1. If Someone Narrated Your Life, Who Would You Want To Be The Narrator?
I’ve never thought about it. As odd as it sounds I would love to have John Leguizamo narrating my life. He’s the voice that I hear when I think about growing up in the Bronx and I would like a little Pest type flair on my life if you know what I’m saying.
2. What’s Your Favorite Book You’ve Ever Read?
The Outsiders, hands down. Reading it as a geeky little kid who felt like no one understood him or that people were always judging him, really connected me to the greasers and Ponyboy. The story kept me entertained and really made me think. It was the first story where I wanted to step into that world and it stuck with me...as a writer that is the level of writing I want to create, something that stays with you long after reading it.
3. What inspired you to write Planet Dead? and what is your motivation in crafting a strong, black woman character?
Planet Dead started out as a set of short stories that tied together. It was more of an experiment to see if I could write short stories being that I could never write long enough to finish any story I started. As far as a strong female lead, I always knew I was going to have that, because I was raised by strong women. My mother and my sisters are all strong, smart independent women. I have strong male figures in my life as well but I’m a Mama’s boy and as a child I saw just how much my mother did and went through to insure we had a good life.
Having a strong female lead was never a question in my mind, but to be entirely honest, Catherine didn’t start off as a woman of color. Growing up watching horror movies I was shown that the final girl was always a strong white woman. So, when I started writing my first horror story it was pre-set in my mind for my final girl to be white. It wasn’t until my wife, a strong black woman in her own right, asked me why Catherine wasn’t a woman of color. I had no answer for her, there was no legitimate answer for why my main character couldn’t be a person of color, nor should there have been. I saw some independent comic creators making comics full of people of color and I decided that I was gonna take the same route with my writing. I use the strong black women in my life and have them change the rules of modern horror.
4. How can the creative media or industry improve the representation of women and different ethnicity?
I feel like we’re in a renaissance era of talented minority creators. We have always been there but now with the success of things like “Get Out”, “Black Panther”, “The Hate U Give”, “Crazy Rich Asians” and “To All The Boys I Loved Before” the media and the entertainment industry is taking notice and they see that people are more than ready to see stories through the eyes of different ethnicities. I always feel like the battle for representation of minorities and the battle for representation of women are one fight. I don’t think you can ask for one without fighting for the other as well.
I relate a lot of things to movies and the entertainment industry and I think the main thing we can do to push more representation is to look to these creative women and people of color for their work. Give the Ava’s and the Jordan’s a chance to tell their stories the way they want to tell them. Don’t shy away from having a black woman carry your movie or book just because you think it won’t be Received well. If anything that’s more of a reason to push forward, because things like that will never change unless we bring about the changes ourselves.
5. You said that "Being different is the ultimate superpower." In your own ways, how can you change the mindset of privileged people in power who are not able to recognize that there is indeed strength in diversity?
Normally I don’t aim to change a mindset, if someone views diversity as being a politically correct agenda, I move forward because I’m not writing for them. I’m writing for the little black and brown girls who saw Danai Gurira as Michonne and decided that’s what they wanted to be for Halloween. I write for the people that know the world is diverse naturally and who don’t question why a character is gay or Korean.
I write for those that know being different is an amazing thing. For those that don’t know that or don’t believe it, then we’ll let the numbers do the talking.
Get Out: $176.04 Million Dollar Box-office
When They See Us: #1 Most Watched Netflix Show Since It’s Premiere
One Day At A Time: Certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with a 100%
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: #4 highest grossing movie of all time.
People support what they want to see and what they want to see is more diversity and different stories.
6. As an author among seas of writer conjuring millions of words at any given time, how do you ensure that your work does not drown and actually stands out?
That’s a hard question that I’m still looking for an answer to. At their core, every story is the same, what matters is the storyteller. I believe the way I go about telling a story is what sets it apart from other stories. My dialogue, my characters, my settings, these are all things that differ from other books in my genre. Aside from that, there’s me. No one is gonna fight for my book or my characters like me. If my book is drowning it’s because I’m not doing enough to push it above water. As the writer and storyteller its my job to make my work standout.
7. How do you put words on paper during the times that you can't find cadence in crafting sentences?
That’s the holy grail of writing questions isn’t it. I tough it out and I write. If my head isn’t in the right space to create then I’ll edit. Maybe I’ll write something different from my main project. If I can’t bring myself to write at all, I dive into the horror community and talk to people or look at movies and pictures that get me pumped to continue pushing my own tale.
8. Do You Think A Parallel Universe Exists?
Yes, I believe that there are multiple earths, just like The Flash. Well maybe believe is a strong word, I hope. I hope there’s a world where everyone is at peace or a world where horror is the norm on television or maybe a place where eating sweets everyday was good for your health and teeth, so I could have S’mores all day everyday.
9. How do you think people perceived you? Do you believe when people say that don't care what other's think or intrinsically, it's actually utterly painful when someone think of you negatively?
I’ve been reading a lot of books lately and one of them is called Unf*ck Yourself by Gary John Bishop and he gave me something to think about. He said our lives are ruled by our expectations. We expect something to be one way or someone to act one way but when it turns out to be different then we’re mad or upset. I bring that up because I would hope people perceive me as a hardworking, caring and good man but if someone doesn’t then that really shouldn’t have any bearing on how I conduct myself. That’s their thoughts, which shouldn’t control my emotions.
There are people who just don’t care what people think and that’s cool (I think that’s also a sign of a serial killer) but that isn’t me. Sometimes I get in my feelings about somethings but at the end of the day, I’m 32, married and I’m a father...I got way to much going on in my life to care what someone thinks about me. I’m just gonna keep doing good and loving God.
10. f You Could Dedicate Your Life To Solving One Problem, What Problem Would You Choose?
Depression or better yet depression that leads to suicide. I live with depression everyday and I’ve lived with suicidal thoughts for a long time. It’s an endless battle that some people disregard. Even people in your own family might not fully understand what it takes for you to get out of bed somedays. I’ve lost some good people to depression and suicide and if I could save one person from those monsters then I feel I did something good with my life.
Dealing With Zombies Is Easy. Dealing With Survivors? Now That’s A 🤬
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