Only the very best books get under your skin. These are the books that make you cry or give you nightmares. It's a very rare story that will do both. Brian Kirk's We Are Monsters is that rare book. You can find Horror Maiden's review HERE. I was lucky enough to get to interview Brian Kirk as part of the We Are Monsters blog tour. To find out more follow the tour over at Oh, for the Hook of a Book. Now on with the interview,,,
About Brian Kirk
Brian Kirk lives in Atlanta with his beautiful wife and rambunctious identical twin boys.
He works as a freelance writer in addition to writing fiction, and is currently working on the second book in a planned trilogy.
We Are Monsters is his debut release. Feel free to connect with him online. Don’t worry, he only kills his characters.
See more about Brian at: http://briankirkblog.com/
Follow Brian on Facebook and Twitter. He’s found on Twitter at @Brian_Kirk and looks forward to connecting with you.
1. Tell me a little about yourself.
Well, aside from writing fiction, I’m a father of five-year-old identical twin boys: the rarest form of human offspring (a very technical term for kids). Only fraternal twins are hereditary; identical twins are a random anomaly. So it came as quite a surprise. In fact, the first thing I did when I found out was Google search the phrase, “The best thing about having twins.” I needed a pep talk.
Actually, it turns out I didn’t. We were blessed with wonderful boys. Raising them has been a special privilege.
2. Can you tell us a little about We Are Monsters and what influenced you to write it? (Dr. Drexler was scarier than the ghosts & demons for me!)
We Are Monsters is a story about a brilliant, yet troubled psychiatrist named Alex Drexler (the man you mentioned above) who is working to create a cure for schizophrenia. At first, the drug he creates shows great promise in alleviating his patient’s symptoms. It appears to return schizophrenics to their former selves. But (as one may expect) something goes wrong. Unforeseen side effects begin to emerge, forcing prior traumas to the surface, setting inner demons free. His medicine may help heal the schizophrenic mind, but it also expands it, and the monsters it releases could be more dangerous than the disease.
As far as what inspired it, I’ve always been fascinated by mental illness. The idea that our own brains can turn against us is terrifying. It’s the ultimate enemy; it knows our deepest secrets and it’s something we can’t escape.
I also have a great deal of sympathy for people who suffer mental heath disorders. I’ve dealt with OCD all of my life, which produces physical tics, chronic anxiety, negative thought loops, and periods of depression. No fun, I’ll tell you. And I feel that mental disease is misunderstood by our society at large. In fact, many people who are mentally ill are often labeled as evil or deranged, which I feel is unfair, and precludes us from exploring proper treatment options.
I suppose I found the subject both fascinating and deeply personal, and I wanted to explore it further, so I wrote about it.
3. What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Hobbies?
While I may have OCD, I’m extremely ADD when it comes to interests; I’m always exploring new things, feeding frenetic curiosities. I’m like a cat with a laser; my attention goes wherever you point the light. My constants, however, tend to be reading and fostering habits that promote personal and familial wellbeing. Things like exercise, meditation, cooking, trying to be a good father, husband and friend. And more reading. Mostly reading.
4. How long have you been writing?
Reading and writing have been the two things I’ve enjoyed above all else for as long as I can remember. In fact, I’d say that learning how to read is one of my favorite memories. I’ll never forget begging my teacher to let me take my lesson book home to show my parents what I had learned. What I had unlocked. Because that’s how it felt, as though I had broken some kind of seal. One that allowed me access to all the stories in the world.
And I realized I had somewhat of a talent for telling stories early on, as students started looking forward to hearing my stories read aloud in class. My English teachers all encouraged my writing, and I won a poetry contest in 5th grade from a homework assignment that my teacher submitted on my behalf.
I took a brief detour after college when I set out to start my “big career” in advertising. But the urge to tell stories never left, and I soon returned to writing in the evenings and weekends, or whenever the bosses weren’t around. At some point I started submitting my work for publication and, after accruing a massive stack of rejections, finally sold one. Then another. After a while I decided to quit my full time job at the ad agency to work freelance and write a book. That’s how We Are Monsters came about.
5. Who or what inspired you to be a writer?
This may sound cheesy, but I’d say the stories inspired me. It’s a calling for sure, one that is difficult, if not impossible to ignore. I always had a hard time paying attention at school because I would slip into these immersive daydreams that would eradicate the world around me while I watched various dramas unfold. For some reason these dramas typically involved me being a Pelé level soccer player with Bruce Lee fighting abilities rescuing cute girls that valued these very traits.
These daydreams were problematic in nearly every aspect of my life except writing. My stories come from this dream state, so my ability to slip into this state, even inadvertently, aided my writing and helped me to earn recognition from my teachers and classmates. I craved that positive reinforcement, craved the feeling of doing something well. Once I discovered authors who had mastered the art, I knew I had found my life’s pursuit.
6. What do you find most challenging and enjoyable as an author?
There’s a lot about writing that I find challenging. But that’s also why I enjoy it so much. I remember when I was gearing up to write We Are Monsters I kept thinking, “I can’t wait to be engaged in the struggle of writing a book.” I figured it would be hard, but that was part of the allure.
To be more specific, though. I find writing every day challenging, although I usually do it. I find overcoming insecurity challenging, but I try. I find writing when depressed or tired difficult, but I keep slogging ahead until it gets better.
The challenge is what makes it rewarding, I think. So I work to embrace the challenges and overcome them with stubborn determination, by commiserating with other writers, and by trying not to take the whole thing so seriously in the first place.
What I enjoy most about writing is the flow state. That strange, mysterious state of being where time stops and you cease to exist as you meld into an imaginary realm where the story takes form. A realm that doesn’t seem all that imaginary when you’re there. I’m hooked on that. That’s my heroin.
7. What books do you enjoy in your free time?
ALL OF THEM! And I’m only half joking. I have fairly eclectic tastes and enjoy all types of fiction. I typically alternate between lighter novels for entertainment and loftier novels for the intellectual challenge. I usually don’t like to read the same two kinds of books consecutively. Feel free to friend me on Goodreads to view my bookshelf. I love to share book recommendations.
8. Who is your favorite author/book and why?
The honest answer is Stephen King, with my favorite book being The Stand. But I’d rather use this space to promote an author and book that people may be less familiar with so that they may find something new.
I am a huge fan of John Fowles, and his mind-twisting novel, The Magus, is one of my all-time favorite books. It’s a story about a self-absorbed man who moves to a small Greek island to teach English at the local university. While exploring the island he meets an enigmatic millionaire who invites him to be a guest at his home and then proceeds to engage him in a series of elaborate mind games. It’s one of the most ambitious and thoroughly engrossing books I’ve ever read, and I can’t recommend it enough. I read it years ago and still haven’t recovered from the experience.
9. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
First, don’t listen to me, as I don’t know shit. But, if forced, I’d say the following:
Never settle for something that feels safe. Always strive to surprise yourself. Try and make yourself laugh, gross yourself out, make yourself mad. Write stuff you’d never want your parents to read, then send it out. Write what you fear is way too strange or personal to be published and then make it as good as it can be. Know that everyone secretly believes their work sucks but they keep doing it anyway. Rebel against your inner critic.
10. Can you tell us about any of your new work?
Yes, I’d love to. I have a new short story titled Picking Splinters From a Sex Slave coming out in the anthology, Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories, alongside two of my idols: Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman. When one of the editors, Doug Murano, announced the story he said, “This is the kind of story that starts book burning parties,” which lets me know the story works. I’m honored to be part of this project, and can’t wait for the anthology to come out.
In addition, I am currently working on the second book in a trilogy of dark sci-fi thrillers. The first book is complete and currently in the hands of a literary agent whom I’ve recently signed with. We are putting the final touches on the book and plan to submit it to publishers early next year.
11. What question do you wish someone would ask and what is the answer?
Question: What happens after we die?
Answer: I can’t wait to find out (hopefully when I’m old and gray).
We Are Monsters, Synopsis~
The Apocalypse has come to the Sugar Hill mental asylum.
He’s the hospital’s newest, and most notorious, patient—a paranoid schizophrenic who sees humanity’s dark side.
Luckily he’s in good hands. Dr. Eli Alpert has a talent for healing tortured souls. And his protégé is working on a cure for schizophrenia, a drug that returns patients to their former selves.
But unforeseen side effects are starting to emerge. Forcing prior traumas to the surface. Setting inner demons free.
Monsters have been unleashed inside the Sugar Hill mental asylum. They don’t have fangs or claws. They look just like you or me.
Buy the Book
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