Today we will interview one of the authors from our anthology, STILL STANDING. Garrison Kelly is the author of the short fantasy story “Savage Beatings.” He also has a story in our upcoming anthology for 2020. Welcome, Garrison.
HH: What inspired you to become a writer?
GK: When I was a little kid, I originally wanted to be a video game creator, my favorite franchises at the time being Diablo, Final Fantasy, Final Fight, Street Fighter, Mega Man, and Super Mario. When I was sixteen, I started writing a synopsis-style story for a video game idea I had called Final Fantasy Hardcore, which featured future Poison Tongue Tales barbarian Deus Shadowheart as the main hero. Even though my writing was mediocre at best back then, I enjoyed doing it and that’s what made me want to change careers.
HH: Tell us about your works. What do you write?
GK: My favorite genres to write in are adult fiction and poetry. For my fictional works, I enjoy writing a wide variety of genres whether it’s dark fantasy, contemporary drama, educational fiction, or sci-fi to name a few. My background in video game playing has a huge role in determining how my stories will unfold. If it wasn’t for Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, I wouldn’t have such a weird fascination with barbarians. As far as poetry goes, my main inspirations are heavy metal, hip-hop, and new age songs. I didn’t start writing poetry until 2004 when I wrote a revenge poem about a classmate in college who said my writing sucked. Granted, it wasn’t the most mature thing to do, but if it wasn’t for that moment, publications like Necrograph and Lunatic Justice wouldn’t be possible.
HH: What is your favorite story that you have written so far?
GK: That honor is reserved for “Sitka the Nose Biter,” a story in Poison Tongue Tales based on a gray Shantille Tiffany cat I used to have named Sitka. I would always joke that she was our little witch kitty because of her sagely face and magical eyes. I would also joke that one day she would turn our rascally schipperke Willem into a toad with her occult powers. The story is special to me not only because it features one of my former cats, but also because how well it was received among my audience. I’m normally accustomed to writing excessively violent pieces and “Sitka the Nose Biter” garnered a G rating for its sweetness. My audience was pleasantly surprised by my effort that day.
HH: Are any of your characters or settings based on real people or places?
GK: As I’ve said, Sitka is based on a former cat of mine. I’ve also written many other short stories about animals I currently own or have owned in the past. “Luna the Moon Kitty,” another Poison Tongue Tales story, is one example since it’s based on a stray Siamese kitty that used to visit our house every once and a while. She had these beautiful icy blue eyes and a sweet disposition. It only made sense to make her a magical kitty in one of my stories. “Luna the Moon Kitty” was also well-received by my audience and was even declared the winner of a friendly contest that week.
HH: Who are some of your favorite authors?
GK: Truth is, I didn’t become a full-time reader until the summer of 2009. How I sustained a writing career for that long is amazing to me. My all-time favorite author will always be Brett Battles, who writes spy thrillers for a living. It was Brett Battles’s first novel in the Jonathan Quinn series called The Cleaner that inspired me to do more with my career since that book had a fast pace and was generally exciting. Plus, it was refreshing to read considering most of my college books were boring as hell. Other favorite authors of mine include Carl Hiaasen, Susan Cain, Sherman Alexie, Lilian Jackson Braun, and Jenna Moreci to name a few.
HH: Give us your top ten favorite reads.
GK: Obviously, The Cleaner by Brett Battles goes at the top of the list since that’s the book that gave me the desire to read full-time. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne is another high-ranking one since it helped me turn my life around from being a negative sourpuss to a happier person. I like Quiet by Susan Cain because it made me feel proud to be an introvert (at a time when I didn’t know that introversion and extroversion were real phenomena). I like The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky because it almost brought me to tears (which is hard to do these days). The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci is another one that ripped my heart to shreds. The World According to Mister Rogers by Fred Rogers put my heart back together when it needed it the most. Other favorites include Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, A Carlin Home Companion by Kelly Carlin (daughter of comedian George Carlin), The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, and War Dances also by Sherman Alexie.
HH: Do you have any writing rituals? Somewhere you have to go to write or music you must hear to get inspired?
GK: My favorite kind of music to listen to while writing is wordless new age music. Heavier songs with lyrics are too much of a distraction for me, especially rap music. I especially like to listen to the MIDI version of the underwater stage theme from the NES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video game. Other gentle favorites include “Always Good News” by Bruce BecVar, “The Room of Ancillary Dreams” by Harold Budd, “Ocean and Tambura” by Anugama, and Soulfly’s self-titled songs (which are the only soft songs Soulfly could be accused of doing as they are normally a heavy metal band).
HH: What is your favorite thing to snack on or drink while you are reading or writing?
GK: I usually don’t eat or drink while I’m writing. Although, I love drinking non-caffeinated, unsweetened peppermint iced tea, so much so that I drink entire pitchers of it in one sitting. I can’t stress non-caffeinated enough, because I have schizophrenia and caffeine has been known to trigger some episodes during important moments of my life. I also say unsweetened because I’m trying to lose weight and sugar is my worst enemy in that regard. My favorite brand of tea as of today is Trader Joe’s Well-Rested, in case any of my readers would like to try it.
HH: What goals have you set for yourself as far as your writing or publishing?
GK: I have a lot (I repeat: a lot) of first draft novels, short stories, and poems that need to be critiqued and edited, so my primary long-term goal is to get them in tip-top shape for publishing. I’d also like to get at least fifty reviews for each of my books that are already published and part of that includes marketing the books to the right people. Part of the reason why Occupy Wrestling is below the three star mark is because I mistakenly marketed it to people who don’t watch pro-wrestling on a consistent basis, so they were naturally confused by all the references and terminology. As soon as I find my target audience, I’ll be ready to go.
HH: What advice do you have for other writers just starting off or still deciding if they want to publish their work?
GK: Patience is a virtue. If you’re in a big hurry to publish before a certain age, then you’ll end up publishing your work long before it’s ready and you’ll be subjected to plenty of two and one-star reviews. Trust me, I know. Make sure you have a reliable beta-reader to give you constructive critiques before you publish anything. There is no time limit on when you achieve success in your writing career. I once had an author tell me that he didn’t achieve true success until he was in his forties. It’s better to publish late in life and actually be ready to do so than to get greedy and put out a questionable product.
HH: What are you working on right now?
GK: I’m writing a college-themed novel called Incelbordination. It’s a story that follows the adventures of dwarf student Oswald Crow, who is mentally ill with anxiety and depression and can only find relief when he smokes marijuana. He’s enticed into joining a “support group for involuntary celibates” when he meets the leader of Incelbordination, Antero Magnus, after an uneventful dance party. Involuntary celibates, or incels for short, are young white men who spew venom at the world because of their inability to find a girlfriend or have adequate sex. Sometimes their rage turns into full-on terrorism as seen with guys like Eliot Rodger and the guy in Canada who ran over a bunch of people with his van. This novel will give you a glimpse into incel culture while making you pray for Oswald not to become brainwashed by this dangerous propaganda.
HH: Where can we find your published works?
GK: Lunatic Justice (poetry)
Occupy Wrestling (novella)
Poison Tongue Tales (short stories)
American Darkness (short stories)
HH: Where can we find you online?
Thanks so much for stopping by and answering our questions, Garrison!
Find more about Garrison Kelly on the Meet Our Authors page of the website.