Horror Sleaze Trash: An Interview with India LaPlace

I recently met India online, seeing that we have several mutual FB friends in the creative arts circles and that she’s local to the SLC area. When I noticed that she’s an associate editor for Horror Sleaze Trash, I got all sorts of excited to discover the art/lit zine (that has been and always will be for the misfits) is actually a part of my local underground arts revolution. One thing led to another and voila!, here’s an interview:

India LaPlace Pic1

“Real life isn’t clean and full of happy endings—it’s painful and it’s tragic and it’s dirty.”

-India LaPlace

-Austin James

Austin James: So, what is your role over at Horror Sleaze Trash?

India LaPlace: My official title is associate editor. I run the social media, reach out to artists and models and writers—both new and former, and just help out wherever our Editor-in-Chief needs me. I love it. I feel like I’ve been able to make a lot of cool connections with people I’d never know otherwise, and it gives me a platform to promote art that I feel is real and honest and raw and it’s important to me.

James: I’ve read your poem on the site, which—by the way—I love. Do you dabble in other arts or is poetry your primary outlet?

LaPlace: I would say that writing in general is my primary outlet. I’ve always written poetry, as well as fiction and short stories and little rants and essays about various topics. I feel like even when I’ve tried painting or drawing, I end up painting or sketching words or quotes I like, so it’s really all in the words for me.

James: When did you first discover this love for the written word?

LaPlace: It’s so hard to say. I don’t have memories of not being really into reading. I remember teaching myself to spell and read and write when I was 4 or 5 years old and I was always way ahead in English and literature than anyone else in my classes—although I definitely cannot say the same for math, haha. I think I was in 1st or 2nd grade the first time I showed my dad this little “book” I had written and drawn illustrations for and he told me that writing was a waste of time and I needed to find a hobby that would make me more money one day. Clearly, I didn’t listen very well to that advice. I guess you could add that I had kind of a tumultuous childhood so reading and writing became a way to escape from that.

James: Mathing is for the devil, so I am in favor of your decision to pursue, well, anything else. Anyway, I’ve only read the one poem of yours, which is very sexual in nature—possibly even “shocking” to some readers. Is everything you write edgy like that particular piece?

LaPlace: I wouldn’t say it’s edgy in the same way. I was raised in the LDS/Mormon church and they have some pretty strict views when it comes to sex. I feel like they have pretty strict views when it comes to talking about any feeling that isn’t happy and grateful to God, to be honest. Anyway, I left when I was pretty young, but I don’t think you get out of that kind of environment without developing some sort of complex or feelings of shame when it comes to sex. Writing about that sort of thing has helped me work through all sorts of what I believe is religious abuse. I guess everything I write about, I try to make it sort of dark and raw. I want to write about things that other people are afraid to admit they’re feeling, so one of my favorite subjects is sex and one of my other favorite subjects is being a mother.

India LaPlace Pic3

James: I tend to agree. Suppression of emotion never ends well—regardless of what means is used to suppress. I’m curious though, what kind of “taboo” feelings do you write regarding motherhood?

LaPlace: Well, I never wanted to be a parent growing up. I wasn’t that kid who dreamed about a white wedding or getting married and having babies. I actually did everything I could at the time to prevent getting pregnant, so when I found out that I was pregnant, deciding to go through with the pregnancy and raise a child was a serious decision for me. I felt like I gave up everything I had ever envisioned for myself and I feel like I continue to make the decision to be a mother—and a good mother—every day. I think that when you become a mother, all anyone expects to hear you say is how much you love it and what a gift they are and all that generic bull shit. I feel like the worst complaint I hear is, “well, it’s challenging.” And it’s not just “challenging.” You don’t just lose your body or your mind or your sense of self and independence; you lose the dreams you had of what your future looked like and you lose it in ways that you can never prepare for. I’m sure there are a lot of people who think I’m a terrible mother, but I’m going to keep talking and writing about how difficult it’s been for me. All that being said, I want to be clear that as much as I struggle or as much as I don’t enjoy being a mother in the ways I’m expected to, I am absolutely in awe of the person that my daughter is. I feel like she saved my life. I enjoy being her mother and I love her more than I know how to put into words. But that doesn’t make it less challenging and I think that’s important to talk about. I think that writing about that—the challenge, the sense of loss, the struggle with being selfish and independent vs. selfless and maternal—is so important. I don’t think that real conversations happen unless people feel like they have permission to be honest and I want to be a part of helping people do that.

James: How old is your offspring?

LaPlace: She turned 9 in April.

James: You’ve kept a human alive for nine years. Seems like you’re doing fine as a mother. My wife and I use that as our measuring stick. We can’t keep any plants alive, but our kids are still alive and happy (#winning). I think those feelings are natural—it’s not supposed to be easy. Otherwise it wouldn’t be worth it. I’m glad your expressing these things in an effective, and creative, manner.

LaPlace: Good point! And she’s pretty fond of me and already a better person than me, so I know I’m doing something right.

James: Have you been able to get any of these pieces published?

LaPlace: I honestly haven’t tried to get any of those pieces published yet. I was pretty shy about sharing my writing before I got involved with Horror Sleaze Trash. I’m working on putting together a little collection of that writing right now though.

James: Nice! Are you planning on shopping it around, self-publishing, (any plans thus far)?

LaPlace: I’ve thought about self-publishing, but we’ll see what ends up happening. I’ve been lucky enough to make a lot of friends who are in publishing, especially small press, and so I’ll probably end up asking for them to edit/review it for me and suggest the presses they think fit best. I think it’s important to me to either self-publish or go through an indie/small press.

James: I’m definitely looking forward to reading this collection once it’s available! When it comes to writing pieces with explicit subject matter, have you seen any “backlash” or unwanted “attention” in your personal life? What about your online life?

LaPlace: Not really. Most people either love it or think it’s funny or sexy. I think the only “backlash” I got was from the first poem that HST published. In their Horror Sleaze Trash Quarterly: Summer 2017 issue, I have a short poem called “Making Feminism Great Again.” Most people understand what I was doing writing that piece, but I did have a couple of friends who hated it and told me not to publish it because they thought I’d give Trump supporters a big head or justification/feelings of validation for their beliefs. I don’t agree, and I also don’t care. I really love that poem still and I don’t think it’s wise to worry about how my writing is “received.” I know that a lot of people disagree, and they want what they write interpreted in a certain way and of course I want that, but I don’t get to tell people how to interpret art or how it should resonate with them. Of course, I haven’t showed any of my more risqué work to my parents. I’m not sure they’d be too pleased.

James: Haha. I basically tell my parents and certain coworkers that they are welcome to “read and discuss it with me, but they won’t like it.”

LaPlace: I know how that feels! To be honest, I don’t think my parents are capable of reading anything I write without finding a way to make it a personal attack on them and I’m not interested in coddling adults so it’s easier to just not show them anything. I do think that getting involved with Arthur and Horror Sleaze Trash is something that, at least in my head, gave me permission to be less politically correct—or at least less worried about it, as I am a little too caught up in politics—and so that’s something that I believe has made my writing stronger.

James: It’s funny how various personal discoveries end up “giving us permission” to push boundaries in our own creation. For me, discovering Bukowski was a big influence along those lines. Are there any artists in particular that have inspired you in this way?

LaPlace: Oh, god. I love Bukowski. As a child, I was a huge fan of Harry Potter and, weirdly, The Count of Monte Cristo, so I think those books really made me want to write. I wanted to write things that connected with people the way that both of those connected with me. My dad also used to have me read poetry out loud, just from random collections, because I was shy and kind of stumbled over my words. He was super excited when I had a class in 6th grade that required me to memorize a poem each month. He bought me a copy of a picture book for “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost, when I memorized that, and an Edgar Allan Poe collection when I memorized “The Raven.” I think that’s where my love for poetry probably started. In my mid-to-late teens and early 20s, I think that Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Betty Smith’s novel “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”, and the art of Salvador Dali and Van Gogh really resonated with me and added to who and what inspired and influenced the direction I wanted to take my writing.

James: It sounds like your family was ok with you enjoying the arts, just urged you to practice something that could provide financial security (they have a point a point, there’s no money here—bwahahaha!).
LaPlace: I think they were okay with me enjoying the arts. They definitely tried to direct what arts I enjoyed, but they also never exactly stopped me from enjoying the things they didn’t approve of, including Harry Potter.

James: Makes sense… everyone knows Harry Potter leads to decreased gas mileage and teen pregnancy.

LaPlace: My parents definitely thought so! My mom actually went out and bought me a set of like 20 of the abridged classics and started reading me The Count of Monte Christo. She didn’t force me to stop reading Harry Potter because my parents didn’t think it was right to discourage reading, but my mom tried to intrigue me with other books, which really only made me love Harry Potter and the classics. It probably didn’t help that I had a grandmother who was pretty into some witchy stuff.

James: Other than putting together the short story collection, what are you working on now?

LaPlace: I’m currently working on that collection as well as some poetry I plan to submit to John D. Robinson for his Holy&Intoxicated Publications Poetry Card Series. I’ve been working out the details for a couple of ideas I think would make good zines or collections for others to submit to, as well as some new stuff for Horror Sleaze Trash; we just finished up with a pretty spicy shoot for the 4th of July that I’m really excited about and have some more projects in the works!

James: Sounds like you’ve got a lot going on! How involved are you in these “spicy shoots” (meaning, do you photograph, format, publish online, ogle, anything)?

LaPlace: Well, I’ve been photographed in two shoots for HST thus far [link 1, link 2]. I helped come up with the theme for this 4th of July shoot and was in some of the photos as well. We’ve been having some trouble with our website and so while we figure that out, we’ve branched out into social media, so I’ll be publishing the shoots there. At some point, I’ll probably try my hand at photographing some of the shoots, but we’ll see. I’m definitely there to ogle though. I’m always down to watch a hot chick pose for the camera, especially one who is cool enough to do it for something called “Horror Sleaze Trash”!

James: I, for one, am glad you’ve branched out on social media. HST was already on my radar but meeting you—especially being that your local to the SLC area—makes it that much cooler for me personally. Are you at all concerned that your conservative family will learn things about you they don’t want to know via social media?

LaPlace: Thank you! I’m glad too. It took some convincing—meaning I had to do a bit of work to convince Arthur. He’s not into social media, which I find very cool and refreshing. I was going to delete my Facebook entirely until we decided to create a Facebook page. It’s been a really cool way for me to connect with a lot of different artists, so I definitely love it. And no, I’m not worried about my family learning about it. My siblings know and aren’t really involved in religion anymore, I don’t care at all what my extended family thinks, and my parents aren’t really involved in social media. And even if they were, they’d either ignore it or just be like, “That’s just India! She’s kind of weird.”

India LaPlace Pic2

James: Right? My family has just kind of come to expect that there will be weird and inappropriate things on my social media too.

LaPlace: I love that! I’d rather have my family just be reluctantly resigned to the way I am. That way I don’t have to hide it. I think that’s pretty much the way they’ve learned to view my averse-reaction to religion and marriage and traditional dating as well.

James: You mentioned earlier that part of your role as associate editor is to “reach out to models and authors and artists.” Care to talk about that at all?

LaPlace: It’s sort of a job that I gave to myself, but I already followed and enjoy following so many talented people via social media. The opportunity to work with them and help promote their art is just too good to give up. So really, I just spend time figuring out the best contact methods, emailing or messaging them and offering them the opportunity to be published on the website. It gives them a chance for more exposure and brings new faces to HST, which we are always looking for.

James: So, you’re just like: “hey, you’re sexy and like to model for pics, wanna model for some on this website I work for?”

LaPlace: Not exactly. I usually introduce myself and let them know I’m a fan of their work, then briefly describe the website and why I think they’re a good fit. Some people aren’t into it—I think people are worried about being associated with a website that has the word “trash” and “sleaze” in it and that’s fine. If they don’t understand what we’re doing and how we’re using those words, they probably aren’t as good a fit as I assumed anyway.

James: Yeah, your way probably works a lot better—way less creepy. Also, you’ve provided the perfect opening for this question: what does HST “stand for?” How are you using those words?

LaPlace: As you know, “HST” stands for ‘Horror Sleaze Trash’. The definitions being Horror: adj. inspiring or creating loathing, aversion, etc., Sleaze: adj. contemptibly low, mean, or disreputable, and Trash: n. literary or artistic material or poor or inferior quality. But if you want more personal definitions, here is what it means to me: There are so many artists and people out there who are insanely talented, but their stuff doesn’t get published or get the recognition it deserves because it’s risqué or dirty or “too dark.” Often, that means these artists have put aside their fear of being vulnerable and delved into the darkest parts of their minds, their trauma, and their lives. They’ve been honest and raw and real. Real life isn’t clean and full of happy endings—it’s painful and it’s tragic and it’s dirty. We’re not afraid of that and we have worked to create a platform where people can go to those dark places and be honest about what they’ve experienced.

The opportunity to be real and honest in that way is what drew me to HST in the first place. I think you reach more people and touch more lives by being honest. I think that’s why some people have strong oppositional reactions to words like that and art, writing, etc., like that. It forces us to face the dark stuff that’s easier to ignore. But it doesn’t help people grow to ignore that shit and I don’t ever want to lend my name or time to something that doesn’t feel honest.

James: Aha, so you’re an “artistic expression freedom fighter?”

LaPlace: Haha, I guess that’s one way of looking at it. I just find that the idea of not being as honest as I can in the most blunt way that I can in the only life I can confidently say I have too depressing to handle. So, the opportunity I have—a platform that allows others to be honest in that way—is a dream come true for me.

James: That’s so cool.

LaPlace: You’re too kind! I definitely think it’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of. I feel really lucky. I mentioned it briefly before, but I had a pretty weird, rough childhood and I’ve had a lot of moments where I was overcome with depression and I thought nothing was going to be okay… but in the end I’ve kind of started to grow into exactly the kind of person and woman I admired and always wanted to be as a child. Realizing that is really cool.

James: I can sympathize with some of these things, depression and such. {enter something wise and philosophical about the sum of one’s experiences or some shit}. Sounds like, if nothing else, it’s “all starting to make sense.” I’m happy for you!

Changing direction here, have you thought at all about what happens when your daughter is old enough to read your work, considering your typical subject manner?

LaPlace: Funny story, she’s actually googled me. She was on her grandmother’s phone, and she texted me on Snapchat to tell me that she googled me and my poem on Horror Sleaze Trash came up. I just told her that was funny and that a lot of what I write is a for an adult audience and so I would rather she wait until she’s older to read that stuff. I am probably more open with her than people believe I should be, but I just told her that it wasn’t because I didn’t want her to read my writing, I just didn’t think she needed to deal with adult themes before she was old enough to understand them. She responded by saying, “That’s what I thought you would say, so I didn’t read it.”

James: That’s awesome! My kids kind of know I write stories for adults. One day they’ll read them… probably think they’re dumb.

LaPlace: She knows that I write stuff that’s more adult and she knows that the stuff that’s less adult is still pretty dark. I’m not too worried about her reading my writing though. We have a pretty open relationship—I believe that if she’s old enough to ask a question or engage in a conversation, she’s old enough for an answer, even if I have to make sure to tweak it so that it’s age-appropriate.

James: When it comes to writing, do you have a specific routine?

LaPlace: I wouldn’t say I have a specific routine. I definitely have to “schedule” time to write. Between being a single mom, working, spending time with family, and making time for my partners, if I don’t schedule days that are specifically just for me and time that is specifically for writing, I tend to put those things off and start to get a little down and stressed out because of it.

James: How often are you typically able to take a day to yourself to write?

LaPlace: A whole day? Almost never. Even the thought of that seems crazy to me. But a whole night works out often. I don’t ever make concrete plans with people on Monday, Friday, or Sunday evenings and I usually try to spend time reading or writing most evenings before I go to bed.

James: Nice, I’m glad to hear that—I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of your work! This has been a fun interview. Is there anything else you’d like to get out there before we wrap up? Words of wisdom? Shameless plugs? Dad jokes?

LaPlace: Thank you! This has been a fun interview—it’s been my first interview! The only Dad jokes I know are every single dad I’ve ever met—just kidding, I know some pretty kick ass fathers—and if I had words of wisdom, I’d probably be rolling in cash instead of peddling smut.

But I am definitely not too shy to promote myself!

You can find Horror Sleaze Trash at the following places:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/horrorslztrash
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/horrorslztrash/
Tumblr: https://horrorsleazetrash.tumblr.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/horrorslzztrash

We also have a Patreon and a Merch shop, which are great ways to support us if anyone feels so inclined.
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/horrorsleazetrash/memberships
Merch Shop: https://www.cafepress.com/horrorsleazetrash

Otherwise, just keep those submissions coming, share HST with your like-minded friends, family, and enemies, and watch for the re-launch of the website, hopefully before the end of the year.

Keep it sleazy, guys and gals.


Austin James writes obscure and uncomfortable fiction.


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