Crimson Quill: How do you view the horror industry at present?
Keeper: When I started out I was sick to the pit of my stomach of the way in which horror was perceived by the narrow-minded media and the dire service it had received for the best part of two decades. There have been peaks amongst the troughs, particularly post-millennium where there have been numerous examples of a genre once again on the insurgence. By and large though there have been more slumps than highs and, for some time, it has all felt a little stale. Horror never fully recuperated from its fall from grace in the mid-eighties when gluttonous executives sucked the life force from it with countless turgid sequels and bloated-budget crowd pleasers. Mercifully, the tide is beginning to turn. Attitudes are changing and I believe that indie filmmakers hold the key to stirring the industry up from the inside. A revolution is inbound and the next five years are critical to horror reinstating itself as a key player. I truly believe there has never been such an exciting time to be an aficionado.
Crimson Quill: Do you base your scribing style on any other?
Keeper: No. Don’t get me wrong, I draw inspiration from many different fonts, but there isn’t one person in particular that I’m looking to emulate. For my work to truly resonate, it is required for it to come from some place deep within me and my words never originate from another’s mouth as we can’t be expected to move forward when standing still. For the quill to flow with any conviction, I must scribe what I would desire to read first and foremost, as I have a tendency to skim read and therefore become my own biggest critic. Any of my collaborators will attest to my rabid quality control and tireless endeavor to ensure the highest possible standard at all times. My inspiration invariably comes from the way that I feel from one day to the next.
As an avid devotee of eighties comedy, I love nothing more than injecting humor although I never plan for it in advance, thus it remains unforced. If a piece of writing encourages me to share intimate experience or fragment of my past, then it’ll likely find its way onto the page and, should I have a particular axe to grind, then grind it I will. Such measured bursts of vitriolic rage are infrequent but when called to skirmish, my blade is hoisted aloft in a second and ready to taste blood. In short, I habitually ensure that my own stamp of originality finds passage into any piece scribed.
Crimson Quill: Where does all this come from? NOT appraisals, not fiction…your reflective pieces…how does that happen?
Keeper: If I knew the answer to that I’d have gold-plated testicles. It comes from deep, I will say that. The most critical factor is that I flat refuse to scribe anything which isn’t entirely authentic. I pledged at the start to bare all and it is that which sparked the most response. I’ve also had a lifetime of making blunders and therefore have oodles of experience to pass along. Through doing so with honesty it becomes all the more tangible to the addressee. I possess something which I like to refer to as a flexible ego. Being Keeper, it does add a layer of mystique to my writing which allows me to revel in my alter-ego but I’m never more comfortable than playing the role of fool. That’s the balance ultimately, nobody wants to listen to some jumped-up prick no matter how purty the prose. I’m just a regular douche and that makes me all the more irregular.
As I’m a natural reflector; being pragmatic doesn’t come easy to me. Whilst both blessing and, in turn, curse this lends itself perfectly to writing articles with insight. I’ve always been fascinated by people and have learned to adapt to all different kind of characters, indeed it is something I believe I have down to pat so, once more, this aids massively in shooting from the hip and telling it how it is. Most critically, by waxing on topics that affect every one of us in one way or another and, having a generally sunny outlook, I feel that my work can truly resonate with another and, as a scribe, that is all I could ever ask.
Crimson Quill: How do you describe writer’s block? What exactly is it, to you?
Keeper: Until recently, I never suffered from this affliction. Prose just flowed, no matter what was transpiring in my life at the time. Then, last week, the mental decomposition began to set in for the very first time since picking up the Quill. Suddenly, I felt as though I had nothing to say of any consequence. Creatively it appeared I had hit a brick wall and the demons began creeping in. Those demons are little bastards, capable of causing unrest, just for the sheer hell of it. At first I invited my demons in and offered them herbal tea and crumpets. Unfortunately my goodwill was taken advantage of and they ran rampant, sliding down my bannister and taking a bulky dump in my mind’s pillowcase.
Once the doubt creeps in and runs amok, you begin to forget the tools at your disposal and the word font dries up. I strive to push myself constantly as a scribe but, eventually, something has to give. Apple goes up…apple comes back down. It’s basic science. The most critical factor when facing a slump is that you must take it as a sign, not be so hard on yourself, take a hiatus if such is required. The more emphasis you put on this seemingly impenetrable field, the more it will shut you down. Demons can’t harm you if you refuse to acknowledge their existence any longer or at least that’s what happens on Elm Street. Fuck it, I’m an optimist, I’ll just give ’em the cold shoulder.
Crimson Quill: If you could only write one kind of writing, i.e., fiction, self-reflection, appraisals, etc, for the rest of your life, what would you choose? Why?
Keeper: That is actually a fairly tough question to answer. Writing film appraisals comes naturally to me; I’ve watched horror since long before the pubic revolution and writing about them feels entirely organic at all times. I thoroughly enjoy this process and believe that it is something I would do simply for kicks, regardless of whether it opened career paths. For a time I would probably have opted for introspective essays as these offer such freedom to maneuver and the possibility to connect with your audience on a much more personal level. Right now, I would say fiction so you can see my dilemma with this poser.
The reason why fiction wins out for me would be that it is here that I surprise myself most. Dark poem The Uncanny Yarn of Monsieur Heureux took twenty-five minutes and just gushed out of me. Same with The Ice Cream Van From Hell and Lillith’s Folly, these delicious little fables afford access to the darkest reaches of my imagination and I simply didn’t see them coming. There is a downside and that is the mental exhaustion which occurs through wrestling one of these babies out. But it is through fiction that Keeper’s most original work takes shape so, if I had to go out on a limb, I’d stick with that.
Crimson Quill: Have you ever craved the warm tang of blood?
Keeper: Recently yes, and I guess in some small way I’ve always been curious. At thirteen I made the pledge to become blood brothers with a friend, only to cut myself a little too deep and fashion a sizeable gorge in my bicep. Ironically, within a few months, we were no longer buddies. Years later I had my nipple pierced only to catch the silver circlet on my car door days later, plucking it straight from its bearings. In both instances I felt the twinge of pain and both times I found a bizarre liking for it. Only the other week, upon recreating an infamous scene from Raimi’s Evil Dead (not the tree rape; I should be so lucky) I felt that smarting sensation once more and it offered the most exquisite darkness.
Not that I self-harm on a regular basis but I have a far greater understanding of human make-up since plummeting to the foot of my own abyss months ago. I have grown a certain fondness for naked female flesh caked in cruor; there’s something strangely invigorating about such cruel pleasure. Moreover, the idea of bathing in a tub filled to capacity with warm sticky grue arouses me. I’d love to be submerged in it and feel it splash around me. That may come across as a touch inexplicable but fuck it, I’ve grown weary of my rubber ducky. Rivers of Grue’s first ever photo shoot offered insight to my infatuation. While others liberally applied the deep red, I was practically guzzling the stuff like crimson mouthwash. Said Rivers represent my soul’s dark investment and I’m never more jovial than when sub aqua, it’s what gives me my exclusive scribing style.
Crimson Quill: What would your advice be to someone just starting out as a scribe?
Keeper: Don’t ever allow your integrity to become compromised, whatever unforeseen events occur stand by your vision and never become swayed by naysayers or deflated by negativity. If your work is honest and true, then by all intent and purposes, there will be those who forge a connection to your prose. Obviously you do need a degree of literacy. A young lady in a coffee shop recently expressed her desire to become a scribe and she was taken aback with my retort that she already is. Naturally she questioned my bold statement and I responded without so much as a stutter. Her eyes revealed to me that she possessed both the requisite ambition and passion to make it so. Set any boundaries from the offset, and I would suggest making them broad. In the download generation pretty much anything is fair game, folk have long since become desensitized and the worldwide web being nigh-on impossible to police. There is no necessity for a half-baked approach; go all in but always remain true to yourself.
As a writer you have to be prepared to take the rough with the smooth, any pitfalls in your personal life can serve to improve your style and flow, so long as you allow such. Stephen King was once a hopeless alcoholic but this just afforded him an exclusive vantage which inspired some of his very best work. For me it has been therapeutic, no matter how woefully rickety my personal life has been over that period, it has taught me how to harness that angst and turn it into something unique rather than sitting in the doldrums believing myself to be lacking in worth. Through scribing with integrity, the addressee is invited to take that ride alongside you.
Find your forte, keep on writing and, moreover, keep pushing yourself in new directions. Don’t always stick to your comfort zone, test yourself as you will have realized such a tiny pocket of your potential and every next piece should be your best piece yet. Find others to feed your belief, quench on their essence as they drink from yours. Once you are aware of your strengths and have found your niche, go for it. Nothing should hold you back at this juncture. Write out your frustrations as opposed to allowing them to taint your prose. Instead, use them as fuel. I am not a reactionary writer by nature, personal events rarely bleed into my work and instead I use such annoyance to create something truly unique. There’s a fine balance between not compromising your vision and still learning your craft every day. Once struck, there is nobody who can hold you back except for yourself.
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2013 (Revised Edition 2015)