TIH 432: Eric LaRocca on The Strange Thing We Become, Henley’s Edge, and We Can Never Leave This Place

TIH 432 Eric LaRocca on The Strange Things We Become, Henley’s Edge, and We Can Never Leave This Place

In this podcast Eric LaRocca talks about The Strange Thing We Become, Henley’s Edge, We Can Never Leave This Place, and much more.

About Eric LaRocca

Eric LaRocca is the author of several works of horror and dark fiction including the viral sensation Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke.

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Michael David Wilson 0:28

Welcome to This is horror, a podcast for readers, writers, and creators. I'm Michael David Wilson, and every episode alongside my co-host, Bob Pastorella. We chat we're masters of horror, about writing, life lessons, creativity, and much more. Now, today's guest is Eric LaRocca. The author of books such as things have gotten worse since we last spoke. And this is the second of a two part conversation, but as we've already is, you can listen in any order and his conversation with our skerrick a very important question we asked What have you done to deserve your eyes today, we also talk about Henley's edge, his daily routine, and a whole host of other things. But before any of that, a little bit of an advert break.

Bob Pastorella 1:30

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Michael David Wilson 2:45

All right. Well, with that said, here it is it is part two of the conversation with Eric LaRocca on This Is Horror.

We've got a question from Dan Howarth via Patreon. And he wants to know, did the epistolary style of things have gotten worse have an impact on how you've planned and wrote the novella? And is it a style you can see yourself returning to?

Eric LaRocca 3:16

Yeah, I mean, I love I love reading epistolary pieces. Just in general, I just I find them fascinating really, really engaging to read. I love the idea of like reading something that you feel like you're not supposed to be reading. That, to me is just very frightening. And that's really what like inspired writing the novella in the first place was just my fear of the internet and casually stumbling across something that I wasn't supposed to read or, you know, I wasn't supposed to see, that, to me is absolutely terrifying. Um, and then as far as like, planning the novella and outlining it, there were definitely beats that I wanted to hit at certain points in the narrative. But writing in a epistolary in that format, I just, I really, really enjoy writing, you know, diary entries or emails, chat logs. I just I find them really fascinating. And then it must be like my background and being a playwright. Because it's, you know, especially like the chat logs. It's like, you know, it's like dialogue, essentially. It's like that back and forth that you read when you're reading like place script. So for me, it was just very natural to write in that format. And I've actually written things have gotten worse was not my first stab at like writing in that format. I actually have a story that came out in yours best hardcore for Volume Two, I think. And that was in 2017. And the story is called Miss vertebrae. And it's all like emails from this woman who's deceased that's in like this kind of hellish Limbo world. And she's writing emails to her to her lover and like telling these like little yarns and like vignettes. So it's like stories within stories, which is kind of, essentially kind of what happens. And things have gotten worse, too, with like, the little stories that they tell one another. But, yeah, so I've written in that format before, I also have another short story that I wrote for a publication called Bear Creek Gazette. And that story was called formaldehyde Angel, and that's written like as, like Twitter status updates. So It's told through that. So I definitely see myself writing in this, you know, in this format for a while I just, I feel really, really drawn to it for whatever reason.

Michael David Wilson 6:12

Formaldehyde Angel, you gotta give us more.

Eric LaRocca 6:18

Yeah, yeah, repel the hide Angel, that it's a very short story. Um, it's, I think, like, maybe 1000 Something words, but it's all like, A, the equivalent. It's not, it's not Twitter, because I don't, I don't think you're I don't think I would be like allowed to even like use Well, maybe you could, like mentioned Twitter in a story, but I don't know, like, if I'd be able to, like, use it specifically as like, Oh, this is what they're writing on. But it's like status updates from this person who is basically like committing suicide and like writing, you know, updates of injecting himself with formaldehyde. And that's basically like the, the whole, you know, his journey throughout that, like that process. So it's like, updates of his death, basically. So yeah, it was a fun piece to Ray, I really, I really liked that piece. And I might, I might use it in like a collection down the line or something. But the editor of Bear Creek is that reached out to me on Twitter and was like, a big fan of things have gotten worse and basically said, like, I'd love for you to write something for our publication. And that's what I came up with. And I also love the title. I've been wanting to use that title for a while.

Michael David Wilson 7:40

Yeah. Yeah. Is Bear Creek Gazette readily available?

Eric LaRocca 7:46

Yeah, you can read it on on on their website. It should be it should be still up.

Michael David Wilson 7:51

Okay. Definitely want to seek out for sure.

Eric LaRocca 7:56

Yeah, definitely. It's pretty fun. I like it.

Michael David Wilson 7:58

Yeah, yeah. We're going back to things have gotten worse. And I'm sure a lot of people ask you about this, but why the antique apple peeler?

Eric LaRocca 8:13

You know, I, I wish I could tell you like some profound meaning, like, of why I chose an antique apple peeler. But I'd be lying if I said like, I had some ulterior motive for including it. I just, I, I just liked the sound of it. I liked the fact that it was like this antique heirloom. And, to me, it just seemed so perfect. It just seems so like theatrical and operatic and just like, Oh, she's selling this antique apple peeler. How, like, how lovely. Like, I wanted to just start with something so innocuous and something just so that you would never associate with, like horror and just depravity and then slowly unravel everything to the point where it's just like, how the fact that we get here from an antique apple. Yeah, yeah. Um, that I guess that was just like the whole motivation for really including it and it could have been any, any antique appliance really, but I just settled on apple peeler, and I really am glad that I did because a lot of people have inserted meaning into the apple and like the apple peeler, and like how it could mean like original sin and you know, whatever. Like, a lot of people have come up with like a lot of different theories of why I've included the apple peeler. And I find those reasons fascinating and who am I to negate them and say like, oh, that's that's not true. Like, that's not what I intended. Like, you know if I feel like our Relationships with like reading any material, it's so different, it's so vastly different from person to person. So I'm really interested in what people bring to the book and the meanings they pull out of, of what I write. And sometimes I don't have any, anything that I'm trying to really say with, with with the text. Like with the apple peeler, I didn't have any grand idea or message behind it, but the fact that people have put so much emphasis on it and have, you know, come up with different theories of what it means and like how it works the medically into the story, like, I think that's great. I love that. And I, I just, I am totally open to anything people want to discuss about the book, basically.

Michael David Wilson 10:53

Yes. And I think what you're saying here very much reminds me of a conversation we had with Kathe Koja, you were, yeah, where she said, you know, you never correct a reader's interpretation, it's always valid. So if somebody says something good, it wasn't your intention, you know, the, the creation of the story, or the story continues with the reading. So even though we finished writing, the story evolves, it's almost like a living organism.

Eric LaRocca 11:29

It's so true. The story really the story, you know, we create, in the beginning, we create the story, but it goes on, and it thrives in the minds of anybody that picks that book up, and who am I to correct somebody about what they think about the book and how they interpret it. Um, it may not be what I thought of in the moment, but I love I love I love hearing what people think about different themes and different, you know, ideas that are like, laced, maybe throughout the undercurrent of the book. I mean, there are no wrong answers. I feel like with fiction, you know, any interpretation of any book is, is valid in my eyes. And I'm not surprised Kathe said that, because she's so wonderful is so like, open to, she's so open, she's very free and very open to possibilities. So I love that she said that.

Bob Pastorella 12:31

Nothing from the other side of the coin, is that you can like hey, why, why correct anyone on this, but at the same time, I'm wondering how many classic stories have that we have associated something, you know, a theme with something that wasn't there? You know, what I mean? It's like an you learn to stuff when you're in school and college and things like that. And it's one of those things, you know, it's like, you know, as today class, I've got Eric Baraka here. No, we're gonna, we're gonna discuss things have gotten worse since we last spoke, please tell us about the the theme of the apple peeler. Right, you know, and I can just imagine you go on, well, sometimes the curtains are just actually blue. I mean, it would be like, Well, no, no, no, I did. There's got to be something deeper, right? Not really.

Eric LaRocca 13:30

times there isn't, and that's fine. Right. But I, I love the idea of people putting meaning to things and piecing things together with their, you know, with their minds, like I'm, I'm here to tell stories and, you know, guide readers through a journey. And yes, there are themes that I want to explore and ideas that I want to bring to the forefront. But if somebody has an idea about something that I've written, or, you know, maybe they think, Oh, this is what the author was trying to say, that's totally valid. But it's, you know, it's not always it's not always the case, basically, it's, you know, just to circle back like, the apple peeler in my eyes, like, I didn't really have a huge purpose behind including it other than I wanted something really theatrical, and I wanted something very, just, like I said, like innocuous and just very plain and something that you wouldn't expect her to sprout from.

Michael David Wilson 14:41

Yes, that makes a great deal of sense. And undoubtedly, the most famous line in your novella, is what have you done to deserve your eyes today? And I'm sure people ask you about this in a kind of Yo Keeway. But in absolute seriousness, I mean, do you think about this on a daily basis? Do you consider questions such as What am I doing to add value to my life? Or what am I doing to make my existence worthwhile?

Eric LaRocca 15:18

Seriously, I do I try to I try to be mindful of that. I think about like, losing autonomy a lot. I'm losing control over my body. You know, I suffer from intrusive thoughts, and I definitely, I, one of my biggest fears is like losing my eyesight. So that that, like, line definitely means a lot to me. And has a lot of weight. And I'm was just something that I knew I wanted to include in the book. And I'm trying to remember if I have that line before I even started writing the book, or if it may be came organically when I was writing, but regardless, yeah, no, I definitely think a lot about what am I doing to better myself each day? And, you know, how am I being the best version of Eric that I can be? And yeah, I'm always trying to be mindful of that. And I think that's what makes us better human beings is one we're especially you know, cognizant of the fact that everything could be taken away from us in a single moment. I mean, I have these, I mean, I know that they're like irrational, but I have these like, horrible, horrible fears of like, going to bed at night, and then waking up in the morning, and I'm, like, completely paralyzed. Like, I have those, like, horrible fears. And I just, I try not to dwell on them. And I try not to think about them. And I apologize if this is like triggering for people who also suffer from, like, intrusive thoughts. But yeah, it's just, it's, um, it's very difficult. And, um, you know, I like I said, like, I try not to dwell on it. But I definitely do all that I can to make certain that each day is is something special, and that I tried to just take, you know what I have, and be mindful of the fact that I am very blessed.

Michael David Wilson 17:36

Yeah, and I think it's important that we not only write each story, like it's our last, but we live each day, like, it's our last, I think we shouldn't take anything for granted. Because at some point, some of these things will be taken away from us, and one day will be our last. So if we live as if there's a very real possibility that each day may be the final one. And I think we're gonna live a good and worthwhile life.

Eric LaRocca 18:08

Totally. And I mean, I'm not going out every day, and like climbing mountains, or like, trying to, like, cure diseases, but I'm, I'm doing things in my world, in my community, and like my life with the people that I interact with, I'm trying to, you know, be the best version of Eric that I can be. And like you said, we never know when our last story is going to be our last I also have that fear is like, aye. Aye. Aye, am really afraid of like, being in the middle of a project in the middle of like writing a novella or a novel, and then I just, like, die, you know, and just leave that work, like, unfinished. Um, so I Yeah, that's definitely another one of my fears. So I just, I totally agree with you that we really just, you know, take, take a moment every day and just be grateful for, for what you have, and, and all the blessings that are in your life.

Michael David Wilson 19:10

Yeah, and this is something I think about a lot if I'm having a conversation with someone, and it might go into the realms of an argument, or there might be some uncomfortable moments. And, of course, I don't think we should shy away from having uncomfortable moments, but I do think it's important to not hold on to hate and to think about, okay, what's the kind of bigger perspective here so I mean, I'm very fast to apologize for my mistakes. And I'm also kind of quick to just if we've had something uncomfortable to then look at, like, Okay, well, what is the big picture? You know, do I ultimately, like this person? And if so, let's, you know, try and make things a little bit But I guess this could be the final day with them.

Eric LaRocca 20:05

Totally. Yeah, I think you're right. I think we should be open to having uncomfortable moments with people. And I'm kind of the same way. Like, I am usually quick to apologize because life is just so damn short. And it's just what's the point of holding on to anger or resentment, and it's just not, it's just not healthy. And you end up carrying that around with you. And it's like, you know, you end up like Marley's ghost with like, the bricks, the chains with, you know, the, the concrete blocks that you're dragging behind you. It's, it's not a good, it's not a good look.

Michael David Wilson 20:40

So yeah, yeah. Now this segue might just some people seem almost like a contradiction as to what we've just spoken about. But I don't see it that way at all. But I know that yeah, you're quite open about your pessimism towards humanity. So I, I one day, was there an inciting incident to use a kind of literary time or an event that you think sparked that off? Or made you think? God dammit, I'm not sure about all this humanity stuff?

Eric LaRocca 21:19

Well, um, I don't know, I think, you know, growing up, I was very different from the other children. And kids are very cruel. And they know when you're different, they know when you're not one of them. And I was just, I was always on the outside looking in. I was never, I was never like, one of the one of the people in the group of like, a huge group of friends. Like, that was never me. I was just always kind of on my own. I wasn't like a loner, but I just was never included. Really, you know. And I think maybe that brought about some of my pessimism. With just humanity in general. And yeah, just growing up was, was difficult. And like a very small town, very insulated. And, you know, there weren't, there weren't like any queer people, where I grew up in Kent, Connecticut, and people were supportive, but to a point. And, you know, there I, I was, I was just very theatrical as a child. And I was just very out there. And I was very flamboyant. And I was very much in your face about who I was. Because I know, I knew who I was, even though I didn't want to admit it. And I was scared to admit it. You know, like, I didn't come out until I was, I think, 17 or 18. So I was, I wasn't living authentically for a while, but in my heart, I knew what I was. And I knew the kind of person that I wanted to be. But I couldn't live authentically in that town. And I it's not that I resented people, but I just, I couldn't connect with anybody and I couldn't find like a community there. And, um, you know, thankfully now I've I've definitely found a community but I am very pessimistic with with humanity and, and, you know, just going back to what we said about like, Mother they're in or an offseason, you know, that film really shows the ugliness of who we are as human beings and that's why it really resonated with me because it kind of brought to the forefront all of these thoughts that I had been feeling about religion and society in general. And you know, what have you um, I just yeah, I've I've always been kind of pessimistic when it comes to like, other people and I always have my guard up. And that's something that I have to work through on my own obviously, I need to break down those walls and like let people in more. But yeah, I don't think there was like a specific defining moment where I was like, oh, like, humanity is horrible. I hate everybody but it was just kind of like something that was gradually filled in with me while I was growing up and just like the the relentless bullying and just constant like degradation and just stuff like that, just really, things that just tried to like break my spirit and it's just people are just so paroled sometimes and people love I feel like to make other people suffer and that's just that's how I view people. Sometimes I hate that I think like that I hate that I, I view other people like that and obviously all p all people are not like that I know that they're really great people in the world. And you know, there are kind people in the world and in very often I see new stories about, you know, someone doing a really great kindness for someone and that always really brightens my day and really instills in me like a hope. But I mean, with the news going on right now with what's going on over in like Ukraine and Russia, it's just, I mean, it's just heartbreaking. And it's just, it's like, it's just, it's, I don't even have words, I get tongue tied when I talk about it, because it's just so devastating. And but it also like, doesn't surprise me because I'm just I'm a bit jaded when it comes to, to people and how people are I feel like and that's why I write fiction where people, it's mostly human monsters. I don't really write a lot of supernatural fiction. I guess you could classify what I write as like weird fiction, but it's usually humans doing horrible things to one another, because that's what I'm most interested in. And that's what really terrifies me.

Michael David Wilson 26:21

Yeah, I'm somewhat thinking aloud out here. But I do wonder if you know, we can find it easy to gravitate towards pessimism and hopelessness because that's the way that the media skewers the news. But whilst there are so many kind of abhorrent acts, and indeed beyond, abhorrent, narrow, so a lot of stories of human kindness and people being good people, but obviously that doesn't sell in the media that doesn't create money in terms of social media and reaction. So I'm, yeah, I'm just wondering if this kind of pessimism is more a product of our society and a very dangerous one.

Eric LaRocca 27:14

I think you're I think, right? Because a lot of I know, I've talked about this with Sadie Hartman a little bit, but like, on Twitter, for instance, if you're not, if you're not like divisive, or if you're not, like controversial, with, like, maybe stating an opinion, or like a hot take, your tweet gets filtered, kind of almost automatically. And you're not at the top of the algorithm, like the algorithm usually favors people who are very, like polarizing and very, like controversial with what they say. And because we're, we're kind of like, it's innate in us to gravitate toward things that are really, I don't have another word other than controversial. Those tweets get all of the attention usually, and then like, the more positive tweets, like I've noticed, like when I tweet something, really, I'm, like, positive, or, you know, I just maybe I, like tweet something about, like, a date that I'm having with my boyfriend, like, we're going somewhere for dinner or whatever, it won't get the same sort of interaction that it will if I post, maybe like a hot take about one of my favorite horror movies from the 80s. You know, like people want to go on Twitter, or Instagram or Facebook and have that like, exchange and dialogue. And I think, yeah, like I said, I just think the algorithm really favors you if you're a little bit more edgy with what you put out there. But I don't think you should, necessarily, this is not my way of saying that you should curate your feed and like, re evaluate your Twitter profile to like, be controversial, or to be like polarizing, like, I think we should just tweet what makes us happy. And just, yeah, just tweet what makes you happy.

Bob Pastorella 29:19

Okay, so I'm going to change everything I just wrote.

Michael David Wilson 29:22

I certainly think in a society that we shouldn't be encouraging people to be more polarizing. Yeah, we need to be bringing people together, we need to be looking at the commonalities. And I mean, some people would disagree with me on this, but I think the vast majority of people however flawed. Their actions, however, horrific or abhorrent, I do think the majority are trying to do their best and they're often acting with love or they're acting with positivity. They might be a little bit selfish. And what they're doing, but they're not doing it to harm other people at once. They might be doing it to benefit themselves. But I do think there's a fundamental difference between the two. Yeah, I think you're right. Definitely. And as I was saying that I do Goddamnit that could be interpreted the runway, it's like, can you sell yourself? Like a fat steak in our context?

Bob Pastorella 30:25

I'm a very JD person. And when I usually when I see a hot take, especially if I don't agree with the outtake, my typical response is, it's like if he, if you say like, okay, X, I watched X last night, it was bad. My typical response is fuck off. Right? Like, you're not giving me any reasons why it was bad. And it probably wasn't bad. It means that you didn't like it. And then all of a sudden, when you say, Well, I didn't like it. And then it's like, no. Okay, well, then find something that you like. Right? Yeah, we know. But when you when you when you say it was bad. You're you're looking for engagement. And I'm, I'm just not going to give it to you.

Eric LaRocca 31:14

Yeah, you either one that has like, I'm just gonna move on. You either want people to like agree with you, or you are kind of maybe want to, like provoke some people into not like a fight, but just maybe a debate dialogue. A dialogue. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And you

Bob Pastorella 31:31

know, it's, you know, I mean, prime example, you know, the new the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie, if you liked it, and that's great. I'm really happy that you liked it. I'm happy it's doing as well as it's supposedly doing. One for me. Sorry. But yeah, then it's mean, it's bad. Yeah, that just means I didn't like it. But when you say that you didn't like something it loses? In other words, like, it used to mean something when we said that we liked or dislike something. We have a like button on social media. But now for you to get any type of reaction, you have to say it's bad. So and then that post will get at the top of the logarithm. So I don't know.

Eric LaRocca 32:18

Yeah, favors. Yeah. favors the negativity, I think. Mm hmm.

Michael David Wilson 32:24

Your short story collection, the strange things we become an other dark tale was concerned with love and relationships for LBA in a kind of dark way, as one might expect. So I wonder, I mean, how do you think you have transformed and mutated while in love both in terms of negative and positive experiences?

Eric LaRocca 32:56

Hmm, that's a great question. Um, I definitely feel like I've been with my boyfriend for like, almost three years, this coming year, it'll be three years. So not like a super long time, but long enough to really know a person and really, like, connect with them. And I feel like I've grown a lot like since we first met, and I feel like I've really grown in really positive ways. You know, he's like, the calm to my storm. I feel like he's very, very relaxed, very, like, level headed very. Yeah, he just, like, calms me down a lot. You know, he just, he does a lot to like, filter the bad and made me realize that things maybe aren't as terrible as I think they are. And it's gotten to the point where now I'm able to kind of do that processing if he's not readily available for me. Like, I'm able to process that and, you know, think to myself, Okay, like, if, if Ollie were here, what would he say to me, like he would, you know, do this and then that and then helped me like, process this. So I've really been able to really flourish I feel like with, you know, mental health and just being like, kinder to myself, too. Because, obviously, you know, we, when we're in relationships with people, we we learn how to love ourselves more, at least I think, um, and that's really what's happened in in my relationship, like, I really feel like I've been able to kind of come to terms with a few things that I didn't really like about myself prior. And I feel like I've come to terms with, with these things. And now I'm definitely a better person for it. I'm trying to think if I, if there's anything negative, though, and I really, I can't, I can't, I can't necessarily think of anything negative, that's, that's occurred. But I will say that, that, that collection, the strange thing, we become another dark tales, like, it's very pessimistic when it comes to love. Like it's very, it's very, like, very dark. And it's it's like the shadow side of love. Like it's the the manipulation, the the heartache, the despair. And I wrote most of those stories, actually, when I was first like falling in love with with my boyfriend. So it's, it's interesting how I channeled something so dark from such a, like a positive good situation. But that's just, that's just the way I operate. Like, I'm, you know, I'm very obviously drawn to the dark and the McCobb. And I'm a, I'm a worst case scenario person. And that's really what fuels my writing. And that collection, I really, I really do. Like, I am very proud of that collection. And I'm excited for Titan to really rerelease it in 2023. And it actually might be titled something different when that comes out. But yeah, those stories, they're all about, like, transformation and how love, you know how love transforms us, and whether good or bad and yeah, and it really took. It's funny, because when I was writing those stories, I didn't necessarily think like, oh, I'm writing about love, per se, but then collected them all together. And when we were like, you know, going to market it, it was just very, it was just glaringly obvious that they all were about love. And it makes sense because I was falling in love at the time when I was writing those stories.

Michael David Wilson 37:25

Yeah, so sometimes it's only when we look back and we've taken some distance from what we wrote that we can see. Oh, that's what was going on at that point.

Eric LaRocca 37:36

Yes, exactly.

Michael David Wilson 37:38

Well, how about the fictional town, Henley's edge? I'm wondering, what is real and what is fictionalized?

Eric LaRocca 37:49

Yeah, well, can we that is a it's a fictional town that I invented, that I've used a couple of novellas and short stories that have been set there. But I'm really excited because I feel or at least I hope a lot of other readers will really be introduced to Henley's edge when clash books releases my debut horror novel in 2023, called everything the darkness eats. And the novel is set in Annalisa edge. And Henley's edge is a very peculiar place, it's very, you know, it's, it's settled in like, it's kind of it's kind of verbatim, like, where I grew up, like on the map. It's settled in like the northwest corner of Connecticut, very small, bucolic town, where just very unusual and harrowing things occur. And I just always wanted to invent a little place like a little corner of the world where I could contain some of my stories and you know, set like a fictional universe there. And yeah, so Henley's edge is very close to my heart and very much modeled after the town that I grew up in.

Michael David Wilson 39:21

Yeah, and I must ask, I mean, what made you go with clash books? Because I imagine that you must have got so many offers in terms of who to put your debut novel with. Why clash?

Eric LaRocca 39:39

Well, I mean, I, I love, love, love, love clash, and I love Christoph and Liza, who are the editors there. I, at the time, when I was shopping the book, I actually didn't have an agent at the time. So Clash was one of the places that I knew would accept a manuscript without an agent to kind of spearhead the submission process. And I was already such a fan of their work because I'm a night worm subscriber and a ton of Clash books have been featured in night worms, subscription packages, a lot of their poetry books, they've done some horror. They have a book coming out by Derek cook called charcoal, which I read recently and blurbed. And then Michael J side linger his book, anybody home is coming out through clash books. And that book is absolutely incredible. It's homerun, it's a home invasion piece. But it's unlike anything you've ever read before. It's just totally, it's like that same feeling I was describing earlier, where it's like, you're reading something that you should not be reading. And it's just so unsettling and just spine chilling to read. And it's, it's one of the best things I've read in a very long time. Just very original, very, and that's huge to me, like originality, because, you know, it's very difficult to do something completely original, and be like, totally, totally unique. And that book is just very, very unique. And I totally, I just admire it so much. So clash books seemed like, like a no brainer to work with. And I submitted the book to Christoph. And he was actually this was right around the time when things have gotten worse, like first kind of blew up. And he was like, Oh, it's so funny. You reached out because I was actually gonna reach out to you and see if you were interested in like submitting something to us because I would love to work with you. And so it worked out great. And he read it got back to me in like, a week or two and was like, This is amazing. This book is awesome. It's like early Clive Barker like the damnation game meets. William Peter Blatty is Legion, like it's just yeah, so he was he knew like what I was trying to do with that book, immediately. And what's great about clash is now they have distribution. So the book will hopefully fingers crossed, you know, be more widely available. And what we're planning on doing, this was also another reason why I wanted to go with clash, because I knew that if I went with like a bigger publishing house, you kind of lose a little bit of autonomy in the process. Not I mean, I, I love, I love working with the big publishing houses. And I think they're phenomenal. But with clash books, it's such an intimate operation. And what we're planning on doing is releasing the paperback version with one cover, and then re releasing the hardcover version in a limited edition for like, only 300 copies, I think, and it's going to be a totally different cover. So that kind of gives us it just gives us like more flexibility. And just, like I said, like it's more intimate. And I have more of a say with how this book gets put together and packaged and sent out into the world. So I'm just like very, very happy to be working with them.

Michael David Wilson 43:27

Yeah, perhaps this is more a question for clash. But I'm wondering, what are the details in terms of the distribution do that they have?

Eric LaRocca 43:40

Um, I'm not entirely sure. Honestly, I know that they're through Consortium, which is like a book distributor. They've had a couple meetings with their, like, marketing department, I believe, at this distribution place. Um, and the hope is that, you know, the book will be on shelves in like Barnes and Noble and Books a Million, like, pick a bookstore. And that's but the hope is that it'll be on those shelves and obviously, like, it really helps that I have. The success of things have gotten worse behind me because it's a little bit easier to market, the new book and kind of go go into bookstores and pitch this new novel, this new novel to them, you know?

Michael David Wilson 44:35

Yes, yes. We're talking about new books. I mean, we'd be remiss to not talk about we can never leave this place, which is coming out later this year.

Eric LaRocca 44:50

Yes, I'm very excited for that. That's coming out through journal stone through its imprint. I don't know how to pronounce it. trepat Dasco trepidation Oh,

Michael David Wilson 45:02

yeah, I think is trepidation to but whatever it is we know is that dark horror imprint from Yeah, no stone people can find them. Yeah.

Eric LaRocca 45:13

They've been great to work with. And I'm really excited for people to read this book. I, it's, I feel like a lot of pressure on it because it is technically the novella. It's not, it's not like a follow up to things have gotten worse in the sense that it's a sequel, but it's the follow up to things have gotten worse in the sense that it's my next novella that's being released, you know, so there is like a lot of pressure on. But it's very, very distinctly different than things have gotten worse. It's more like dark fantasy meets horror, I always describe it as like Coraline meets the Life of Pi. Like, that's how I pitched that book. Like it's very, it's just not what you would expect. If you went into things have gotten worse. And you were like, Oh, I really want to read more of this author, like I hope their catalog is like all of the same as like this. Like people who go into the next novella with that attitude, I think it'd be very disappointed. It's nothing like things have gotten worse. I mean, it still has like some body horror elements and some, some gore. But it's just very, very different. And I've had a lot of I've had some really, really talented writers read it and give me some excellent blurbs. Paul Tremblay read it and loved it and gave me a wonderful blurb, which I really appreciate. Kathe koja read it and loved it also gave me a wonderful blurb and David Demchuk, who wrote RedX and Gretchen Felker Martin, who wrote manhunt. So I've had some really great feedback on this piece. So I'm very, very excited to see how it lands with readers.

Michael David Wilson 47:06

Yeah, and it must be quite a surreal feeling to be getting a blurb from the likes of Kathe Koja. When you know you mentioned earlier she was one of the instrument or write as for you growing up and you know, I, I love that kind of thing. You know, myself, because I've got vivid memories of reading Ramsey Campbell stories as a little kid. And then when we got to chat with him on the podcast, it's like, This is so strange. This is so surreal. Absolutely brilliant.

Eric LaRocca 47:41

Yeah, it's a great feeling. And Kathe was just so so sweet. And she actually reached out to me and wanted me to read her upcoming book with Meerkat press called Dark factory. Which is amazing, amazing, amazing. And after I read that I wrote to her and I was like, kind of sheepishly asking, you know, I have this novella, and it's coming up through journal stone, it's probably not any good, but I'm wondering if you can read it. And she was just so gracious and very, very kind and so generous with her time. And like you said, it's so surreal to be able to interact with these people than I have, like, idolize like skin by Kathe koja was a huge book for me. When I was like in college, like that book was groundbreaking to me to read. And then the fact that she's read my novella with journal stone and said such kind things about it. Like that's, that's just so surreal to me. Yeah, yeah,

Bob Pastorella 48:52

I remember when we can't, he first came out, it was a I'd found out about her to do a horror magazine. And I remember I had that copy of the cipher. And I was I was, I would bring it over to friend's house and make them start reading it. And in the same thing, when the next book came out Bad Brains, you know, and that whole Dell abyss line, you know, it was like that. So if you did told me at that time, that hey, you know, one day you're going to actually talk to Kathe Koja, I'm like, you're on LSD, you know? And, and, and we, we've talked to her, you know, multiple times, and she she is your she's so gracious and so, I'm so willing to help and give out her time and things like that. And it's just, she's amazing. And she she unlike you, man, she she's like a massive inspiration. She is somebody who has written fearlessly.

Eric LaRocca 49:54

Totally, totally. Yeah, I love her. She's very, very sweet and And to be able to just interact with her as an honor. So it was very, very weird to get that blurb from her. But just wonderful too. It was it was it was such a great day.

Michael David Wilson 50:14

Yeah. And something can we keep coming back to is this idea of writing fearlessly? So I think if there's one single takeaway that people should have from this podcast is to write fearlessly, and is to be authentic.

Eric LaRocca 50:31


Michael David Wilson 50:32

Well, I wonder, what advice would you give to your 18 year old self?

Eric LaRocca 50:39

Oh, that's a tough one. Let me think my initial reaction is to say, it's so cliche, but just to tell them that it will get better and that it's like, a little dark right now. And, you know, you're still figuring yourself out. And you know, you're finding your way, but things will calm down eventually, and you will be exactly where you need to be. And easier said than done. But don't worry so much, just don't. Like I said before, don't overthink easier said than done. But just kind of enjoy the journey. Because one day, you're going to be looking back at all of those moments and realize that you weren't present really for them. Your body was there, but your mind wasn't. So I would just I would say, I would say to be mindful of being in the moment and to just kind of recognize your your, your gifts and your talents and know that everything will eventually work out.

Michael David Wilson 52:02

Yeah, very much. brings to mind for me, the John Lennon, quote, if it's not okay, it's not the end. And I think that's a good kind of guiding principle to have in these dark times.

Eric LaRocca 52:17

Totally, totally. It will be okay, eventually. Yeah, it always it always comes down.

Michael David Wilson 52:25

When Well, is there a story that isn't classically considered horror that you would put into the genre?

Eric LaRocca 52:34

Hmm. Well, I mentioned before, like suddenly, last summer that that's usually classified as a drama, but it's definitely, definitely horror. Oh, there's another it's a play. But um, it's, I find it horrifying. And it was actually made into a film in 2000. But it's called quills with Kate Winslet starred in the film, and it's about the marquee decide in his like, the later part of his life when he was kept in an insane asylum. And just the lengths to which he goes to tell his stories and right but it's absolutely brutal. And so, so horrifying to watch like the depravity in that film and what people do to one another and yeah, it's just it's it's a journey. Um, the film is excellent. The play is also really great to read. So I think I would add that to to horror definitely

Bob Pastorella 53:47

that's the one with Geoffrey Rush

Eric LaRocca 53:49

Correct? Yes. Yeah. Which

Bob Pastorella 53:54

you know in though he was in the the remake of you know, the the, I guess the haunting the House on Haunted Hill. But I've long said that he could possibly be the British equivalent of Vincent Price

Eric LaRocca 54:12

Yeah, yeah.

Bob Pastorella 54:14

It's even if you watch and here's the thing I like the remake of The Haunting of Hill House I like the original know the House on Haunted Hill let's make sure we get it right. But the original is a classic too. But he his his portrayal of that character. Is is so Vincent Price without even sounding like Vincent Price Is it is pathetic. So but yeah, I could see how quills could definitely be a horror movie.

Eric LaRocca 54:43

Yeah, it was horror. It's horrifying to watch. I love love that film and love reading the play. And yeah, it's just very, very, very shocking and very horrifying.

Michael David Wilson 54:59

Yeah. Yeah. Well, I'm wondering, what does a typical day look like for you? And has that changed since the success if things have gotten worse?

Eric LaRocca 55:14

Um, yeah, I mean, I, I do still have a, I do still have a day job that I work. I work at a really wonderful Institute in Cambridge. They're very, very good to me, and I love working there. So I still have that I still have responsibilities there. I write, you know, in my free time, and answering emails, you know, but if I'm not working, if I'm, you know, I'm not doing the Monday through Friday, nine to five, then, you know, a typical day will be me waking up and making my cup of tea and maybe listening to some music, and then just going into writing and just I try to write, I usually try to write every day, at least, like 1000 words, some days, it's more, some days, it's less. If I'm working steadily on a project, then I'll try to write like 2000 words a day. But I usually don't like to, like push myself that much. Because you can burn out very quickly. So it just depends on the day. But yeah, I do. You know, I spend my free time writing. And then when I'm not writing, I'm spending time with my boyfriend. And we're going out in Boston going to like events or going up to New Hampshire to visit my parents. And yeah, it's just it's it's been it's definitely been a whirlwind Since things have gotten worse came out. And I'm definitely a lot busier than I was, but I'm very, very grateful for it. So it's, it's been a really excellent journey.

Michael David Wilson 56:59

Yeah. Is your boyfriend into similarly dark films and horror such as yourself?

Eric LaRocca 57:06

No, not at all. Yeah, he loads horror, he, um, it's a struggle to, to get him to watch anything that I want to watch. But like, you know, it's, that, to me is not an issue. I love the fact that he has like his own interests, and that he's not so aligned with what I like, because we're our own people, then, you know, we're not the same person. We both have like very different interests. And we both go off and do our own things. And then we always come back together. So

Michael David Wilson 57:46

yeah, yeah. Although you mentioned earlier that he appreciated Aronofsky his mother, so there is some commonality at least.

Eric LaRocca 57:55

Yeah, yeah. I occasionally get him to watch like, you know, I say to him, Okay, this movie you have to see. And he actually really did like, he did like mother, but I showed him the new Texas Chainsaw movie, and he hated it. And I wasn't really much of a fan either. But yeah, just it. I think it depends on he's not huge on gore. He doesn't like, you know, people getting mutilated, and, you know, in your face type of violence. He likes more if he's going to watch something that I suggest he prefers it be like more psychological.

Michael David Wilson 58:40

Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. So probably he won't be having a ReWalk your martyrs with you?

Eric LaRocca 58:48

No, definitely not. I haven't I've never shown him martyrs because I'm afraid that our relationship might end.

Michael David Wilson 58:54

Yeah, that's definitely not. My romance advice. Do not. Show it Matis. Yeah. Yeah. All right. Well, this has been absolutely fascinating. And we really do. I appreciate you spending the vast majority of your evening chatting with us. But I wonder, where can our listeners connect with you?

Eric LaRocca 59:24

Yeah, so I'm on Twitter and Instagram. My handle is I just changed it like a month, maybe a couple weeks ago. So now it's hysteric teeth. Um, and that's on Twitter and Instagram. And then I update my website occasionally, not as often as I should. But if you have any questions or any comments, concerns, whatever, there's a contact form on my website. You can get in touch with me there and that's EricLaRocca.com.

Michael David Wilson 59:59

Why have to ask what was it prior to Hysteric Teeth and why did you decide to change it?

Eric LaRocca 1:00:08

So before it was EJ LaRocca, which is my initials, and then my last name, and I decided to change it because I didn't want to necessarily confuse people because I thought maybe if I kept EJ LaRocca people would start referring to me as like EJ LaRocca as opposed to Eric LaRocca and I, I want my author names and definitely be Eric LaRocca. And a lot of people kind of started referring to me as like Eric LaRocca, or some people I think did tagged me and like posted me as like EJ LaRocca because of my Twitter handle. So I thought you know what, I'm just gonna get rid of that and change it to hysteric teeth. And, like, let people use my name that's on my like my my name on Twitter and Instagram, which is written out as Eric LaRocca and I changed it to hysteric teeth because teeth have always like creeped me out. And I've always I don't know why, but I've always loved the word hysteria. I just think it's like a really beautiful word and it reminds me of like Suspiria a little bit but also the fact that like hysteric has my name in the in the the word Eric, you know, H Y S T E R I C. Um, so that just was like, I just thought it was like perfect for that and I went through a couple other you know, name options that I ran by my boyfriend but all of them were like already taken by like other users on Twitter and Instagram. So hysteric teeth was the only one that was was still available and I think it works great. So I'm happy with it.

Michael David Wilson 1:01:56

Well, that's a good plan for now until people start referring to you as Mr. Teeth but

Eric LaRocca 1:02:03

that's true.

Bob Pastorella 1:02:05

Well, Mr. Teeth

Michael David Wilson 1:02:09

Do you have any final thoughts for our listeners?

Eric LaRocca 1:02:14

Just uh, you know, I appreciate you connecting with me in my work and longevity it's very important to me in this industry. And I really am honored to be able to tell stories and to have you connect with me and connect with my characters and piece the pieces that I write. So I hope that you'll have me for many more stories to come and I look forward to sharing more of my my nightmares with with you all.

Michael David Wilson 1:02:52

Thank you so much for listening to Eric LaRocca. On this is Hara. Join us again next time when we'll be chatting with Daniel Willcocks. But if you want to get that ahead of the crowd, if you want to get every episode ahead of the crowd, then become our patreon@patreon.com forward slash This is horror. Not only do you get early bird access to each and every episode, but you also get to submit questions to each and every interviewee. And coming up soon is Caroline Kepnes, the author of YOU, which is not only a great book series, but also a great television series on Netflix. Now before I wrap up, a little bit of an advert break.

Bob Pastorella 1:03:40

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Michael David Wilson 1:04:53

As always, I'd like to end with a quote. And this is something to ponder from Kazuo Ishiguro? There was another life that I might have had but I am having this one. I'll see you in the next episode with Daniel Willcocks but until then take care of yourselves, be good to one another, read horror, keep on writing, and have a great great day!

Did one of you just dropped your microphone it sounded like? What did you do Bob. Bob is down!

Bob Pastorella 1:06:32

the cord to the to the headphones is was was wrapped around the base and I didn't realize where it was and I tugged on it and next thing I know I'm watching my microphone just kind of start to lean out in a good way. So I grabbed it real fast.

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