Five for Frightening: J. Daniel Stone on BLOOD KISS

As promised in the March/April 2017 edition of Rue Morgue magazine in which I spotlighted J. Daniel Stone’s Blood Kiss (available now from Villipede Publications), here’s the tie-in author interview to take you even deeper between the covers of this startling and edgy read. Magic lies in both creation and destruction in Blood Kiss, which sees an underground artist and a spoken word poet come together in more ways than one to exorcise the demons  of their pasts while also conjuring some brand ones onstage – sometimes with a body count.

Now here’s Stone to tell us more.

What made you decide to set Blood Kiss in the performance art/performance poetry scene?Growing up in Queens, NY, we had amazing scenes, and by scenes I really mean “cliques”. You know: Emo, Punk, Heavy Metal, Goth, Poetic, Dramatic, Ska, LGBT/Queer/Binary, all races, all faiths, all genders…you name it. We had the coolest bars and clubs to hang out in. We all mixed together and it was great. At these clubs/bars, one would always meet the most amazing people from all walks of life.

But when all of that faded, Brooklyn became the place to be. At that time, Brooklyn was like stepping into adulthood. Music was replaced with literature and art. Homemade ripped jeans were replaced with vintage bought jeans. Converses were replaced by wingtip boots. And so on. But this is why Blood Kiss is set in the performance art world. It’s a mix of everything that shaped me into the person I am today. I’m in love with this tiny little world. Always have been. Above all, it’s my core interest.

In the book, Dorian and Tyria’s shows have a way of conjuring magic, almost as if the performances themselves were a form of spellcraft, opening doors to mysterious, otherworldly and dark things. Why are words and painting the perfect mediums to make such connections and conjurations?
There is nothing more damaging to the human psyche than words. Words are powerful. For me, words are as much an art as they are a weapon. And paintings are not just slabs of oil and acrylic swirled onto a canvas. Paintings hold mysteries, and if you’re pious enough to unlock those mysteries, well then, as Axl Rose said: Welcome to the Jungle.

Part of the book’s plot sees the two main characters, who both begin the book in same-sex relationships, develop a heterosexual (and creative) obsession with one another. This type of thing can be a touchy topic in some circles, how have readers reacted to it in your book?
Anyone who has a problem with it is more than welcome to reach out to me. As a gay man, yes, this is a touchy subject, but it’s not far-fetched at all. This is yet another advantage of a New York City upbringing. I’ve already, without a shadow of a doubt, have met, befriended and loved all of my characters past and present and future…way before I even knew I wanted to be a writer. If that doesn’t make sense, read it again.

On the other hand, yes, I’ve had readers reach out to me and comment bluntly on Dorian and Tyria’s strange relationship, but none ever said that their obsession with one another was wrong, or that it didn’t seem “real”. In fact, I’ve pretty much gotten the opposite reaction, where people wanted to see them go deeper! Sickos, I say 🙂

I love how ill-defined you leave the supernatural/magical forces in Blood Kiss. What was behind the decision to keep this element of the story more mysterious?
I don’t think there really was any “decision” or “rule” to be honest. I mean, I guess that this is because I don’t sit down and plot my novels or short stories, getting each scene “just right” like following an ingredient list. For me, that would kill the fun. It would turn my craft into a job, which is the last thing I’m going to allow.

Anyway, the supernatural elements in Blood Kiss, really, are as vital to the book as the characters themselves. It just seemed more like second nature rather than “outside” interference that needed an explanation. But I mean, yes, I could definitely explain the supernatural elements in Blood Kiss, but in my personal opinion that would take away from the story. The true horrors of the book are Dorian’s cynicism and Tyria’s anger. Leland’s willful ignorance and Adelaide’s weaknesses. The supernatural is a mere appendage.

This book has many difficult images and scenes in it – including ones that deal with graphic child abuse – were there any parts that proved difficult or even traumatic for you to write?
Absolutely. During the writing process, there were a few scenes, literally two or three, where I had to step away and get a drink or go smoke, or whatever. Sometimes too much is just too much, but those scenes had to be written. They had happened to my characters, they had happened to people in real life, and I wasn’t going to allow anyone to censor them.

Bonus Question: I always feel like LGBTQ horror fiction doesn’t get enough attention, can you recommend a LGBTQ story or novel apart from your own that you feel every serious fan of scary stories should read?
You’re telling me! The LGBT representation in horror is abominable. I guess there just aren’t many of us writing horror. Or there are, but disguised writing straight characters. Anyway, back to your question. It’s actually quite difficult for me to recommend LGBT horror written by an LGBT person, as there are so few! The following came to my head without effort, so I feel its fair to recommend them, even though I don’t know if they’re scary at all. Everyone’s definition of fear is different.

Short story: “Torch Song” by Gemma Files (the final flashback scene – Valentine’s Day night – my gods!)

Novel: Cities of the Red Night by William S. Burroughs (nobody believes me when I say Burroughs was a horror writer, and a master at that!)

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