Welcome to Leeds! (And Please Ignore the Quiet Weeping in the Woods): An Interview with Matthew Bartlett

When I asked Matthew Bartlett if he’d like to do an interview with Silent Motorist Media, I hadn’t read his work. Other writers I admire kept mentioning him, so I knew he’d be a good fit. I wasn’t prepared, however, for the binge read Gateways to Abomination would inspire. Bartlett’s work is unsettling, unique and an absolute joy to read. I can’t wait to dive into the rest of his oeuvre, and we’ll certainly be keeping tabs on him here at SMM. If you, as I was before this interview, are unfamiliar with the world of Leeds and WXXM, I encourage you change that immediately. Stop by Bartlett’s Amazon author page, pick up Gateways to Abomination, Creeping Waves, and his newest collection, The Stay-Awake Men and Other Unstable Entities. You won’t regret it.

-Justin A. Burnett

“I consider myself still very much a student when I read. Which isn’t to say I don’t enjoy reading, I do. But part of my mind is always working in the background to try to learn how to improve.”

-Matthew Bartlett

Justin A. Burnett: For this interview, I read began by reading Gateways to Abomination. Like many other readers, I was completely blown away. I went on to read Creeping Waves because I just couldn’t get enough of Leeds. Before I began, I wondered how you would manage to follow up on such a great start. Sure enough, I was blown away again. How did the mysterious world of Leeds and the WXXM radio station begin for you?

Matthew Bartlett: A friend of mine had started a Livejournal account separate from his personal account, and the new account consisted of humorous, fictional stories about a small town and its people. I loved the idea of using Livejournal for fiction.

I was a lifelong reader of horror, and I’d recently become kind of obsessed with Joe Frank’s innovative radio shows, so the concept of mixing horror and radio occurred to me almost instantly. The first WXXT post was on my personal page–I wrote that I was driving up to Leeds (a small village that’s part of Northampton, where I live) and hearing odd radio broadcasts. In that post I linked to the WXXT page, and it went from there.

There was no reason for me to think at the time that these stories would be read by anyone other than my twenty or so Livejournal friends. I wrote them in short bursts. This was in mid-2004, I think.

Leeds itself, in my fiction, is a stand-in for Northampton, but has territories from dozens of places I’ve lived and worked. East Hartford, where I grew up. Simsbury, Connecticut, where I worked for a year. Old Saybrook. Stratford. Montague and Leominster and Fitchburg, Massachusetts.

Burnett: Does any Northampton local lore play into the stories and vignettes that make up Creeping Waves and Gateways?

Bartlett: Only in the sense that I use real events and pictures to concoct stranger, darker, more demonic versions of the city’s history. There is, a little up the road from me, a sort of minimalist Victorian village of cottages in the woods, situated around a tabernacle. It started as a tent community of Methodists in the late 1800s. I’ve used that setting in several stories, but altered its roots and gussied up its history. I use a lot of old local pictures from antique stores to inspire stories as well. But most everything from my stories is the product of my imagination. I do read up on local lore, but I don’t use it directly, It’s just in my head when I write.

Burnett: There’s definitely something inherently creepy about a minimalist village of cottages which once was a tent community surrounding a tabernacle. The “tent gathering” pieces were among the most memorable, to me.

While Creeping Waves and Gateways are thematically unified, there is a noticeable difference in length and level of detail between them. Could you describe your evolution as a writer as you returned to Leeds with Creeping Waves?

Bartlett: I wrote the stories in Gateways between 2004 and 2013 or thereabouts. When I assembled the pieces I used for that book, I deliberately left some out, intending to use them in an eventual follow-up. In the months after the release of Gateways, I began to write longer, more traditional stories for the first time, wanting very much to have my stories in anthologies. I hadn’t thought myself able to write long stories, so I basically taught myself how to do it.

When it came time to assemble the stories I wanted in Creeping Waves, I had the old Livejournal stories and these new longer pieces. I felt I needed new vignettes and stories to round out the book, so I started writing new stuff specifically for the book. By that time I was writing every day, something I had not done during the ten-year span during which I wrote Gateways. It was a natural evolution.

Burnett: You have a new collection, The Stay-Awake Men and Other Unstable Entities, that came out after I had done my reading for this interview. Do you want to say a few words about it? Is it more Leeds, or a venture into new territory?

Bartlett: It’s a collection of unconnected stories. Some take place in Leeds, but it’s not related to the WXXT story line. There’s a story of a supermarket meat manager with strange occult powers, a magician’s apprentice, a company whose middle management is replaced by mannequins. These are more “traditional” weird fiction stories, if that word means anything when it comes to weird fiction.

Burnett: Excellent! I’m looking forward to reading it. I noticed you have a Patreon as well. Do you regularly post Leeds-related short pieces on that as well?

Bartlett: I occasionally post Leeds-related short pieces, along with audio clips of my reading stories or parts of stories, some not yet published, old poems and articles I wrote, and some surprises.

Burnett: It sounds like just the right place for readers who can’t get enough of your work. When I read Gateways and Creeping Waves, the thing that stuck out to me immediately was that you seemed to have fun writing them. There’s a delightful breeziness in your prose and a seamless association of vivid images that, to me, seems to indicate a level of excitement on your part. Is this accurate? Do you find yourself enveloped in these strange worlds when you sit down to write? If so, do you find that there’s a correlation between the quality of your work and the level of enjoyment you find in the writing process?

Bartlett: The stories that appeared in Gateways were written with no expectation of readers beyond a few friends. I wrote them between 2004 and 2013 or so, as Livejournal entries. They weren’t written out of obligation, and I had no deadlines. So, yes, they were written to amuse myself and some friends, and the process was a lot of fun.

When the book came out and began to receive some attention, I knew that in order to grow a career, I would have to dig in and teach myself to write longer, more structured stories. I still had fun doing them, but there was an element of hard work, too. Those longer stories did not come easily, and I read and wrote a lot in the service of growing as a writer so that I could achieve my goal of selling stories and building a viable career.

When the time came to put together Creeping Waves, the follow-up, I had some pieces from the blog that hadn’t gone into Gateways, and I had some of these longer, more structured stories that had appeared in various anthologies. But I needed more short pieces and interstitial bits.

So, what I tried to do was recreate the frame of mind I was in when I wrote those old Livejournal entries. I was a little worried that I couldn’t do it. But I liked how they came out, which was a good sign.

So in my current writing, I see a line between the hard-fought stories that require a lot of heavy work, and the pieces that just seem to roll out of my fingers onto the keyboard. I’m lucky to be able to do both, I think, and I consider myself still very much a student when I read. Which isn’t to say I don’t enjoy reading, I do. But part of my mind is always working in the background to try to learn how to improve.

Burnett: That you can write the “hard-fought” stories alongside the easier, “fun” pieces and still make both read effortlessly is an amazing testimony to your writing capabilities, in my opinion.

You seem to write one part horror, one part weird fiction, and one part your own unique space that I can’t think of any obvious genre comparisons to describe. I’m not crazy about thinking in terms of genre, but are there any writers out there with whom you feel a particular stylistic or thematic affinity?

Bartlett: I definitely feel a kinship with Jon Padgett. We seem to share a similar bent and a compatible aesthetic. I’d also say Scott Thomas, both in the old New England settings in many of his short fiction, as well as the strange weirdness in his masterpiece the Sea of Ash. There is also a definite affinity with Daniel Mills, Richard Gavin, a few others.

Burnett: This isn’t the first time I’ve heard a writer mention Gavin in positive terms. I definitely need to check this fellow out.

From what I can tell, you seem to be a writer who seeks to further develop your craft rather than remain in the same place. Do you have any ultimate “goals” with your work? What would it look like, to you, to have reached a place where you’ve done what you set out to do with fiction?

Bartlett: I don’t have any kind of an endgame in mind, besides producing a good body of work. I’d like to produce more experimental fiction using unexpected formats or frameworks. I’d like to improve my ability to write traditional short stories as well. I want to try a flat-out horror novel. I want to try an experimental novel and a “mature” horror novel. My goal in general is to contribute something of value to the genre I’m in love with.

Burnett: Excellent! I was just about to ask if a novel might be in the future.

Is there anything lined up in the near-future you’d like to share with readers? What can we anticipate from the Bartlett universe?

Bartlett: I’m working on a serial called “The Obsecration” for Broken Eye books. Two segments have been published so far on their Patreon. I’m currently working on the sixth and final segment, which I should have completed by the end of August. It takes place in the Leeds universe.

While working on this I’ve been writing a few short stories on the side. A story I’m very proud of will be included in Uncertainties 3, from Swan River Press this September. I’ll be announcing another acceptance soon, a story with strong ties to the serial. I’ll soon be working with Yves Tourigny on a second installment of The Witch Cult in Western Massachusetts [check out volume one here]. In 2019 I’m planning to shop around a collection.

Alienation & Validation: 10 Questions with Author Elle Nash


Any author worth their salt will tell you that to craft a good first novel, you have to labor like you’re working the coal mines. It’s an emotional and oft-Sisyphean task that takes time, energy and a whole lot of pain.
Most of those authors are also full of shit. The hubris that attends your debut novel is something both naive and myopic. The bottom line is, most first novels blow, if for no other reason than the author went into it with the misguided intention of writing the next Great American Novel.
Elle Nash shows no signs of having suffered under such delusions and the amazing part is that her work shines as a result of this. Animals Eat Each Other is the kind of debut that all writers should aspire to, a highly literary work in an age where the trend has been to distance oneself from the literary.
Recalling at once the grimness of Flannery O’Connor, the ferocity of Gone Girl and the imagistic talent of authors like Darcey Steinke (see: Jesus Saves) and Francesca Lia Block (see: Wasteland), this novel tells a splintered tale of a bizarre love triangle in a way that we haven’t seen before and likely won’t see again.
Its author is an unexpected one, coming as she does from a background writing for manipulative mainstream publications like Cosmopolitan Magazine and the like. But don’t get it twisted, Elle Nash is not some insipid hack spewing out “13 Ways to Please Your Man & Not Be So Damn Ugly”. Nash is the editor of Witchcraft Magazine and a scribe who marries the macabre with the mundane in a way not unlike Bret Easton Ellis at his best.
I sat down with Elle to see if she could spill the realness about this incredible first book. Here’s what she had to say.

Bob Freville: “Animals Eat Each Other” is such an evocative title. What was your process with your debut novel? Did the story come first or did you think of the title first and then work from there?
Elle Nash: Thank you! The story came first. I had a few other titles previous to this one. In 2016 I’d written a poem called ‘the moon’ as part of a chapbook that won the Nostrovia Chapbook Contest, in which “animals eating each other” was a line, and that seemed to fit better than anything I’d thought of previously.
The process of writing it was long. It had started as a short story. I was working under Tom Spanbauer’s mentorship at the time and just kept expanding and felt it would be best as a short novel by the time I was finished with it.

In an age where more and more indie authors are kind of gearing their work towards the bizarro fiction genre, going out of their way to kind of give everything a shock factor without placing value on plot and character development, I found your book to be a breath of fresh air.

Was the humanism of the piece important to you and how did you approach the narrative? Were you aiming for something a bit more literary than what we see from most small press outlets today?
Thank you so much. I appreciate work that is shocking in the right way, but I’m a huge character person. Even with movies, I want things with far more character development than anything else– it’s something I find frustrating about blockbuster movies lately. There’s zero character development.
If you can’t make me care about the person I’m reading/watching about, even if I hate the character, which is still evoking something out of me, I just don’t feel invested in it. I want to be moved by what I read and the only way to do that is for me to know the character.
In that way I would say I was aiming for something more literary, if we describe literary fiction as something that focuses more on character. Plot is important too, but at the same time, I wanted the plot to feel natural and not too clean.

What’s more important to you as a writer? Style or substance? And do you think the two can be handled in a mutually respectful fashion?
Truly, both, but style more than substance. I can read a lot of sad substance stories but they may not break my heart. Style brings me to my knees.

You’re going to get this from every interviewer because it’s inevitable with any first novel: How much of the narrative is autobiographical?
I do get it from every interviewer! At this point, I just want to ask why it matters, if the work is good and compelling. Memory itself is a kind of fiction, so even if any of it were ‘true,’ it would only be true for a single person from a single perspective. It’s a similar experience reading a really good book, when you’re in the ‘fictive dream’ state. We love it because in that singular moment the truth is revealed to us in some small way.

Alienation plays a big role in this story, particularly the alienation of millennials from each other. It’s interesting to explore the detachment between people even when they are physically close. Is this something that you intend to continue to delve into in future works? Do you see your book as an artifact of the era that we are living in or would you prefer it be read as something more timeless?
Alienation is kind of a timeless feeling, I think, and it’s something I think about a lot, so it will probably show up in all of my future work in some form.

What do you view as Lilith’s biggest problem in the book?
That she wants to feel validated by her mother.

Fuck, marry, kill. Darcey Steinke, Hubert Selby, Jr. and Bret Easton Ellis.
Fuck Bret Easton Ellis, Marry Darcey Steinke, Kill Hubert Selby Jr.

Savage. (laughs) Are you writing another book or focusing on other things at the moment?
Yes, I’m working on a novel and also a book of short stories. I do try to switch to ‘focus on other things’ daily, like one day or for a few days I’ll wake up and think, “today I am not a writer” and I do all of the other things life demands of me. But I worry I might have too many days like that and then I become depressed and anxious and come back to writing again.

I know the feeling. What does your writing routine look like?
I frantically work when my baby naps most of the time. I also text a lot of one liners up into my notes app, and sometimes I just talk to a recording app on my phone while driving, which will transcribe (though not perfectly) the things I say to it. On Saturdays and Sundays when I can swing it, I will work a bit if I can while my husband is home.
I try to stay in the present moment a lot but it’s difficult. Most of the time, I’m thinking about my next project or story– about plot or things I should be writing down. Then I finish a story and I feel embarrassed by it and I’ll think about it until I can get back to the computer and add more or fix the parts I know are bad. Revision is hard. I try to revise things one moment at a time and not look at the big picture if I can help it…. that tends to overwhelm me, and it creates blocks in my work.

What are the two most important words in the English language in your opinion?
“Love me.”

Animals Eat Each Other is available from Dzanc Books. Click here to pick up your copy today.

Psychedelic Flapper: An Interview with Madeleine Swann

Madeleine Swann is a psychedelic flapper, weird fiction writer, creepy stuff lover, and hideous face puller. And she’s a lot of fun to interview!

-Austin James

“I wanted to be a writer, an actress (but not a famous one), and every single animal in existence.” -Madeleine Swann

Austin James: First off, thanks for chatting to me… I’m excited to get to know you a little better through this interview. Now let’s cut the crap and get down to the real, deep, issues: where do you stand on the Marmite spectrum of lovers/haters?

Madeleine Swann: Basically, Marmite is the devil’s eye boogies.

James: It seems to be the consensus that it’s generally horrible shit.

Swann: I know people who absolutely love it. I don’t trust them. One of them is my best friend Steve. I’m waiting for the day he reveals his true form as some ungodly being.

James: You’ll have to defeat him with a sword made of lightning in order to advance to the next level.

Swann: I’ll probably just look away, embarrassed, and pretend I didn’t see anything.

James: If you don’t fight him, who’s gonna stop him?

Swann: I can’t see that he’ll do any real damage, he gets confused very easily.

James: Ah, so a lower level boss. Makes sense.

Swann: Yeah, he’d probably wander towards the village, bent upon destruction, then worry he’d left his phone in the car and turn back.

James: As an American, I know everything (like I needed to remind you), and I’m not even sure Marmite isn’t just #fakenews…

Swann: I wish it was. Do you have Nutella? It’s just as bad. Also, Twiglets.

James: We do have Nutella. I have not partaken, but I will keep your warning in my pocket for future use.

Swann: Make sure you do, although I think marmite might be the worst.

James: So, changing pace, I hear you’re a writer?

Swann: Oh yes! I try.

James: In fact, you’ve had a book release just recently.

Swann: I did! Fortune Box in June, with Eraserhead Press.

James: Tell us about it?

Swann: Ok. Tower Ltd Surprise Packages is a mysterious company sending packages to strangers throughout the city. Each package is a different story and they all contain a magical object that either helps or proves disastrous for the recipient.

James: Oh cool! So, it’s like a collection of intertwined and loosely related short stories?

Swann: Yes! They’re different stories with the same premise.

James: That sounds fun. Where’d you find the inspiration for this idea?

Swann: A section of The Red Tower by Thomas Ligotti has a creepy tower sending gifts to people in the nearby town that contained spooky items, and I wondered what kind of items a tower of mine would send, and it went from there.

James: I’ve read the first story/chapter in Fortune Box, which (by the way) I loved. Tell me about Seed Man?

Swann: Oh, glad you liked it. Before I met Bill, I was single for about six years, because I’d had such a succession of terrible relationships, and I was determined not to get involved with anyone unless I was completely sure it was right. It led to a lot of awkward dates which was the basis for that story.

James: This is my favorite line: “They’d talk politics, films and art, and maybe she’d allow him a boob to touch on the first night.”

Swann: Haha! I was really proud of that one.

James: Moving on to the real issues, what relation are you to the James Bond character of the same name?

Swann: Zero, although I’m not sure if she has some Proust connection. I don’t know, I read somewhere that her name is a Proust reference and it made me feel intellectual.

James: Bullshit. You work for MI6. You heard it here, folks!

Swann: Shhhh, you’re not supposed to tell people.

James: Don’t worry, no one but the hundreds of thousands of people reading this interview will ever know. Your secret is safe with us.

Swann: Phew!

James: What’s it like working with Eraserhead Press?

Swann: Good. I like being part of a group of writers weird enough to be accepted into the weirdest publisher; it’s a nice feeling.

James: How involved were you, as the author, in approving cover art, etc. (I ask out of ignorance)?

Swann: They did the cover and I thought it was brilliant. They asked what I thought, and I said, “yes!”

James: Well, I happen to agree. It’s a sweet cover!

Swann: Thank you, I love it too!

James: How did working with Eraserhead this time around differ from when you released Rainbows Suck through New Bizarro Author Series (one of their imprints) back in 2015?

Swann: The first time around we were all placed in a Facebook group and assisted each other with promotion etc.. I found that quite stressful because I’m not great in groups. This time around I’ve kind of just been doing it myself.

James: How has that been? You have any readings or anything lined up?

Swann: I’ve managed to get most of the copies I bought into bookshops, told people online to ask me questions which I’ve answered in videos, and I did a giveaway. Not sure about readings but I’m sure I will at some point.

James: Nice. Getting books into bookshops is an important aspect of the game, even in the age of Amazon and social media. Maybe even more so in this age.

Swann: Definitely! I was really pleased when Blackwell in Oxford said they wanted ten copies.

James: How’d you go about setting that up?

Swann: I emailed them with links to my book and my website and they seemed to like it!

James: Do you find “the UK” to be generally accepting of Bizarro/weird fiction?

Swann: I think there’s a lot of weirdos here, so I think we’re generally open to weird stuff yes. Haha. Not everyone, but there’s always some.

James: How long have you been writing weird fiction?

Swann: Oooohh… erm, I think to be honest I was experimenting with weird stuff in primary school, I was writing surreal comedy stories that made sense to no one but me, and no one else found funny, but I thought they were hilarious, so I kept doing them and making people listen to them.

James: That’s awesome! How did you learn about the bizarro movement?

Swann: I found out about it probably around 2014. I was searching for the weirdest books ever written because nothing was satisfying my weird needs anymore, and I stumbled on Eraserhead Press.

James: And then?

Swann: I read a few and wasn’t sure. Then I kept reading and started to get into it, and submitted some stories to things, and it went from there.

James: Which Bizarro authors do you think helped you “start to get into it”?

Swann: I think probably The Haunted Vagina, I thought it was a genuinely sweet story, by Carlton Mellick III. Also, A Million Versions of Right by Matthew Revert. And Autumn Christian’s work.

James: Yeah, I can definitely see why you were lured in. Okay, so other than Eraserhead, where else have you been published?

Swann: Got a collection with Burning Bulb and a novella with Strangehouse Books, and short stories on The Wicked Library Podcast, Clash Books magazine (issue 1), and various other places. For transparency, I’m answering this question on the toilet.

James: Do they have toilet paper in the UK?

Swann: No, you use tea cups.

James: Ah. Well, at least you’ve all been upgraded to indoor plumbing (I assume)?

Swann: We have now, thank goodness. I used to have to sit in a field.

James: How relevant are broadswords in England nowadays?

Swann: I don’t know about anyone else, but I carry mine everywhere. Also, I’m now hiding because Bill’s got in from work, I’m going to jump out at him

James: Use your broadsword…

Swann: Good idea!

James: If you accidentally kill him I’ll help feed his body to the hogs by documenting each aspect for our viewers.

Swann: I’d probably try Necromancy. I don’t know how I’d handle day to day life without him.

James: Have you successfully necromanced before?

Swann: A couple of times, mostly just old people who popped off again ten minutes later.

James: Makes sense. So, which of your books are you most proud of?

Swann: Definitely Fortune Box. I’m so proud of it, I feel like I’m getting to where I need to be as a writer.

James: Where’s that?

Swann: It still very much has my sense of humor all over it, but I wanted to say more about my thoughts on the world, and people, and things like that.

James: What’s next? Any current projects you can talk about?

Swann: I’m working on a weird middle grade book right now.

James: That sounds awesome. Can you share any details?

Swann: Not sure at the moment because it’s not finished, but I think it will be quite dark for a kid’s book. Hopefully still funny though.

James: Have you talked to any publishers about it? Is there a market for weird YA books?

Swann: I hope there is! Not yet. I’ll do the looking when it’s finished.

James: You mentioned that you’re getting to “where you want to be” as a writer. What’s the next step?

Swann: I’d really like to get an agent. The next thing I’ll do is send this new one out to them and hope for the best.

James: In your opinion, what is the advantage of having an agent?

Swann: I’m not good at promoting myself and such. Agents help you with those things a bit more.

James: Makes sense. How many hobbits live in your town?

Swann: 17, all named Harry.

James: What did you want to be when you grew up?

Swann: I wanted to be a writer, an actress (but not a famous one), and every single animal in existence.

James: How are the actress and animal careers going?

Swann: I kind of abandoned those but I do a good impression of a napping cat.

James: Tell me about your book out from New Kink Books?

Swann: Oh yeah! It’s a novelette of surreal erotica set in a wonderland world of kinky things. It’s another set of linked short stories.

James: Talk about a wide range of audience appeal! Weird porn to Bizarro YA…

Swann: Ha! My interests are vast but they’re always weird.

James: What do you do when you’re not reading or writing?

Swann: I’m probably either watching a weird film, terrible TV or YouTube.

James: What are some of your favorite weird films?

Swann: Guy Maddin is probably my favorite director, he loves the 20s, surrealism and daft humor like me. Also, I quite like Cat Soup, Freaks, A Page of Madness, Pandora’s Box, lots!

James: I’ll have to check some of those out. Don’t make fun of me for having not seen any of them.

Swann: I wouldn’t make fun of you!

James: Do you have a routine you follow when you write?

Swann: I usually write in the morning, then finish around midday.

James: Do you people have coffee on that side of the world, or are you forced to drink tea whilst writing?

Swann: I’m hooked up to a tea drip 24/7. Bill does prefer coffee, though.

James: Mainlining earl tea is supposed to be good for your liver.

Swann: That’s what I tell myself.

James: Haha. Well hey, this has been a great chat! Is there anything else you want to get out there before we finish up? Any links or opinions or #fakenews?

Swann: Sure!
(website) http://madeleineswann.com
(Twitter) https://mobile.twitter.com/MadeleineSwann

And fake news: if you look deep into a shark’s eyes, you’ll probably die.
Austin James writes obscure and uncomfortable fiction.

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.

 

Cats and The Writhing Skies: An Interview with Betty Rocksteady

Just catching up with Betty Rocksteady, the two-punch Gatling gun of artistic creation about what happens when her passions for illustrating and writing collide…

-Austin James

www.bettyrocksteady.com

Follow Betty Rocksteady on Facebook and Twitter

Betty Rocksteady Pic

“I wouldn’t ever want a dog, I just don’t really get them, and they don’t get me. They’re extroverts.” -Betty Rocksteady

Austin James: So, I know you’re a writer and illustrator. You’ve e got a couple books out there, been in some anthologies. Amazon search shows an impressive catalogue of magazines as well (which I assume is a mix of your writing and illustrations, if not both). Do you have any other art forms in which you express your need to create?

Betty Rocksteady: I don’t think I have the time to do any other art forms! I’ve dabbled in other things, but these are the two that have stuck around. The main thing I want to do in the future is marry the two more. I’m going to be illustrating all my books from now on. I’m currently working on 20 illustrations for The Writhing Skies, which is coming in fall. The book is really extreme, sexual, and colorful, and the illustrations are a cartoony storybook style, which creates a really interesting contrast that I think really represents what I want to create.

James: I love it! It’s cool that you can take your two passions and weave them together like that.

Rocksteady: It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, like since I was a kid, and now I feel like my abilities are at a point where I can do it right. I’d love to do comics someday, and I’d also love to illustrate a point and click adventure game. So, it’s mostly about using the two art forms—illustration and writing—in new ways and using them together.

James: Is The Writhing Skies your third book?

Rocksteady: Yes! It’s coming out from PMMP this fall.

James: So other than “extreme, sexual, and colorful” is there anything else you can share about this upcoming release?

Rocksteady: Sure. The Writhing Skies is a novella that contains a lot of the same surreal nightmarish logic as Like Jagged Teeth but with a much more adult tone. The main character, Sarah, is trapped in her empty and grey hometown, followed by strange glowing creatures, confronting some really fucked up stuff from her recent past. It deals with sexual violence and manipulation, plus goopy aliens.

James: Thank god for goopy aliens, right? So, I know you’ve written Bizarro before. Would you consider TWS a Bizarro piece?

Rocksteady: I think everything I write has some Bizarro elements without being fully Bizarro. I like to use the dream-logic and strangeness of Bizarro, but it leans more on the side of Lynchian surreal than outright Bizarro (to me at least). Writhing Skies is definitely in that category. It’s more trying to make you uncomfortable than make you laugh.

James: Tell me about all of your short story work… it’s quite an impressive list.

Rocksteady: Oh yeah! I spent a couple years writing a ton of short stories and got into a lot of cool anthologies and magazines. Now I’m working on longer projects for a bit and it feels weird not to be submitting all the time.

James: So how do you like working with PMMP?

Rocksteady: Oh, I love PMMP! I think they do a lot of cool stuff. Max is an excellent editor and Lori makes beautiful-looking books. They’re also really into my vision and on board for any of my artistic ideas, which really makes me feel like I’m doing projects I believe in.

James: I’m relatively new to the scene, but it doesn’t take long to recognize that they are a well-respected small press who know what they’re doing. Okay, back to you, which talent took hold first (illustrating or writing)?

Rocksteady: This is kind of pedantic, but I don’t really think of them as TALENTS so much as skills. I definitely had an early interest in both, and maybe a slight aptitude but if what I do is good, it’s because of all the time I’ve spent getting here, not an inborn talent. And I think that’s just as cool.

I’ve always done both illustration and writing I guess, I was into both as a kid. I spent a lot of my 20s drawing and not much writing, but when I turned 30 I decided to get back into both seriously.

Betty Art 1

James: Yeah, I like the word “skill” better as well. I mean, someone can have a natural talent towards something, but it usually still takes lifelong development. Except for those of you that don’t need to develop—just have the natural “talent” to go out and be successful… fuck you people, by the way.

Rocksteady: Yeah there are definitely people that are naturally talented enough to produce professional quality work without a lot of training and those people can go to hell, haha.

James: So, when did you first start to realize your illustration skills were sharpened to the point where you felt like you were getting good at it? How about writing skills?

Rocksteady: Oh, I don’t know. I’ve always been drawing, and I always liked my drawings. I’ve been doing it I guess semi-professionally for a few years now, but it still took a while for my skill to catch up with my taste. I taught myself to draw on paper, but I’ve been using an iPad Pro for a few months now and I really feel that it’s pushed me to a new level where the work I produce is much, much closer to what I want it to look like.

The first story that I wrote that I thought was pretty good was “This Narrow Escape” (published in Kzine), which was also the first story I wrote using Bizarro/dream logic techniques. That kind of broke things open for me in terms of writing. Before that everything I wrote felt very hollow to me and didn’t have my true personality in it. Then from there I went on to write Arachnophile and so on. I’m constantly determined to learn more and get better

James: Do you have a routine you “must” follow in order to be productive when creating?

Rocksteady: Nope, not at all. I keep changing how I do it. It’s not chaotic or anything but I don’t have any rituals or set ways that I can think of.

James: Switching gears, rumor has it that you like cats. Can you confirm and/or deny said claim?

Rocksteady: Haha yes! Maybe just a little bit. I’m actually in the very starting phases of my next book, THE CAT LIVES, which is going to be a short story collection of interlocking stories about some really strange cat mythos.

James: I was actually going to ask if cats were ever inspiration for any of your work. Sounds like THE CAT LIVES will be badass… I’m already looking forward to it. Can you give an example of “really strange cat mythos”?

Rocksteady: It’s still in development stages but I have a few stories written and a lot of notes, just had to put it aside until Writhing Skies is complete. THE CAT LIVES is going to be a lot of different types of horror stories, but they are all going to predominantly feature a cat or cats, and I’m working on a mythos that’s developing naturally as I go. It’s not quite ready for public consumption yet, and I don’t think any of it will be laid out in so many words, it’s something that will seep into you as you read (assuming it turns out like I’m expecting)!

James: That’s sounds awesome (you see, I, too, have love for feline companions)!

Rocksteady: I don’t think I could be a functioning human without cats.

James: What’s your opinion about canines?

Rocksteady: I just don’t really care about them, but I think everyone should treat their pets well. I wouldn’t ever want a dog, I just don’t really get them, and they don’t get me. They’re extroverts.

James: And extroverts disgust you… I get it. We have both. But our little dog is a lot like a cat, honestly. So, back to writing: which of your pieces (short stories included), are you most proud of?

Rocksteady: Honestly, I get so sick of looking at everything after a few drafts, it’s always the new stuff I’m most excited about! I do think one of my coolest stories is “Dusk Urchin” in Looming Low. Anything where I can achieve a lot of tension subtly and without a lot of backstory is cool to me. I’m also really excited about my story “Elephants That Aren’t” coming soon in Lost Films. I’m obsessed with 1920s-1930s style cartoons so that style features in the story and I even drew a flip book to go with it.

James: Makes sense. In anticipation of this interview gaining you hundreds upon hundreds of new fans, where would you recommend one starts into the Betty Rocksteady Library?

Betty Art 2

Rocksteady: Oh, definitely Like Jagged Teeth. And as far as short fiction, “Dusk Urchin” (in Looming Low), “Elephants That Aren’t” (Lost Films), and the upcoming “The Woods, The Waterfall” (in Deciduous Tales #2).

James: Circling back to THE CAT LIVES, do you already have publication plans with PMMP, or are you planning to shop it around once it’s ready?

Rocksteady: I’m still thinking about that. I don’t think I’ll decide until it’s closer to complete. I definitely want to illustrate it, so I have to keep that in mind as well.

James: Switching gears again, tell me about your “semi pro” job as an illustrator. Do you mostly do it for individuals, publishers, etc.?

Rocksteady: When I started I was just doing a lot of stuff for myself and posting it on REDBUBBLE. I always did a lot of gothic pen and ink work, but I started adding that retro cartoon styling to it and I feel like I’ve really found my own groove now and people are responding well to it! This year I’ve done a couple cover commissions, I’m illustrating a couple books and I’ve been doing a lot of personal cartoon commissions for people. It’s all pretty fun and I’ve been really pleased with how it’s going.

James: That’s awesome! Do you still have the REDBUBBLE thing going on, or has it evolved beyond that?

Rocksteady: Yeah, I still have lots of stuff on there but have not added anything new in a bit, as I’ve been kept really busy with other projects! I would like to get some cartoon stuff up soon.

 

James: Ok, so I’ve been saving up for this last question. All of your fans are dying to know: Is “Betty Rocksteady” your real name? Also—spitting follow-up questions a bit to early—is neon blue your natural hair color?

Rocksteady: I hate to reveal the boring truth but yeah, Betty Rocksteady is a pen name, and for no Particular reason other than it just sounds great.

And no, hot pink is my natural color.

James: Makes sense, I hear that hot pink is pretty common in Southeast Canada. And I do love how Betty Rocksteady sounds… how did you come up with it?

Rocksteady: It just struck me one night, a couple years before I even started writing and I changed my Facebook name to it just for fun, and when I started getting published it just felt right. Betty Rocksteady feels like the best version of me. Oh, my real name is actually Betty so it’s just the Rocksteady part that was new.

James: Yeah, I dig it. Definitely fits you and resonates in the memory. Anyway, it’s been a blast chatting with you.

Rocksteady: Hey, yeah, thanks for doing this!

 

Austin James writes obscure and uncomfortable fiction.