Updated: Nov 6, 2022
As soon as I saw the cover for Uncanny Valley Days, I had to get my hands on the ARC! (See the initial RENDERING behind CJ in the upper corner - see what I did there?😉Read my Evil Eval, then the book*, so that you get my clever reference!) CJ is a super chill guy who knocked out one hell of a creepy story with a badass playlist. I really enjoyed the whole vibe that the music contributed to the story, and feel like it was a brilliant pairing. He takes his art beyond just writing, to create a whole new experience!
1. How did you come up with the Spotify playlist for Uncanny Valley Days?
The playlist was actually one of the first things I created when I started writing Uncanny Valley Days. “The Score” playlist (the one that’s all instrumentals & lofi hip-hop beats) was what I made for myself initially to get in the writing mood and set the tone for the atmosphere of the book. It was on in the background during almost every single writing session. I’ve always kind of had an obsession with making playlists. I was the guy in middle school & high school constantly downloading every song I could get my hands on and making mix CDs for everyone. I probably spent way too much time curating every one of those mixes in a specific manner just to make it feel like there was a story being told or a cinematic experience playing out. In a way, name dropping the songs for “The Soundtrack” throughout the book is kind of an extension of my high school-halcyon days. My way of saying, “You like horror movies, right? Check out this Halloween mix I made. I really think you’ll dig it.”
2. What do you imagine your reaction would be if you were faced with Render, and would it be curling up in the fetal position like me?
I would love to say I would run and get off the grid so he could never reach me but I’m such a slave to technology I don’t think I would last. Plus, that is way too much running. I would probably snap a picture with my phone, for proof and then curl up in the fetal position and start praying.
3. When/how did your love for horror begin?
Growing up in the 90’s was a wellspring of middle grade horror for beginners. The Real Ghostbusters & Beetlejuice cartoon shows were constantly on in my house. I think I had almost every Ghostbuster action figure and my favorite stuffed animal was a plush Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Goosebumps and Christopher Pike books on every shelf, it was almost hard to get away from it. Which is funny because as a kid I was absolutely terrified of ALL of it! More specifically though, one of the first horror things I really remember was poring over the illustrations in the Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark books over and over again. Even though they shook me to my core, there was something so fascinating about them. I love those books.
4. Render versus Freddy Krueger… Who comes out on top?
Well, that begs Phillip K. Dick’s famous question; do androids dream of electric sheep? I’d like to give the Render the leg up and say that he never sleeps so Freddy would be slightly disadvantaged on his playing field. Then again, what do our electronics do when they go into sleep or hibernation mode? I might be biased but I think either way Render would have a slight edge over Freddy. No matter what, it would be an evenly stacked match and man would I love to see it!
5. If you had to team up with a horror film/franchise villain, who would you choose to be on your side and why?
Chucky. Say what you want about him, but that little dude has “died” 13 times canonically and he just keeps coming back! Given, one well placed drop kick could probably launch him into the atmosphere, he still stays a force to be reckoned with. Honorable mention to Sam from Trick ‘r Treat because he is my favorite. I don’t know what I’m up against but if they aren’t disrespecting one of the unwritten rules of Halloween… I don’t know how much good he would do me.
6. What’s your favorite part of writing and being involved with the writing community?
I love, love, LOVE how supportive and inclusive the writing community is (for the most part.) Many of my current best friends I have met through the community, and I am eternally grateful for that and for them. I was just talking to a few of them the other day and I had to take a second just to mention how amazing it is that we have written books and put them out into the world, period. If you had told me when I was a kid that I would one day have a legitimate book out in the wild, a book that people I don’t know personally would read and enjoy? One, I wouldn’t believe you because it sounds too daunting, and I was a fairly lazy kid. Two, I might have started crying at how incredible that prospect would have sounded. I love creating. Be it art, stories, entire worlds, my brain is constantly and compulsively creating, and I feel very lucky that I get to share that with the universe. The fact that other people enjoy what I create will never cease to break my brain and fill my heart with joy.
7. What location do you think would be the safest when the apocalypse hits? (Doesn’t have to be a specific city or anything like that, just in general)
This is going to sound like a cheesy copout but wherever my family is. As long as I’m with them, I feel safe and at home. Even if the world is burning down around us, if I got them with me, I’m good. If we could find a swanky underground bunker to ride out the storm in that would be sweet though.
8. Is there a particular project or collaboration you would love to take part in?
I heard they are working on a sequel to Trick ‘r Treat. I don’t think I can legally say the terrible things I would do to be involved in that. I also have a great idea for another sequel to the Friday movie franchise that will most definitely never see the light of day, but it’s there. Get at me Cube. As well as an entire Star Wars saga I’ve been writing in my head since I was 13. Getting to play in that sandbox would be a dream come true.
9. Do you prefer a main character who is the ideal hero, or one who is flawed and more realistic/relatable?
I always gravitate towards flawed characters. Me and ideal heroes don’t get along. I am a massive Star Wars fan boy, but I never related to Luke Skywalker. I was a bigger fan of C-3PO because he was terrified of everything like me. They made the droids more human than the humans and I think about that a lot.
10. What is your dream writing space? I’d give my left arm (I’m right-handed) for an isolated, peaceful, people-free cabin up in the mountains!
My garage/office is quite close to it. Every wall is covered in art, posters, and collectibles of things that I love, and every shelf has some knick-knack or Halloween decoration that I keep out year-round for inspiration. It’s like my brain exploded in there and splattered its contents everywhere. It just makes me happy. That being said, more often than not, I end up on the floor in my living room with my laptop on the dinky little lap desk I got from Amazon and it’s really the perfect writing environment for me. I tend to thrive better when my wife and kids and our dogs are scattered about, and life is happening around me. That is my actual happy place. Especially on a cold rainy day with the fireplace going and a great cup of coffee. That’s all I really need.
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