A Bit About Damascus Mincemeyer
1. Tell me about you. Age (if you don’t mind answering), married, kids, do you have another job etc…
Well, I’m Damascus. Nice to meet everyone. I came from a tough town near St. Louis, Missouri that wasn’t the most auspicious place for a brainy kid with an interest in the weird and obscure to thrive. I was a loner and an oddball (still am), and didn’t have many friends when I was younger, which is how I managed to hone my writing and drawing skills–through lots of enforced alone time during middle and high school. Home was a refuge, though, where I could dream and just be a kid, which was all I could ask for.
I realized not too long ago that my fascination with horror stories stems from that upbringing. A lot of my tales are about survival. Sometimes my characters make it. Sometimes they don’t. I did.
As for the rest: no, not married (except maybe to my craft), no girlfriend or kids. I tend to be very obsessive and All-or-Nothing in everything I do, which doesn’t leave much time for any of that. My brain’s just too brimming with creative ideas, which is kind of what I enjoy most, anyway.
2. Who or what inspired you to write? And which came first?
Writing came first, when I learned how to read in Kindergarten. I took to it immediately. My Grandmother encouraged me, too, and always bought me markers, pens, paper, books, comics–anything to feed my buzzing brain.
I always loved horror and sci-fi (fantasy, not so much). H.G. Wells was my favorite writer as a boy, and The War of the Worlds is still probably my all-time favorite novel. When I was 16, I discovered Lovecraft, which was a mind-blower. Clive Barker’s work, particularly The Books Of Blood, was extremely influential, as was Colin Wilson and Harry Turtledove. Joss Whedon’s blend of comedy and horror had a profound effect on me (I was a huge Buffy and Angel nerd), and I often use the same mix. I was an avid Fangoria reader growing up, too, and no moment was prouder than when I had my first-ever published art (a pen & ink drawing of Hellraiser’s Pinhead) in their Postal Zone letters column.
As for the visual side of things, being exposed to Jim Lee’s X-Men comics at 13 was a revelation, and I instantly began creating my own comics. For me, it was just another medium to tell stories in. For many years I tried to get a post-apocalyptic, Mad Max-inspired comic afloat, but never quite succeeded. I did manage to get published several times in Heavy Metal magazine, which remains quite a feather in my cap from those days.
I still love comics, though, and must list Preacher, James O’Barr’s The Crow, Battle Royale, The Sandman, Hellblazer, Fist of the North Star, The Walking Dead, The Ultimates, Uzumaki, Spawn and the old Warren comic magazines Creepy and Eerie as among my all-time favorites.
I’ve never had any formal art training, by the way, beyond a few required high school art classes that didn’t teach jack-all. I taught myself, learning from my masters: Jim Lee, James O’Barr, Steve Dillon, Will Eisner, Dale Keown, Bryan Hitch, Rob Liefeld (yeah, even him), Heavy Metal magazine and all the old EC guys like Jack Davis and Johnny Craig.
3. How old were you when you first wrote your first story?
Five. I was at the babysitter’s, and the only thing I really remember about it was that it was about a guy coming back from the dead. I wrote it, the babysitter’s daughter drew pictures for it. The babysitter was shocked when she saw it and threw it away. That was the debut of my horror career. I haven’t stopped mortifying people since.
I still have the second story I wrote, when I was six. It was called ‘Attack of the Bunny Ears’, and was about an army of severed rabbit ears with legs falling out of the sky and eating people. So, yeah, I’ve been warped a long, long time.
4. How many stories have you written?
Hundreds! That’s the true answer. But in the last year or so (since August 2018), I’ve sold 14 short stories, of which 11 have seen print thus far. Many of those have been for Deadman’s Tome publishing, including stories in Bikers Vs The Undead, Psycho Holiday, Monsters Vs Nazis and Mr. Deadman Made Me Do It. I’ve also had work appear (or set to appear) in the anthologies Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinn, Earth: Giants, Golems and Gargoyles (both from Tyche Books), Hell’s Empire (Ulthar Press), Crash Code, (Blood Bound Books), Appalachian Horror (Aphotic Realm), the Sirens Call ezine, the Gallows Hill website, and the upcoming magazines StoryHack and Aphotic Realm’s ‘Gruesome ’80s-Inspired Issue’.
I’m also working on a novel, kind of a black-comedy-splatterpunk-horror story about three teenage stoners in a small Colorado town who are inadvertently turned into vampires and must deal with both their new undead existence and a group of evil vampire hunters who want to kill them. Someone recently described its concept as the movie Idle Hands with vampires, and that’s very accurate. Lots of wacky, gory, weird fun in this one.
5. What’s your favorite story you have written?
Thus far I’d have to say my story ‘Ad Majorem Satanae Gloriam’ in the Hell’s Empire anthology is my favorite. The book is an alternate history/horror hybrid that posits an invasion of Victorian Britain by the satanic forces of Hell itself. There’s fourteen stories in the book, and the editor, John Linwood Grant, linked them together so that the entire thing reads like a novel. My story is about the Battle of London and rotates between one of Hell’s foot soldiers–a damned soul–and a family desperate to escape the city, and as the story goes on its revealed there’s more connecting the two threads than at first appears. It’s a very apocalyptic, very bleak, with some harrowing imagery, like a flock of pigeons catching fire. One of the other contributors, Matt Willis, told me after he read it that it was ‘dark and brutal stuff’, which I, of course, took as a massivecompliment.
6. Anything you won’t write about?
Haven’t found any unbreakable taboos yet. I wrote about racism in my Monsters Vs Nazis story ‘Hate The Flesh’, which most people consider a no-no. I make a passing reference to child molestation in the novel I’m working on. But let’s see…sacrilege, Satanism, cannibalism, necrophilia, rape…check, check, check, check, check.
Oh, wait…Bestiality. There we go. No way would I write that unless I killed the perpetrator horribly afterwards. Anyone who fucks animals is going down.
7. Where do you write or draw? Quiet or music?
I have to have complete silence to write. With art it’s the opposite–I turn the music up loud, strap on the headphones and I’m gone to another world. But for writing I have to concentrate. I often create a ‘soundtrack’ for a certain story that I listen to when I’m not actually writing. With a recent story I wrote, ‘A Night At Satan’s Palace’, it was all songs about hell, fire, the devil, that kind of thing. AC/DC’s ‘Hells Belles’, The Doors’ ‘Light My Fire’, ‘Waking The Demon’ by Bullet For My Valentine. For my novel it’s mainly electro-pop. For the irony.
I love music, though. I’m one of those weirdoes who has his iPod on him at all times. If the cops frisked me, they wouldn’t find weapons or drugs, but the damn iPod would be confiscated, and that would kill me.
8. Where do you get your ideas?
A mail order company in New York called ‘Ideas 4 U’. Okay, not really. My mind’s usually always churning with stuff, and a lot of times it’s just putting two and two together. I have a sick, twisted sense of humor that also inspires a lot of my work. I tend to come up with the weirdest, wackiest scenario and plug characters into them. It’s like writing sitcoms, but with violence and harsh language. The aforementioned ‘A Night At Satan’s Palace’ is a good example. Two old guys stop at a strip club in Las Vegas that has demon strippers. Outlandish. Over-the-top violent and gory. But hilarious. To me, anyway.
9. What’s your favorite thing about writing and drawing?
The freedom of it. Just letting your mind go and wander into strange, new places and create your own worlds. They’re both places I can go to for refuge when things get difficult.
My other favorite thing is when someone looks at a piece of art I’ve done, or reads something I’ve written and they enjoy it. That’s where the real payoff is for me, even more than money. Long after any cash I made from a project is spent, I’ll remember the look on someone’s face, or the words they said, and that’s what I love. That reaction. It’s more addictive than crack.
10. Anything you would change about your writing or art?
No one’s been surprised with my recent success more than me. So, no, I don’t think I would. Why fix what isn’t apparently broken?
11. Any traditions you do when you finish a project?
Start thinking about the next one. I like to keep busy. Onward to Constantinople.
12. What is your dream? Famous writer?
Well, I’d say this is my dream. Writing. Drawing. Blowing minds, taking names and freaking people out. But sure, I’d love to have a few best-sellers. My Twitter account says ‘Artist. Writer. Future World Dominator.’ I wrote that in jest, but really, if you don’t strive to be the biggest and the best, why bother? (It’s that All-or-Nothing aspect again).
13. What do you like to do for fun?
Fun? Like, as ‘In your spare time?’ Hmm…I vaguely remember enjoying watching movies and something called TV, but that was a loooong time ago, back when ‘spare time’ existed. But that’s one of the odd things about doing something you love for a living. It already is fun.
Seriously, though, I love music immensely: metal (black, thrash, death, metalcore, whatever), industrial, punk, electro-pop, techno. I’ve got a soft-spot for 80s New Wave and old-school Goth rock that I can’t explain. Anything with a fast and funky beat, really.
I read like a maniac, and I also enjoy cooking (I’m a total foodie). Spicy stuff, Italian stuff, desserts. I’ve been told I make a killer risotto, but that’s only because the person died after eating it. Cops never caught me…Bwa-ha-ha!
14. What’s the last good book that you read?
There’s two: Nocturnal Blood by Villimey Mist and The Gatherers by Ray Zacek. Nocturnal Blood’s a vampire story about a teenage girl with OCD going on the run with her undead best friend, and is the total antithesis of the paranormal romance Twilight crap that’s so popular these days. The author’s from Iceland, and she presents a unique perspective to the goings-on.
The Gatherers is a just a straight-up badass historical horror novel set in ancient Roman times and features some amazing battle scenes of legionnaires fighting eldritch Lovecraftian terrors. Brutal, bloody, adrenaline-pumping stuff.
Hell’s Empire and Monsters Vs Nazis are recommended reads, too. And not just because my stories are in them. All the tales within both are good.
15. What is coming next for you?
In the immediate future: finishing the cover for Satan Is Your Friend, the next Deadman’s Tome horror anthology. Working on my novel. I’ve got a couple of short stories in my head I want to get out before they drive me crazy(er). And then there’s that ever-present World Domination thing. So, yeah. Busy little bee
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