Saturday, November 21, 2020

Inside the Mind: Brett Petersen


Welcome to Inside the Mind where we here at The Faerie Review interview authors and creators.
Our guest today is Brett Petersen, the author behind The Parasite From Proto Space & Other Stories.


Lily: Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview Brett I knew I was going to love The Parasite From Proto Space & Other Stories from the first paragraph. Your writing style reminds me of Mike Russel and Douglas Adams, but with more profanity thrown in (which, I love by the way). What inspired you to write like that? 

Brett: I’ve always had a dark and offbeat taste in humor. However, I never intentionally try to be funny. Any humor that comes through in my stories is almost always unintentional, but if it is intentional, it’s never forced. I feel like I enter the same headspace at times as the creators of Rick and Morty, although the science fiction elements tend to be more serious than just thrown together for laughs. 

Lily: It was the perfect mix of offbeat humor and sci-fi. Where did the ideas for the stories come from? 

Brett: My ideas come from the far reaches of this cosmic plane: from an Upper Domain few humans have made contact with (those on the autism spectrum like me are the only ones who can access it.) I call it the Squid Universe. Essentially, our universe exists inside a giant tomato planted by a colossal squid named Unas. Unas harvests and consumes these tomatoes for nourishment so that he may defend against the sperm whale Sokar who is trying to kill and eat him. If Sokar wins, no more universe tomatoes will be planted. If Unas somehow defeats Sokar, Unas will no longer have a need to plant universe tomatoes. This is why the eternal struggle between Unas and Sokar, like Yin and Yang, is necessary. 

Lily: I really like the imagery you used to describe that. Which of the stories is your favorite? 

Brett: I enjoyed writing all of them, but the one that stands out to me as my favorite is “The Labyrinth and the Jingling Keys.” I wrote it as a final project for my final writing class at the College of Saint Rose. It was also the first story I ever got published, so it holds a special place in my heart.

Lily: That's wonderful and a great memory to have. If you could spend the day with any of the characters in the book, who would it be and what would you do? 

Brett: After careful deliberation, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend a day with Walter from CAVO. He’s one of the few characters in the entire book who doesn’t have a grim reality to deal with at the end of his story. He simply goes home, strikes up an online gaming friendship with the brother of one of his crewmates, and enjoys the rest of his time on Earth. He’s also on the autism spectrum, and he’s probably got a lot of interesting hobbies along with his obsessions with the Beatles, Beethoven and mathematics. I’d probably chill with him, eat pizza and play video games like I do with my other friends. 

Lily: Sounds like a fun and relaxing day. Now we’d like to talk about you as a writer. What’s your ideal writing environment? 

Brett: LIBRARIES all the way! Unfortunately, since COVID has relegated libraries to the category of ‘places we used to go before the dark times; before the viral empire,’ I do my writing and reading sessions in a place called a co-working office. It’s basically office space that you can rent. I got an absurdly good deal on mine at only $60 a month, but that price only applies to weeknights after 5 pm and weekends all day. So, until the holy vaccine is bestowed upon us by a host of angels in lab coats, I’ll be making the best of the co-works’ weird hours and pulling all-nighters on weekdays.

Lily: That's not a horrible situation, but I agree nothing is quite like a library. Also reminds me of years ago renting an office space with a friend for writing...but that's a story for another time. What’s the hardest part of writing for you? 

Brett: Writing used to be much easier for me than it is now. I spent an entire year working on a novel only for my trusted editor to declare it unmarketable and unfit for a medium or large-sized press. So now, the hardest part of writing for me is actually writing a novel the correct way with an outline, character sketches and a mainstream audience in mind. I could write short stories all day, but apparently, there’s a certain formula for writing novels that no undergraduate course would have ever taught me. From where I’m at now, I’m envisioning writing novels for the mass market as a frustrating, Sisyphusian chore that strangles the life right out of one’s work. I sincerely hope that the process of outlining and writing my next novel proves me wrong. I hope the novel I end up producing is as fun and weird as my short stories, but that’s for critics and readers to decide. 

Lily: I'm glad it hasn't stopped you from writing at least! I'd love to read anything else you do publish in the future, novel or short story. Do you have a special routine to get into the right headspace to write? 

Brett: Before I write, I tell myself that it’s okay if it sucks; I can always edit it later. I like to envision writing as diving into a cold lake in summer. Once you get used to the water, it’s a lot of fun, but the hesitancy towards taking the plunge as well as those first few minutes of adjusting to the water are agony.

Lily: That's really great advice for anyone! I might have to try it when I'm hesitating to take the plunge. Let’s finish up with some fun questions and get inside your mind. What’s the most imaginative insult you can come up with? 

Brett: “You pigeon-toed walrus fucker!” “You butt within a butt with butts pouring out of it!” “Your mom has a picture of your mom inside your mom’s ass!” “Your dad scrapes his privates with a silver spoon and feeds the skin flakes to a dog who happens to be your mom!” You can pick one of these or use them all.

Lily: I'm laughing so hard my husband is looking at me like I'm going to die or I've lost my mind those are amazing! Would you rather have your skin change color with your mood or have your thoughts appear in a bubble above your head? 

Brett: I’d have my skin change color for sure. My inner thoughts can get so vile and downright evil that you wouldn’t be talking to me if you could see them.

Lily:  I'd have to go with my skin changing color too. I don't need anyone knowing what I'm thinking if they don't already know me well enough to begin with. What’s one book that you could re-read over and over and never get tired of?

Brett: As a general rule, I only read books once (because I own so many,) but if I could read one of them multiple times, it would be either VALIS by Philip K. Dick or (I know this is cheating) the Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer. In my mind, those three are one long book.

Lily:  I think both are perfectly fine choices. Is a hot dog a sandwich? Why or why not?

Brett: A hot dog is not a sandwich in the way that a taco is also not a sandwich. The contents of a sandwich are arranged horizontally between two slices of bread or buns: hot dogs and tacos are structured vertically, and are therefore not true sandwiches. 

Lily:  Excellent point. Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Brett: I love nu-metal bands like Korn, Slipknot, Mudvayne etc. I grew up on that shit, was ashamed to like it for awhile, but came back to it with fervor when I stopped giving a fuck about what people thought of my musical taste.

Lily:  It can be really freeing when you stop caring what everyone else thinks about the things you like. What’s one thing on your bucket list that you would do tomorrow if there was nothing to stop you? 

Brett:  I would fly my band to Seattle and record a studio album with sound engineer and grunge rock legend Tad Doyle. It would either be him or Steve Albini who is based in Illinois. But then again, since so many bands have had their albums recorded by Albini in the past, I might just go with Tad since he probably could use the money more.

Lily: That would be an amazing experience, and I'd love to hear the results! Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?

Brett:  Nope, that about covers it.

Lily:  How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Brett: On my website, my Facebook page, and Instagram. You can check out my band Raziel's Tree on Bandcamp and Facebook. You can find my book on Amazon and Goodreads.

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