Greetings from the Ether,
With the release of Hinnom Magazine Issue 006, we wanted to take a moment to spotlight some of the authors involved in the project. S.E. Casey’s story “O’ Babylon” is a unique weird tale with beautiful imagery. Join us as we dive into the crafting of the story, and what the future has in store for the author.
CP: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How you came to write dark fiction?
SE: Graduating in the time before Amazon and any digital book market, the obstacles to becoming a published author were impossibly high (and the gatekeepers impossibly stingy). Being a practical person, I never pursued writing, getting an entry-level corporate accounting job instead. In one’s twenties, any first job feels temporary, a cosmic joke that will soon play itself out. There is all the time in the world for the universe to come to its senses and reward you with that perfect career that you deserve. In my thirties, I gave up waiting for this tap on the shoulder; I would have to find my own dream job. No worries, still plenty of time to figure this out. Called into an impromptu meeting that turned out to be my surprise twenty year employment anniversary celebration, somehow another decade in my ‘placeholder’ job passed. I smiled, laughed, and ate cake, but the realization that I was in my forties and no closer to finding any direction in life made it taste like sawdust and resentment. What was supposed to be the opening act would also be the last. Soon after, I had a random conversation with a friend about indie authors and how Amazon Kindle works (no gatekeepers and it’s free to upload). A day later, I had an outline of a story worked out in my head. The day after that, I found where MS Word was hidden on my computer and started to write. Four years later, and I am still writing for the same absurd reason: because I can.
CP: “O’ Babylon” is a fantastical weird tale. The concept is original, and the prose is excellent. Can you tell us how it came to fruition? What inspired the piece?
SE: I’ve always been sensitive to things out of place, things appearing a bit off. “O’ Babylon” stems from a premise of one of those not quite right situations—strangers and strange things being in familiar places. I let my anxieties direct the narrative, pushing what happens next into those nightmarish ‘soft spots’ lurking in the world behind the world. After the first draft, I always try to figure out what my stories are subconsciously trying to tell me. I realized I had written something related to the Tower of Babel myth. If afflicting humankind with multiple languages, breaking them into tribes, is a curse, is it true that the converse would be a blessing? And, if not, why not? This conundrum helped shape the subsequent drafts leading to the final product.
CP: You’ve had stories in several great publications. Where exactly, from here, do you hope your writing takes you? What goals do you hope to achieve?
SE: I’ve figured out how to write by doing—the ‘jump out of a window and learn to fly on the way down’ approach. Each thing that I’ve written, I’ve learned from, not only about the craft, but also about who I am. I hope to keep evolving to write that great story and maybe finally meet my real self.
CP: Do you have any other projects you’re working on? What does the future hold for S.E. Casey?
SE: I am focused on continuing to write my weird horror short stories. In addition to “O’ Babylon”, I have had several stories published recently: “Black Lung Hay Fever” in the Aphotic Realm anthology, Tales from the Realm, Vol 1; “The Hunger House” in The Sirens Call E-zine #38; and “Animal Control” which won third place in the Molotov Cocktail Lit Zine’s #KillerFlash contest. I am also writing stories to be gathered in a Christmas/winter themed horror collection to be published at some future date.
CP: What has been your favorite moment thus far, as a writer?
SE: Getting positive responses from readers has been the most rewarding moments for me. Books are published to be consumed by others. Knowing that I wrote something that connected with even one person is an accomplishment. To write something that says, “this is what is here—this is what I see, and it’s strange,” and to have someone acknowledge that, yes, they see ‘it’ too, is a great feeling. Maybe it’s a sense of community, or maybe it’s misery loves company, I don’t really know, but a connection has been made.
CP: What writer do you find the most inspiring, living or dead? Why?
SE: That’s easy. Thomas Ligotti. I prefer books that are weird and uncompromising. I also like philosophical novels such as The Stranger, Notes From the Underground, and Waiting for Godot. As is especially conspicuous in ‘Godot’, not much happens in these books action-wise, yet somehow EVERYTHING happens. Ligotti writes descriptive, fantastical short stories with a strong philosophical base, so it is the best of both worlds to me. Since someone else from this issue also named Ligotti, I will quickly mention my favorite indie author: Matthew M. Bartlett.
CP: We always like to end our interviews with a little tidbit of advice for the many readers who are writers themselves. What’s the best advice you could give to a new author?
SE: Oscar Wilde has a great quote, especially pertinent today, “I’m not young enough to know everything.” Therefore, the advice I will give here is to be wary of advice. There is so much writing on writing out there that it can be overwhelming and confusing. All writers are different. One tip may work great for one, but not for another based on different personalities and abilities. In the end, there is no difference between bad advice and good advice that’s just not meant for you. Everyone needs a filter and the ability to throw away what doesn’t work for them. Be open to criticisms, and be equally open to reject them.
After celebrating his twenty year anniversary working in a Boston accounting firm, S.E. Casey began to write. As an attempt to quell an unspecific desperation and stave off a growing resentment of everything, he channeled the paranoid tales wedged between the unending minutia of numbers, balances, and other numerical errata. These strange stories have been published in magazines such as Weirdbook, Devolution Z, Molotov Cocktail, and Aphotic Realm, as well as an upcoming issue of the Thomas Ligotti inspired literary journal, Vastarien. He also has published Stygian Doorways, a collection of short stories. You can find him hiding in plain sight at www.secaseyauthor.wordpress.com.