The Pineys is based on the legend of the Jersey Devil. Instead of just one Jersey Devil, Mother Leeds was a witch that summoned hundreds of them into the Pine Barrens. The nearby villagers of Abe’s Hat, NJ formed a secret society to hunt down the devils and send them back to Hell. In the present day, the Galloways (and their many, many cousins) continue the hunt. It’s kind of like Ghostbusters meets Men in Black meets Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. It’s a lot of fun and is steeped in South Jersey lore and color.
Previously, I created the Jersey Devil comic book and a lot of my stories take place in South Jersey. What interested me was exploring the culture of South Jersey in more detail and doing a story with a group of characters from a large extended family like mine.
Wokeistan: A Novel is a political satire in the vein of a Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. book. I co-wrote it with Christian Beranek. It takes place on an East Coast college campus in upstate New York and it’s about a student body that has a complete mental meltdown after Trump is re-elected. It’s sort of the best (worst) of Social Justice Warriors from the last two years and mixing that with taking post-modernist ideology to its logical conclusion. It’s funny, absurd and savage, but not that all unrealistic if you’ve followed the stories.
Christian and I were looking for a project to write. We were considering doing it as a webcomic, but decided to write it as a novel. She came by and stayed a couple of months. We basically wrote it in two weeks. It just really poured out of us. It was an amazing experience. The end result was a story that was equally funny and Orwellian.
With Wokeistan, the story was already there. Colleges have become so inbred intellectually, they no longer seem to function for the purpose for which they were intended. Instead, we’ve developed a system that drains money from kids that are expecting an education and a career and instead they’re getting brainwashed and fleeced financially. The challenge is, most people don’t realize how far the college system has degraded, so some read it and go, “What? This is insane. Nothing like this is happening.” But many of the events of the book were based on things that actually happened on college campuses over the last few years. I’m proud to say my nephew, who is in college, seemed to like it. He helped proofread it.
For the Pineys, horror and comedy are closely linked. They rely on surprise. This is the kind of stuff I’ve been writing for decades, but in the world of the Pineys I have no limits like I did with comics or trying to write a screenplay— I guess the hardest part is keeping track of all the Galloway family members mentioned in the books. It’s getting pretty tough at book six, which is what I’m currently writing.
How would you describe your writing style?
Fast paced. I had a writing teacher that said I wrote at “whiplash” pace. I don’t like long books. I have a very short attention span.
Depends greatly on my deadline, self-imposed or not. But usually I’ll come up with a concept, an ending, then start and drive the story to the end.
What’s your writing day like? Do you have any writing rituals?
I caffeine fueled. I drink a lot of iced tea. On Wokeistan, I was also ghostwriting for a client. So I’d have to bang out 6K of words and THEN work on Wokeistan. Right now, I’m working in the day and writing at night and on the weekend.
Which songs would feature on playlists for these novels?
Wokeistan: A Movie would have a soundtrack that would probably involve a lot of genderbending songs like Lola by the Kinks and political songs. Possibly some of that mention Marx or Communism in an ironic way.
The Pineys TV series would have Sabotage by the Beastie Boys as the show’s opening credit song. Other songs would include things that would indicate time period and tone. I jump around a lot in the history of the characters since there is so much history to them.
Which author has impacted you the most?
Hmm. Probably Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Hunter S. Thompson and Harlan Ellison.
What’s your favorite word and why?
I dunno. Piney is pretty good. I’m more into phrases than words. I like to think of lines for the books. One of the ones from the The Pineys is: “Mounted on the wooden beams and barn walls were hideous horned heads….It looked like the trophy room after someone went on a shooting spree in Dante’s Inferno.”
For Wokeistan: A Novel it’s this exchange between Professor P and Fawkes:
“You assigned first semester freshmen students to read Alinsky?!” Professor P said outraged.
“Yes!” Fawkes said proudly. “Why? Is that bad?”
“They haven’t even completed Poly-Sci 101! What the f*** do they know to protest or be radical about Fawkes? Not getting enough likes on Instagram?!” snapped P. “I should have your f******** job, Fawkes! You’re not fit to grade Kindergartens at a f******* grammar school, you irresponsible Commie-tard!”
I’m working on the sequel to Wokeistan and Book 6 of the Pineys. Of course, I’m also doing comics on The Webcomic Factory and the Super Frat websites. Plus freelancing when there’s time and a good, well-paying project.
Any other advice for new writers?
Writing is about time and money. Ideally, you should be a millionaire so you can just write all day, otherwise you’ve got to manage your time. And you really have to WANT to do it. It’s pretty grueling sometime and you spend a lot of time alone. Personally, I like it, but it’s usually not for social butterflies. Just sayin’.
My advice, lower your expectations. There’s already too many people calling themselves writers and they and their books just take up space. Have something to say or why bother? Me? I can’t stop saying stuff. I have an opinion on everything. It’s why I have a YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com.
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