Monday, November 4, 2013

Author Interview: Scotty Weeks ~ Purgatory, NY

Author interview: Scotty Weeks
Purgatory, NY

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Henry Sera just defaulted on a loan, now the guys he owes money are threatening to take the difference out of his hide. Using a cheese grater. Valuing his good looks and un-grated face, he skips town to stay with a friend in New York.

Everything is looking up for a bit—he lands a bartending job and he's offered a lease that's too good to be true. Henry's not the type to read things though, and the lease contains something called an "immortal soul clause", not to mention that the landlord is a demon.

All Henry wants is to find a nice place to stay where nobody will shred his face with kitchen implements. And maybe a date with the hot one-legged girl that does porn. He just has to decide if it's worth selling his soul, or worse—moving to Brooklyn.

Into The Fire is part one of the four part series Purgatory, NY.

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Purgatory, NY is a series of eight short stories in two-part bundles, with the final part yet to be released. When Henry comes to New York, angels and devils battle for his soul, making bets on the sins they can or can't push Henry to commit. With one-legged porn stars, a slip-and-slide full of fake blood, drugs, booze, and an angry man that wants to run a cheese grater along Henry's face, NYC is the ultimate stomping ground for sin.

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Brie: What inspired you to write Purgatory, NY?

Scotty Weeks: Two of my favourite things: New York City and moral relativism. I love New York as a backdrop, there are so many amazingly strange little vignettes that play out every day in this city—some of which are far too unbelievable to put into fiction form. As a densely packed international city it shoves people from all over the world into a tiny space and forces them to get along. I wanted to capture some of that.

I also wanted to explore right and wrong. To have an angel that didn’t mind a bit of porn. To have a demon that cringed at the idea of one of his potential tenants choosing to forgo a Manhattan apartment for a Bushwick artist’s commune. I enjoy playing around with what it means to be a moral person in the grand scheme of things. The world is complex and simple rules of right and wrong don’t account for that complexity.

Brie: You include profanity in your stories, but I felt like it was intrinsic to Henry’s journey into the underbelly of New York. What are your thoughts about profanity in literature?

Scotty Weeks: My biggest literary influences are Henry Miller and Louis-Ferdinand CĂ©line. Neither of which shied away from sex or profanity. Colourful language is a part of every day life—among children and adults alike—and it strikes me as artificial to shy away from it. That said, profanity for its own sake is about as interesting as sex or violence for their own sakes. Sure, sometimes you want to gorge on them, but they’d better be bloody good. If I could write swears half as well as Armando Iannucci does with Malcolm Tucker then my books would be 80% profanity by volume.
   
Brie: Can you tell me anything about the theological component between Micki and Dan... without spoiling the next book?
   
Scotty Weeks: Dan and Micki are introduced as being two sides of the same coin—the classic picture of devils and angels hanging out on some poor saps shoulder and whispering into his ear. As the story progresses we start to see a shift in the power dynamic between them. Micki gets a lot more introspective and Dan gets a lot more detached. Micki is a powerful creature, but she’s also a very fallible one—this part of her personality and the implications of those imperfections are explored in the last two episodes.

Brie: Ever been to a bare-knuckle boxing match?

Scotty Weeks: I’ve been to a few “fight club” style matches, as well as seen more than my fair share of street fighting when I was a kid. Though there aren’t any BKB matches that I know of in Brooklyn right now, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see them in the future. Up until recently I had a bunch of friends that would regularly attend model boxing (exactly what it sounds like, but totally illegal and underground) and I piggybacked off of those matches for the atmosphere.
   
Brie: Why did you choose to craft Jenny’s character the way you did?
   
Scotty Weeks: I adore Jenny as a character. She’s a no-bullshit type that owns her sexuality and isn’t up for playing victim to anybody. She’s a great counter-balance to Henry who is still searching for his identity. There’s this tendency to treat very sexual women as somehow damaged and victimized. She’s anything but—a girl who lost a leg in a foreign country and just kept on truckin’. She’s got a big soft spot for Henry and it bugs the shit out of her, she’s fighting her internal ambition which is telling her to ignore those feelings.

Brie: Do you have a real-life Craigslist horror story you’d like to share?
   
Scotty Weeks: Sadly I don’t. I’ve always wanted to be cuddled by a powerful Russian woman though.

Brie: I’m hooked after the first three installments and desperate to read more! What are your plans for the series?
   
Scotty Weeks: There are two more episodes (one volume) that are away with my editor. They continue the general darkening tone of the series as they move to the conclusion. The backdrop of Purgatory, NY will survive the series, as well as some of the characters. There have been cameos in a few short stories and my next book takes place in the same New York that Purgatory does. So glad you are enjoying them, they are a blast to write!

Brie: Do you have any words of wisdom for anyone who hasn’t found their place in the world yet?

Scotty Weeks: Keep doing weird shit. There’s this notion that there is a universal path to life—school, work, retirement, death. And you know what? That works great for most people. There are a lot of us that it doesn’t work so well for and it can feel pretty nasty to be set adrift amongst peers that are so self assured of their place in the world. Ignore all that. Do what makes you feel fulfilled and find a way to support yourself while you do it.
   
Brie: Have your parents read your books?

Scotty Weeks: Funny enough, just recently I posted a status update on Facebook. My mother replied:


The post was about some NY Strip steaks that I had purchased from an illicit butcher (a buddy of mine who buys insanely high quality dry-aged wholesale meat and sells it drug-dealer style where you dial number and he makes a drop in Chinatown). I love this city.

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