Welcome to Part One of the Confessions of a Reviewer’s interview with Jeffery X Martin. For the purposes of this interview, and because he tells people to, he will, from this point on, be known as X!
You may or may not know a lot about the man in question but hopefully over the next few nights you will learn some more and get a feel for the sort of person he is and how he writes.
One thing is for sure; you will read some aspects of this interview and laugh out loud and you will read some aspects and think what the actual f………?
In Part One tonight we learn about the general goings on in X’s life and a bit about his writing and writing influences. In Part Two, tomorrow night we discuss, in detail, his new book Hunting Witches which has just been released. He will of course be taking on the mighty Ten Confessions.
On Wednesday night I will be posting my review of Hunting Witches and this is one you will want to look out for.
Nothing left to say at this point other than go grab some nibbles and a drink and sit back, and most of all……enjoy!
CoaR - So tell everyone a bit about yourself in general. Who is Jeffery X Martin and what is he about?
X - I live in the Great American South with my smokin’ hot wife, Cootie. Our kids are grown, and we’re having as much fun as we can with middle age. We enjoy music, British television, outdoor buggery, gialli, vodka, public nudity and watching professional wrestling.
CoaR - Is it true the X stands for X-rated?
X - Sometimes. X is a variable. X is an unknown. X is for X-Ray. X is for Xylophone, as in, “Delightful! It is an extraordinary xylophone!” Also: I’ve been known to wave my cock around at the bingo hall. I use it as a dauber on other peoples’ cards, whether they want me to or not.
CoaR - Do you have a boring pay the bills job?
X - I am a content creator and professional blogger for a web development copy in Knoxville, TN.
So, that’s a “yes.”
CoaR - Why writing? Why decide on that as a career?
X - Writing was the thing I always did, regardless of whether I got paid or not. It didn’t matter. When I was on break at work, I would take a notebook outside and write. At one point, I just balled up and decided to start sending some stories out. I got tired of being one of those writers who says they’re going to write and never does. It just ballooned from there.
CoaR - Take us through your process for a story. How do you start it and follow it through to the final product?
X - Ideas come from dreams, mostly. I have a lot of nightmares, and sometimes I can pull bizarre elements from those dreams and build a story around them. I’ve also been known to come up with the last line of a story first, then work backwards, writing the entire tale around the ending.
I use what I call “The ‘Hellraiser’ Method” when I write. Remember the first “Hellraiser” movie, when Uncle Frank was still trying to piece himself together up in the tarpaper attic? The big chunks showed up first. His skull, his spindly legs, his spider-like arms. I think of those as the main beats of the story. The rest of Frank was just connective parts, ligaments, things that held the bigger parts in place. When it was all said and done, you had murderous, adulterous Uncle Frank. All my stories are Uncle Frank. I plan the beats, those big chunks, then I lash them together with blood and sinew.
CoaR - Why enter something like the Confessions writing competition? There was no big prize at the end of it so what drives you to do something like that?
X - I entered the Confessions writing competition because fuck flash fiction. I’ve never been good at it, never won any contests with it or anything like that. It was a thorn in my side. The Confessions contest was my last stab at flash fiction glory. “One more try,” I figured, “and if nothing comes of it, then so be it.” It worked out well for me. I was more than a tad surprised when I won.
CoaR – Just in case you missed the birthday party or the competition, this is what it was about. The entrant had to ask my wife Jo for a random word and write a one-hundred-word story based around that random word, which was also to be the title. This was X’s winning entry.
TRAIN by Jeffery X Martin
Example after example, and you still haven’t learned. Pay attention.
These finger stubs are too smooth. You’re looking for something jagged, rough looking. What kind of message does this send? Where’s your rage? Your power? You were just toying with this one.
Any petty gang member can slash a throat. You haven’t even touched her torso. There’s not enough blood, no ferocity!
Remember how we looped the businessman’s intestines around his ankles? That was stylish. Creative.
We’re going back to basics.
Go find a child for us to use. Your training starts again tomorrow.
CoaR - This competition was not judged by me or anyone from the Confessions team. This was judged by my wife Jo and the winners were picked purely on the merit of the stories. She had no idea who the people were or what their background was. That says a lot for the power of this short piece.
CoaR - While attending Horror Con UK this year I discovered a lady bought a copy of Black Room Manuscripts Vol One purely because you were in it. How much of a buzz is that for you?
X - That was fantastic! I know I have a lot of readers in the shattered remnants of the United Kingdom and in Canada, which is nice. I’m a Facebooking motherfucker, and I talk to people from other countries a lot. That was certainly a surprise, though. It just proves how word of mouth counts for a lot, as does not being a dick online. I try hard not to be one of “those” guys, always yammering about their books and never being a real person with their audience.
Thank you for buying that book! I appreciate it! Someday before they build the great wall between England and Scotland, I hope to visit and do some signings. All the good conventions are in the UK, anyway.
CoaR - How do you keep track of your ideas? Do you carry a notebook with you everywhere or write stuff on the back of your hand?
X - If an idea sticks in my head, it’s stuck for a while, like putting a plate beneath another plate. I can hang onto it in me Gulliver until I can type it out in Notepad and save it onto my laptop. After that, it just waits until I can get around to it and see if it is an idea that needs pursuing. A lot of what I come up with is wretched shit. But if it’s good, it’s good.
CoaR - Podcasts. How did you get into this? Does it still play a big part in your life?
X - I started doing podcasts almost ten years ago, under the delusion that I could somehow monetize them and make that sweet internet cash. That did not work. It turned out, however, that some of the friends I made enjoyed having me as a guest on their better, well-produced podcasts. And why not? I just showed up to dirty up their intelligent, finely-researched shows with my drunkenness and potty mouth, like that bastard cousin of yours who shows up for Yule, drinks all the Scotch and calls your wife a “real goer.” After a while, that’s what people came to expect. I was called “The Anti-Christ of the Internet” at one point, and that seemed like a fine archetype to live up to.
I started a podcast with my wife called “Kiss the Goat,” which focuses on Devil movies, comparative religions, and alcohol. It’s a heady combination, and it seems to work. I also co-host two other podcasts and am on the panel on another one. I still do some guest work on other podcasts, too. I’ve probably forgotten some. My voice is everywhere. I often get sick of it.
CoaR - What’s it like working with Duncan and Thomas in Shadow Work Publishing? Is this something you think will take over from writing for you?
X - Duncan and Tommy are both fantastic to work with. It’s interesting because they have such different writing styles. Tommy loves to weave historical aspects into his work and Duncan likes to write stories where people get their dicks ripped off. It’s a dichotomy, to be sure.
It’s a small business right now, and we’re all finding out what we’re best at, and how we can serve the company and our authors best. We bring everything to the table and discuss it, so it’s a democratic process. It’s tons of fun, and I’ve gotten to talk to a lot of fantastic people, but I’ll always be a writer first. That’s where my heart is. No, wait, that’s my chest. My interest is in my writing; my heart is in my torso.
CoaR - Who would be the authors you would give the credit of being your influences and who do you just not “get”?
X - Stephen King, yes. Kurt Vonnegut, yes. Hunter S Thompson, yes. Ramsey Campbell, Dennis Etchison, Richard Matheson: yes, yes, yes.
I don’t get Anne Rice. Her writing style reminds me of Morpheus in “The Matrix” telling Neo, “Stop trying to hit me and hit me!” Dean Koontz, I don’t get (although Ben Affleck was the bomb-diggity in “Phantoms”). Koontz, James Patterson, John Saul: all of their work has a cookie-cutter feel, like all they’re doing is filling in a template called “Best Seller.” They also sell a shit-ton of books, so maybe I need to re-examine my writing process.
CoaR - What’s the most difficult part of writing for you?
X - Resisting the urge to edit while I’m writing. Write drunk, edit sober. That’s the pirate’s way. And don’t stop to go back and fix shit. That’s like turning off the outdoor spigot when the streets are flooding.
CoaR - What would your ultimate wish be with your writing?
X - You mean, besides the Elders Keep television series I desperately want to make for Netflix? I just want people to read it, man. I’m not Emily Dickinson, scrawling sonnets on shreds of wallpaper so that my family can find it when I’m dead. Read my books. Recognize me in the grocery store. Interrupt me during a quiet dinner with my wife for autographs and a selfie. All of this is really strange, because I’m an introvert in real life, so some of that may be lies, lies, and more lies.
CoaR - What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
X - It’s rare that I’m not writing. I’m working on copy during the day, I’m writing horror at night. My fingers are unnaturally strong. But I’m always on Facebook. I love to watch horror movies and wrestling. Sometimes, Cootie and I get to sneak away to our favourite vacation spot for a weekend. That’s always fun. On Wednesdays, I try on a lot of her clothes. She’s smaller than I, so it never works out quite the way I want it to, but there is this one skirt (black, with a white floral print) that I look smashing in. Then I run up and down the porch wearing nothing but my wife’s skirt, listening to Red Lorry Yellow Lorry at dangerous levels of volume, shaking my fists at the traffic as it goes by. You want to talk about the weather? Talk about it with me. I fucking dare you.
CoaR - Short pieces or novels? What's your favourite to write?
X - Short pieces, definitely. I grew up during the eighties and I listened to a lot of hardcore punk music. Dead Kennedys, Hüsker Dü, Duran Duran, bands like that. The efficiency of punk really affected me. You make your point and you stop. Get in, get out, nobody gets hurt. It doesn’t matter if your song is thirty seconds long. When it’s finished, it’s finished, and you move on to the next one. In that respect, short stories are great. Make an effective story, lean and mean, and end it. It’s a horror tale, for crying out loud, not “Return of the King.”
Novels are hard and I hate writing them. But having finally written one, I can tell people I’m a novelist. That sounds a lot better than being a short storyist.
Well that is it for Part One of the interview. I hope you enjoyed.
As you can see, X is an extremely interesting and funny man with lots of opinions and not afraid to use them.
This makes for a perfect interview in my eyes!
Remember to come back tomorrow night for Part Two when X will be talking about his new book, Hunting Witches, and giving some rather interesting answers to The Ten Confessions.
Thanks again for visiting Confessions of a Reviewer!
Please call me X. Everyone does.
When I was a kid, fourth grade, to be exact, I wrote a horror story for a class assignment. It was so good, they called my mother in to the office for a conference on a day when school was closed for students. The fourth grade teachers and the school principal wanted to have me evaluated by a psychologist. The school staff couldn't figure out why I would want to write a story that was violent or had frightening images. Why wasn't it football, puppies and rainbows?
I wasn't that kind of kid. My mother knew that. And she promptly told those teachers, the principal (and that horrible school secretary, the one who looked like a Raggedy Ann doll, possessed by Pazuzu) and anyone else within earshot to go f**k themselves.
I still write scary stories. It's my job. It's what I do. It's what I've always done.