Today I’m joined by author Gerald De Vere, who wrote the psychological sci-fi novella Creatures.
Book Description: “De Vere is forced out of New York City during the COVID-19 pandemic, retreating with family south of the Mason-Dixon Line. In an attempt to keep his sanity, de Vere delves into the Carolina wilderness, only to uncover a plot of hate, deception, and Death.”
You can find Creatures on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble.
Q: Who are some of your literary influences?
A: Michael Crichton – for his stark and honest observations about our species. Everything I know about science; I learned in a Crichton book. I think the world was robbed of a brilliant voice with his untimely death. Good writers are like good wine; they get better with age.
H.P. Lovecraft – for the mind-melting creatures and the psychological breakdowns.
Shakespeare & Eugene O’Neill – for the way their drama taps into the human psyche
Sarah Ruhl & Charles Mee – for how surreal they manage to make the mundane world around us seem. All their characters and concepts are larger than life, and there’s a whimsy to it.
The Pythons (Cleese, Chapman & Gilliam specifically) – for teaching me at a young age just how absurd the world was through their work. True madness… and true genius.
Q: What fuels your creativity as a storyteller?
A: My undying need to escape – I think there’s a lot wrong with the world as we’ve built it, and quite frequently I need a break from it. Then there’s my own mental health… sometimes I’m just trying to escape myself. Even when I’m writing something personal, like Creatures, the exploration of my troubled psyche allows me to escape myself. I think that’s because I’m not on the thrill ride but watching from a distance to figure out how it works.
Q: What is the background story on “Creatures”? How much of the novel is based on real events?
A: A magician never reveals all his secrets, but I will say that a great deal of it is based on meditative writing I did while searching for mental stability in nature during the pandemic. The more writing exercises I did, the more I realized I wanted to find a story in them. Every encounter with an animal that occurs in the book was a real-life experience. Every encounter with Death, too. Death knows I’m terrified of crossing over into the next realm, and I think it feeds off that fear. I think that means I’ll live to a ripe old age, though; Death savors feasting on my fear too much to kiss me at the end of the night.
Q: What, in your opinion, is an ideal version of our world?
A: That is a loaded question for a person who struggles with depression… frankly, I think an ideal world is one in harmony with nature. The more we reshape the world for our comforts, the further we get from that. Then we wonder why everyone is dying of cancer. I don’t know of any other species so innately drawn to unnatural & harmful things. In my ideal version of our world, people work in concert together because we understand that we are part of a complex living organism (the planet), and, like cells in the body make up the whole of a person, so to the people in a community should make up the whole of society. I don’t know when or even if we’ll ever get there because of our looming egos: larger than life and as fragile as porcelain. We have to learn to play nice with each other and with the natural world, otherwise it’s going to move on without us.
Q: What is your idea of success as a storyteller?
A: I used to think it was acclaim and success on the level that someone like Crichton or O’Neill experienced in their lifetimes, but I think that’s one of the biggest problems my generation has. We live in a culture that defines success as notoriety and fame, but it’s created this troubling self-preservation. No one seeks collaboration – everyone has their very own pet project, and they all want to be the next Tolkien or Stephen King or… well, maybe not J. K. Rowling anymore. No one should want to be a bigot. You get the picture. At this point, success for me is holding the book in my hands. It’s knowing that anyone could stumble upon it and buy it online, and maybe take a wild ride they don’t soon forget. In the musical [title of show], there’s a killer lyric that says, “I’d rather be nine people’s favorite thing than 9,000 people’s 9th favorite thing.” There’s a truly eloquent truth in that statement, and I try to embrace it when I get down on myself for not being that New York Times bestseller. I’m never going to win a Pulitzer; my tastes were never that mainstream, even as a kid. I tell stories because I can’t stop myself.