interview by Joe Vaz

From Issue 14 (Oct 2011)

Where is home?
Home is Chicagoland, but I often find myself thinking of the Northern Rockies. The inspiration for much of my writing comes from wild, untrammeled places. These landscapes produce colorful characters and interesting wildlife

Do you write full time?
I’d love to write full time, and hopefully that point is not far off.

What inspired this story?
Driving from Glacier National Park, Montana to Chicago takes a long time (1,500 miles). In the ebb and flow of the road, a writer has an opportunity to brainstorm. I was listening to the Art Bell radio program (a special about ghosts) when the idea came to me. I was pumped on four cups of McDonald’s coffee, listening to these callers share their real life ghost stories, and it all seemed so sad. This encompassing sadness combined with the two a.m. landscape conjured up an image of this soul or being held against its will, needing to complete a task. And of course, this soul completes that task. I’ve heard many ghost stories over the years, but I thought this one was quite different, and I had a sense of urgency as I made audio notes into my iPod. It was that time of morning when you feel in-between everything, without place… almost a ghost yourself. There were few cars on the road, and I remember feeling devastated when I finished the notes. I’ve always been back and forth on the existence of ghosts and I struggled with this for the remainder of the drive. I don’t even think I listened to music or the radio again, just the hum of tires on road as I thought of this trapped soul and what might lie ahead for any human who’s about to die.

I love the image of this creature/soul eating words and the colours of the words. Where did that come from?
The idea of a trapped soul devouring different-colored words came to me in several ways. First, at two a.m. on an eight-hundred mile day, the painted dividing line on the highway turns into all kinds of interesting things. In one instance, I thought I saw the dividing line rise and morph into a never-ending line of words that seemed to float up to me. Also, my scientific side kicked in. If ghosts exist, they have to feed on something. In this case it was the expelled energy and words of humans. When the soul or creature eats enough of this “food”, it has the energy to complete its task. Determining the color of the words was simple enough. Bad people expunge shriveled, dark words, whereas the innocent or good-natured produce vibrant words of purple, blue, and red. Eating the words of the good increases the trapped soul’s chances of reaching its goal because they are higher calorie, if you will.

Did you have a clear idea of the ending of the story when you were writing it, or did it present itself in the process?
I had a good idea of the ending as soon as I started, which usually isn’t the case in my work. I take notes on situations or key moments in future chapters, but never outline.

Are you working on anything right now?
I’m working on a ton of stuff right now. A few months ago I was fortunate enough to sign with agent Laura Wood of FinePrint Literary in NYC for my science fiction/thriller novel Invasive. As that’s being shopped, I’m working on the sixth and final draft of another novel that takes place in a remote section of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The novels are my focus, but I’ve got a few short stories out to market, including a new short story called Lost Planes, Lost River.

Where might we find more of your work?
You can find my work in Dead Bait 2 (Shiners), Big Book of New Short Horror (Window of Jacob), Ghostlight Magazine Fall 2011(The Red Aspen), America the Horrific (The Believers) and Fearology 2 (Revenge on Apex Mountain). If anyone wants more information, they can check out

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Joe Vaz

Joe Vaz is the founder and editor of Something Wicked, which occasionally affords him the honour and good fortune to hang out with really cool people.
In his other life he is a film and television actor who gets small parts in big movies, most recently in Dredd 3D, due to be released in September 2012.

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