It’s Wednesday’s Wonder Kyle B. Stiff!
OMG! I have done it again! I could have swore today was Tuesday. I usually like to have my interviews up for your reading pleasure by Tuesday evening, but…This is a great interview and worth the wait!
Please welcome Kyle B. Stiff to Wednesday’s Wonders.
Hi Kyle. Many people don’t like the name they were given at birth. Do you like your given name? If not, what would you rather have been named?
It’s no easy thing to be a kid growing up in a rural Lord of the Flies scenario and everyone reaches a certain age and then, all of a sudden, they realize that your name has phallic connotations. I was a little nerd, so of course I wanted a name that would help me go unnoticed. When you’re a big corn-fed goon on the playground basketball court, the decision about whose head you’re going to throw a basketball at gets really easy when you see some pencil-neck named B. Stiff, who’s adjusting his glasses and looking around uncomfortably but is also small enough to provide a reasonable challenge in terms of launching a ball across the court accurately. But then I grew up and decided that having an absurd name is pretty cool. There’s nothing wrong with a good old fashioned porn star name!
Do you write under your given name or a pseudonym?
I use my real name. Even though my real name is pretty absurd, I think pseudonyms tend to be even more absurd. I have a friend who’s been published traditionally, and I hear a lot of ridiculous stories about him being pressured to choose a name that will “click” with a modern audience, as if people were herd animals who react positively to certain sounds but shy away from others. “It’s got to sound masculine – but not too masculine! – with just a hint of authority, but also approachability, but also well-educated,” and so on. I think going by the name James Steelhand or Bradwell Irons or Dawn Nightshade might seem like a good idea at the time, but then again, a million factors must have come together in order for me to have the name I have now. I’ll just stick with B. Stiff!
Is there a routine you go through before you begin writing?
I do a lot of staring and coffee-drinking as I ramble around in my own head for a while. I look forward to the day when I make enough money from writing that I no longer have to actively engage with the “real world” in order to survive. As it is now, I do a lot of story-planning while my body goes through the motions of interacting with the real world, so I’m sure this makes me look like some kind of zombie automaton who wanders into traffic while motorists are forced to slam on their brakes and drive up on the sidewalk in order to avoid turning me into a smear on the pavement.
Is there anyone you admire?
Oh yeah, lots of people! I’m prone to hero worship. I like anyone who pushes limits and overcomes comfortable paradigms. I’m a big fan of the writer Yukio Mishima. After a successful career as a very gifted writer, he put together a team of hardcore revolutionaries, took over a military training camp, gave a speech about the importance of not blindly following the nation’s leaders to a crowd who didn’t want to hear it, and then he took his own life because his mission on Earth was over. I admire the fact that he didn’t fear death; he feared a wasted life more than that. I like people who take on bullies, too, like Julian Assange. I always wanted to be a vigilante who could pound the snot out of bad guys (while dressed up like David Bowie), but I’m usually completely exhausted after walking up short flights of stairs. Sometimes I need a ride in an ambulance after a walk around the block, so I’m not going to be fighting crime anytime soon.
What do you like to read?
I like stories with heroes in them. Unfortunately, a lot of writers these days don’t believe in heroes; they like to show how “human” and “real” their protagonists are by giving us a lot of hand-wringing and defeatist inner monologues. To me, this sort of realism is not realistic at all. People risk their lives to help total strangers all the time. The people that I admire, the people who stand out and do something great, tend to believe in themselves and tackle life with everything they’ve got. We’d all be speaking orc right now if Gandalf had let himself be intimidated by overwhelming odds, or if Samwise Gamgee had been afraid to deal with situations that were outside of his area of expertise.
Do you have a favorite author?
Not one, but a bunch. I always liked the savage, apocalyptic style that Cormac McCarthy used for Blood Meridian; there’s a nihilistic Grail Quest theme going on that I really like. I like Philip K. Dick’s early “crazy” sci-fi almost as much as I like his “actually crazy” gnostic-themed work later in his life. I think Alan Moore’s writing has affected me more than anything else – From Hell, V for Vendetta, and of course The Watchmen all touched on something indefinable that most of us know is there, but easily forget in our day to day lives. Everyone says that sci-fi is a boy’s club, but I think the king of sci-fi is Ursula K. Le Guin; she’s a master at putting humans in fantastic situations and alien worlds to shed light on the human condition. I’ve always been a big fan of Jim Woodring’s comics, although I was exposed to them before I was ready; I folded up one of his comics and threw it behind a chest of drawers because I was so disturbed by it. Speaking of comics, there’s also Alejandro Jodorowsky. Nobody shows personal transformation and violent, spiritual journeys like him!
Does it have to be quiet when you write or do you like background noise? TV, music, etc.
Music, definitely. I like atmospheric stuff with flashes of intensity. I’ve always had music tastes that pretty much make me a laughingstock. No one has ever walked in the room, caught me listening to a video game soundtrack, and said, “Wow dude, that’s really cool.” I’m also one of those shy, quiet guys that listens to Scandinavian metal. But I have to have music playing or else I get this high-pitched buzzing in my ear that kind of builds and builds until it develops into a sort of barking underwater sound with sheet metal shaking in the background, and I have to scream and tap my head to drown it out. Which makes going to the library a lot of fun.
Beach or mountains?
Mountains! Every spiritual journey has to include climbing a mountain so you can reach your highest point, where the air is thin and cold and you can talk to the stars. The beach is where you wash up at the beginning of your quest, after your ship gets wrecked and you lose all the trivial things you once thought were so important.
What inspires you?
I like hearing about people who overcome old hatreds and bad karma and achieve some kind of happiness. This might sound silly, but I really like hearing about people who make it into the video game industry. To me, that stuff has the potential to be the highest art imaginable. Someone who distinguishes themselves and gets into video game production has basically entered into the realm of the gods. The things they do are beyond human reckoning. I’m jealous of anyone who gets to do that sort of work. They all get an honorary Boba Fett head-nod from me, a lowly independent writer.
Favorite snack food?
My eating habits are atrocious. Before I got engaged to a fine lady who improved my life in every way, I used to eat hot dogs and rice three times a day. It was good enough for me because I could make it fast and go back to work as quickly as possible. I guess if you consider the body a temple, then that’s probably a form of neglect. But what else can you do when you’re a poor laborer trying to make it as a writer and the clock is ticking and death is coming one step closer each day?
Doesn’t matter who we are, man, woman, child, all of us get freaked out by something. Spiders, mice, snakes, bugs, geese, etc. What freaks you out?
Aliens. Definitely aliens. For me, the fact that living things formed out of inorganic matter on Earth, and exist in a pretty wide range of environments, is proof enough that it formed elsewhere. I think intelligent life is a common occurrence. Now, if we were picking up on radio signals from our friendly neighborhood cosmic space brothers, then I would be excited and curious; the fact that we don’t pick up on those signals can only lead me to assume that the other civilizations in the galaxy are in a state of endless war – most likely a long, drawn-out cold war that has gone on for millions of years. We already know that humans with slight differences in skin color tend to distrust and take advantage of one another, so I’m sure peace is practically impossible among species that are even more radically diverse. I sometimes wonder if, one day, a group of humanoids similar to us will land on Earth, then their leader will announce, “I’m so proud that there’s seven billion of you guys. I started this colony about a week ago, from my perspective, but I’ve been travelling at sub-light speed for millions of years from your perspective. Look how well you’ve done on this beautiful planet! Okay, here’s the thing bros, we need you to select your strongest one hundred people, of at least decent intelligence, so we can take them and continue the war against the dozens of species that are competing with us for resources. Unfortunately a race of feathered-serpent creatures are right behind me, so after I jet out of here with Earth’s champions, the rest of you are probably going to be incinerated when they come through. And don’t even try negotiating with them because I personally incinerated seven of their colonies the other day, we’re talking lots of collateral damage my man, so they’re not going to be in a talking mood. Sorry, dudes.” See, if I was a high-ranking military guy, I wouldn’t be losing sleep over a handful of guys hunkered down in some cave on the other side of the world with a crate full of small arms manufactured in the 70s. I would be pulling out my hair trying to get scientists together to develop electromagnetic shield technology and weapons that can shred matter on the subatomic level and a rapid-response system so that we could have fighters on the scene within seconds of a UFO sighting, so we could harass potential intergalactic border-crossers who don’t announce their intentions beforehand. If our leaders don’t respect us enough to secure the territory between our sun and Pluto, then why would any outsiders respect us?
What is the most unusual job you’ve ever had?
Either writing books for Amazon or reviewing video games for publications whose names I won’t mention. Before that, I worked one demeaning service job after another. My ancestors were indentured servants, and that heritage really shines through when I’m holding a mop and cleaning up messes that defy description and walking slowly to the dumpsters out back in order to avoid mean-spirited coworkers and then seeing a sliver of sky between the buildings overhead and wondering if any sanctuary can ever be found on this penal colony world.
I read on another blog, that a writer was working on 10 novels at once. Confusing! Do you work on one or multiple novels at a time?
That sounds crazy to me! In my head, I’m working on dozens of books spread out over several series, but when it comes to actual production, I think it’s important to focus all of your energy and power on one book at a time. I think you run the risk of losing emotional momentum if you do it any other way. I’ve published three Demonworld books on Amazon and, at the end of each one, I was worn emotionally raw. I was right there with the main character, going through everything he was going through. I can’t imagine being near the end of one book, realistically writing about someone going through some kind of nightmare and achieving this dramatic resolution, but then grind that momentum to a halt so I can mess around with the opening chapter of another book where the emotional content is more subtle and full of potential.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Pretty escapist stuff. I like to play video games that take me out of this gray world, but it’s pretty cool when they have situations and themes that I can bring back to this world. I remember that feeling of getting hit with a lightning bolt while playing Metal Gear Solid 2 so many years ago; I just had a eureka moment where I said to myself, “This is how the world really works!” I’ve been a total conspiracy nutjob ever since. I also like spending time with my sweetie. She’s on her own spiritual journey and I want to be the best person I can be so I can find her every time I’m reborn into this world and help her out like Sam Gamgee.
And last question…Do you have anything new coming out that you’d like to share with us?
Oh, lots of stuff! I’ve just uploaded the third Demonworld book, which is called The Floyd Street Massacre, and I hope to have book four up in less than a month. Things are really heating up in the Demonworld series as the main character, Wodan, pushes himself further and further in his battle against society’s darkest, most depraved elements. On top of that, I’ve just uploaded a pretty wild short story called Come and Watch a Man Die!, which is about a television chef who says the things that no one is supposed to say. He gets targeted by a group of elitists who decide to execute him in a big televised event, but one of the elites becomes convinced that the man they’re killing has set them up from the beginning.
Kyle I have to thank you for such a wonderful interview! Hot dogs and rice? Really? Most single guys would say cup o’noodles! LOL
Stop by and like Kyle’s Amazon page here
And Follow his blog here.
You can find “Demonworld” here http://www.amazon.com/Demonworld-ebook/dp/B007TD9246/ref=la_B005I56W3Q_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1348111545&sr=1-1
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