Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Author Interview: TODD CARD

Interview with TODD CARD

In our first interview for Autoeroficasphyxium in print we covered your novel Hell Cometh. How well has it done since the interview was published? Are copies of the book still in print?
First, I would like to thank you and AEA for giving me another opportunity to discuss any aspect of my writing history. AEA was, and has remained, an outlet which supports efforts such as mine, and I am grateful to have associated my content with them during my writing career.
With the exposure from AEA, I garnered a wealth of information exchange as well as an extended reader base, which I would have never seen otherwise. Hell Cometh reached levels of success of which I never dreamed. Many copies were sent to various countries around the world. I find it flattering that my work has been so well received.
After your interview, I was subsequently asked to do many others through a variety of media publications. In their own way, each managed to shine a light on my little book and many more copies sold, to my delight. The paperback went into a fourth publication when the publisher decided to distribute a different way. My work was placed on the Internet for digital distribution. As of that point, I have been unaware of any aspect of its online or printed copy success. Amazon Prime members are able to read the entire novel for free online.
Most of the interviews were within the United States, but I did take part in a couple of articles and talk show blogs, which were internationally based publications. The first was out of Canada.

I was not aware your interview led to that much success for you. From what countries outside the U.S. did you receive orders for Hell Cometh? Did your increased readership include both authors and fans?
There were many who approached me to do audio, video, and written interviews, which went out in various directions. In turn, granting my work far more exposure than I ever anticipated during the initial publication process. I should add, at that point, the beginning of Hell Cometh being introduced to a public format, my web exposure was massive by comparison to what it is now. The more interviews I did, the more exposure through those outlets I gained, as well as my personal promotions through my social connections. The footprint for that novel grew at a breakneck speed, much to my astonishment. At one point, I was featured on the front page of the Current In Carmel (a local newspaper for towns in Indiana--where I lived at the time of initial publication). They also granted me a generous two-page centerfold article which featured fan based photos from all over the country and locations around the world.
Many new readers reached out to me and my publisher to generate larger distribution efforts. The novel soon sold to every state in the United States of America, and then . . . we began receiving international shipping requests. I was aware of many of those shipments because I signed countless copies to be shipped. We sent cases of the book to the United Kingdom, Scotland, Ireland, Sweden, Holland, Canada, South America, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and more. Listed in no particular order. Here is an interesting bit of information. When shipping to Australia, expect your shipment to take a very long time to reach the projected destination.
My new reader base did include several authors, as well as fans. Some of these authors were friends of mine through social media, also from meeting entertainment personalities such as Norman Reedus, Laurie Holden (who played Andrea in The Walking Dead) ordered her copy from my publisher personally and subsequently spread my work throughout the main (inner circle) cast of the show, Traci Lords, etc. Many of those folks had exposure to writers and other authors who contacted us seeking copies of the book. We even sent out media kits to a few contacts seeking a possible opportunity to turn the work into a movie. One of those media kits went to Rob Zombie’s Wife, Sheri Moon Zombie. Nothing ever really materialized from those kits.
As a result of these exchanges, I ended up meeting personalities who write for Star Trek and other horror and science fiction outlets. I gained influence throughout writer communities all over and was able to help very talented friends of mine to get published and find success. At one point I created a group on Facebook, Splatterpunk Saints. My intent for this group was to attract people from various creative directions to pool our efforts to offer free and effective help to those who needed it. Eventually, I walked away from this group once it was self-sustaining. I was able to grant exposure and provide help to others. My splatterpunk mess began to serve the greater good and I was happy.

Did you expect Hell Cometh to blow up as big as it did when you initially released it? Describe the surprise you experienced when you saw how successful it became.
I would be lying if I said I had any expectations for that book's (as I do with all my others, I have stashed) success. I never expected that story to find its way out of my trunk. Had it not been for a super nosy houseguest, it would have never seen the light of day. Any success was shocking--beyond my wildest dreams! I tried to plug the book everywhere I went, but then I got an interview with a news publication in Carmel, IN (where I lived when Hell Cometh launched) things really went crazy. I was placed on the cover of that publication and given a center spread. TWO PAGES PLUS THE COVER?! Floored...is the only way I can describe how I felt.
Then I had a tattoo parlor wanting to do my cover design as a tattoo for me, to promote their shop! I laid for five hours to get my artwork tattooed onto my leg! Totally free! However, I gave the tattoo artist a generous tip for his time and skill. They wanted to be able to advertise that I got work done there. And then, a local party supply store brought me in to sign copies of my book during their annual Halloween day sale! When I showed up, they had posters of my work and me in their window! There was a line of people waiting to buy copies! There were people in that line, who already owned signed copies--and they were buying more! This also happened at the conventions. I actually met a creative writing professor associated with the University of Kentucky who brought several students along to buy more copies of Hell Cometh at that convention. They all introduced themselves, told me how much they loved my story, and then he told me he was using my work as an example to his students in his class! You could have knocked me over with a feather! My work was being used to teach higher learning?! My work?! I still think I was simply hallucinating...yeah, that's it--hallucinating.
Totally and completely Gobsmacked, was I.
I met people everywhere I went who had bought my work. There were people coming up to me at the grocery store to talk about my book. My insurance guy called me up, out of the blue, and told me he had seen me on the cover of The Current in Carmel. He wanted five copies of the book! My doctor told me he had seen it too! It was as if everywhere I turned, people were coming up to me. Suffering from extreme P.T.S.D. and an acute anxiety disorder, the way I do, I can't express enough how all this sudden attention presented some interesting challenges for me. Eventually, I understood not everyone who approached me was out to kill me. I have to laugh at that, but it is true.
Then, one Christmas morning, I was greeted with a pile of unexpected gifts left at my front door! They were all from Zombie Santa! One gift was a very expensive gift set of Crystal Skull Vodka (the one with the extra two shooter skulls). Shocked and amazed, was I. Any success was welcome, but all of this really made me feel wonderful. Coming from such a past as mine, it was so simply wonderful. I am about to turn 48 and I have never had a birthday party. Growing up, I never got anything for Christmas. My birthday was never celebrated. I was a part of a family of four and there were only three chairs which sat around our kitchen table. I was forced to eat my food while standing with my back to the family, the furthest distance away from the table as possible. So, I have always felt as if I was nothing special to anyone. I have never really felt so appreciated and loved. I felt love, probably for the first time in my life, and it was good.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not looking for a pity party, it is just how my life has been. My book changed all that. Something I created brought me love and admiration. That story was always nothing more to me than a notebook stuck in a trunk. That was all it was ever meant to be. Anything positive was a total surprise.

Which publication from Canada was the first outside the U.S. to interview you? How much information did you relate about Hell Cometh? Did you receive a free copy of this publication if it was in print, or do you have a link if it was for the net?
I must confess. I consider blog sites and fan sites to coexist with traditional paper and print publications. Perhaps, many would disagree with my consideration on this subject, however, that is how I feel. After your interview was published about me and my work, I went on a blitzing campaign to gain as much notice as possible. I did not have a publicist, nor a literary agent. Therefore, I worked directly for my publisher in the capacity of promoting my work, made available through them. So, through my Facebook and Twitter campaigns, I accumulated a lot of friends and readers. I shot your interview with me out, like there was no tomorrow. That gained the attention of a Blogtalk radio group called, FRANCY AND FRIENDS Online Radio/BlogTalkRadio. It was through this group I conducted my first audio interview. Again, I blasted the link to this interview all over Facebook and Twitter.
With the numbers of friends associated with my info blasts, many began to repost my posts and retweet my tweets. The next two audio interviews came about. One of the two was associated with FRANCY AND FRIENDS as a Canadian affiliate. The second was with the Gruesome Hertzogg Podcast. I believe it was one of these two. However, at the time of these interviews, I was participating in many. All of the interviews in which I have participated, written, audio, and video presented to me with different lines of questioning but all mostly concentrating the perspective on my work, Hell Cometh.
Most of the feedback of the audio and video publications submitted links from the interviews along with detailed information regarding their particular forms of info-sharing. I’m most cases, I was able to taper down my advertising to posting simple links with small parcels of information. Between those who conducted the interview and my modest word of mouth, interest spread. The greater the word spread the faster requests were submitted for more interviews and the volume soon became overwhelming.
Yours is one of the rarest of these, as you took the time to send a copy of our time together, as well as more samples of your printed work. This is one of the main reasons I have endeavored to retain communication with you and appreciate your interest in me. Your publication is bold, daring, and carries a swagger I find healthy and energetic. And it stands to this day, whereas other interviews I conducted no longer exist or have taken ‘said links’ down in favor of more current personalities.

What else can you tell the readers about FRANCY AND FRIENDS? Where on the internet can this group be located and what guests do they usually have?
At the time I was contacted to do the interview for FRANCY AND FRIENDS, I really didn't know who they were. They reached out to me through Facebook and requested my time. I was happy to do anything I could to promote the launch of my initial offering. Once we agreed to a call time, I contacted everyone on my social networking sites and invited them to tune in. Not only did many follow the link to listen, several took the time to call in with questions for the podcast! I was shocked my work had attracted so much attention and even more astounded to hear my friends from the Internet calling in to speak with me and give their feedback about my novel.
I conducted the interview while sitting outside in my backyard, enjoying a late Spring evening. At this point in the game, I was not accustomed to people wanting to talk to me about my work. I had not attended any conventions or book signings. Those would come later. At the time, I was blown away with all the support and reader testimonials! I had no idea what awaited me on the convention circuit and book signings. My wildest notions would pale by comparison to what I would later experience. FRANCY AND FRIENDS and Gruesome Hertzogg launched my work into a higher realm of notability, which caught me completely by surprise.
Since I have been away from the social networking side of my work, I have had to retrace my footsteps from back then to find links to interviews and reviews, for that project. I found FRANCY AND FRIENDS here.
The statement on their landing page covers what they do. "WE ARE FRANCY AND FRIENDS AND WE ARE PROUDLY SPONSORED BY BLACK BED SHEET BOOKS http://www.downwarden.com/blackbedsheet AND SHOT IN THE DARK COMICS http://www.shotinthedarkcomics.com/ SO JOIN JOY FLYNN AND I AS WE TRY TO BRING YOU THE BEST IN ENTERTAINMENT. AS WE INTERVIEW SOME OF THE GREATEST ENTERTAINERS OF ALL TIME! WE ALSO HAVE THE VERY LOVABLE JOHN LINK"
I have searched this site thoroughly, but have been unsuccessful in finding my actual interview with them. I would suspect, after this long, my time would have been purged to make room for more recent guests.
I did, however, locate the interview I conducted with Gruesome Hertzogg! It can be found at this link.

Who were some of the people who called in while you were interviewed on FRANCY AND FRIENDS? Did you have callers seeking an audience with you on Gruesome Hertzogg?
Out of fear of forgetting someone who called in, I would simply like to say it was around five or six friends from Facebook and a couple of friends whom I personally know. They were all excited about the interview and all wanted to ask a question (or questions) regarding my work at the time. They called in with both FRANCY AND FRIENDS and Gruesome Hertzogg. All were super supportive and excited about what I had produced. I felt their affection and support, which left me with an odd sense of vindication after the interview.
When I say, 'vindication', what I mean is...I have fought a lifelong battle with severe Dyslexia. This challenge has been with me since the very beginning of my life. I had lived in Florida when I started school. My 'challenge' was discovered then, however, my intellect was also revealed at that time. Once testing through the school system was concluded, it was decided that I should attend a Governers School for the Gifted and Talented. Back in the early 70's I would attend a different school entirely from the one I originally started. These days, those schools have been integrated into the general education programs with enhanced programs for students who are recognized for their intellect. Soon after my family moved to Virginia. Despite growing up in such an impoverished area of Virginia--I have been able to maintain the skills required to write large bodies of work, such as Hell Cometh.
My grandparents, on my mother's side (the quote which begins Hell Cometh was from my dearly beloved grandfather), insisted I grow up learning from the Funk and Wagnal Encyclopedia. My dearly loved and departed mother, (may God rest her soul) insisted I learn from those volumes, while she signed me up for a subscription to National Geographic. She kept my mind focused and guided me towards a life of dreaming for bigger things. With the philosophy that I could literally do anything I want, with no respect to any kind of disability, such as Dyslexia. Despite being born a 'blue baby' (what they called us back then), I have managed to overcome the odds stacked against me, more times than I care to mention. I have lived a wonderful and exciting life, for which I am truly thankful.

Who did you meet who had written for Star Trek? Which spinoff series of the show were they associated with?
The writer for Star Trek was a friend of mine on Facebook before an invitation to Splatterpunk Saints had been extended in his direction. I wish to reserve his name (out of respect for his privacy) but his Facebook profile had him (at the time) working from the Netherlands. We met (via Facebook) through another author group with which we had both been members. My general understanding of his connection with the Star Trek franchise was, he worked as a writer for the newer market audiences. Trekkies who love the new concepts within the traditional essence of Star Trek and those who are recently new to the latest movie experience. He always exercised a high level of diplomacy and professionalism where I was concerned. I could clearly see how well he fit in with other writers who were also members of Splatterpunk Saints. I am unaware of any spin-off experience he may have and I have not visited his web-based social connections in a very long time. That is to say, in excess of over a year ago.

How often did you make convention appearances promoting Hel Cometh? Any memories you want to share from them?
I started doing the conventions which came to the Indianapolis area. Since promoting for my work was basically left entirely to me, I paid the table fees and bought the books for resale at the conventions. I attended my first horror convention as a spectator, just to get a feel for the event genre. I was blown away by how cool this convention was!
I met celebrities who were interested in my work, who took copies of Hell Cometh (of course I took several copies to hand out for promoting while I was there), took pictures with me and my work, and who kept up with me after the curtains closed. This is where I met Norman Reedus. It was a stroke of dumb luck, we met. He was super gracious and friendly to me. We talked for a while, he took a picture with me, we talked further and he took a copy of Hell Cometh. I firmly believe he was the one who got those in the main cast of The Walking Dead (at that time) to start ordering copies of my work. It was a great time.
I was hooked on the conventions! I started signing up for every horror convention coming through the Indianapolis area. They were a lot of work, I was already sick and heavily medicated, but that didn't stop me. I started buying table space and selling copies!
One note of interest. I had joined a local horror writers club in the Indianapolis area. I went to a couple of meetings. Met a wonderful friend, who is still a friend to this day, but learned what not to do if I wanted to succeed. I left the group just before Hell Cometh was launched because I felt those meetings were nothing more than an ego stroke fest for those who had already published work. I found little to no actual support, but learned that if it was to be, it was up to me!
At my second Days of the Dead convention, I had two tables in a primo location. That is a lot of space! By that time I had learned to get a good spot in a hot location where I could most effectively work the traffic. The Days of the Dead organizers were also familiar with me and my product from a previous convention together. They were wonderful and accommodating in every way. I will always remember the Days of the Dead folks. Good people and outstanding conventions!
I had gained marketable experience with these conventions and it paid off, with huge dividends. The head of the very same local horror writers group was down from me a bit at my last Days of the Dead convention. He unloaded his novellas and had a pretty fancy spread going up when I noticed his booth. He waved and came over to say hello. I was nice in return. He acknowledged my work, which he had publically poo-pooed in front of the other attendees at the last group meeting. I could easily handle the criticism within the organization but I could not stomach the ego on this guy and some of the others in the upper positions within their organization. I signed a copy and gave it to him. He told me to come over to his table and buy any of his books I felt like I just had to have.... Real cute. Later he would decide to try every way possible to get me to return to his collective. I will explain.
The convention doors swung open and within minutes people worked to buy copies of my work. His fishing hole stayed dry from what I could see. Other vendors in my area of the convention floor wondered aloud what my deal was. I was shocked! The people just kept coming! A friend of mine and a contributor to Hell Cometh is Aaron Hoover of Carmel, IN. He helped me through that convention. I was quite ill, unable to do a lot of the lifting, and not making great decisions. He worked like a champ to promote the book, answered questions asked by interested parties, and provided me with outstanding company all three days. Honestly, I would have never been able to make it through that convention without him. He and his friends, Paul Arnone and Micah Wade Beck with others, ran the floors of the convention and actually funneled more interest and readers to my table. Those guys made that convention one of the most special occasions of my entire life. All, out of the kindness of their hearts. I couldn't sign the copies fast enough! The leader of the local horror writers group was so upset over my apparent success, he didn't even work his own table on the last day. He just left. Winning through success is such a sweet victory. I also rejected his and others requests to return to the writers group. I made a good friend of one of them and cherish that friendship to this day, but I would never attend another meeting.
Aaron Hoover also did something else which was special to me. He knew how much I thought of Traci Lords. She was at this convention. He labored in secret to get me a signed copy of a print from her and then, on the last day, Traci Lords came walking up to my table! I was gobsmacked by this! My boyhood dreams had come true! There before me stood Traci Lords. Asking for a copy of my work. She came from her booth and walked all the way across the convention, full of fans, to come see me! She came around to my side of the table as others stood around with their jaws dropped, gave me a strong hug, took some pictures and video with me, grabbed a copy of Hell Cometh, and then softly faded away. That was one of the greatest days of my life. Thanks to Aaron Hoover and his friends.

When you heard one press kit went to Sheri Moon Zombie, did you hope that Rob Zombie would possibly work on a film version of Hell Cometh? How well would a film version of the book do if one was ever made?
After Hell Cometh was on the market for a while, reader supported fan pages began to pop up. A young lady from Big Stone Gap, Virginia (Teresa) started talking about the way my work read. I was told repeatedly by different folks, none of whom knew one from the other, my work “...reads like a movie!” There was a discussion, albeit brief--on what director most participating within that discussion felt would do the book justice. Not only was Rob Zombie’s name among the first lifted for consideration, the vast majority agreed that he was perfect for the job . . . if he approached it from the perspective of how he remade Halloween. These readers, on their own, generated a method of communication between my publisher and those in Sheri Moon Zombie’s public relations group. My publisher sent the press kit and nothing further was mentioned. We all simply assumed there was no interest and we moved on.
This reader from Big Stone Gap, Virginia (which is located less than twenty minutes from the actual town that inspired Wisdom, Virginia. The location of Hell Cometh), was at the time, a student of Mountain Empire Community College in Big Stone Gap. She took the initiative to talk to the campus audio visual department about doing a documentary about the book and me as its writer. She was quite determined to spread the word about my work.
I firmly believe Rob Zombie would bring justice to my work. If, as others have stated, he stayed true to the principles, by which he directed the remake of Halloween. I feel he could create a fantastic work of art. Others may disagree, but I see his eye through his work. He approaches the depiction of life at its true value. He represents his work from a visceral perspective, which is exactly how I wrote Hell Cometh. Life, at some point or another, is visceral. I am not concerned with ‘gilding the lily’ with my work to appeal to a greater majority of readers. As a writer, I want to grow and refine my art, but I want it always to remain true. Visceral in its many states. I feel Mr. Zombie appreciates that aspect of the art he creates in movies.

How many people joined Splatterpunk Saints after you launched it on Facebook? How many contacts did you make there?
I created Splatterpunk Saints to do something on a large scale. I wanted to help other writers, artists, musicians, editors, and so on. I also wanted this group to observe a constitution of principles dedicated to helping others without the expectation of reciprocation.
When I had reached a certain level of publication, I realized I could help others with certain contacts I had made along the way. I was approached to write a short story to be added to a horror anthology. The person who proposed this idea to me worked with me on a couple of ideas. At the time this came about, I knew of an insanely talented dark poet--heavily influenced by the works of Edgar Allen Poe. I proposed the idea of me coming on board for this work if he also allowed this dark poet the opportunity to publish his work within certain sections of the book. I felt this man could keep the pulse steady between each short story by contributing his pros and suddenly we had an agreement. I felt this man had tremendous talent and needed the rest of the world to sample his amazing work. Telling him about his additions to this project brought me great joy. And, he has succeeded wonderfully after the initial exposure in that work. We are great friends and consider ourselves brothers through our craft. I wanted others to know this feeling.
I built the forum and invited key players into the game of Splatterpunk Saints. They were writers, editors, artists, poets, publishers, etc. We all agreed that any new members would have to come through invitation only and we were to remain elusive while in pursuit of outstanding contributors, as well as people we could help. I was acting president of this organization as we began promoting our members, sharing samples of work, and helping others find success. I quickly learned I would need, not one but two vice presidents. So, we could keep an even standing with decisions in the future. We had fun playing in our little Facebook sandbox. I met a blinding array of new talent, seasoned professionals, and supercharged dreamers. All of whom it was my great pleasure to know. After a while of working with this organization, I looked closely at our group and decided they could proceed without me. I was no longer a necessary component to the thriving success that was Splatterpunk Saint. Perhaps, I never truly was? I stepped away from the group and left it in incredibly capable hands. I haven’t returned, but I’m sure they are still going wonderfully. They were freely giving, bartering, thriving, and blessing the world with kindness and assistance. I’m profoundly confident, this continues to this day.

You were on hiatus from social media. What did you do during your time off and want made you decide to return?
My hiatus from all social networking and advertising came about for many reasons. I will state, without question, I found the task of walking away quite painful. I had amassed a large collection of good friends, both from my childhood, as well as new friends from the Internet. I announced, for my reasons, I was going to walk away and that is exactly what I did. Now, saying something and following through with your statement can be a daunting challenge. I was forced into walking away, and so I had to turn my back on solid friends...much to my deepest sorrow, and do just that. Walk.
The most important reason I left social networking was because I was diagnosed with a serious and devastatingly aggressive disease just after Hell Cometh launched. It was weeks before I could sit my wife down to tell her and then even longer before we talked to our daughters and my in-laws. I have no family left on my side of our marriage, so I didn't need to worry about anything there. I was placed on an incredible amount of medications, which shook me to my core. One doctor led to the next, who led to another specialist, which added more medications on top of the mountain of pills I consumed each day. I found myself going through x-ray machine after x-ray machine, MRI machine after MRI machine, CT scan after CT scan. Finally, I ended up in a state of complete vegetation. One fine day two specialists told me, together, I had four years left to live. Approximately.
I had a decision to make. We lived in a state far away from my wife's family. We were paying on a mortgage. Do I just ride things out and die, to leave my wife alone--isolated from anyone she knows? Leave her alone with two kids and a mortgage to pay? Or, do I rally myself and put in the work to change the future for my spouse and kids? I had been told my days were numbered and something had to be done. Again, I was given my terminal diagnosis alone. It took me about a month to talk to my wife about what I had learned. After learning how sick I was, we talked for a while. When she stopped crying we talked about how we would tell our kids. How we would approach talking to her parents. What we, as a couple, would tell our friends. My wife and I decided, to be honest, and just tell everyone. We did just that. Let the chips fall where they may. We decided it was time to fight again, not take the diagnosis lying down.
So, I put a call into my doctor's office to ask about the medications I was taking and any alternative treatments I could use to prolong my life. My doctor stated the following, "Mr. Card, you are on the medications we have prescribed because we want you to be comfortable in your final days." That was it. I replied, "So, what you are saying is, you are numbing me out to die? Is that all? Nothing more?" Her response was, "Yes." I fired them on the spot. We started looking for locations throughout the country to treat my condition. We found Oregon State University Hospital in Portland, Oregon. All the way across the country. My wife and I talked more about the future and decided it was time to sell the house and move. She wasn't going to let me go that easy.
I set about the daunting task of 'white knuckling' my way off of the medications. This is completely insane, so don't try this at home kids, but my wife and I did the research on my medications. We determined what I needed to keep me functioning and what could go. At the time, I was on MASSIVE doses of Morphine, Oxycontin, Oxycodone, and many other pain medications a day. I counted thirty-seven pills a day, were going down my throat to keep me moving. I took myself off of everything except blood pressure medication (because when you are in a constant state of misery, your blood pressure stays high) and a heart medication. A medication required to regulate and lower my heart rate, because of the constant pain. I drank gallons and gallons of sports drinks, sweat my way through my favorite chair in the living room, ruined a queen sized blanket, and many changes of clothes. I found, as I went through these withdrawals, the smell of the opiates and Morphine excreting through my sweat glands created a pungent miasma around anything I touched. Everything had to be thrown out.
After several months of coming off of the pain medications, I learned I would need something for pain as my wife and I prepared our house for sale in favor of moving to Oregon for help. So, I had to drink. I drank (roughly) three gallons of 80 proof vodka a week, every week it took until our house was ready to list. I am a highly functional drunk, so I was able to put the work in. Just as long as I stayed plowed for the daily grind of home remodeling. Once we listed our house for sale, the second showing brought us a full price offer with no strings attached. The prospective buyers also granted us extra time for moving out before giving them possession of the property. Those folks were super nice and understanding. We went to close, I stopped drinking, and we moved across country.
My wife and I loaded up our 16-year-old West Highland White Terrier (Mr. Nickie) and drove from my in-laws house in Virginia to stay for a week before our drive to Portland, OR. We left from there. Our daughters decided to stay behind and do their own thing. My oldest has a son, I have yet to meet. He will be two years old, this April. But, we all understood we were chasing a slim chance to keep me alive. At times, I think they expected my wife to return alone, soon after we moved.
As of January 2017, I have passed the four-year terminal diagnosis projection. I have also come off of all of my medications, except for my blood pressure meds (for now) and I have not touched a drop of alcohol since we arrived in Oregon. Now, even my liver function and all blood count numbers are running normal, for the most part. I have even been ordered to cut my cholesterol dosage in half, on a daily basis. I still suffer tremendous pain 24/7, but I have access to healthier coping mechanisms where we are now. We will be here a year, in June. My doctor has taken me off the terminal list. I have lost over seventy pounds and I'm feeling great...except for the pain and loss of feeling in large swaths of my body! I can no longer feel my hands and legs, however, I continue to work with them to help with muscle memory and stability.
I still have the damage done by my disorder but I'm fighting it and staying strong. My wife found an outstanding job where her coworkers treat her wonderfully. And, recently, I have started to reconnect with friends through Facebook. I really missed my friends! Many of whom have expressed elation over my reaching out to them. Some, however, are not interested in hearing from me. Again, I assume it is because of the way I had to walk away. I don't blame them. Things are what they are.
A lengthy explanation for your question, to be sure, but my hiatus was more of a fight to stay alive rather than a simple break from social networking obligations.
Now, I hope to continue to write and move forward with my life. Continue to build and rebuild friendships with people on the social networking platforms as well as folks I meet during my daily life. I have been working on some short stories to warm up to writing full time, again. I will release some of that work exclusively to my friends online to see how I am received. Testing the pool, so to speak. If the reaction is warm, I will continue writing for the public eye. If not, I will still write for myself and just add to my collection in the trunk. I never expected to be a published writer in the first place. Any success I have had in the past, in my opinion, has simply been a happy accident. I don't look for lightning to strike twice with me. I woke up breathing today...so I'm content with that.

What was it like to reappear on social media following your healing process? How did friends react to seeing you again?
Coming back to social media, for me, has been a medicine I have taken with a heavy dose of trepidation. I have been quite careful to 'friend' actual people I know this time. In doing so, I have maintained a small group of folks instead of accumulating hundreds or even thousands, as done before. With regards to my return, I am staying with Facebook. I have not rejoined Twitter or some of the others of that format. I am familiar with Facebook and feel comfortable there.
My friends have been patient with me. I am not promising much in the way of future work. I want to put some fresh work on the market, however, there are those who are close to me who strongly insist that I don't. For health related issues, I am being heavily pushed to walk away from writing. Perhaps, I will write some short stories and just sacrifice them to the Internet Gods to stay in their good favor. Who knows? I have to approach everything from the perspective of my health now, as writing takes a lot out of me. My friends have been so supportive and welcoming. Some, however, have acted like they wouldn't piss down my throat if my guts were on fire. So, some are happy, others could care less. This is life.

How many editions of Hell Cometh have you published altogether since the first edition was released?
The last count of editions printed was four out of an estimated ten. I would really like to see someone pick it up and convert it to a graphic novel. I have had some requests to do artist renderings of the characters within the story. I am giving that serious consideration, because who else would know what the characters really look like aside from their actual creator? I might just give that a whirl and see what happens.

Do you have any ideas for short stories of late? Are you disappointed at not being able to write longer novels? Or rather do you feel lucky that you have survived so much?
I have many ideas which I feel would be best suited for the short story world. One of which is a story I am about to put on my Facebook account. I'm shooting for around fifteen pages, so I hope it works out. I have other novels I would love to write and get out there, based on the ones I have hand written and housed away in my trunk. I feel they may be better works if I work my writing into a smaller format. I believe, I can become more succinct, which ultimately may yield a more potent work.
I haven't yet resided myself to never write another novel, or two, or twelve. There are people close to me who don't want me to revisit my pain. They wish for me to move on and celebrate my life, as it has been given a new. Beating a terminal diagnosis is tough stuff, but I did it nonetheless. That said, I agree with not treading into dark places. Part of fighting for one's health is that you have to develop a greater sense of optimism. You need to cast out as many negative influences as possible because your life literally depends on it. That said, I need to do this. I have the stories. They are already there. They just need to be told or die with me. I have a whole new lease on life to explore. So, we will see at the end of the day what I end up doing.
I really do feel quite lucky for everything. I'm glad to be breathing. My blood work is looking better and better with each test and things just keep looking up. But, I would ask, what is the purpose of living if I can't do what I love while I'm here? Right now I am taking one day at a time. That is an improvement from one hour at a time. I've come a long way. And I want to continue to get better but living up to my potential is my best way to bounce back. Winning through success, again, is such a sweet victory. Why not do what I love, throw it out there, and see if anyone wants to pick it up. If not? Oh well . . . . All my windows and doors are open.

If you do decide to go ahead with a new novel, what do you think the storyline would be?
Any of my new books will have to go through a new publisher. I currently have a novel written. I, however, have no permission to sell it. I have been fighting to get control of that work for several years now. Unsuccessfully, but I continue to fight nonetheless. The title of that work is Cheating The Dead. It is another zombie novel, which takes place in Carmel, IN. I still retain permissions to write about that town but I want to use the story I already have.
I have another novel ready to go, which is a story involving my childhood. It is a retrospective piece which takes place in the early 80's. In addition, I have a trilogy written (hand written, in the trunk). All of which are horror titles. I will always stick with Horror as my genre of choice. That said, I will soon produce a non-fiction work. It represents some recent events in my life, which have been particularly challenging. However, I feel I can help people with this work. I plan on putting this piece out with the cooperation and collaboration of my personal physician. That is about all I have in the works for now. I also plan on amassing a large body of artwork to sell. I have earned a tremendous living as a professional artist for decades. I have also received many awards and accolades through my work. I want to continue to pursue art as well as writing for my immediate future. What comes as a result of these plans, is yet to be seen. I hope for the best but expect nothing.


-Dave Wolff

Monday, March 27, 2017

Band Interview: SOULEMISSION

Interview with Roel of SOULEMISSION

Soulemission draws influence from heavy and thrash metal to define their sound, besides the death and black metal of the nineties. What value do you see in drawing influence from the nineties as opposed to the 2000s and 2010s?
For me it feels that there were a lot of classic albums made in the nineties. Starting with some classic deathmetal stuff beginning nineties and then later the black metal movement. And after that you got bands like In Flames and Dissection who were mixing different styles, mainly combining death/black metal with heavy metal. To me that time period sounds really fresh and inspiring. It also has a lot to do with that we were still in our teens. The music we listened to still stays with us somehow. I guess that goes for a lot of people. So we didn’t set out to be trendy or current, it’s all about playing the music that we feel very strongly about.

What is the band name Soulemission intended to mean?
Michel (our singer) came up with that name. You can interpret it as the soul leaving the body when you die, what a lot of people believe. For me it also stands for how we write the music and what we put into it. It’s just real dark and strong emotions (the soul) put into music.

Why do you think bands that people listened to in their teenage years stay with them in their twenties and beyond?
When you are young you don’t have a lot of responsibilities. You can dream about being a musician and making it because you are not molded into a role yet. When you are older there is a lot of daily shit you need to deal with. And then you look back on your teenage years and you think about your dreams and your first experiences, and that goes hand in hand with the music you enjoyed back then.

What death metal and black metal albums from the early to mid 1990s do you consider to be classics and why?
(Death metal) Morbid Angel – Altars Of Madness (from 1989): Because the songs are really well written and it just has this evil vibe. Entombed – Left Hand Path: Again really well written songs and it’s sounds inspired and loose. Also the punk and thrash influences work really well. (Black metal) Emperor – In The Nightside Eclipse: Enchanting atmosphere and the songwriting was really ahead of it’s time. It’s amazing that Ihsahn could write those songs at such a young age. Dissection – Storm Of The Light’s Bane: Amazing melodies, great dynamics and one of the few albums I never get bored with. Darkthrone – A Blaze In The Northern Sky: Revolutionary sound, great interplay between the drums and guitar and just really inspired. 

Are there any thrash metal albums that you would say fall within the classic category, or was that before your time? Since many bands from the thrash era are still active, are you catching up on those bands so to speak?
I listened to a lot of thrash when I was young. Standout albums for me were/are Kreator – Coma Of Souls, Slayer – Seasons In The Abyss and Megadeth – Rust In Peace. I don’t really follow what those bands are doing now. Basically because I still listen to a lot of the old stuff. To me the songwriting was better then and also the production. I have a hard time listening to the standard triggered and brickwalled productions from today’s time.

How groundbreaking were the albums you cited were for their time?
I think they raised the bar for other bands very high. Especially someone like Ihsahn whose songwriting skills were mindblowing for such a young age. And people nowadays still listen a lot to those albums so that says enough. Those bands were exploring new territory and created something magical.

Do you feel the trend toward classic albums has continued through the 2000s and the 2010s? Or has the mainstream’s acceptance of underground music caused it to wane?
Not really. But that is really personal, I think it has a lot to do with age. I have a hard time feeling the newer metal stuff. A band that to me made some classic albums after 2000 are Nevermore. I found their stuff really amazing. I don’t really know what you mean by today’s acceptance of underground music. From my perspective Metal was way bigger in the eighties to mid nineties. 

By the mainstream’s acceptance of underground music, I mean death and black metal bands are aired on MTV and VH1 and you can buy band shirts at stores like Hot Topic. What do you feel the newer material lacks?
I miss a certain surprise element and soul. But I think that there are a couple of factors that contributed to that. For one what we talked about, most productions nowadays. A lot of it sounds clinical and processed because the technologie makes it possible to deliver perfect products. And it takes a lot less time and money to record digitally. The focus nowadays is also more on touring then on creating a memorable album. Especially for bands that live of of their music and have a minimal income from that. They can’t afford to spend three months on an album. And then there’s also the fact that most metal styles have been done before, there is no real renewal.

How much do today’s thrash albums lose when they are overproduced in the studio?
Depends on what kind of thrash you are playing. I think modern type of thrash with maybe some metalcore influences really goes wel with a modern sound. But if you play old school thrash and your influences are old Slayer and Possessed then that goes really well with that organic reverby 80’s sound.

I remember when retro thrash started in the mid 90s with Gehennah and Inferno. What were your thoughts on it?
I think that was bands paying tribute to oldschool metal like Venom, Celtic Frost. I remember the album from Inferno, I think it was called Straight From Hell. It’s great music for drinking and partying. Those bands weren’t trying to be trendy but just played what they felt.

What do you think of metalcore influences being brought into modern thrash, besides emo and screamo influences?
It’s not really my scene but if people go nuts about it then that’s great. I think for many people listening to metalcore is a great way to release all their stress and anger. Better than that they go beat up somebody.

Do you see more or fewer bands pushing the envelope of extreme metal and making efforts to take it in new directions these days?
I would say fewer because I think the options are a bit running out. 25 years ago bands could push boundaries to become more brutal, faster and heavy but I think that pretty much has hit the ceiling some time ago. I have to say I’m not that familiar with what a lot of new extreme metal bands are doing so it’s a bit hard to comment on that.

The band is from Holland, where fans have long attended the legendary Dynamo club. Does this venue still host shows today? How many clubs are open in your area at this time?
This venue still hosts shows, only the old building was broken down and completely rebuilt. Recently even Trivium played there. But now it’s just a normal venue. In the old days it had a certain atmosphere because it looked old and you could feel the metal history there. I was also a frequent visitor of the Dynamo Café. They had a re-start with the café after the new build but it was shut down after a while because the old group that hung out there didn’t really like the interior; the atmoshpere was gone. There are still a lot of venues in Holland but the chances to play are becoming less and less. The demand for live music has stalled and kind of been taken over by the DJ’s. But I think there are still four or five venues that hold live music in my area.

How much of the history of the club remains though it was rebuilt? How many memories do you still have?
Obviously the name is still the same, Inside you don’t see a lot of the history of the old building. It’s all new style. But these things happen, buildings get torn down and something new arises. It’s all part of change. But luckily there are still metal shows being held. In Eindhoven there is also now annually a Dynamo Metalfest which goes back to the old Dynamo festival. It’s just one day and a lot of classic metal bands play. I still have a lot of memories of the old club becaus I used to go there almost every weekend for a few years. You know, just getting drunk, headbanging..

How often have you attended the Dynamo Metalfest and what bands have you gotten to see there?
The Dynamo metalfest is relatively young because it’s only been held twice. I was there once and it was great. The Dynamo open air festival was from I think 1986 till beginning 2000. I went there many times in the nineties, it was really amazing because it was almost in my backyard and really cheap. I got to see a lot of great bands there like Type o Negative, Pantera, Metallica, Arch Enemy with their first singer, Testament, Exodus when they reunited with Paul Baloff, Death, Iron Maiden.

What venues are still hosting shows locally? For what reasons are there fewer opportunities to book shows these days?
I think a lot of it is based on nostalgia. People want to see the big old bands that still play and pay a lot of money for that. So they have to make choices.

Which aspects of thrash, death and black metal are incoporated into Soulemission’s music and how are these made unique to the band?
Our influences are from the eighties/nineties. So that goes for the thrash, black, heavy and death metal from those times. The vocals from Michel are off course rooted in Blackmetal, so are the drums I think. But the guitars also incorporate influences from bands like Mercyful Fate, Forbidden, old Metallica, Maiden. A lot of the Scandinavian bands from the nineties had these influences so I would’t say we are unique. We didn’t start this band to be unique. We wanted to play music we feel strongly about.

How easily was the band able to combine their influences from the earlest practice sessions onward? Have you had the same lineup from the beginning or were there a few changes along the way?
There haven’t been any line-up changes. The line-up consist of Michel: Vocals, Benny: guitar and Myself (Roel): guitar. Live we use session players for drums and bass. Up untill now we only rehearsed with the full band two times. The way we write is just at home, that’s also how it started from the beginning. We first write the songs and then we record them with a drum program. So the ability of being able to record at home has changed a lot for bands. The need to rehearse together has become less. I miss that sometimes but it’s much easier to write songs at home with a computer at low volume and being able to get a decent demo right away.

How do you expect to keep Soulemission active in a time when bands have to tour and record digitally to keep up? Have you been recording digitally, paying attention to the quality of your music?
I ask myself that question every day. It seems harder to get recognized by audiences because there are lesser options to play live as an unknown band, and it seems that it has become a pissing contest on Facebook who can spam their band to the consumers the most. I must say that isn’t our style. We like to promote our band through interviews and shows but it is getting harder. We recorded digitally but we kind of left it raw. So you can hear the occasional beeps and scratches but we like it that way. Benny (guitar player) recorded and mixed the album himself and really made an effort to get the maximum result with minimum means.

Does the band have their own studio to record in? If so, what are the advantages of this?
Benny has the gear to record an album but we don’t have the space to record drums so we are relying on other studios but we don’t necesseraly need an outside producer. The advantage is that we can work whenever we want. But we would really like to record in a big room and really get a natural organic sound. Hopefully someday.

What practicing and recording material have you gathered for your studio? How does having your own studo and working on your own schedule provide a comfortable atmosphere?
It’s comfortable in a way that when you are not inspired you can just go home. There is no clock ticking. But it can also delay stuff because you don’t have a real deadline. The writing of Tales Of Inevitable Death took a couple of years, working on and off. Although the recording was done in a few weeks, just to keep it fresh.

What accounts for the lengthy period of time it took to write the material on Tales Of Inevitable Death? How did recording the album in a few weeks help make the songs sound fresh?
It took long because there were periods when we didn’t work on the songs because other stuff was going on in our lives. Benny also has a busy job as a soundman. Also when we were writing the songs we didn’t know what was going to happen. We didn’t have a record deal, we had never performed live so it was kind of trying out were this would lead. To me it sounds fresh because it has a rawness. You can hear the occassional scratch and beep from guitars and we just left it in there. But it’s more a matter of that we really wanted to finish the album in a few weeks. Otherwise maybe the focus would be gone.

How was each song composed? Were parts for certain instruments written first to be built upon?
It all starts with a few guitar pieces that seem to go well together. I record them on my Phone and once in a while I categorise everything on my computer. I then take it to Benny where we record it proper with a drum program. After that we kind of cut and paste to get a song that we think will work. After that the lyrics are made and Michel records the vocals.

How long does it usually take to cut and paste the guitar and drum sections together?
That doesn’t take really long, but a while before we are satisfied. For the song Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes the only piece that survived from what I had originally is the intro. We deleted the rest of the song and came up with better riffs.That happens a lot. We always try to make it better. 

Does Michel record his vocals digitally? What gear does he usually record and save his tracks with?
The recording was done digitally. Benny recorded it with Nuendo I think. The vocals were done using an old microphone, nothing special. 
How is the album title Tales Of Inevitable Death meant to represent the songs appearing on it?
The title is a sentence from the song “Luciferian Blood Orders”. We first had another title but it sounded too complicated. Then Michel suggested Tales of Inevitable Death as the album title. We all agreed instantly, which happens rarely haha. I can’t really comment on the lyrics of the album because I didn’t write them. But indeed they deal with death.

What was the full length’s previous tentative title, and why did you ultimately find it too compilcated?
I believe it was something like “Culminating In The Vortex Of Souls”. I have no idea what it meant but it was just too weird.

Where has the band had to go to record drum parts? Are there studios close by or do you have to travel often?
The drums were done by Menthor (Enthroned). Benny had contacts with him because Benny used to be the soundman for Enthroned. We were stoked that he was willing to record the drums for our album. He recorded the drums in his own studio in England. He just sent us the tracks through the internet.

How does Menthor’s percussion enhance the material written by Soulemission? Does he have a good feel for your songs even if he is not presetn while they’re being composed?
He wanted to lay down the drums if he could do it his own way. So we didn’t really know what he was going to do. He had the songs with the drum computer tracks but he changed stuff here and there. That was really cool because he made the songs more aggressive. Some parts he even double tempoed. So that was a nice surprise. But I have to say it was scary not knowing how it would turn out. But sometimes you just have to trust a professional haha.

How did Menthor forward his drum parts to you once completed? Do you plan to work with him for future releases?
He just sent the tracks through the internet on a secured page. At the moment it’s unknown who will record drums for the next album.

How did Soulemission hook up with Black Lion Records to release and distribute Tales Of Invevitable Death?
We sent our stuff to different labels but were kind of hitting a wall. There was some interest but it didn’t materialize. Then I saw the band Hyperion on Facebook and liked what I heard. I saw the album was released to Black Lion and I decided to send them two songs. They got back to me within a couple of hours and were really interested in signing us so we decided to make the move.

Describe the recording deal Black Lion offered the band, how it sounded and why you decided to sign with them.
It’s a one album deal and the agreement is fair for an unknown band. We negotiated a bit and Black Lion was willing to give ear to our wishes. We decided to sign with them because we saw what good work they did for the band Hyperion. Promotion is really important. The label is maybe not that well known but it’s a great label to start on. Together we can expand.

How many labels did you contact before Black Lion Records? Were the labels you contacted mostly from Holland or did you contact labels in other countries? Did it take a long time to find a label with a similar target audience?
I think in the range of thirty. We made a list with labels we knew from all over the world. We contacted three Dutch labels. It took a while before there was some interest because we were/are an unknown band and labels don’t want to take too many risk which I can understand. They need to be convinced that it’s going to sell.

Was it a conscious decision to release the album on Halloween 2016, or was the release date coincidental?
The album was originally going to be released in September but there was some delay. It’s just a coincidence it was released on Halloween. In Holland Halloween is not such a big event.

How much of an effort does Black Lion make to promote Tales Of Inevitable Death? How many listeners have contacted the band after hearing of you through the label?
If the band invests a lot of time in the band the label will also invest a lot. You have to work hard to show your label that you are worth it. We are all past mid thirty and have work, families and other stuff that needs to be done. So it’s hard. To get somewhere you have to be busy with your band day and night because the competition is immense. For us that is not realistic. So I understand that Black Lion invests the most in the bands that take off. We haven’t taken off yet and are thinking of ways to get there. The reactions we get on Facebook are really positive and also the reviews are really good so there is potential.

What bands are signed to Black Lion with you? Does the label put compilations together to help bands get publicity?
Hyperion, Vindland, Mist of Misery. So far Black Lion hasn’t released compilation albums but they have different channels for marketing and promotion.

How many promotion and marketing channels does Black Lion have, and which of them has helped Soulemission?
The one that did a lot for us is Qabar Extreme Music PR. They work together with Black Lion Records. Another promotion activity is The Metalhead Box, where people can subscribe to and receive stuff from Black Lion and other labels.

Discuss some of the songs appearing on Tales Of Inevitable Death, what the lyrics are about and how they were inspired
The lyrics mainly deal with Death, Darkness, Misantrophy and Occultism. That kind of atmosphere fits the music really well. Almost all lyrics were written by Michel, I wrote one lyric to Endless Grief. That song is about a person with a rotten attitude who just goes through life complaining and terrorising people. Then when he dies nobody cares and he is forgotten. I describe the solitude of a grave no one visits. A bit inspired by people who are on edge all the time and feel the need to dominate everything but don’t contribute to society.

What do you remember as the most positive and constructive reviews written about Tales Of Inevitable Death this far?
We got lots of 85 points haha. So that’s a good thing. The most positive I read was that the music is well constructed and takes you on a journey. Lots of variation between the different songs and well produced. That’s a great compliment since we didn’t use a producer from outside. Some criticism I read was that we don’t have our signature style yet. I can understand that but it was never the point to be super original. We just play the music we like to hear ourselves. For me the originality is that our riffs are well thought out, it’s not directly copied from another band.

How do the songs on the new album come across when you play them live? Does your audience have any favorites?
Up untill now we have only done two shows. The first one we played with Carach Angren and the venue was packed. Nobody knew our songs because the album wasn’t released then. There were a lot of young kids who really responded to our music so that was awesome.

In what ways do you plan to expand on what you composed for Tales Of Inevitable Death on the next full length? How soon do you think you’ll start work on another album? What will your lyrics be about?
We will probably start to work on it in June. We’ve already got bits and pieces collected. From what I can tell you now is that there probably will be less blasts and more mid tempo parts. Also we want to change the sound a little. Probably get a bit more vintage vibe going on because I love a lot of stuff from the seventies and early eighties. What the lyrics will be about I don’t know yet because I don’t intend to write. Our singer Michel will write the lyrics.


-Dave Wolff