In a way, a lot of my humor comes from presenting things that are dramatic or shocking and then people not having socially appropriate responses, having people denying the drama by failing to react to it, and that's a really classic form of humor.
People don't want their lives fixed. Nobody wants their problems solved. Their dramas. Their distractions. Their stories resolved. Their messed cleaned up. Because what would they have left? Just the big scary unknown.
With a book, you're guaranteed the audience has a certain skill level and that the audience has to make an ongoing effort to consume this product and that the project is being consumed by just one person at a time. I really want to play to that strength because it's one of the few advantages books still have.
Every decade, we get a stunning collection of dynamic, heartbreaking short stories. In the past, those collections came from Barry Hannah, Mark Richard, and Thom Jones.
If you start in the pit of despair with these profane, awful things, even a glimmer of hope or awareness is going to occur that's much brighter coming from this dark, awful beginning.
Horror stories give us a way of exhausting our emotions around social issues, like a woman's right to an abortion, which I always thought was the core of 'Rosemary's Baby,' or the backlash against feminism which I always thought was the core to 'Stepford Wives.'
I'm always trying to reach a transcendent point, a romantic point, but reach it in a really unconventional way, a really profane way. To get to that romantic, touching, heartbreaking place, but through a lot of acts of profanity.
People would ask me to autograph their bodies and then the next time I'd see them on tour they'd have my autograph tattooed. I decided I wouldn't write on people anymore, but I'd give them arms and legs and if they wanted those autographed I'd do that.
Of the big horror movies of the '70s, you have 'The Omen,' 'The Sentinel,' 'Rosemary's Baby,' 'The Stepford Wives,' 'Burnt Offerings' - these are all romantic fatalist movies where there's a sort of glimmer of hope... but darkness wins.
I try to forget about the expectation that's out there and the audience listening for the next thing so that I'm not trying to please them. I've spent a huge amount of time not communicating with those folks and denying that they exist.
If you knew that your life was merely a phase or short, short segment of your entire existence, how would you live? Knowing nothing 'real' was at risk, what would you do? You'd live a gigantic, bold, fun, dazzling life. You know you would. That's what the ghosts want us to do - all the exciting things they no longer can.
The unreal is more powerful than the real, because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it, because it's only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles, wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on.
If you take my stuff apart, you'll find my choruses of repetitions are picked up almost verbatim from Kurt Vonnegut, and my distanced fracture quality is all from Amy Hempel, who's probably my favourite writer.
My personal theory is that younger audiences disdain books - not because those readers are dumber than past readers, but because today's reader is smarter.
I've always thought stand-up comedians were the oral storytellers of our time, because they know rhetoric, they know delivery, they know timing, they know all of these things that you can only learn by telling a story out loud and interacting with an audience.
I would say any behavior that is not the status quo is interpreted as insanity, when, in fact, it might actually be enlightenment. Insanity is sorta in the eye of the beholder.
You have no idea what it is like to constantly disappoint people. You see it the moment you meet them. You see in their eyes that they expected something so entirely different, and here they are meeting... you.
I wanted to write about the moment when your addictions no longer hide the truth from you. When your whole life breaks down. That's the moment when you have to somehow choose what your life is going to be about.
While writing, I tend to repeat the same song, endlessly, for thousands of times. This helps me ignore any lyrics, and helps create a consistent mood for each book.
In 2008, while the film version of my book 'Choke' was coming to market, my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. That meant that I had to appear in public to promote a comedy about a son trying to save his dying mother - the plot of Choke - while privately I was caring for my own dying mother. It was torture.