The Man Behind The Mask: Multimedia storyteller Joseph VanBuren talks to Kendall Reviews.

Joseph VanBuren is a multimedia storyteller, performer, horror lover, survivor, and the scrambled brains behind Sykophunk Productions. Spawned from the haunted Hudson Valley region of New York, USA, he now lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana with his beloved wife and adorably neurotic dog. His current projects include a trilogy of poetry books with accompanying instruMental soundtracks.

KR: Coffee?

KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?

Despite what 23andMe says, I am human. I am also a multimedia storyteller. Most of my projects involve writing and music, sometimes video too. I have been doing music as well as writing poetry and stories for decades. But I’m a relative newbie in the self-publishing game.

KR: What do you like to do when not writing?

Chilling with my wife and our adorably neurotic dog, doing music, absorbing knowledge, and making to-do lists that are impossible to complete. My wife and I also love to travel when we are able to do so.

KR: What is your favourite childhood book?

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. I still love it! Just read it again recently.

KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?

My favorite album of all time is Angel Dust by Faith No More. And yes, so much yes! I always listen to music while I write. I actually make custom playlists specifically for each project and story that I work on, mostly instrumental music.

KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director?

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 is probably my favorite horror movie ever. I am a product and fan of the golden 80s, so a lot of the movies and directors from that era will always be my favorites.

KR: What are you reading now?

The Catcher in the Rye, an issue of Cemetery Dance, and a couple of nonfiction books.

KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?

In no particular order: Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe, Anne Rice, Ray Bradbury, Mary Shelley, Dante Alighieri, Stephen King, Chuck Palahniuk, Saul Williams, Allen Ginsberg, Christie Golden, and Gary Gygax. Dungeons & Dragons really inspired me to embrace storytelling as well as character and world creation.

KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?

I am definitely an outliner. I outline my days in real life. And just like reality, the writing doesn’t always follow exactly what I have planned out. But I always start with a basic skeleton of how I think the idea should flesh out.

KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

It depends on the project, but generally speaking I am always researching something. I love reading books and articles on certain subjects–psychology, sociology, folklore and mythology, just to name a few. Most stories require at least a little research. If it takes place during a certain historical period or something like that, much more research is needed.

KR: Describe your usual writing day?

I have to write around my day job, but right now I only work part-time in the afternoon, so my writing occurs in the morning. Sometimes at night as well, if I am really pressed for a deadline. And if The Mando Method podcast announces a #MandoMethod, I will likely stop whatever I am doing and get a 15-minute writing sprint in.

KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?

As far as finished stories, I have one called “Turns Out, Michelle Doesn’t Remember” that I am really proud of. It is about three teenagers in a mental institution during the early 1990s. It’s also part of a larger mythos that most of my work is a part of. It’s not published yet, but I am hoping either to get it accepted somewhere this year or to release it myself on my Patreon page.

KR: Do you read your book reviews?

I only have a few so far, so yes! I think that I always will, even if I ever get negative reviews in the future, because any feedback can be helpful. I don’t take it personally when someone doesn’t like my work. It’s just one person with one opinion. And I already know that my work isn’t for everyone. I’m proud of that.

KR: Any advice for a fledgling author?

Something I learned from two decades in the music business: you can do nine things right, but as soon as you do one thing wrong, that’s what people will talk about. I’m sure the same can be applied to being an author. It’s not always about getting praise for your accomplishments. Sometimes it’s more about what people are not saying about you.

KR: What scares you?

Not having a grip on reality, or what I perceive as reality. That one day the life I think I’ve had will turn out to be fake, that everything I thought I knew was a lie. Thinking of my own death too deeply does fill me with existential dread, but being alive without a sense of self and what is real seems somehow more frightening. The funny thing is, a lot of my work asks the audience to question reality. And I do. I think it’s important for people to not take things for face value. But if you let that cynicism take over, you can come to a point where you don’t trust anything or anyone, not even yourself. To me, that is true horror.

KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?

They are all good. I am old school and grew up on print books. Especially for nonfiction and reference books, sometimes it still feels better to have a physical copy in my hands. But I also love the convenience of being able to pull out my phone and read an ebook anytime, anywhere.

KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?

My last release is Mask: Shadow, the first in a trilogy of poetry books with accompanying soundtracks. It is through the point of view of a character named Dostah Shilailee, who is the recipient of secret psychological and biotech experiments. The Mask series is another part of my larger mythos, but each book & album is its own story within that world.

KR: What are you working on now?

I am currently working on the next installment of the series, Mask: Persona. This one is through the voice of Joe Doe, who is somehow connected to Dostah Shilailee, though it is not yet clear how. Each book reveals more about the bigger story, all of which is leading up to my debut novel. It will be available on August 14. The pre-order is already up on Amazon.

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.

b) One fictional character from any other book.

c) One real life person that is not a family member or friend.

This is the best question ever. OK, for my own fictional character, I have to choose Adriana Van Helsing. She is a badass survivalist and knows how to secure food, shelter, etc. From another book, I would choose Sherlock Holmes, because he would have a lot of stories to tell around the fire. And since I assume my wife counts as a family member, I would have to bring Mike Patton, because I would want to jam. If anyone could figure out how to make music on a desert island, it would be Patton.

KR: Thank you very much Joseph.

You can find out more about Joseph by visiting his official website www.josephvanburen.com

Follow Joseph on Twitter @doe333

Joseph’s author page can be found here

We all wear various masks for different situations. It’s how we adapt and react to life. Wear a mask for too long, however, and it becomes difficult to remove. Especially if that mask has been forced upon you…

Sykophunk Productions presents Mask: Shadow by Joseph VanBuren. Through twisted poetry and dark ambient soundscapes, the tale of a tortured soul unfolds. In the aftermath of strange psychiatric and biogenetic experiments, our narrator questions reality, laments the loss of truth, and perhaps even reveals apocalyptic prophecies.

This is the first in a trilogy of poetry chapbooks with accompanying soundtracks. The soundtrack instruMental albums can also be found on Amazon.

You can buy Mask: Shadow from Amazon UK & Amazon US

From the recipient of two “Honorable Mentions” in the Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition, a new voice for the next generation that author Chuck Buda calls the “cyberpunk Jack Kerouac.” Post-truth poetry. rEvolutionary rhymes. Lyrical lunacy. This mask is the face of the unseen. These words are the voice of the unheard. They can X out our eyes and seal up our mouths, but they cannot block our vision of the future out. They could never silence such a deafening shout.

Sykophunk Productions presents Mask: Persona, the second in a trilogy of poetry books with instruMental music soundtracks. Through the voice of the tortured revolutionary Joe Doe, these poems and lyrics speak of the injustice and insanity within our institutions and ideologies. Part prophecy of apocalyptic doom, part battle cry for a better future, 100% middle finger to the system and to society’s idea of what poetry and narrative should be. Are you ready to fly? To transcend the norm and open up your third eye?

Welcome to the rEvolution…

You can buy Mask: Persona from Amazon UK & Amazon US

In the darkness lies the shadow. In the spotlight lies the persona. In between, one finds the true self.

Sykophunk Productions presents Mask: Self, the third in a trilogy of poetry books with accompanying soundtracks. In this final installment, two-time Writers Digest Honorable Mention recipient Joseph VanBuren puts on perhaps the strangest mask of all: himself. This deeply personal collection goes from disturbing to humorous to thought-provoking, sometimes within the same poem. It is metaphysical meta-nonfiction for the mentally adventurous.

Mask: Shadow and Mask: Persona are also available on Amazon.

You can buy Mask: Self from Amazon UK & Amazon US

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