Q&A with Comicality – Part 1

[WARNING: The post may contain spoilers.]

Well everyone who reads gay fiction online has heard of him. He’s a legend in himself. Comicality has written such stories as Gone from Daylight, Savage Moon, and New Kid in School.

Here I present part 1 of my interview with him.

Q. Tell me a little about yourself.

Hmmm, you know with all the mystery and secrecy I hold onto, I wish I could really say that there was something ‘spectacular’ behind the shadows to know about me. Hehehe! I live in Chicago, I love to write (obviously), I love music, love movies….I think I’m just really entertained by anything ‘creative’ I’m fascinated by the way people think and feel, and how that translates into whatever art they’re pursuing at the time. But other than work and writing, it’s not like I can say, “Oh sure, I tame lions and slay dragons on the weekends. Climbed Mount Everest…TWICE…you know, the usual.”

Q. What inspires you to write?

Life. Every day life. It’s strange, but if I don’t actually go out and spend time with friends and family, if I’m not talking to people from the site, chatting, email, or whatever…I have absolutely NOTHING to write about. Which is weird, because I’m either too busy living to write, or I’m too busy writing to live. But I know that I need both. A lot of those humorous moments in the stories, those conversations, those experiences, those emotions…they come from my real life. I get the pleasure of twisting and editing the ‘footage’ to fit into whatever shape I want it to be in, sure…but it all has to ‘come from’ somewhere. From some experience I’ve actually had myself. I’ve just made it a habit to express my feelings about everything through stories, instead of letting it fade away. It’s like my little mental photograph. That’s why I write so MUCH stuff all the time. Because if you really stop and take notice…every moment in your life counts for something. There’s ALWAYS something going on in your head, so why not use that mindless chatter for something entertaining, you know?

Q. What are your favourite books?

Oh wow….it’s been forever since I’ve really had a favorite book, to be honest. I feel like I’ve missed SO much! Never read the “Harry Potter” books, never read the Anne Rice books, no “Twilight”…I missed whole series of great work! But I never have time anymore. Nowadays, every time I even TRY to read a new book (especially if it’s a good one), I instantly get inspired to write something of my own. LOL! Give me about 20 pages, and my brain is already working on something else. But that’s not me, I swear! The Shack did that! I made a habit out of writing every single day, so it keeps me ‘itching’ to start working again.

But…BEFORE that madness started, I remember one of my all time favorites was “Lord of the Flies”. Don’t remember why I was so fascinated by that, but the concept of the story really captivated me. I think it was because I was really young at the time, and it was the first time I’ve ever seen teenagers treated as more than just these happy little cut out characters, whose biggest problem was asking ‘dad’ to borrow the car for the big homecoming dance. It wasn’t the ‘safe’ version. It was dark, and it was violent, and it had tension….it really appealed to me. I was mature for my age, so the whole ‘bubblegum’ idea of your average teenager never really did it for me. Still doesn’t.

I’ve always been a big fan of Stephen King’s earlier books too. His writing can be really…’creepy’ if you allow yourself to visualize it the right way. Also, one thing that I have always really loved about Stephen King’s work (and some of Michael Crichton’s too) is the characters. Which is a huge thing for me. Anybody who reads my bigger sci-fi stories will probably see where the influence comes from. Like, I think “The Stand” is absolutely BRILLIANT! One of the best I’ve ever read! That epic story, with all of the separate characters that could each probably have a story all their own…coming together and crossing storylines to create one big masterpiece…I really admire that. So if someone reads “Gone From Daylight” or “New Kid” or “Savage Moon”…hopefully they’ll get that same feeling. That each character has a distinct purpose and a life and a story all their own…and yet, they’re a part of this much larger picture. That’s kinda what life is to me. Everyone’s life is just as complex and as important as mine is, whether I notice it or not. Nobody is just ‘background’…they ALL matter. They all have stories to tell. I honestly think that every character in every story should reflect that in one way or another. So I try really hard to make sure that happens.

Q. What is the most thoughtful feedback you have received from a reader?

Actually….and I feel REALLY bad about this, because I don’t think I ever replied to him fully….but there was one reader who went through the entire website, read EVERY story, and I think he picked like…TEN of his all time favorite stories/series from the list. Then he literally sat down, and he gave me a FULL review on each and every single one of them. I mean, it must have literally taken him HOURS to type all of that out. He comented on every character, every plot twist, every warm moment…and added his every thought and feeling about each one from beginning to end. That was one of the most flattering emails that I think I’ve ever gotten. I was SO blown away.

Aside from that, the highest compliment that anyone could ever give me is to say that the stories inspired some level of ‘thought’ or ‘change’ in their hearts. That people read it, and related to the emotions involved. That it brought back good memories for them, or just made them smile. There’s no better reward in the WORLD than a sincere thanks from someone who really liked something that I wrote. It gets me every time.

Q. Do your characters represent anyone in your life?

Oh PLENTY of them! Hehehe! If only you guys knew how many! Some of them were people that I knew from work, or that I went to high school or college with. A lot are based on some of my best friends in the world. Others are boys that I’ve had crushes on….some are boys that I’ve….’ahem’…gotten ‘lucky’ with! :) And some are just based on really beautiful boys that have crossed my path at one point or another, or that I’ve seen on the street somewhere, and thought, “Wow! He deserves his own story!”

The earlier stories, were almost all based on real people. Like Ariel, Tyler, Ryan, Drew (From “On The Outside”), Chris (From “A Class By Himself”), and a bunch of others are all real. And were all friends of mine growing up (around…6th grade up through high school, mostly). And now…there are ‘traces’ of those same friends in a lot of my newer characters. Can’t help it, those personalities are a part of me for life. ‘Sam’, for instance, was always a bit on the ‘crazy’ side! Hehehe, and REALLY playful and giggly whenever he was around us. So he shows up as himself in “My Only Escape” with those same wild mannerisms…but there are ALSO a lot of traces of his crazy personality in ‘Dex’ from the “Savage Moon” series. There are traces of him in ‘Gyro’ from “Gone From Daylight”. There are traces of him in ‘Scotty’ from “Jesse-101″. Growing up, Sam was a year behind the rest of us, so his energetic antics and outbursts and jumping on people’s backs and all…he was always like a bratty little brother to us, and we LOVED him. (Plus he was REALLY cute! Gorgeous!) So he’s become my ‘blueprint’ for that type of character.

A lot of my characters are based on my close knit group of friends from that time in my life. ‘Ariel'(an absolute HOTTIE as well!) was always painfully shy and a bit accident prone, hehehe…and you’ll see shades of him in a lot of stories too. My friend, Adam, was really sarcastic and he liked to tease a lot…so that shows up in a bunch of stories, “Billy Chase” especially. Me and my friends, Mike and Dave, have more of a ‘back and forth’ playful conversation when we get together, and we’re quick to call each other on bullshit…which you’ll see in “Dream Lover” or “Whispered Words” or “Jesse-101″, where there’s a lot of fun dialogue and joking around. (Which I love to write, by the way! That always keeps me smiling!) Hopefully the characters don’t sound too much alike from story to story though. Hehehe, it’s hard to keep coming up with new ones, but no matter what I write, there are gonna be traces of my personal ‘rat pack’ in every character. It makes them more real to me.

Q. What is on your favourite iPod play list?

Sooooo much! My musical tastes are all over the place, so it really depends on my mood. Which changes two or three times a day. So I have stuff that I listen to when I’m frustrated, stuff for when I’m feeling down, for when I need a quick pick me up, some for when I need to mellow out. And I have CDs that I burned myself for when I’m writing. So I have certain CDs dedicated to certain stories.

Umm…I do occasionally get on a late night 80’s kick for some odd reason. I have my Bob Marley/Lauryn Hill/Nina Simone kicks for when I’m cleaning the house or just need a few hours of feel good music. In the early morning hours when I’ve been typing for a loooong time, I have my Massive Attack/Tricky/Portishead vibe. Motown always makes me feel good. Hip hop is my aggression music, lots of Eminem. For some strange reason, when Eminem is being serious and really expressing his anger…it ties in to sooo much of what I go through with the site and the whole ‘Comicality’ identity. Word for word. I can’t tell you how relieving it is to have his music tap into me like that. Big Beatles fan, big Prince fan, love Stevie Wonder, love Eric Clapton, Lenny Kravitz, Michael Jackson (R.I.P. and if you really LISTEN to his anger and pain on the ‘History’ album…incredible). I think Jay Z is a genius…he just found his particular formula and proved over and over again that it’s flawless. Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Skunk Anansie (Post Orgasmic Chill….wow! Amazing album), Outkast. Just…artists that get complete consumed by their music. You can always tell when it comes from the heart. They scream it with every word.

Q. Are you married or single?

Hehehe, neither, actually! :) I’ve recently gotten myself the most incredible boyfriend ever created! Much better than anything I deserve. So I’m majorly happy about that. It was seriously like a random gift from God. One of those things that just sorta happened ‘by chance’ and lets you know that fate just might be real after all. And I met him through my website, which is something that I usually don’t do. Or try not to. But he was a fan of the stories, and we struck up a conversation for a while. He’s a student of languages, and he actually CREATED a vampire language for “Gone From Daylight”. An actual ‘working’ language with roots to Latin and the older romance languages, with it’s own history and rules of politeness and everything. I’ve never been so impressed. (I’m still learning to use it properly, without butchering it too badly. He laughs at me sometimes! LOL!) But it all started there, almost by accident. We both started talking back and forth about the language and how it worked and how I could incorporate it into the story. We were coming up with new ideas almost daily about where it came from and how it died out (or went underground). He was ADORABLE! I loved talking to him! And it was just about the language and the story at first, then just us joking around a bit, and we found out that we had sooooo much in common. The conversations brought us closer together, we did a little flirting, and I got kinda sweet on him. I didn’t say anything for months though (the big chicken that I am). Besides…’Comicality’ doesn’t fall in love. Huh? What? That’s crazy! ๐Ÿ˜› But, yeah, there was no controlling it. I was clearly falling in love with him more and more every time we talked. I mean…there was no doubt in my mind that I was head over heels, and it was getting worse. Then I heard he posted an actual VIDEO on the message board, which I couldn’t see on my system! LOL! So I was practically throwing *tantrums* because I couldn’t see what he looked like! I literally FORCED him to send it to me on DVD in the mail! And…::Gasp::…gorgeous! He was soooooo CUTE! I nearly slid right out of my chair. That was the final straw! It was a wrap from there.

A few more awkward conversations and flirty phone calls later…and we became an item. It’s been about a year and a half now. He’s the most beautiful thing in my life. He has sooooo much heart! He’s like an angel to me. I love him with every fiber of my being, and I tell him every chance I get. He loves everything about me. Everything I do is sexy and fun and cute…and I’ve never experienced a feeling so complete before. All the times I’ve been in love in my life…it’s never been like this. He’s the boy I’ve been searching for my whole life. ::Blushes::

Sorry, hehehe….a year and a half, and I still manage to gush about him constantly. I’ll stop now. ๐Ÿ˜›

Q. What do you love the most about Chicago? Hate the most?

I love EVERYTHING about Chicago! Hehehe, call me biased, but I’ve been to a lot of other big cities, even overseas when I was little, and I have fun in other places…but they’re not like Chicago. It’s my home. I think I really like the diversity of lifestyles here. While Chicago is still really ‘separated’ in terms of culture, anything that you want to find or get in to, you can find it here. You want a busy, crowded, hustling fast life….it’s here. If you want more of a quiet walk along the lake, picnic in the park, vibe…it’s here. You can go to a blues bar, a techno rave, an indy rock concert, a hip hop open mic, a goth club, and a jazz cafe, all in the same weekend. And that gives you so much freedom. I used to just go to Navy Pier and just draw and take notes for story ideas and enjoy the constant flow of people. And the summers here are AMAZING! Once late June hits, you’ve got a festival in Grant park EVERY weekend for the whole Summer. Like, BIG ones, with thousands (sometimes MILLIONS) of people! Movies in the park, free concerts, and fireworks twice a week. There’s nothing else like it.

What do I HATE about it? Hmmmm…I suppose one big argument would be the weather. But it doesn’t really bother me that much at all. The snow and the rain isn’t THAT awful. Hehehe, we have our bad days, sure. But I need a change in season. I LIKE Spring rain and snow on Christmas day and colorful leaves in the Fall. My boyfriend can’t survive here though, LOL! He’s a California boy! Anything lower than 60 degrees and he’s looking for electric blankets and hot cocoa. Now ME, after work, waiting a half hour on a wet street corner for a BUS at 2 AM when the temperature is like….4* with a frosty wind-chill of -12*…THAT’S cold!!!

Q. Is there another gay online author to whom you look up to, and if so, why?

Over the years, I’ve read a lot of extremely well written stories. Some reached the end, and some, unfortunately, kinda stopped dead. Which happens, you know? So good STORIES are out there everywhere, if you’re lucky enough to come across them. But if I had to narrow it down to actual AUTHORS…I would definitely have to give a lot of credit to Ty from Storm Nation. I think his story is honestly one of the most well crafted and emotionally turbulent stories that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading online. Not only that, but both he and I have been writing side by side for years, and he recently followed his epic story to completion and laid it to rest. Which was like saying goodbye to a close group of friends. But I admire and applaud the fact that he stuck with it all the way to completion. High points and low points. And after years of building and molding his characters to perfection, he created a piece of work that deserves to be labeled a ‘must read’ for anyone who wants to write a story of their own. I really do honor and respect his dedication to his craft as an author.

Also, even though I’m way behind on my reading and anxious to catch up, I’m a huge fan of Dom Luka’s work. He really has a talent for painting vivid pictures, and they stay with you, even after you’re done reading. He’s another author that deserves to be way up there in terms of other people looking for a master to study and learn from.

I’ve recently been reading a story, “Derailed”, from one of the readers on the Shack…and that’s building up some major potential too. Also, we had a month on the site where readers were asked to write their own vampire “Gone From Daylight” spin off stories, and I was really shocked and awed at how sweet their ideas were! They went way above and beyond anything that I could think of myself, with their own characters and storylines and additions to the whole vampire mythology of the “GFD” story. So I really got a kick out of reading those too.

I still have sooo much more stuff to read though. I’ve gotten a lot of suggestions from readers telling me to check out ‘this’ story or ‘that’ story…and I hope to get a chance to do that soon. Because, more times than not, I’m pleasantly surprised.

Q. If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?

Before or after taxes? Hehehehe! You know, it may sound far fetched, but I’ve been seriously entertaining the idea of maybe starting a publishing company just for stories like ours. I mean, I was just talking about how much talent there is online…and there are a lot of publishing companies that either wouldn’t want to take a chance on such ‘controversial’ material…or would accept it ONLY if the author changed the plot, or took out the sex, or changed the ages, or made the characters straight…ugh! So why go through them? We could have our own little printing press and tell our stories our way. Without changing a thing. Do you know how many hits Nifty gets a DAY? How many stories are posted on their archives a week? How many brilliant writers we have on GayAuthors.org alone? There’s obviously a huge worldwide audience for our stories, and would be willing to buy books from us. Imagine if we could put those stories in print and sell them to folks who want to purchase them and have them at home. The authors could actually get paid for their hard work and they get the chance to see their work on the physical page where it belongs. There are CLASSICS being written online everyday…for FREE. Stories that really touch people’s hearts and inspire them to live life with pride. And I know money isn’t the main goal, it shouldn’t be, but it would make for a pretty sweet ‘side effect’ to hours and hours of sitting at a keyboard and pouring your soul out to the masses. I think it would be cool to give these authors a fair shot and put their works on the bookshelves.

And the extra profits we generate from the company growing to a decent size, we can send those right back to helping gay teens, helping runaways, abused children….something truly positive. I truly feel that anything you put your mind to can and will be successful as long as you’re doing it for the right reasons. And your intentions aren’t selfish ones.

So…if I had a million dollars, WITHOUT taxes taken out…that would be my dream. But if it was AFTER taxes were taken out? Ummm…I don’t know. I guess I’d buy…a cheeseburger? ::Shrugs:: Maybe some fries if I had some change leftover.

Q. Did you go to school with the intention of becoming a writer and, what did you major in?

Hehehe, actually, I went to school for film! The writing thing was purely an accident. Trying to afford college, and housing, and supplies, was difficult…but I was trying to keep up with it regardless. And I went in to register for classes, but two of my prerequisite classes were either full or clashed with the rest of my schedule. So I needed another elective, and I wanted to keep my grades high, so I took a creative writing course. English was always one of my best subjects, so I figured, what the hell? And the rest is history. I really loved it!

The funny thing is, I remember being worried about being in a room with REAL writers and not being able to really do something as well as people who wanted to do this for a living. But I ended up making a lot of friends in that class, and they really liked a lot of the stuff I wrote. Something about having an appreciative audience of writing peers really inspires you to push harder and do your best.

I still love film, and always will, but writing is where my real talent and passion is. I couldn’t see that before. I used to draw comic books when I was younger, wanted to make movies, loved video games…but at the heart of it all, it was always the story itself that fascinated me. Being able to create ‘life’ with words. It’s exhilarating. :)

Q. What was your initial inspiration that prompted you to start writing?

Well, I had been in love with my best friend since we were both 14 years old, and of course…he’s straight. Anyway, I was just experiencing the internet for the first time, and my best friend and I had gotten a very small apartment together. Hehehe, the combination of those two things is really what caused the ‘big bang’ as far as my sexuality was concerned. Living with my best friend was a DAILY torture! I was really ‘aching’ for him in a way that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. And so I was online trying to get rid of some ‘tension’, so to speak. I’m kind of embarrassed to admit it, but I had a few one time hook-ups with guys online. ::Blush:: But, after a few of those…I knew that it really wasn’t me. I wish I was more of a slutty type, but I’m a romantic at heart. So that wasn’t working out for me.

I got trapped at one point. I had all the sex I could want on one hand, but I wasn’t in love. And on the other hand, I had the boy I loved with everything that I had to give right there in front of my face…but I could never have him, because he was straight. It was like ARRRGHH!!! Anyway, I remember looking for something gay online, and the search engine brought up some story. (You know, right now I can’t even think of the name of it. But it was two hot 17 year old boys on a boat! Hehehe!) And I read it and got so hot and bothered that I wanted to know where the hell this thing CAME from! So I followed the trail of breadcrumbs, and it led me to Nifty. Not to be too graphic here, but I literally was SORE from the waist down after the first week. It was a goldmine of sexy stories to…um…’enjoy’. And I loved it!

Then…a few months went by, an I had kinda gotten used to the ‘boy meets boy and bangs the hell out of him in the first five paragraphs’ routine. I kept reading, looking for something with meaning, but despite a few gems here and there…everything was just a mirror of what I was doing with the online hook ups. So after a while it got to be unsatisfying. Then I happened to come across Dean Lidster’s stories. And shortly after, Jaxsper Finn’s Hanson series. Not only did they have awesome stories with romance and dialogue and depth…but they also had websites with an actual audience, and fans that they could talk to and get feedback from. So I kept reading, and wrote both of them emails to tell them I enjoyed their stories..and they both wrote back! And eventually, while reading Jax’s story one night, I decided to take a shot at doing one of my own. I mean, why not, right? I wrote the first “New Kid” all in one sitting. In fact I didn’t have a way to save it back then, so I had to type the first chapter out directly into the email that I sent to Nifty. And it’s the feedback and love from the readers that have been inspiring my writing ever since. The site built itself up from the ground up. So to Dean and Jax…I owe you guys EVERYTHING! Thanks! :)

Q. Is there a published author that you look up to?

Hmmmm….no. Not really. But that’s probably because I haven’t been reading much published works in the last…decade or so! Hehehe! So not authors. I know good stories when I see one. But as far as being an author groupie? Nope. Not for a very long time.

Q. What do you do for a living?

Retail, retail, retail! Ugh! I actually work two jobs, usually on alternating days. But occasionally I have to work for a whole day straight. Which can be exhausting. I mean…I do get to indulge in some of my passions (Movies and music), but considering that the Shack is practically a job in itself…it doesn’t leave much energy for anything else. At the same time, though, even though more money would be great, I am MISERABLE if I can’t move around and be around people. If I can’t be creative in some way or interact with the public. I did the office cubicle thing, and I wanted to throw myself out the window every ten minutes. Just….the paperwork bean counter thing….I would be dead inside. And a lot of people love it, so kudos to them. But me? I’d rather be frustrated by the stupidity of angry customers and laugh about it later, then be locked in a box from 9 to 5, numbing myself with the same activity day after day.

Q. When do you feel most out of your comfort zone?

When my privacy is invaded. Definitely. The thing is, I’m a really secretive person. Not because I have ‘bodies’ in the trunk of my car or anything…it’s just a weird part of who I am. I can be friendly and listen to OTHER people’s personal experiences, but I stay very vague and quiet about my own. I think I just need a LITTLE bit of distance in order for me to be really comfortable. And it’s not even that big of a deal, the things I keep secret, but being on display beyond my control makes me severely uneasy. It can be something as simple as someone saying, “So, I heard you went to the movies with Amy this weekend.” For some reason that just…feels invasive to me. You heard from WHERE? From WHO? If I didn’t come out and tell you personally, why is someone else talking about my life outside of my presence? I treat the little pieces of information about me the same way someone just coming out of the closet treats their secret. You start out telling the few people you TRUST, and that’s fine. But you don’t wanna tell one person and have them run around blabbing it to other people you don’t know like that. That’s not THEIR decision, it’s supposed to be yours. I know it’s strange and it probably has a lot to do with the way I grew up with my problems at home and all…but I’m extremely protective about what people know and don’t know about me. If they ask ME…I probably wouldn’t mind telling them the truth. But I get really suspicious and withdrawn whenever I hear about people asking other people about something concerning my life, searching for private info about me online, sharing my private emails, keeping ‘records’ on me, or attempting to come find me at work. I don’t like being ‘exposed’ to people unless I personally gave them permission to know me on a certain level. I go slow and unravel a little bit at the time as I feel more comfortable. But when folks try to ‘speed things along’ by poking around without me knowing about it (I guess I’m not moving fast enough for them)…I kinda shut down on them pretty quick, and push them back out to arms length.

Hehehe, so…DON’T do that! Anybody who asks me anything or wants to talk to me about something personal, I’ll probably ‘tell all’ eventually. But anybody who gets ‘sneaky’ about it will get a serious cold shoulder from me until I feel safe enough to warm up to them again. I know they don’t mean to be malicious or anything…but getting to know me on a personal level has to kinda be done at MY pace, not theirs. I guess I have trust issues.

Q. If you could work with any author who would it be?

Wow…tough one. Um…I’m not really sure. To be totally honest. I had a ’round robin’ story a few years back called “Lost In Shadow” that I was really excited about, and other authors contributed chapters based on the first chapter that I wrote for it. So THAT was really fun. Any one of them, individually, would be awesome to work with again if I could find the time for something cool.

I’d REALLY love to maybe write something with my boyfriend someday too! He wrote a story called “Unscripted” that was REALLY good! He’d never admit it, but it was truly an exceptional story, and it was building a fanbase all its own with every chapter. I think it would be awesome for him and me to write something side by side. Partners in crime, hehehe! I don’t know how we would work that out, exactly…but give me time. My wheels are always turning. :)

OH! Also, some years back, Dom Luka and I discussed doing a joint story together. And we both came up with characters and a story line and everything. Basically, the plot was built around two boys, best friends, who were both gay but neither one knew about the other. So Dom was going to take one character, and I was going to take the other, and the stories would sort of intertwine and crossover into one another. I still have the emails and early portions of that project. But between his busy schedule and mine, and both of us writing for our own thirsty audiences at the time, it was really hard to actually get that off the ground. But I’d totally be willing to pick that story back up, or start something new with him. He has really unique ideas, and a flair for drama. Hearing his ideas for possible future events in the series was like…wow. Plus our writing styles are slightly different, so it would be interesting to see how they ‘feel’ when combined in the same story.

Q. When naming your characters, do you give any thought to the actual meaning?

Honestly, I try to put some thought into how the names relate to one another before the story even gets started. Hehehe, I will literally go DAYS sometimes, thinking about a ‘couple’ name that sounds right before I put word one on the screen. I don’t know WHY some names sound better together than others…but, depending on the mood of the story, I know when the vibe is just right. I’ll even say it out loud, and see how it sounds.

As for actual ‘meaning’ though, the only time I really used the real meaning behind a name was in a story called “GFD: Dead Language”. It’s a vampire spin off story that started a few months back, and I specifically named the boy in the story ‘Shiloh’ (meaning ‘Gift’). I definitely wanted that to be a part of the concept.

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