Any great villain is relatable. The ones you feel for and almost root for because you can empathize with what they went through. When I see villains who are just dicks and "born this way", I can't get into you. Show me a Venom or a Punisher bad guy and I'm all in. Someone who has lost everything and I'm behind them 100%. John Kramer killed for a reason, and even then, had people kill themselves. John Doe from Seven.
"Any great villain is relatable. The ones you feel for and almost root for
Online presence is a big deal, especially for newer writers who are trying to build an audience. As your website is exceptionally professional, do you have any advice for newer writers who are weighing their options for an author website?
Definitely. Use Leia. It's an app that will build the website for you, based off your preferences. It takes zero skill to learn. The team has been super professional in assisting me where I need. There is a free version I recommend starting off with. From there, you can go pro with the click of a button. My site averages 1,000 hits a month (or more) and I didn't have to learn anything.
Though I am not a regular reader of horror, some of my closest author friends write in this genre. What drew you into the genre and what would you say to a potential reader who is hesitant about exploring horror-themed works?
As a teen I gravitated from fantasy to horror through an author named John Saul. Saul's books were more "Teens discover secret society" and "people with dark powers". I burned through them in a day. Despite his huge library of work, I needed more. I moved on to Dean Koontz and Stephen King. Horror isn't always about gore in books. If the synopsis sounds good, look at reviews. They should give some insight if you're avoiding the genre due to graphic violence.
"Saul's books were more "Teens discover secret society" and "people with dark powers". I burned through them in a day."
Strange Tales from the City of Dust, your serial sci-fi series, is a set of stories about a futuristic version of Pittsburgh which has now become the City of Dust. What inspired this dystopian cyberpunk world and what types of themes do you enjoy exploring through your stories?
The main things I was shooting for here was having a Bladerunner universe with a Sin City-type of spit storylines. As any writer knows, we get so many ideas that it's hard to keep up with all of our works-in-progress. Doing things as serial stories means any time I think of something new, I can find an episode to incorporate it. No waiting. No getting stressed at too many back burner unfinished stories.
"Doing things as serial stories means any time I think of something new, I can find an episode to incorporate it.
You have decided to create a set of serial novellas which all take place in the world of Strange Tales from the City of Dust instead of writing novel-length books. Was that an intentional choice or did the stories themselves inform that choice? What have been some of the advantages and/or challenges of marketing serial novellas as opposed to more traditional full-length novels?
I've written a ton of normal books of varying lengths. I get so distracted. New ideas, so I abandon works in progress. Not anymore. Every new idea is blended into stories I'm working on. It might be an infection I was studying. It might be an event that takes place. It'll all be within the City of Dust.
"I get so distracted. New ideas, so I abandon works in progress.
As I read through the descriptions for Clockwork Deus, The Darkest Part, and Pinned Butterflies, I could not help but think of my favorite Netflix series: Black Mirror. Do you think that your novellas could play out well on screen? Also, what are your thoughts on Black Mirror as a series in terms of its contributions to the public conversation about modern Sci-Fi?
I love Black Mirror. Been eating it up as soon as it launched and trying to find everything I can that released soon after and attempted to ride the waves it casted behind it. I always write things in a visual format so that it can be easily transferred to screen. I usually have specific actors/actresses in mind when designing characters. I look at the episodes like a comic book purchase. People enjoy comics for a fun, quick read. My episodes are always a buck each and have a 1-2 hour enjoyable read.
Each episode delves into something real-world, while also forcibly taking something currently that I don't care for and making it fixed and adamant. My books won't ever make sexual preference or sexual identity an issue. This isn't to skirt the issue. It's because, as I see it, it's all considered normal in my universe. No one will give you a side-eye if you were born a girl but identify as a guy. No one cares what's between your legs.
"Each episode delves into something real-world, while also forcibly taking something currently
Last, but not least, where can readers track down your books and stay up to date on your latest publications?
Amazon. For the moment, I am exclusively Kindle Unlimited.
Strange Tales From The City Of Dust
Episode 4: Neon Pentagrams is being worked on now!
Find more from Vaz on his website!
Joshua Gillingham is an author, editor, and game designer from Vancouver Island, Canada.