I recently interviewed writer (and self-professed lunatic) W.D. Frank. Here is what he had to say:
Some have described your work as dark and frightening. How would you yourself describe it?
That is an excellent question to start off with. It is also a difficult one to answer.
I agree that my work can be dark…and maybe some of it is scary. I know that I write a lot of characters that my readers know would toss them aside like empty banana peels without hesitation. It is probably wise to be frightened by them. Although, fear has never been a consistently present partner of mine. Maybe it is simply whispering to me instead of shouting most of the time, but sometimes I am not sure exactly which emotion is speaking. Is that odd? I suppose it is.
There are a lot of little cogs that I can no longer recognize spinning in my head. Fear is one of them. Now, I can still weep like a baby, giggle like a schoolgirl, and tremble with the devil’s useless rage, but fear…nuh-uh. That cog just doesn’t spin quite right. What does this have to do with your question? Absolutely everything. What my work is to me is all of the crippling emotions I still experience and all of my borderline psychotic ideas transmogrified into a journey I can sit back and admire. Even that reclusive sense of terror of mine surfaces to play a role in the chaos. Sides of me that I have forgotten can bleed into the writing because I cease to exist in front of the keyboard. A single book that I write contains entire human beings and complex life journeys that I somehow managed to create all on my own even though I am not even a complete person myself. I cease to feel broken when I look at the results of my writing.
I don’t mean to sound like an arrogant twat. The truth is that I am indeed incredibly self-absorbed and I could be diagnosed as narcissistic, yet I haven’t accomplished a lot of tasks that I can permit myself to be proud of. I am not an overly well-adjusted or popular human being. In fact, I am arguably a lunatic and I find myself feeling like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle that doesn’t fit with the rest of the pieces in this world no matter how many people I manage to surround myself with.
However, for whatever reason, playing God is a talent I do possess. Yes, I know that all of my stories are just make believe, but somehow my characters and their struggles are the only things that feel consistently real to me.
In my eyes, I suppose my work is a friend in an unbearably dark place. I know that might seem odd to you since you are likely just seeing another bleak universe like our own with a monstrous sense of humor when you read the books that I write. However, that isn’t exactly how I see them. I find every single aspect of the worlds that I create beautiful and rewarding. To me, even the tragedies that I write are worthwhile accomplishments that have been made possible by the seemingly pointless miseries and setbacks that I have endured throughout the course of my own life.
Does that explanation make any sense to you? I am sorry. I did warn you that I am a lunatic.
You have an incredibly strong personality. Do you find that it gets in the way of your characters, or are you able to let them lead?
As I said before, I disappear when I write. This is going to make it sound like I have an identity disorder, however, my mind and all of its unique qualities slip away to make room for the protagonist I need to become. I don’t feel my feelings, I don’t think my thoughts, and I don’t really even remember that I ever existed until I completely stop typing. It’s like I am in another person’s head and I am experiencing everything that he or she is, but at the same time, I am not really there or anywhere at all. I guess I am just nothingness floating around in a void at that moment.
It’s actually rather disorienting sometimes. I can wake up from that world and all of those foreign emotions I felt during my time there might still be lingering. Sometimes I confuse myself with my characters for a brief moment even if they are nothing like me whatsoever. Shit. That does sound like an identity disorder, doesn’t it? Anyway, my point is that I seem incapable of hindering my characters in the way that you describe.
Why do you write the things you do?
Because I find the subjects I tackle compelling and oddly beautiful. Perhaps part of me also wants to see the twisted protagonists that I create be understood and maybe even loved since I have never had the privilege of feeling like my true self has been completely acknowledged. Although, my primary reason for writing what I write is because these are the sort of stories I love to read. Yes, I know that this is a pretty boring answer.
Is your family supportive of your writing?
My mother is very supportive even if my siblings are doing their damnedest not to acknowledge my…”unrealistic ambitions.”
You started writing pretty young, didn’t you?
I first tried my hand at writing when I was eighteen. I am twenty three now. Oh, how the years fly by!
Do you have advice for other young writers just starting out?
My advice is to never let yourself believe that you are less than your idols. The first story that you write is going to be terrible. The story might be perfect, the characters might be brilliant, and the jokes might be absolutely hilarious, but your writing style will not have had a chance to evolve properly yet.
I wrote around four novellas and several novels before I felt like my writing style was on the level that it needed to be. It is just something that you have to keep doing. You aren’t going to be conscious of the fact that you are getting better because there is no real trick to learn about writing. It is a compulsive task that inexplicably possesses you when you sit in front of a keyboard and the words just pour out like they have a mind of their own.
Because of this it isn’t something that you spend much time thinking about while you are doing it. It is an automatic process for the most part. (In my experience, anyway.) Although, you will eventually start spending an ungodly amount of time obsessing over your word choices once your chapter is finished and you begin staring at it trying to figure out what you did wrong. Don’t worry about that struggle until you feel that you are reaching the level of the authors that you idolize. Don’t try to edit until you know that you have something worth publishing. Just always remember that you can get to that point if you have a good story to tell.
There is nothing separating you from those you revere except for experience. Please do not ever let anyone make you feel like you aren’t worthy of telling the stories that haunt your mind.
Is there any author who inspires you?
Stephen King was my introduction to how compelling even a rather simplistic story could be with the right combination of words. I do not believe that any of the content in my stories was inspired by anything that he wrote, however, his work encouraged me to attempt creating a story in written form in the first place. That being said, Robert E. Howard is probably my favorite author of all time.
You’ve drawn some fire for being too outspoken. What do you have to say about that?
I imagine that the people who criticize me for simply stating the truth as I see it would find this world a lot easier to bear if they could grow the balls necessary to not take offense at the slightest hint of controversy. Their difficulty enduring mere opinions is their own problem.
Being honest might get me in a bit of trouble, however, I prefer it to turning myself into a living lie just to appease people that I don’t give a damn about anyway. I am going to be myself. If you don’t like it, go hang out with some politicians instead.
Your sense of humor is more than a little twisted. Are you frustrated when people don’t “get” it? Are you frustrated when people don’t “get” you?
Absolutely. I hate it that so many people take everything I say so seriously. I realize that my sense of humor is not for everyone, but for God’s sake, if I am talking about cheerleaders being beaten to death by genetically engineered wallabies that are all inexplicably voiced by Nicholas Cage, then I expect everyone to have the brains to understand that there is no possible way that anyone could be serious when discussing such an insane event! Please! At least know when I am joking even if you don’t find my twisted sense of humor tolerable!
You’re working on several projects at once. Do you have difficulty keeping track of them all?
Not at all! My memory is oddly reliable when it comes to my writing.
Which of your projects is your favorite, or are they all equal?
At the moment, my favorite project is Adel’s Crossing. It is a relentlessly surreal and frenetic black comedy about a chemically imbalanced teenage drug addict who finds himself struggling against his increasingly sadistic desires as he is forced into a life of crime by an eccentric kingpin….and a mysterious entity known simply as “Edgar.”
I find it especially fun to write because the tone is so hopeless and unbalanced in a way that might make you feel like you are also losing your minds, yet the humor never evaporates. It is a very serious and complex story that is told in a way that can always make you laugh even when you are crying.
I believe the intensity of the narrative is strengthened by the absurdity and the comedy rather than these elements simply being used as a distraction to keep the readers from reaching a level of sorrow that is too intense for them to bear. This makes the atmosphere of Adel’s Crossing very different from the one in the novel that I am closest to releasing (Lucifer’s Ladder) as the humor in that book usually took a backseat to the drama.
Is there any one piece that you think most defines you as a writer?
I honestly do not know the answer to this question. I don’t know if this scene defines my style as a writer more effectively than any others could, however, I believe it should be able to show our audience what I am about…
(Excerpt from Adel’s Crossing)
I fear that I am beginning to lose my grip on sanity. I reluctantly sneak a glimpse of the lobby from my shadowy hiding place. The gunmen have all gathered by the concessions counter and are listening intently as a sharply dressed child in a crimson gas-mask slowly chants a curse in German. More vulgar silver tentacles rise from the ground behind the soldiers and shoot past the main entryway, leaving an astronomical explosion to ring through our ears. Alicia begins sobbing hysterically as a group of equally panicked moviegoers rush past the poster for Transcendence. I am all too aware of the fact that I am about to watch them die, but all I can do is pull my sleazy date closer and muffle her obnoxious mewling with a trembling hand. “It will all be okay, Alicia. We will survive this. I will break us out of this hellhole if it is the last thing I do. You just got to control yourself, alright? Nobody is going to whack an innocent prostitute on my watch.”
My fabricated confidence seems to calm Alicia down a little. However, this impressive accomplishment is short lived. A malefic prepubescent howl resonates across the building only to be drowned out in a storm of gunfire. I hopelessly cling to every shred of serenity that I have left as I watch twelve mangled corpses hit the ground. Jesus Christ on a motherfucking Popsicle stick! Why can’t I go on a single date without bringing my entire life to ruin? We both creep back into the auditorium with racing hearts. The group I left at the barricaded door is still hopelessly transfixed on it. I am starting to sense that they aren’t even really there anymore. Something grim and voiceless owns their souls now. I guide Alicia to the back of the room and gaze up at the radiant light of the projector. If only I could get up there somehow… My thoughts are suddenly interrupted by Ron Burgundy demanding that his son drink cat piss. Somehow even amidst all of the chaos and death, I still find this funny. I stifle a giggle and fight the guilt that has begun to overwhelm me. How can I be laughing right now? I pull Alicia towards me again and force my tongue into her mouth. She hardly objects. If we are going to die, we won’t be dying like the rest of these miserable victims. When our mouths part, she is smiling again. It is an intensely fragile expression, but it is a sign of joy no less.
“I knew you adored me.” Alicia bursts into tears as this cocky statement leaves her. Then she begins to anxiously toy with the gaudy pink scarf on her neck.
Honestly, I don’t like her at all. I just cannot let her die feeling helpless and unloved. Nobody deserves that. I wipe the tears from her cheeks and stare into her soulless grey eyes once more. Where did she get monstrous eyes like that? “Do you wear contacts?” The ridiculous question involuntarily bubbles forth from the depths of my mind. Damn! Why the hell am I asking about her natural eye color right now!? Alicia seems just as shocked by my inquiry as I am. There is a long pause and then my curiosity is satiated.
“No. I was born with this color. My mother said it was a genetic mutation or some shit. Although, I have never seen another person with stone grey eyes. It kind of creeps me out, to be honest. I wish I could just have colorful, normal eyes like the other girls in the crossing. I guess it doesn’t hurt business somehow, but it scares me.”
I tell her that she is unbelievably beautiful and that she will only be more gorgeous to me once we escape. This triggers another horrendous sob-fest. Goddamn it! I can’t stand this anymore! I resist the urge to slap her and instead order her to stay put while I search for an escape route within the auditorium. She hides behind the closest chair and begs me not to die. How am I so calm? There is no way I can keep my promise to her. I am going to die. Everyone here is going to die.
Ring ding ding! The sound of a thousand ringing bells suddenly overwhelm my ears. What the fuck is that? I search for an answer, but I see none. Ugh…why would anyone ring a fucking bell right now!? Idiotic fucks! I nearly trip on my own toes as this internal storm of curse words rumbles through my mind. I am starting to feel unbearably weak all of a sudden. I crumble to the ground like ashes and watch as a gaseous green cloud swirls in front of me. My eyelids come together for a moment and I fight the call of unconsciousness with all of my might. I can’t let it end here! There is something for me here! I know there is! God hasn’t given me my due yet! My eyelids burst open and I cackle maniacally as a shotgun barrel comes into view.
Anyway, I hope that was the right example to choose! I will probably think of a better one the moment that this interview is over.
Do you have a blog?
Yes! It is called the Lair Of The Impossibly Sexy Demon God and you can find it on Weebly. I don’t use it much, but when I do, I typically just post a bunch of absurd rambling skits and goofy interviews with other authors. It is really nothing special.
Oh, screw it! If anybody really wants to look at the damn blog, here is the link:
Any works available for purchase yet?
Nope! However, I have almost finished the editing on Lucifer’s Ladder and after I am done with that, I plan to submit the manuscript to an insane amount of literary agents who will hopefully snag me an interested publisher. Cross your fingers for me, invisible audience!
Oh, but if you are really interested in grabbing a free sneak peek of Lucifer’s Ladder, the first three chapters are available on Wattpad. Here is the link and the plot description:
Hugh Aaron wakes up in a post-apocalyptic Earth to learn that he has been chosen as a candidate for godhood by a mysterious entity known simply as “The Elder.” Soon Hugh finds himself alone in an unrelenting wasteland with the vicious servants of the messianic tyrant Yahweh hounding his every step. However, Hugh is not a feckless damsel nor a valiant hero for that matter. He is Lucifer’s ladder, the dark messiah who will liberate demonkind from its shackles and overtake the misguided god who put them there. With the aid of his ancient spell book, Hugh will fight for the genocide of the angelic hierarchy, the resurrection of the human race, and the true paradise that could ironically bind them all to a fate worse than death.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I don’t think so…. Oh, I got something! Never feed your Mogwai after midnight!
I made the mistake of doing that once…and it was a real pain to clean up. Anyway, I suppose that is all I have to say for now! Fare thee well, you interview adoring ninja cyborgs! I am heading off to rewatch Gremlins for the 378th time in my life.
Well, that wraps up this interview! Thank you W.D., for allowing me to chat with you and for providing the readers with an excerpt from your work as well! Please, everyone, check out W.D. at his blog: Lawless Wonderland