Rob Same (Though my first novel was published under the name Robert Smart)
Francis :Where were you born/where did you grow up, did you have an easy childhood?
I was born in San Diego and grew up in Seattle Washington. My childhood was low-income suburban strife featuring an absent father and progressively more severely mentally ill younger sister. I wouldn't call it good but I don't want to be melodramatic about it either.
Francis :Give some background information about yourself, are you generally an optimistic person or pessimistic?
I don't think most optimists would recognize me as one their own but unlike Pessimists I do not see everything as doomed to failure; perhaps highly unlikely but still remotely possible. Psychological studies consistently prove that pessimists are more realistic in assessing both their own shortcomings and abilities and the nature of situations but too much realism will sink you. At least a certain minimal capacity for self-delusion is essential for continued striving. I see through a glass darkly but I never stop trying.
Francis: Tell us your latest news, what are your current projects?
Recently finished up outining a novel, an International crime thriller involving terrorism, human trafficking and covert plastic surgery. I have also prepared another novel concerning possession and worldwide transformation.
Francis: When and why did you begin writing? How does your present day work compare to what you wrote then?
I began in my early teens. I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen. The early work was in a more or less gothic vein. The later writings are edgier and more contemporary. (To be fair to myself the early gothic stuff was pretty edgy in its own way).
Francis : What genre do your consider books to be? Have you ever thought of writing in another genre, for example if you wrote a Children’s book, how would it turn out?
The first book was gothic. The second was horror with a strong undercurrent of satire. My agent at the time, and several of the editors that read the book, compared it to a cross between The Omen and American Psycho. I am not entirely sure about The Omen in that the mother, the Madonna of the title, occupies a lower socioeconomic class. I have considered a lot of other genres and am open to writing in any of them. As for a children's book, I think I might drive more than a few tots to the nearest mental ward.
Francis: Have you ever been flattered by a comparison to a well-known author ?
I was flattered by the comparison to American Psycho (Brett Easton Ellis), at least mildly. I would hope at some point to garner comparisons to authors whose work I admire much more.
Francis: What inspired you to write your first book?
A desire for perpetual freedom or laziness, depending on who you talk to... I wanted to write a best seller that would provide me with enough money to never have to work a regular job again. It should come as o surprise to anyone that things did not work out that way.
Francis : Do you have a trademark writing style, what makes your work recognizable?
A strong visual sense, irony.
Francis : Do you write short stories? If so how do they differ to your novels?
I do not write short stories.
Francis: Are there any messages in your novels, if so what?
Messages are altogether too simplistic and one-dimensional a notion. Are there consistent thematic elements in the novels (And in the many unproduced screenplays that I have written)? Of course. I think the reason people write fiction is so that they can present a vision of the world without explicitly stating the underlying idea of the work. Otherwise, they would just write non-fiction, wouldn't they? You have to trust the reader to be able to discern the ideas being presented in a novel, to which, naturally, they add their own particular experiences and perceptions; the novel is different for everyone that reads it. I can say that our current civilization is ghost town of discredited institutions, beliefs, structures, that never-the-less continue to exert power over us; to shape and warp the personalities of the human beings living in its remnants.
Francis: How much of your books are based on reality, how much are based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Very little is based on reality or real life experiences in a literal sense but paradoxically I could not write with anything approaching conviction or authenticity if my writing were not based on my actual experiences. It is simply that the experiences are filtered through a distorting prism, transmuted into fantastic and bizarre scenarios that carry the pulse of my life without directly depicting it. The confessional mode is not mine.
Francis : What books have most influenced your life the most? Are some of these books, different to your own genre of writing?
The majority of my favorite books are different from my genre of writing, at least the genre I have written in thus far, since I feel no obligation to remain in it or any other. My favorite novels are literary: The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil, The Obscene Bird of Night by Jose Donoso, The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell, The Master and Margarita by Mikhael Bulgakov, Crash and others by J.G. Ballard, Steve Erickson (The Sea Came in at Midnight)... Among genre writers I like Brian Evenson, Matthew Stokoe, and I have just recently discovered Jeff VanderMeer and Michael Cisco and Tricia Sullivan--and so on and on. It's a long list. I will limit myself to fiction here. I am an obsessive and extensive reader. This list could conceivably go on for pages and pages.
Francis: Are you sometimes shocked by some of your own writing/ideas?
Yes, sometimes ideas come that takes things in a direction or to an extreme that you had not previously contemplated. There may be resistance, at first, an attempt to self-censor, but I almost always end up going with the ideas that arise spontaneously.
Francis: Do you see writing as a career?
I see it as a vocation. I can't imagine doing anything else. I haven't made a lot of money at it but it's not primarily about money for me. I wouldn't mind if one of my books were to sell enough copies to actually pay some bills but the writing is a thing unto itself for me.
Francis : Is there a character in one of your books that really stands out for you?
Erika, the mother of the anti-Christ in Madonna 666. Her capacity for rationalization, her desperate need to be important, her hypocrisy, her willingness to accommodate her actions to evil supposedly in pursuit of what is ultimately supposed to be a positive end. To me she exemplifies some traits that are both universal and particularly American. All the violence and deceit, all the blood on her hands, will cease to matter when the glorious victory comes to pass.
Francis: Were your parents avid readers, have your family played a part in your writing career? How do they feel about your work?
My late father, no, my mother, yes. She was a reader of popular fiction. And yes, she has been supportive throughout the years. She likes the first two novels that I wrote; some of the novels that I read she cannot get into but I guess expecting her or anyone else to share my tastes is too much to ask.
Francis: What makes you proud of your books/life as a writer?
Simply that I completed them and that I feel good about what I did. They haven't made any real money or garnered me any recognition to speak of so the main thing is to feel good about staying true to my own ideas and my own standards of craftsmanship.
Francis: How do you come up with the initial concept of a book?
They generally just suddenly occur to me.
Francis: Who is your favorite author and what is it about them that you admire?
Robert Musil. Unlike Kafka's work, The Man Without Qualities is set in a definite time and place and develops its characters and has something that at least resembles a conventional narrative. Yet he also manifests the kind of oneric weirdness, disorientation and dread that Kafka's work evokes. It is like a synthesis between Thomas Mann and Kafka, in a way. I admire the way the novel simultaneously works on these two registers.
Francis: Who designed the covers for your books, were you happy with result?
I designed the original cover for my first novel, Mother's got a Whip and then when I regained the rights to it I had it some minor details added to it by a designer named Katrina Joyner. I also designed an original cover for my second novel, Madonna 666, featuring a nude model, albeit a tastefully covered one but I ran afoul of both technical problems and the probable censorship of both PayPal and Amazon. So, Katrina took the original photo and rendered it as a painting. In neither case did she have free reign, she was stuck with the image I imposed on her. This is especially true with the first cover. Next time out I will just leave the designing to the professionals.
Francis: What was the hardest part of being a writer?
Increasingly, it is finding time to write.
Francis: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Read a lot and read many different kind of things. And get as much feedback from as many people with different sensibilities as possible. Don't be afraid of criticism or negative reactions.
Francis: Other than writing do you have any other interests, do they connect up with your writing?
I am obsessive cinephile. A massive collection of films from the beginning of cinema, from countries all over the world
Francis: Are there any films that have influenced your writing? What kind of films do you like?
It is hard to say. I spent a lot of time writing screenplays so that influence of numerous films seeped directly to ideas intended to be films. I was influenced very strongly by early Roman Polanski, by a film called In a Glass Cage by Augustin Villaronga, by various European horror directors like Jean Rollin. In my Skin by Maria de Van, is a personal favorite. Tokyo Fist by Shinja Tsukamoto, Ichii, the Killer and Goju by Takashi Miiki. Querelle, and several others films by R.W. Fassbinder. The hallucinatory nature of Fellini's Toby Dammit and Casanova made a big impression on me, though there is as yet no direct influence detectable in my own work. I grew up watching Bergman, Tarkovsky, Parajanov, and a horde of others. I would also have to acknowledge the work of Andzrej Zulawski. Most of the scripts I wrote were low budget psychological thrillers. Obviously, none of them were ever produced.
Francis: If your books were adapted into being films, which director dead or alive would you want to direct them? Which actors would you like in the films? What would be the overriding mood of the film?
I think Ben Wheatley (Kill List; A Field in England). He is a very original director and has a great knack for combining and warping genres The mood would be dark and sardonic. There would be an element of black comedy underlying the adapations, particularly Madonna 666. I really cannot imagine which actors would play the parts. it is difficult to imagine any actor I am familiar with playing these characters. I am sure there are several for each role that could do it well. I say, Leave it to the director and the casting director.
Francis: Do you socialize with other writers or creative people? Do you know any obscure or up and coming authors/or perhaps other creative people who deserve recognition?
My socializing is limited to social media these days. I am kind of isolated. There is a multitude of talented people out there, many of them struggling to balance the need to make money to live with the need to make money to create art. And many of them are languishing in relative obscurity. There were two filmmakers about whom I wrote essays published in Bright Lights Film Journal, Carlos Atanes and Bob Moricz, who are both brilliantly original and in my opinion very much needed to be more widely known. A third, a photographer and filmmaker named Monika K. Adler came along later. I should also mention Usama Alshaimi, whose film Profane, is one of the more provocative low budget flicks you'll any time soon. So, yes, there's an army of relatively obscure people whose work deserves to be seen or read or heard.
Francis: which theme (for example death, misery, and torture) is most prevalent in your stories?
Power, trauma, psychology, sexuality, ideology, civilization as a kind of in-grown prison...
Francis: Which method of death would you choose out of the following
A being ripped apart by lions
B facing a firing squad made up by shadowy figures, who you suspect you have had major altercations with, during the course of your life.
C you find yourself in a hospital, in a country far from home, with doctors and nurses you can’t communicate with, attached to devices that indicate you are in a critical condition. You don’t know how you got to the hospital/country. Death is inevitable however.
None of the above. I prefer the possibility of being depleted by a harem full of the world's most beautiful, brilliant, talented, eccentric women, during a marathon orgy of films, music, conversation and sex.
But to be honest, I do not want to die in any manner. Does anyone, really?
Francis: Do you have a blog/website? Or other important links?
I do have a small website that I have not updated in a long time. www.robsame.com