Your main character Velvet has a very distinctive voice. Did the snark come easy to you?
The snark isn’t something I have to think about, in fact, I rarely notice I’m inserting it. Which might take a bit of explaining, because the humor is very dark and so pervasive, most readers don’t notice it, or process it as just very harsh description, or slams in dialogue. I’m always surprised when I read reviews that describe the book as hilarious. But those reviews are few and far between. It takes a very dark soul to see all of the humor. Before I started writing I was a psychotherapist, so natural banter comes easily, but at the same time, the work was often very disturbing. Lots of abused kids, violence, suicide. You get the picture. The shelf life for people in this line of work is very short, most of the social workers and therapists I worked with came and went within half a year. The ones that continued developed a pretty iron-clad case of gallows humor. You learn to find ways to laugh about this really heavy stuff. You have to…or quit…or go crazy.
Bonesaw is one freaky-ass killer. Where did the idea for him come from?
From the Interpol song ROLAND. Though, embarrassingly, more than that, it’s based on what I think the lyrics are versus what they really are. When I hear the song it sounds like, “Roland was a butcher he had sixty knives.” I doubt that’s how it actually goes and I don’t really want to find out. There’s a feeling to that song that’s just really messy. I love it. Now, as a character, I was interested in exploring the “normal” parts of serial killers, the places where the edges blur for them. For Bonesaw, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump between a guy looking for genuine love and peeling skin with a lemon zester. That gap intrigues me, as much as it does Velvet.
What is the best part about being an author?
The people we get to meet. There’s nothing quite like meeting someone that your work has touched, whether that be a good touch or the kind you have to tell your therapist about. I love having freaked people out. I’ve been told Velveteen is causing some nightmares. I can’t think of any higher praise than poking someone in their subconscious.
And the worst?
Definitely the uncertainty. So much of this business is about things that are completely out of the writer’s hands. You write the best book you can. You trust that you’ve reworked it enough that it flows really well, it’s consistent, relatively error-free, but in the end, things like covers, blurbs, and buzz determine who picks up the book in the store. Who knows whether the targeting is right. I’ve heard Velveteen has gotten some great buzz but that doesn’t ease my mind. All I can do is keep writing like there’s a steamroller bearing down on me.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Don’t try to write a book that everyone will love. You won’t be successful. Write a book for your “ideal” reader, that one person who will get you, with all your quirks. The one you don’t have to censor yourself for. This line of thinking will help to squash some of the worry about whether people will like what you’ve written. If that worry is in the front of your mind while you’re writing, the work is doomed. Your voice can’t truly blossom. If I had some secondary advice, it’d be to seek out honest, brutal critique. Folks who won’t be afraid to call you on your writing crap. Too few writers learn to incorporate critique prior to querying agents and publishers and then wonder why they’re being rejected.
What is your writing process like?
Actually, the dwelling comes first, I think about a project for much more time than I spend writing it.
Have any of your characters demanded more page space than you had originally planned?
I don’t really think of my characters in that way. I have control over every word, so it’s more about a balancing act. I’ve learned that I need to stay with the character who has the best story to tell. I learned that the hard way from my current editor. Originally, Velveteen had an alternating perspective. Velvet shared with Nick every other chapter. After my agent sold the manuscript, we found that Velvet’s story was so much more important and so…guess how hard it was to hit that delete key.
As a writer, who are your main influences?
I love Christopher Moore, Chuck Palahniuk, Max Barry, Jasper Fforde. I love authors that strive to do something original, but in a funny way. I love an author who can shock you one minute, make you laugh the next, and then disgust you without any hesitation. I’ve always valued the irreverent talent. Folks like John Waters, who before Hairspray and Cry-Baby was making movies that NO ONE approved of, really crazy and in your face and hilarious. But don’t look too close, you might see some truth in there.
What have you read recently and loved?
BEAUTIFUL RUINS by Jess Walter. It’s this beautiful story about a dying actress arriving at this disheveled Italian fishing village and the people she touches along the way. The narrative flips back and forth through time and perspective and writing style. It’s truly gorgeous with passages that really took my breath away.
Can you tell us a bit about what you are working on just now?
I’m in the process of having the next book in my contract approved. Which in this particular instance means I’ve pitched a story, I’ve written an outline for it and now I’ve rewritten the outline based on editorial comment. I hope we’ll come to a decision on it soon, because I’m itching to get the thing written. It’s YA horror in the purest sense with nods to everyone from Ray Bradbury to Shirley Jackson to Dario Argento. I’ve got some unreasonably frightening things in store!
We know that you are a big horror fan. What’s your favourite scary movie?
Argento’s SUSPIRIA. It’s both visually stunning, unnerving and has a few of the most tense and thrilling horror montages I’ve ever seen. I can watch it over and over and I do. The music is CRAZY!
Where can our readers find out more about you?
I mostly hang out on Twitter: @dannymarksya
My Youtube channel: http://youtube.com/dannymarksya
and Facebook: http://facebook.com/danielmarksya