It my pleasure to introduce all of you to Mr. Wayne. I have had the pleasure of getting to know him for the last ten months as part of our activities on Google+. Disturbing, intriguing, but possessing a great big heart, without further ado, my interview with the man and menace.
Jameson: Hello! Ready?
Wayne: Yup, do your worst
Jameson: Okay, let’s pretend I know absolutely nothing about you and you tell me a few things about yourself for my benefit.
Wayne: You mean like I am an orphan from the planet Krypton kind of things?
Jameson: Yep, be brave, you can do this.
Wayne: I was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which is a great place to be born in – in 1974, which is the greatest year ever. In fact, I am wearing a t-shirt this very moment that says 1974 in big exploding numbers.
Jameson: Were you born from a pile of nuclear sludge or do you in fact have real human parents?
Wayne: That information was just recently declassified by the NSA. I do in fact have human parents, who I am presently staying with post-divorce and pre-book release. Next year I’ll be heading west.
Jameson: Great! Just wanted to clear that up, because with as busy as you are – sometimes I wonder if you’re superhuman. So pre-book release, is this a current project or something that’s finished waiting in the wings?
Wayne: This is an active project, my first full novel, tentatively called Fantasmagoria. I keep saying tentatively but really I can’t see myself changing the title at this point. I am trying very hard to give straight answers. How am I doing?
Jameson: Just fine babe. Give us an off-the-cuff blurb on Fantasmagoria.
Wayne: Oh man, that’s tough. I’ve been calling it a “sci-fantasy noir” but even that omits the horror elements. It is my homage to old pulp novels, ALL pulp – sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and crime noir. It’s meant to be over-the-top but not tongue-in-cheek. It’s not campy. Or, at least, I don’t intend it to be. Your mileage may vary.
Jameson: That’s quite a mash-up, very cross-genre, do you feel like breaking those molds is beneficial to indie authors?
Wayne: I think it’s beneficial to any artist, regardless of the means they use to get their art out there. Besides, the only difference between indie authors and any others is that the others give 85% of their money from their books to someone else.
Jameson: Speaking about industry indie vs. traditional, and you currently labeled as indie, do you think you would ever pursue a hybrid writing career? Or is indie the only way for you?
Wayne: I have nothing against “traditional” publishing. In fact, I think too often the choice is presented as either/or with serious Cold War overtones. You’re either a Communist or you’re not, with the Communists being whatever side the speaker is not on. I don’t think people are silly for pursuing either option. I have a hard time seeing myself doing anything other than what I am though, but who knows? Certainly lots of ink and a little blood has been spilled unnecessarily on the indie vs. traditional debate. One could talk about it for hours.
Jameson: I think that’s a very fair assessment. Beside Fantasmagoria, do you any other projects available or in the works?
Wayne: I have one short occult mystery published, Agony in Violet, which like much of the rest of my stuff is kind of a mash-up. It’s also the first in a series following the main character, Etude Etranger, who I describe as a “heretic chef”. I was intrigued by the similarities between modernist cuisine and the alchemical/occult recipes of old, and sort of blurred them together in that character. I was reading a lot of old Dr. Strange comics when I wrote it, so some of that was an influence as well I suppose. The next in the series is called Fugue in Rouge and will be out early next year.
Jameson: I read Agony. It was pleasantly disturbing.
Wayne: Thank you. I was shooting for that. I hope with all of my stuff to elicit some dark or disturbing feelings, but also to leave the reader satisfied at the end.
Jameson: Definitely satisfying in a way that was delightful and made me want to take hot showers that burned my skin a little. HAHA! I mentioned that you’re a pretty busy guy, almost superhuman because of all the projects you have your dirty little fingers in. For instance, socially responsible publishing. Explain what that means.
Wayne: Well that idea goes back to my corporate life. I am frustrated at how we set up this society or community or whatever where giving back is something that is separate and distinct from normal life, which is full of money-making activities. If you want to give back to the community, you have to set aside separate time and go someplace separate to volunteer or whatever. What’s worse, the “giving back” activities are usually a giant downer. It’s like the organizers try to make you feel as guilty as possible for all the good things you have in life that others don’t. I can see no reason why things have to be that way. The idea was just that we should all be able to integrate socially responsible “giving back”-type activities into our daily lives – so there’s no avoidance and no procrastination – but that giving back could also be a positive experience, and not a giant depressive episode. Since I’m in publishing business, you get “socially responsible publishing.” I started an author collective/imprint called Dreadful Cafe which organizes fundraising activities and indie anthologies, and the after-cost proceeds all go to charity. It’s not a “charity book”. It’s just how we do business.
Jameson: That’s brilliant! Besides the anthologies, does Dreadful Cafe do anything else with their imprint?
Wayne: We’ve organized a couple events under the title Iron Writer, where authors get together on a scheduled day and see how many words they can write in that 24-hour period. The last time we asked folks to gather pledges from family and friends. We even got a donation from indie author superstar Hugh Howey, so that was cool.
Jameson: What organization gets your donations and why?
Wayne: So far we’ve been giving everything to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital for the simple reasons that they do good work and that a terminally ill child is a tragedy that transcends politics or religion. It’s something we should all support regardless of our personal beliefs, and we want to focus on those kinds of social issues that bring people together rather than polarize them.
Jameson: You can’t make the interviewer cry during the interview. Just sayin’. Can you tell us the motto…just because I love it so much.
Wayne: Ours is “Do good. Have fun.” For the aforementioned reasons.
Jameson: And you started all this through a Kickstarter?
Wayne: Crowdfunding, yes. It was actually on Indiegogo because Kickstarter does not allow charitable projects. They do however like big celebrity campaigns. But I digress.
Jameson: Was the process fairly easy through Indiegogo? I hear a lot of crowdfunding folks say it’s a lot of work.
Wayne: It is a lot of work. And we probably launched too early and did not have enough perks, so we did not make our goal. We did make enough to get started though. As an aside, publishing crowdfunding projects have the lowest success rate of any category, according to data provided by Kickstarter, even though publishing project organizers ask for, on average, the second-lowest amount of money of any category. I think a lot of indie authors ran to that platform in the last year or two, us included, with high expectations that it could defray costs. And it’s not that you can’t be successful. Obviously people are. You just need to be realistic. We are, however, planning another project for around the first quarter next year.
Jameson: Is this a sooper sekrit project? Or can you talk about it?
Wayne: It will be similar to the project we ran back in March, but with more time under our belt and a healthily growing mailing list, we’ll have a wider audience and more perks. But yes, details are still secret.
This is the longest I think I have ever given serious answers.
Jameson: I’m impressed. Well let’s switch gears a bit, and talk about Wayne: the man and the menace. Give you a chance to loosen up a bit eh? What started you on the path of “writer”?
Wayne: I have the same answer that I think a lot of folks have. I’ve always wanted to write. In high school I used to sit in class and fill notebooks with bad knock-offs of some of my favorite sci-fi novels. I actually found some of them recently in my parent’s attic. SHIT-TAY But hey I was sixteen. I never had the confidence in my abilities to take it seriously though. It was always a side project. One of the reasons I decided to go to medical school was expressly that it would afford me a good living and I would be able to write “later in life”. So in college I wrote comic scripts and sent them off to houses like Dark Horse and Vertigo, back before they all stopped taking unsolicited works.
Jameson: Were any of the comics accepted?
Wayne: I did not have anything published, but going back over them recently – I saved everything – there was a clear progression. I went from rejection slip to form rejection letter to custom-typed and signed rejection letter. At the end, I was actually corresponding with the then-editor of Dark Horse who basically said they would publish the script I sent if I had had any name recognition. He suggested I go work in the industry and build a body of work. I thought that was about the best rejection one could get at 22. And yet I still wasn’t confident enough to bet the farm.
Jameson: So where’d you go after that? What was your journey to now?
Wayne: I went to medical school, which was a very smart decision, but not the right one, and I quit after two years. That’s when classwork is suspended and you have to pass Step One of the US Medical Licensing Exam. I was studying for the exam, reviewing the last few years of my life, and I realized I didn’t love medicine. It was a very difficult decision to quit, especially since I had incurred not a small amount of debt, much of which I am still paying.
After that I got a job in business, analyzing sales data, doing market research. I was reasonably intelligent and I worked hard, so I kept getting promoted. Fourteen years later, I was a junior executive of sorts in a big market research firm in the Washington DC metro. I had gotten married. We were planning a family. But every other year or so, I would start a writing project that would end up going nowhere. In my head, it was always something I was going to get back to. I liked my job fine, but writing was the only thing I ever really WANTED to do. I think I was afraid that, if I tried and failed, then that would write that off forever, so I just never seriously tried, which is silly.
Jameson: Now, post-divorce, you’re making it a reality. It may not be the dream you thought, but are you happy with what you are doing with your writing now? Are you wearing pants?
Wayne: Ha. No, I am in boxers most days, maybe shorts if I am feeling particularly respectable. And I think I shave once every ten days or so. Although I did shave my balls this morning. It was starting to look like Mirkwood Forest down there.
Jameson: There goes your Merkin stock through the roof.
Wayne: I am happy with the writing I am doing now. One of the fringe benefits of starting later in life – not that I would recommend it, but since this is how it worked out – is that there was not a lot of fumbling around for my “voice”. I am still growing and developing of course, but that never stops. Or, if it does, you’re in trouble.
Jameson: Let me ask a really cliche question, from where doth thou inspiration flow? Basically, where the heck do you get your ideas? What have been your influences through the years? Name names.
Wayne: Well, those are two different questions. I can’t say I get any inspiration from my influences as I don’t read much fiction at all anymore. It feels polluting to me. I do read a lot of non-fiction though. In college I was a big fan of Gaiman’s “Sandman” series, much like everyone else. And I had to read Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House for a class in college and her writing style really struck me. I’ll never be that good, but she gives me something to shoot for.
As for where my ideas come from, they come from the dark, watery unconscious mind. I described to my ex-wife that it feels like a giant mill wheel in my head. When it gets turning, it has a lot of momentum. It’s churning those dark waters and bringing up all kinds of stuff. From what I’ve read, most professionals make themselves write every day. I do not, and I am happy with that.
Jameson: Well, we know Rick the writer, let’s discover Rick the man – what’s he up too? Any big plans?
Wayne: I am taking this year as a post-divorce rebuild, traveling a lot. I am spending all next week in a lookout on a mountain in Montana. At the end of October I am heading to the Far East for a month. Being in Kans-ass, which is the hind end of existence, I don’t really go out or have much of a social life, which is probably what fuels my frequent word vomit and tics of sanity.
Jameson: I think we both know sanity is a loose term in the broadest sense.
Wayne: Don’t get me started. Can I add one thing?
Jameson: Be my guest!
Wayne: Another fringe benefit of waiting so long to start writing is that I was able to experience much of what life has to offer. I have dissected a human body, for example. I’ve chipped chunks off the Berlin Wall. And so on. Those experiences don’t enter my writing directly, but by doing stuff, it allows you to develop a wide mental model of what the world is like, what people are like.
I get a little frustrated when writers give advice on how to be a writer that is some version of “just write.”
That’s true. It’s not WRONG. It’s just horribly incomplete, and it’s not where I would put the emphasis at all. Go out and do shit. Experience things. Get out of your own head. It’ll still be there when you get back.
Jameson: Believe me, I wish I had the ability to do the stuff you’ve done and places you’ve been. I’m just a poor Midwestern girl. However, I agree with you. I make the best of the experiences I do have, and I do the things I can afford to do without question. Like clowning or writing or interacting with authors etc. All business makes writers dull humanoids.
Wayne: I think that’s a great example. You don’t have to travel necessarily. You’re a clown. You’re a mom. You’re a Clown-Mom! You’re a wife. You’re a librarian. You’re a teacher. All of that counts. That kind of stuff is more important than the mechanics of putting one word in front of the other.
Jameson: Basically, don’t sit on your couch you bum!
Wayne: Exactly. Don’t be passive. Be an active participant in your own life.
Jameson: Social Media. Let’s discuss this aspect of your life and then I promise I’ll let you go.
You’re predominantly on Google+, you have a couple of communities you run, and a host of followers.
Wayne: You probably have more schedule limitations than I do. And I am almost exclusively on G+.
Jameson: I’m sitting alone in my PJ’s, right now, you’re my work. What do you feel are the benefits of social media, specifically G+ and maybe some of the pitfalls for authors?
Wayne: I think the biggest pitfall is expecting too much too soon. I see that repeated a lot, including in myself. We all want to get where we’re going in a hurry, but it just doesn’t happen. You need to structure and plan for the long term. I think the benefits of social media are pretty straightforward, and I have no new insights there. It allows you to really capitalize on the format of the internet and connect with people who might share interests and passions who are not in your local community. It allows for economies of scale, too, by transcending the limitations of place. I don’t think it’s a necessity per se, but it’s such a great tool, I’m not sure why anyone looking to connect with readers would omit it from their platform. That just seems like shooting yourself in the kneecaps.
Jameson: Your platform on G+ has a good mix of writing related material and your interests. Discuss why you think that’s important. Also, explain a little bit about why you do your Friday night scourge.
Wayne: I feel like I’m being too reasonable. I should have something controversial to say. And I should put it in ALL CAPS. MILEY CYRUS IS THE GREATEST DANCER IN THE WORLD!!! FUCK YOU HATERZ!! I think your social media presence should be a natural extension of you. I think readers can SMELL inauthenticity. We’re all so bombarded with marketing messages from a young age, people have become very weary and “content-skeptical”.
If you’re writing for the market, meaning you’re writing what you think will sell and not because it’s what you enjoy, then that will come across. The same is true of your media presence. You should just be you. And if you are, then it all integrates seamlessly and you don’t have to think about it. I write about shit-eating and cannibal fairies and drug-addicted dinosaurs because I find that stuff interesting. Because I’m tired of the same ol’ stuff all the time.
Jameson: So is that part of why you do your Friday censorship test? To buck the median media rage? The inauthenticity?
Wayne: Partly. Partly it’s just me causing trouble. Really I’m just a large boy, and I snicker inside whenever anyone uses a word that has a double meaning. The censorship test is me pulling pigtails and picking my nose in class. I like the G+ platform but Google is imperious in its enforcement of a bland, suburban fascism, a corporate NSFW censorship. It’s not outright evil. It’s insidious. So I put a little spittle in their eye every Friday night.
Jameson: I, for one, appreciate it. I get to push the limits of what I think I can handle. And if it bothers me, I just don’t look. It definitely isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and there is a large risk of alienating some folks. Does that bother you?
Wayne: No. I am kinda glad to see them go. The simple fact is, not everyone is a connection. We make social niceties at work or in church because we have to get along with people. I actually don’t go out of my way to specifically offend someone, but neither do I self-censor (except around kids). I like art with the volume turned up. I like the grotesque, the bizarre, the thoughtful, anything that can pierce through the everyday and cause a feel. Not everyone will like that.
And I think no less of them. We just have different interests. As long as they don’t attack me, I thank them and see them on their way. I’ve lost connections with folks I’ve considered friends because they didn’t like what I post. But those folks would all be gone sooner or later. And the only other option is to water down my stream.
See I just said that and immediately thought of urine.
Jameson: HAHAH! Me too. Well I think you’ve sat on your hands long enough. Anything you want to add?
Wayne: Yeah, I want you to say something about you because that’s a good way to end this. I hate when things are all about me.
Jameson: OKAY! Quick AMA…you ask me a question.
Wayne: You should tell everyone about the short you are working on.
Jameson: There are several. But I recently finished one for a submission to a particular indie publishing imprint that does some good and has some fun. It’s about a girl whose world is turned upside down after she gets struck by lightning. It leaves her paranoid, unsure of her identity, and unsure who she can and can’t trust. She believes one of her coworkers is planning on kidnapping her, so she kidnaps him first. Except her surety turns to doubt when she’s forced to reconcile that the two people she’s trusted all along, aren’t who she thought they were, and the one enemy she has is her greatest ally. It’s a dark urban sci-fi with electrocution and a lesbian love scene resulting in sudden death. It’s in beta-reads at the moment.
Wayne: And we’re all excited. Thanks for taking the time to give this interview. I appreciate it.
Jameson: Thanks for spending two solid hours in the land of the mostly sane.
You can find Rick Wayne on Google+, Twitter, or at rickwayne.com. His independent author imprint is Dreadful Cafe – and Rick is allowing me to reveal his new t-shirt design! Which will be for purchase on that site. The sale of merchandise, after production costs, goes to St. Jude’s Research Hospital.
After the interview…
Wayne: I think I did pretty good. I didn’t even use any profanity, did I?
Jameson: I think once…but it was in reference to Miley Cyrus so I’ll let that slide.
Wayne: I would so hit that.
Jameson: Yes, we know. lol
Wayne: Just making sure that was clear.
© 2013 C. S. Jameson