Do you think this is a positive thing in its own way?
Absolutely. I think that to shelter the public from violent imagery does nothing but make a person unable to deal with confrontation later. America, as a nation, is in a place where no one wants to take responsibility for their own actions. It's frightening. We need to show people the consequences of their actions, when they choose to be vile. I have sympathy for those who have had a hard life, but they can't make it the world's problem. It's not fair to others. Victims can also be bullies this way. They can use their pain as an excuse to act out. We need to stop sheltering our children from reality, and start teaching them how to deal with these problems as they come up.
Between King’s novels and their film versions, which do you generally prefer? Or does your preference vary from movie to movie?
I think that I will always prefer the books over the films, although I enjoy the films on an entirely different level. The Shining miniseries was quite satisfying to me, although many found it to be too slow. Steven Weber was an excellent Jack Torrance. He brought a different view of the character to light. I also liked the film version of Apt Pupil. It's enthralling, watching the balance of power move back and forth between the Nazi and the teenage boy. The ending was different from the short story, but it worked.
How did you see Weber’s Jack Torrance as shedding a different light on the character from Jack Nicholson’s Jack Torrance?
Weber was much more subtle in his characterization. He was a lot more realistic, I think. You could see the madness as it slowly manifested within. It was true to the book in that way. With Nicholson, he was completely over the top. He really had very little to do with King's vision of the character. Not to say that he wasn't completely brilliant in the Kubrick version; it's simply a personal preference. (smiles) Perhaps not a popular one.
In addition to Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies, what did you think of the 1963 and 1990 film versions if you saw them? Does either film version capture the concept of human nature awakened by Golden? In what ways do you think the story (particularly the Ralph vs Jack struggle) reflects on society nowadays?
I loved the black and white film version of Lord of the Flies. The cast were largely unknowns, but I believe that it worked in their favor. James Aubrey (may he rest in peace) was a magnificent Ralph. He had the fire in his eyes and the strength burning from within. Jack, on the other hand, had a bit of charm going for him. He showed a bit of an elitist attitude, which would initially turn most people off--but he quickly learned to manipulate through fear and intimidation. Under that civilized veneer beat the heart of a true sadist, although Roger was the official executioner of the tribe. I think that Tom Chapin did an excellent job as Jack. The casting was brilliant, and the black and white format made the shadows seem to come alive. It added to the feeling of oppression. The dialogue was fairly close to the book, yet sounded completely realistic.
The 1990 version of Lord of the Flies was all wrong, although I would have enjoyed it under another title. It was peppered with vulgar language, which destroyed the dialogue. I also didn't like the Americanization of the characters. The film was beautiful to look at, but the changes to the script tore the story into a million pieces. I have no problem with the young actors; they were very good.
To me, Lord of the Flies is a very relevant commentary on society. You see it in the news every day with the rioting, the bullying in the schools and the blatant abuse of power within the government. We are, as humans, a savage race. What's frightening to me is that which looks to be benign on the surface is usually where the most corruption is found. We watch the news, and we don't know who to believe anymore. What is reality?
Are there other movies that have made as lasting an impression on you as those we have covered?
The band Malice Mizer released a film called Bara no Konrei--Bridal of Rose--which has been a huge influence on my work. It's a very stylish film, like a rock opera of Dracula, with written rather than spoken dialogue. It was so well done; it was sensual without being coarse, and the sets and costumes were beautiful. I liked the fact that the Byronic vampire--portrayed by Kozi--exhibited grief after he drank. One of the most powerful scenes in the film was a flashback sequence, involving the nun--played by Mana Sama--being dragged from the church, lashed to a cross and heckled, before being set afire, as the Byronic vampire watches in agony. It is still very hard for me to watch that scene. The look in his eyes was so desolate, so weary. It nearly ripped my heart in two. Mana Sama can convey more in one silent facial expression than many can in an entire book. The entire band was wonderful in it. Klaha has inspired every fairy tale handsome prince that I've ever written, and Yu~ki was born to play the Earl of Dracula. He has such a clever face. I recommend that all fans of the Dracula legend look up the film.
Another good one is Moon Child, which was written by the Japanese singer and actor, Gackt Camui. Gackt also stars in the film, along with Hyde. Despite the obvious eye candy of the two, this is actually a tight little film, with a little something for everyone. It can be called a vampire story, a story about friendship, a gangster film, sci-fi, a love story...there's so many things to love about it. I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't seen it, so my outline will be brief. It's set in the Japan of the future, where a suicidal vampire befriends a group of young street orphans. Time races ahead, to where the kids have become young men. The vampire has taught them his quick reflexes and fighting skills. The city is run by gangs/mafia. The young men fight for their place in the system. What I loved most about the film was the friendship between the characters, particularly between Sho (Gackt) and Kei (Hyde). It is not yaoi at all; Kei is almost fatherly to him at times. It's tender. I suppose that I enjoy films in which the vampire is tormented by his own actions. However, the vampyric bit is understated in this film. There is also an undercurrent of betrayal in several places of the plot...and Sho and Kei are both in love with the same girl, the luminous Yi-Chie (played by Zeny Kwok). I love the family of characters in it. Gackt is a talented writer.
I also loved The World According to Garp, and The Dead Poets Society. Most of my fellow writers also seem to enjoy those films. Robin Williams (may his dear soul rest in peace) had such a gift when he was portraying learned men upon the screen. He had such passion within him; you could feel it in your entire body. I loved Garp because it was so true to life! Go to college, get married, work your way up, have an affair... (laughs) In The Dead Poets Society, he was like every college professor that I've ever loved! He was so inspiring. He ended up like many of my favorite professors, too. He cared too much about the kids. What a crime. (sarcasm)
Why do you think it’s as difficult as it is to find what to believe when watching the news these days?
I'm a born cynic at heart. I'm hardly a political expert, but there are tiny details that just irritate me about the news. I remember the first video of a hostage supposedly being beheaded many years ago. There was no blood anywhere, and the knife was dry. The video was everywhere, and everyone saw it. Nowadays, everything is done in secret, and we don't hear about it until later. If it is true, then I don't want to see it. Once you see something like that, it changes you forever. I do believe that certain events were staged by the government in order to gain access to the personal privacy of the citizens. I also believe that these events are staged to keep the citizens angry, so that they will more willingly surrender their privacy in exchange for protection. It seems more like a distraction tactic, to keep us busy while the government commits the real atrocities. I am proud of my country, but ashamed of my government. We have much to atone for. The bombing in Hiroshima, for instance. What good does it do to kill civilians? The internment camps are something that should make every American citizen feel deep shame. War is such a tragic answer to world problems. No one really wins. Blame my cynicism on George Orwell's 1984, and his Animal Farm. I see the United States headed that way very quickly. We soon won't be able to tell the pigs from the men. (laughs)
How relevant to society do you consider Orwell’s novels like 1984 and Animal Farm nowadays?
With the march towards socialism that the United States seems to be taking, I think that 1984 and Animal Farm are something that every freedom-loving citizen should read. The privacy of the average American is eroding as we speak. The government reads our Facebook posts and can eavesdrop on phone conversations. Our internet searches are sold to advertisers. They aren't even subtle about it. What I don't understand is why we aren't fighting back? There is a rumor that computer chips for people are being considered. Even if you aren't a Christian believer, it's a gross violation of privacy. We need to pay attention to what our leaders are doing and let them know that we as a people are not going to stand for it. We go to war for what, exactly? Land? Power? Oil? America has a track record of sticking its nose where it doesn't belong. Did we learn nothing from Vietnam?
When you hear Tolkien you usually remember Lord of the Rings. Were you entranced by the fantasy aspects of that series when reading it? Are there other, lesser known writings by Tolkien you appreciated as much as the Ring series?
The Lord of the Rings is one of the most perfect series ever written. It has something for everyone. I was very pleased with the film versions. It all started with The Hobbit for me. The animated version! I was enthralled by Bilbo's spirit. I've always rather related to him. He was a homebody--as am I. He enjoyed the quiet things in life. All of a sudden, he was thrust into the middle of this grand adventure--and quite against his will! He eventually realized that size and strength weren't necessarily what was important for the task which was thrust upon him. He couldn't understand the wild desire which grew in his heart and threatened to engulf him. He knew that it was terribly improper (laughs), but it was what he had to do. I quite liked the quote about being able to wear a sword instead of a walking-stick. I could totally relate to that as a physically handicapped person. Books were definitely an escape from reality. I liked his Roverandom, too. It was unique.
In what ways was Tolkien’s Roverandom unique? I’m unfamiliar with this work; is it a novel or a series of novels? What is the basic storyline and how does it unfold?
Roverandom was written for Tolkien's son, when he misplaced a much-loved toy. It's about a little dog that made a very naughty decision, and is turned into a toy. It has a loose Pinocchio parallel, but it is also very different. The characters are very well done, with a hint of the loveable and taciturn alike. It's told mainly from the dog's point of view. The novel is fairly short, and follows the toy dog's quest to become a flesh and blood dog once more. It's written for children, and is very clever--as only children's books can be. I recommend it wholeheartedly to any adult who wants to recapture the magic of being a kid again.
What published writings by Isaac Bashevis Singer did you most often read as you were growing up? What can you relate about this author’s work to the readers?
Isaac Bashevis Singer was most famous for "Yentl, the Yeshiva Boy," but my personal favorite was "The Black Wedding." Again, it was included in a Marvin Kaye collection. I was completely fascinated by the Jewish religion depicted in the pages. I had been raised Protestant, and knew nothing of other cultures or religions. I think that I picked up my first Singer reader when I was in my mid-teens. All of the stories reflected the Eastern Europe of many years past, and the struggles of the characters with issues of religious morality and oppression. It can bring a tremendous amount of peace, or it can drive you insane. That's why it's so important to go into a religion or alternative system of belief with your eyes open. You should question everything. It's not a disrespectful or shameful thing to do. The teachings have to agree with both your heart and your mind.
How would you elaborate on Tanith Lee being a descriptive writer? What did you find beautiful and terrifying about her fairy tales? How much did When the Clock Strikes differ from the traditional Cinderella story?
Tanith Lee is very unique, in that her writing is both luxurious and strong. Her words weave their spell around you slowly, until you're trapped in her silken web. She is the spider, and we are the fly. In "Snow Drop," she describes a sensual scene between herself and the heroine, in which she's combing her hair with a cinnamon-scented heated comb. One can literally smell the cinnamon in the room. The two women try on lingerie, and spend the afternoon together in bed. Tanith Lee captures the innocence of the young girl, with the experienced older woman guiding her. It was quite beautiful.
In Lee's "When the Clock Strikes," the Cinderella character is no shy violet. Indeed, she is a vengeful creature. I don't wish to spoil it for those who haven't read it yet. I recommend it for the pure joy of reading it. It will warm the heart of the coldest vampire. Both "Snow Drop" and "When the Clock Strikes" can be found in her anthology, Red as Blood: Or Tales from the Sisters Grimmer.
Can you describe the dynamics between the Messiah and Lucifer as it’s represented in C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters? Is there a unique way in which he writes this conflict in his novel? How is your method similar to and different from his?
C.S. Lewis did most of the book in a journal/letter format, in that a demon was training his nephew in the art of deceit. It was very true-to-life, in pointing out the flaws and faults of Christians and the Christian faith. For the most part, it speaks of the folly of men, and how the Word can be twisted into something ugly. Screwtape, the senior demon, instructs Wormwood on how to secure a soul. In order to do so, C.S. Lewis had to look at the weaknesses of his own nature and exploit it. It was said that Lewis had a hard time shaking off the character, because it was so contrary to his own nature. He felt true spiritual danger. I felt the same way writing my own book series. In the first book, my Luciferian character--Benediction de la Lucia--was very much like the traditional Jesus. He was warm, fatherly and kind. By contrast, my first Messiah character--Jesse Messiah, son of Jehovah--was portrayed as a victim of neglect and abuse by his father, and was surly by nature. Over the span of the series, Benediction begins to show his true colors. He gets drawn into the prophecy against his will, and turns the other characters against each other as the end times draw near. It's not meant to be a perfect Biblical parallel. That story has already been told. (smiles) I use Biblical quotes and events in a new context, against the backdrop of 1800s New Orleans. My work is very sultry and bloody, and doesn't flinch. My boys are indeed vampires, but that is only a small part of the story--almost an aside, really. They are beautiful, brazen and ferocious.
How do your personal views on religion resonate with the writings of Singer and Lewis, in addition to your own work?
I think that Singer, Lewis and I are all guided by a sense of morality, although it doesn't necessarily stem from Biblical sources. It's a more lucid sense of right and wrong that's felt within the heart. All three of us were/are very interested in different philosophies and world beliefs, and we were secure enough to pursue them without feeling threatened theologically. As a writer, I would consider myself to be closer to Singer's method of expression. He often paired bloodshed and pain with passion. He understood how powerful the physical need was for astonishment, and the mental repercussions of following that lust. He stood behind his beliefs in his private life as well. I feel a great affinity for writers of the Jewish faith. My maternal Grandmother's family is full of Sedars and Cusacks, who lived in Germany back in the late 1880s to the present day. My Mother, and later my brother and myself, were raised Protestant, but we had many different cultures in our family. We are primarily German and American Red Indian.
When I approach the subject of religion in my books, it's in a nontraditional manner. My God and Lucifer parallels are very different from the traditional viewpoint. Most of my characters are gay men. Many of them are prostitutes. The second book in the series, Southern Cross, is about the rise of a modern-day messiah. I ruffled quite a few feathers with some of the theologians on that one! (laughs) Imagine Christ being born as a mortal!--and gay!--and a prostitute to boot. (smiles) However, it is said that the human incantation of Christ spent most of his time with beggars, prostitutes and thieves. Basically, the very dregs of humanity. The hardships endured gave him his kind, compassionate heart. I tried to model the new messiah--Timothy De Marquisate--after the loving side of Christ. I wanted my readers to see love, not law. Timothy is a very intimate character for me. He carries a great deal of my personal pain, and he's very sensitive. Perhaps the most religious character is my John the Baptist character, Obadiah St. John. He is probably the character who evolves the most throughout the series. He starts off as the villain of the first book, and grows from there. Basically, Obadiah is a big, muscle-bound gorgeous hunk of a man with a golden tongue. He isn't the sharpest tool in the shed, but he's very persuasive. He had all of New Orleans in his hand.
My books will never fit in the category of 'Christian' literature. They are far too sensual and far too violent. However, you will find reverence for God in them, as well as respect for other beliefs. In fact, Timothy's husband Matthias is an atheist. He's a physician, and very much a man of science and logic. In my personal beliefs, I support science 100%. I'm not threatened by it, as many Christians are. I'm completely fascinated by the workings of the universe. I try to highlight both the joy and agony of religion in my work. I let the hypocrisy of man shine through at every turn. I try to look at religion from the outside, versus the view of the follower. I think that it's important to do so, to get a fair perspective.
Science vs religion has become a major debate in the past few years. From where do you think this originated of late?
I think that the science versus religion debate has always existed. It's become elevated in more recent years because people are more open to new ideas, and aren't ruled by superstition. Well, at least not religious superstition. I see nothing wrong with the growing awareness of other cultures and religions. I think that it's a beautiful thing. We are a great wide world of individuals, and we have so much to learn from each other.
I have noticed that some television shows like Family Guy, The Simpsons and Cosmos bring the topic to the forefront. I applaud them. They raise the topic in a nonthreatening way, and make people think. It's brilliant. I think that a person should explore all of their options before choosing a religion or system of belief. I also think that a person should never follow blindly. Use your head. As Walt Whitman said: "Dismiss anything which insults your soul."
How did you come to address religion in a non-traditional way in your fiction? How early in your time as an author did this begin to manifest? What sort of reactions did it create from your immediate community?
Traditional religion can be very harsh to the soul of the individual. It basically tells you that you're unworthy. I wanted to give my character deities a different voice. I wanted them to reflect what I personally love about Christ: His loving spirit. I didn't want them to preach and condemn and squash a person like a bug just because they've made a mistake. The traditional view of Hell is extremely cruel, and to me doesn't reflect the view of a loving God. How unfair Hell would be--to burn forever, just because you didn't believe like everyone else. My view of Hell--which is illustrated in my series--is a place of reflection. It's not permanent. I don't believe in the torture and the screaming and Ol' Scratch shaking his big red behind as he roasts the souls of the naughty over the flames with his trident. My Luciferian character--Benediction de la Lucia--is very human. He gets himself into trouble with excess alcohol consumption, his desire of beautiful things and his lust for the gypsy boys of New Orleans. He is ruled by his physical needs. Timothy--the Messiah--is much the opposite. He is ruled by the heart and the head. He is a very loving and humble person, and quietly strong--very unlike the Biblical Jehovah.
I wrote the first book in the series--The Scent of Jasmine--as an atheist. I became an atheist a few years before after the traumatic death of my loving Grandma Winona. I could not reconcile the senselessness of her death with the existence of a loving God, so I backed away from the church. I still haven't gone back. I am a quiet believer, and my relationship with God is strictly personal. However, I didn't return my spirit to God until the middle of my second book, Southern Cross. I was looking up a Psalm for one of the characters to sing, and I had a religious epiphany. I suddenly felt very loved. It's a bit difficult to explain.
The reviews of my work in the religious community have been mixed. Some refuse to talk to me. Others are wary. However, there are quite a few of my young readers who have told me that they're relieved to find that someone understands. To those of us who are LGBT, being drawn to God can cause a great inner conflict. I try to let them know that He loves everyone. I also tell them not to look at fellow Christians, but to look above instead. I am not a Christian who is bigoted. I believe that all beliefs--whatever they may be--are equally valid. I would never push my views on others; it's just vile. The greatest compliment that I've ever received came from an elderly pastor in New Orleans, who told me: "Your methods are odd, but you're a woman who reveres her God. Blessings, Sister." I got tears in my eyes. I felt like he understood what I was trying to say.
The world could use more people who view religion in similar ways as you view it. All too often religion is used as a weapon or a means of control. A means to justify committing evil acts. Like the person who roars the loudest about how others should be more “open-minded” but has extremely limited and narrow viewpoints, and are closed-minded themselves. Does the same apply in both cases?
I believe that we should all be more tolerant of others as human beings, no matter what the subject. I am a fierce advocate of freedom of speech. Even if I hate what is being said, I will always defend the person's right to say it. I agree that some of the most publicly open-minded people are the most hypocritical. I can be that way myself. I am a very strong supporter of animal rights, but I refuse to call myself an activist. In my experience, many activists are extremely annoying people. (laughs) They act terribly, and instead of educating the public, they drive people away. When someone asks them a question about animal rights, they gasp and cluck their tongues about how stupid the person is. It's vile. They're hurting the very beings that they claim to be helping. They overreact and whine at the tiniest detail, and no one takes them seriously. A wise person chooses their battles and stands strong. I am a vegetarian, but it's a personal choice for me; it's absolutely none of my business what other people put into their mouths. I'm always happy to offer advice when asked.
Religion being used as a tool to control other men is simply wrong. In my opinion, The Holy Bible can be a great reference book if one feels drawn to it. There is also a great deal of ugliness and human prejudice within its pages. You have to go in with a functioning brain. If you believe it word for word, it will drive you insane. To use religion to justify prejudice, war and hatred is the greatest sin of all mankind. If anything, it drives people away. Religion and science (in my opinion) go hand-in-hand. I believe in science under God, absolutely. Creationism...not so much. Science is not the enemy--and it's sad that so many Christians think it so.
You appear to know a lot about religion and religious issues. How many different religious belief systems have you studied in your lifetime, and what so far have you gotten out of your research?
I've studied and dabbled in many different beliefs and religions. Of course, I'm drawn to Native American beliefs (our family includes Seminole and Creek nations, as well as white). It's a very peaceful way to live, when you walk in balance with the earth. You tread lightly, and take only what you need. I also love Santeria. It's completely gorgeous. It's nothing as portrayed in horror films. It's a very passionate religion. A lot of the Loa (spirits that carry the communication between humanity and God) coincide with the Catholic saints. It was done to protect the people from the Christian invaders, who would kill them if they didn't convert to Catholicism. A lot of people are curious about the animal sacrifices in the rituals. What it represents is the blood of birth, which is present in all mammals. This is done when the spirit is being invoked. The animal has to be perfect, and the knife has to be perfect. It reminds me a bit of the Kosher practices, where the knife of the Rabbi also has to be perfect when the food animals are killed. My stepmother--a very wise, sensible and spiritually beautiful woman--has a theory that all religions are under the same model of god, with different rituals according to region. I tend to agree with her. She is filled with the light of God, and radiates a tremendous love for all those whom are lucky enough to be around her. To me, she is more noble and godlike that many people who go to church every Sunday. She epitomizes Christ and his teachings more than anyone that I know.
Every belief system that I've studied has had something wonderful to offer. This will probably land me in hot water with some conservatives, but what else is new. (laughs) I quite admire Luciferians. They are completely in charge of their destiny, and embrace every side of humanity. I think that's a wonderful thing. I don't think that we should suppress ourselves. We are beautiful, lustful human beings who want. It's part of who we are. From Judaism, I learned the importance of reverence for God and respect for others. I could listen to a learned Rabbi debate for hours and never be bored. From Santeria, I learned to harness the passion within and use it to revere both Heaven and Earth, and everything in between. It's taught me that every step, every breath and every gesture is a prayer. From Wicca, I learned to respect the earth and other people. It's such a peaceful and loving religion. From Druidism, I learned wisdom and patience and respect for the entire earth. Buddhism taught me humility, and to see past the facades that people throw over themselves like glamour spells to protect them from the scorn of others. From Hinduism, I also learned about humility. I also learned to revere sex as a prayer, as a holy and beautiful joining of mind, body and spirit. From the great philosophers, I learned how to think and reason. I find such beauty in their words. It's like having the sun inside of you. Lastly, from Christianity, I learned patience, and love for everyone. I also found a best friend in Jesus Christ. It's a very personal thing for me, and I would never try to push my beliefs on anyone. It's simply not how I roll. I'm fiercely protective of all my friends, including Him. (laughs) I can't recite my exact beliefs to other Christians. It makes me feel very violated when they demand to know the specifics. To me, it's far too precious and personal to wave about like a gaudy flag. It's more like a private prayer shawl. I don't make a big show of it. I have an identity separate from my beliefs.
What are your thoughts on Aleister Crowley, Norse Paganism, Celtic Paganism and LaVeyan Satanism?
I'm more familiar with LaVeyan Satanism than any others that you've mentioned above. I personally love LaVey's writings. I think that he was a very intelligent man. His Satanic Bible was different from what I expected. I read it as an older teen, and was impressed. I had expected the ravings of a madman, but it made very good sense. I liked what he said about the beast in man that needed to be 'exercised', not 'exorcised'. I agree with him 100%. To suppress basic, natural urges is lunacy. Of course, to function in society, we must don many masks of civility. It's one of the reasons I choose to be a virtual hermit. I'm not good with stuffy or uptight people. I horrify them. (smiles)
The Gaulish Druids have often fascinated me. I still love to read about them. As an indigenous person (Creek and Seminole), it's very easy to draw a parallel between the tribal beliefs and practices of the American Red Indian and the Gaulish Druids. Both celebrate the reverence of life in all forms: the spirit world, the trees, the grass, the animals and mankind. Much like the human body, it's believed that there are sacred places in the earth (comparable to the heart and mind), and places where the waste is excreted, spiritually. The good of the community was celebrated, rather than the needs of an individual. Everyone had a place, and everyone was fed and cared for. In the media, we rarely hear about the good side of the Druids. All we hear about are blood sacrifices. The odd thing is, in the times of the Old Testament, animal sacrifices were made to Jehovah. So why are some Christians so hung up about it?
The average Christian knows nothing about Luciferianism. It can be quite amusing to read some of their literature on the subject. It's such a straightforward and honest way to live (Luciferianism). They make things happen in their own lives, and I find nothing wrong with that. If Heaven and Hell exist, I don't think that anyone has any idea of who is going where. Besides, in my belief, Hell can't be permanent. I tend to believe that it would be a place of reflection, rather than eternal torment. I find it hard to believe that a loving God would sentence anyone to eternal torment, for He made them as they are.
Why do you think religion is taken literally or at face value by so many people?
I think that religion is a great comfort to many people who have nowhere else to turn, and that's okay. To quote the film, The Rapture: "Only the truly humble hear the voice of God." I believe that a person should go into any belief or religion with both eyes open. You can revere God and still think for yourself in many instances. Never do what your heart tells you is wrong (discrimination, hatred, bigotry), because even if it is written, the text was written by mankind and only inspired by the deity. To be human is to make mistakes, and to try to mold God's will around our own is one of the worst mistakes that we can make. We need to love other people. I think that love and compassion are more important than traditional religion. There is a comfort in losing yourself completely in God's will, but how can we be sure that it's truly His will and not our own? To completely shrug off responsibility is the worst way to follow God, in my opinion. Don't blame your weaknesses on a red guy with a pointy tail; Ol' Scratch is in enough spiritual hot water as it is! (laughs) Don't forget--we have only heard one side of the story--Jehovah's. As mortals, we have embraced Lucifer, because he is one of our own. He is driven by the same forces as we are: hatred, envy, lust... Why punish Lucifer so harshly because he had a little ambition? There are so many things that I would like to know.
Describe the plots and storylines of your first and second novels, The Scent of Jasmine and Southern Cross? Were these both released independently? How favorable was the critical reception upon their release? Can they be ordered anywhere?
I've written three novels in the Jasmine Vampire series: The Scent of Jasmine, Southern Cross and Corinthians. I'm currently working on the fourth, Siren Loa. The Scent of Jasmine is narrated by a vampire named Matthias Ste. Germain. He is essentially a remorseless killer, and has lost all human feeling and emotion in the 50+ years that he's been dead. He meets a young man--a prostitute--in the park, and goes home with him, and plans to kill him. Instead, he finds himself oddly drawn to the boy, and ends up falling in love with him. That begins Matthias' journey back to humanity. It awakens the emotions that have been dormant within. It's always fun to write as Matthias. He's such a loveable buffoon. His sense of humor is dry as a bone. The story sets the scene for the entire series. It introduces the New Orleans of long ago, with its horse-drawn carriages and its superstition and magic. It also introduces the characters: the deities, the prostitutes (or Gypsy Boys), the Bible-thumping dictator--Obadiah St. John--who rules like a Christian crusader with the sword. Obadiah is one of my favorite characters, because he really evolves throughout the series. The Scent of Jasmine features the vampire theme a bit more than the other books, and is a very passionate read. It deals with the hypocrisy of religion head on, and it doesn't flinch. It's very bloody and extremely sexual. It's about one man's journey back to the world of the living.
Southern Cross is about the rise of a modern-day Messiah. It details the intense spiritual struggle and doubt of the chosen one, Timothy De Marquisate. There are lots of weird, Biblical parallels--but they are taken completely out of context and made into something completely new. The Biblical quotes are all from The Living Bible, which is a Bible written in plain English. I use mostly Psalms, because quite frankly, the preachy stuff turns me off! (laughs) This book details the relationships between the boys, and they form lasting partnerships. This also introduces the rise of a new enemy, Hana-No-Seishin. He was mentioned in the latter chapters of the first book as a wealthy patron of the boys. He is a frightening person indeed. The high points of the book are the Temptation of Timothy the Messiah, the execution of Obadiah St. John and the final chapter of the book, which deals with the crucifixion and resurrection. The thing that I loved most about the book was the relationship between Matthias and Timothy. Matthias is a born cynic, a physician, a man of science and learning, an atheist. Imagine being married to the man who is the new Messiah! His reactions are priceless. Timothy is a very sensitive, somber, Gothic little thing. Until he met Matthias, he never knew how to laugh. In exchange, Timothy taught Matthias how to feel. Tim is Matt's rock, and Matt is Tim's wings. Another couple is my Lucifer--Benediction de la Lucia--and his Arik. They are polar opposites, but click together well. Their sex is so hot, it would make the flames of Hell pale in comparison. The book is an intense roller-coaster of emotion, from the very depths of misery to the height of hilarity. It makes a person think.
Corinthians loosely parallels the Tribulation period, and the destruction of the earth. It introduces more characters, including Matthias and Timothy's son, Matthieu-Michele, who opens the book with a chapter written from his young (six and one-half years) perspective. This book introduces two new generations of the Holy Family, and takes you directly into both Heaven and Hell. It is intensely bloody, and I don't recommend it for the squeamish. It's about spiritual agony, and being separated from the one that you love. Tim and Matthias separate for a very startling reason, and Timothy begins to fail. The citizenship mark is introduced, and Tim is in very real danger of fading away, because every time he is denounced with the taking of the mark, he dies in the heart of that person. Gods cannot exist if they don't live in the hearts and minds of humanity. The last third of the book deals with the concentration camp, the Last Supper, a Solomon parallel, and the Arena at the End of the Earth. Alliances change, and relationships are torn to shreds. Will Timothy live to see the New Jerusalem? I'm especially proud of the last chapter. Angst! (laughs)
Did you ever visit New Orleans personally? What information did you gather about the religious practices there?
I've visited friends in New Orleans, and I've always been taken by the kindness and warmth of the people there. The Gothic scene has always been alive and well. It's a vampire culture, steeped in the history of the people themselves. I love the Haitian Creoles; I've learned a lot about Santeria from them. I've always been interested in Voodoo, Macumba and some of the more exotic religions. I read a book long ago called The Altar of My Soul by Dr. Marta Moreno Vega. It is my favorite text on the subject. She is a wildly intelligent and educated woman. I have never met Dr. Vega, but I feel spiritually connected to her, in a 'sisters of the church' fashion. I've learned so much from her book. Another good book is The Serpent and the Rainbow, by Wade Davis. It is completely different from the film (which is one of my favorites!), but it is really interesting. I've read that Davis was unsatisfied with the film. I thought that it was one of the best horror films ever made. It got under my skin and bothered me! It was delightfully creepy and very well done. Zakes Mokae scared me to death! What an excellent actor he was!
Does Dr. Marta Moreno Vega have an extensive collection of writings? Which of them would you also recommend?
I've only read the one book by Dr. Vega: The Altar of My Soul. I would be interested in reading more. She has a positive energy, and she encourages education in her own community. It's refreshing to find such a deeply religious woman who is also educated. The world is changing, and more and more believers of all faiths are encouraging a college education. That, to me, is progress.
Have you seen Zakes Mokae in other movies or television shows?
I haven't seen Zakes Mokae in other films, but I will look him up on Oz! He frightened me in The Serpent and the Rainbow. As a fan of horror films, that's a hard thing to accomplish! He made the character real on the screen. You could feel the evil and cruelty emanating from him. The entire film was brilliant, although the portrayal of voodoo was largely fictional. The music is some of the best that I've heard. It was a unique film. I loved the passion of the characters. I love a film that crawls under your skin and makes you itch. It still gives me nightmares! Just the very idea of being buried alive--brrrrr!
In what ways has New Orleans culture been influential to your writing?
I love the mystery and the history of New Orleans. The architecture, the Goth element, the Voodoo and Santeria influences--everything. I love the idea of horse-drawn carriages and big ball gowns with fitted bodices and full skirts. The men in top hats and tails. It has a certain antique elegance to it. There is also the other side of society--the poor children roaming the streets, the prostitutes, and the darker side. The drugs are plentiful, and the drinks are toxic. You have to watch your back. There are plenty of smooth talkers about. One of the things that I enjoyed most was the variety of street performers. My favorite was an elderly Creole man named Grandpa Elliott. He has such sunlight within him. A very nice, talented and funny gentleman. I wonder if he's still living. You can see him in the Playing for Change video. I love his version of Stand By Me. It brings tears to my eyes. His voice is so beautiful. Bless him, wherever he is. He is an angel in any form.
Are there locations in the States or abroad where you would plan to travel to expand your horizons?
I would love to travel the continents of Africa and Asia. A bit of Europe, too. I am learning Japanese at the moment, both reading and writing. I think that Japan is such a beautiful country. There is such history there, and the architecture blows me away. Also, quite a few of my online friends are from Japan, and I love them dearly. I would also like to see China, Vietnam, Korea...Egypt, too. My ex-girlfriend was heavily into Egyptian history and artifacts. Ireland also has quite a pull for me. I love everything about it: the people, the literature. The scenery is breathtaking. Within the USA, I would love to revisit Hawaii. I went there as a child, and it was completely magical. Another country outside of the US that I'd like to visit is Haiti. I have a few friends from there, and I'd love to see it with them.
What can we expect from Siren Loa when it is published?
Siren Loa will focus more on the new generation of the Holy Family in my Jasmine Vampire series: The two sets of twins (Croccifixio and Christophe, and Cormac and Colin), Matthieu-Michele, and little Valencia. Timothy's Boys will still be a large part of the story; however it will focus strongly upon the trauma inflicted upon Valencia by her well-meaning Grandpa Timothy in a very understandable act. It's a new world, and Valencia will have to fight to find her rightful place in it. Alliances will disintegrate, marriages will fail. New partnerships will be formed, and it won't be who you might think. We will take a deeper look into some characters, and they will evolve into vastly different beings. In the chapter that I'm currently working on, Hana-No-Seishin--the Beast or World Dictator--makes his first appearance since the Arena at the End of the Earth. Many readers asked what had become of him after the end of Corinthians. The character was inspired by one of my real-life heroes, of whom I recently "met" online. What a thrill; he was every amazing and beautiful thing that I ever imagined him to be. A very nice gentleman. Out of respect, I won't mention his name, because he is a very private person. However, this character epitomizes his inner strength and civility, and his gentle grace. Most of my characters are inspired by real people. They aren't supposed to actually be that person. I'm most commonly inspired by an expression: the lift of one's chin or the line of one's cheek, a smile, a personality in a video clip. I love faces with character. A switchblade smile, a wink, a mocking grin, a sense of humor...all is inspiring. I dedicated Southern Cross to Zim Zum, of The Pop Culture Suicides/Pleistoscene/Marilyn Manson. He inspired my Timothy De Marquisate, the newly risen Messiah. He is the epitome of patience and grace, yet he has an edge to him--a passion within that burns bright and sets him apart from everyone else. And, no--the messiah doesn't play guitar. (laughs)
You put a lot of thought and imagination into character development in your novels. Describe the process by which you do this?
Thank you; what a nice compliment! I love to show all different sides of a character. Some have been evil and grown into tremendous people. Others have shown their true colors after existing as seemingly benign people. Sometimes, if I change a character, it has to do with the person who inspired it. If the relationship changes or my view of them shifts, it can affect the character. I usually have an idea of what I want from a character; I'll be inspired by a person's smile or carriage. Sometimes, it's something that they've said in an interview that makes me want to add another layer to the character that they've inspired. I also add elements of myself and my true life events to a character. Timothy carries my pain from abuse. Arik is bipolar. Ville and Hana represent my cruel streak. Obadiah, my religious terror, and the struggle of being gay (pansexual). Brian is the beauty, and he's selfish. Matthias is the educated buffoon, who doesn't relate to people very well. He's a bit cold, but can be very loving. Benediction is compassionate, an empath. My female characters are strong. They have to be, in the world that they live in.
Have you penned more novels or short stories since you began writing? Which of the two are easier to write for you?
I'm always writing! Right now, I'm also working on a book of Gothic fairy tales. I am so enamored by Tanith Lee's Red as Blood. The latest is a Pied Piper parallel called "The Highwayman". It's written in a bit of a butch manner, so it's difficult for me. It doesn't flow naturally. I like a bit of frilly, old-world flavor in my dialogue.
I don't consider myself a natural poet, but I'm working to improve. I wrote two poems about being physically and emotionally handicapped, which were the most intensely personal things that I've ever shared. Most of my poetry doesn't rhyme, but it has heart. (grins)
I prefer novels over short stories. I like to reveal a character little by little, like opening a gift at Christmas. A novel gives me time to build suspense and illustrate the energy between the characters. I love all of the weird little quirks of my characters. They're like my family inside my head. Sometimes, I even dream in character. I had a rather unfortunate incident one night, in that I got up to use the facilities, and was very surprised to find a girl with long, blonde hair staring back at me in the mirror, rather than the tall, dark Matthias Ste. Germain! (laughs) What a mess! I had no sense of humor about that incident for a long time, and when I finally told someone, they convinced me to share it. So, there it is! (laughs) Now, that's dedication to your characters!
A few of your short stories have been published in this zine, including Monster’s Ball, Vino, Red and Anniversary. Are these among your favorite short stories this far? Describe how the inspiration for these and others you’d like to mention came about.
My favorite of my own work is my Japanese Gothic Cinderella adaption, entitled "Moesashi (Ember)". It's a bit different from the norm; it contains extreme violence and passionate sex, suicide and cannibalism. It's very much a tale of empowerment. I was aching to write a story with a handsome prince, as a valentine to honor Klaha--of whom I'm a great fan. I've been putting together a collection of Gothic fairy tales, in the fashion of Tanith Lee's Red as Blood. However, I wanted to do them my own way. Most of my characters (and much of my audience, and I) are LGBT, so I made Moesashi a beautiful androgynous male--the character tragically misunderstood. All that he wants is to be loved and understood. I hope that the readers enjoy the twist I took with the fairy godmother being. I wanted to add a more exotic feel to it.
"Red" was also inspired by Little Red Riding Hood, with the wolf being a "john", and Red Riding Hood being a mystical being in the guise of a male prostitute. There are two versions; one is in third person and the other in first person. I much prefer the first-person version. It has so much more detail, and the story flows better.
"Vino" was written out of pure religious torment. I wrote it in a hotel room when I was hanging around with a rather naughty crowd of people in my youth. I was lucky to escape with my life. Sometimes, you have to figure out what you really want for yourself, and find your way home to what's important within you. I went back to my family, battered and bruised, but wiser.
"Anniversary" was written around the same time period. I spent a brief time in an institution as a preteen. I've always been the outsider. I was quiet, and wore black. I was too shy to talk to anyone. I read Baudelaire, Kerouac and Asimov. I was a good student, but not many of the teachers liked me at that age. I drew horrifying pictures. I was bullied mercilessly. I was put away for ten weeks. You were basically at the mercy of the staff and the volunteers. They could (and did) do anything that they wanted to you. It's a very humbling experience. It can drive a sane person mad, and it literally did. I tried to capture that feeling in "Anniversary", the feeling of being trapped.
"Monster's Ball" was the original short story that I expanded into my first novel, "The Scent of Jasmine". It was meant to be about three pages, but my Mother (to whom I read all of my work aloud for feedback) began to cry for Brian, the main character. She put up such a strong case, that I expanded it to four chapters. At that time, I showed it to a few friends on YouTube who encouraged me to finish the story. I reworked it, and the first novel came to light. I love writing as Matthias; he's so me. (laughter)
Lastly, my Snow White Gothic fairy tale parallel--"Yuki-No-Hana (Snowflake)"--is, quite simply, a sentimental valentine to Mana Sama. He's one of my greatest heroes. He writes, designs clothing, plays guitar, performs, etc. He's also really smart. He does everything with such style, gentleness and savage grace. It's a tribute to his beauty. The character is largely silent. He is quite a young man, a courtesan. The story is set in New York, because I had gotten through with it, and realized that I had left out the whole apple parallel--so I set it in The Big Apple instead. (laughs) It was originally set in Japan. It's bleak, but there is true love between the two characters. Tragic beauty is so powerful.
Have your novels or short stories been reviewed on the internet or in print? If so, how has reviewer feedback generally been?
So far, I've had mostly good reviews online. Of course, there are a few who aren't going to like what I do, because of the controversial subject matter. That's quite all right; I would never try to tell anyone what my books are about, because each person's experience with a book is unique and deeply personal. An author can only release a story into the world and hope that it's understood. In fact, many of my readers have given me new perspectives on the characters that I've not noticed because I'm too close. I love my readers so much; they're incredibly sharp individuals with a great eye for detail. I cannot thank them enough for all of the love and support that they have given me over the past years. I am truly nothing without them. We've learned so much from each other. I've watched some of them grow up from middle school to high school, and some of them are now in college and have children of their own. Some are working in their dream field, creating and becoming established because they chose to follow their hearts. I get a bit teary eyed when I think of them, these bright young people. They've made me so proud. All of them! I love you guys! You're all my spirit children.
We have a mutual friend in the form of the poet Rich Orth, whose work has been published in Autoeroticasphyxium and Cerebral Agony. If you have read his poems, what is your personal view of them?
Oh, I love Rich Orth! He's so talented. His work practically leaps off of the page and seizes your heart, it's so powerful. I love everything he's done! Every time he shares his work, that poem becomes my new favorite. He captures the emotion of love in all of its exquisite and painful forms, and weaves them with skill into a breathtaking tapestry. I'm in complete awe of him. All of the contributors to the magazine have such amazing and beautiful voices, whether through the pen or the paintbrush, the camera or their music. It's the resounding chorus of glorious humanity!
List some examples of Rich’s poetry that particularly spoke to you as you perused it?
I quite enjoyed Orth's "Rotting Little Muse", as I can completely relate to living through those that inspire me--often to a dangerous degree. I also loved the one about his Dad: "Sentimental Journey". It made me remember my Grandmothers and Grandfather, and it made me weep with its beauty. He reminds me of Baudelaire, and that is a huge compliment coming from me! I also see the Edgar Allan Poe influence in his work. However, like the best poets, he creates something new and magical every time he puts pen to paper. He is, dare I say, the voice of our generation. He's our Kerouac, our Bukowski, our Ginsberg. He says what we all want to say, as outsiders and as members of a fringe culture. He has a tremendous gift, and I respect him and his work. He is a definite hero of mine, for sure! I admire poets, because it's hard to do. You have to be very skilled. I apologize for sounding like a fangirl! (laughs)
Of the other poets and authors you have read in this zine, are there any whose writings speak to you?
All of them, in different ways. M. Teresa Clayton and Jesse Abundis are good online friends of mine, both of whom have helped me in my own career. They steered me toward Lulu.com, the self-publishing website. I had an audience, but I didn't have the income to go the traditional route of printing up a large quantity of books. Jesse especially instilled the importance of remaining independent and of having full creative control. I can't thank the two of them enough! I really love Abyss Forgottentomb. She is an all-around brilliant writer, and a true artist. I've always been a fan of Johnny Hellion's art. Rich Orth, of course. Twiggy Thunderstorm, too. She's one of the most amazing artists that I've ever met. She can create in any medium, from sketches to jewelry to dolls and t-shirts. She is a born artistic genius. I am in complete awe of her. I'm trying to convince her to publish an art picture book on Lulu. Also, Andrea Norton. Her artwork is just gorgeous. If I could afford it, I'd have Twiggy and Andrea do my book covers for me! They've offered anyway, but I don't take advantage of friends. I want to support their work. Anyhow, back on subject, the night that I received the magazines in the mail, I sat and read the magazine from cover to cover. I enjoyed every single offering from the other writers, artists and photographers. It was a feast for the eyes and for the mind!
Another poet whose work you especially appreciate is a Korean war orphan known as Elizabeth Kim. Describe her writing style and explain the reasons her work captivates you as much as it does? Where can people find her work?
Elizabeth Kim wrote a tremendously brave autobiography called "Ten Thousand Sorrows", which made me cry for her. She has suffered so much from religious and racial intolerance. She was never white enough, or Korean enough. As a very young child, she was adopted by a white family who were religious fanatics. They killed her spirit at a very young age. I know what that feels like, to be told that you're an abomination and not worthy of God. It's an extremely cruel thing to do to a person. The only way that she could express herself was through poetry. Her poems are beautiful and tragic, and look at God/religion with an unflinching eye. She fantasized about suicide, as I did. It became her refuge, a way out, an end to her pain. I could so relate to that. Her book can be found through most major retailers. I got my copy through a book club, but I saw it on Amazon.com recently.
You have told me music plays a huge part in fueling your imagination to write, develop your characters and design covers for your writings. You likewise mentioned you are classically trained on piano. Present insight into this?
I love to have music on as I write or draw/paint. Music has a life of its own. I close my eyes and put my pen to paper, and record what I hear. It has layers. It's a tapestry woven of multicolor threads. I tend to listen to a vast array of music when I create. I like best the music with a classical feel, but heavy. Moi dix Mois. Malice Mizer. Gavin Friday. Randy Rhoads. Marilyn Manson. Zim Zum. I also like Indian flute like Robert Mirabal. Tribal music. Celtic folk music. Iron Maiden. Punk. Music is very emotional for me. It has to touch my heart and my mind. I've been listening to Malice Mizer more than anything else lately. "Le Ciel" is magical. "Gardenia". "Beast of Blood." "Au Revoir". The Bara no Seidou album. Also, from Moi dix Mois, the Dixanadu album. I enjoy the classical element, because I trained classically on piano from a young age. When my instructor married, I went on to another teacher who taught me about jazz, rag and folk music. I feel thankful that I had instruction in many different styles. I've never forgotten my classical roots. They keep me centered. The music moves through me and carries my prayers to Heaven. It helps me visualize. Music has a great influence on our emotions. It can excite, soothe, or fill one with throbbing animal lust. (laughs) I love the guitar part in "Le Ceil". It makes my heart soar. It makes me feel invincible.
After the current projects you’re working on are completed, do you have other ideas in mind for future projects?
I would like to continue the book series, for sure. It was supposed to end with Southern Cross. Then it was supposed to be Corinthians. However, my readers were insistent that there was more to the story. I am so glad! I love writing those characters, and I'll write as many books as they'd like. I'll keep my Boys busy. (laughs) There's always a need for sensual release in the world. It helps us forget more pressing problems. I may do a spinoff series, or even a prequel. Perhaps one of Matty's experience with Benediction, or of Matt's childhood. Perhaps even a book about Hana-No-Seishin, and his life in Japan, before he came to Orleans. Very little is known about Hana and his boys. That could be interesting. One thing that I will vow is to keep the sense of humor and fun within the pages. Yes, the tales are very depressing, but the characters find joy in the simplest things in life.
What advice would you have for people who want to get into writing, as far as developing their style or being noticed?
I would advise them to write, write, write! Do the editing later. Put what's inside you on paper. When you discard something, save it. You may use it later. Always mark your copyright online, whether it's art or text. Copyright it through your country's patent office. It's expensive, but will save headaches later. If you can, draw your own covers for your books. Learn how to do everything: formatting, editing, book covers, the marketing side. Don't give up! Use your social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube to spread the word about your work! Print up some attractive and eye-catching business cards and leave them everywhere; give them to waiters, to the clerk at the supermarket, your doctor, pizza delivery guys. Everybody. Let people read a sample of your work online, and build your audience. Also, listen to your audience. They have a lot of good things to say that are very helpful. Once you build your audience, look around for a good self-publisher--I use Lulu.com--or get yourself an agent and shop around for a major publisher. I was lucky enough to have a very supportive bunch of experienced indie author friends on Twitter and Facebook, who pointed me in the right direction, and have kept my head on straight. Thank you, Jesse Abundis and M. Teresa Clayton. I am forever in your debt. You've always been there for me, and I am so grateful. Also, my family have been very supportive. Thanks to every one of you who believed in me. Lastly--and most importantly--your fans, your readers--they're gold. Never forget the debt that you owe them. As much as possible, answer your fan mail and keep in touch with them. Without your readers/fans, you're nothing. My readers are the best!!! I hope that I can continue to make them happy for a long time. I think that when people see that you're excited about what you do, they become excited too. They are then inspired to follow their own dreams, because they see that nothing is impossible. So, put your heart on paper and go for it!