Risingshadow has had the honour of interviewing the dark fiction author J. R. Hamantaschen.
J.R. is a part time fiction writer. His work has appeared in several dozen magazines and anthologies. Generally disdainful of publicizing himself or his work, he has published intermittently, never maintained a personal website, and changed his surname frequently over the years. His debut short story collection, You Shall Never Know Security, was published in 2011.
AN INTERVIEW WITH J. R. HAMANTASCHEN
- Could you tell us something about yourself in your own words?
Well, I'm a part-time fiction writer located in Queens, New York. At the time the collection came out, I was 27 years old. Considering that was two years ago - and the why time progresses - I'm now 29. I wouldn't refer to myself as a "writer" per se, because that always sounds pretentious to me. So I'd say I'm a youngish writer who writes largely dark fiction in a variety of genres.
- What kind of books do you normally read? What are your favourite books?
I almost exclusively read non-fiction, oddly enough. It's interesting, because a couple of well-meaning people have suggested to me recently that I may have Asperger Syndrome, and in researching that, I found that people with Asperger's generally prefer non-fiction. Interesting, interesting.
Favorite books: Well I prefer non-fiction, certain works of fiction have made the biggest impression on me. Rather than pick favorite books, I'll think of favorite stories that left an impression:
T.E.D. Klein ("Events at Poroth Farm," "Children of the Kingdom," "Black Man with a Horn)";
Dennis Etchison ("The Dog Park");
Harlan Ellison ("The Whimper of Whipped Dogs," "I Have No Mouth But I Must Scream");
Clive Barker ("In the Hills, the Cities," "Confessions of a Pornographer's Shroud");
Theodore Sturgeon ("Bright Segment");
Robert Silverberg ("Dying Inside");
H.P. Lovecraft (perhaps you've heard of him?) ("The Outsider")
- What inspired you to become an author? Have you always been interested in writing?
I wouldn't call myself an author. I don't think writing deserves any special designation. Am I more of an author than someone who has idly produced a couple of short works but never had them published? Am I more of an author that I was three years ago, before I had a single collection to my name? The amount of my life I spend writing is infinitesimal compared to my other activities - (sarcastic comment: perhaps that speaks more to my own personal failings and lack of ambition than anything else) - but I don't like to think of myself as some special breed of person, the precious "writer."
Interest in writing. In my writing, I'd say there's a stronger emphasis on the quotidian, every-day than most other dark fiction. I rarely connected to dark fiction on an emotional or aesthetic level, so perhaps I started writing to create the type of fiction I believe I'd respond to? Who knows.
- You have written stories which are dark fiction and weird fiction. What inspires you to write this kind of fiction? Where do you get the ideas for your stories? Is it difficult to come up with new ideas?
Everyone has ideas. Ideas are everywhere. Ideas are what we call "the easy part." It's finding the time and wherewithal to execute those ideas which is the tricky part. I think most of my fiction is ideas-or-emotions based, and I tend to be viewed (rightly or wrongly) as a pessimistic person, so that combination produces "dark" fiction.
One thing I would like to add. I certainly do not glorify "darkness" or "sadness" or melancholia. I suffer from these afflictions. I would love to be happy. It just has not happened yet.
- Have you ever thought of writing a novel?
Perhaps..... (rubs fingers together)
- Next I'd like to ask your opinion about two things:
1) There are quite a lot readers who feel that speculative fiction gives authors a chance to explore difficult themes (for example, sex and sexuality) more openly and boldly than mainstream fiction. What is your opinion about this?
I don't think speculative fiction writers explore difficult themes anymore so than "mainstream fiction." I can identify and appreciate a mainstream work like Revolutionary Road more than 90% of the speculative fiction that I've read.
2) There are many readers who have said that we are currently living in the new golden age for horror and dark fantasy. How do you feel about this?
I imagine we live in a Golden Age just in the sense that there is so much quality work cheaply available. I'm not familiar enough with horror and dark fiction to really comment on that further, sadly.
- Is there anything you'd like to add?
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to answer your questions.