When it came to Savage Beasts I found that I was sharing the TOC with John F D Taff, one of the first "real" authors I virtually met when his book, The Bell Witch, and my novel, Discoredia, were both picked up by Books of the Dead Press in 2013. John was even so kind as to provide the blurb for Discoredia, something for which I'll always be thankful, and his career goes from strength to strength with the release of numerous novels and short stories. There was also Karen Runge, who I appeared alongside in Suspended in Dusk, and T Fox Dunham whose short story, The Last Elf, I had thoroughly enjoyed in Ominous Realities, a previous anthology from Grey Matter Press.
The remaining half dozen authors were all new to me, so when it was suggested that we each interview one of the other contributors I thought it would be a good way to get to know a little more about whoever I was selected to interview. So, here it is, my interview with Greek author Kostas Paradias whose story, Killing Noise, is well worth a read.
First off, tell me a little about yourself and your writing career to date.
I remember that I started writing around the time I began to read fiction in earnest. I guess it all began when I was 11 years old and had driven my mother crazy with my hyper-activity, so she decided it was time I got down to some serious reading. She gave me a choice between two books: Huckleberry Finn or War of the Worlds, so naturally, I picked the second one.
After spending a couple of days between terrified of the scene where the first Martian slithers out of its dropship canister, I decided it was time to first, get the book read and then start writing something of my own. My first completed work was about 12 pages long (a massive undertaking by that time) and it was called THE ADVENTURES OF KITTENCHILD, about a massively evil, massively rich anthropomorphic kitten and his score of nephews, trying to do him in so they can get their hands on their fortune.
Fast forward 12 years of frantic writing later and I still haven’t gotten a single word published in any Greek magazine or through any publication. Realizing that I will not be the one to bring old-school space opera to Greek audiences, I decided to try my hand at getting published abroad. Following a bout of crippling self-doubt and two massively unsuccessful pen names, I started writing semi-professionally on February of 2010 and have never looked back since.
I’ve got almost 70 short story publications to my name and have been fortunate to (recently) get a story of mine published in Japanese through Atelier Third, been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and I am hoping I will be able to get my novel off the ground, sooner rather than later. 12 years of constant failure have taught me I need to aim low, while swinging high I guess.
And moving on to your story, Killing Noise, which features in Savage Beasts, what piece of music inspired the story? And what's the story about?
I grew up in a house of music. My mother is a certified pianist by the Conservatory of Athens and was an honest-to-God professional player for a while, before family duties forced her to turn to full-time teaching. My father (a die-hard lover of Greek folk music) learned to love classical music through her.
My brother and I used to love Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and always found a way to include it in our make-believe playtime scenes of the spinoff adventures of Kittenchild. As a matter of fact, it was my brother’s idea that allegro, playful pieces of music should be played during scenes of utter carnage, an idea which we found was shamelessly used by John Woo in his magnum opus, Face-Off. In light of his contribution to the art of filmmaking, we decided not to press charges. The idea stuck to me, however. Coupled with the masterful synch of pizzicato tones and action in Warner Brothers cartoons and the rise of increasingly powerful car sound systems, I realized that an earthquake set to the tune of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor was entirely possible. Growing up, I learned about the hidden power of subsonics and their possible use as weapons of mass destruction and I remember thinking: “What if you cranked up Brahms’ Hungarian Dance no. 5 to 1500 decibels, aimed it at something and pressed play?” Thus, the idea of weaponized classical music grew in my head. The idea of someone doing just that: creating a silent, utterly destructive speaker that delivered 10 minutes of music by bouncing it off the moon, pulverizing cities as it went. The idea that you could turn the Ode to Joy into the equivalent of the Tsar Bomba, make music that could only do harm. How long would it take before the world went silent? What would become of the world’s musicians-turned-mercenaries? How long before speech would be considered counter-intuitive, causing our main means of communication to break down? What would become of our vaunted opera houses and symphony orchestras, if their performances ever amounted to a full-fledged war crime? What would happen if our most prized works of classical music simply became Killing Noise?
Is taking inspiration from music something new to you? Where do your influences normally come from?
Inspiration from music hasn’t been entirely new to me, just not a route I usually choose to take. I’ve become accustomed to music, which has caused me to miss out on a lot of its subtleties. At this point in my life, I tend to pick favorites based on the sort of stories they tell, from Tom Waits’ Underground to the Tiger Lillies’ Swing ‘Em High to Wilmoth Houdini’s Black But Sweet. The idea of writing a short story entirely based on music was something that came as a slow process to me, looking for the tones that actually amounted to the equivalent of horrific blows, used in the proper context and with the necessary hardware. Most of my influences instead come from daily encounters. I used to own a jewelery business, which led me to meet a number of very interesting, unique characters. During the heyday of the economic crisis, I was exposed to tidbits of everyday madness, vignettes of people’s personal dramas and I guess that’s what really got me into the business of writing in earnest. People like to say that they are inspired by pieces of art, or a good tune, or just a great story. Myself, I like to think that I am caught in the grip of sonder, putting a good (or horrific) spin in the lives of a every single person I get to meet who trusts me with their woes.
Finally, what can we expect to see from you next? Any works in progress or imminent releases you'd like to tell us about?
I am currently in the process of writing my first space opera short story collection for Sybarittic Press, with the working title of EARTH, INC, which I trust should put a new spin to the idea of humanity as a newfangled starfaring species. In my spare time, I attempt to edit my science fiction novel, THE CHROME HORDE, about the resurrected Mongol Horde in the aftermath of a fossil fuel apocalypse and hope to finally get my hands on a artist willing to help me work on my post apocalyptic comic book graphic novel, titled POST RAPTURE, about a pair of serial killers, working together to kill the world.
Thank you for answering those questions for me, and also for sending across a few of your own for me to answer in return. I thoroughly enjoyed Killing Noise, and look forward to reading more from you in the future.