Dragon Soul Press sat down to interview Damascus Mincemeyer, an author in the History anthology.
1. Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I took to writing immediately in Kindergarten when I was five. As soon as I could read and write I was creating little stories and books. My Grandmother encouraged me, too, and always bought me markers, pens, paper, books, comics–anything to feed my buzzing brain. A lot of my childhood tales ranged the gamut from adventure to science fiction to what I now know is called ‘bizzaro’ (Some were very, very strange). An oft-told anecdote of mine is that the very first thing I ever created (also at age five) was a horror story about a man coming back from the dead. I wrote it at the babysitter’s house, and enlisted the babysitter’s daughter into providing illustrations for it. When the babysitter read it, however, she was so repulsed by what we’d made that she ripped up the story and threw it away! It was my auspicious debut and I’ve been freaking people out ever since.
2. How do you handle writer’s block?
Well, in addition to being a writer, I’m also a professional artist and whenever I get stuck on a story I switch to doing a visual art project. It whets my appetite for being constructive and creative, but allows my mind a break from the sometimes draining effects of the written word. For a looooong time my main goal in life was actually to be a comic book creator. I never quite succeeded, though I did manage to get published several times in Heavy Metal magazine. I started doing horror art in earnest for Deadman’s Tome publishing in 2018, initially for the covers to anthologies such as Bikers Vs The Undead, Psycho Holiday, Monsters Vs Nazis, Mr. Deadman Made Me Do It, Satan Is Your Friend, Monster Party, Wolfwinter and Hollywood Holocaust. I’ve also done the cover for Ryan Woods’ debut novel The Journal of Cinnamon Paige: Un-Death By Chocolate. And all that has helped me to keep the creative juices flowing when a literary barrier rises in my mind.
3. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve written two book thus far: the short fiction collection Where the Last Light Dies and my forthcoming horror novel By Invitation Only, but I’ve had roughly thirty stories published in various anthologies, magazines and websites in the past four years. But pick just one as my favorite??? Arrrrgggh!!! I can’t!
There are a few short stories I’ve done that I’m really proud of, though: ‘A Night At Satan’s Palace’ is about two old guys in their seventies who stop by a Las Vegas strip club where the strippers are demons in disguise and intent on opening a portal to Hell. I like its mix of comedy and horror, and it’s the story I’d share with someone unfamiliar with me to showcase my work. I’m also enormously pleased with two alternate-history tales I’ve written: ‘The Spirit of St. George’, about U.S. ace Eddie Rickenbacker leading a biplane squadron against awakened dragons in an alternate 1922, and ‘Ad Majorem Satanae Gloriam’ from the Hell’s Empire anthology, which focuses on a demonic invasion upon Victorian Britain.
The problem is that all my work has something special in it to me. They’re all my babies in a way, and I think any writer can relate to being unable to choose just one.
4. Where do you get your inspiration?
Several years ago I subscribed to an email newsletter from Tampa, Florida, called ‘Salsa Ray’s Ideas 4U’. Every week they send ready-made concepts to my in-box, and while half are junk, some are surprisingly effective. No, I’m messing with you. I literally get my inspiration from everywhere. The strangest things will give me ideas–sometimes its a news story, an anecdote, something that happened in my life. Sometimes its an odd observation I’ve had or just something I wish I could see in a movie or read in a book but can’t find. A surprising amount of my inspiration comes when I’m doing something completely unrelated to writing, like when I’m washing the dishes or mowing the lawn. A lot of my ideas also derive from my sick sense of humor.
5. What do you hope your readers take away from your work?
Any storytelling journey is a silent covenant between the writer and reader; each brings their own experiences and viewpoints to the tale, and I as a writer can only control my end of the bargain. I don’t really have any preconceived notion of what a reader will take from my work because I’m not able to fill in their own individual reference points. I just try to write what I find amusing and entertaining to me, and the fact that it appeals to others at all is a very blessed coincidence in my eyes.
6. Who is your favorite author and why?
James Joyce…oh, crap, I don’t have to lie to pass English Lit 101 anymore. Never mind.
The real hands- down answer to me is H.P. Lovecraft. The man himself was just as strange and fascinating as the fiction he produced, and I always conjure the vision of someone desperate to describe the worlds he’s visualizing in his head. Until I discovered him at age sixteen I had only been exposed to Western Folklore-Judeo-Christian concepts of horror–vampires, werewolves, slashers, demons, angels, etc.–and the idea of Cosmic Horror was a notion that upturned every notion of what I thought fiction was or could be capable of doing. My own writing style doesn’t reflect his influence, but his voice lurks in my mind while I create, particularly in his concept that an upheaval of chaos and disorder is just waiting to tear the veneer of safe civilization apart.
Clive Barker is a very, very close second. His Books of Blood is a collection of such raw, visceral intensity that I don’t think any work of short horror fiction has ever surpassed it, by any author, even by Barker himself. The extent that those tales impacted my seventeen-year-old mind cannot be understated. I’ll round out my list with Neil Gaiman, Harry Turtledove and Colin Wilson.
7. What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Draw. Cook. Chitter-chat with my online peeps. And I LOVE music–punk and post-punk, metal (black/death/thrash/metalcore), gothic rock, electronic music, ‘80’s New Wave…the list just goes on and on. I usually create a ‘soundtrack’ of songs for a specific story I’m working on to listen to when I’m not writing. I helps set the mental mood, so to speak, for when I sit down for the real work.
8. If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Odd. Creative. Misfit.
9. If you could only have one season, what would it be?
My bliss would be a world of perpetual autumn. Chilly, crisp, clear-sky days, bright colors on the leaves, that smell in the air. If there is a Heaven, I would want it to be autumn.
10. Where can readers learn more about you?