There are plenty of zines and lit sites that give authors a platform to talk about their favorite seltzer water and convince everyone they use a typewriter, which is great and all, but that’s not what this is.
This is “Chillin’ with Characters,” where I shoot the shit with the true stars of literature: the characters.
To kick this new interview series off, I summoned the chain-smoking evil entity Baz from John Wayne Comunale’s Death Pacts and Left-Hand Paths. I think we hit it off pretty well, but now he won’t get off my couch or quit pestering me to sacrifice people for fame (kidding about the sacrifices… I’m actually digging that part).
Anyway, enjoy the interview.
Kelby: So, Baz, thank you for joining me. It was an interesting process getting you here. The butcher at the grocery store looked at me all kinds of funny when I asked for some to-go cups of blood. Then again, that guy’s always got a funny look. Anyway, how was the trip here for you?
Baz: Not great, Kelby. I don’t know if you know this, but passing from one plane of existence to another, well… let’s just say it ain’t no picnic. You’d be surprised by the amount of uncomfortable stretching that is involved. Anyway, you got me here, but only barely with the watered-down, piss-poor, cheap-o blood you got from that creepy butcher of yours. You really spared no expense.
K: Hey, man, I’m on a budget, okay? I can’t materialize things out of thin air like those—what are those, cigarettes orbiting around your head? Did you roll those for the trip, or do tobacco companies exist in the underworld, too?
B: I always travel with my own cigarettes. The ones you have here taste like a dead goat asshole, which is a delicacy in some places, but it’s not for me. I have these made special. They’re seasoned with remains of burnt witches to give them that extra kick. If you thought you were in flavor country before, well—these will realign your pallet.
K: I kicked the habit a while back, but I may ask to bum one off of you before this is over out of pure curiosity. If I get a chance to, that is… damn, you’re really sucking those things down…
Where were we?
Oh, yeah. I understand you’re not a fan of the “d” word, so how do you self-identify?
B: Well, I do enjoy smoking and it’s not like it’s exactly hazardous to my health or anything. Anyway, Kelby, thank you for bringing up the d-word. I understand it’s easy for people on this plane to use ‘demon’ as a blanket statement for any and all baddies, ghouls, or ghosts, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. You see, demons aren’t a real thing. There is no ‘hell.’ There is no ‘devil.’ There’s just evil, and whatever form it wants to take on varies depending on the situation. I prefer to be called an ‘embodiment of evil.’ It doesn’t roll off the tongue like ‘demon,’ but at least it’s not culturally insensitive.
K: I appreciate you shedding some light on that subject. I try to “stay woke” as they say. What exactly does it mean to you to be an embodiment of evil? I imagine the job often calls for dealing with entitled assholes or kids just fucking around with forces they don’t understand. How do you keep your sanity with such a high-stress job? Or do you truly enjoy what you do?
B: So, as you know, the place I come from is called Okanisis, which is where all evil originated and dwells when not going off to other realms of existence to impose its influence on those who live there. We’re all evil there, so when I say I’m an ‘embodiment of evil’ it’s just like you might say you’re American because you live in America. As far as job stress goes, you can say my work is a labor of love, so there’s not much stress involved.
K: Okanisis sounds like a great place to party. It’s good to know you’re making a living doing something you love, Baz. Before we head out and find some place to cause a ruckus, I’ve got one more question—and this is completely hypothetical—say some working-class author summoned you for your services… how many souls would it cost him, or her, to have a best-selling novel?
B: I’m glad you asked that, Kelby. I work on what you would call a sliding scale. A best-selling novel? Sure, we can do that, but not right away. This is something we would need to work up to. Let’s start with a few award-winning short stories, maybe a popular column in a prominent newspaper, then see what we can do about that best-selling novel. You don’t mind getting your hands a little dirty, do you? It won’t be pretty, but we’ll get there together.
K: You kidding? Getting my hands a little dirty is my middle name. Just like “embodiment of evil,” it doesn’t roll off the tongue, but… whatever. Anyway, Baz, thank you again for your time. This has been an enlightening conversation. Is there anything you’d like to say to the good folks who will be reading this transcript—a closing statement, how you can be reached? The floor’s all yours.
B: Yes, of course. I’d really like to say: just trust me. I can be reached through most blood-inclusive rituals with minimal sacrifice involved. At least at first. I’ll make it worth your while though. If you stick with me, we’ll both come out on top.
John Wayne Comunale lives in the land of purple drank known as Houston, Texas. He is the author of The Porn Star Retirement Plan, Charge Land, Aunt Poster, John Wayne Lied to You, and Death Pacts and Left-Hand Paths. He tours with the punk rock disaster, johnwayneisdead, and is the writer/illustrator of the comic-zine: The Afterlife Adventures of johnwayneisdead. John Wayne is an American actor who died in 1979.
Kelby Losack is the author of Heathenish (Broken River Books) and Toxic Garbage (self-published). He works as a custom cabinet maker and lives with his wife in Gulf Coast Texas. Follow him on Twitter: @HeathenishKid