Pulling Teeth with Dustin LaValley

Pulling Teeth with Dustin LaValley   

Where are you from?
Glens Falls, NY. The Adirondacks.

Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
Sure… Grew up in a foster home, attended alternative high school, which took place about three to eight at night if I remember correctly. (We had to work volunteer jobs part-time, I worked at the soup kitchen and also the ASPCA.) Oh, I was placed in AHS for fighting. An easy target being small, when I hit middle school boxing became more than a hobby I partook with my older brothers in the garage, and more a passion in the form of martial arts. When I wasn’t riding BMX I was training. I had to remove myself from much of life when I was diagnosed with IBD and had my colon removed after a “code blue” incident… spent a few years in hospitals and still fighting it. But, anyway, when I was healthy I rode BMX, trained and fought. Ended up a Shihan-dai and Sensei of Seito Shito Ryu karate and Okinawan jujutsu respectfully. Won some of what they call “knock down” championships, full-contact but no ground fighting. And somewhere in there I began writing, I believe when I was first hospitalized. Oh! And once I saw a blimp.

Tell us your latest news?
The film adaptation of the short story included in A Soundless Dawn, “Picture-in-Picture” is in post-production, shot in and around Dallas, TX., directed by Tom Young, who is also handling my latest script, a collaboration with Karina Sims entitled A Dark Alley. SST Publications is releasing my comic book, BEETLES! An homage to the classic “big-bug” horror and sci-fi movies of the 1950s, illustrated and lettered by Daniele Serra. I believe pre-orders for the signed hardcover are available at their site. With Mercedes Yardley, I have a limited edition micro-fiction collection out in 2017 with all new material and guest authors Grant Wamack and Matt Betts. Other than that, a few I can’t speak of at the moment… oh! And I re-tiled my floor.

What book are you reading now?
I’m switching throughout the day between Love Without by Jerry Stahl, 101 Proof by Rex Brown (Pantera, Down) and rereading a favorite from my anthro 101 college days some many, too many, years back already… Cow, Pigs, Wars, and Witches by Marvin Harris.

Who are some of your favourite authors?
Gilad Elbom, Eric Miles Williamson, Steve Erickson, Jerry Stahl, Palahniuk, Edward Lee, Don Winslow, Thomas Ligotti, Ketchum, Joe Clifford… some Gabino guy.

What books have influenced your life most?
Red by Ketchum, City Infernal by Lee, Permanent Midnight by Stahl, Slam by Lewis Shiner, Books of Blood by Barker, Snuff by Palahniuk, Zeroville by Erickson.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Gabino Iglesias, Joe Clifford, Rob Hart, Grant Wamack… they may not be new, but to me… maybe a year or so ago.

What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?
Waiting. From the finished manuscript to hearing back from an agent or editor or producer or director… the wait is the worst, every day that goes by I’m thinking, “They’re working on a polite way to say ‘no’ or ‘rewrite’.”

What inspired you to write your first book?
Drugs and boredom. I was very sick, intestinal diseases, and after enjoying challenges in English in college, decided to give it a try, sometime in the hospital.

Have you ever hated something you wrote?
The first stories I wrote. At the time they were genius, but that was due to the Dilaudid and Fentanyl in my IV drip and plunges.

What is the biggest lie you’ve ever told?
I took the fall for a friend when I was eighteen, took an arrest so he didn’t go back to prison. So, I guess the lie I told the cops.

Can you share a little of your current Sinister Grin Press work?
A Soundless Dawn is a collection of short stories, each buffered by micro-short stories. One in particular was called a “Gem… gritty, feral.” by Kirkus and is in post-production as a film in Dallas. Those who have read the work (Lee, Ligotti, Stahl, etc.) have told me I have a dark transgressive tone in there. Oh, yeah… the story/film mentioned is based on a brother’s suicide attempt I witnessed. He used a belt.
How did you come up with the title?
The band Red Sparowes have beautiful titles, no vocals or lyrics, but their titles make a vignette. An album of theirs is titled At the Soundless Dawn. It’s a nod to their work, or I stole it. Either one. I often write to their work and other “post-metal” bands (sludge metal, doom metal, stoner metal, etc.) along with others such as Pelican, True Widow, and Russian Circles.

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing naked while eating peanut butter)?
I keep a bass and a guitar next to the desk and those come in handy when stumped on a curve. Life of Agony’s “Let’s Pretend” and Soundgarden’s “4th of July” have been my go-to lately.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

What is your biggest fear?
Whole Brain Emulation, mind-uploading. Although theoretically it’s pretty neato, and likely I’d be game if at the end of natural life, it’s too close to an episode of The X-Files. And glitter. I fucking hate glitter.   

What do you want your tombstone to say?
Simply my last name, as I’d like it to be a mailbox, so anyone can place outgoing mail for shits and giggles.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Regenerate organs.

What secret talents do you have?
I can quote several seasons of Married… with Children and The Simpsons. That’s about it, sorry.

If you were an animal in a zoo, what would you be?
A Rhesus monkey. Those little fuckers they got in Montreal, they run amok all over the bio-sphere, screwing with   people and other animals. (I was also nicknamed Spider Monkey by my fellow Sensei and Shihan, so perhaps it’s a fit.)

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
If health allows, I love fighting. I’ve taught everyone from kids to elderly and won contracts with the state police, and the US Marshal Service. I also like to ride the trails to the lake, swim from island to island and ride home when. But, mostly it’s just MST3K and playing with Bronson, my Rottweiler.

What’s your favourite food?

Who would be on the soundtrack to your life story?
Pantera, Mr. Bungle, Drug Church, John Lee Hooker, Godflesh, Unsane, Nirvana, High on Fire, The Pharcyde, Clutch, Gravediggaz, and some Prince.

Tell us a dirty little secret?
I once caught ringworm from wearing a dirty jockstrap.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t date Jody.

What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
Zero Saints. Wow! Loved it and want more from Gabino. What let me down was a nonfiction book on the mafia. Really just a copy and paste job of what’s already been out there for many years.

What is your all-time favourite horror novel, and film?
Funland by Richard Laymon, and for film… The Return of the Living Dead, or, Spider by Cronenberg.

If you could erase one horror cliché what would it be?
That all killers in slashers are tall. It’s the little jittery ones you gotta be watching for.

If you could kill off any character from any other book who would you chose and how would they die?
Esaw Goings, from the comic book series Southern Bastards. Aaron and Latour created a racist hillbilly that seems too real at times. He’d be bludgeoned to death by Earl Tubb’s daughter.

What do you think is the biggest problem facing horror fiction right now?
The general view that horror isn’t or can’t be, intelligent and/or original.

What aspects of writing do you find the most difficult?
Staying true to voice over pay and not self-editing from thought to page.

What do you think makes a good story?
Originality in voice, story, and style.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
“It’s shit, you’re better than that. Rewrite it.” -Edward Lee

What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
A biography in the works on my brother, Tim, and his time working for the 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne).

For those who haven’t read any of your books, what book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?
H/armed, which is forthcoming from SGP. I think it shows a good sense of social commentary, providing a view of cultural violence within cliques and mankind’s innate bloodlust.

What are you working on right now?
A crime/thriller manuscript, and the biography on my brother.

What’s the one question you wish you would get asked but never do? And what would be the answer?
Would you like to write for Ray Donovan? The answer: yes, oh, hell yes!

Website - none
Facebook - Facebook.com/dustinlavalleyauthor
Twitter @dustinlavalley
Amazon Author Page - https://www.amazon.com/Dustin-LaValley/e/B00A85RALO

Gathered within A Soundless Dawn are short stories that haunt, thrill, and grasp for the soul of humanity and challenge not only societal norms, but those that are to be expected of literature. Included are micro-short stories that further prove customs are meant to be tested to discover our own eccentricities. Whether neo-noir or transgressive, these stories are sure to enthrall.

“I don’t know that I’ve ever read a collection as wholly its own as this, nor a collection so absolutely unconnected to what’s been done before; in fact, it’s been a long, long time since I’ve had the privilege to immerse myself into a book more full of the human soul than this.” –Edward Lee, from the Introduction

“Extraordinary! Hauntingly poignant.” –Thomas Ligotti, author of My Work is Not Yet Done



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