Baloga signing at Barnes and Noble
Recently, I reviewed Wake the Wicked: Thirteen Twisted Tales by Christian Baloga and really enjoyed it. Today I’ve had the opportunity to chat with Christian about the stories.
Hi, Chris. First, I really enjoyed Wake the Wicked. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read it.
I’m so happy you enjoyed it! Thank you for your early interest in Wake the Wicked and your substantive, sincere, and thought-provoking review. It’s everything an author could wish for!
How long have you been writing and when did you realize you were interested in writing professionally?
I started crafting my own short story books and comic books sometime during early elementary school. I wrote, illustrated, and manufactured them out of inkjet paper, glue, magazine cut-outs, and staples.
I can remember the exact moment I realized I’d one day become a published author. It was after reading the last page from the book “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” by Alvin Schwartz. I was in third grade. My best friend at the time had just finished reading it. He saw my interest in the illustrations and passed it on to me. It’s wonderful how a simple gesture of kindness such as that could shape a person’s future. I’m so grateful.
You mention your interest in the illustrations–they’re changing those illustrations for the updated editions of the books. The publishers think they’re too frightening for children. What are your thoughts on that? Personally, when you look at things like Struwwelpeter or the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales, what kids see and hear today are pretty tame.
I was devastated to hear about the removal of Stephen Gammell’s illustrations. This is a prime example of why I chose not to publish traditionally. I couldn’t imagine being forced to alter my creative visions to please a few prudes.
Most of your stories involve animals and nature in some way–do you find animals and nature personally frightening?
I’ve spent my whole life surrounded by nature and animals and feel a deep connection to both. On a subconscious level, I imagine the involvment of these subjects stem from the old adage “Write what you know.”
What does scare you?
Seeing or hearing others suffer.
You switch pretty easily between male and female narrators–how do you decide the gender of your protagonist?
Apart from the characters based on real people, the decision of gender is completely intuitive. For each narrative, I let the characters channel through me. They come as they are.
Some of the stories (like the one about the twins) are reminiscent of J-horror. Are you a fan?
I’m thrilled that you noticed the nuances of J-horror in the book! Yes, I’m a fan. It’s my weakness.
Who are some of your favourite J-horror authors or works and why? What would you recommend to people new to the genre?
Two of my favorite J-horror authors, Junji Ito and Junko Mizuno, both write and illustrate their own books and appeal to me in very different ways. I was drawn to Junji Ito’s work for its tenebrous eccentricity. The way he tells a story is downright haunting and unlike anything I’ve experienced before.
I was drawn to Junko Mizuno’s work for its unapologetic blend of psychedelic cuteness, gore, and eroticism. Her new versions of old fairy tales are hard to put down.
Above all, what I love most about these authors is their unmistakable courage to tell stories without compromising their artistic visions.
In addition to the authors above, for people who are new to the genre, I’d suggest watching “Demon City Shinjuku” and “Vampire Hunter D.” They’re both classics!
Wake the Wicked was self-published but it’s not obvious from looking at the paperback, which is unusual. What process did you take to have that done? The cover, especially is very high quality, which is often an indicator of a self-published book. Tell me about the cover art, as well.
I graduated with a bachelor’s degree specializing in graphic design. The skills I gained during college, in the workforce, and on my own were key to helping me design the cover.
I wanted the cover art to reflect the stories within. Instead of trying to jumble all thirteen tales into one cover, I focused on one story, “Ripped to Ribbons,” and one character, the vagrant. I borrowed my reluctant friend, applied special effects makeup and tortured him, I mean, photographed him for the cover jacket. He’s a great sport. I’m thankful.
Do you listen to music when you write?
Yes. I listen to instrumental movie soundtracks to help enhance my emotions when writing. In particular, Halloween soundtracks that foster fear, dread, and panic are my favorite to write to, as you can imagine.
What are you reading now or have read recently that you loved?
Right now I’m reading “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley. I recently finished “Tales of Edgar Allan Poe.” Although I’ve read the stories in this collection before, this particular book incorporated illustrations I hadn’t seen. It’s amazing how these same stories can be enhanced or altered by adding visual elements.
Are there any other stories or novels in the works?
Yes, a novel is in development.
Any hints on what your novel is about?
Things are bound to change since I’m still outlining, but it’s a lighthearted-horror comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Horror-comedy is some of my favourite. I look forward to reading it. Thank you for taking the time to chat with me!
My pleasure. I hope we can do this again!
Chris’ official website is here . You can also follow him on Twitter and check out his Facebook page Dancing with Death .