Nicholas Day is a science fiction, horror, and crime fiction writer, and is the co-owner (with fellow writer Don Noble) of Rooster Republic Press. His first novel, Grind Your Bones to Dust, will be released on October 10. Recently, Day sat down with Cemetery Dance’s own “Mother Horror” for a chat about creativity, wild donkeys, and a whole lot more.
(Interview conducted by Sadie “Mother Horror” Hartmann)
NICHOLAS DAY: Hello! You have coffee!
CEMETERY DANCE: Hello!! I do, do you?
I did. It has been vanquished.
I had to heat mine up on the stovetop because we made this random choice to get rid of our microwave but microwaved coffee tastes like hell anyways.
It does! I rarely ever microwave coffee for that very reason.
It destroys it.
Are you ready for question time? I have questions, Mr. Day.
Go for it!
First, are you the kind of Nicholas that likes “Nicholas” or “Nick”?
It really doesn’t matter to me either way. People I grew up with have a tendency to call me Nick Day.
I like “Nick” better. Nicholas sounds like you’re in trouble with me.
Hahahah! But even to this day, if I’m visiting the area I grew up, I get a lot of “What’s up, Nick Day?”
Nick Day is super catchy.
Every day is a Nick Day.
After reading your collection, Nobody Gets Hurt and Other Lies, I needed more, more, more…and then you were generous enough to send me Grind Your Bones to Dust, which rocked my world if I’m honest. (Editor’s Note: See Sadie’s full review.) But I’m not ready to talk about that yet. (Laughs)
And I see you’ve picked up Now That We’re Alone.
I wanted to ask you about all these hats.
HATS! I’m one of those interviewers that does all the talking, is that okay with you? I’m like Oprah.
I hate talking so the more you do it the better I feel.
Okay great. We’re on the same page! HATS! You wear a lot of them. I mean, beanies and baseball caps and stuff but like career hats too, yeah?
Oh, I suppose you could say that, yes.
Publisher? Author? Illustrator? Cover Designer?
Yes, but I feel like it all comes out of the same restless creativity. Of all that, the most alien would be the purely business side of it. Maybe editing, too, as it’s an entirely different discipline. But I get bored easily. So having a varied well to dip into is key, I think, to keeping me engaged.
What’s your favorite hat to wear?
Pure creativity, whether that be writing or art. I’m my first audience. I write and draw almost daily, much of it for no one else but myself. It’s all a bit of throwing it at the wall, so to speak, seeing what sticks.
That’s what attracted me to buy your collection, actually! You tweeted that you were selling signed copies and that you would doodle in it.
Well, my signature isn’t worth a damn thing (laughs).
I love my signed doodled copy—worth every penny so I guess you’re wrong.
I feel like if I’m going to have to sell a book at a higher price than what the average reader can acquire over at Amazon, then I’d better make it worth the money, And doodles are fun!
Did you do all the little drawings in that book?
In Nodody Gets Hurt?
No, no… those where all done by Matt Andrew. And Now That We’re Alone has illustrations by Luke Spooner. I like being able to give a platform for people’s work. I’m working on a book now that may feature my own drawings.
There are illustrations in Grind Your Bones.
All Daniele Serra’s beautiful work.
They added so much to the storytelling.
I think so, too.
He’s one of my favorite artists.
He’s quite wonderful. There’s an elegance. Horror can have that. Grind Your Bones To Dust certainly does.
It’s my personal goal to make sure Grind Your Bones to Dust finds itself in the hands of every reader who will appreciate it. This interview is step one.
Well, I certainly appreciate that. It was a hell of a thing to write. It started out as a joke. A sleepy, road trip diversion between travelers. We were in the middle of the desert and saw a sign that had a donkey at its center. One of those “Watch Out” signs you see in open country, but none of us had seen one with a donkey before. And then the what-ifs started rolling
I love your crazy donkeys. They’re scary!
Donkeys are amusing, I think, to most people. Very unassuming animals, so of course we started talking about how weird it would be to get stuck in the desert terrorized by wild donkeys—Carnivorass is what we had jokingly called it. I was with my business partner, Don Noble, and fellow creative Kevin Donihe.
Where were you guys headed?
Don and I picked up Kevin is St. Louis and the three of us drove cross-country together to the Portland area for BizarroCon in November of 2016.
You said that horror has an elegance and that Grind Your Bones has that (I agree) and then on your blog, you said “Horror is nothing if not a type of intimacy.” And as a reader, it feels like whispers of dark things in your ear that then settle into your heart and your mind……how does it feel as a writer of wicked things.
Like life. Intimacy, empathy really, is key to most art. Being alive is an art. Empathy enriches everything. Reading a book or looking up at the stars. Same thing, you’re both tethered and untethered. Stuck to a rock but racing through existence. It’s a matter of capturing that duality in so many things. There’s beauty in everything. Horror is no different.
I wonder about authors who write such horribly depraved things, brutal, violent things—because some kind of duality must exist for you to be able to write the things you do, but then after you speak that act into existence, you go cuddle up to your kids. How does that feel?
Well, it’s perfectly fine. It’s all just gobbledygook on a hard drive. The world is capable of monstrous things. Look, in my home, I’m loathed to kill any insects. I will pick up a spider and relocate, it if possible. The creature wants only to live. I teach my daughter this. Simple kindness. I teach her to be respectful of plants, flowers—admire, but don’t pick or trample. Kindness, but also lessons in brutality. I cannot imagine my daughter ever reading some of my work.
That’s really touching from a man who writes merciless antagonists like in Grind Your Bones. That duality…I love it.
Brutality exists in everyday activity. Picking a flower and giving it as a gift may seem a lovely thing, but I’d rather leave it be. Brutal for the flower, brutal for the bee.
THAT’S RIGHT! You’re the guy that changed my perspective on mowing the lawn! I can’t think of mowing the lawn now without thinking of what you wrote!
As a writer, you explore these ideas (laughs). Trees know when they’re being cut and downed.
Don’t say that!
And surrounding trees, supposedly, know that it is happening, too. I don’t doubt this.
Back in my hometown, they widened the freeway and they were cutting down trees, big pine trees on both sides and I couldn’t barely drive through there without thinking of their murderous acts…whole trees with their roots exposed, it was disgusting.
And brutality, as we’ve been calling it, is excused as necessary.
Yeah. That’s the news today.
There you go.
This is what I love about reading horror. I haven’t read from other genres in over two years. I find that horror gives my head and my heart some space to explore every day horrors in a safe way.
See, you ask what it’s like to imagine these terrors and then cuddle next to my child, but there are people authoring much worse into existence. A book is daydream next to the nightmare that is this reality. It’s all just “picking flowers” or “widening the highway” to them. That’s partially why I made the actions of James Hayte seems so effortless to him. Because brutality, especially when backed by excuse, no longer becomes brutal to the perpetrators.
It’s just a means to an end.
Give people an excuse and the sky is the limit.
Following orders. It’s the law. Bootlicker nonsense. If the rule you followed brought you to this, of what use was the rule? Thanks, McCarthy.
I feel as though I’ve derailed your interview
You can picture me staring at you with wide eyes over the rim of my coffee mug, which has gotten cold again.
Grind Your Bones To Dust is a love letter to shitty people…people that make a Hell of life.