5 Questions with Brent Michael Kelley

Published January 5, 2012 by LS Murphy

Brent Michael Kelley

Brent Michael Kelley is the author of Chuggie and the Desecration of Stagwater available now from Omnium Gatherum Media. His story “Ride” will appear in the upcoming anthology Detritus which will be available on January 13th.

Brent Michael Kelley lives and writes in the Wisconsin Northwoods. He shares a home with such things as hairless dogs, a snake named Darth Batman, and the woman he married on Halloween. In addition to writing about his pal Chuggie, he likes writing story-poems, painting monsters, and making wine. Some say late at night, if you’re alone by a campfire, you can summon Brent by closing your eyes and saying his name eleven times. He insists this is not true and there’s no way it will work… yet.

  1. What is your biggest time drain? My biggest time drain is either those video games or the internet in general. Too dern much information out there. But you have to read about scientific breakthroughs, you know? Sooner or later, CERN is going to find the Higgs boson, and I’m not going to be out of the loop! What if they find a cure for aging? What if peace breaks out in the Middle East? What if the zombies finally rise up? These are things you need to know immediately. In the words of Captain Picard, “The truth is out there.”
  2. How many writing projects do you work on at one time?  I always have a handful of stories cooking in various stages. Right now there are a couple short stories that are nearly finished, although I probably shouldn’t call them “finished” until I see them in print. I have a couple of story-poems in progress. With those, I have no idea where the story is going, so I can’t tell if they’re just about done or what. They’re kind of all sitting on the back burner right now, though. The thing I’m most interested in writing is the sequel to Chuggie and the Desecration of Stagwater. I’m doing a strange form of ideation. I wouldn’t call it outlining. Just coming up with creatures and artifacts that I’ve never seen before. Coming up with events that I want to work toward. This is certainly the fun part of the process, but pretty soon I’ll need to start the heavy lifting.
  3. What do you do when/if you’re suffering from writer’s block?  Writer’s block is a big fat jerk. There are different levels of severity, though, and I’ve never been stricken with a level 10. Say you’re sitting at your computer and you can’t think of anything to write. Go mow the lawn and put your mind to it. It’s midnight and you can’t mow lawn? Go sit on your roof with a notebook. I usually have a little pocket notebook with me to jot down any notion that strikes me. They don’t all make the cut, but they all warrant consideration. I keep my eyes peeled. I’ll see the things I want to write about all around me. I recently saw a large bipedal goat in a pile of hair. Now I have an idea for a Goat Lord, as big as King Kong, that I can use in my story. And I’m pretty sure he’s one of many. There are creatures in the clouds, too. But ideas are leaping at you from all directions at all times. The trick is to keep the net ready so you can snatch them from flight before they get away. And if that still doesn’t work, get yourself a copy of Finnegan’s Wake. You get stumped on ANYTHING, turn to a random page and read a sentence. I also like a long country drive with a voice recorder. Just get jacked up on caffeine and drive across the state by yourself. You’ll get some ideas out of that.
  4. Where did the spark of inspiration come from for Chuggie? Chuggie came about when I heard my painting instructor talking about her muse back in college. I decided to call forth a muse of my own. Chuggie showed up, knocked a bunch of my stuff over and tried to sell me a sack of old church keys. He had a voice like Tom Waits and a chain wrapped around his chest. One day I just started writing about him. The first thing he did was fight his way through some trees only to end up in something called a Desecration. Later on I found out he was the walking embodiment of Drought. But the spark… the very SPARK at the core of Chuggie… nothing pushes you to create quite like a job you aren’t happy with. I’m not going to sling any mud right now, just going to say I was the wrong person for the job I had. At lunch time every day, I’d go and sit in the park to write about Chuggie or work on my story-poem about gnomes. I could have done anything with that time, but I spent it creating. Then after work, I’d stay up writing or painting or whatever until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Lots of people are miserable. They just need to understand they’re alchemists, and they can transmute that misery into something worthwhile.
  5. Finally, Beatles or Rolling Stones? This is a very difficult question. I told someone very close to me about this question, and she immediately blurted “Rolling Stones!” I tried to explain that it isn’t such a simple answer, but she tried to stab me instead. On the one hand, the Beatles were all about experimentation. Sure, they did plenty of LSD, but it was all in the search of something. They went to India and learned to play sitars. They grew beards and handlebar mustaches. Maybe they didn’t grow handlebars, okay? I haven’t verified that. But I grew a handlebar mustache, and my only regret is not doing it sooner. I look so distinguished it’ll make your head explode. Monocle? Yep. Top hat? You know it. But I’m getting off track. So this person says Rolling Stones, and I’m not allowed to argue. But I know that this person really just likes the one Rolling Stones song. And they also prefer the Guns ‘N Roses cover of that song to the Stones version. I’m not naming any names here, but Chuck Palahniuk himself advised me to break up with her back in 2006. Did I listen? No. Maybe Chuck Palahniuk doesn’t know everything! Although he did claim to have urinated on a piece of art that I sent him. I know that doesn’t sound like something you’d like to have happen to your art, but I was (and am) quite flattered by the gesture. Of course, I have no way of verifying whether or not this is true. I just have to trust that if Chuck Palahniuk says he tinkled on my art then that’s what he did. The point I’m trying to get at, and I hope I’m not rambling now, is that… crap, I forgot where I was going with this. I guess I better say I like the Rolling Stones better so SOMEbody – again, not saying who – doesn’t try to smother me in my sleep. Again

Don’t forget to check out Chuggie and the Desecration of Stagwater which Piers Anthony called “a literally gut-wrenching horror story, in the sense of guts being wrenched out of living bodies and eaten by little monsters. I’m really not a fan of horror, as mentioned above, but this one held my morbidly fascinated attention to the end.” Read the full review here.


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