TIH 517: Nick Cutter and Andrew F. Sullivan on The Handyman Method, Successful Collaborations, and Story Pacing

TIH 517 Nick Cutter and Andrew F. Sullivan on The Handyman Method, Successful Collaborations, and Story Pacing

In this podcast, Nick Cutter and Andrew F. Sullivan talk about The Handyman Method, successful collaborations, story pacing, and much more.

About Nick Cutter

Nick Cutter is the author of the critically acclaimed national bestseller The Troop (which is currently being developed for film with producer James Wan), as well as The Deep and Little Heaven. Nick Cutter is the pseudonym for Craig Davidson, whose much-lauded literary fiction includes Rust and Bone, The Saturday Night Ghost Club, and, most recently, the short story collection Cascade. His story “Medium Tough” was selected by author Jennifer Egan for The Best American Short Stories 2014. He lives in Toronto, Canada.

About Andrew F. Sullivan

Andrew F. Sullivan is the author of The Marigold, a novel about a city eating itself, available now from ECW Press. The Handyman Method, a novel co-written with Nick Cutter about home improvement gone wrong, is out now from Gallery Books / Saga Press. Sullivan is also the author of the novel WASTE (Dzanc) and the short story collection All We Want is Everything (ARP). He lives in Hamilton, Ontario.

Show notes

Thanks for Listening!

Help out the show:

Let us know how you enjoyed this episode:


Podcast Sponsors

The Girl in the Video by Michael David Wilson, narrated by RJ Bayley

Listen to The Girl in the Video on Audible in the US here and in the UK here.

They’re Watching by Michael David Wilson and Bob Pastorella

Read They’re Watching by Michael David Wilson and Bob Pastorella right now or listen to the They’re Watching audiobook narrated by RJ Bayley.

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 to Nick cutter, and Andrew F Sullivan, about their brand new, co authored book, the handyman method. And as you probably know, as you may know, Nick cutter is one of the pseudonyms of Craig Davidson. So during the conversation, I do sometimes refer to Nick as Craig. So don't worry, it's not that a third offer has entered the call. It is just that Nick is actually Craig. Now before we get into this conversation, a little bit of an advert break.

Bob Pastorella 1:38

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.

RJ Bayley 2:17

It was as if the video had on zipped my skin slunk inside my tapered flesh and become one with me.

Bob Pastorella 2:26

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 of his life 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 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 2:55

Okay without sad here it is. It is Nick Carter and Andrew F Sullivan. On This Is Horror. Craig, welcome back to This Is Horror. Andrew, welcome to This Is Horror.

Nick Cutter 3:13

Thanks so much for having us.

Michael David Wilson 3:15

Appreciate it. Yeah, it is a pleasure. And we're primarily here to talk about the handyman method and what an absolute trip of a book is, there's so much going on. semantically, there are some really visceral scenes that I think will give Chuck folinic and guts a real run for his money. We're gonna get into that imminently. But before that, I want to know how did the two of you first meet?

Nick Cutter 3:54

Andrew This is normally this is the part of the minuet and duet that we run together that Andrew handles so I'll let him do that.

Andrew F. Sullivan 4:02

Yeah, I probably I was reading Craig back when I was in a warehouse working at like a liquor warehouse on night shift. And I read a short story collection you had called Ruston bone, which is probably like 2005. And yeah, it was like, Oh, this guy is a Canadian, and he's writer on so cool. And then you know, went off on my own way. And then years later, when I had a short story collection coming out, I noticed Craig Davidson had this book coming out called cataract city. And you know, I was very young and stupid. So I was like, I'll just email him because that's, we both have books were the same. And I was like, Hey, can I send you my short stories? And he was like, Yeah, I guess. And then I did and he eventually did get back to me. And he was like, Well, my wife read them and I read them and we both liked you. So you're okay, like you're you're safe. You know, we met up for a drink. He invited me to a Christmas party and then uninvited me like two days later. And then because he wasn't allowed to bring guests, and then. And then yeah, and then we sort of became friends that way, we started playing cards with some other writers in Toronto. But we didn't really work together on anything for probably eight or nine years. Like, we were just friends who knew each other who knew each other's writing, Craig would read my manuscripts told me to keep writing that kind of thing. And then he came to me one day, and he was like, Hey, we should write a short story together. That would be fun. And I was like, oh, okay, if you say so. And then he was like, Oops, I just had a second kid. I can't raise anything with you right? Now I have to focus on that. So a year later, I was like, do you still want to write a short story. So this is a very long, convoluted way to be like, we were friends for a long time. And then we just decided it would be fun as friends and people who respect each other's work to write something. And I came to him with this idea of a haunted handyman YouTube channel. And Craig was like, All right, let's do it right now. And one thing about Craig is his work ethic is absolutely nuts. So we just pounded through a draft of a short story and kind of got it out there. So that's kind of the origins of that. It was just, you know, knowing his work him knowing my work us kind of coming together. It did feel really natural. But it's also you know, if you've been hanging out with a guy for eight or nine years, you hope it would work. It doesn't always it doesn't always, like Craig and I have both had experiences of trying to collaborate. And they're your best friend, or they're a great guy. But I literally once had a guy leave me up a tree and a story. Like, I came back to the story. And the character was in a tree, and there was a bunch of dogs around the bottom. And I was like, Well, I can't do I can't do anything with this. I mean, I'm sure it could have but it was just a perfect metaphor for like, collaborating doesn't always work. But it felt really natural and normal with Craig to kind of create these worlds together. So that's the long version of the story, I guess.

Michael David Wilson 7:12

Yeah, nine. I mean, it was quite a risk for you to send these stories. Almost unsolicited. I mean, at least you sent a kind of pre email where you were like, do you want the stories?

Andrew F. Sullivan 7:24

Yeah, no, it was a very arrogant and bold thing to do at that age. I don't think I'd be brave enough now. I think we also kind of I'd asked some writers to I was like, Oh, is this credit guy cool? And they were like, oh, yeah, he's, he's cool. Just say, you know, like, it's fine. You're, you'll you'll be okay. So I kind of had some pre warning that, you know, it wouldn't be the end of the world. And he could have always ignored me too. I mean, he's pretty good at that.

Nick Cutter 7:53

People, but ignore obligations and dimes and, you know, checks that show up or not checks but bills, at least before I got married. But no people I don't ignore but I mean, I think there's that certain like brazenness I remember when I was a young writer, Chuck Palahniuk, who we just, you know, you just mentioned, came to Calgary. And I had, I had Rust and Bone was coming out and, you know, had arcs or whatever, and I wasn't sure what to do. But I knew I really liked Chuck. And he was, you know, an influence of mine. And I really, and so I just showed up at the reading and went through the line, wherein most people are buying a book. And I'm like, Oh, I came with a book for you. And maybe, you know, you'll read it. And, you know, my, my source whole spiel was like, his first book Fight Club was with Norton, Rust and Bone was coming out with Norton. You know, sir, we weren't with the same editor. But, but it was brazen, looking back, I'm like, this is deep, a deeply brazen act to do that you're young enough, and you're sort of bold enough, and you're determined enough, and you are not really sure of maybe the right or even respectful way to do things. Not that not that I'm saying that Andrew did that. But like, I'm just like, Well, how else am I going to get this opportunity, it's not going to come around again. So you just sort of take these opportunities and risks and obviously some of them don't work out. But with Chuck, it did. And obviously with Andrew, it led to like, not only a long term friendship, but this some collaboration, which as he said, started as a short story and mutated in many ways from that point.

Andrew F. Sullivan 9:27

And I will say I did not open with an we should write a book together that will be soon. You know, that took about a decade to build up to you know, short story collection was 2013. So, we're here in July 2023. It's been a bit of a trip since then. Yeah.

Michael David Wilson 9:43

Yeah. So the message for starting right as is if you contact to never write a you might be collaborating with them in a decade. Probably doesn't normally work out that way, but it is possible Empty.

Nick Cutter 10:01

Seats take a while to germinate. But you know, you never know. And I think too, I know Bob and Michael, like, when you're starting out as a writer, I feel like it's very much like I've been approached by fledgling writers at readings. And, you know, there's a weird sense, I really, truly believe that they're like, you know, if you take my manuscript, which sometimes they come with, it's like, well, you'll just go to your publisher, and you'll walk through the door, and you'll say, all right, you'll slap it down on the desk and say, I, let's start with 100,000 copies, I want this out the door, I want it printed. Like, as if we have that, you know, sort of ability, you know, most of us are working hard to get our own books published. And, and, but but again, you're young, and you're just not sure how the machinery of publishing works. So it probably feels to a lot of writers like this is a viable possibility. Like, if this person likes my work, and he or she champions my work, then that's the entree that I need. And, you know, you can't disabuse them of that. It's just something that they'll learn as time goes on. But like, I usually admire the the determination, at least that that comes with that kind of entity.

Michael David Wilson 11:16

Yeah. Oh, yeah, definitely. And, I mean, as Andrew has illustrated, with the whole being left up a Curie analogy, I mean, a lot of collaborations and a lot of partnerships don't necessarily work. And I feel I mean, when finding someone to collaborate with, you need someone who has enough in common in terms of the writing style and aesthetic, but they also need to be distinct and different in some way. Otherwise, you might, might as well have just written it on your own. So what were kind of the qualities that you saw in each cover? That meant that, you know, it was a good partnership that you could complement and contrast in terms of styles and what you're bringing to the table? Andrew, you are me.

Andrew F. Sullivan 12:10

I mean, I'll start I guess we've I can start with that. Yeah. I think the thing with Craig's work generally, is there's like, a depth and breadth to it, that I don't really find in a lot of other modern horror writers. There's, there's a generation now that I kind of do, but for a while, like, I think Craig was the one guy who like had read everything, the good and the bad, and he had taken the good stuff out. And he filtered it and found the gems and kept them. And, you know, a lot of that's coming from me when I'm reading his work from like, you know, obviously, there's the king foundations that everybody has, but, you know, guys like Clive Barker, who are not afraid to get gooey and weird and upsetting and really bodily. I think that's something a lot of people say about the cutter books, right? Like they are very visceral. They are very, you know, I don't think they're quite as extreme as some people think. But I think Craig has a way of like creating characters, and then putting them in these visceral bodily situations that make it hit harder. It's not just Oh, this guy's head got cracked, open, it's like, Hey, you just got to know this guy for 10 pages. And now he's had a cracked, like, there's an impact to a lot of the body horror and other things he's doing. I think the troupe has a lot of that. And so I think, you know, for me, that's the stuff that really sticks out. And maybe it's different from what I do. And it is also somebody who really is tapped into, I mean, especially I've been thinking more and more about it as going back to handyman and also looking at the other stuff, cutter stuff, like how much of Barker is in there. And I want more people to see that, I guess, because I feel like that's somebody who really, you know, when he was up against it with publishers and stuff, Barbara was very like, well, this is what we're publishing, you know, this is my work. This is the visceral reality I want to share. And, you know, I'm hoping for like a resurgence in that. And I've always kind of found that to be part of Greg's work. That isn't necessarily in mind, but it's something that I really respect. So that's kind of where I guess I see Greg's influence coming from

Nick Cutter 14:27

Yeah, when and when the way that we sort of work work and because he you know, you're very right, Michael is like, what, what are the dualities in your writing styles or your fixations that kind of can bounce off each other in really interesting ways. Ideally, I suppose, you know, and, and you never know, right? You can like a person and you can admire their writing and then you wonder how that friction is going to work on the page. And, you know, there's not too many too much evidence of writing collaborations out you know, screenwriters do it a fair bit, but writers I think have obviously The King and strop did a couple books together. Skip and Spector were a big in the in the, I guess in the mid 80s or late 80s. I, after that, it kind of goes a bit. I don't know Bob or Michael, you can think of anyone else in the horse here who doesn't like consistently or I'm not quite sure.

Bob Pastorella 15:21

What's his name? Arman Rosa Mila, he tends to do a lot of collaborations that I've noticed. I know Alan Baxter has done some as well. Not so much lately. But in the past, he has, like, a whole series that he's written. So but yeah, I mean, it's, you don't really see it. And you're right. It's, it's more in Screenwriting. You know, it's, um, but it's interesting. It's an interesting thing. I think we should have more collaborations, you have to find the right people to click with. Yeah, that's, that's the key.

Nick Cutter 16:02

That's exactly what I'm talking about. You don't know, you don't know, until you actually get there in the crucible together and start trying to work through these, you know, problems that every novel, you know, cracking characters, essentially cracking how to how to sort of tell this story. But I mean, what drew me to Andrew, you know, I mean, I think all the really, like, I've said this before, I think I say in the afterword, I think like the galvanic, big brain. Ideas in the book come from Andrew, I think those are the fruits of his imagination, you know, and I was fortunate enough to sort of be gifted some of those things that I wouldn't have come up with, if left my own devices. And so I saw my role in that in that case, was to, you know, to work with the gold that Andrew had, you know, had had fruit fruit in of his imagination, and, and so I think that's what really worked, if anything, I suppose, as Andrew said, I'm sort of, well, I wouldn't say encyclopedic. It's not that but I certainly have, I've read a lot and sort of understand that I think the trappings of horror and how to like kick a story along. Whereas Andrew has, you know, some of these ideas that I haven't seen before that feel really new to me, and, and so that's sort of, that's how I see our collaboration. And on top of that, there's obviously the shared, you know, sort of sociological stuff that I think we were trying to work our way through. We're obviously from different generations, Andrews at least 10 years younger than me. So we're coming at it from slightly different vectors, generationally, but I think, you know, men are men, essentially, in some of the things that are male hang ups, were probably back to the Piltdown days when, you know, we were banging at rocks with sticks.

Michael David Wilson 17:56

Yeah, I think so. And I mean, I wonder for Andrew, why was this story? Why was it the idea of a possessed YouTube channel? Why was that the idea that you wanted to collaborate on? With Craig? I mean, I was this an idea that you'd had for a long time, and you needed that missing ingredient? And it happened to be that Craig was the ingredient, or was it something in this particular subject matter? Or is it more hey, that's the next story idea on the list? Why not bring Craig in for it?

Andrew F. Sullivan 18:39

Yeah, um, honestly, I think it was that. Like, it was that it felt right. For Craig, like, it was something that, you know, sort of seeing, I guess, you know, a lot of Craig's earlier books and other things, like they're dealing with masculinity, whatever else and, you know, but they're often about, you know, failure and not being able to succeed or being, you know, jammed up in your life and, you know, that frustration, and I felt kind of some resonance there. And this YouTube guy, like my idea of this was, you know, this pleasant handyman sort of character. Craig has this sort of like an effect sometime where he does kind of feel like he fell out of time. You he has sayings and things like, Oh, my good fellow, my fine fellow, how are you? Oh, geez, you know, he's just got this sort of, you know, he's 10 years older than me, but in some ways, you know, it could feel like he fell into 1955. And then, you know, you parallel that with, you know, his day to day life where he's, you know, he's also this, you know, very kind guy who's very, you know, raising his kids and being really supportive. Other writers, but also you know, his own man and you know, committed to what he wants to do. And so I was like, okay, so we have daytime Craig, who's wonderful guy. And then we also have Nick cutter who comes out at night. And I mean, that's kind of who handyman Hank is, in a way, like handyman, Hank is this guy who's your friend, he's going to help you out. But he also has some things to tell you about how the world works, man. And you know, you're gonna get real with it, brother. And I think, you know, I thought Craig could really bring that to life, because I think you've seen that duality. And I think he and I are both able to, you know, walk on both those sides, you know, you go to, you know, a literary event or festival and you're, you know, shaking hands with everybody else. And then you go back to your hometown, you got to deal with, you know, or the ship kickers in the neighborhood or whatever else. So, I think creg to me would understand that he understood sort of that duality and those two sides. And that if we wanted to explore this almost like algorithmic possession, right, like, you know, you go on YouTube, you're like, Oh, I'm gonna watch a fun video about this car. And then seven videos later, they're like, and, you know, other cars are gonna turn you into frog like, there's quickly you end up in like conspiracy land, or you end up watching Warhammer 40k lore videos, or like, you just end up spiraling into crazier things, and you're not even pushing buttons, you're just letting it happen to you. And, you know, I felt it would be a good matchup there. So, you know, and I think it was I was right, like, I do think, if I want to write, you know, kind of specifically about these dudes who just can't handle the world changing around them, you know? Craig sees both sides of that, and is able to kind of provide some direction and also some grounding to, you know, I'll be like, Oh, no, this will happen. This happened. He's like, okay, but no one cares, yet. We got to make them care about this. And he's very good at, you know, making people give a shit about the characters in the story, even when they are terrible people. So yeah, that to me was, it was a project that I thought was for Craig and me, it wasn't something I'd worked on by myself. And I felt pretty confident about it when I did bring it to him that okay, you want to work together? Well, this is what I think we should work on. That's kind of one.

Michael David Wilson 22:26

Yeah, my understanding is that it started off as a short story, then a novella, and then a novel. So I mean, maybe Andrew, that was actually your original intent. It's like, right, well, Craig's not gonna agree to a novel might agree to a short story. And it's like, ah, oh, no, look what's happened. We happen to rewrite those paths. Right into the

Andrew F. Sullivan 22:54

sun. Oh, man, you gotta you know, you got to slowly winch it in. Yeah, no, I think the story started, honestly, because we were like, oh, let's just do a story as friends, we'll sell to a magazine. That'd be fun. And then we showed it to some people. And you know, you get used to agents or other people being like, well, this sucks by. And instead, people were like, this is like, we want more like, don't just have this be a story. Like, please, we want more. And it took a lot of thought and a lot of work to take it beyond that. And we were working with really good people who got it like our editor, Ed. He was one who was like, he kept pushing us and we were like, okay, and if we do this, this is a novel now when he was like, Yeah, okay. So maybe we got trick to there. Trickery everywhere. Trickery everywhere. Trickery everywhere, Michael. Um, but yeah, it was this thing where like, the ideas were all there from the start, like a lot of the concepts and, you know, most of the pieces were there, and it was flushing it out. Which works well. And also, I think we wanted to write something that was succinct. You know, it only has four or five characters. It is this sort of tight thing. Because, you know, I had just written a novel with like, 20 points of view. And I was like, Alright, no, I need to do something. That's just straightforward. I'm still crazy ideas still grow still fun. But let's like keep it in the family. If you so to say.

Michael David Wilson 24:29

Yeah, and I love how slowed like, in a good way, the transformation of handyman, Hank from just this like, almost innocent, like he's your older brother and saying things like, Well, if you're gonna shave your bows, you better not use an electric razor shaver and it's like, well, he ain't wrong. Don't do that. But then soon, things are getting sinister. They're getting upset. Same violent and, you know, then the climax is like, oh shit. Yeah. So that it's so organic, this transformation. And I mean, it's exactly as it would be and kind of as the age when you're getting sucked into these, like algorithms when you're just watching a video. So, I mean, was that something you had to go over a lot to get it just right, because the pacing is spot on.

Nick Cutter 25:34

That's, that's a good. That's a good point, Michael, I would, I would say to just, you know, me and me and Andrew have done a lot of these. And it reminds me of the last time you got, you know, you asked very good questions that are good springboards and good places to sort of jump off and talk as intelligently as I'm able to about some of these things. So, yeah, I think I think the progression was important to kind of get it right. And, to me, it reminds me of, you know, I find that I think I've I tend to agree with people, even though I don't agree with it, but like, say, if I'm if I'm in a position of like uncomfortability, or where somebody else is kind of de facto in charge, like the one time I went to get a haircut, and the, you know, the guy's halfway through the haircut, when he starts being, you know, you know, Trump's got some good ideas, let's just, let's just lay it on the line here, you know, this guy is got some really good ideas. And I think anybody who has half a brain would agree with that. And it's like, I mean, what am I going to do now? I mean, you're sort of forced to be like, somewhat in agreement, you know, I mean, it wasn't like, I was like, You're right. Can you show me here? You know, can we go to a manga mentioned together? It wasn't like that, but you're sort of like, I'm kind of at this guy's mercy. So like you, you know, you don't say what you would really rather say, because A, maybe you don't want to provoke an argument with essentially a stranger, I just, I never went and got a haircut there. Again, when it would be the same if you're like, in a cab, and the cab drivers sort of has a similar type of argument. And you're like, you know, I mean, I don't want to argue and some of it's just simply that, like, I don't want to get to an argument, I'll just, I'll just sort of like, let this play itself out. And then I just won't, you know, I'll leave without him knowing how I really feel about the whole thing. But I think there's something in the Hank, say, Trent interaction that has, you know, has sentiments of that is like, if you don't say anything, if you don't express yourself, if you allow another person's point of view to sort of wash over you, without sort of fighting back or expressing your own opinion, or saying what you really feel, which I think is strangely I think a lot of men and women do, then you sort of you, you know, that hair cut ended, and that cab ride ended with that person thinking that they were right, and that I agreed with them. And in a way, that means that they kind of one, just because I wasn't willing to sort of have that out with them. And, you know, now I argue with cab drivers all the time. I just started yelling at them immediately. But you know what I mean, it's sort of like, I do think sometimes I have actually, because of those experiences. I actually had arguments with people who I'm never going to see again, but because I can't live with the idea that they would go away thinking that I was in agreement with them just because my sort of like lack of interaction left them to that with that, you know, belief, right, so, so I think there was some elements of that with Hank. And that Trent just sort of slowly slowly gets beguiled and pulled into his orbit. And for his lack of really like interaction, sort of passively accepting the things that he says he's ultimately, you know, cinching the neck, the noose around his own neck and getting pulled deeper into these things. And of course, it doesn't doesn't hurt that in some ways, Hank is kind of speaking his language and appealing to the sort of I don't know sort of neutered, sort of, you know, sort of male inadequacy that Trent is clearly feeling right from the start of the novel.

Michael David Wilson 29:17

And it's interesting to you know, consider what to do in these situations that we've all been in when somebody starts like giving their spiel their worldview, and you completely disagree with it. And I mean, typically, I guess just because like, time is finite, and I've used up I used up a lot of arguing with people I disagreed with in my 20s. I kind of just think, well, if I don't think me, expressing my opinion will in any way, change theirs then I'm I generally don't say that much, I might say You know, I hear what you're saying, but I disagree with you, and then leave it at that, because it's an awful lot of energy to put into a fight or an argument. That is ultimately when when you walk away, you're both going to have exactly the same point of view. So I tried to think about what do I think the ultimate outcome is going to be in it, that strategy seems to have worked quite well. So far. I mean, I've, I've actually had conversations with, like, there's one person who, who voted Trump in the first election. And then we had these conversations, and I convinced them not to vote Trump in a second that they didn't vote for Biden, but they they didn't vote for Trump, they voted for some third party. So to me that that was a positive outcome of that conversation. But you know, most people, it's like, this is my view, nothing is going to change it. And it's like, wow, well, what's the point? Now, obviously, you've made a good argument. The point is for them not to walk away, thinking they were right. But if I just say I disagree with you on that, that's the minimum effective dose as Tim Ferriss, we're talking about his late right, I don't agree with you. There, that's that, but I'm not gonna get angry. It's like, look, since since we last spoke, I have gone through a divorce and a custody battle also, like so many things. Now, they just seem so trivial, is like, Look, if you if you want to get me angry, try harder. Why don't you fucking take my kid and then we'll have a conversation, but at the moment, it's just like, I'm gonna be passive about it, because you're not worth my time. Yeah,

Bob Pastorella 31:59

Sam a little bit different. But I'm at the point now to where I'm kind of like, Michael, it's like, you know, there's, there's a lot more, there's bigger fish in the sea. And, you know, occasionally, and I have to deal with the public on a daily basis. So, you know, you get all kinds of people. And occasionally, you get somebody you're having a pleasant conversation with, they're gonna say something with, you know, something that you completely disagree with. And what I've learned is that, instead of arguing with them, or anything like that, I just basically just, you know, a really lightly been taken more of a passive approach and say, Hey, I really don't want to talk about that. I'm glad that that you do. And I'm sorry, that I don't want to. And I hope that you're not offended, but I just don't want to talk about that. And, you know, especially if I'm trying to, like close a sale, you know, I'm not gonna, you know, it's like, oh, well, you're a magnet. Okay, nevermind. Yeah, then then, you know, I'm going to, Hey, Bob, you got a pretty bad survey, and I'm like, I don't care. They were piece of shit. You know, so I want to be able to, to kind of defuse a situation like that. And outside of work, I've found that's even easier in situations, you know, it's like, Hey, I don't want to talk about this. I just don't want to, and which is a lot different. Because last year, I would have blown the ass up about stuff. You know, but you know, it's, it's like microstates are bigger fish in the sea are real there really is. There's more pressing, pressing issues in our lives than that.

Nick Cutter 33:48

Yeah, you're both correct. I and I agree with you. And it's it's rare that I get into these type of arguments with with strangers. I save that for my family members, we get involved? No, I tend I tend not to get into them. I weird though. Maybe it's pandemic hangover or something and it but I do find my my temper rising weirdly over certain things. And, and I think maybe it is again, you know, you tend to write about things for all sorts of reasons, but some of them is to reflect these sorts of weird feelings that bristles for you from time to time, and how can you investigate them in a fictional through a fictional lens and maybe find find a way, you know, to sort of talk about them without, you know, talking about them in the quotidian way in which they occur in your own life? And, and I think YouTube is a part of that too, you know, because it's like it's a one way sort of, you know, conduit and and if you're watching you know, a given individual, then if he or she is sort of presenting a certain point of view. I mean, you sort of just have to receptively take it because there is no way to sort of talk back to that person and then you You're choosing obviously what channels to watch and, and what kind of morality to sort of, to accept passively. And that's, you know, in this case, that's what Trent is doing, even though in some ways he has little choice in it. Well, I don't know if I'd say that maybe Andrew, maybe he does have choice in it, but he's, it's speaking his language. Let's say that.

Andrew F. Sullivan 35:21

Yeah, I think it's definitely tapping into a route that's there and letting it flourish instead of, you know, pulling it out. I think there's, you know, ways where, you know, you are kind of, I mean, I remember when I was younger stuff to where it was just like, you can kind of get spun up in someone else's worldview, if you're not paying attention, and you want to fit in or you want to be, you know, live up to an expectation. And I think that's sort of what you know, a lot of the effective ways of doing that, especially in Hanks case, as you keep moving the goalposts of what those expectations are, you keep upping the stakes up in the antique sort of goading. You know, and that happens in some, you know, male friendships that even happens with my brothers as if we're gonna see who's going to eat the most cake, like, but just sort of this, like, you keep trying to almost stretch the limit. And you see who will follow you, you know, when I used to work in the liquor warehouse, sometimes we'd have guys telling stories, about, you know, the craziest things they did, and you know, people keep escalating and escalating. And then someone would tell us totally offside story, and the whole thing would fall apart and shut down because it was like, they went too far. They didn't learn along the path far far enough. But on the flip side, there were guys who you know, tell you a story. Or I went home with like three girls on the weekend where I know it's a lie, but you got it you are you just say instead of getting mad, because a lot of guys would get mad. They want to flip a table. I would just say that's so cool, man. That's amazing. Wow, tell me more. And just let them dig a hole, you know, let them incriminate themselves. Wow. And then you had how many shots of whiskey? Well, that's amazing. Because you know, you aren't going to win just calling them a lie, or you need to show everybody just how ridiculous they are. And I think that's kind of what we're trying to do. Or what we ended up doing with handyman, Hank, is it starts off reasonable, right? He's gonna show you how to fix a crack in a wall. And you need that help. I mean, I have, I prefer the videos that are like a minute long. I just want to see the actual thing that I'm doing. I don't want a five minute intro. Like, what's the history of a toilet? I don't care. I just How do I make it flush? But you know, any man, heck, you know, every video, like you said, Michael, is like he's pushing a little bit further. He's pushing and he's pushing and then we get to like a crazy place. And that's Yeah, I think that radicalization is there, especially as Craig said, when no one's pushing back, right? Yes, there's comment feeds. Yes. There's like, you can write back you can do live commentary. Like, no one's going to read that necessarily. I mean, most creators, I think over time, you just don't even read the comments. At some point. You're like, I can't deal with this. So it is this sort of like one way conversation that eventually kind of brings Trent in our story to a very dark place where you know, he knows something's wrong, but he can't you know, tell which way is up anymore. He just keeps digging down.

Michael David Wilson 38:37

And finding the last time that masculinity was explored so brutally, and so honestly was sorry to keep bringing him up, but caps Fight Club, and it is almost impossible to have a conversation about masculinity without at some point referencing Shaq, but I mean, a big part of this as well is like the relationship that Trent has with his wife, Rita. And I mean, a lot of it coming from the fact that she he perceives to have like a bad job and status. And then obviously, he's not working at the moment because of an incident, let's say. So. I mean, do you think a lot of men in society at the moment are still kind of suffering from I don't even know really how to put it but I guess like a fragile ego and confusion as to what it is to be masculine so that if you know that the woman in life does have a better status or a better car that this is a real threat to them. Do you feel that this is more a generation You know, thing, a class thing? These are broad strokes to have a good old conversation about masculinity and the potential toxicity of it.

Nick Cutter 40:13

Andrew, why don't why don't you go first, there is a lot to unpack here, which is fun to talk about.

Andrew F. Sullivan 40:19

Yeah, for sure. I think like, yeah, for us, I guess the foundation of it was that the these roles have shifted in a good way, in a way that you know, I think, is positive, and is, you know, in the long run, beneficial, but there's still these After Effects lingering, especially for women, actually, where it's like, I know, they're supposed to do everything. But that there are a lot of men who, even if they're professing extremely liberal beliefs, you see this a lot, where it's like, you know, they want to tell everyone how feminist they are. And it's like, well, what are you doing action wise in your life, like, you know, the number of guys who, you know, been busted in the last 10 years for, you know, being these great advocates, and yet treating women terribly behind the scenes. It's kind of huge. And I think a lot of it comes from like, not being able to fully like, let go of the past, to not let go of like, the imagery and the father figures, and then whatever else, it's kind of like guys driving gigantic pickup trucks. And yet they work a white collar job, and they've never put anything in the bed. And they probably have never used the four wheel, and they haven't towed anything. But they have all the chrome on there in case the day comes. So sort of like this gesture towards something that doesn't even really exist anymore. And I think that's there's that little bulb in the brain that still left, it's like, well, it used to be like this. And it's like, well, it's not anymore. And it wasn't that great when it was, I mean, did you want to like break your back on the line, you know, 4045 hours a week, whatever it would be? I don't know. I think what we ended up exploring, I guess, is somebody who loses those signifiers, like his job and other things. And there's no core beyond that for him. He hasn't really defined himself through his relationships and his actions as like a man. So he's desperate to find signifiers that show that, and I think that's what you end up seeing a lot is people who, you know, no matter what they stated, politics are, if their level of comfort is disrupted, if their, you know, expectation of how they see themselves is disrupted. You know, they lash out, I think, yeah, I think that's a big part of it. I think it's like this, the world has changed, but how we're basically sold things like masculinity maybe hasn't. You know, so often, the, the fact that, you know, some people want to buy dude wipes instead of face wipes, you know, it's just this idea that like, oh, there's a secret man way of doing everything. And there's not, I think it's also this idea that you that there's going to be this really strict dichotomy between what women are like and what men are like, and that's fake. That's not real. All that does is sort of keep people separated. And yeah, handyman Hank leans into that really hard. And Lers Trent into that. So we wanted to explore that. And we wanted to play with that. And really kind of focus to on how much of that really, I think comes down to insecurity, a lack of foothold, right, a lack of sense of self and place. And so when you don't have those things, like whatever, when comes by and picks you up, can carry us to some pretty bad places. So I don't know Craig, if that's close to that

Nick Cutter 44:05

it's better in my standard boilerplate a lot better. You know, but um, yeah, I mean, exactly. It's, it puts itself in line with as you said, like, a lineage it has its own horror, lineage handyman, but within the lineage of like, masculine sort of, not masculine fiction fiction, I think that grapples with sort of it's weird because Fight Club I think Fight Club, this arch. I think Fight Club is written by someone who is really thoughtfully trying to unpack masculinity, but if you go back to like deliverance, you know, James, James Dickey, you know, or if you go even back even further to iron John, I mean, that's someone who's trying to tell people like, you know, man, you need to go back into the forest and light fires and unleash primal screams and you need to reclaim your masculinity that has been lost, you know, back then it would have been, you know, by having a white collar job and not getting your hands dirty anymore and not understanding, you know, you know, if you're lost in the forest, which side of the tree moss grows on and God forbid, you're gonna get eaten by wolves, because you don't know these, you know, things that a man should know. So it's like this, you know, it's been around with us for as long as as I said as but back to caveman days shirt, certainly when, when the bigger guy came in through the little guy out of his cave, instead, it was his. So, obviously, we're exploring that. And as Andrew said, really eloquently and better than I can, you know, my feeling of this as I look at my own, you know, my own growing up. And, you know, it was, it was a classic 80s upbringing, what, for better or for worse, you know, which is my dad went to work, and my mom, my mom worked, but like, if the transfer happened, we would all pack up and go, because my dad had to go off. And his job was paramount. So my mom would just sort of find something to do on whatever new city we went to. And I said, I've said this before, but and Andrews heard this a few times now. But like, I asked my mom while I was writing this, like, why, you know, why was that, that it was just so acceptable to you, or maybe not acceptable, but at least you sort of put up with it, for lack of a better word, and, and she said, You know, when I was when you were a kid, Craig, your father and every other father on the block would go to work. And then later, every mother would come out with their kids and take them to school, and it was like you, you would look up and down the block and see people living the same lives as you were. And that sort of homogeneity to everything made it feel like this is just how it is. And obviously, over time, women have said, including women of my mom's generation is like, Well, fuck this, like, this is not the way that I want life to be. And who says these are the rules that we all have to follow? And yeah, I think men of my generation, I use my generation, because that's just the one that I'm most conversant with have a really difficult time coping with that, specifically with the excellence of their wives and a lot of cases or partners, you know, and, you know, I, even me, partially because of my and I want to be very honest here like because of my job. I'm home all the time. That's part of my job. So with our children, if and my wife has worked at a hospital, she needs to be there 44 hours a week. So if one of our kids get sick, or someone needs get taken here, they're, you know, I stay home, I'm home anyways, but like I am home with the sick kid, I am not getting my work done. If someone needs to be chauffeured somewhere 90% of the time, I'm the chauffeur. And this actually strangely, you know, it hurts my wife in a weird way. Because she feels in a strange way because of her own upbringing, and the way that that she was raised that she's not being the mother that her mom was. And yet I feel like I'm not being the father that I saw my dad being. And so we both have these moments, I think of like, you know, your fingernails are digging into the palms of your hands, because you're just frustrated and vexed and it doesn't, it's not really based on any kind of coherent argument or rational upset. It's based on, as Andrew said, comparing yourself to past iterations of men and women and feeling that you are failing somehow.

Bob Pastorella 48:23

Yeah, I think that one of the things, too, that that you really captured in here is this sense of competition. And whether you hit you're competing with your spouse, or you're competing with your peers, especially like in the scenes where, you know, we're trained, goes to tea, no tea goes to the guest to Home Depot, you know, to get get his stuff up in there. And, you know, I go there on a regular basis, because there's things and I have to fix and stuff like that. And I've got no shame in my game. It's like, hey, how does this work? Explain it to me, like, I'm fucking five. Because if you show me a toolbox, and tell me, you know, Hey, Bob, get this screwdriver out of here, it looks like this, I'm going to stare at it. Because I don't know what you're what you're talking about. I see tools. And I have like, a guess a form of dyslexia. I hate to use that word, but I can't see the tools in the toolbox. And it's, I've always been like this. So when I go to these places, I used to feel very, very out of place. Because I just, you know, was told at a young age, hey, you need to pay people to fix it. Because you're gonna tear up something, you know, you're trying to change the oil in your car. And I'm gonna have to remove the oil filter for you because you don't ripped it in half. So you know, that's that was my dad. So that's, that's my life, you know? So that sense of competition. It's ridiculous. There's there's absolutely no need for that. yet. I feel my tents up. When I pull in the parking lot to these places. I had to get something And I need to fix at my place. And I'm like, damn, I hate even going in here. Goods or it's going to be that guy. So you're in the wrong line, you know? And it's like, you know, there's your competition. But y'all captured that and I felt that it made me tense when I was like, oh, man, this is not going to be good. This is just not gonna be. And of course, you know, as we go through the story, it ends up being a lot is like what really didn't turn out very good at all for somebody was like, holy

Michael David Wilson 50:34


Bob Pastorella 50:37

Why? Wow. But yeah, y'all took it to the limit there.

Nick Cutter 50:43

What you think too, like it's as inadequate as you feel in those moments? And I do and Andrew too, because Andrew looks like he he knows what he would do. He's got the beard. It's all it's all. It's all put on. He can barely hammer a nail.

Andrew F. Sullivan 50:56

It's true. It's true. No, I just stand me threatening. Yeah, yeah. All the tattoos don't mean nothing.

Nick Cutter 51:03

Yeah, I mean, with those, those same guys walking into accountants office, or a lawyer's office would would feel that same kind of inadequacy on the other side, because that's, you know, you know, you, there's, there's so few people who have like, sort of that Polymathic ability to sort of do all sorts of things. Most of us, you know, left brain, right brain, we're good at one thing, and we might be adequate at another, but often we're completely inadequate. So there's places zones, places on Earth, where we feel immensely comfortable. And there's places where we feel like out of place. And so, you're right, a lot of a lot of the I think the book was exploring, you know, it's centering in on your own inadequacies, ultimately, or let that was part of my process. And then torquing it up as high as you can and making it as uncomfortable, you know, to the point of satire almost a little bit. But, yeah, that was that was the idea. So yeah, I again, I think I wrote that scene. But I think it was Andrews idea. I wrote it, like Saturday guy and all that a lot of the

Andrew F. Sullivan 52:06

guys insult I heard once home depot where a guy was like, You're just a Saturday guy. You got not to me. I was there like, yeah, you're geez, what? I'm at least a Monday, Tuesday guy, because it's less busy than. But yeah, no, no, I think I was there was a few things that we talked about before we did it to where we were like, do we like what do we want this to be? And just the the entity of the Saturday guy is a type of guy, I think, you know, it's good to know your types of guys. In Ontario, like where Craig and I both grew up, you know, sort of the center of Canada, unfortunately, sorry, everyone in Vancouver. There is sort of what I call, there's this character. I'm gonna write about him someday. But I think he's sort of reflected in this book too. There's this like mythical fuck up, known as buddy over there. And buddy over there is always who you blame your problems on or who did the job wrong last time or who doesn't know what he's doing? And say, you know, buddy over there, got a bobcat. And he was digging out his own trench, and then he flipped it. And now no one can rent the bobcat because he broke it. Or buddy over there, put it in a new septic and now it's backed up. So the whole neighborhood smells like shit. Like, you know, buddy over there. It's just this guy who's always fucking up. And you know, he's never quite named, but he's always around. And he's always potentially fucking up your shit. And I think there's some of that in there too, that like, you don't want to be buddy over there. You know, that's the that's like the mythical figure who's you know, he's sort of like a gremlin. He's kind of, you know, oh, the lawnmower is not working because buddy over there just decided he was not going to put gas in it. So you're always kind of that figures sort of lingering. And I think those mistakes are lingering. I mean, I was hanging curtains in my house. I had to do the holes twice. And I was like, well, everyone's gonna see this. And I'm a fraud. And I was like, oh, no, I can cover them up with the curtains. Boom, problem solved. It's all good. But, you know, we had like, yeah, we brought things in from our life. I think Craig was getting rid of skunks at one point poorly for I mean, you've succeeded. I had squirrels in my house. We get a lot of wildlife in Canada. And, you know, I had to get you know, I had multiple squirrels. I was like, Alright, I'm just gonna hire a guy. You know, and they got him

Nick Cutter 54:43

dealt with but multiple.

Andrew F. Sullivan 54:46

One I would have been like, well, I got a bat out of my house by myself. That was fine. But you know, squirrels they're just rats with fluffy tails. Yeah, I mean, they will eat through aluminum man. If they think their babies on the other side. They will crank right through Do it. So, you know, sometimes you have to bring in the person who knows what they're doing. And who's also been on a roof 100 times, I don't want to go up there. So you find you know, people with the right skills and I think you know, being okay with that, you know, versus making it your quest in life. In know that that's part of kind of what went into the book is like what happens when you can't just admit that the squirrels might be too much. So we don't have a scene in this book where a bunch of squirrels attack a guy, but maybe in the next one, because they really, if they get catch an artery, man, it's a bad scene, those teeth are sharp, and they go deep. So you gotta gotta figure

Nick Cutter 55:42

which one of us got him started on squirrels, who wasn't I should have been a rider in the interview. Just don't pull the ripcord on the

Bob Pastorella 55:52

squirrels. I'm just saying.

Andrew F. Sullivan 55:54

That's where a good root of this comes from. But yeah, you're always going to kind of come up against something you've never seen before. And you can pretend you can handle it. Or you can kind of acknowledge where your weaknesses lie, I guess.

Michael David Wilson 56:09

Yeah. And that's a side note, nobody brought up square rows apart from Andrew, he fucking segwayed into

Andrew F. Sullivan 56:19

people that know the my goal, it just has to be out there in the universe. To know the PSA in the podcast. Yeah.

Michael David Wilson 56:28

But I mean, obviously, like, you know, we've mentioned the Saturday guy. And so it's apparent that there's some real comedy in this, of course, the for want of better phrasing, the Ask crack l wife sex scene, as I've dubbed it, in my note is free. Yes. And so I mean, I'm wondering, was it always your intention to write a book that was as hilarious as it is horrifying? And if not, once, it became apparent that there was going to be a lot of comedy, how conscious were you of that balance? And, I mean, in terms of just making sure it was totally what you wanted to achieve?

Nick Cutter 57:16

Yeah, I mean, for me, personally, I've, I think there is, I wouldn't even say me, personally, I think there's a close correlation between satire and horror. And like, you know, you just to wrench it far enough that that sort of it can blur the line, sort of, in an even like, say, with the troupe, or even with some of my early books under my own name, I remember writing like for Rust and Bone, I wrote like a dogfight scene that I think went on like five pages. And you know, you sort of say, you're almost writing in a state of like, anxious hilarity at that point, because you're like, No one's ever gonna publish this, like this is just, it's going too far. But that kind of giddy feeling of like being on a razor's edge of something that you're not quite sure how to define but yet you feel you feel like you're just you are, you're going too far, you're on the event horizon of something. You know, that is more vanishingly rare as I get older, and as I write more, and so if I, if I can write my way to that point, and find my way there, however, that is, you know, what I mean? Whatever it is to say, going too far. And as as Andrew said, I would like to hope that like, as much as I love, like, say splatter punk or, or really, really hard edged horror. You know, I don't I mean, it's strange, you you know, you self identify yourself, see things the way you want to, but I guess as rough as the stuff that I write is sometimes I've read stuff that was has been so much worse, that I just sort of see my stuff still as tame, I mean, not in comparison to sort of like a gothic ghost story, but on the range of scale of what horror sort of holds. So, you know, I guess I see like, going really far and a horror scene, you know, sort of a really visceral horror scene, or going really far in a satirical scene, they give me the same level of kind of, like, personal joy as a writer, and I guess, you know, now at 48 years old, you know, you write to entertain yourself, sometimes, you know, what I mean? You write to sort of make yourself laugh and make yourself sort of get that high feeling. And you're chasing that high to a degree. And, you know, whatever gets you there, really, and you hope other people like it, because I would never write want to write to alienate other people or just for my own self satisfaction. But sometimes I've discovered that in trying to get to that place and luckily, so often you get through the needle and you actually get to that place, often, often a reader kind of, you know, enjoys being in that place, too.

Andrew F. Sullivan 59:54

Yeah, and I think for the like, the comedy aspects of it, I mean, For me, masculinity on its face is already such a ridiculous concept. And like such a like, it's always full of like guys trying really hard and failing, which is funny. Just generally. And then it is sort of like layered with like I like if you are a YouTube personality, you know, how do you take yourself seriously, you can't really. So there's that performative aspect. And, you know, like, a lot of this was for me, you know, influenced by being up late and you're watching adult swim, and what you're gonna get hit with is all kinds of stuff, whether it's too many cooks, or unenforceable bear those kinds of things. Like those are like, okay, you know what, this is funny, but also deeply disturbing. And so that's where a lot of this came from, for me. And I told Craig that as well. And I had him watch a couple and we kind of, but it went in a very different direction, which I was glad was like, those are kind of like, you get that inspiration. You're like, oh, yeah, that kind of level of uncomfortable, is funny, but it's like teeters like Greg saying on that edge of plausibility of, you know, absolute, you're sort of almost numb to it, eventually, you just keep pushing it and pushing it. And so that, to me, was always going to be there. I mean, it's very hard to do something about, you know, video content without it kind of being ridiculous. And at the same time, horrifying, like, so much of the last 20 years of a lot of horror writing has been like creepy passes, and things like that. And like so much of that, to me, is located in a deep discomfort with technology and a deep discomfort with like the potential of technology. And yet half those stories again, and this goes for ghost stories to you read them out loud in the broad light of day. It's silly. So context, and sort of shaping the narrative really matters, horror and satire on the similar dial. And yeah, like Craig's saying, depends where you crank it. But I thought we had a lot of fun with it. Like that was, I hope that came through, we were, you know, playing. And I think that's the best thing you can do, especially when you're co writing. It's like you saw you toss a serve up and you hope buddy just hits it right back at you, you know, you want to have that back and forth. You want that energy coming out of it. There are times I would get an email from Craig with a new draft, and a super long email about it. And I would just respond to the email like yes, when, and then I would, you know, I'm so excited about what he's given me. I'm like, oh, man, this is the video. Okay, like, let's, let's push that further, you know, like, this is what we're doing. That kind of sense of, there is a sense of joy to it when you have a good collaboration. And that's going to come out in the humor, because you're, you're excited about what they're doing. And you want to up them, you know, you want to like push it to the next level. And then Craig will do something horrifying and disgusting. And I'll be like, Okay, now we need a quiet scene, because I'm not going to talk that so I cut to outside the house. I don't. So you know, those moments, you know, you learn when to pull back, too. So, yeah, I think if anything, it came from the collaboration, and you're almost trying to like, entertain the other guy. So you can keep writing the story.

Michael David Wilson 1:03:14

Yeah, there is a certain irony that even through the writing, there was this competition in this one, upmanship that you will both, you know, participate in games. So given the story and the themes itself, I love that that happened.

Andrew F. Sullivan 1:03:32

Yeah, that's a good callback there. Michael, you got us. Yeah.

Michael David Wilson 1:03:37

But, I mean, I know that we're coming to the end of the time that we have to give up. But we haven't even mentioned yet. My low and so that there's like a whole generational thing in terms of like the men being affected by not only masculinity, but like, there's kind of algorithmic possession as we've coined it. And I mean, when did you know that Milo was going to become part of the story and tell us a little bit about the creation of blue?

Nick Cutter 1:04:17

I can talk I'll let Andrew talk about blue because that's his creation, as well as handyman. But, um, you know, Milo came along in one of the iterations. Again, the short story was, as I recall, we'd have to go back to the file, but it was just a guy out in a house in the middle of nowhere, that was, you know, again, looked on YouTube found this thing and it drove him gradually insane. And then I think we sent it to my film agent, and he was like, you know, it was essentially it needs more meat, I think is what what his general global note was. And so you know, to me again, I'm I'm a father and you know, husband, as is Andrew as a husband, and I'm like, you know, to me meat now means domestic, you know, it means sort of bringing bringing in more people and bringing in, because I'm not sure that we could have necessarily stretched the idea of a guy out in a house out in the middle of nowhere. I mean, I guess you could have like house on the Borderlands ism, you could have found a way but I guess my, my mind didn't go there. I immediately, you know, so essentially, like my son while I was writing it was 10 or 11, which is Milo's age. And, you know, there was some of that, as I think I said earlier, I try and find synthesis as to my own life. And then like, you know, the thing that the character is thinking now, I'm not saying that a lot of the stuff that Trent thinks mirrors my own thought patterns, thank goodness, but there is there, there are some things certainly, and there's a certain sense of like, familiarity with that, with that group. You know, when we and when we first started writing or talking about it, we had a daughter on the way and sort of, you know, similarly to do in the book as well. So, so a lot of it the domestic bringing in the domestic fear sphere was just me wanting to bring it into a place of not necessarily my strengths, but at least my familiarity. But then yeah, but then blue. First thing is going to call a blue the squirrel, but I would I can't let you do that.

Andrew F. Sullivan 1:06:20

No, I was I was Yeah, I was overruled. No, I think blue Yeah, is definitely I mean, just the avatar of a children's show that sort of is in that realm of like the uncanny where you're like, you know, you end up seeing I mean, it's been talked about a lot but you know, I was haunted by seeing my nieces or nephews or cousins, where, you know, five YouTube videos in there just watching Spider Man, Elsa, go to mall and funeral. And it's like, what, who made this content? You know, you see those videos out there now where it's just like, computerized heads spinning and toilet singing like kids will just respond to stimulus. Even Baby shark is like its own. So just almost something mindless, but then also something that is like a little bit of a throwback to like a wonder shows in kind of era of comedy, where it's like, yeah, if you have a puppet a puppet can get away with a lot more than a person. And a puppet can kind of lure people into a false sense of security. And so blue was is sort of like this other version of handyman, Hank a bit. It is a kinder, gentler, but creepier. Handyman, Hank, who is on sort of a weird spectrum, you know, of his videos don't need to make as much sense because kids don't care. And he's also omnipresent and sort of appearing in more and more places, which I found with like Baby shark and other things to where like, I was like, No, this was just an annoying video. Why are their birthday cakes? Now? Why are their balloons? Why is it like, and Rita sort of experiencing that in the story to where blue is all of a sudden, everywhere? And how quick those sensations happen? And how sort of, like flimsy they are, it doesn't really matter, because you know, the kids are enjoying it in the moment. So yeah, I think that's kind of where it came from, and low waist.

Michael David Wilson 1:08:21

So another thing that obviously we spoke about before is that, you know, to a certain degree, we're all victims of algorithmic possession to some extent. Now, is that something that you are both very concerned about? Are there things that you have put in place? I know, Craig, that you're actually not on social media much at all. So let's just talk about how this affects your real life.

Nick Cutter 1:08:53

Well, I feel like we might have spoken about that last time, way back in 2018. And I remember that question coming up. I'm not quite sure how I answered it then. But I'm probably similarly to the way I'd answer it now. Like, I think I think I said it very honestly, I think little heaven was coming out. And I was on Facebook at the time, and very quickly, I was scrolling down and there was someone who had hadn't he wasn't even out yet. And someone had read the book and had posted a very honest but very, like, painful for me to read on the cusp of of that book coming out, like, belief in the merits or lack of merits of that book. And it made me realize, like, you know, at the time I had like whatever 2000 3000 You know, Friends quote, unquote, but like, I it made me realize how many of them I actually knew. And how many of them you know, in my old fuddy duddy sense of friendship were really my friends. Like I didn't mean that as like, oh what you know, how could you do this? I thought you're my friend. It's not that at all. It's just a sense of like, I guess I thought I was getting into it potential. Really initially as a as not a platform at all as as a way to sort of maybe catch up with old high school friends or people I hadn't seen for some time. And maybe we established relationships in that way. And it became what it is and what it's really good at being which is a way to meet a diverse range of friends often within say, a genre or a certain sense of like a fascination, a shared fascination. But I realized that, like, I had a hard time keeping, I have a hard time staying friends with the few friends, I do have, you know what I mean? Like the friends who I have in real life, I mean, I feel like life gets away from you your responsibilities compound. And it's hard just to get away and find time with like, an old high school friend, or even, you know, we try and play poker, me and Andrew, and it's amazing how many times we just can't get the group out because people just have busy lives. Right? So I think in a way, yes, it was, I was not particularly interested in getting blindsided by things like that, that was a small part of it. But our risks that I guess I didn't see the use running. But secondarily, and corollary to that it was like, I think I just wanted to, like, maintain as many of my friendships as I could, you know, in the real world, you know, what I mean, and sort of set aside time for that. And I think in doing so, I lost a lot of opportunities for like, really good friendships that could have transpired online, you know what I mean, I'm not, I'm not against it, I think it's a really great vector for human connection. It just wasn't the sort of vector that worked for me. But I know Andrew, for example, like, you've had really good fortune with, like meeting people online and fostering really good relationships.

Andrew F. Sullivan 1:11:47

Yeah, but I think that also, like, there is sort of, as we were talking about earlier today, sort of, there's this, there can be a little bit of a distance that you create, you know, like, I post a lot of my dog so that I don't have to post myself, and I love my dog, and people love seeing my dogs. So that helps. But also, you know, like places like discord and things are a little bit more friendly than just open air, stuff like Facebook or Twitter where like, anyone can comment, you do kind of need to protect yourself or know, you know, that is not real in a way. And that it is you know, a lot of it is parasocial are, you know, but to leave the door open. I mean, I'm also from a younger generation where like I was on forums and things, and I had, you know, friends that I didn't make online. And I think being honest about those relationships is good and also limiting, you know, knowing that you don't have to respond to somebody that you don't have to follow back that you don't have to participate if you don't want to and you don't appreciate the interaction, while still leaving enough room for deniability. In the middle is important. I think those kinds of parasocial relationships can happen. And they sometimes can feel really overwhelming, like a lot of people think they know you, right? Or they think they've experienced you. And sort of just having an internal barometer that says, Okay, that's too much, I'm going to divert this or I'm going to slow this down, or I'm going to stop this. And I'm sure you both get it to a lot. Like with a podcast and with, you know, the amount of people who are putting out horror who are like, do they want something? Do they just want a favor? Or do they actually care about who I am that kind of thing. And that's a very real experience and part of sort of putting yourself out there. And so it's learning how to create those boundaries as best you can. Without getting paranoid. And I think yeah, with handyman method, we were like, Okay, no, let's get paranoid. Let's, let's push it to the limit. Um, but yeah, I think like, a lot of a lot of what Craig is saying is true. And it's almost like you have to build up defenses to kind of survive those ways. And, you know, and sometimes to you, and when life is happening, you just don't have time. I have time or I make the time, but I'm also pretty strategic about, you know, posts two or three things a day, that's it, or post. I'm not one of these guys every day who's like buy my book. No, like with the handyman method right now. I'm like, hey, this book influenced it. It's pretty cool. Check it out. Oh, check out this movie. And that's it. There's a way to have some authenticity out there. What without, you know, just being a foghorn saying, my book is out in two weeks. And if you don't buy it, you know, you're not my friend. So I think walking that line, takes a lot out of you. And I think both you guys have experienced that. And that's the weight of it. And it is a weird, modern way that you know, previous generations, you know, maybe just had to deal with the church ladies talk and gossip and mark it out who his cars were in the lot and whose weren't on Sunday worship. So there's a little bit of that. And it is that idea of being like, surveilled, right, like surveillance and community surveillance. And, you know, maybe we'll write another book about that.

Michael David Wilson 1:15:16

Yeah. All right. Well, thank you both for spending such a lot of time chatting with us. This has been awesome. There is so much more we could have spoken about. But I hope that our listeners are intrigued enough to go out now and to buy the handyman method or you don't even have to go out and just order it online. You don't have to leave your home. And we didn't even have time to talk about the brutality in the scene with Milo and Morty. And that alone is a reason to get this book. So there's a little appetizer for you. Oh, but yeah, we should definitely do this again sometime. And I kind of hope that this won't be the last at you to collaborate as well, because you got some magic on the page.

Nick Cutter 1:16:10

Well, thanks, David. And Bob, this is these are you know, I remember the last one we did and when when we heard that this one was coming up by I told Andrew like, these guys are wonderful to talk to real supporters of the genre. And you know, really, thank you both very much for making the time. And it's really a we're grateful.

Andrew F. Sullivan 1:16:29

Yeah, we were very, really happy to be on here and chat with you too. So thank you so much. And yeah, happy to talk to you guys again sometime soon.

Michael David Wilson 1:16:41

Thank you so much for listening to Nick Cutter and Andrew F. Sullivan on This Is Horror. Yes again next time for another great episode. We have got episodes coming up with the likes of Stephanie parent and Sadie Hartman to name just two people. But if you want to get those episodes ahead of the crowd, if you want to get every episode ahead of the crowd, then 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 get exclusive podcasts, such as story unboxed a horror podcast on the craft of writing. And recently I'm story unboxed. We were joined by a special guest Neil McRoberts of talking scared pod and we unboxed the cult classic session nine. So if that is something that you want to hear, the only way to do so is to become a patron. So go to patreon.com forward slash This Is Horror, and see if it's a good fit for you. Okay, before I wrap up, a little bit of an advert break.

RJ Bayley 1:17:56

It was as if the video had unzipped my skin, slunk inside my tapered flesh and become one with me.

Bob Pastorella 1:18:05

From the crater 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, his life 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 everyone 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 1:19:14

Well that about does it for another episode at This Is Horror. But before I go, I want to remind you that I've got my debut novel house of bad memories coming out via cemetery gates media on Friday the 13th of October. Now I would love it if you could preorder that. It is available to preorder from cemetery gates Media website. The Kindle version is also available to preorder on Amazon and preorder in really does help in terms of sales in terms of visibility. So if you're interested in the book, and I hope you are, I would love it if you would buy a copy I would also love it if you would add it to your good reads to your to read list. So it's house of bad memories by me Michael David Wilson. I've had a number of great blurbs from the likes of Eric la rocker David moody Johnson. Jan's the name, but a few. And there is a fantastic cover from Vinny Jiang. So check out how to bad memories by Michael David Wilson. And I hope you'll read it I hope you'll check it out. So until the next episode, take care yourselves be good to one another, read horror. Keep on writing and have a great, great day.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.thisishorror.co.uk/tih-517-nick-cutter-and-andrew-f-sullivan-on-the-handyman-method-successful-collaborations-and-story-pacing/

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.