Q: If there’s any author you emulate the most, whom would that be?
Douglas Adams is my biggest influence, and to those that hate his stuff, this may seem painfully obvious at times.
Q: What kind of feedback are you generally looking for?
Balanced reviews, not anything impartial. That means don’t do either of these:
- Worship my writing and say you couldn’t love it more, etc. While that’s kind (and perhaps creepy), it doesn’t give me anything to improve.
- Make stupid troll remarks. I want criticism, but vague statements that don’t account for anything such as “you suck, just give up” are equally worthless as worshiping me.
However, what I do want is a critique that tells me what I’m doing right (and ways to have more of that) while also pointing out the bad that needs to be minimized. Most writers want feedback like this.
Q: Can I expect anything in return if I give you valuable feedback?
I cannot guarantee anything, but when someone makes me truly useful feedback, I’m willing to return the favor by reviewing something they’ve written. Additionally, there will be a ‘special thanks’ section dedicated to my best reviewers when my work reaches publication to credit each of them.
Q: Why did you name your blog “Ode to Deodorant”?
It’s a Coldplay song, and Coldplay has been my favorite band since I was 14. For reference, I’m 23 now. Even if you’re a Coldplay fan yourself, there’s still a high chance you haven’t heard of this song since it’s the very first Coldplay song to be recorded and distributed, so this was years before they were famous. However, I mostly don’t care for Coldplay’s newest efforts; they put way too much emphasis on production value and too little on the actual music. Ode to Deodorant is a song that manages to be raw, funny, and truly creative (unlike their latest stuff which is only funny, though unintentionally). Likewise, I want my writing to be unpretentious, minimalist, and quirky.
Q: So you obviously don’t like all Coldplay songs, but you do seem to love a lot of them, particularly their early acoustic stuff. How can someone that appreciates such soft rock “coffee shop” music write about sex, drugs, killing and the mob?
Because like most guys, I can easily get soft or hard depending on my mood.
Q: Why do you demand to preview comments before publishing them?
Because I want to make, sure people are giving legitimate advice and don’t want trolls/fangirls.
Q: Where are you located?
I live in the United States but won’t say more than that.
Q: You really seem to be a supporter of equality. But you refuse to call yourself a feminist. Why is this? Don’t you know what feminism means?
Men have way too much power, and women have far too little. Women only make up a tiny fraction of CEOs and politicians. Women are more likely to be sexually objectified. Women are getting paid a fraction of what men get paid, for the same work. I watched Emma Watson’s speech at the UN and signed her “he for she” pledge. So it may surprise you why I am choosing not to identify as a feminist.
Here’s the thing. There are some feminists out there who I would say are *not* a supporter of equality. As one example, I’ve read some feminist literature that basically says “transgender women” (aka someone born with male body parts who has surgery to become a woman) retains their ‘male privilege.’ I think this is absurd. Transgender people, regardless of which way they went, are some of the most discriminated against people I’ve ever seen. This is one example, but there are some others where feminists talk out of their ass.
Let’s take the issue of porn. Some feminists say that every time a woman is in porn (especially heterosexual porn) she is being oppressed, and would be better off staying out of it. There are also feminists who promote what they call ‘feminist porn,’ in which case it is ok and possibly even good for women to be in porn, as long as they are being treated just as tastefully as the man. I’m not arguing that either one of those points of view are more right than the other. But it is impossible to agree with both at the same time.
There was a woman (who I had a romantic affair with) who was arguing with me as to why I chose not to identify as a feminist. At one point we got sexually intimate. During this time she asked me to call her a bitch, slut, whore, and other things. I told her I would, and I did. But afterward, I told her I felt uncomfortable with what I was saying. And that I thought it was impossible for a woman who is a ‘feminist’ to literally ask a man to say these things. Then she told me that it is mutually compatible with feminism because the relationship was consensual. On the other extreme, some feminists believe literally any relationship with a man, is one where the woman is being oppressed, and the man is in charge.
These issues, along with a million other things, is why ‘feminist’ seems to be one of the vaguest, abstract labels that I’ve ever heard. The only thing they all have in common is they are about the issues of women and girls. Some people would say feminism means equality. But in my experience, no two feminists in the world agree with each other on what ‘equality’ actually means. There are ones like Emma Watson who I agree with on basically everything. There are others that I want to distance myself from. I don’t think all feminists are ‘man-haters.’ Some of them are, most of them aren’t, but all of them disagree at some point.
The vast majority of men (and even the majority of women) are choosing not to identify as feminists. But I do support equality of the sexes. That’s where I’m at.
I’ll also add that what you stand for is far more important than whatever label you slap on yourself. Dr. Luke (a music producer) calls himself a feminist but has abused the singer Kesha, as well as other women. He can call himself Mother Teresa, it doesn’t change what he’s done. People like him (among others) are why I’m afraid of associating myself with the feminist label.
We’ve got a country called ‘the Democratic Republic of the Congo,’ which sounds nice, but some bad stuff is happening there. Then you have the United Kingdom, considered a ‘Monarchy,’ but those people enjoy great freedoms.
Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails has a song that literally says
“You let me violate you, you let me desecrate you
You let me penetrate you, you let me complicate you
Help me I broke apart my insides, help me I’ve got no soul to sell
Help me the only thing that works for me, help me get away from myself
I want to fuck you like an animal
I want to feel you from the inside.”
But it turns out he’s a nice guy who’s done some good in the world. Then you have Bill Cosby who seemed like a saint of God, but behind closed doors was up to something else. I think a sheep in wolf’s clothing is coming from a far better moral high ground than the other way around. To summarize what I’m saying, standing for all the right things is the only thing that matters.
Q: What advice do you have for others who want to write?
First, learn from as many people as you possibly can. Lock yourself in the books. Every writer has their strength, learn from all of them.
I think my personal strength is I have a way of being super honest, will take pretty controversial positions, but still, find a way to make it sound reasonable.
Controversy is definitely not always bad for a writer. In fact, someone wrote a satanic book, which the Ayatollah of Iran condemned. Then the book went from obscurity to the New York Times best seller list. Nearly everyone who read the book thought it was stupid and poorly written, even by devil worshiping standards. I don’t believe the author cares.
I take some really hard positions such as being openly unpatriotic for my country, but at least I have something to back it up. You might not agree with me, but I have something to say.
As another example, on the music section of this blog I not only said is there’s not a chance on earth that Courtney Love killed Kurt Cobain (which is going to piss a lot of people off), but I also said Cobain was a jackass (which is going to piss even more people off). But then I gave valid reasons.
In fact, that’s probably the best example. Because there’s roughly a 50/50 split of people who either love Cobain versus those who hate him. That’s the perfect ratio. You want to draw decisive reactions from the reader. What you don’t want to do is be afraid to offend anybody. A book where the plot is ‘I saw a puppy, petted it, and helped the old lady cross the street’ won’t get popular.
Of course, it’s possible to go too far with it. There’s some guy called Roosh V which I first found out about when a video of his kept popping up all over the internet, where he said that rape should be legal. When I first saw it, I honest to God thought it was satire. Then I checked out his ‘Return of Kings’ website, which seemed to be nothing but outrage click bait in a desperate attempt for ad revenue. Eventually, I realized he means everything he says, and by that point, I was appalled. Probably less than 1% of the world agrees with that guy. Saying Kurt Cobain is a jackass is one thing, but what he teaches is something else. I say a lot of questionable and controversial things, but I’m not in the same ballpark as that guy.
The Cobain thing was edgy because 1) there are tons of people that DO think Courtney Love killed Cobain, and I insulted them. 2) Lots of people worship him like he’s Jesus, who I also insulted. 3) It’s generally considered in poor taste to speak ill of the dead, especially when they blew their brains out. All that being said, it’s not on the same level as “the Holocaust was good.”
The things I typically write give the type of shock value I’m looking for, but then by the time you finish the whole piece I come off looking like a halfway decent person, even if you still disagree with my logic.
If I summarized my entire writing style in one sentence, it would be “Edgy but not horrible.”
What I like to do is challenge the status quo, but not in a way that would make me a despicable person.
Q: What is your ethnic background?
I am Irish/Iranian, which effectively makes me Italian. Just my opinion of course.
Q: I saw this and want to share it elsewhere. Can I?
Many people don’t realize this, but anything someone originally creates and publishes online is copyrighted for them by default. Personally, I don’t see why anyone would want to even share a highly unfinished (and frankly unpolished) manuscript, much less lay claim to it. That said if you want to post this elsewhere, ask me permission and I’ll try to get back to you. Although if you meet the following requirements, no permission is needed, to begin with:
- You explicitly admit that none of this is yours, nor is it the work of anyone you personally know (for the .001 percent of the world that does actually know me, I’d appreciate remaining anonymous, thanks.)
- You provide a link to this blog, given it’s the original source.
- You refrain from making any money from your use of this content. That includes (but not limited to) anything online with ad revenue.
Q: Why are some of your writing colored in blue?
Blue means the writing is a raw, rough draft. While I don’t consider anything here as the final product when it’s in blue, it’s the very first (or second) time I’ve got that thought on paper. Thus it shouldn’t be taken as seriously.
Q: Why are some of your writing colored in purple?
Not only is it quite likely to be a first rough draft, but it’s out of order with what I’ve written thus far! That doesn’t mean it’s contradicting, only that it happens either earlier or later than the main storyline you’ve been reading. I do intend for it to be part of the book, but I haven’t quite decided where to put it. Lots of writers start by writing material midway through the story, for example. Notice that all of my purple is at the very bottom of the page in its own section, this is to protect those who want to read the manuscript in order (to have the full effect rather than get spoiled).
Q: Considering your Pax Romana City of Angel’s story. How much of it was based on real life experience and how much do you see yourself in Daniel or Rose?
First, only a tiny fraction (less than 5 percent) of the book is based on anything that has personally happened to me in real life or even based on stories of other people’s life experiences. And I say this not just because my legal defense team says it’s in my best interest. But because it’s the honest to God truth. Daniel, in particular, is the extreme polar opposite of how I am. The only thing we’ve got in common is we are both males, we are both in our twenties, we both like Linkin Park, we are both American, and we are both heterosexual. Other than that, we are extremely different in every way imaginable. I actually have a lot more in common with Rose than Daniel, which may surprise people because it appears I’m more sympathetic with Daniel as a character. However, I can explain. I am a ‘self-hating’ intellectual. Someone who has never had to make a difficult decision in their life and hates their own privilege of hiding behind books without being forced to get dirty. It would take a Daniel to protect Rose. It would take a Rose to write Daniel’s story. For the ladies out there who want to meet me in person: If you expect me to be anything remotely like Daniel, prepare to be disappointed. No, I do not ‘see myself’ in him. If Daniel were a real person, he would scare the shit out of me. And he would easily be able to beat the crap out of me.