Joshua Chaplinsky is the Managing Editor of LitReactor.com. He is the author of ‘Kanye West—Reanimator.’ His short fiction has been published by Motherboard, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Thuglit, Severed Press, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, Pantheon Magazine, and Broken River Books.
Whispers In The Ear Of A Dreaming Ape
- Paperback: 174 pages
- Publisher: CLASH Books (15 Nov. 2019)
KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?
Hm… What to tell? I live in Queens with my wife and two cats. My day job is in film production (nothing exciting, I’m an office coordinator). I’ve been the Managing Editor of LitReactor.com since its inception in 2011. I’m the author of the parody novel, Kanye West—Reanimator. I once co-directed a no-budget documentary on Chuck Palahniuk with two guys who have gone on to have actual Hollywood careers. I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but took a long detour into playing in bands before I finally came around to it. And even then, I spent over a decade trying to be a screenwriter before I realized I wanted to write something that might actually get read, even if only by a few.
KR: What do you like to do when not writing?
I still like to play my guitar, although now it’s to my cats instead of other people. I love to read and watch movies. I also love to travel with my wife whenever I get the chance. I think being able to travel to other countries is one of the greatest privileges there is.
KR: What is your favourite childhood book?
I’d say The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Hobbit probably had the most profound effect on me as a young reader. Also, Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles and the Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper.
KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?
Just one? As you can see, I’m not good at committing to one, single favorite. But if I had to, I’d say OK Computer, by Radiohead.
I love music, but generally don’t listen to any while writing. I find it too distracting. If anything, I listen to something low key and instrumental, at low volume. Mellow movie soundtracks and the like.
KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director?
Why are you making this so hard? The answer to movie and overall director might not even be the same.
One of my favorite horror movies is a little film called Sheitan, directed by Kim Chapiron. It’s got a pretty standard set-up, but features a fantastic performance from Vincent Cassel in multiple roles that puts it on another level for me. Really weird stuff.
KR: What are you reading now?
I’m just finishing up Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons. I’m a huge fan of the Hyperion books and really liked Song of Kali, so this one has been on my list for a while. It’s a whopper at almost 900 pages!
KR: What was the last great book you read?
The most recent book I would include in my personal pantheon of all-time greats would have to be the genre-defying Liminal States by Zack Parsons. So inventive and broad in scope. I’ve been pestering him on Twitter for a followup for years now.
KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?
I take all comers, but prefer a nice trade paperback for my shelves.
KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?
Aside from the ones I mentioned from my childhood, I’d have to say it was more screenwriters and directors, initially. Lynch, Cronenberg, the Coen Brothers, Charlie Kaufman. People with weird ideas. As for writers who have inspired me and my current work: Steve Erickson, Brian Evenson, Jeff Jackson, David Mitchell, Stephen Graham Jones.
KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I’ve done a bit of both. For a longer project, I like to have some idea of where I’m going. It makes the process a lot easier. But I do enjoy letting a short story take me on a journey. Something more akin to what a reader would feel. There’s an excitement to that.
KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
A lot of my short stories have started with an idea as opposed to a theme or a character. An interesting crime or bit of science I read about online. That usually results in more research on the front end for me. I get fascinated by a weird little tidbit, then figure out how to wrap a story around it.
KR: How would you describe your writing style?
I am definitely a serial rewriter. With a short story, I usually start from page one every session, making little adjustments until I get to where I left off. When I can finally read the entire story through without having to make any changes, I consider it done. With something longer, I have to force myself to move on, taking a section or chapter at a time, otherwise I’d never finish anything.
KR: Describe your usual writing day?
Unfortunately I don’t write every day. But when I’m in the thick of it, I like to devote at least a few hours at a time. I don’t like writing in drips and drabs. I like to power through as much as possible. Especially when I’m re-reading from the beginning of every session.
KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?
I really enjoy writing stories in non-traditional formats. “Letters to the Purple Satin Killer”, “HOMUNCULOID”, and “The Gospel of X” are all like that. I’m really proud of “The Gospel of X”, which I wrote in the language and format of a book of the Bible. I also have a story out on submission that I wrote in the format of an 80s style text-based adventure game, a la the game Zork.
KR: Do you read your book reviews?
Hell yeah! No guts, no glory, right? Also, I consider myself pretty even-keeled when it comes to criticism. If it’s constructive, I take it to heart. If it’s ludicrous, I have a good laugh. I’ve yet to read anything that’s destroyed my world. Maybe once I publish a novel I’ll be more sensitive.
KR: How do you think you’ve developed as an author?
Slowly? I’m a late bloomer. I only started writing and publishing stories about four years ago. I feel like my style was decently formed when I started, based on years of screenwriting. I would say the minimalism of the screenwriting format has been a big influence on my prose. And that was something I developed over a decade. But prose is its own beast, and I’ve been learning plenty new tricks along the way. You never stop learning.
KR: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received regarding your writing?
My own writing? I’d say in general the best writing advice is to learn what advice to take and what advice to ignore. There is no magic formula for writing. You have to figure out what works for you. That’s an important skill to have.
KR: What scares you?
The unknown. Once the mystery is solved, once you can identify and define a thing, it loses most of its power over you.
KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?
Whispers in the Ear of a Dreaming Ape is my debut story collection. It contains thirteen pieces of weird literary fiction, heavily steeped in genre. It’s got singularities, ciphers, and regrown limbs. Alien messiahs and murderous medieval hydrocephalics. I like to think of it as dark, satirical, and accessibly experimental. It is published by CLASH Books.
KR: What are you working on now?
I’m in the planning/research phase of a novel, my second. The first, which hasn’t officially been announced, will be published by CLASH in 2020. Other than that, I’ve got a long list of short stories I’ve been dragging my feet on. Hope to get some of them out there soon.
KR: You find yourself on a desert island, which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why?
You can choose…
a) One fictional character from your writing.
I don’t know if I want to meet any of my fictional characters. They’re all jerks! I guess I’d have to go with the one who would be the most capable/least annoying, and that would be the young woman from my story “Supreme Mathematics: A Cipher.” She’s tough, smart, and is good with a sword. Not something I can say for a lot of my characters.
b) One fictional character from any other book.
I may be asking for trouble here, but for the second person I’d say Vikar Jerome, from Steve Erickson’s Zeroville. He’s an odd duck, but he’s interesting, and he loves movies.
c) One real-life person that is not a family member or friend.
Finally, I’d want someone like Bear Grylls, only less douchey. Somebody’s got to bring some survival skills to the table!
KR: Thank you very much Joshua.
You can find out more about Joshua via his official website www.joshuachaplinsky.com
Please follow Joshua on Twitter @jaceycockrobin
Whispers In The Ear Of A Dreaming Ape
The debut short story collection from Joshua Chaplinsky, author of Kanye West—Reanimator. Thirteen weird pieces of literary genre fiction. Singularities, ciphers, and reappearing limbs. Alien messiahs and murderous medieval hydrocephalics. A dark collection that twists dreams into nightmares in an attempt to find a whisper of truth.