TIH 515: Eric LaRocca on Everything the Darkness Eats, Writing Authentically, and Managing Writing Expectations

TIH 515 Eric LaRocca on Everything the Darkness Eats, Writing Authentically, and Managing Writing Expectations

In this podcast, Eric LaRocca talks about Everything the Darkness Eats, writing authentically, managing writing expectations, and much more.

About Eric LaRocca

Eric LaRocca is the Bram Stoker Award-nominated 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 0:07

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 with the world's best writers about writing, life lessons, creativity, and much more. Today, we are chatting with Eric low rocker. And we primarily talk about his brand new novel, everything that darkness sees from Clash books. And as you have a lot of these conversations, it is a two parter. Now, in this first part, we really dive into Eric's writing philosophy, writing authentically, and we reflect on how Eric feels about this release as well as how we should feel about our releases. Now, there's a lot of deep writing philosophy, as I said, and we delve into the very reasons why we write in the first place in this episode. At times we go to some dark places and there's even an exclusive announcement about a forthcoming project for America. So a lot is packed into this episode. I think there's a lot to love. I think you're all going to have a great time listening to this. But before we jump into the conversation itself, a quick word from our sponsors.

RJ Bayley 2:07

It was as if the video lid on zip to my skin, slunk inside my tapered flesh and become one with me.

Bob Pastorella 2:15

From the creator of This Is Horror comes a new nightmare for the digital age. The Girl in the Video by Michael David Wilson, after a teacher receives a weirdly rousing video is like descends into paranoia and obsession. More videos follow each containing information no stranger could possibly know. But who's sending them and what do they want? The answers may destroy everything and every one He loves The Girl in the Video is the ring meets fatal attraction from iPhone generation, available now in paperback ebook and audio. From the host of This Is Horror Podcast comes a dark thriller of obsession, paranoia and voyeurism. After relocating to a small coastal town, Brian discovers a hole that gazes into his neighbor's bedroom. Every night she dances and he peeps, same song, same time, same wild and mesmerizing dance. But soon Brian suspects he's not the only one watching. She's not the only one being watched. They're Watching is The Wicker Man meets Body Double with a splash of Suspiria They're Watching by Michael David Wilson and Bob Pastorella is available from this is horror.co.uk Amazon and wherever good books are sold.

Michael David Wilson 3:25

Okay with that said, here it is it is Eric La Rocca on this is hora. Eric, welcome back to This Is Horror Podcast.

Eric LaRocca 3:39

Thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to be sitting here with you guys and chatting about more horror books. I think it's great. It's so exciting.

Michael David Wilson 3:50

Yeah, I was looking at how long it was since we last spoke to you. And if This Is Horror is correct. And I feel like now it's not been that long. I'm doubting the correctness of this. It seems like it's been five months already. But it really feels like, you know, we were just speaking the other week, but apparently, five months have passed since we last spoke to you.

Eric LaRocca 4:20

Wow, it doesn't feel like that. It doesn't feel like five months. It feels like so much shorter. I feel like I was just doing this with you. Yeah, good way. I say that in a complimentary way. And I love talking with you both.

Michael David Wilson 4:35

Yeah. Well, I mean, as it has been five months have been the biggest changes both personally and professionally in that time, if it had been five weeks, so to skip that question, but as we've had mount, let's find out what has changed for you.

Eric LaRocca 4:54

Well, um, I think the last time we spoke I was promoting Mike collection, the trees grew because I bled there. So that came out and was really pleased with the reception for that book. I thought it did really well Titan was really pleased with it. It's gone into, I believe, a second or maybe third printing now. So it's doing really well. And people seem to be responding very well to it, which makes me really happy, because that's one of my favorite books I've released. Other than that, since we last spoke, I've, I've had a full length novel come out everything the darkness eats, which I'm sure we'll be talking about today. And that's been an interesting journey, just from conception to getting it with clash. And then eventually, Titan, who picked it up like after clash had purchased the rights for it to publish it. And yeah, that's, I mean, that's been a really interesting eye opening journey, just putting out a full length novel into the world. Because previously, all of my releases were short works, like novellas, short stories. So I've never really had the chance to kind of create something that was longer, that was like a full length work that people could really sit in the world for longer than maybe like 100 pages and really dive into those characters and explore the town that I created, called Henley's edge. So that was exciting. For me, that was definitely exciting. For me. There came some challenges, of course, like the editing process, it was, you know, a pretty smooth editing process. But that presented some challenges in and of itself. And then just like my relationship with the book, my relationship with the book has definitely changed since I first wrote it back in January 2021. So this was a couple of months before, the very first edition of things have gotten worse came out with weird punk. So I feel like in a lot of ways, I was like a completely different person when I wrote the very first draft of this book. So it's funny because publishing is so slow, that you write something, and then it goes through all these channels before it's able to be like put out into the world. And by the time you're there promoting that book that you wrote, like two years ago, you're not even really thinking of that book, you're thinking of like the next thing that you're writing, or, you know, you're busy thinking about the next world that you want to create. And you're kind of at least for me, like, I'm really impatient. So I'm just like, What can I What can I create next, like, I want to be talking about this book that I'm currently writing. And it's frustrating sometimes because your your headspace has changed in the time that you know, you wrote that initial draft to, it's now published. So I'll be honest, like, I do feel like a teeny bit disconnected from the book now, just because it has been so long. But it you know, still, it's been a great, it's been a great journey for the most part. And then, as far as you know, other things that are new, I don't believe or maybe maybe we did discuss it. The last time I was I was on with you guys. I have a trilogy of books coming out with Titan. They bought like a three book deal for me. So I've been, you know, just working diligently on on those books. And the trilogy is called the Bert Sparrow trilogy. It was announced in Publishers Weekly, which was really awesome. And I've just been, you know, steadily working on on those books. The first book is already finished. So I'm working on the second book now. And other than that, like I've just been attending a few events, I went to stokercon, which was really fun. This year, that was a great event got to be on some really fabulous panels with other really talented authors and just amazing voices in contemporary indie horror fiction. And it's been great. So I've been doing I've been doing really well, the past few months. Yeah,

Michael David Wilson 9:41

that is awesome to hear. And I mean, there's so many different directions, I could now take things. I mean, one of the things you were saying about and of course at the moment, you're kind of on the promotional circuit for everything that darkness is by In terms of where your head is at, you're thinking about whatever it is you're writing. Now, and I've been thinking a lot about that recently, because I mean, as you know, I've got this new book coming out house of bad memories in a few months. But I'm currently redrafting, the next novel daddy's boy, I'm also thinking ahead to the one after that, and it's like, wow, I gotta get back to the original headspace that I was in, when I was writing this book. But that started years ago, and trying to get into that space. It's a difficult one. And it's a dance that we always have to do as writers, this is something that comes up again and again. And so I mean, I wonder with that in mind, is there anything you've done or that you do to try and get into that headspace? I mean, do you do a reread of your book and then see how you respond to it, which then kind of leads into what you said before about your relationship, changing with the book and how you feel towards it. So I mean, I wonder when so much time has passed? Does that almost mean that you reading your book your reading get more as a reader rather than the offer?

Eric LaRocca 11:36

Yeah, I feel whenever I reread my material, especially if it's something that's been written like a long time ago, like, I mean, two years to me, I consider like, that's a pretty decent amount of time that's passed. I approach it almost like a reader. Like, I don't look at it, like, oh, like I wrote this, it feels I feel, like disconnected from it in a lot of ways. And I think it's a classic writers dilemma to have projects that we've written, you know, months years ago, that we publish, and our relationship changes with them. I think that's perfectly natural. And I want to make sure to honor that. Like, I don't think there's anything strange about it. I think that that's perfectly natural. Our relationship with our projects, I mean, they're ever evolving. And I think, you know, going into any project, I feel like you need to be cognizant of the fact that you're, I mean, you're putting out something that will obviously touch a lot of people, and it will belong to them in certain ways. But it's still, it's still belongs to you. And it still is a part of you that you put out there. So just to answer your question, as far as like what I do to kind of get back into that headspace I, sometimes I do reread the sections from the book that, you know, I find especially poignant or meaningful. And I try to just kind of remember why I wrote that scene why I wrote the character that way. And it does help sometimes. Yeah, I would just, I would just say, for anyone listening who is going through a similar experience, just kind of be mindful of those things. And like, why you wrote the piece in the first place. And I honestly, I've learned a lot about the book through reviews of the book, and not just like traditional, like trade published reviews, like Library Journal and The New York Times. I've learned about the book from just like reviewers on booktube. And Goodreads, even though like I know, I shouldn't be looking at Goodreads as much as I do. But I really have learned a lot about the book. And I've learned, I've learned that the book is really rooted in this idea of how hatred devours everything, and how hatred and like bigotry, and prejudice, like all of those things, like it really eats away at everything in your life. It corrodes everything around like in you and around you. And I don't think I was like, conscious of that when I was first writing the book. And I read that in a review somewhere on I think it was like story graph, or maybe it was good reads and I thought that was like really interesting. And I think it just goes to show you like there are really thoughtful, amazing readers out there who are dice Selecting these books, and they're bringing their own, you know, ideas and their own experiences to the table, and they're showing you like they're opening doors in your mind of why you wrote this book. And I feel like any READERS RESPONSE is valid to, to any, any work of fiction. And I'm really interested, I mean, I put out work, because I'm interested in what people think about it. You know, so I, I agree that, like writers should stay out of reviewer spaces, to an extent and not comment on reviews. But I think it's totally natural to be curious about what people think about the work that you're putting out there. It's like a dialogue that you shouldn't really take part in as a writer, like, you shouldn't like, comment on those reviews or anything. But in a lot of ways, it will help you learn about, like, oh, that uncovers like a layer of the book that I really hadn't considered before. And it was like a really powerful moment for me that I was like, oh, like, I see, I see why that that reader thought that. And they're right, they're valid. And that was a huge turning point for me. And that was a moment that made me appreciate the book a lot more. Because previously, I had been a little down about the book. I mean, the release went well enough, like in the United States, and it went pretty well in the UK with Titan. But it, it's hard, because when you have the viral successively, things have gotten worse, like blowing up the way anything compared to that feels a little less than feels like, oh, like maybe it's not hitting the way it should, like maybe it's not resonating with people the way it should. And I did get a little down. And it really was rereading sections of the text of the book that really brought me out of that. It was reading some reviewers responses to the book that really showed me, oh, people are thinking critically about this. This is you know, people aren't responding. That's important. And that's really kind of pulled me through the slog of promoting a book that I do, in some ways feel a little disconnected from and it's, it feels weird to say that I feel so disconnected from it, because from the outside, it looks like a relatively successful book because we were reviewed in the New York Times we got like an amazing review in the New York Times we got a starred review in Library Journal in Rue Morgue. You know, a lot of amazing authors blurb this book like Brian Evanson, Bentley, little Chuck Wendig. Jama are more like just amazing authors that blurb this book. And even then like that validation, like, still, I was still hung up on a few things about the book and the way in which I told the story. And but sometimes like rereading those comments, and like rereading those blurbs like that, in and of itself is a boost. So I would say to like writers who are, you know, going through a similar experience, like maybe print out some of those blurbs and just like pin them around, you're off. And that way, you can look at them and kind of remember, oh, people, like, you know, your peers, appreciate your work. Your peers, you know, validate you, they appreciate what you're doing. I think that's, that's totally fine to do stuff like that. But, you know, all of that said, it does feel weird to say that I do feel somewhat disconnected from this book only because on the outside, it did look like a relatively successful release. But I know in my heart that every book I put out there, it's not going to be a perfect I'm not going to have a perfect relationship with every book that I release. And that's totally fine.

Michael David Wilson 19:25

Yeah, and I mean, it sounds like, you know, you've got for one of a better word, almost Fight Club syndrome, where you put out your initial book, and it's so wildly successful, that it's then like, well, how can you replicate that every time? I mean, Jack, Paul and Nick, obviously a very, very successful writer, but I don't think he's had a book that has hit the mainstream in the way that fight club did and so it's just navigating a What do you do with that? I mean, you know, even for me, if I look at my first release The Girl in the Video that kind of tapped into people more than subsequent ones have and I just think it's, it's knowing that one book kind of doesn't define us Eve away, even if you know, the media, and people might always mention that one book. So,

Eric LaRocca 20:28

yeah, so true. Because it's like, I often feel like a pigeon holed in a lot of ways. Like, oh, author of things have gotten worse since we last spoke, because that's the only book that people really reference. I mean, they sometimes will reference you've lost a lot of blood, or we can never leave this place. But for the most part, it's things have gotten worse since we last spoke, and I don't resent that, like, I love that book. I, I really, I'm so happy that that book is mine. And that I wrote it and I put it out into the world. And I'm still very proud of it. But it is a it's a it's a dilemma that I've faced where every release after that just hasn't really captured people in the same way and hasn't been as divisive. Well, I shouldn't say they haven't been as divisive because a lot of my releases do get very like polarizing responses. Like you get like the five stars, this was sick, fucked up, disgusting. I loved it. And then you get the one stars, this was sick, disgusting, sucked up by hate. So, you know, I shouldn't say that they're my releases aren't divisive anymore. But it just seems like you know, the one book that hits, you kind of fall into this weird state where it's like, you're always trying to catch up, and you're always trying to, like replicate that. But I think when you try to do that, I think you set yourself up for failure. In some ways, I think, I put so much, I put so much pressure on this release everything that darkness eats because it was my fault. First full length novel. And I think I it was a detriment to myself in a lot of ways, because I wasn't able to really enjoy the book, I was so focused on like numbers and like how we were charting and, you know, how we were doing, like selling the print run, and, you know, making sure that everything was like going smoothly with like, you know, it's just the at the end of the day, like you cannot control the way your book is received by the public. And you cannot control like the narrative of your book, outside of the book. Like you can control the story that you tell, but you cannot control the public's perception of that book. And I think that's what I struggled with so much was that I really wanted to, like, I struggle when I'm out of control of things like I'm a control freak, I love having things like perfectly kind of meticulously planned I like having things like allotted for where they're supposed to be. And a lot of publishing is just such a risk. It's such a gamble. Like you never know, what's going to hit what's not going to hit. So yeah, for me, it's been I think it's I've set myself up for like emotional, emotional damage. And that like I Riley, I really wanted this book to reach certain like markers and for in like in my head. And it didn't need those markers. But that's okay. Because at the end of the day, like it's one blip on the radar screen. Like it's not, it doesn't define my whole

Michael David Wilson 23:59

career. Yeah, I hear what you're saying. And I think something because well, that you must be really aware of and you must be mindful of is, I mean, I feel that the stage that we're at now, we're about one month after release, it is too early to say, you know, this is a blip, or this hasn't met certain markers. And I mean, if you think of Birdbox by Josh Malerman, it wasn't really until the movie came out that it really went to the next level. So if I see a book or a story of mine, and I feel like oh, this hasn't done as well as I wanted it to, I think well, the journey isn't over yet. It's still happening. You look at Edgar Allan Poe was a tragic figure. So many levels but his work was and recognized properly until after his death. Now I'm hoping I'm hoping that we've everything that darkness eats that it will be recognized a little bit sooner than after your death? Because I don't know it is does that really bring you comfort? It's like, oh, people like it. When you're dead. It's not one I'm tracking dead and it doesn't matter. Like, like it now. Appreciate it now. But yeah, I do think that there are so many factors and things that could happen. So I try not, I guess consider any of my releases to have been failures. I know you haven't used a word as strong as that. But I, I think that this is continuing this as a journey. So I think I mean, that's a good way to be protective of your mental health as well, to keep these things in perspective. We don't know what will happen. I mean, we've seen with some people, it can be like, in three years, Stephen King decides to read the book, he puts a tweet out on acts as it's now known breaking news, breaking rebranding, get the platform, then suddenly, that goes viral? Do you sell a load more copies? You get a movie adaptation of it, you get a movie adaptations of another book, then they read everything that darkness eats? And then, you know, perhaps one scene or I wonder what scene it could be. Everyone's talking about it, and how that goes viral? So yeah, the journey, not only is it not over, it hasn't, has barely begun. So yeah, I just felt it was important to state that not only to listeners, but to you. And Rick, I think it's something you need to hear.

Eric LaRocca 27:02

Yeah, I appreciate that. I get so wrapped up in each release that I don't remember to, like, take a breath. And just remember that it is just part of the journey. It's not the end all like I don't have my entire career hanging by a thread on this one book. But I'm, I'm kind of a worst case scenario type person. So when things don't go as I want them to, it's like Armageddon to me. Yeah. But I do hear what you're saying. And I totally agree. And that's what I've been trying to work on, in like therapy just on my own with like my therapists, like, you know, because I really agree, I really think that mental health is just so so important. To kind of recognize the fact that this is a journey, I'm in this for the long haul. And, you know, I'm a, I'm a career writer in the sense that, like, I want to, I want longevity in this business, and I don't want to burn myself out. So I'm really trying to work more diligently on being like kinder to myself, and not putting so much pressure on things anymore. It's just, it's just difficult because this book, everything that darkness eats, like, I really did put a lot of pressure on it. And I regret putting a lot of pressure on it. I regret. I regret putting all that weight on that book, because it's not fair to that book, for sure.

Bob Pastorella 28:37

A lot of this reminds me of like John Carpenter, when the thing came out, and how it was, you know, when it released, it was universally hated multiple bad reviews. He had like the short end of the stick when it released because it came out and around the same time E T, came out which I mean, we we've all seen et we know it's a great film, it's you know, but now if you look at the thing, and it is considered in horror and in science fiction, one of the greatest films that's ever ever been made, and it's special effects, just just one part of it, just the special effects alone are considered a benchmark against what CGI is measured against. So and we're talking about a guy had to re mortgage his house and and blow out his credit cards just to get the movie done. And I think what would really inspires me about that whole story is the fact that pretty much after that John Carpenter decided he didn't really give a fuck about any of it. He wanted to make movies. That's all he did. He was like, I want to make my movies. I'm going to make my films. I don't give a fuck what you think about it, because you didn't like the best thing I ever did. You know, he goes, but I'm going to do that. And that to me, that's very inspiring, because there comes a point where you Have you have given it your all? Nobody liked it? Yeah, first and then you're like, you know what, fuck you, I don't really care. I'm gonna do what I want to do. And I love that aesthetic. It's like, just just do it. You know? And I think I think you're kind of you're kind of at that at that point. Yeah. And like, you know, hey, here's the thing, man, your book. It's a great book. I hope I hope it's polarizing, because I love that kind of shit. I think it's great, because that means it caused the reaction, instead of, you know, just was three stars. Start as good, don't get me wrong. But when you have something that that is going to be polarizing, you know, effect. And I mean, I feel like that after reading the book, that we're me and Microcenter chatting with, you know, the hair parent to Clive Barker. I mean, you, you, you've knocked this thing out of the park. Man, this book was brutal. If you if people are listening to this, and you haven't read it yet, and you needed to steal a copy, I don't care. No, don't do that. But read this book. Because it was incredible.

Eric LaRocca 31:13

That means a lot. Thank you. I, I really appreciate everything you said, I especially loved what you said about John Carpenter, and how he just like, didn't give a fuck after the thing. And I feel like I'm going to be entering that era pretty soon. Because it's like, well, you didn't like me and everything that darkness eats, then fuck you, like, you know, I'm, I'm gonna keep doing my thing. And I'm just gonna keep I'm gonna keep I just want to have fun. Like, I just, you know, the minute that this writing journey starts to be like, monotonous and boring. And like a chore to do is the day that I'm just going to tap out because I, I want to continue to just have fun. Like, I want to write my disturbing stories, I want people to react, I want to get all those one star reviews, I want to get all those, you know, three, four, or five star reviews, I want it to be polarizing. But I just want to enjoy myself, you know, and I think a lot of a lot of the work I'm doing with like, therapy right now is just rebuilding a lot of my identity and myself and realizing, you know, I'm doing the best I can I wrote the story that I was capable of writing at that time. It is what it is. It's polarizing, it's divisive. And if you don't like it, that's your problem. It's not my problem. I'm just gonna keep doing. I'm gonna keep doing my thing. And that's all I can say about it.

Michael David Wilson 32:44

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And I will say, I mean, whilst you, Eric, the person gives a fuck, and is deeply sensitive. Your work doesn't give a fuck. And of course, in the moment, you know, maybe there are times where you have reluctance, like, Am I really going there? Am I really going to do this, but you do. It's always authentic. It's always unapologetic. And so I mean, you're already on that path with your stories. And that's an amazing thing, because it should be an unfiltered that kind of no holds barred vision, it should be the purest, most authentic Eric la rocker story. And, and it always is. So I mean, yeah, it is completely natural. That UK, you are a human being. So of course, you can write. Yeah, but the writing the writing, it doesn't. And that's exactly how it should be. So you're already on that path. I guess the confusion is that there's a disconnect between, you know, the story and the person behind the story. But I mean, that's kind of a good thing. We don't want to confuse the artist with the artist, very much.

Eric LaRocca 34:15

That's the thing that like, actually, I had therapy like earlier. Yeah, last week. And one of the things we talked about was, how there's Eric, the human being, like the, the person that I have that like only my friends and family. No. And then there's Eric, like in the spotlight in like in front of all the readers with my books, like there's that version of Eric, and I need to separate the two because right now they're way too entangled. And I need to be more mindful of the fact that a lot of what I do is like, a lot of what every writer does is like the kind of performance art like work out there, putting our stuff out there for people to criticize. But we have to build a wall up to protect our sensitive side, like our sensitive selves from that criticism. And I'm all for criticism. If it's constructive, I think it can be really helpful. But we have to protect ourselves from the comments, the hate filled comments that are like insinuating that we're like bad people because we write transgressive, you know, in your face, confrontational type horror fiction. So what I'm trying to do is I'm trying to disconnect the two, I'm trying to disconnect myself more from the art that I put out into the world. I'm really trying to be more present and just know that like, Eric, the human is separate from Eric the artist.

Michael David Wilson 35:56

Yeah. Yeah, that makes total sense. And I think it's something as right as we should all aspire to do, but it's a hell of a lot harder. So I think we have to also cut ourselves some slack when we can't quite separate as fully as we want to. It's like, right, this is what we're aspiring towards. This is what we're aiming towards. But we're not we're not always gonna get there. Because we are flawed human beings. We are imperfection by, by definition by creation, and that, that's just how it goes. But as long as you know, we're aiming for that, then hopefully, we're getting a little better on average every day, but some days, we regress, and that's okay. That's, that's how it is.

Eric LaRocca 36:48

Yeah, no, definitely. Life is all about taking two steps forward, and then taking four steps back. That's totally normal. Yeah.

Michael David Wilson 36:58

Yeah. And I mean, I think everything the darkness eats is the most polarizing the most divisive story that you've put out, since things have gotten worse. And so when you said as well, you know, you've been really digging deep into the reviews I O. is quite the space for you to have.

Eric LaRocca 37:25

I'm trying to stay clear as much as I can. But I do get curious because I'm, you know, I put the work out, like I said before, like I want, I want to know what people think, you know, I'm interested in what people think I'm interested in those conversations. And it Yeah, it's been, it's been a rough. It's been a rough ride. So but that's my, you know, that's my own fault for looking so. Yeah, but it's very polarizing. And, but that's okay. Because that's what I write. I write very polarizing fiction.

Michael David Wilson 38:00

Yeah. Did you anticipate this reaction? Is this kind of when you? No, no, I can see.

Eric LaRocca 38:11

I could not i It's so funny, because when you put something out, you think at least I think now because I've been desensitized because of things have gotten worse. There's all the shit that was said about me with that book. Yeah. I, I sometimes think to myself, like, man, what are they going to say about this? Right before it comes out? And I'm always surprised they always find something that I didn't think of, you know what I mean? Yeah. And, and it's, it's fascinating, because it means people are really like digging deep and really interacting with the material. And that is really exciting for me. But it, it's just, it's just interesting the way people like perceive certain things. And it's interesting how if you write a certain character a certain way, or if you present a storyline in such a way, some people think that you're condoning that awful behavior, or that shortcoming in that character. And it's really, I can't even be like too upset on it. It's just like, how do we get from A to B here, like, just because someone writes transgressive and dark and divisive horror fiction, it doesn't mean that they're evil. Yeah, you know, it doesn't like I'm not writing a fucking manifesto of like, my, like, perversions and like my, you know, just I'm not writing like a doctrine on that. I want people to like, follow. Yeah, I'm writing the story. Like it's not real. None of its real. Yeah. So that's, that's, that's been my takeaway from it a lot is just like, some people do get really bent out of shape with fiction. Like none of you real.

Bob Pastorella 40:21

I think it's crazy, because I think a lot of that actually stems from something that we were we were told as writers a long, long, long time ago, and we've all heard this. And it's right, which, you know, and I think that, that people don't understand exactly what that means. I mean, and I'm, when I was a young writer, I was, you know, and I'm still I still consider myself a young writer. You know, I think that's the best way to think of yourself. But I always thought that that meant, you know, things that you knew, it's like, you know, and so, you know, one of the things I write what, you know, at the time, when I first heard that I was actually in the car business, and I'm like, Well, I'm gonna write a book about car salesmen and how transgressive that can be, I'm gonna write it from, from the position of, of, you know, just a nasty ass car salesman, having a really, really bad day and things go really out of control with the customer. And that's not right, would you know, is it's, it's basically to me, it, there's probably multiple interpretations, it's right from your heart. Right from from what you're feeling and things like that. I think when people see that, and they say, Well, hey, writers, they write what they know, and they know about this kill. And because they've been writing about the killing, you know? And it's, it's like, Do you realize that there's a thing called fiction that there's like, a whole fake world out there, and there's multiple fake worlds infinite fake worlds, and we're taking your story that may be very, very realistic to you, but it's not real. And I think there's, there's a disconnect there, you know, and it's like, what do you do with those people? It's like, you've seen people, it's like, Hey, I don't even like watching sex scenes in movies. Because those people did not consent to me seeing them nude. What are you talking about? They're not even real painful. But I mean, it's like, okay, and so when I see stuff like that on social media that gets a block, I'm sorry to block you. That's just because, you know, as Michael Savage didn't really call people stupid, but you know, Hey, there we go.

Eric LaRocca 42:37

Sometimes Great. Sometimes really grateful of those like really like volatile inflammatory reviews that are like the one stars because they jump usually to the top of the algorithm. So like something that's like, oh, like, I saw one the other day that was just like, about everything the darkness eats, and they were like, This is just like snuff porn? And I'm like, Yes. Like, I love that you have that reaction? Make it go viral. You know, like, I feel like sometimes those people think that, I don't know, I don't know what their endgame is that they're thinking of, because on one hand, if they think that they're going to like, denigrate a book, and like, cast it off, and be like, I'm never going to read this writer, again, when you write something that inflammatory, it's going to bump it to the top of the algorithm. So more people are going to see it. So more people are going to be curious about that book. So I don't know if they're going to be if, if they're, I don't think their intention is to make the book more well known. But in a lot of ways, that's what they're doing. Like they're making the book, they're publicizing the book more than I could do on my Twitter. You know, so I'm sometimes really grateful for those reviews that are like, really nasty, and like, calling me names and saying that like, the book is like garbage, because people are inherently drawn to that. Like people are curious like, oh, I want to read this garbage now, you know.

Michael David Wilson 44:16

Yeah. And cooling it snuff for and I mean, it's so much the cover quote. They might have said snuff pulling and giving it one star, but other people will think how would you got to read that? How would you sustain snap on for an entire novel? I see how he did that by you and someone else that have like another disposition might be like he he pulled it off snuff porn for an entire novel five stars. So it is, anyhow. Yeah, yeah, I think. I mean, I find the star system almost arbitrary anyway, especially when there were only five stars to give. So it invariably means that there will be four and five star novels. You know, if I have to give a rating, but there's obviously a hierarchy. It's like the point system is to, is to limiting, but then also at the same time, I mean, it's just so silly to because why am I even, like denigrating? You know, even if you even if you had, like, the whole percentage, how would you define between an 86? Or an 87%? novel? So it does get really? Yeah, it's really Yeah. Yeah, and it depends on the mood, you know, in terms of what you're into at that specific time where you're coming from. So, yeah, we, we might just do better if we got rid of any sort of rating, and it's like, here is my critique of the book, you can decide yourself, what does that? What does that ultimately mean? But again, you know, having these these stars, I suppose it helps more with the algorithm, and we've sensationalizing something can that's, you know, what the internet economy has turned into? Yeah.

Eric LaRocca 46:34

I think you're a I mean, there are some really awesome reviewers who just don't use stars, the star system at all, they just, yeah, use, like, they just mark it as red. And then they write all their thoughts, which, you know, I don't have a strong opinion on, either, like, you know, if you're gonna put stars like, that's fine. If you're going to, you know, just mark it as read and write your thoughts. I'm just grateful that the book is being read widely. I think that's really important. And it's, it's really cool to know that a lot of different kinds of people are reading something I wrote.

Michael David Wilson 47:15

Yeah, yeah. And I noticed, actually, recently that there was now an option on Goodreads to just read, and then write your thoughts. And I really like that because I've, I've been reluctant to really, rate and or review things on Goodreads because, like, I find, like now that I'm a critic and a writer, that there's almost a conflict of interest. And also, you know, when there's so many people who are friends, it's like, I don't I don't want to upset someone because I wrote, I gave four stars or something like that. And it's like, 4000. That means it was really bloody good. Yeah, wasn't perfect. And, and nothing is perfect anyway, so don't worry about it.

Eric LaRocca 48:09

Exactly. Exactly.

Michael David Wilson 48:11

Like, I remember when I'm writing reviews, I'm sorry. I was just gonna say I remember when I first got into this, and I know, naively, like Oh, it'll be okay to just write my unfiltered honest opinion of my friends work. And I had a little less a few fewer friends by the end of that, but, you know, and I really came to respect some people because it's like, you know, particularly even looking back on it, like, holy shit, I was quite escaping, and we still remained friends. For that, but, yeah. You know, it's nothing personal. But then, at the same time, I mean, I yeah, I don't critique things a lot anymore. Anyway, because I do see that being a bit of a conflict of interest as a writer and a critic. I mean, you, you can do it, but I'd rather choose which split which space do I want to play in? And then yeah, that's the area for me. So you know, it's obviously right. And that was always the dream. I didn't you know, read stories when I was growing up and then go I'd love to be a reviewer. That's what I wanted to do with my life. And yeah, maybe I should apologize to people who didn't because I said that really disparagingly. Nothing wrong with that. It just wasn't what I wanted to do. Right? Yeah.

Bob Pastorella 49:51

I'm a previewer. I'm not a reviewer or on this Now crazy, you know, and I remember at a con, I can't remember who it was it said to man, I love your you know, look out for reviews. I'm like, those are reviews. I haven't read those books yet. They're like, why do you do that? Like, it's called, I'm excited about something I think you should be excited to. No idea of the books can be good or bad. I mean, I'm hoping it's good. The premise sounds great. Let's get excited about some fiction out there, you know, and that's pretty much where it's at. So I'm a preview man.

Michael David Wilson 50:37

So listen, and I mean, you said before that there were some challenges during the editorial process of everything that darkness eats. So I mean, if you're willing to talk about them, I'd love to get into that. What were some of the challenges? What were some of the surprises both good and bad?

Eric LaRocca 51:02

Well, I can tell you the the editing process was a couple months of just me working with Christophe at Clash books. Who was great love, love Christoph love clash. So it was really us, like, going through the narrative, threading things together. You know, making things sing the way he described it. It's like, you know, the paragraph the the scenes have to sing. Because Christoph said, like, multiple times, he felt like, this was me. Composing like a symphony, you know, things have gotten worse was like my metal punk. Like, you know, album or whatever. And this was like, my classical like, symphony, orchestral moment. So a lot of it was just making sure certain things, you know, resonated, that they sounded good. That it just that it just flowed organically. But I will say, I've been told that I'm allowed to announce this on this podcast. So I'm gonna I'm gonna say here first. Ever since we published the book, I've been very what's the word I've been feeling like unmoored by the ending of the book, I felt like something was missing from the ending. And I talked to Christoph about it. And what we're going to do is we're going to put out a very special hardcover edition in October for Halloween this year. And I've written a completely new ending for the book. And it's going to be published through clash in the US and North America, like US and Canada. And it's going to be a completely new ending with new elements, new things that I added to the book. And I never thought I would do this before I thought that, like once I wrote a project like that would be it, I'd be done with it. I've really been feeling lately, like there was something missing from this book. And I just have felt so compelled to go back to it. And getting in that headspace was like very difficult to begin with, you know, because like I said, I wrote this back in January 2021, like a couple months before, things have gotten worse first came out. But I, I successfully like got back into that headspace. I rewrote some sections of the book, I rewrote the ending. And it feels like Christoph kind of likens it to how Trent Reznor would like do new Nine Inch Nails songs, like after, like the first one, and then he would like redo certain sections from it. And it's like, it's just like, an ongoing relationship with the creative process. And it actually like really excites me to put this new edition out. And I'm not marketing it as like the author's preferred edition. I'm just putting it out as like a remix. Like this is just like, you know, a new fun version of the book that you can either read the paperback in the US and the Titan hardcover in the UK, you can read those versions and be fine with the story. Or you can have this updated remix that I wrote that just like plays around with the ideas from the original source material. And you know, just enjoy the new version. But it's it's just supposed to, it's just supposed to be fun. Like it was just me trying to have fun with this book, trying to kind of reconcile my feelings with it and put something out that I am just like really excited about so I'm really I'm really excited that we're putting it out, I think it's hopefully going to be like October 24. But we're still waiting to, you know, hear about like, deadlines and all of the stuff because clash has distribution. So they need to put it through like the proper channels before we like, officially do like a big reveal. But we are going to be putting it out in October this year. So I'm really, really pleased about that. And I hope listeners who have read the, you know, the source material of everything that darkness eats, I hope that they might consider reading the New Edition just to like, have fun with it. And that's what this is just supposed to be, I really just want to stress that enough. It's just supposed to be like a really cool gift for the hardcore Eric Baraka readers.

Michael David Wilson 55:51

Okay, first of all, this is incredibly exciting, and I can't wait to see what you've done with that is that is wild. And I mean, you know, we were speaking before how you felt some negative feelings towards this initial release. And it just occurred to me as you were saying this, I mean, you know, maybe you've been feeling like something is missing, because like, literally, there is like putting this version is what will make you feel complete. It's like you've opened a cycle, it's still open, we haven't closed the release of everything, the darkness is because you need this out in the world. So even though you've been talking about numbers and metrics and things like that, it might be that you find in October or November once, you know, some time has passed, and you've released this new version, that it's like, that's what was missing and you feel more content. And I mean, it's obvious from what you've just said, how excited you are about this anyways, so I got a feeling that after the new addition is released, that you're going to feel more at peace and I certainly hope so.

Eric LaRocca 57:18

I hope so, too. I don't want to put all my eggs in one basket and be like, Oh, this will fix me like this. I've changed my whole mood about the book but I am like you said I'm so energized about this new release. I think it was the right way to go. I'm really glad that I'm working with a publisher as like small and as contained as clash in the US so that we could do something freaky like this and just put out like a brand new edition of the book. Yeah, I mean, it's just I think readers are I think they're gonna respond to it. It's a very different ending for the book it's a lot darker and boy very fucking dark this ending and it's just it Yeah, I don't I don't want to spoil anything but I'm just really happy with with where the novel went. And I think you're absolutely right Michael like if it felt like something was missing from this release. And I feel really confident in this new edition that we're going to put out I don't know if it's going to fix everything like all of my complicated feelings with the book but you know, I know that the cover art is going to be absolutely bananas because we have I can say it here we have a painting from Kim Jacobson who did the cover art for things have gotten worse so it's going to be the original title or weird position so this cover is gonna just be like absolutely bonkers and I I'm just so excited to share it with everybody

Michael David Wilson 59:03

oh yeah they want you not to go full rocker but he's gone full rocker for the end honestly, like I mean yeah, there is more light at the end of this novel than then there often is then Eric la rocker stories so

Eric LaRocca 59:23

all that goes away in the

Michael David Wilson 59:30

darkness no more light in

Bob Pastorella 59:33

the words right out of my mouth man. Darkness is eaten it all.

Michael David Wilson 59:39

Yeah. Yeah. Now how limited is this edition going to be Do you have a number in terms of the amount of hardcover books there will be? And is this absolutely a case of once that first run is done? It's one and done is stethoscope that if there's a hell of a lot of demand, you could put this edition now in. Well, just just in a wider way.

Eric LaRocca 1:00:10

Yeah. So this edition we're treating almost like a brand new book. Yeah. So we are putting it out as a hardcover, ah, US and Canada, no limit on copies that will hopefully be in bookstores, it should be in bookstores, because clash has distribution. Like I said, we were thinking about doing like a special limited run. But the more I thought about it, the more I'm like, I want everyone to be able to have access to it. So it should be like a brand new page on Amazon. And I think it'll be linked to the same Goodreads profile, just because it's like the same book, it just is, like a little, you know, it's just the hardcover edition, really, we are treating this like a brand new, you know, just a really awesome release. So I'm excited.

Michael David Wilson 1:01:03

Yeah, and that there's gonna be new content occurs for the ending? Are there gonna be any rewritten sections? Or little easter eggs or additions? Kind of at the front of the book? Or is this purely like you're getting I guess, like, 80 90%, the original and then oh, shit, that's quite the turn at the end.

Eric LaRocca 1:01:27

Yeah, I mean, certain elements from the first bunch of chapters like I've, I've added some little bits. And I've added, I've changed certain the way certain scenes play out. But for the most part, like the big change is the ending of the book. Because I don't want to stray too much from like, the original book that we put out. But I was really just compelled to write this new ending, because it felt just so unfinished for the past couple months. And I'm just like, I want to put this out, I want to put a new ending out. I want it to be really bleak. I want it to be really dark and just unsettling. And I think we got it. So. Yeah, I think it's I think people are going to be really interested to check out this new addition.

Michael David Wilson 1:02:25

Yeah, yeah. And it's interesting to how we don't see this rewriting industry mixing a lot within novel writing within fiction. I mean, of course, there are exceptions. We've seen rough games, why write definitive versions of some of his tanks? We've also seen Brian Keene do that as well. But generally, this kind of rewriting or re mixing is far more prevalent within music, and within film, but we don't see it in fiction. And it's almost like, there's this unspoken rule that you don't do it. But I feel like why the hell not. I mean, like, me, me and Bob periodically have this discussion that we wrote a novel together, They're Watching. And then when we wrote the screenplay, it completely changed, like the dynamic of the story. And I, I said to Bob, yeah, what if we wrote a novelization of the screenplays? You know, the screenplay was a film adaptation of the novel. But what if we now wrote a novelization of the screenplay, because things are so different? Bob wasn't so on board. And as energetic as me, I feel that it is still a distinct possibility for the future writing, it would be an interesting thing to do Bob's faces not looking as confused about it. But you know, I can work on Bob, it's okay. There may be something there and it would, it would be a Yeah, a different version. and, and why not? Because even when, when a story is written, and we've had this discussion before, I feel that it continues to be written by critical feedback by reader interpreting interpretation. Like the story is still growing, it's evolving. So this is just taking it to a more literal kind of evolution.

Eric LaRocca 1:04:42

Yeah, and I want to make it clear like I didn't, I didn't make these changes to like appease people who were like, critical of the Book who thought like, you know, certain elements were like, gratuitous or thought that certain characters were like, poor The poor representations of a specific community like I don't, I'm really not interested in that kind of feedback to be perfectly honest. Like, I'm more interested in like, the creative, like my creative energy and just like how I respond to like my own work being out in the public eye like I, I really felt like something was missing at the end of this book. And it was that darkness like it was that like, kind of Bleak energy that you get from like, you know, a Clive Barker story, or like a Ramsey Campbell tale. I really wanted something that packed like a lot of a punch. I wanted something that was really visceral and really upsetting. And I wanted something that made people go, Oh, my God, I just read this whole book and that like, and I've suffered so much along with the characters, and now look at where we are, like, we're even further down in the suffering. And when we first started, like, I love shit like that, like I love. I just love really bleak nihilistic type of type of endings. So it was such a thrill to go back into this story and really re examine why I wrote it, and also add new layers to it and new complexities that I think a lot of readers are really going to respond. Maybe not well to, but they're going to respond for sure.

Michael David Wilson 1:06:43

Yeah, yeah. Thank you so much for listening to This Is Horror Podcast with Eric low rocker. Join us again next time for the second and final part of this conversation. But if you would like to get that ahead of the crowd, if you would like to get every episode ahead of the crowd, become a patron on patreon.com forward slash, This Is Horror. Not only do you get early bird access to each and every episode, but you can submit questions to the interviewee. And soon we will be talking to Stephanie parent about her wonderful novella, the briars, and we'll also be talking to Sadie Hartman. So, if you would like to get a question to them, if you would like to listen to story on Bob's the horror podcast on the craft of writing, and believe you me, you should absolutely want to listen to that because we have a great episode. Coming up with Neil McRoberts at a token scan podcast, in which we are going to unbox session nine. So head over to patreon.com forward slash, This Is Horror. Have a little look at what it is we offer and if it is a good fit for you, then I would love you to join us. Okay, before I wrap up, a quick advert break.

Bob Pastorella 1:08:18

From the host of This Is Horror Podcast comes a dark thriller of obsession, paranoia and voyeurism. After relocating to a small coastal town, Brian discovers a hole that gazes into his neighbor's bedroom. Every night she dances and he peeps, same song same time sing wild and mesmerizing dance. But soon Brian suspects he's not the only one watching. She's not the only one being watched. They're Watching is The Wicker Man meets Body Double with a splash of Suspiria They're Watching by Michael David Wilson and Bob Pastorella is available from this is horror.co.uk Amazon and wherever good books are sold.

RJ Bayley 1:08:57

It was as if the video hit on zips my skin, slunk inside my tapered flesh and become one with me.

Bob Pastorella 1:09:06

From the creator of This Is Horror comes a new nightmare for the digital age. The Girl in the Video by Michael David Wilson, after a teacher receives a weirdly arousing video is like to send to the paranoia and obsession. More videos follow each containing information no stranger could possibly know. But who's sending them and what do they want? The answers may destroy everything and every one he loves. The Girl in the Video is the ring meets fatal attraction for iPhone generation available now in paperback ebook and audio.

Michael David Wilson 1:09:35

Now before I sign out, I would just like to let you know. Now I have a new novel coming out on Friday the 13th of October. It is called House of bad memories and it will be published via cemetery gates media. And we recently revealed the cover over on night worms.com Home. So if you would like to see that please do head over to night worms.com It is a sensational cover by Vinnie Jiang who has also done art for the likes of Stephen King and China meet Avial and Robert McCammon I think he's absolutely knocked it out of the park on this one. And I'm really excited for you to all get to read house of bad memories will pitch your net as funny games meets this is England with a Rosemary's Baby under taste. So you can get the skinny on now on night worms.com You can head over to cemetery gates media's website and you can preorder it right now. But I'll be talking a lot about it on This Is Horror on the website and keep an eye out this is horror.co.uk and Michael David wilson.com Cause I'm really excited and I think you should be too. Now as always, I would like to end with a quote and this is from Michael McDowell, one of Eric law rockets influencers so it seemed apropos to close out the episode with this. Someone once asked me what I thought horror fiction did, what its purpose was. I replied that when I wrote horror fiction, I tried to take the improbable, the unimaginable and the impossible and make it seem not only possible, but inevitable. I'll see you in the next episode for part two with Eric La Rocca. But until then, take care yourselves. Be good to one another. Read horror. Keep on writing and have a great, great day

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