ERIK T. JOHNSON has been published in many respected Speculative and “Literary” Fiction venues, and is featured in anthologies including You, Human; Qualia Nous; Dead But Dreaming 2; and all three award-winning volumes of the Chiral Mad series. Erik also contributed to the novella collection I Can Taste the Blood (with Josh Malerman, John F.D. Taff, J. Daniel Stone, and Joe Schwartz). In his review of this collection, Shane Douglas Keene called Erik a “master of weird fiction.”
Erik’s first collection of short stories, Yes Trespassing, came out in 2017 by Written Backwards. Well-received by readers and press alike, This Is Horror called Yes Trespassing “One of the best, most beautifully written collections of this or any other year” and Josh Malerman, best-selling author of Bird-Box and Black Mad Wheel, summed up Yes Trespassing as “Electric.” Unnerving Magazine said “The stories read with an acidic note something akin to Chuck Palahniuk mixed with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle” and added they were “impressed wholly with Yes Trespassing.” Colleague John F.D. Taff, author of Bram-Stoker nominated The End in All Beginnings wrote that “No one writes a line like Erik T. Johnson.”
You never know what Erik’s going to write next, but chances are its unpleasant and as potty-mouthed as it is poetic. He’s an active member of the Horror Writer’s Association, PEN America, The Author’s Guild, The Center for Fiction, and the-few-and-not-sure-if-they’re-proud-Brooklyn-Born-and-Bred. Visit www.eriktjohnson.net for more information and news; also see Erik’s Amazon Author page at eriktjohnson and follow Erik on Twitter @YES_TRESPASSING. Please. He likes being followed. It’s very Gorky Park.
Kendall Reviews: I’m delighted to bring you a stunning in-depth interview with one of the most talented, enthusiastic, sincere and eloquent people I’ve had the pleasure to meet since starting Kendall Reviews. This is an interview that covers many bases and is fascinating in every aspect. I can’t thank Erik enough for not only being an interviewers dream but for also offering 3 EXCLUSIVE pieces of fiction.
The kettle has boiled…
KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?
Erik T. Johnson: I grew up in Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, New York City. It is the southernmost tip of Brooklyn (one of the five boroughs, that together make up NYC proper). It was a true “melting-pot” neighborhood, comprised of mostly Irish, Italians, Greek, some Norwegians, Chinese, and Arabs. Me, I’m Swedish, Greek, and Lithuanian—so I think people generally thought me Italian or Greek. Secretly I felt cool to have all the best gods in my blood—Zeus, Odin, Thor and Heracles. But everyone got along, my best friends came from all over the world. That was good. My childhood was paradoxically typical and anything but (I’ll get there in a second) I went to public school like everyone else, played in the streets until 8pm (safely), and so forth.
I was a teenager in the latter half of the 80’s and some of the 90’s. I spent most of time in Manhattan—or “The City” as we from the outer boroughs called it. People were edgier then and there, drug dealers hung out in Tompkins Square Park and openly solicited adolescents to purchase weed. 42nd Street was still the gritty Times Square of Taxi Driver. I’m glad I got to live a bit of that—it’s all Disney now—both Tompkins, Times Square, and most of the rest of New York. All the parts where the poor people haven’t been crammed into those crime-against-humanity public housing complexes.
That’s the pretty normal stuff about growing up in NYC . . .
Here’s the weird shit:
My father’s mother was from Lithuania (the last country in Europe to succumb to that “Meek shall inherit the earth = Shut up and eat shit from the people with the money, because after your dead you’ll be happy” nonsense). Her parents brought some of the pagan beliefs over to the U.S. around the turn of the Century. My great-grandparents believed there were demons in the television. I love that, partly because the older I get, the more I think they were right.
This pagan streak kept running through my family’s middle-class blood. I have to thank my parents for raising me to think that all religions were part of one great mystical truth. Much like Theosophy, really, and with a huge emphasis on Ancient Egyptian gods, very cool shit no other kids I met knew about. There was also a long tradition in my family of being haunted by ghosts and weird entities from other dimensions or something. I never experienced any of it, and suspect it neurological in origin, but I grew up being told by various family members that ghosts and supernatural visitations, demons, etc. were real. At the same time, science, evolution, all that, were taken very seriously in my house. Talk about cognitive dissonance! Not to mention difficulty sleeping in the dark.
But, it was a unique world-view that very obviously influenced the kind of fiction I write—weird, horrific, uncanny, fantastic . . . As a kid, it was cool, I saw the world around me as literally suffused with magic—even the trees, I’d been taught, had great tree-spirits in them that towered above the leaves. A funny side-note: My folks never bothered to make us believe in Santa. Why bother with a fat guy breaking and entering once a year, when Ibis-headed Thoth is looking over your shoulder, helping you choose the right word every time you sit down to write?
Do I believe any of this stuff now? Not much, but when I feel like it. I think belief is a tool, to be used like anything else. And you don’t bow down and pray in front of a pair of pliers every night, do you? So mostly belief doesn’t concern me—except when I need to fix something in my life.
Then I go through the toolbox.
KR: What do you like to do when not writing?
ETJ: Music, music, music, and more music. And reading, reading, reading.
Rock n’ Roll saved my life. More than simply music, it became the foundation for my entire philosophy of life—with some Buddhism worked in there, strengthened by the sheer luck of my being born with an ability to laugh at anything, self-included.
I was a skinny wimp with braces and glasses, the uncoolest kid in school. My saving grace was I was really funny, but essentially, I felt ostracized, the typical dork.
Then, Rock n’ Roll. First I got into Judas Priest around 10 years of age. I remember hearing the guitar solo from Jawbreaker, and I thought the cassette tape was being eaten up. When I found out the guitarist (K.K. Downing) was purposely going nuts on his whammy bar to make those crazy sounds, that this was music, my God, that was it for me. I was a rocker from then on.
I still love metal, but it was a pair of legends that totally changed my life when I was a teenager.
Who showed me the way? As a teenager, Iggy Pop and his work with the Stooges especially (1969-1973), and the old Alice Cooper group (1968-1974) changed everything for me, showed me you could be a total freak and cool at the same time, as long as you weren’t afraid to make a fool of yourself—there is even a confidence, an empowerment in being laughed at, and not with. It is all about living an attitude that aligns with your heart. And not giving or taking bullshit. Plus, Iggy fell on his face literally and life-wise like 1,000 times—and never gave up. And survived doing what he loved.
These dudes were already considered old by the standards of my teenage times, but I looked up to them; they represented a time when rock music was true outsider music, and dangerous, and helped destroy that 60’s peace-and-love nonsense. Not to mention they are both still producing good work and touring. Pretty amazing.
I also play (mostly) electric guitar, sing, and sometimes when I can, write and record songs. I suppose the broadest classification for these would be “rock.” Many years ago, I was active as lead singer, songwriter, and bassist in a sort-of Fugazi-like band called Eve’s Ex-Boyfriends. I don’t think we were all that great, but I did get stand on stage at CBGB, among other now-gone, classic NYC music venues—so it was worth it if only for that.
Also, being in a rock band has informed my work as a writer and a person generally. It sharpened and firmly established my problem with authority—which, btw, is authority’s problem, not mine—my overall aesthetic, and a drive to provide an entertaining reading of my stuff when I participate in those events.
But I also love and appreciate all kinds of music. I am as obsessed with the symphonies of Gustav Mahler as I am with Big Star, The Stooges, Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, The Velvets and Lou Reed solo; Tom Waits, Clutch, Judas Priest, The Beach Boys (I Love You is their best album, with a song about Johnny Carson), Leonard Cohen, Tom Petty, Slayer, Minor Threat, Willie Nelson, Warren Zevon, Black Sabbath, Bruce Springsteen, The Kinks and Ray Davies, Cheap Trick, The Zombies, Motorhead, Maryanne Faithful, Voivod, PJ Harvey . . . the list could literally go on forever.
I pretty much listen to music constantly. And I go to as many concerts as possible. The two most incredible shows I saw in the past few months were Roger Waters’ tour for his last solo album, and King Diamond performing Abigail in its entirety.
As for reading, I typically am reading between 10 and 20 books at the same time—a few over many years, some in one sitting. (Ironically, although I read horror, not half as much as other types of fiction. I absolutely love well-done horror movies, and I try to see as many of these as possible.) I also love intelligent horror graphic novels. Must be a visual thing with me and that genre label.
My reading is as eclectic as I can get it to be. Over the past several years I’ve gotten into poetry, and I always make sure I’m reading at least one poet while spending time with short story authors and novelists—as well as philosophers. I was a philosophy major in college and have kept fairly well up on it; that informs my fiction as much as Rock n’ Roll.
KR: What is your favourite childhood book?
ETJ: Probably The Hobbit. (Sorry to be boring)
KR: What are you reading now?
Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman; Lovebites & Razorlines by J. Daniel Stone; Our Children, Our Teachers, by Michael Bailey; Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey; Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake; Spider by Patrick McGrath; Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin; Zero K by Don DeLillo; The Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson; The Error of Being by Ion Caraion; The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa; Guilty and Visions of Excess by Georges Bataille; The Thief and Other Stories by George Heym; The Last Gold of Expired Stars: Complete Poetry of Georg Trakl; The Oxford Book of Synesthesia (Seriously—for research on a novella I’m doing, but fascinating on its own account); The Secret Pulse of Time by Stefan Klein; Greek and Roman Necromancy by Daniel Ogden; Selected Poems and Prose by Gottfried Benn.
One thing that shocked me upon reading it, a year or so ago: I truly believe Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert is the most perfect novel ever written. Anyone, writing in any genre (besides Bizarro I guess, which while I appreciate, isn’t really my thing, I enjoy some leftover 19th-century novelistic conventions and refuse to let them go) can learn from reading that immaculate masterpiece. Another book that comes close to perfection, in my opinion, is I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.
KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?
ETJ: My favorite album, hands-down, is Funhouse by The Stooges. Tied with the hilarious, live bootleg, Metallic K.O., also by The Stooges. Oh and Raw Power by Iggy and the Stooges. And Love it to Death by Alice Cooper Group. And . . .
Music plays the role of muse, I guess in my writing. It pushes me to a frenetic limit. I want my writing to rock. I want it to embody the spirit of “Fuck You if you don’t like it, just turn it off then and shut the fuck up!” I want it to make me feel the way I feel when I listen to Rockin’ in the Free World by Neil Young.
And in fact I’m listening to Almost Killed Me by The Hold Steady even as I type these words.
KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?
ETJ: Oh my Ra, a ton. To give a “brief” idea of the many authors that most inspired me to write, and a selection of their works I love, whose emotional resonance, voice, and craft I aspire to:
The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake; The Train by Georges Simenon; Against the Day and Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon; Blindness by José Saramago; Solaris by Lem; We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver; Ice by Anna Kavan; I Am Legend by Richard Matheson; The Monk by Matthew Lewis; Something Wicked This Way Comes by Bradbury; The Blood of Angels by Stephen Gregory; The Crystal World by J.G. Ballard; Ham on Rye by Bukowski; We Who Are About To . . . by Joanna Russ; Everything by Poe; Nazareth Hill by Ramsey Campbell; Almost everything of Lovecraft; Death on the Installment Plan by Louis-Ferdinand Celine; Darkness Visible by William Golding; White Noise by Don DeLillo; The original Books of Blood and The Damnation Game by Clive Barker; We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson; The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe; Everything by Clarice Lispector; Camp Concentration by Thomas Disch; The Tenant by Roland Torpor; Dahlgren by Samuel R. Delany; The Demon by Hubert Selby, Jr; The Necrophiliac by Gabrielle Wittkopf; The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien; The Baron in the Trees as well as Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino; Everything Ligotti did before My Work is Done Here and The Conspiracy Against the Human Race; The Maimed by Hermann Ungar; Maldoror by The Comte de Lautréamont; and From the Fatherland, With Love by Ryu Murakami (WAY underrated and, IMO, better than Haruki Marukami. He is the “other Marukami” Incidentally he also wrote the novel “Audition” which was turned into that great Japanese horror movie several years back).
KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
ETJ: It varies, but generally I need some elements plotted. In fact, I plot almost all of them, except one critical item: I usually don’t want to know the end in advance—in fact, that would sort of ruin it for me, because I want to be surprised too when I finish. In that moment, when you write the last sentence of the story, and you KNOW that’s it (because there’s a brief, better-than-orgasm feeling in your heart), you have achieved union between the kind of reader you are and the kind of writer you want to be. This is a transcendent experience, and I’d hate to know how it all ends in advance.
One other key thing: Once I have the basic characters who will be involved, I need to know their names. I don’t like putting in blanks and then going back to fill them. In general, but not always, I am looking for evocative names. The titles on the other hand, constantly change. Usually after the story is over, I read through it and I’ll get my title from a phrase I used that I like a lot.
This being said, if it feels right, I will flow along with what goes on the page, get a better idea than I did before, and reverse gears and rewrite. The bottom line is to make the story such that, yes, one could tinker with it forever, but that on a few re-readings, you love it as it is and feel no need to make a change. Later on I might hate it. But that’s why you try to get it out and start on the next thing immediately, so you can forget about it!
I never discover who I’ve been on a given day except when it’s time for bed.
KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
ETJ: It all depends on what I’m writing. I love doing research, though. Right now I’m writing something involving a few people with synesthesia, and I’m reading medical books on the issue, for example, to get the details of their varied perceptions accurate. I typically write and research at the same time; there have to be characters you care about and a story that you want to put on paper even without beginning the research. If later the research makes you realize something you wrote isn’t realistic enough—and can’t be fudged without being stupid, then I just rewrite it to fit “reality.” Or I might get a new idea from the research. Same thing: Rewrite. The more you fuck up, the more chances you have to improve the story. Rewriting, over and over, is how I work.
KR: Describe your usual writing day?
ETJ: I’d need a usual day to have a usual writing day; ergo I have no usual writing day. This is consistent with my complete lack of consistency. I can say I think the act of writing every day is total Yakdung. Because you are constantly writing. Every experience, every time you read, take a poop, have a conversation, look around the room, doze off, whatever—you’re absorbing important bits of life. When you’re ready, you’ll bring them to the nest in your head, see what sparkles best, and turn it into serious fiction. I bet you didn’t know you have a nest in your head.
KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?
ETJ: No. I have a theory about “favourite things.” I don’t think they exist; there are too many good things. However, I believe there are stories, etc. which, WHEN you are reading them, feel like it’s the favorite thing you have done. I’ll pick three that have given me that feeling:
1. Scissors Seldom Come, a novella in my short-fiction collection Yes Trespassing
2. I Can Taste the Blood, my novella in the five-author collection consisting of novellas by Josh Malerman, John F.D. Taff, Joe Schwartz, J. Daniel Stone, and silly little me.
3. The Startling Objects, a weird mystery in Yes Trespassing, featuring a recurring detective character of mine, Martin Box.
KR: Do you read your book reviews?
ETJ: Of course! I truly appreciate when a review is really thoughtful and articulate. It is validating. It’s like finding a window that had been wallpapered over in your room, and looking out to see a lovely garden where you’d suspected must be nothing but brick. Plus, it makes my parents proud.
When a review is negative, I can’t lie, I get a quick bummer feeling, but it doesn’t last long. It’s like passing a stranger with a sour face on the street. Plus, sometimes you agree and that helps improve your work.
You should be grateful anyone is reading it at all. In the end, reviewers and writers are basically having a spontaneous, one-night stand kind of relationship, and we all know how that can make you feel really wonderful, blah, or I-Can’t-Take-A-Shower-Fast-Enough icky.
KR: Any advice for a fledgling author?
ETJ: Oh boy . . . where do I begin?
Learn to be patient and unreasonable.
Don’t listen to advice (that’s why you have to be patient—you’ll make more mistakes getting good—but you’ll get there on your own and with your own voice). Think, for example, about Django Reinhardt—the great gipsy-jazz guitarist who only had two working fingers on his fretting hand, so invented his own way to play. Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath did a similar thing.
Much trailblazing is made possible by being fucked up in ways that would ruin most people’s ambitions.
There are wonderful, loving, caring authors, editors, and readers out there and you will meet them if you keep going no matter what.
Always help another writer (or any person) if you have the chance. I don’t believe in Karma, the idea that the universe operates on a Skinnerian system of rewards and punishments is so absurd it gives me headache. But be nice!
Always work as though you are the only writer in the world. Nothing is more corrosive to creativity than competition. In fact, you are not even a writer while writing. The very word, the idea, doesn’t enter your head.
Read your ass off and when you don’t know a word, look it up in a dictionary. Or don’t.
If you write fiction, make sure to find a few poets you like. The good ones are the masters of the sentence—its rhythm and evocative power.
The So-Called “News” is mostly large-scale rumour-mongering. To truly keep yourself connected to the wonders of this world, which writers feed off of, read about the latest discoveries in science.
You will get published if you eventually work at it for as long as it takes, but don’t think about getting published while you work at it.
The very possibility of posthumous fame shows how unimportant fame is. I don’t believe this, but it sounds wise.
You’ll notice I am offering advice, therefore contradicting my earlier statement. That’s because good writing is one of the most confusing things to do with your brain. It’s like trying to solve an extremely difficult calculus equation, but there’s no equation there, and to top it off, you suck at math.
You don’t know what you’re doing if you are doing it right, and you only know you are doing it right when you are done.
Failure is always an option—and so what? Spinning on your head while reciting Finnegan’s Wake backwards is an option, too. If failure wasn’t an option, there’d be no beauty in succeeding, however you define that.
Writing is an endless process of invention, not creation. Anyone can create something. A piece of good writing is more than that.
Don’t bother asking why.
Never try to think outside the box; make sure you have no box to begin with. God that phrase makes me apoplectic.
Don’t learn the rules before you break them. There are no rules . . . wait, so this makes no sense . . . see how much more important it is to write than talk about it?
Remember: If you’re a writer, somewhere down there you are insane. Embrace the madness. Don’t be afraid. Scare the world. Let this be your greatest strength. Nobody can tell a lunatic what to do.
Now, some of us are more ‘nanners than others . . . but that’s fantastic.
With insanity comes great responsibility—to consistently upset society’s expectations, mores, and other aspects that comprise of the Status Quo. We understand that aging doesn’t follow a horizontal linear path—it is a plummet. Every plummet deserves a scream. But put some beauty and truth in that scream.
We artists, we chosen of the Order of the Unorthodox Brain, were born revolutionaries. Our target: Stability in all its fearful forms. I speak for a lot of writers (except for some of you—and I am honestly happy for you) when I say I have undergone what you might call Covert, Blackmood Ops training in Anguish and Hopeless, such as the Normies are unequipped to deal with.
That which does not suicide us makes us stronger.
We can stand to toe with Saint Anthony and laugh at his temptations and torments—for We of the Word have known only the latter, and I can say unto him: “But God—that’s what you call him, right?—you have the dumbest look on your Saint-Face. Go write something, man.”
If you are a writer whose works are naturally inoffensive, that’s cool—go with it. I’m not advocating shock, or insulting people for any reason, for the simple sake of doing so. But if you are a person with demons in that noggin, and start to censor yourself, you will hold yourself back. If there is darkness in you, hate (even if you hate having it), anger, rage at your own weakness, why hide it? Your characters are not you, and they can be as awful as you choose. In fact, your POV is not you; it’s also a technique, and your story can be from a hateful POV. You can’t worry how people see you: More lessons from Iggy and Alice.
In fact, given that I, and probably many readers of your blog, often write horror stories (among other forms), this is the perfect place to point out that the great thing about Horror—the NOBILITY of it— is that it is the ONLY type of fiction inherently about the exercise of free speech.
Free speech isn’t possible without free thought.
Free thought isn’t possible with shackles on it.
The most powerful thought is FREED thought—ideas on the lam, having broken from the prison of the Societal Majority.
Fuck grammar (now and then, let’s not go nuts. Or, do, invent a new emotionally resonant style).
Empathize with everyone. Like the Buddha taught, try to imagine that everyone you meet, however odious, was your mother in a past life and sustained and nurtured you with love. Even though that reincarnation shit is of the bull kind.
Rilke wrote: “Who speaks of victory? Survival is all.”
Be polite and caring in real life—RAISE HELL ON THE PAGE.
Last tip (I swear): WE ARE ALL FLEDGLING WRITERS. Solidarity, Sisters and Brothers, and KICK OUT THE MOTHERFUCKIN’ JAMS!
KR: What scares you?
ETJ: The possibility of not being able to protect my child from danger at all times. That’s it. Nothing else is scarier in the entire world except having a kid who loves you. At the same time, nothing makes you braver—or certain that you are capable of the evilest acts imaginable, if you were forced to choose between committing such acts and saving your child.
KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?
ETJ: Hardback. They have a substantial tactile character I enjoy. You can throw them at a republican’s head or drop it on a roach (NYC, you know). There are occasions where a hardback can help level a wobbly table.
KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?
ETJ: In April 2017, Written Backwards—a fine, award-winning indie press, run by the not-too-shabby-himself Bram Stoker Award-winning author and editor Michael Bailey—released Yes Trespassing, my first full-length book, a collection of stories that culminates in one novella.
Michael and I collaborated extensively on both the contents and the design of the book. I wanted the hardcopy surface appearance and internal layout—the book’s anatomies—to be integrated with the narratives within, making the combined fictions analogous to a soul suspended in stories, that needed nothing more occult than the “right” readers in order to animate this 463-page creature. To bring Yes Trespassing to life.
To do this, we used an actual, creepy photograph my father took of my sister and myself holding hands in the woods of Connecticut when I was about five and she nine years old. We printed an entire short story on the cover in very small print (but it’s there, if you want to read it or set it aflame with a magnifying glass). Michael then incorporated our emails that we’d exchanged back and forth while thinking of ideas for the book—some of them quite stupid ideas.
Because the stories we chose were among my most polished, it was important to me balance that with the total shit ideas and bad writing that always goes into decent writing. I wanted to exhibit these entirely ordinary lapses in talent that most books hide away in an attempt at total marketable slickness. In this way, you can get a sense of how the very object you hold in your hand was conceived, and, paradoxically, the snippets of earlier ideas that weren’t used in the final book—are in the final book!
You might say, to use a Lovecraftian phrase, that Yes Trespassing itself is “dead but dreaming” until one of its chosen readers finds it. Then it rises from the depths of inert, recyclable obscurity and, for some people, grows wings and flies them places. This is very gratifying, and I thank all those who’ve let me know how much they love it. Others hate it, which I can only take to be a compliment, because it is a strong reaction, and I am not going to write fiction in the hopes of engendering tepid affects.
Obviously, this isn’t a book for everyone—but what is?
The stories are admittedly dense, and though I know it can be enjoyed once, the pieces were meant to be even better when read more than once; it is a book for lovers of strange, literary books, who want to find something new on rereading it every few years or whatever. I tried hard, without realizing at the time, to produce literature that could be either literally disposed of in a garbage can, but couldn’t be read and enjoyed as disposable entertainment, such that you forget all about it a few months after reading. That is not to say it isn’t supposed to be entertaining; It’s got humor, plots galore, creepy characters and beasties and all that, and a number of reviewers, bless them, have backed me up on that, phew! I thank them from the depths of my soul.
Very likely I shall not write another book quite as weird as it again—though who knows. I get bored quickly and feel Yes Trespassing well represents a culmination of certain styles of weird, horrific, fantastic, short literary narratives that I’d been working hard, over many years, to hone to as close to perfection as I could.
Look, I tried to make it a special book, full of life, death, the horrifying, the uncanny and the heartbroken, a dash of awe, and a cauldron of black humor recklessly tipped in. There are even light-hearted moments. Hopefully I succeeded or got near to it.
Ah—one last cool thing. Michael and I had the idea to put two “bonus stories” in the hardcopy of Yes Trespassing. These are accessible via QR codes in the book and are NOT available in the Kindle edition.
I’m psyched that Kendall’s Reviews will be including one of the (most horrific, I believe) QR-code stories exclusively on this site, since it is otherwise unavailable without purchasing the paperback.
(I should note that, in a similar manner, there is a bonus poem at the end of the Kindle edition of Yes Trespassing that isn’t in the hardcopy. There may be other extra stuff, too—I honestly haven’t read it thoroughly enough, and Michael is a coy one . . . I LOVE that I don’t even know what might be lurking in my own book!)
KR: What are you working on now?
ETJ: Even I am getting sick of hearing myself type by this point so I’ll keep it brief:
KR: I could keep reading this all day to be honest.
ETJ: At the moment, I am working on longer-form fiction, and experimenting with more traditional “mainstream” narrative—because for me, that’s experimental! Let’s see, I’ve got a novel focusing on the aforementioned Martin Box, a detective of the weird and transdimensional, who has definitely stood out among reviewers as a favorite character and I’ve had a lot of requests to do more with this character. Some reviewers of YT have even said that the Martin Box stories are worth the price of the book alone, and I was like woah, really? So, as Ray Davies said, “Give the People What They Want.”
Incidentally, the six Martin Box stories included in Yes Trespassing are: Water Buried, Pool Day, Brain Scram, Krug’s Pen, Martin Was Here, and The Startling Objects. There are five additional Martin Box stories completed, not in Yes Trespassing, and I will incorporate those and the six from Yes Trespassing into an overarching narrative that, right now, is really working out well. I think it will be a super-fun novel—who knows—maybe even disposable in the fun way!
I am also working on a co-collaborative series of dark fantasy novels—minimally a trilogy, hopefully even more—but can’t reveal more details yet.
At the same time, I’m hard at work on another collaborative venture—a multi-novella project—again, top-secret, or middle secret, water-line secret? I don’t know. Point being I must be mum at this point. But I am excited about it—it’s very different than what I’ve done in the past, not profane in the least (Shit, really!?), and even heart-warming.
Then there are a few essays I’ve been asked to do, and I have ideas for an alien invasion novel, and a more thriller-type novel that I want to write but haven’t had time yet, and I have a shit-ton of short stories in progress that will have to wait for the stars to be right for their respective graduations to reality.
So, a lot, actually!!! And I hope to be able to update everybody sooner than later as these things develop.
KR: You find yourself on a desert island, which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why?
ETJ: Me, myself, and I would probably cause the least misery for everyone involved.
KR: WOW! Thank you very much Erik for a truly spectacular interview. I wish you every success for the future and can’t wait to have you back here on Kendall Reviews. You are always welcome.
Erik writes Literary (often, but not exclusively, Speculative or dark) Fiction as well as Literary Poetry (rarely Speculative) from Old School Brooklyn, NYC.
He’s also a songwriter, singer, and sometimes musician. He’s currently rehearsing to play Iggy Pop in a Stooges/Iggy Cover Band and working with award-winning composer Gene Pritsker on some songs, as lyricists.
You can follow Erik on Twitter @YES_TRESPASSING
To find out more about Erik please visit his official website www.eriktjohnson.net
Please visit Erik’s author page HERE
“Absolute Greatness” & “a magnum opus of almost staggering proportions”“reminiscent of the works of Vandermeer, Burroughs, and Bradbury, but fully unique.“
This Is Horror on Yes Trespassing
Yes Trespassing collects twenty-five, or maybe twenty-six or -seven or perhaps twenty-eight (let’s say it’s twenty-eight) individual works by Erik T. Johnson, some previously-published, some appearing in this book for the first time, stories like “The Leaf” and “Krug’s Pen,” “The Depopulation Syndrome,” “The Invention of the Mask” (which you can find on the front cover), “The Depopulation Syndrome” and the novella Scissors Seldom Come. Trespass. Read the horror, the wonder, the mindscrewing. This book will change you.
Click here for a selection of Yes Trespassing Reviews
AN AMAZON #1 HORROR ANTHOLOGY
Taste the blood, it tastes like fear.
Step through the doors of a movie theater for the damned.
Travel a dusty, sin-drenched desert with the most demonic of guides.
Experience the horrifying, mind-altering transformation of death and rebirth.
Take a walk on the wild side with a contract killer and a hit that’s not what it seems.
And expose the frightening truth behind what’s actually killing Smalltown, U.S.A.
From Bram Stoker Award-nominated authors Josh Malerman, the master of modern horror, and John F.D. Taff, the new “King of Pain.” To the terrifying surrealism of Erik T. Johnson, the darkly poetic diversity prose of J. Daniel Stone, and the transgressive mastery of Joe Schwartz. I Can Taste the Blood offers five novellas from five unique authors whose work consistently expands the boundaries of conventional dark horror fiction.
As diverse as they are in voice and vision, the work of the five celebrated authors assembled in this volume of terror share one common theme, one hideous and terrifying nightmare that can only be contained within the pages of one book: I Can Taste the Blood.
Edited by author Taff and the Stoker Award-nominated Anthony Rivera, editor of the #1 Amazon bestseller Peel Back the Skin and the critically acclaimed Dark Visions series.
Proudly available from Grey Matter Press, the multiple Bram Stoker Award-nominated independent publisher.
Grey Matter Press: Where Dark Thoughts Thrive