Ginger Nuts of Horror
Christopher Zeischegg is a writer, musician, and filmmaker who spent eight years working in the adult industry as performer, Danny Wylde.
He's the author of two novels, Come to my Brother and The Wolves that Live in Skin and Space, and has contributed to The Feminist Porn Book, Best Sex Writing, Coming Out Like a Porn Star, Split Lips, and a variety of digital publications, such as Somesuch and Nerve.
His industrial metal band, Chiildren, released their second EP, The Circle Narrows, through Records Ad Nauseam in 2015.
He became the face of Wyldefire Hot Sauce in 2016.
Zeischegg lives in Los Angeles with his two cats, Victoria and Isis.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
My name is Christopher Zeischegg. I'm likely more well-known as the ex-porn performer, Danny Wylde.
I've written two novels, Come to my Brotherand The Wolves that Live in Skin and Space. My third book, Body to Job, will be published in February 2018 through Rare Bird Books.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I'm a video editor by trade. And a workaholic. So most of my time is spent editing or writing.
Outside of that, I enjoy growing old and boring: attending art galleries and gardens, reading novels, and feeling resentful that I've attended some shit metal concert.
Other than the horror genre, what else has been a major influence on your writing?
As a teenager, I read the most obvious and well-circulated 'transgressive' authors, like Bret Easton Ellis, Chuck Palahniuk, and the Marquis de Sade.
In my twenties, I was turned on to Dennis Cooper and Michel Houellebecq. They aren't really horror writers. But they deal with sex, death, art, and satire. I still enjoy this kind of work.
My published work, thus far, is very personal. Probably narcissistic. It's very much about my relationships and my experiences as a sex worker. So life is an influence? I think the popular term for my writing is auto-fiction. My stories are predominantly memoirs that bleed into violent, magical-realism.
Aside from the aforementioned, I'm influenced by the aesthetic of hardcore, death, and black metal. I was very into that 'scene' as a teenager. The music is emotional, and often uses myth and extreme violence as metaphor for personal struggle.
The term horror, especially when applied to fiction always carries such heavy connotations. What’s your feeling on the term “horror” and what do you think we can do to break past these assumptions?
Most genre work isn't viewed as serious literature. Horror is no exception. But who cares? 'Genre' is usually more fun. And there will always be an audience.
A lot of good horror movements have arisen as a direct result of the socio/political climate, considering the current state of the world where do you see horror going in the next few years?
I hope that I don't become too political. Sure, historically-speaking, thiskind of political-horror or political-art was appropriate and even necessary. 'Awareness' hadn't yet become a joke or meme.
Now we have a constant stream of information; of news. Art no longer needs to inform the public. They already have access to everything. So when we address politics, it's mostly just propaganda and opinion. And because art doesn't deal with direct action, except for the donation of funds or something, I feel like it's mostly posturing. I might still dabble in that, because I'm a human being and want people to like me. But I hope it's less and less.
What are the books and films that helped to define you as an author?
Dennis Cooper's The Slutsand Michel Houllebecq's The Map and the Territorywere particularly eye-opening for me. Maybe, in terms of thinking about horror, Eugene Thacker's In the Dust of this Planet.
What new and upcoming authors do you think we should take notice off?
This isn't horror at all. But the best book I read, by a 'new' author, this past year was literally show me a healthy personby Darcie Wilder. Hilarious and heartbreaking, and so, so contemporary.
How would you describe your writing style?
I love minimalism, though I'm trying to experiment with other styles.In terms of content: emotional, sexual (not erotic), and violent.
Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
I received my first really bad review about my book, The Wolves that Live in Skin and Space, from
a Salt Lake City e-zine. They called it “dialogue-driven, spunk covered, [and] nihilistic” and complained about the “erection-driven situations and unwarranted philosophical extrapolations.” It bummed me out at first. But now I find it funny and kind of motivating.
What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
The actual writing part. It's a great feeling to think about writing. It's a great feeling to sit down and have time to write. It's a great feeling when I've finished some writing. The rest of it is very slow and difficult for me. So it's a lot like going to the gym.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author?
I'm not sure. I haven't made any ultimatums like that.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
In my first book, I chose names of my family members. It's very embarrassing when I consider the content. But I thought of it like a joke that they'd never catch on to, because none of them would read it. Now, I just think about the character's background and try to pick something that sounds nice enough.
Writing is not a static process. How have you developed as a writer over the years?
I used to only think about the story and content. Now I trust in my voice and in what I have to say. So craft is more important to me. As a result, I hope my work is easier and more enjoyable to read.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
I don't have a great answer for this. Time? A loyal patron?
What is the best piece of advice you ever received with regards to your writing?
I can't think of specifics. But I remember a professor I had at the University of Southern California who told me to knock off a few of my stylistic flourishes. I appreciated that. There have also been some editors at online magazines that knocked my ego down a few pegs. I feel like those experiences are necessary to grow.
Getting your worked noticed is one of the hardest things for a writer to achieve, how have you tried to approach this subject?
I ran a blog for a number of years. It was called Trve West Coast Fiction, and dealt mostly with my experiences in the adult industry. That brought me some attention. But it's always hard to get people to notice your work. Especially when it's not for free and/or accompanied by a click-bait headline. I use social media and mailing lists. Marketing is obviously the worst part of the process.
To many writers, the characters they write become like children, who is your favourite child, and who is your least favourite to write for and why?
Like I mentioned before, most of my published work is about me. I'm aware of the narcissism that goes along with that, so there's a lot of self-loathing. The characters I'm drawn to are the ones that treat 'my character' very badly.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
I have a book coming out in February, called Body to Job. It's the culmination of about six years of writing. In short, it's a (almost) memoir about my career in porn and the aftermath of my forced retirement. I think it ends in a very bad place, emotionally speaking. But it's the most dynamic of my work.
And are there any that you would like to forget about?
There are articles I've written for online magazines that are worth throwing in the trash. But I'm mostly okay with the books. I just re-released Come to my Brother. It was my first novel, and the most young and overwrought. Still, I'm very proud of it.
For those who haven’t read any of your books, which of your books do you think best represents your work and why?
If Body to Job was available, I'd say to start there. But I'm currently promoting Come to my Brother, so people should obviously read that one. Hah.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
Come to my Brother is my first novel. But I've just released a revised and updated version. It's a coming-of-age, queer drama. And it's a vampire fiction. So it deals with the emotional turmoil of teenage boys, and with sex, and with my own concept of vampire mythology. I wouldn't say it's scary. The horror tropes are there to create a mood, and to allow for more outrageous acts of violence.
Currently, I'm at work on my fourth book. It's the most daunting thing I've attempted. Because I've involved a photographer and producer, and many other people, to create photo and video tableaus to accompany the text. In theory, it will be like an illustrated novel, but with photos instead of drawings or paintings. It's proving – financially – very difficult to accomplish because we're essentially making a movie. But the text deals with sex work, addiction, and black magick. That's all I can really say at this point.
If you could erase one horror cliché what would be your choice?
I don't care. Most clichés can be transformed into something tasteful with enough talent and craft. I should, at least, believe that if I'm going to pitch a vampire novel in 2017.
What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
I recently finished After Kathy Ackerby Chris Kraus. It's a biography of the transgressive, new narrative author, Kathy Acker. In many ways, it made me think less of Acker and more of Kraus. I'd watched the ILove Dickadaptation on Amazon, and had been meaning to check out more of Kraus' work. Now I'm more inspired to do so. Her writing is clean and very considerate of its subject.
The last book to disappoint me? Maybe A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. I'd heard so much about it from friends and from the press. It's fucking bland and trite, in my opinion. But I only made it 100 pages in. So take my opinion with a grain of salt.
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do? And what would be the answer?
I'm sorry to fail at answering this final question.
"David and Daniel Grew up together in Northern California. They became friends and then brothers; started a band and then became lovers.
But Daniel disappeared four years ago, and he's come back as some kind of monster.
The young men's reunion could bring about the end of the world.
Christopher Zeischegg's first novel is updated and revised, and still entrenched in the canon of horror, loss, porn, and coming of age in the early 2000's."