Author Interview: TJ Price
Hello. Thank you so much for sitting down to chat with us today.
So, tell us a little bit about you. How did you get into writing?
Hello! Thank you for having me. I'm a person who likes to smash words together and see what kind of sound they make on the page. Sometimes, I get lucky, and a story happens.
But more formally: I've always been an avid reader, though after encountering hist whist by E.E. Cummings and The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot in middle school, I started writing my own (terrible) poetry. Later, in high school, I gave the form far more attention and began reading and writing more poetry. In college, I majored in theatre, with an emphasis on playwriting, wrote a bunch of plays, had a few produced, but continued to write poetry on the side. It wasn't until very recently (June of 2020) that I realized what short stories can do, and have since turned my attention to prose.
Without giving away too much detail, tell us a little bit about the story that you have in the Folk Horror anthology, coming out in 2023 with Eerie River? Where did you get the inspiration from?
On October 16, 2021, I made an entry on Twitter, participating in a micro-fiction event called #SpooktoberPrompts, run by Villimey Mist. The word for that day was "hanging." Out of that 240-character Tweet (originally a fragment of a poem), the seed for "Old Man Vreen" was planted. It never left my mind, and I knew I wanted to do something more with it, at some point. A year or so later, this story came to be.
What are your favorite genres to read and write?
I think of genre as more of a marketing tool than I do a tool to help me define what I'm writing, though if pressed, my chosen genre (reading or writing) will always involve some kind of "weird" element, whether it'd be found on the shelf under Horror, General Fiction, "Literary", or even Non-Fiction. I like it when a writer experiments with the limitations and possibilities of the written word.
That being said, you can reliably find me browsing in the Horror section of any bookstore before you'll find me anywhere else. It's where I'm usually guaranteed to find the strangest, most out-there concepts, and the most interesting prose stylings, typically.
What is your favorite horror movie?
The Empty Man, directed by David Prior, is my current favorite, though this has been known to change from time to time. It's the one I've watched the most times, and also the one I've recommended to the most people. There's something incredible about the way it's structured and written, the beautiful cinematography, and the performances given by the entire cast. Not to mention the themes it plays with, which address cosmic horror in the best way. Other favorites include Poltergeist (1982); In the Mouth of Madness; Mulholland Dr.; The Mothman Prophecies...I'm sure I've forgotten some, but these are the first that spring to mind.
Are you a pessimist, optimist or realist?
All of the above. My opinion is that a pessimist is just an optimist who's been disappointed one too many times. To be succinct: I'm an optimist at the worst of times, a pessimist at the best, and a realist all the times in between.
Any advice for people who are considering becoming an author?
Read; and read what you want to write. If you can't find that, then get as close as you can. Then read some more. Then write the thing that you couldn't find.
It’s almost cliche that authors live on black coffee and hard liquor. What are you drinking right now?
It's Friday afternoon for me, so I am having what I jokingly refer to as an Old Trashioned. This is whiskey mixed with orange-flavored Monster Energy drink. Served on the rocks, in a highball glass or a Mason jar, with a swizzle stick and an orange peel (if available).
What’s your definition of the first draft?
The first draft is a version of the story with a will-o'-the-wisp blinking coyly at you through a great deal of fog and mist.
Fun question: A mysterious box lands on your doorstep addressed to you. No postmark, no stamp. What happens next?
Clearly, this is a Pandora Box, which I read about on a subreddit. They have been appearing randomly on folks' doorsteps, out of nowhere, all different shapes and sizes. The recipients have been unable to overcome their curiosity when it comes to opening these boxes—this may be due to some kind of triggering pheromone attached to the packages—and they have all had some kind of evil befall them. For one example, Mr. Ronald Rausch of Millington, Ohio received a similar package—no postmark, no stamp—and for him, it contained a dollhouse. When it mysteriously caught fire and burned, a few days later, the same thing happened to the house he lived in.
Despite the fact that I know about these circumstances, however, I feel this irresistible pull towards this box. I do hope someone stops me from opening it, and yet at the same time, I can't wait to see what I've received...
TJ Price's corporeal being is currently located in Raleigh, NC, with his handsome partner of many years, but his ghosts live in north-eastern Connecticut, southern Maine, and North Brooklyn. His work has been published or is forthcoming in a variety of venues, including Coffin Bell Journal and The Bear Creek Gazette, as well as adapted for audio on the NoSleep Podcast. His debut novelette, The Disappearance of Tom Nero, is forthcoming (Spring 2023) from Spooky House Press. He can be found at tjpricewrites.com, or his incorrigible poltergeist can be invoked on the blue bird @eerieyore.