Tag Archives: interview


I had an absolute blast talking to Kuma and Wyldkard (two really cool guys over at @GamerKulture) about Liquid Metal, indie gaming in general, and, perhaps most importantly, Bad Dudes. Live stream replay here:


Liquid Metal, for which I’m doing dialogue, also has a Kickstarter with some really nifty rewards for backers interested in helping to get the game funded. There’s also an actual, playable demo available this time around, so check it out, make a pledge if you can, or just tell everyone you know—or don’t know. Be sure to practice safe text.

Phil Collins is Evil

Phil Collins will give you nightmares unless you buy his music

Phil Collins has a habit of putting close-ups of his mug on all of his album covers. It always seemed kind of cheesy to me—but if this was the cover of his new album I’d so fuckin’ buy it just so that I’d have something to listen to while they wheeled me into the mental institution.

Those of you who know me know that I outgrew pop music almost twenty years ago, back when I discovered Rush and, conversely, The Moody Blues. But I never gave up on my old Genesis CDs, the ones where Phil played drums and Peter Gabriel sang vocals and danced around in grotesque costumes shaped like giant tumors and creepy old men. That always gave Phil some cred: He was able to keep the beat while a lactating Slipperman danced around in front of him. So, reading a Phil Collins interview (like the one in Mail Online, May, 2010) from time to time isn’t totally unjustified, because even though I personally haven’t listened to “Sussudio” since cassette tapes were the shit, it’s still interesting to see where the various roots from the Genesis tree have spread over the eons.

Phil Collins may not be cool, but he sure is evil…and in a way that’s cool. In a way.

Bring to boil, stir occasionally

It never fails: You can have a computer sitting quietly in the corner, doing nothing, and it will purr right along for months on end. But the instant you actually need to use the effing thing, blue screens start popping up, hard drives start choking, keyboards start losing their keys like the needles on that old Christmas tree my family refuses to throw out. I’m actually writing this blog with quill and parchment, which seem to be the only things that work around here…though the quill may have bird flu. Fuck.

Technical glitches aside, there is progress being made as far as the movie is concerned. The “pre-festival cut” is now done, on DVD, in the mail, making grotesque gurgling noises in the back of some poor postman’s delivery truck. That means we’re another step closer to Premiere Day…whenever and wherever that is. In the meantime, Sean and I have been taking notes, and while there’s certainly room for improvement down the line, things are looking pretty darned smooth. All the ADR shit is done as of last week, and it’s really added a layer of depth to the proceedings, a hearty dollop of personality to the characters. And I have to say, the effects used in the opening grabber sequence look damned pimpin’. It totally doesn’t look like we shot it where we did and with what ridiculous resources we didn’t have.

What comes next is pretty boring to anyone outside the Pulsar Pictures cult. Submissions are being prepared, paperwork is being filed, voodoo dolls are being prepped as we figure out where the film will be seen, how it will be distributed, and so forth. The good news: There’s plenty of behind-the-scenes footage floating around. Hopefully enough to make it look like we’re busier than we actually are.

On that note, I’ve posted an impromptu interview we did of Moira Dennis (who plays Lisa) last month, during the filming of The Oatmeal Man’s final scene. Go watch it. And tell your friends.

The Oatmeal Man Karma Round-Up

It seems online buzz for The Oatmeal Man is making its way across the Internet—by the spoonful, no less. Fangoria, Dread Central, and Quiet Earth are just a few of the horror sites linking to the movie’s shiny new trailer. My question: Who’s been pimping our shit, and can I buy him / her / it a drink?

My favorite bit of oatmeal commentary so far (from the Horror-Movies.ca forum):

Looks terrible, but in a good way.

It also appears Sal Perales and myself have done interviews for Obscure Horror. I tried to be interesting with my answers. Sal’s were totally ninja. Thanks, Rich, for letting us toot our horns. Update: It also-also appears both Sean and Krisondra were interviewed by Obscure Horror way before Sal and I ever were. Fail, Jesse, for not checking your facts first!

Okay, so here’s my idea for the ultimate The Oatmeal Man promotional gimmick: a collector’s edition of the DVD sealed in wax paper packaging, like the old baseball card decks from the 1980s. There would even be a stick of powdered chewing gum nestled between the wrapper and the DVD case. Sean, are you listening?

Suggested by The New Podler: A Self-Publishing Symposium

The New Podler is gathering opinions from a variety of authors regarding the current state of self-publishing. My hopelessly optimistic answers follow below. What are your thoughts?

* * *

How does self-publishing differ from traditional publishing?

Self-publishing is either liberation or self-indulgence depending on how you go about it. There’s a dubious association with instant gratification. The core benefits: you retain all control over your material, you keep a bigger chunk of the profits, and, oftentimes, you’re able to forge a more personal relationship with your audience. The drawbacks (which, depending on your motivation, can also be benefits): you must be your own publisher, editing, formatting, creating effective packaging; you must be your own marketing team—you must be willing and able to spend a portion of your time as a door-to-door salesperson of sorts. It’s a lesson in patience and refinement, though not such an added burden considering that many traditional publishers these days require you to have a marketing plan anyway.

Regarding availability, the gap is narrowing between books sold off of a book shelf and those sold via a web site. Chain book stores are steadily closing, and while you still have Barnes & Noble, Borders, and the independents, these stores only have so much physical space. There are legions of capable, entertaining “mid-list” authors whose books are not often included between Dan Brown and Stephenie Meyer. Selling through the Internet is a way to defeat the problem of limited shelf space. It also happens to be the most accessible method available to self-publishers.

Do self-published book review blogs help to raise the reader awareness of self-published books?

Absolutely. Legitimate, critical self-publishing review blogs (like good traditional-publishing review blogs) point out the blemishes as well as the dimples. For serious self-publishers, this is what you want if you have a good, solid book that doesn’t carry the reputation of being self-published because it can’t stand on its own, because it can’t find traditional publication. It should never be assumed that getting reviewed at a self-publishing review blog is easier than getting reviewed elsewhere.

How do you respond to the following statement: “Self-publishing is not a serious way to get one’s work into print now and never will be.”

I daresay a more accurate version of the above statement is: “Self-indulgence is not a serious way to get one’s work into print now and never will be.” If you’re not ready, if you’re rushed, then it will come across to reviewers and readers alike. With self-publishing, there’s no editor or agent acting as a stop-gap. What I’m finding as I go along is that it’s not so much the self-publishing model itself that needs to clean up its image as it is the ability of self-publishing authors to effectively promote their work. It’s all in how you do it.

Has the golden age of self-publishing already passed or is it yet to come?

Bigger and better things are yet to come. I’m convinced the traditional publishing industry had to stumble before a real awareness was raised regarding alternative book markets. The technology had to improve to a point where anyone with a computer and Internet connection could feasibly create and publish. Book stores, whether they’re selling print or digital copies, will continue to be country clubs for the elites, which is perfectly fine. Many authors are bestsellers for a reason: they’re very good at what they do. But they’re not the only kids on the block. Self-published books—good ones—will continue to fill the gaps. Eventually, when (and I do think it’s a matter of when and not if) e-books become the norm, everyone will be selling via digital download. The old notion that you find professional authors’ books on store shelves, and amateurs’ online will hold much less water.

What about the challenges posed to the self-published writer by having to promote and edit his or her own book?

This is something many traditional publishers are requiring of their authors due to tighter budgets. In the past, you could, to some extent, get away with merely sending in your manuscript and letting the publishing team handle the rest. You only needed to be on hand for signings or interviews. Now you need a marketing plan to go along with your synopsis and sample chapters. You need to convince your would-be publisher that you’re a hustler. You need an agent. And even then, a contract with a traditional publisher comes with no guarantees. Yes, depending on your contract, you’ll have access to physical store shelves, but you still have to work your butt off promoting yourself. You’re selling more books, but getting a smaller percentage of each sale. Not a bad thing. On the DIY side, you’re selling fewer books, but keeping more of the profits; you’re having to manage all your book sales yourself, whether through your web site or via consignment agreements with local book shop owners. All stereotypes aside, both traditional and self-publishing endeavors involve a lot of work. The latter is more easily attainable, whether as your sole method of publishing or as a hook to attract a mainstream publisher.

Why is it that a self-published author has yet to emerge into national recognition as a self-published author? (As opposed to being given a mainstream publishing contract after a self-published book attracts attention.)

I think a lot of it is the social stigma of someone coming up to you and saying, “My latest novel is great! You should read it!” People don’t like it when other people toot their own horn—but they don’t mind as much when you toot someone else’s horn. With self-publishing, this is something of a challenge. You have to promote yourself without sounding like a greasy car salesman, you have to get other people to blurb you and promote you. It can be exceedingly difficult, because you’re not working with a paid staff, you’re working with friends, other self-published authors, family members. They all have their own lives to worry about.

Also, at this point in time, traditional publishers still carry a lot of clout. A contract with Random House can do wonders for your literary presence. I’ve seen numerous instances where an author will start a series of books with a mainstream publisher, and then finish the series at a smaller press, or under his / her own imprint. Whatever politics are going on behind the scenes, an audience has gathered, and they’ll follow if the books are good. Bands do it all the time.

Has the experience of self-publishing changed the way you write? (If you have self-published.)

I started self-publishing because the small presses I’d been with closed up shop, and I felt my work up until that point was still relevant enough to warrant some kind of distribution. With new material I’ve found that I’ve become more daring. After all, I’m no longer having to adhere to a publisher’s tastes or guidelines. I’ve been able to stretch out a little, blending genres and styles. I’ve already had to go it alone, and so I’m not worried about falling from grace, so to speak. At the same time, though, I’ve had to make sure I don’t get too lax. Proofreaders are still important (before the publishing process!), honest opinions still matter, and it’s still my main goal each time around to write the best book I can.

* * *

There you go. As I mentioned at the start, I’m optimistic when it comes to the DIY movement. What’s happening now in the publishing world is sort of like what was happening fifteen years ago during the rise of the commercial Internet. And MP3s a short while after. I mean, who texted back then? Who ditched their CD collection in favor of MP3s? Nowadays, everyone texts (and sexts), everyone listens to MP3s—and, I wager, in a few more years, (nearly) everyone will be reading e-books instead of paperbacks. We just need that iTunes-like revolution. Maybe it’s the Kindle or the nook or some other fancied contraption that makes it as easy to squeeze 10,000 books onto a hand-held reader as it is to fit your entire music collection onto a handy portable player. Maybe it’s the mass production of such devices that lowers prices and suddenly makes not having one a social embarrassment (like with the iPod). Maybe it’s the passing of new environmental laws that restrict paper production. Whatever. The day will come. Are you looking forward to it, or do you already have your “Physical, not digital!” protest sign ready?

Interview, Heroes’ Day Reissue, Ubuntu 9.10 Gripe List

I did a brief interview regarding the writing process over at creative-writing-help.com. The site is new, but growing quickly, and there are already a number of interesting interviews / advice pages available. Worthy of a check-it-out.

Those of you who frequent my blog will already be aware of the demise of Vertigo Alley as a publishing imprint earlier this year (though it still exists as a parent company—let’s just say there are politics involved and leave it at that). This means Heroes’ Day had been placed on the endangered species list only a year after it had been published. But it looks like my new team of irritable office monkeys have redone the novel under the Jessture.com imprint, which is now handling reissues of my previous work. If you’ll check out the Heroes’ Day page, you’ll find a brand spankin’ new cover and, indeed, an entirely new interior layout for the book. Both were sorely needed, as the yellow / black gymnast silhouette cover was a last-minute job after the original artist died unexpectedly before he could deliver his finished artwork. Also, the trade paperback version’s typeface is now readable. The interior text for the old paperback version had mistakenly been taken from the e-book source files—meaning the e-book looked great, but the paperback version looked…awkward. This is no longer the case.

A brief note on the Ubuntu / Linux front: For the first time in a long while a new edition of Ubuntu has actually taken several steps backward for me and my notorious Acer Aspire 5100-5674. Save for the fact that several key programs quickly became out-of-date (OpenOffice, VLC), 9.04 had been bitchin’. The video drivers were fairly solid, sound was smooth as silk, and wireless worked out of the box. I expected 9.10 to be a continuation of this, and so eagerly made the upgrade. The result was a prompt uninstall and this list of gripes:

  • Lousy ATI Radeon Xpress 1100 drivers—OpenGL flickers, and exiting 3D-accelerated games results in the system freezing / locking up
  • Audio playback is riddled with pops and crackles, be it system sounds, VLC or Audacious playback, or OpenGL games (changing the respective programs’ audio output plugins and buffer settings doesn’t help)
  • Under GNOME, locking the screen sporadically locks up the entire computer
  • Logging out of GNOME frequently results in, you guessed it, a system lockup
  • The GNOME panel crashes whenever closing Opera

With the exception of the lock-screen bug, none of these issues were present in Ubuntu 9.04. I suppose I should’ve stuck with that version and used the PPA repositories to update my key programs. The alternative solution, though, has worked with minimal effort on my part. I tried the Linux Mint 8 live CD on a whim, and even though it’s based on Ubuntu 9.10, Mint 8 has none of the issues listed above. I don’t understand it, but I’m digging it. Stupid, spiteful computers.

Rush Never Sleeps

Rush Never Sleeps—Rolling Stone cuts Rush some slack

Rush Never Sleeps—Rolling Stone cuts Rush some slack

I just broke out Moving Pictures and, for the first time in ~fifteen years, listened to it all the way through. Pardon the pun, but what a rush “The Camera Eye” is, and what a shame Rush doesn’t perform it live anymore. Guitar riffs like that are what got me through the early-to-mid 1990s.

I got into Rush when I was thirteen and badly in need of an anthem, something through which to channel my various burning teenage frustrations. Roll the Bones was my first Rush album, certainly not one of the band’s harder albums (and certainly not very “hard” when compared to the typical garage band fare that was emerging at the time), but hard enough. Keep in mind that until that point, I’d spent half a lifetime listening exclusively to Phil Collins and Neil Diamond. So, yeah, Rush was hard. And it only got better when Counterparts came out. The guitars were louder, the themes darker—there was angst all over the album. I needed that. Whenever I got pissed at my school teachers, my family or friends, or the world in general, I’d lock my bedroom door, cue up “Stick It Out,” and air-guitar myself into a more amiable state. See, I was going through that phase most teenage boys do, that adolescent maelstrom during which I needed to kill something, or fuck someone, or set fire to something valuable. I suppose I could’ve used my weight set more often, or gone jogging around the neighborhood whenever the juices got backed up…nah, fuck that. My family lived between the ghetto and a cemetery at the time. Both were scary. I stayed indoors after school and listened to Rush, watched Star Trek, struggled with my math homework.

In 1995 I moved (back) to Texas, leaving the ghetto and the cemetery behind and re-meeting a childhood friend, who literally had that all-Rush case from Hutch’s van in Fanboys (though my friend had CDs instead of cassettes). I discovered Presto (my third and, to this day, favorite Rush album), 2112, Fly by Night, and all the other classic staples. I stayed in Texas for a year, and Rush continued to score my life, albeit now under more positive circumstances (did I mention I no longer lived next to a cemetery?). I got a girlfriend, made some amazing friends at school, and discovered my passion for writing.

The following year, my family decided to move back to California. By then, Test for Echo was out, and I needed it, as I was once again pissed at life. I bought the album at this really cool little music shop in North Star Mall. I listened to it at least a dozen times during the drive, spending the entire trip with my head stuck between a pair of earphones as I sketched out the beginnings of what would later become The Knack. Frustration is inspiration.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s I shifted from hard rock and heavy metal to New Age, electronica, and ambient. I was writing seriously by then, and needed good mood music. My Tangerine Dream phase lasted a good five years…I still can’t shake my David Arkenstone habit. However, in the last two or three years I’ve rediscovered my love for the hard stuff. Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, and, funnily enough, Dethklok have tickled my fancy—but I’ll always have that soft spot for Rush. In the old days I would’ve reserved a section of my CD rack for their albums; nowadays I always make sure I have enough hard drive space set aside for their MP3s. In the future I’ll make sure I keep enough space on my back free so that I’ll be ready when musical grafts become commonplace.