We welcome Erik Hofstatter back to DEMAIN (Short Sharp Shocks! Book 19 Isidora’s Pawn) with his outstanding new novella Toroa published as an ebook on 9th September 2022 (paperback to follow shortly; cover by Adrian Baldwin). In August, the middle of a heat-wave no less, Dean and Erik chatted…
DEMAIN PUBLISHING: Welcome Erik ,welcome. Let’s go for it, for those few that haven’t read your work yet can you tell us a little of your background and whether that had some influence on your writing.
ERIK HOFSTATTER: Hello. I’m a human puck—I slide across the world. As you move, you collect experiences. Some hit harder than others. I worked in as many industries as I have teeth. On a farm in the four-leaf clover country, where I got paid in bread and cheese shovelling wood shavings all day, to high end watch market in the UK. My father was a ‘better life’ scout, with original hopes of bringing us from The Czech Republic to Toronto, then Austria, almost Australia, but eventually dropping anchor in England. This gypsy lifestyle forced me to grow up in the fast lane, with fast observations and even faster instincts. I’m quiet. I read people. The half-erased diaries in their eyes. And I listen. Always interested in thinking styles and angles. Situations viewed through different lenses, you know what I mean? What drives you. What makes you tick. A lot of this is future ammo for the page war.
DP: I do know what you mean, particularly as I too led a bit of nomadic lifestyle particularly as a child/early teenager living in several countries throughout my current life too so we’re definitely on the same page there. Let’s talk horror and your first introduction.
EH: Again, my father and his bazaar of old junk. He sold anything from VHS tapes to nunchakus. Sometimes he’d bring new spoils home for me to watch. He wouldn’t let age ratings limit my curiosity. Nothing was forbidden. And I was an explorer. My child mind was shaped by early Cronenberg, films like Scanners & The Fly. Later on, it was Gate II: Trespassers & Body Parts with Jeff Fahey. His horror tapes were like an electric eel, they’d shock me, but I couldn’t stop touching them. He gave the nod, so I read his books on the occult & black magick too. Let’s just say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
DP: Ah, excellent – can’t get enough of Jeff Fahey that’s for sure! What would you say was your biggest creative success thus far…
EH: I’m mega proud of Punishment by Hope and the Tristan Grieves fragments I’m currently writing. The conjoined language. Re-stacking metaphors. That enigmatic marriage of poetry and traditional narrative. But still balancing feelings on love knife’s darker edge. I think my style evolved into a distinct hybrid. These stories unpeeled sacred layers and exposed a raw antenna. Some kind of sensory feeler that allowed me to interpret pain more accurately.
DP: I definitely feel your dark work (which is what attracts me to it)is a ‘distinct hybrid’ – what does horror mean to Erik Hofstatter?
EH: It’s the genesis of my writing. The voice born in a black cave. Originally, I wrote what’s known as Schlock. These cheap, but fun kind of stories. My goal was to entertain readers rather than prose impress. Now I flipped 180. I want to create a language, a turn of phrase, unique to me, something you recognise instantly when you read it. I still want to tell arresting, misdirecting, thought-provoking stories, but I want you to smell that EH ink from page one. Sadly, I’m a melodramatic pessimist with a black & white view of the world. Horror injects a lot of cathartic colours. It opens me up to new complex formulas. For me, happy endings are for the bedroom—not the page. Horror is everywhere. All you gotta do is look around.
DP: That’s very interesting because I too started off writing in a genre (‘extreme’) which I don’t particularly write now – what is strange about that is I was talking to a friend only the other day and he referenced some of my earlier stuff (and the discussions we always had about it) and said that he knew I missed it (the religious aspects of it) and I’ve been thinking about it ever since (I hadn’t actually realised I did miss it but perhaps he was right) and might have come up with something new hahaha – anyway. What would you say draws readers to the horror genre? What do readers look for?
EH: Horror is an emotional instrument, but it depends on the player. Some readers want to feel scared, others want to feel validated. For me—horror feels like home. A place where I don’t have to run away from who I am. A place that accepts me for everything I feel. A place where I can spill a streak of dark desires without a judgemental cleaner waiting behind me. But ultimately, a reader wants something to connect with. A perceptive story that echoes into their core.
DP: Love it! Horror is definitely our ‘safe place’ by the sounds of it. Is there a horror novel (or film) that you’re looking forward to getting your hands on…
EH: Nathan Ballingrud’s upcoming Mars book. His words speak to me in high decibels. He translates the human experience in the purest and most unhypocritical form. Also rather excited about Reluctant Immortals from Gwendolyn Kiste. On the film front, definitely Crimes of the Future and Men.
DP: I was lucky to see both movies in Cannes – I know they’re splitting the critics but I loved them both and think you’re in for a treat. Is there a newer writer or director that interests you?
EH: I’m in love with Julia Ducournau’s prototype mind. Just her thinking style and overall artistic sense and vision. Raw was a T-Rex of a film, but Titane raced through echelons of expectation. It suspends disbelief, totally flips that shit upside down. Her ambition comes at you like oil tsunami. Every scene paralyses you. An absolute juggernaut, man.
DP: Again, amazing films! Really enjoyed out chat Erik so let’s finish on (hopefully!) bit of a fun one – do you interact a lot with your readers (or even writers who have influenced you , I mean I could tell a story about Bret Easton Ellis but this interview is about you, not me haha).
EH: In the cyber bar, yeah. Sarah J. Huntington has a rose-gold heart. The gentlest of souls. A master of Ikigai—the art of finding beauty in the simplest of things. I touch base with Casilda Ferrante also. An Italian writer with a heavy talent. Her writing always shakes my bones. Had midnight conversations with a fellow vegan and the magnetic voice behind Punishment by Hope audiobook—Amanda Wrege. Stephanie M. WytoWITCH!!! cooked my head in the cauldron of her wisdom for many years. A phenomenal poet and human being. In person, I bear-hugged CC Adams—the dude who writes London like no other. His voice (in real life) is balanced and therapeutic and commands instant calm. The page is where he gusts you away. There are many more dynamic personalities I’d want to shake hands with—but—I’m a social disaster in an anxious skin. I have no filter. I have no boundaries. I come at you like a cyclone. One day.
One day indeed! And there we have it – Erik, a massive congrats with Taroa. It’s a pleasure to work with you again, all the best with it.
If you’d like to connect with Erik direct:
Dean M. Drinkel