Book Name and Description: Reptile. Reptile is a story about a young woman
named Ruth. She lives with her abusive parents and would probably do a spot better in life if she had different parents. As it is extreme horror, she doesn’t have better parents. Ruth overeats. Really overeats. She sneaks out to have sex in alleys or to let men fuck her fat rolls as they can’t find her hole (she is an adult child, living at home). She isn’t a young woman with much self-respect anyways. The people she associates with aren’t exactly rich in that area either.
One night, a pain in her tummy wakes her up. She decides to use her father’s best knives to cut out whatever lurks inside. From there it only gets weirder and more disgusting. There’s lots of bizarre sex too.
What gave you the idea for Reptile?
A combination of different things gave me the idea for the book. I’m not too fond of people who lack self-respect especially if they missed the memo about me being an author and not a social worker (I have never been a social worker, nor can I wave a magic wand and make peoples’ problems go away, if I could do that, I would make my problems go away first). At the time, I was writing Reptile my own life was coming apart as the people with all their issues wouldn’t leave me alone. It was like a game of whack-a-mole, as soon as one was gone, another would appear. Words like “leave me alone” and “fuck off” had no meaning. Even today, despite a new-found aggression and meanness, these sorts of people come along and try to implant themselves in my life with the expectation that I can “fix” them somehow to the point I try to keep a resource of self-help websites so I can be left alone. I know that sounds awful, but I can’t cope with people who refuse to help themselves. I don’t mind if people talk to me about their problems, but I can’t stand it if people project their problems and beliefs onto me. That isn’t a very nice thing to do.
I read and was very unimpressed with 50 Shades at some point before I started Reptile. BDSM isn’t my thing but I know a lot of people who were into it in a pre-50 Shades world and what happened after that book to them didn’t seem very fair. The entire communities were infiltrated by readers of mummy porn looking for a good time. These people confused BDSM and abuse.
I’m the type of writer who has music on when I’m writing. Reptile was one of those stories where I knew what albums to have playing in the background from day one as the original idea came as an image from a literal interpretation of song lyrics (because life is so much more fun that way).
What got you into writing horror?
I don’t know what got me into writing horror. I read a lot of Stephen King as a child (I still read a lot of Stephen King). But if that theory was used, I’d write epic fantasy. In university (I did my degree in creative writing), I started off writing weird stuff and pornographic literature in my second year, completing my degree in pornographic literature (I swear I will one day finish the story but it’ll be the length of The Stand and pure filth). Going back to the people with problems, some of them only see the world in black and white terms (most people operate in grey areas), so a lot of the extreme aspects of my writing were coming from me trying to deal with people who swing between one extreme and another (luckily for me, some of these people get help from trained psychologists, another thing I’m not nor have I ever received training in the subject). So, I was already writing very weird stuff and transgressive stuff, I think I’ll put it down to the natural evolution of my writing combined with my circumstances at the time.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing fiction since university (2005).
Tell us about your past books and stories?
My Lovely Wife (Morbidbooks) was my first published novella. I wrote it over the course of a few days then rewrote it over two days. Finding that first publisher is hard. It was probably the hardest thing I have ever done but sometime between one and two years after writing, it was published. I thought people would treat me with a bit more respect after that, but it turns out I was wrong. It is probably the only novella out in the world from me that I wrote before I lost my mind. It has that level of detachment I like to achieve. There’s a novel (Broccoli) with a very extreme level of detachment and written in second person but that is currently lost in publishing limbo. I do tend to forget about the stories after I write them. I get praised for writing from the point of view as a man. There are ‘sex’ scenes – if you want to call them that, it is the narrator abusing his wife for the most part.
Middle Age Rae of Fucking Sunshine (Morbidbooks) was my second published novella. I remember starting it. I was still sane back then but I was pissed off. Someone had upset me during my busiest writing period of the year following a few months of life wearing me down a bit more than usual. I was in high spirits because it was Christmas. I sat down to write and I was angry. But I still had my sanity. I wrote quickly. Half of it was done in a few days. Then shit happened. I lost hope in my writing and in my own future. This is probably where the pre-PTSD symptoms became actual PTSD but I wasn’t diagnosed until a year later. Rae wouldn’t leave me though.
I wrote a short story called 50 Shades of Gnome (to be published eventually by Fireside Press) as a way to try and hang onto the last threads of my sanity. It remains one of the best things I’ve ever written even though not many people have read it yet (due to it not yet being published). I finished Rae a few months later as a way to hold onto myself, but I had so little faith in it, I sent it to Morbidbooks without sending it to my editor. It started off as a great story. I didn’t like what it became. My readers did however. It remains, to this day, the only story I have where feedback is one hundred per cent positive.
Welcome to New Edge Hill (Morbidbooks) I think was the first thing I wrote after Reptile. I wrote it mainly on post-it notes because I’m naturally not an organized person and had just finished some treatment for PTSD. I was trying to build a bridge between what I was long ago and when I finally snapped. It was a hard one to write. I was originally going to send it to a different publisher with a lot more restrictions than Morbidbooks but I was up for the challenge. I find hipsters to be amusing and I’m always wondering where they get their money from. Wages are pretty damn low and these folks seem to have a lot of leisure time available to them – how on earth do they afford the nice things they like? A lot of these things are handmade. There’s a hipster barbershop in the city centre. I walk past it sometimes and it is so expensive. I thought I’d give two of them actual decent jobs. I went with law enforcement because there’s been a lot of police bashing and not all cops are bad folks. I love Chupacabra. They must be my favourite cryptozoological creature. I had scraps of Edge Hill as images in my head much like the beads from the self-inflicted incision in Reptile. I thought the ones I selected worked well in it but I can’t remember which ones. I was trying to get a balance of my natural detached writing style coupled with expressing some of my own emotions in it.
Toenails (Morbidbooks) was my reaction to toning myself down for Welcome to New Edge Hill. I wrote it over the course of two weeks direct to my laptop while on public transport. During those two weeks, I was able to detach myself from my writing which made me happy. I was being disgusting for the sake of being disgusting. I hope I made someone vomit and brought a little bit of nasty into someone’s day.
Dark Roast (JEA) Sleep is overrated. Scientists stayed awake for days on end drinking genetically modified dark roast coffee. They did more secret experiments that way, at night when the government wasn’t watching. They needed coffee to see through their boring days of chasing funding and government regulations.
On top of a big hill resided his lair. Everywhere a cage or a tank of his creations. He was fond of dating and old werewolf movies when he wasn’t splicing genes. Sometimes he tried to mix all three together.
A potted plant sent a clawed tentacle snaking around his ankle to trip him up…
What is the writing process like for you? What is your writing day like?
I wake up at five every single week day to make sure I can write before work. I carry notebooks on me everywhere so if I get an idea while at the day job, I can jot it down. I just write and hope to have something before someone comes along and projects their issues onto me.
What is your favorite book (other than your own book, of course) and why?
The Dark Tower is my ultimate favourite book. I was obviously going to choose something by Stephen King. This series ties in with a lot of things he has written and with other great books like Lord of the Rings (another favourite of mine). I can’t wait for the film.
What are you doing next?
Instead of talking about what I’m writing now (as that’s kinda secret) upcoming novels and novelettes include Night of the Penguin and Stef and Tucker.
Night of the Penguin. I worked at a zoo. I hated it. Some of the managers were absolute snobby bastards with some sort of stick up their arses. One night I became very drunk and went around the garden collecting snails. I didn’t have a bucket. It was my intention to go to work the next day and throw them at management. I went to work the next day with a hangover and no snails (they escaped due to my lack of a bucket). I did have the beginning of a story though. Or a short story – I think in my original version, ‘Carla’ was ‘Carl’ and the stars talked to her (him).
I worked on this story on/off over the course of many years. Other ideas and people would get in the way of it. I rewrote it a few times. I’m sure I’m going to have a lot of editing feedback on it. I like the story but not as much as the people I let read it (especially the bizarros). Every time something out of the ordinary happens in it, it is because I had writers block and thought something strange would work with this one. I knew management were going to try to sacrifice a penguin Aztec style. Anything would work. I had fun with those bizarro scenes. I shed more than a few tears on this one though.
Stef and Tucker. They’re fun characters for an erotic bizarro world. The idea came from mishearing song lyrics, which I may have been doing on purpose. The publisher imposed some limits on this one – things like golden showers, scat, etc. Sometimes limits are fun because I need to come up with creative ways around them.
Not really sure on the release dates for either of those.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
I’m not the best person to ask for advice. The publishing world and other writers (especially if you’re going down the self-publishing route) are great and very supportive, search them out. I didn’t have a good time of starting out writing. I’ll leave that there. I’ve stated what happened in other interviews.
Born in Oxford but raised in Massachusetts, Dani Brown is the author of “My Lovely Wife”, “Middle Age Rae of Fucking Sunshine”, “Toenails”, and “Welcome to New Edge Hilll” out from Morbidbooks. She is also the author of “Dark Roast” and “Reptile” out from JEA. She’s the person responsible for the baby blood bath that is “Stara” out from Azoth Khem Publishing. She has written various short stories across a range of publications. There’s always more coming soon. As of writing this, “Stef and Tucker” haven’t been released but they will be soon (if “Dancing With White Walkers” hasn’t happened by the time you read this).
When she isn’t writing she enjoys knitting, fussing over her cats and contemplating the finer points of raising an army of dingo-mounted chavs. She has an unhealthy obsession with Mayhem’s drummer and doesn’t trust anyone who claims The Velvet Underground are their favourite band.
She currently lives in Liverpool, England with her son and 3 cats.
You can contact her on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DaniBrownBooks/. (Links to less used social media, can be found on the facebook page.)
Official and sometimes, by sometimes, she means rarely updated website http://danibrownqueenoffilth.weebly.com/