Today I'd like welcome Keith Deininger, author of "The New Flesh" to the Thursday interview. Before we get started, a quick intro!
Hello. I’m Keith Deininger. When I was in first grade I started a fire in the woods behind the house where I lived, but my dad discovered it before I lost control of the flames and stomped it out with his foot. After that, I began writing and creating. In fourth grade I wrote a story about a boy who wakes up to find everyone has disappeared and he’s alone. In high school I won first place in a writing contest in Los Alamos, New Mexico and was presented with a check for one hundred dollars by Ray Bradbury. In college I was honoured for my poetry. Now I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico with my wife and our three dogs and write dark fiction. "The New Flesh" is my first novel.
Ok here we go !
No.1 Would you break the law to save a loved one? ... But why?
Certainly. Laws, like rules, are meant to be broken. The trick is to break them the right way. Laws may be necessary to maintain society, but are also, unfortunately, used for the purposes of control and oppression. Laws must be tempered by human compassion and understanding. If someone, for example, did something horrible to my wife, I would hurt them back despite the laws that told me not to do so.
No.2 What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
Well, the ficus in the corner is alive, as are the bacteria under your fingernails and the rats in the walls. I’m alive and you’re alive. "Truly living," to me anyway, is finding a purpose for your life. Purpose is contentment, and purpose is happiness, and happiness is a lot of work. I find purpose in creation and in exercising the imagination. I find happiness in all the work ("digging ditches") it takes to write it all down.
No.3 What motivates you to write?
Storytelling. Language. There’s something about it that I’ve always found appealing. I haven’t discovered anything in this life that excites me more than a well-told story. From a young age I was telling stories and leading my friends on adventures on the playground. I’ve always wanted to create, have always had a passion for the wondrous and the surreal. Writing is the best method I have to express myself. When an idea gets in my head it’s like a parasite that won’t let go, that must be attended to before it can be removed. If I ignore the idea, it slowly sucks the life out of me. If I embrace it--along with the multitudes of fractured imagery that swirls about in my mind--my relationship with the parasite becomes symbiotic. Sometimes, something great comes out of this relationship.
No.4 Why do humans want children?
A lot of people find purpose in life by having children, I think. It’s only natural. We’re animals; we want to procreate; we want to have sex. We want our progeny to carry our ideas and our hopes and dreams for the future with them into the next generation. We want our children to have things better than what we had.
No.5 What was the biggest challenge in creating your book "The New Flesh" ?
Second-guessing myself. I didn’t have any problems doing the work--I can "dig ditches," I have the work ethic. My problem was that I was never really sure if what I was writing was any good. Writing is such a private pursuit. Some days I would write in a fever, sure that every word was immaculate genius. Other days I would write in a cloud of insecurity, feeling it’d be better if I simply vomited last night’s dinner all over my computer screen then type another word. The
funny thing was, when I went back to what I’d written from either type of day, my prose was of basically the same quality either way. It was okay, I thought--competent. When I was done writing "The New Flesh," and editing and rewriting, it was sort of bittersweet. It felt like a burden had been lifted from my shoulders, but also as if I’d lost someone I really cared about. Within a week, I was excited about the next project I was going to write and that old ghost, Insecurity Himself, came wafting back into my life and told me I wasn’t good enough yet, that "The New Flesh" would never see print, but teasingly told me I was getting close. A few months later, deep into the next novel I was working on, I received a call from Greg Gifune over at DarkFuse publishing, who told me he was excited to publish my debut novel.
No.6 What is the most important thing you have learnt in life so far?
Perseverance. That, and the realisation that happiness is a choice. But perseverance is probably the most important thing. In order to achieve anything in this life, you must work towards your goals. You have to do the work. When I was in sales (which I was never very good at), we used to say it takes seven ‘no’s’ to get a ‘yes.’ Which means you have to keep pushing, learning from rejection, adapting, and trying again. Like Batman’s father says: "Why do we fall down? So we can learn to get back up again." I know. It’s stupid. It’s cliche. But it’s truth.
No.7 How did you come up with the title "The New Flesh" ?
I knew when I first began writing "The New Flesh" that I was going to use a fictionalised movie to highlight my theme of television and the picture screen as a means of control and manipulation. The title is a play on the melding of physical reality with televised and metaphysical reality. It is also a nod to David Cronenberg’s brilliant film "Videodrome."
No.8 How do you handle personal criticism?
Actually, I’m not bad with it. I’m willing to listen or read what someone has to say about my work and I’m usually able to dismiss criticism I don’t agree with or that is unproductive and give serious thought to criticism that might be helpful to me. Criticism is a strange thing. Everyone has their opinions. I tend to be pretty humble, but, at the same time, confident about the abilities I do have. With something as personal as a piece of fiction writing, it’s important to listen to what others think because you may learn from it, but not to stray from what you want to write.
No.9 Why should people read your book?
Oh, it’s a good time. There is horror in "The New Flesh," sometimes subtle and uncanny, and sometimes more pronounced--sometimes visceral and disgusting. There are glimpses of the fantastic beneath the veneer of the mundane world. If you enjoy literary horror that is thought-provoking and intense, then pick up a copy of "The New Flesh," and good luck. As the Melting Man says to Jake in the novel, "Come and see..."
No.10 Why is there something rather than nothing?
Is there something? If there was nothing then there’d be nothing. There is something because we can see it’s there? Because we believe it’s there? It’s important to realise how unimportant things are, how insignificant. To something out there in a great wide universe, we are nothing, just as tiny specs of things we can’t see are nothing from our perspective. Why is there something? Because there is also nothing, because there is no right without wrong, no night without day. Nothing. Final answer.
Thanks Keith for taking the time to answer my questions & the best of luck with your new book!
Check out his new book "New Flesh" on
When Jake, a shy fourth grader, starts a fire in the woods behind his school that gets away from him, he's punished and forgiven. But his life is never the same. Three years after the incident, the dreams begin. Dreams of flames and a strange creature Jake calls The Melting Man. Waiting and watching with an insidious grin, it lures him deeper and deeper into his darkest fears, and closer to an otherworld of fire and torment. And then, Jake begins to see The Melting Man wherever he goes.
Come with me, Jake…Come and see…
As his dreams bleed into waking life, Jake realises he's being dragged toward a very real apocalypse, and that The Melting Man's powers are growing stronger. Asleep, awake, or trapped between the two, Jake must fight to understand not only who and what The Melting Man is and what the dreams mean, but how this creature and Jake's mysterious family legacy ties into a disturbing, violent and enigmatic film associated with his father, a failed screenwriter.
But there may be no way to stop what has already begun…because this is a new nightmare…a new terror…a new Flesh…