Posted by Literary Titan
Liars follows Eric, a writer, who is struggling to write, when he becomes convinced that happy relationships are unsustainable. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this novel?
It seems at times we all feel this way, the ebb and flow of all relationships. The wondering of why we are with a certain person, or how to conduct ourselves in a relationship. Are we in the right place, is our definition of love correct or even sustainable? I wanted to explore this at the surface and work it from every angle. I began with the idea as laid out in the early pages of the novel that love is a dynamic that changes over time, for better or worse, and our perception of love, our understanding or lack thereof, is also a variable that messes with our relationships. I wanted to write of relationships from the perspective of love being fragile, mostly because we all have a tendency of fucking things up when the best thing to do is just let love and relationships evolve and carry on – or end – organically. In LIARS there is really only one character who gets this, and yet, whether or not she ends up happy, whether any of the characters end up happy or more attuned, is up to the reader to decide.
Eric is a fascinating character that only gets deeper as the novel progresses. What themes did you want to capture while writing his character?
That Eric is human and he is trying to figure things out, that his starting point is a bit skewed, he is flawed , that even his best intentions come from a confused place, that he, like everyone else, is scrambling to sustain and discover love only he is ultimately clueless as to what he is actually after. Until the very end, when you think maybe…. But with Eric that may as easily be a momentary place as well. I wanted him to be restless and not always wise in his questioning, but searching nonetheless.
Eric becomes fixated on a happy couple he meets in the market and is determined to tear them apart to prove that love isn’t real. Did you intend to explore love and relationships in this novel or did that happen organically as you were writing?
Indeed, as noted, the idea to explore love from different angles and perspectives was my intent going in. How does love sustain itself? What is love? Is it a form of freedom in which case to what extent is freedom offered, or is it a form of compromise to achieve something greater than the individual self? Is such a goal even possible? What of monogamy? Is it a social contrivance? What of open relationships? I had a lot of ideas in my head and then honestly one day at my market here in Ann Arbor I saw a couple that intrigued me for a dozen different reasons and I began to see the possibility of playing with many ideas about love through the lens of someone who views this couple and wants to test them.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
I am writing a new novel now that is already under contract to my publisher. I hope to be done in the next year or so. Its a big sweeping look at our world through the prism of a single city.
Eric McCanus is a novelist with the misfortune of having written his one great book when he was young. Struggling to write more, recently divorced, while still missing his ex-wife, Eric becomes convinced that happy relationships are unsustainable. Determined to prove the accuracy of his theory, Eric stumbles upon a seemingly perfect couple at the market. Convinced the marriage of Cara and Matt can’t be as successful as it appears, Eric does what he can to break them apart. What follows is a psychological and philosophical comedy of errors. Liars is an exploration of love, relationships, and human interaction, a madcap romp through the vestiges of modern affairs, revolving around five characters, each spun drunk on the batterings of love while attempting to sustain themselves in a false world.
Posted in Interviews
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Posted by Literary Titan
The Hungry Monster was given the opportunity to interview JR Hamantaschen and Derek Sotak, the hosts of a horror podcast. We discuss the horror genre, how Queens NY is not the quietest place to record a podcast, and I find out where I can get a 5lb plate of artisanal nachos.
What inspired you guys to start a podcast about horror culture?
Derek: I had always wanted to do a podcast about weird movies, and separately always enjoyed the horror genre, so when one of my favorite authors asked me if I wanted to do a horror podcast I said “Yes Stephen King, more than anything.” That podcast never panned out because he was too busy, so later when JR came to me with the same idea I thought the second time would be the charm, and here we are today.
J.R. Well, I’ve written a couple of dark fiction collections now and have had my hand in editing some others. I felt a bit burned out on writing horror and have been pursuing other subjects, but still want to keep a toe in the genre, so to speak, and, honestly, see if I could rekindle my interest. Also, Derek’s a pretty cool guy and it was an excuse to hang out in some capacity.
How do you two know each other? How did you two meet?
Derek: I was reading JR long before I ever met him in person, becoming enraged upon reading his bio that he was so much younger than me and writing such excellent stuff. When years later we met at a convention it turned out that he was wasn’t so young anymore and a pretty radical dude in general, so I let my rage go. Sometimes that’s all it takes for a magical friendship to blossom.
J.R.: We met at the NecronomiCon Convention in 2015 in Providence, Rhode Island. We were both separately friends with Chris Lackey and Chad Fifer of the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast, and we all went out to lunch. Then the sparks flew. A couple handjobs later and here we are.
You are now 13 episodes into the podcast, what is one thing that you’ve learned about the podcast process that you never considered before?
Derek: Unfortunately a podcast is not as easy as pressing record and shooting the shit for an hour. As part of the Faustian bargain I made with JR at the crossroads at midnight under a full moon I do the tech side of the operation, which involves the editing, syncing, posting, website stuff, and all the other various jazz that a “real” podcast has interns do for them, which was all more than I bargained for. BTW, we will be announcing the Horror of Nachos and Hamantaschen internship contest shortly, and Max Fun or Earwolf, we we are eagerly awaiting your call.
J.R.: This might be the height of spoiled laziness, but fitting in two movies per week or reading a book in a week and trying to think of interesting commentary or insights is harder than I thought it would be. Also, one thing I never noticed before is that it seems a lot of other podcasts pick out or select things that they already know they might like, whereas we don’t, so there’s a decent chance we will dislike what we are commenting on and rag on it. Also, I live in Queens, New York, and it seems the ambulances, taxis and people who hang out on my block must have advanced notice of when I’m recording so they all gather in full force to be as loud as fucking possible. One time while we were recording there was literally a goddamn whistling noise coming out of my pipes. So editing those sounds out has been a challenge (and by that, I mean a challenge for Derek, since he’s the tech guy).
What is your favorite decade for the horror genre?
Derek: The 80’s. I think a lot of the stepping stones for horror these days was laid then, along with the greatest wave of horror movie icons since the Universal Monsters. All my initial horror reading forays in the early 90’s were of books from then as well; King, Koontz, etc, and those are as solid a foundation to get yourself into the genre as you could ask for.
J.R. I don’t really know the answer to that. I’m inclined to say the 70s or 80s for horror movies, but there are enough things I’ve liked over a large enough expanse of time that I can’t commit myself to a decade. Maybe even in the 1920s, when Lovecraft was writing the Call of Cthulhu and a lot of “weird fiction” was of high literary merit.
A question for both of you: XBOX One or PS4?
Derek: PS4, but I grew up in a PS family so I might be biased. I’m not sure if for the most part it matters anymore rather than for a few games, and realistically a good PC is probably the best and most versatile game playing platform out there. It is a lot harder to sit on your couch and kick back with your keyboard and mouse rather than a controller though. I will always gives props to the Virtual Boy though.
J.R.: I was a Nintendo fanboy growing up, so I lived in denial about how superior the PS2 was compared to the Gamecube. I eventually got a PS2 and realized the error of my ways. I currently have an XBOX One that I bought on the advice of a friend, but if I were being honest with myself I should have gotten a PS4. Graphics are marginally better, there are more Japanese RPGs, some exclusives I want to play, and the controller is better.
Do you enjoy horror movies that are more campy slashers or thought provoking mind benders?
Derek: A campy slasher will always have it’s place in my heart, and on my TV if I’m in the mood for something I don’t need to really pay attention to. If I have the time for sitting down and giving something my full attention though, I’ll go for the provoking mind bender any day.
J.R.: I’d like to say thought provoking mind better, but in reality, the campy slasher is more of a safe bet in terms of enjoyment. If we were talking fiction, then of course the mind bender, but movies are a visual medium and there’s more room for error in a visual medium with something that – such as a nuanced, interior, contemplative work – might be better suited for fiction.
I find that horror is different in different cultures. For example, Japanese horror, I find, focuses more on psychological horror and poltergeists. What is your favorite horror culture and why?
Derek: I really like the whole Coffin Joe series and ultra weird and violent horror movies that came out of Brazil in the 60’s. Extremely subversive for the time in Brazil and 10 times that compared to what was going on in America at the same time. Even today if they would be considered a bit much for American audiences.
J.R.: that’s a good question, one that I don’t know if I have any answer to. Unlike Derek and his nacho-loving ways, I don’t know much about horror from Mexico, Central or South America.
Derek, your the author of The Field Guide to Nachos. If you were to create a bucket list of nachos to eat before you die, what would be on the top of the list?
Derek: The two best nachos I’ve ever had are the Big Foot’s Nachos Ur Way pulled pork nachos at Bigfoot Food and Spirits in the Seattle-Tacoma airport (I almost missed my plane getting those, but it would have been worth it) and Mount Nacheesmo at Tios in Ann Arbor Michigan. Mount Nacheesmo is the largest order of commercially available nachos in the US coming in at 5lbs, and while a lot of places would just throw together a bunch of cheap ingredients and try to pass that off, Tios artfully crafts an order that is delicious as you eat it, and while you munch on the leftovers for the next few days. Plus, if you can eat it all in an hour there you get a shirt and your picture up on the wall which is one of the greatest glories one can achieve in this life.
J.R. you’re the author of, You Shall Never Know Security. What do you find appealing about short stories?
J.R.: I suppose I write mainly short stories, though I’ve been working more on novellas recently. My second collection, “With a Voice that is Often Still Confused but is Becoming Ever Louder and Clearer,’ is largely novellas. I write short stories because I think that’s the idealized form for horror and dark fiction. I don’t really need many horror novels, and most of the ones I have seem padded, or would have worked better as shorter pieces. Also, realistically, when I am pressed for time with my day job and side jobs, so short fiction has just been more realistic and manageable. I want to get in and get out.
What are the subjects for upcoming episodes. Are there any that you’re really excited about?
Derek: Our culturally mandated Christmas episode is going to be something really special, but you won’t be able to experience that for some months yet. OR WILL YOU? No. No you won’t, but there are a bunch of pretty cool ones coming up as well.
J.R.: I enjoyed our nostalgia episodes, which we recorded but hasn’t been released yet. We both picked two horror movies we enjoyed as kids and re-watched them with our jaundiced, cynical eyes. I chose Demon Knight and Scream, and Derek chose Evil Dead II and Dead Alive. Surprisingly, we still both liked our selections.
Join marginally popular dark fiction author J.R. Hamantaschen and Derek Sotak as they discuss the world of horror in a light-hearted, frivolous and irreverent way. Expect horror fiction, horror movies, horror culture, and interviews / hang-out sessions with authors and creators in the field.
Listen to The Horror of Nachos and Hamantaschen podcast available every Wednesday of the month streaming on their website thehorrorofnachosandhamantaschen.com or on:
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