Readers and Esteemed Members of the Evil League of Evil,
It has been a year. A year of evil and advice and more evil. There have been trials and tribulations, things of awesome and things of suck. There have been fundraisers and evil giveaways and gift baskets and more. There has been a great deal packed into the twelve months that have passed since the inception of the Evil League of Evil Writers with our first Evil Interview. Our inaugural evil was made possible by our Patron Saint of Evil Writers, the estimable Lilith Saintcrow.
It is only fitting that we begin a new infernal cycle with another Evil Patron Saint. This man wrote the theme song of the Evil League of Evil Writers (literally!). He was evil enough to grant us the awesome of his wicked presence, and it pleases me to share the nefarious love (and one of his albums, if you’re the lucky commenter!) here.
I give you the Patron Saint of Macabre Humor, the one and only Voltaire!
Disclaimer: Dina asked the interview questions and may or may not be a rabid fangirl. The management takes no responsibility for fangirl drool. Please make sure your inoculations are up-to-date before reading this interview.
1) Let’s start things off right: What’s your zombie survival plan?
V: Duck and cover. More specifically, find a duck, cover it in napalm, light and chuck at zombies.
2) If you could pick one of your songs as your zombie-killing theme song, which would it be?
V: I’m tempted to say “Zombie Prostitute” but I think I should save that song for a different zombie-related activity. So instead, I’ll with with Day of the Dead. It’s very lively and will really get the blood pumping (preferably INSIDE of my body).
3) You’re clearly extremely literate and socially and politically aware, if your songs are any indication. You share your name with an 18th century philosopher famous for his writing and similar views. Are you a fan? Is there something about the philosopher or his work you want to draw your audience’s attention to? If so, how did you discover ye olde Voltaire? Or is the similarity to persons living or dead entirely coincidental?
V: I read a short piece by Voltaire when I was a child called Micromegas and it instantly grabbed me. He was saying things about seeing things in proportion and poking fun at the notion that humans are superior and it was so much like some of the things I believed as a small child. However, I was never able to really communicate my ideas because I was too young to have the eloquence to do it and also because I was surrounded by, no offense, not the brightest adults, growing up in the ghetto and so they all just looked at me as if I was completely mad. When I read that story, I felt that for the first time in my life, there was someone who understood me.
4) You’ve worked hard to be the brilliant artist/musician/filmmaker/author you are. You’ve been doing what you do for years. It’s a rough business, being creative and getting paid to do what you love, as you’ve blogged about before. We here at the ELEW have no sympathy for speshul snoflakes or crybabies who whine about how hard it is or want it Right Now without putting in the time/earning their stripes. At the same time, we recognize that all creative people go through the Death Spiral of Woe and Doom and Never Want to Write/Create/Whatever Again (yes, even writers threaten ragequit). What advice would you have for those in such a place? If you want to make an “It Gets Better” video, we’d be totally okay with that. In fact, if you wanted to reply to this entire interview in the form of a video, we’d be utterly fine with that too. (Disclaimer: the interviewer may or may not be a fangirl and enjoy watching your vlogs.)
V: Actually, I made a film about it. It’s called DemiUrge Emesis and it’s a creepy, little stop-motion film narrated by Danny Elfman. You can see that here:
In short, those of us who are driven to create, will create. There will, of course, come times where the endless complications that surround our ability to create (having day jobs, what we are presently creating may not be in vogue at the moment, knowing you’ve created something great but not knowing how to get it published, not knowing any of the “right” people to get to the next step, etc) will bog you down and slow or even stop your creation. But like the cat in the film I made, these periods inevitably lead to rebirths because someone like you can not live without creating. So, you overcome, somehow.
5) We’re all tempted at some point to snoflake out and act speshul when we shouldn’t. Have you ever given in? Can you share with us your own embarrassing speshul snoflake moment? We’ll kill the witnesses afterward, if you like.
V: I’m not entirely sure what that phrase means, but I’ve definitely had moments where I just wanted to give up. Sometimes all it takes is turning on the radio and hearing some 18-year old voice auto-tuned beyond recognition singing some repetitive inanity and then later seeing the same 18-year old kicking back in their huge mansion. Sometimes it will make me want to rip out all of my hair and I have been known to scream, “WHY DO I WORK SO HARD TO WRITE LYRICS THAT ARE INSIGHTFUL AND MEANINGFUL AND TELL A STORY WHEN ALL PEOPLE REALLY WANT IS “I like to move it, move it! I like to move it, move it!” But somewhere in the back of my mind I know that it’s all about business and that it’s about selling concert tickets and licensed goods to 12-year olds and that it’s simply never been the market I’m in. I tell myself that what I do is entirely different and that I’m in the business of making art, not the art of making business. And yes, sometimes it calms me, but very often it does little to console. There have been projects I have seemingly completely given up on. One that comes to mind is a feature film based on my first comic book series, “Chi-chian”. It’s been optioned to be developed into a live action feature twice! But both times, I was just jerked off a bunch (never to completion of course) by people who did nothing with it. But I know that these things never die in my head. They just go to the back of the room and wait for another opportunity to call them forward.
6) I know you have many, many irons in your fire, so I might as well throw another log on. You’ve got books out there, but getting hold of some of your work requires sacrificial offerings, prayers to esoteric gods and in some cases an act of Congress (and we all know what THAT involves…*shudder*). Are there any plans to reissue your out of print backlist?
V: Well, speaking of Chi-chian, I’m in the process of recoloring the first issue (because those files were corrupted on the Syquest disc they were originally stored on!) and I plan to release the entire 6-issue
mini-series as a collected graphic novel (something the publisher never got to). I’m also hopeful (SEE???) that it might reinvigorate the desire to make this into a film. As for the Oh My Goth! and Deady comic books, it’s doubtful that I would reprint them at this point, although the thought has crossed my mind that I could offer them as e-books! Of course, I just need to find out what an e-book is and how to make one! Lol! My non-fiction books “What is Goth?” and “Paint it Black” appear to be out of print as well. I just recently emailed the publisher requesting the rights be reverted to me. And again, that might mean I offer them as e-books as well.
*UPDATE: Voltaire said on his March 25 Twitter/FB that the rights to his non-fiction books will revert to him on April 1! Whoo hoo! – Dina
6) You’re working on a novelization of your screenplay, Call of the Jersey Devil. When it’s completed, will you submit to the same press that published your previous work, or will you join the legions of those taking matters into their own hands and put it out yourself for your adoring masses to enjoy?
V: Yes I am and I’m SUPER excited to be writing my first novel!!!! I would love to see it in print and I would love it if I had a real publisher behind it who could reach far more people than I could on my own. But really, I’m not going to know what’s happening with it until it’s finished. Only then can I really shop it around and see if there is any interest. Would I self release it? I supposed so. It’s super nice to know that I have that option. But like I said, I would really love to be able to cast a wider net on this one and I feel I’d really need a big publisher to help me do that. Time will tell, I suppose.
6) As though your music, comics, toys, books, and screenplays weren’t enough to keep you occupied, you’re also a filmmaker. Due to your extensive work in creating visual media, and instructing visual arts at SVA, do you approach writing as a visual artist? Do you “see” your scenes, sketch them out/storyboard, then describe them in sentences on paper, or are you more of a “bottle of rum and a notebook and see what comes out of the pen” kind of guy?
V: Absolutely! For me, writing is a lot like watching a movie in my head and writing it down as I see it unfolding before me. But then, that’s really no different from most of what I do. I always say that at the end of the day, I’m a professional day-dreamer. But yes, I do see the story visually in my mind, but I don’t generally draw or storyboard them or anything like that. I let the words do the talking and I hope that I’ve
done a good job of putting my “mind movie” into the heads of others as faithfully as the art form allows.
ps: I’ve only now just realized that there were three questions numbered “6”! Well played, young miss!
Dina: Hee! *wink* We are evil, you know! I knew you’d catch that little Easter egg!
9) That leads us to the “how do you write” question. What’s a typical writing session like for you? Computer or notepad (or sketchpad)? Do you need silence? Music? Alcohol? Hard street drugs? Bellydancers?
V: Believe it or not, my favorite time and place to write is in an all-night cafe that’s busy. “All-night” because I generally prefer to write at night. This is probably just due to the fact that the distractions of daytime (going to the bank, post office, other people who need my attention are awake, etc) are gone. Or, I might simply be nocturnal, which is of course a possibility (a very good one). “Busy” because writing is an arduous and tedious process for me. I really labor over every word. I’ve never been one to be able to sketch out a story then go back and fine tune it. So what I write the first time around is VERY VERY close to the final product (minus fixing grammar). This means that the process goes very slowly. So, in those countless gaps where I stop to think about what the right words might be, or I stop to think of what might happen next, I like to look up and see people. I like to see a Deathrock chick with a giant mohawk nursing a coffee in the corner or a group of young Japanese tourists practicing their English or some sloppy, drunk, transvestite go-go dancers slinging gossip. It refreshes my mind. It’s like taking a sip of cool water before going back to digging a ditch. And these days, to answer your other question, I type my stories on a laptop. I once wrote a good half of a novel in free hand in a series of several sketchbooks. Last year I finally decided to sit down and transcribe it into my computer. The writing was manic and tiny and endless and the process took a couple of months. The day I finished transcribing my laptop was stolen! I learned two valuable lessons; type your stories in a savable, digital form and BACK-UP YOUR FILES OFTEN!
10) The USS Make Shit Up. Spill. Who is your favorite Star Trek character? Also, does other geekery exist beneath the Goth? World of Warcraft? Firefly? Dr. Who? (I officially request a Dr. Who song titled “It’s Bigger on the Inside.”)
V: The first time I realized I had a favorite Star Trek character was during Deep Space Nine when they introduced the character of Weyoun. I absolutely loved that character! He was played by Jeffrey Combs.
Unfortunately, I met Mr. Combs at a sci-fi convention and it was one of those classic, truly bad experiences where you meet someone you admire and they act like a complete ass. I’m willing to accept that everyone has a bad day or a misstep and I’m sure there are people who’ve caught me at the
wrong time and walked away with a perhaps inaccurate appraisal of my character. But let me just say that after being asked for a great deal of money just for the privilege of standing on line to meet him, and THEN paying a steep fee for a photo, he proceeded to sign it and hand it to me without ever once making eye contact. If I recall correctly, he was talking to his handler the whole time about a golf game or something. Anyway, it really sucked the love out of Weyoun for me. Like I said, maybe he wasn’t thinking or was tired, who knows. But it really sucked. In light of that, I’ll stick with Kirk and Spock as my favorite characters.
I’ve never really watched Dr. Who, but if I ever get around to making a song about the show that will DEFINITELY be the title of it! lol!
Dina: I would die of Gothy Geekgasms if that were to happen. Oh, please. Oh, please! It would be a noble death.
11) What is the evilest thing you feel you’ve done in one of your books? What is the evilest thing others have claimed you’ve done?
V: The evilest thing I’ve ever done in writing was not in a book, it was in the loader text that played before the Chi-chian animated webseries on the old scifi.com. Back in those days when I was making that webseries for the SyFy Channel’s website (circa: 2000) the average person had a dial-up internet connection! It could take up to 45 minutes to load one of our 4 minute episodes. So, to keep people entertained, I wrote these sometimes lengthy back stories about the characters they were about to meet in the episodes. In episode 6, I wrote this really long history of The Brothers Grimlock. They were two baddies that had a truly tragic and heartbreaking back story. But they find themselves and a common purpose and it ends with a line like, “This, my brother, is but the first in a lifetime of glorious adventures together”. The episode starts and they both die about a minute later! lol! Ooh! People really hated me that for that! lol!
You can see that episode here: http://www.voltaire.net/chi_chian_web6 And the rest of the episodes from that series are on my website as well!
12) Have you ever shot a man in Reno just to watch him die?
V: In my mind, I shoot someone almost every day. It’s a good thing I don’t have a gun or there’d be lots of dead idiots in the world and I’d have long since been locked up.
13) We’re going to give a random commenter something Voltaire-related of their choice. Pretending they’re a Voltaire virgin, what would you recommend for them to ease them into this new, large, dark world of Gothic beauty?
V: Well, I think the latest album “Riding a Black Unicorn Down the Side of an Erupting Volcano While Drinking from a Chalice Filled with the Laughter of Small Children” is a perfectly good place to start. Although, my kid’s CD, “Spooky Songs for Creepy Kids” might be more well-rounded and less offensive for the general populace. Then again, if you’re reading this blog, we’ve already established that you’re evil, so why pull punches, right?
14) What can we expect from you in 2012?
V: I have some new vinyl toys coming out in April. They are evil bunnies and they are a tie-in with the very popular online role playing game AdventureQuest Worlds ( www.aq.com ) in which my character Deady and I appear every Friday the 13th. The next one is in April and it’s going to be a Bunnypocolypse! Other than that, my latest film “Odokuro”, a Gothic, sci-fi tale narrated by Gary Numan, starts it’s official film festival run this year. I am also releasing instrumental/karaoke version of my latest couple of albums in the next couple of months AND I’m working on my next CD. It’s called “BiTrekual” and it’s a collection of my Star Wars and Star Trek parody songs. That should be out in August. And of course I hope the Call of the Jersey Devil novel will be done this year. Other than that, I’m always performing somewhere so please go towww.voltaire.net, sign up for the mailing list and come see me when I swing through your town!