Our passage through darkness continues as we stalk the Damned. I take you on this journey with iniquitous excitement, knowing full well that that we might not leave this sinister realm.
We pass into depths full of woe and fright, of Mephistophelian delights where Cthulhu still walks with the Elder Gods. Close your eyes if you wish. Take my cloak for guidance, but know it is far too late for safety.
The descent takes us down a path filled with smoke, heat, and the growing sounds of another being. Rounding a corner, we find a large figure standing back from a hellish fire. His face is unreadable in the red glow, but the malice and cunning in his eyes makes us falter in our steps.
“This is Blaze”, I whisper in your ear. “Let me speak for both of us…”
Blaze, we would parley with you, as we are stalking the Damned. You have a number of stories with Pen of the Damned, some of which are “Ashes to Ashes, Blood to Blood”, “The Enforcer”, and “The Steps of Fear”. Your stories range from creepy to absolutely visceral. You once said “I feel we need to challenge the barriers to what lurks in the unknown.” Could you expand on that, and did you ever have any experiences that gave you an affinity for things that lurk in the unknown, or that gave you an affinity for the unknown itself?
I’m an older writer, Zack, and with that comes a great deal of life experiences. Unfortunately for me, the bulk of that experience seems to have been rooted in things that are not pleasant. Death, failed relationships, pain, disease, and even a life as a child that was anything but pleasant. However, these experiences and my empathy for the common woman/man who gets his ass knocked down at every opportunity give me a purpose in life. I am compelled to write about the Dark. The Dark is real. Someone else can write about glory days of daisies and sweet dreams. That crap is foreign to what lurks inside my soul. On a positive note, I never run out of things to write about.
As far as knocking down barriers to what lurks in the unknown, not enough is written about new conceptual possibilities. Too much of the same dog and pony show. It is time we kick those barriers apart and delve into truly horrible scenarios floating through the minds of those who are tormented beyond return.
“The Steps of Fear” http://penofthedamned.com/2012/09/11/the-steps-of-fear-2/ is a story that (like your others) really pulled me in. Do your ideas hit you in a flash, or like you have mentioned before, do they sit in your head for a while as they ferment?
Like most of my stories, “The Steps Of Fear” was festering inside me long before I wrote it. The longer these tales reside within me, the Darker they become. Add in infidelity, a total distrust for the psychiatric profession, which I view as a bunch of non professionals and ill educated morons, and you have “The Steps Of Fear.” Okay, I’ve pissed off the whole world of psychiatric “professionals,” but I don’t care. They need to step up to the plate and do their jobs. Other ideas hit me in a flash, but some are rot-gut, deep-rooted horror all the way.
What is your favorite part of being a member of Pen of the Damned?
My favorite part of being a member of The Pen Of The Damned is that they put up with my bullshit. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t lie; I merely tell it like it is and they say, “Okay, Blaze is writing some wonky crap again.” Plus the ten of us are pretty Damned talented people and work at the craft. Notice the word WORK. It’s not merely pretty words for us. We spew the venom on the pages before us.
Do you have a favorite author, or is there a particular author who influenced your writing?
My favorite author is Edgar Allan Poe. No one else can compare to him. I enjoy reading all the great authors; Hemingway, Steinbeck, Twain, Spillane, and so many others, but there was only one Poe. The man was a God. My style is mine now that I’ve stopped the ghostwriting thing, thank God. I do not wish to write in the style of anyone other than myself.
You have been a ghostwriter for over 75 novels. That is one hell of a feat. Your dark mind must be full of characters and back stories. Can you tell us about any of those novels, or could you give us advice on how to reach that literary level?
Because of the legal ramifications, I can’t really say anything about the past novels I’ve written as a ghostwriter, other than the fact my last one was used by an author who accepted the Stoker for it. True, my name was not to have been acknowledged as being the true author, but as far as professional integrity goes, had it been me, I would have refused the Stoker. I refused to write any more of them. These guys are on their own as far as I’m concerned now. Thus, I have very little regard for awards for any of the arts. Beauty for our readers is in the eyes and minds of each individual who reads our tomes. Some people love blood, gore, and splatter. Others don’t.
All art is discretional. We can’t please everyone. As far as reaching my “literary level,” it’s merely one word after another. No science to that. Let your “Story people” write your tale for you and throw the damned outlines out.
What do you enjoy about dark literature?
Dark literature is a no holds barred way to pen the truth. Sure, horror writers embellish the tales, but at the very core of our stories, there is always the truth. Do you want to be truly scared? Read “The Pit And The Pendulum” and feel that blade coming at you. That story goes to the very soul of what humanity fears the most.
Is it easier for you to compose and write the part of a protagonist, or the part of an antagonist? Why?
Most of my new stories are written in first person, present tense, and as such, the protagonist’s view is portrayed. No fly on the wall crap for me any more. However, I also believe that the visual within the soul of the protagonist certainly displays the beasts in their most evil state. However, I have written tales where I wrote first person tense for both, merely alternating chapters to capture their inner thinking. So, to answer the question, I can, and do, write either part with relish.
What is the next piece of meat on your dinner plate? What does Blaze how in store for us?
My next piece of meat consists of a huge steer running across a vast field. I have novels coming out this year, tales in anthologies, short stories, and collections of shorts. I also have a long non-fiction story which I will present as fiction so I don’t have to change anything. Most of the folks are dead anyway. I have some YA stories coming and some poetry: you guessed it; it’s Dark. While I have novel series comprised of horror/action/psychological meanderings, I also have some others that are simply Dark, psychological horror, like in “Ashes To Ashes, Blood To Blood.” That tale was so totally original that it blew my mind away. I disgusted some people with that one, so I got the results I wanted. Yes, I write of conventional monsters, albeit in unconventional ways, but I wish to write about new monsters as well. There are some in my soul ready to jump out on the page now. One of these bad boys is in an upcoming novel series. I’m rather proud of the conceptual imagery of these tales. I won’t say anything more about them other than the first one is titled, “The Devil’s Tongue.” Thank you for this interview, Zack, and remember that you will be the protagonist in my next tale for The Pen Of The Damned. Oh, yeah, baby!
Blaze, thank you for your time.
We’ll leave you to your craft as we make our way to darker and more infernal regions on our hunt for the Damned.