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Monday, February 3, 2014

Dustin LaValley Interview, pt 3 of 3: The Field and Style

What kind of writer you see yourself? gritty realistic? horror? something else?  
I've seen a lot of different labels connected to my work but I don't have any that I use. If I had to call it something... dark.  

What draws to this sort of writing? 
Observations of the world. Being drawn and fascinated to the darker side of human nature. 

You wrote, " I prefer to challenge the norms of the genre(s). The formula is outdated and needs some new blood and breath. The format needs to be updated to meet today’s demanding reader as well, and that is what I try and accomplish." Later, "[W]e need to push on, push norms, create new formulas and the next era of authors will bring that." What are some boundaries, norms, formulas you are trying push at? Who else do see plowing and sowing these fields? 
The small press is doing a fine job at bringing new life to the genre(s). There are a few that are in the same stance that brought down imprints of major trade houses but for the most part things are starting to be more active. It became pretty rough a few years back when nothing was being challenged outside of a few sub-genres. The same authors were writing the same book over and over and readers gave up, they moved on and only now are they coming back because there are some authors who learned that you must challenge the reader for them to spend money, invest time. If you give them the same formula in every book readers are going to leave. Authors like Ronald Malfi and Max Booth III, Michael Bailey, they're doing things different with grace and beauty and I love it. Sometimes it's not the words but how the words are placed and the punctuation that tells the story.  

You listed the following books as favorites: "Junky by William Burroughs, East Bay Grease by Eric Miles Williamson, Funland by Richard Laymon, The Secret Life of Houdini by William Kalush and Larry Sloman, and Teatro Grottesco by Thomas Ligotti." Could you tell us what you took away from them? 
Inspiration. Each book, each author has their unique, identifiable own voice and moving from one to the next is refreshing. Houdini I've always admired and wanted to learn as much about him as possible. The Secret Life of Houdini is the most informative and entertaining book on the man I've come upon. 

You have strong opinions about "becom[ing] your own writer." Do you recommend workshops or no? 
I see it like martial arts. Learn the basics from the masters and then make them your own, form them to your own style and don't be a carbon copy. I think workshops are fine, many authors I read have done so.  

How do your collaborations work? What's your process? What's it like collaborating with John Edward Lawson? 
Oh, how I do love collaborations. When you find a few authors who are likeminded and when you have that free time, nothing is more fun than getting together and doing something just for the fun of rolling off and building off one another. With John, we would send one another a piece by email and every time we did the other was pushed to up the return. We did a piece for a convention that was written in the hotel room the night before solely for our author reading the next day. It was purely for shits and giggles and resulted in a standing ovation.  

What is a recent work or writer you've read that particularly impressed you? Why? 
Patrick McGrath. His 1997 debut novel The Grotesque was a recent used book store find. His words flow effortlessly in a beautifully dark, fine art sort of style.  

Where do you see the future of horror (or your own style) going? 
I see horror jumping back into play in the next few years, working back up to where it was before we had our fall some time before the major trade houses gave up their horror lines. The small press is growing and becoming easier to find for those who are looking. 

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