The 5 Minute Interview: With Grant Jerkins

He’s an overweight, mostly bald, late-middle-age white guy in skinny jeans. Phil Collins meets Phil Collins. Like that. But like a really old Phil Collins. A sad spectacle.

We meet at the Viper Room off the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. Almost two hours late, Jerkins offers no word of apology, no acknowledgement that he is tardy to the party.

A Pixies T-shirt bulges at the belly as he tosses a pack of Camel Wide Blue onto the tabletop and wedges himself into the booth opposite me. One can’t help but wonder if the convenience store was sold out of American Spirits.

I glance at the publicist hovering just out of plain sight, but well within earshot.

INTERVIEWER: Let’s make this real. No handlers. No interference. Just me and you. Five minutes of honesty. Being straight with each other. You down with that?

Jerkins sighs and motions away the publicist.

INT: Don’t you think it’s a bit trite to interview yourself? It’s kinda been done to death.

GRANT JERKINS: Says you. What’s old is new. Here’s the secret to writing: There are no new stories. It’s up to the writer to tell old stories in a fresh way.

INT: That’s the secret to writing? Clichés are okay?

GJ: Yep.

INT: That’s great. Sagely advice. Faulkneresque.

GJ: ‘Stories from the past don’t die. They haven’t even been told yet.’

INT: Not how that goes.

GJ: ‘Haven’t even been told yet.’ Think about that.

INT: Okay, let’s tie that into your new release, Abnormal Man. It’s about a kidnapping gone wrong. Has that one been told yet? A kidnapping? Gone wrong?

GJ: Not the way I tell it. Have you read the book?

INT: I want to stay with this train of thought before we get into those kinds of specifics. I did a little research on this, about how many books and movies have used the kidnapping-gone-wrong trope. Sticking to things released just within the last twenty years. Care to guess how many there’ve been?

GJ: I have no idea.

INT: Guess.

GJ: I’m not interested.

INT: A shitload. A shitload of books and movies have used that plotline.

(Silence.)

INT: You can’t smoke in here.

GJ: It’s the Viper Room. They allow smoking. Johnny Depp smokes in here all the time.

INT: Okay, but you’re not Johnny Depp. You’re like, a sad old man trying to cling to his youth. And you’re way too old to be wearing skinny jeans. Let it go.

GJ: Have you actually read the book?

INT: Let’s shift gears. What’s up with that cover art? What’s that about? It’s a pink tree in like a deserted Wal-Mart parking lot or something.

GJ: Did you notice the crack in the asphalt leading to the tree?

INT: A bit obvious. But yeah, man. I get it. I get the symbolism. Asphalt cracked in the past hasn’t even cracked yet. I so totally get it.

GJ: Look, the point isn’t that it’s about a kidnapping or that there’s crack in a parking lot. The point is that sometimes we make bad decisions. Sometimes we do things we regret. And hurting another human being can be the biggest regret of all. And maybe we try to fool ourselves, try to believe that our actions were preordained. That what we thought were choices were never choices at all. It was never under our control.

INT: Fate? Seriously? You really are bringing out the chestnuts.

GJ: You have a young man. The protagonist in the book. He’s introverted. Isolated and lost. No friends. Nothing. An island in a sea of humanity. Except he likes fire. He’s sexually stimulated by fire. It’s his only friend, his only escape. Was that a choice for him?

INT: It’s easy to shock. Oooh, he gets off on fire. How disturbing.

abman_1800x2700GJ: Not the point. And you’re right, it is easy to shock. But sometimes when we get to glimpse into someone’s unguarded core, it’s shocking. Hell, the banality of it can be shocking. But what makes it worth exploring is the question of how did that person get that way. How did any of us get to be who we are, doing the things we do? Was what got you here today in front me in this booth the culmination of a series of choices, or were you destined to be a hipster douchebag from the moment you were born? Were you always someone unable write anything of any substance on their own and therefore must associate himself with serious writers hoping the glam rubs off?

INT: A serious writer? That’s how you see yourself?

GJ: What about a child molester? Or a rapist? It’s uncomfortable to talk about, to think about. But are those choices? Is that someone’s fate? Or even a result of chaos? Did carbon atoms swirling about the galaxy bring them to that point? Isn’t it worth putting some thought into how the most despicable amongst us got to be who they are? Or, putting all that aside, what about their humanity? They are human, right? We are all human, so as uncomfortable as it is, we need to acknowledge that our humanity binds us. That we overlap and have commonalities in that regard. What if we concentrate on that overlap, our humanity as a Venn diagram, and then consider the problem from there?

INT: You are not a serious writer. You think you’re like Bret Easton Ellis or something?

GJ: I cannot stand that prick.

INT: Guess what? Our humanity just overlapped. I can’t stand that fucker either. Are you down with the new crime movement? That whole thing? The whole Southern Gothic Burn Barrel Rural Noir thing? Someone like Brian Panowich? What’s you’re take on him?

GJ: Tattoo-riddled charlatan.

INT: We really are seeing eye-to-eye. So Venn it’s Zen.

GJ: Nah, see, I actually like Panowich. I was testing you. I dig his writing. He’s righteous.

INT: He’s a serious writer. I’ll give him that much. But you, you are not a serious writer.

GJ: I try. I honestly try. I aspire.

INT: Dude, you’re a fucking hack. You’re not even a hack. You’re like… Like a nothing. You’re like dark matter. You might exist, but probably you don’t. You don’t exist.

GJ: You’re right. I don’t exist. I’m not even past yet.

NSFW by Grant Jerkins

Why won’t you love me?

I love you. I am right here. I am doing everything I can to get you to notice me. I friended you online. I read your blog. I took pictures of you when you weren’t looking. Those pictures mean the world to me.

Why won’t you love me? I sent flowers to you at work. I know you got them. I’m right here in the next cube. I heard you talking to your friends. I know you were excited. I know you were dying to know who sent you those flowers. I know you kept them on your desk long after they started to fade. I saw you putting aspirin in the water to make them last longer. I know they meant something to you. So why won’t you love me?

Why won’t you love me?

I love you. I am right here. I am doing everything I can to get you to notice me. I friended you online. I read your blog. I took pictures of you when you weren’t looking. Those pictures mean the world to me.

Why won’t you love me? I sent flowers to you at work. I know you got them. I’m right here in the next cube. I heard you talking to your friends. I know you were excited. I know you were dying to know who sent you those flowers. I know you kept them on your desk long after they started to fade. I saw you putting aspirin in the water to make them last longer. I know they meant something to you. So why won’t you love me?

What would it take for you to tear down that wall around your heart and let me in?

I hacked into your email to find out more about you. When you love me, I will teach how to create a stronger password. When you love me, I will tell you that Roberta from HR is not as good of a friend as you think she is. I know, because I hacked into her email, too. She says mean things behind your back.

Why won’t you love yourself? You don’t need those weight-loss pills you ordered. Your body is perfect the way it is. And I like the stiletto heels you bought, but I wonder who you want to wear them for? They’re not really work appropriate.

When you love me, I will make sure you get caught up on your car note. And I will help you pay off that MasterCard. It must be hard, paying your own bills and helping your mother stay ahead of hers, too. You are a good daughter. Just one more thing I admire about you.

Why won’t you love me? I love you so much that when you got up to go to the bathroom, I walked by your cube and dropped my pen—so that I had to lean down into your cubicle to pick it up—and I smelled your chair. Where you sit. I know that sounds not-good, but I just needed to smell you. I needed molecules of you inside me.

I know you are a kind person. I know you visited Roberta in the hospital when she got herself hurt. You took up a collection for her and bought a card for everybody to sign. You forgot to ask me to sign it, but that’s okay, because I don’t like Roberta. She will tell you the same thing if she is ever able to move or speak again.

Why won’t you love me? When everybody was in diversity training, I snuck into your cube and took the key ring out of your purse. It only took me twenty minutes to get copies made.

And when I called-in sick the next day, I really went to your apartment. I checked it for security. To make sure you are safe. That is how much I love you. I lay in your bed and pretended that you were there next to me. And later, in the bathroom medicine cabinet, I saw the iron pills prescribed for heavy menstrual bleeding. The SSRIs for the depression you hide so well.

I had a bowel movement in your commode. And I did something to your toothbrush so that you will have molecules of me inside of you, too.

Why won’t you love me? It hurts. All of this hurts me so much. We are so very close. Do you hurt?

It’s the new HR Director’s birthday today, and I wonder if you’ll think to ask me if I want a piece of the cake? I am right here. Right here next to you. All you have to do is turn around.

Why won’t you love me?

These people don’t know you. I know you. How complex your life is. Your financial difficulties. The menorrhagia that leaves you anemic. Your body dysmorphic disorder. The burden of caring for an elderly parent.

I bet if anything ever happened to your mother, it would devastate you. And free you. It would break down that wall you’ve built up. You would need someone to be there for you.

What will I have to do, to make you love me?

Blight Digest (Winter 2015) Releases

We are pleased to release our second edition of Blight Digest featuring thirteen tales to tantalize and terrorize the senses.

BD-Winter2015-Iss2-v2-fullcover

Table of Contents Features:

  • Farewell, Again by Matt Andrew
  • Burrow by Paul J. Garth
  • The Hunger, The Thirst by W.P. Johnson
  • How Little Sleeps by Angel Luis Colón
  • On Dark Wings by Tony Wilson
  • The Door by Joe Powers
  • Regular, Normal People by Grant Jerkins
  • The Hungry Ones by John Leahy
  • Parts by Jacqueline Seewald
  • Running on Dead Leaves by John Steele
  • Dreaming of Honey by J.M. Perkins
  • Cats for Ginger by Mathew Allan Garcia
  • Serving Justine by Eddie McNamara
  • and a farewell foreword by Bracken MacLeod

Blight Digest is a three season magazine featuring 10 or more stories every 4 months that will feed just about any horror lovers tastes with a twist. The magazine welcomes new and established writers, and readers of all walks of life. The first two editions were edited and crafted by Bracken MacLeod, Jan Kozlowski, Ron Earl Phillips, and Frank Larnerd. Cover art by done by Dyer Wilk.

Be sure to pick up your copy today. And if you haven’t read issue 1, Blight Digest Fall 2014, it’s only 99 cents on the Kindle.

BD-Winter2015-Iss2-v2 Blight-Digest-Cover

Fear is Spreading

 

 

Blight Digest Winter 2015 Reveal

BD-Winter2015-Iss2-v2BLIGHT DIGEST Winter 2015 is expected to release the last week of February, and includes 13 all new tales to tingle and terrorize.

Our Table of Contents:

  • Grant Jerkins
  • Mathew Andrew
  • Eddie McNamara
  • Angel Luis Colón
  • Paul Garth
  • Mathew Allan Garcia
  • Jacqueline Seewald
  • Tony Wilson
  • John Steele
  • J M Perkins
  • William P Johnson
  • John Leahy
  • Joe Powers

Our editors are Bracken MacLeod, Jan Kozlowski, Frank Larnerd and Ron Earl Phillips. Jan who was an invaluable asset for the Fall 2014 edition lent a notable hand in the selection process. Frank Larnerd steps in for final production and will assist on the summer and fall editions. Bracken MacLeod will provide the foreword.

Our cover, “Praying with the Serpent,” is a masterful digital painting by Dyer Wilk. Wilk provided the art for our inaugural Fall 2014 release.

At this time, stories for the Summer 2015 edition are still under review.