|This is the first G-rated short story I've written since joining the WSS contest on Good Reads.|
Pretty much any role-playing game, video or tabletop, can be a lesson in consumerism. The reason I chose Diablo II: Lord of Destruction is because it’s one of my favorites of all time. It’s the same videogame that gave me a fascination with barbarians, hence why they’re main characters in Fireball Nightmare. I could go on and on about how cool barbarians are, but that’s not why I’m here tonight.
If you’ve ever played a videogame or RPG of any kind, you know what I’m talking about when I say you as a player always want the best equipment for your character. If you’re playing Diablo II and you’re using a barbarian, you’d rather have an assault helmet than a leather cap. If you’re a necromancer, you’d rather have a gargoyle head than a mummified trophy. If you’re an Amazon, you’d rather have a pike than a trident. The reason you’d rather have one thing over the other is because it’s the latest model and therefore better than what you had before. There’s this overwhelming drive to have better shit and if you don’t find it on the battlefield, you’ll spend a ton of money trying to buy it. Once you get that splint mail, you’ll want chaos armor. Once you get chaos armor, you’ll want ancient armor. The motto of the Diablo II hero: more, more, more.
The real world is a lot like Diablo II in the respect of consumerism. We work jobs that break our backs in order to buy more of the newest shit. We take a graveyard shift at the hospital just to buy the latest iPad. We work longer hours to buy the MP3 player with the most storage space. And then once we finally work our asses off enough to buy these toys, we always want more. And more. And more. It’s a never-ending quest for more technological shit.
I come from a liberal family and we’re technically not supposed to support huge corporations by buying their shit. We can deny it all we want, but in the end, I come from a family of professional consumers. My mom goes out and buys random furniture from yard sales to replace our perfectly fine furniture. My brother once spent $700 for a single Magic: the Gathering card. I’m not immune to consumer culture either. In the July alone, I spent over $700 on fast food, which would explain my sudden urge to lose weight and stop spending so much money.
The difference between Diablo II and real life is that the better equipment in Diablo II is absolutely necessary because as the game progresses the monsters get stronger. Have you ever tried to kill Duriel wearing nothing but quilted armor and carrying nothing but a crude dagger? No, and you never will. In real life, buying relentlessly will only leave you with a smaller bank account and a need for more.
I have a Coby MP3 player with only 4 GB of storage space. Did I mention that Coby went out of business? Did I also mention 4 GB isn’t a whole lot of storage space? But do I complain? Not at all. In fact, I’ve been using that MP3 player for three years now. I take it with me virtually everywhere I go and the songs I upload onto it are fucking awesome. The only way I’ll use something else (like an iPod Nano) is if somebody gets it for me as a birthday or Christmas gift.
Spending is part of who we are as Americans no matter what side of the political fence you stand on. We celebrate Christmas, we celebrate birthdays, and we go shopping on Black Friday, which is scheduled right after Thanksgiving, a holiday designed for reflecting on things we’re grateful for. So if you must spend your money on something, buy something with permanence. Buy something you’ll enjoy for a long, long time. Books are a great example, because after you read the story, you’ll not only become a better writer, but it’s a story that will stay with you for the rest of your life. We’ve got ears, say cheers!
If you’ve been there lately, you would have seen an entry about Charles Goodhorn, a paladin whose origins come from Dungeons & Dragons sessions in the late 90’s with my brother James. The next entry will deal with a System of a Down song called “Mr. Jack”. This song is particularly important to today’s world because of all the police brutality that’s allowed to take place, particularly in Ferguson, Missouri and in New York where Eric Garner was choked to death.
***POLITICAL QUOTE OF THE DAY***
“New rule: everyone who supports the Iraq War must go fight it.”
My novels are available on Smash Words, Sony, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Page Foundry, Baker & Taylor, txtr, Oyster, Flipkart, and Scribd. American Darkness is available on Amazon and Lulu as well.|
American Darkness (contemporary drama anthology)
Brawl Mart (urban fantasy novel)
Confessions of a Schizophrenic Savage (poetry and song anthology)
Dragon Machinegun (sci-fi, fantasy, and horror anthology)
Garrison’s Library: garrisonslibrary.blogspot.com/
Sitka: June 19th, 2014 Cat of the Day: catoftheday.com/archive/2014/J…
Q: How do you deal with writer’s block?
A: My favorite way to deal with writer’s block is by imagining the scenes of my stories from beginning to end. Sometimes when I’m alone (or at least when I’m sure I’m alone), I’ll do a back and forth dialogue between characters out loud. If it wasn’t for this method, the characters in my current novel Fireball Nightmare would all be two-dimensional wash-ups. It’s supposed to be a fast-paced bloodbath, but stories and emotions are just as important as the high-octane violence, if not more so.
Q: What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
A: Listen to your heart. Write about things you feel are important to you. Taking advice from others is okay and often recommended, but ultimately, you’re the one who makes the final decision on your writing, not the audience, not the editors, not the admins, just you and you alone. If somebody tells you your writing sucks, put as much distance as possible between yourself and that person. Nobody has the right to bring you down. If you still feel like your writing sucks, then keep working on it until it doesn’t. Never give up hope.
Q: How do you get inspired to write?
A: I draw inspiration from a lot of different sources whether they’re from other books or not. I’m a huge fan of heavy metal music and I often use it to channel aggressive feelings in my writing, especially during scenes of violence. I’m also a fan of professional wrestling as evidenced in my 2014 dark fantasy e-book Brawl-Mart. People like to criticize wrestling for being “fake” and I always tell them that Harry Potter is also fake, yet nobody’s complaining. Yet another source of creative fuel comes from the computer game Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. If it wasn’t for that game, I wouldn’t have such a fascination with barbarians. Deus Shadowheart, the main character of Fireball Nightmare, probably wouldn’t be a barbarian or even in existence if it wasn’t for Diablo II.
Q: Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?
A: When I was a child, I loved playing with Legos and I had a set from the pirate franchise that was a volcano with a swinging skull door in front. I called this set the Volcano of Doom and it has since been the inspiration for the main deity of Fireball Nightmare, Vahd (which is just a respelling of the acronym for Volcano of Doom (VOD)). Realistically, Fireball Nightmare is just an excuse for me to use a favorite barbarian character of mine named Deus Shadowheart and an idea I had for a dark fantasy apocalyptic role-playing game I made up called Valley of the Damned. When two kick-ass things come together, it’s instant magic. The makers of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup know this very well.
Q: Describe your desk.
A: It’s a hand-me-down from my older brother and has been in my possession since 2008. I have to be careful with it because it’s small and shakes easily. The upper tier has my computer screen, pencils, flash drives, and tissues on it. The middle tier holds my fan, house phone, speakers, tape player, keyboard, and sometimes a bottle of Diet Mountain Dew. The bottom tier is where my computer tower, printer, and power strips are located. In addition to writing stories and poetry, my rickety desk has also been used to draw some…interesting pictures.
Q: Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
A: I’ve lived in many places over the course of my childhood, but the one place where reality hit me the hardest was when I was going to high school in Chehalis, Washington. My freshman year was best known for the verbal bullying I have endured and almost committed suicide over. Due to the crippling PTSD (and eventual schizophrenia) I’ve suffered, most of my writing is influenced by dark and disturbing themes such as death, bullying, mental sickness, sex, and violence. I do have lighthearted stories in my archives, but I will always be known as an R-rated author.
Q: When did you first start writing?
A: I’ve been writing all of my life, but the time when I started taking it seriously was January of 2002. My first writing project was a videogame idea called Final Fantasy Hardcore. It had the same magical premise and romantic leanings as the games in the Final Fantasy series, but it was set in a dystopian future and had tons of mature content. My two favorite characters from this series are a charismatic barbarian named Deus Shadowheart and a perverted scientist named Dr. Scott Cain. Ever since scrapping Final Fantasy Hardcore, I’ve been trying to find a story for those two to be a part of. I think I’ve finally nailed it with a dark fantasy novel I’m currently writing called “Fireball Nightmare”.
Q: What’s the story behind your latest book?
A: My most recently published e-book as of now is American Darkness, which isn’t really a novel, but a collection of emotional short stories in a contemporary setting. There are 22 different stories jammed in this anthology, but the pride and joy of this series is one called “Another Brick in the Wall”, which obviously takes its name from the Pink Floyd songs. It is a classic verbal confrontation between a strict US History teacher named Sid McDonnell and a stressed out student named Sam Keith. This is a scenario I have always fantasized about, especially considering I had some rather unsavory teachers in high school and college who deserved a tongue-lashing.
Q: What motivated you to become an indie author?
A: My circumstances were the reason I chose self-publishing over traditional. I live in a town called Port Orchard, where young adult writers don’t have an outlet for their creativity. If I wanted to go somewhere to fulfill that need, it would have to be either Seattle, Bellingham, or Tacoma, all three of which are big cities that are too hard to get to. I don’t have a car or a driver’s license, so I have to depend on others for transportation. The people in my family who have driver’s licenses have schedules of their own and can’t ferry me to the big cities on a daily basis. Instead of stressing myself out by traveling to the big cities, I choose to use the internet to make my presence known. I have a lot of work to do in order to market myself, but I wouldn’t have self-published if I didn’t believe I could do it.
Q: How has Smash Words contributed to your success?
A: I haven’t sold very many e-books yet, but when the money starts rolling in, it will be because I chose Smash Words. Simply having a place where my writing can be immortalized is good enough for me. I write regularly on Deviant Art, Good Reads, Blogger, and Face Book. Smash Words is different from these places because it gives me a platform to organize my writing into a tangible product instead of just bits and pieces. Sometimes people need to see the bigger picture in order to make a decision about whether to be a member of an author’s audience.
Q: What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
A: Exercising my creativity is always a fun part of the business, but my favorite part comes from the feeling of accomplishment I get after I write something. I have taken something from my screwed up psyche and made something beautiful out of it. I liken this to the scene in the musical Pink Floyd the Wall where the main character smashes his hotel room in a fit of rage and afterwards makes a piece of art out of the remains. It’s a creepy way to think of my accomplishments, but then again, lots of creepy things go on in my mind.
Q: What do your fans mean to you?
A: My fans mean everything to me. Every time they give me a compliment or critique on my writing, it helps me become a better writer. Even if it’s a short compliment like “very well-written”, it’s enough to boost my confidence to continue putting myself out there. I’m shy at first, but when I begin to get comfortable with a group of people, we do so much for each other.
Q: What are you working on next?
A: It’s a dark fantasy novel called Fireball Nightmare. The first act, which is known as This Is Violence, deals with a forest-dwelling barbarian named Deus Shadowheart who will go to extreme means to protect his home from city developers. The main reason he does this is because he is a servant of the volcanic mountain god Vahd, who will erupt into apocalyptic fire if his forest is destroyed. The second act is called Valley of the Damned, but I won’t get into it right now because too much of the plot will have been revealed.
Q: Who are your favorite authors?
A: This is going to sound ironic coming from a lifelong writer, but I didn’t actually become a bookworm until 2009 when I picked up a copy of The Cleaner by Brett Battles. The books I read in college were slow-paced and dull while The Cleaner was exciting and quick. It’s because of this drastic change in pace that Brett Battles will always be my favorite author. Others include fellow introvert Susan Cain, Sherman Alexie, Carl Hiaasen, and Stephen Chbosky. Realistically, I’ll give my patronage to any author who can dictate a fast pace with his or her writing. Bonus points to go to any author who can almost bring me to tears. I haven’t cried since 2007, but I came very close to doing so with many of the authors I’ve read books from, particularly Stephen Chbosky.
Q: What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
A: To be honest, I don’t have much of a professional or social life in my small town of Port Orchard, Washington. To put it bluntly, I’m unemployed and have very few friends. I don’t have much of a reason to get out of bed every day, so the closest thing to inspiration I have is walking to the grocery store to get three giant bottles of Diet Mountain Dew. Walking is a fun exercise that helps me clear my mind, but more importantly, it’s an opportunity to rock out to heavy metal music on my MP3 player.