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  • Writer's pictureCandace Nola

Saturday Special Report: Bonus Interviews with John Boden & Rob Ulitski!

For today's special report, we have two excellent interviews with authors John Boden and Rob Ulitski! Our very own Christina Pfeiffer interviewed both of these exceptional authors and I am very excited to be able to have them on Uncomfortably Dark for this week!


Each interview will be followed with links to their work and a brief bio. We hope you enjoy learning more about two of our favorite authors!



 

JOHN BODEN

Author of SNARL


CP: Tell me a little about John Boden: where are you from, when did you first begin writing and what other hobbies do you have?

JB: I was born and raised in the mountains of Pennsylvania, the tiny burg of Orbisonia to be exact. A town about the size of Mayberry and just as quaint and colorful. I left when I was almost 20 and have resided in the Harrisburg area since. I still go back to Orby on occasion and it’s fairly unchanged which always makes me smile.


As for the writing. I wrote in grade school. Once wrote a poem in, I believe 6th grade that was a blatant rip off of the lyrics of “Sympathy For The Devil” by the Stones and ended up winning some festival prize for it. I was too young to feel guilty about it. In high school, I wrote a lot. Poems and short stories. I got a typewriter for Christmas one year and that really kicked it in, and I wrote all the time. Man, those stories were bad. I once had the audacity to send one to Stephen King, via the address of the publisher…It was called “Hoover From Hell” and was a vignette about a vampire vacuum cleaner. Month later I got a standardized reply card from King, one of the ones with a stamped signature. That was cool enough to 13-year-old me…BUT in the margin was a little handwritten note that said something like “Fun Story. Keep at it and one day maybe I’ll be reading you. S.K.” I was high on that for ages.


I quit writing in my early 20’s, busy getting a job and being a grown up, keeping shit paid and finding my soulmate. Getting married and having children. In 2009, my buddy, Ken Wood asked me if I’d want to help him with a horror fiction magazine idea. It ended up becoming SHOCK TOTEM, which went on for a few years and was pretty well-received…eventually it shut. But it was through reading slush for the publication that I realized I missed writing and wanted to try it again. So I wrote some stories and saw them published. Rote some more…and then longer things. Eventually I wrote my debut book, DOMINOES which is out of print but a weird kids book of end of the world scenarios. Been whittling at the writing game ever since.


CP: Are there any authors, currently writing, that you would like to co-author with?

JB: I would absolutely love to write something with Stephen Graham Jones. Also, Josh Malerman. Josh Rountree, Bridgett Nelson would be fun to work with. I like collaboration and have already collabed with some stellar writers- Kurt Newton, Bracken MacLeod, Brian Rosenberger, Chad Lutzke, Robert Ford, Mercedes Yardley…It’s so much fun.


CP: Where do you draw most of your inspiration from? Real-life events, dreams, bits of movies?

JB: My stories tend to be canned in heavy syrup, that syrup being real life. I often base characters on real life friends or families, often chiseling aspects from several to heap onto one. Sometimes events are lifted wholly and dropped into the narrative. Sometimes not. I never divulge which is going on. Almost all the locales are a variation of my hometown and its outlying areas. Sometimes I spackle dreams in there, sometimes wishes.



CP: SNARL releases September 5th from Dead Sky Publishing. Can you tell us a little about it?

JB: SNARL is the story of Marlin Stains, a man who is filled with words but terrified to let anyone hear them. He longs to be a writer but won’t allow eyes on his work. He hoards notebooks full of his writing in his room. He’s working and trying to care for his dying mother. He is also full of guilt over the death of his twin brother in the womb. Born guilty, I guess. He gets a visit from the girl he’s never stopped having a crush on and she asks him for a favor. That favor will change the course of Marlin’s trajectory in ways both tragic and brutal. Also, there might be some weirdness in there.


CP: What did you find was the hardest part of writing this story?

JB: Well, this one was written in an almost identical manner as one of my earlier books, SPUNGUNION, in that I came up with the ending first and had to figure out how to get there. Were I an outliner or plotter, it’d be easier but I’m not. But I knew going in certain elements that were going to be there…certain character traits and stuff. I have to be vague because there are some special things in here I don’t want to spoil. But yeah, starting at the end and writing to it is not always easy.


CP: Is there a favorite character that really resonates with you more so than the others? Why do you think that is?

JB: As in from my own work? Not really. I mean almost all of the main characters are me in some regard. Deke in SPUNGUNION was me wrestling with the loss of my father and a friend. I think Deke would be one that sticks with me the most. His sadness and anger about it are so palpable. I feel a lot of Marlin from SNARL as well.


CP: What book are you currently reading and what is the last book that you read?

JB: I’m halfway through THE INCONSOLABLES by Michael Wehunt. It’s splendid. I’ve been reading him for years and love his work. After that in the TBR is, I think FOLK SONGS FOR TRAUMA SURGEONS by Keith Rosson.


CP: If you could hold a dinner party and invite five authors, living or dead, which five guests are you inviting?

JB: Oh man….Ray Bradbury. Chad Lutzke, because we’ve been friends/brothers for a long long time and have never met in real life. Stephen Graham Jones so we could talk hair metal and werewolves. Polly Schattel so we could chat music and rural placidity. Autumn Christian so I could gush about how goddamn good her books are. And a wild card, you know in case someone couldn’t make it…Steven Jesse Bernstein. One of the greatest poets we ever had but didn't know it.


CP: What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

JB: Simply put. Do it your way. Take all the time you need or hurry if you want. Write a thousand words a day or a dozen. If what you're cranking out is making you as happy as it is in your head, you’re doing it right. Don’t stand against an outline of someone else and dog yourself for not fitting. Do you. Your way. Be true to it.



CP: What current projects are in the works that you would like to mention?

JB: Several. Things that are finished and on the calendar: SNARL drops on September 4th. THE BEDMAKERS which was written with Chad Lutzke is coming around Valentine’s Day. And THE ETIQUETTE OF BOOBY TRAPS, my debut collection is coming next summer.


Stuff still being tinkered with: Bob Ford and I are nearing the end of BLACK SALVE, our third book together and it’s one big messed up beast, let me tell you. I’m halfway through a horror western called OUTEN THE LIGHT. Started a hope-to-be novel called BINDER TWINE. Have a teeny bit started project with Chad on the back of the stove. No title yet. Mercedes Yardley and I have been talking about refreshing/overhauling our collaborative book, DETRITUS IN LOVE. There’s no target or anything…just when we get to it.


Thanks for having me and letting me ramble. It’s been a hoot. I appreciate the time and support.


 


JOHN'S BIO:

John Boden was mostly raised in the mountains of Pennsylvania, in the small town of Orbisonia.

He is a bakery manager by trade and finds a regular sleep schedule overrated. He currently resides with his beautiful wife and two sons, in a house sweetly haunted by the ghost of a beautician named, Darlene. He likes collecting lots of things and won't usually shut up about it.


His writing is fairly well received and has been called unique of style. His work has been published in the form of stories in several anthologies and as novellas. He plays well with others as is evidenced by collaborative works with Mercedes M. Yardley, Bracken MacLeod, Kurt Newton, Brian Rosenberger, Chad Lutzke and Robert Ford. He's easy to track down either on Facebook or Twitter (JohnBoden1970)


You can find his work here:



 

ROB ULITSKI

Author of FLESHED OUT: A Body Horror Collection


CP: Tell me a little about Rob Ulitski: where are you from, when did you first begin writing and what other hobbies do you have?

RU: Hello! So, I was born (and currently live) in a city called Portsmouth in the UK, right on the coast. I began writing when I was a teenager, I’ve always been obsessed with horror and the stranger side of life. It worried my Mum a bit when I was younger as I had all these ultraviolent concepts and strange stories, but she’s got used to it now that I’ve grown into a relatively normal adult (and she also loves my work!)


I followed a film path from around thirteen years old, working on different film sets of varying sizes around the country. I did film production at university and worked across music videos and commercials for a while. I actually only started writing fiction properly in 2020 and was awarded a grant from the UK lottery fund to develop my first book, after showing some promise in the format, which was really nice. I’ve never won or been awarded anything before, so I saw it as a sign that I should really follow this path properly, and that’s been my plan ever since.


In terms of hobbies, I’ve been studying Korean for about a year and a half with a native Korean teacher in Seoul (shoutout to Irene!) - I think some of the best horror concepts are coming out of Korea in film, TV and books, and I’ve always loved K-Pop, so it made sense to start learning it.


I’m also an avid baker,and am trying to make more time for baking cakes and learning new techniques.


CP: Are there any authors, currently writing, that you would like to co-author with?

RU: Oh, so many! You know what it’s like, the horror world is full of amazing authors, and I love what they’re doing so much. I feel like on one end of the scale, I’d love to co-author with Junji Ito and create some real body horror madness.


I also really enjoy people whose mind works on the same unusual plane as mine does, so someone like RJ Benetti would be a dream collaborator. I don’t know if the world is ready for quite that much weird though haha!


CP: Where do you draw most of your inspiration from? Real-life events, dreams, bits of movies?

RU: I have a very visual mind, so film and TV are the obvious choices. I grew up watching a real variety of things, so I think that all these references kind of mash together in my head and create some horrifying yet strangely alluring inspirations. I also use things that really frighten me personally to spice up my concepts when they’re at the beginning stages, to ensure that I have a connection to the horror I’m writing. If it unsettles me, it’s likely to unsettle whoever is reading.


CP: Your work seems to focus a lot on body horror. Is that intentional? Where did the love of it come from?

RU: It is! I’ve always loved body horror in entertainment - I’m a sucker for Junji Ito, and films such as Closet Monster, Excision and The Fly. The main thing that inspired body horror for me though was that I had a lot of health anxiety growing up, always being quite fearful of disease, injuries and ailments. People say the best thing to do with fear is spin it into something useful, so I find that a lot of these worries end up in my books, albeit in a more twisted and fantastical way.


CP: What genre of literature would you love to try writing in?

RU: Two genres that really interest me are science fiction and dystopian / post-apocalyptic. These are obviously quite complementary to horror so it will probably happen sooner rather than later, in a hybrid format. But one day I’d like to try a non-horror, more ‘straight’ type of dystopian or sci-fi just to see if I could do it.


CP: Is there a favorite character that really resonates with you more so than the others? Why do you think that is?

RU: From my books? I’d say Helena from Crystalline. For those who have read it, this poor woman just can’t get a break, and I think she’s the most developed character I’ve written, especially in terms of inner conflict. Helena spends all of her time caring for her brother, fighting the system and trying to make money, and then this awful thing happens to her that grinds her right down. She just wants a life where she can do things she enjoys, experience freedom and independence, and all of the things we take for granted are so far away from her.



CP: What book are you currently reading and what is the last book that you read?

RU: I’m currently reading “Found - An Anthology Of Found Footage Horror Stories” and let me tell you it’s the best anthology I’ve ever read. I didn’t think found footage horror could translate well to the fiction format, but I’ve found myself desperate to read story after story. It really surprised me in the best way, and I think it deserves a lot of attention.

The last book I read was ‘Falling’ by TJ Newman. It’s a kind of disaster thriller about a hijacked plane, which I really enjoyed too. I’ve been quite lucky to enjoy most of the books I’ve read this year!


CP: If you could hold a dinner party and invite five authors, living or dead, which five guests are you inviting?

RU: Oooh I’ve always been curious about answering a question like this, and you’re the first person to ask me! In no particular order:

1) Stephen King (first horror author I read, and made such an impression at a young age)

2) Junji Ito (THE king of body horror)

3) Koji Suzuku (an absolute icon in Japanese horror. He created The Ring - what a brain!)

4) Charles Dickens (he was born in my hometown, and I think he’d be interesting to talk to about the old days of Portsmouth)

5) Jen Sincero (she’s a big name in the self-help space, and I owe a huge amount to her books)


CP: What current projects are in the works that you would like to mention?

RU: I am just finishing the last bits of my first ever full novel! It should be out end of September/ start of October, and it’s something VERY different from Fleshed Out. Let’s just say, if you love cows and sci-fi / horror vibes, it’s going to be one you’ll enjoy. I also have a series in the works which I’ll start rapid releasing from January 2024, a feature script I’m finishing and a few short stories in the meantime (which will be Godless exclusive, of course!)


 


ROB'S BIO:

Rob writes visceral, concept-driven horror stories, anchored by complex characters and offbeat narratives. He was born in Portsmouth, UK, and received his Bachelor of Arts in Film Production from the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham.

Having trained in filmmaking, and working as a director and producer on everything from music videos to shorts to feature-length anthology films, Rob’s official writing journey started in 2020. When not writing, he can be found watching cheesy 90s films, baking cakes and haunting local bookstores.


You can find Rob's work here:


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