Addicted to Prose: Buzzy Mag Interviews Andy Deane
By Jean Marie Ward
The interminable rides between cities and towns have been blamed for a lot of mischief in the lives of touring musicians, but horror novels? For Andy Deane, lead singer and lyricist of the gothic rock band Bella Morte, The Rain Within and Brighter Fires, those long hours on the road created the perfect opportunity to write something longer than “two verses and a chorus, and maybe a bridge”.
At RavenCon this April, Buzzy Mag talked to Andy about his fiction and his music. It was supposed to be a video interview, but as often happens in the life of working musicians and writers, technical difficulties intervened. At least, it wasn’t as bad as the werewolves, vampires and molars faced by the heroes of Andy’s books. However, your fearless reporter may never look at onions the same way ever again.
Buzzy Mag: What I want to know-and it’s been driving me crazy ever since I found out about it-what’s a nice rock-n-roller like you doing in a nasty business like publishing? And how many books have you published so far?
Andy Deane: I’ve got two full-length novels, one novella, and I just sold another novella last month. I assume it will be coming out this summer, or maybe the fall. I don’t know how they schedule these things.
I’ve always been a storyteller. What I do with the band is tell stories. So it made sense [to write] when we were on tour. Often enough we have a six-, sometimes eighteen-hour drive to the next city, and I’m sitting there with the laptop. It’s a much more productive way to spend my time than sitting there playing solitaire. It’s really fun. I love writing.
When I’m on tour with the guys I’m surrounded by nothing but positive energy. So that feels good, too. It makes me creative. It makes me inspired being around these people, so everything just flows very naturally. It’s nothing I have to force.
Buzzy Mag: You write horror, mostly, with a snarky edge.
Andy Deane (smiles): Yes.
Buzzy Mag: How much have the gothic and dark elements of your musical projects influenced your writing, or does the darkness in your writing come from another source?
Andy Deane: Actually, even as a kid, I was drawn toward horror films, and I always had an affinity toward dark art. It’s not that I’m a dark person, and I think there’s a disconnect there-and a lot of people can’t understand there can be a disconnect there. I’m a happy guy. I feel very good about life and people. I’m an optimist. I’m not a hater or a complainer.
[Horror films and dark art are] just what I’m drawn to. You’ll hear people say you shouldn’t watch these really dark films with these awful things happening to people, because they could plant ideas in your head. To me, if someone has the ability to put an idea in your head, the problem is with you.
Buzzy Mag: What’s the biggest difference between writing a song and writing a story?
Andy Deane: With a song, I’ve got to make this happen in two verses and chorus, and maybe a bridge. You’ve got to cut to the meat of the thing. Whereas with a story, you’ve got some time to be patient and tell it. But they’re both unique. I don’t prefer one to the other. They’re both awesome. The biggest difference to me is one is a collaboration and one is all in your head.
Buzzy Mag: It’s all in your head until it gets to an editor. Then you’re talking real collaboration.
Andy Deane: I love editors. I don’t know if I’m unique in that, but every time I work with one they make it better. I don’t go in with any ego about my work. I definitely have my own ideas, and I want final say about what comes out, but I’ve learned so much.
The editor I worked with at Delirium Books-I learned so much working with him. We worked together for my first book [The Sticks], and he showed me how just changing a few little things, I could make the story really shine.
Buzzy Mag:The Sticksis a werewolf story. But you’ve also tackled vampires. Was that in your second book?
Andy Deane: Actually, no, the second book was a novella called “The Third House”, which stars a creature of my own making. Basically, I thought the vampire had gotten over-used. So I asked myself, “What’s scarier than fangs?” What I came up with was molars all the way around. It hurts a lot worse when they bite.
I created a group of them. They’re my favorite villains ever. They’re called the Family, and they’re really creepy. The third book, All the Darkness in the World, is my vampire novel.
Buzzy Mag: And I bet they don’t sparkle.
Andy Deane: They don’t sparkle, but that said, I don’t really hate Twilight. I haven’t seen it or read it, so I don’t have an opinion to put out there. But my feeling on it is anything-no matter how much I or the horror community might love or hate it-anything that can get a million people under the age of eighteen to line up at midnight on a Tuesday in a Barnes and Noble to get a book, I don’t see how you can complain about it.
I think back to the stuff I liked as a kid, and a lot of it is stuff I wouldn’t consider good today, but it still led me to where I am. At the end of the day, there’s no right or wrong as to what is good literature. It’s just an opinion. To think otherwise is arrogant. There are people who hate my books. There are people who love them. Neither group is wrong.
Buzzy Mag: Most writers develop a core critique group. You are blessed-or cursed, as the case may be-with one of your band members as your first reader. So tell the truth, how good is Tony Lechmanski as a proofer?
Andy Deane: He wasn’t a proofer. He didn’t proof. What I wanted from him was, basically, exactly what he gave me: Was that fun? We were in a recording studio at the time cutting an album called Paint the Gray Sky Black. He went in when he wasn’t doing guitar dates (because everybody’s got their moment in the studio) and he really liked [the book]. That’s what I wanted. He’d point stuff out to me if he happened to see it, just because he saw it. But he wasn’t looking for punctuation or spelling so much as: “You’ve got a good story here. This is fun and I this is something I think people would like to read.” So that’s what I got.
Buzzy Mag: Do any of your other band members now get in the beta-reading act, or is it still just Tony?
Andy Deane: So far, it’s just been Tony, because we’ve had so many rotating band members outside of Tony and me. I’m always open to the other guys. They’re all great, even our revolving guys.
Buzzy Mag: What’s next for you, your music and your writing?
Andy Deane: Right now we’re getting close to finishing the new Bella Morte album. We don’t really have a title at this point. I’m hoping for an October release, right around Halloween to be as stereotypical as possible.
Buzzy Mag: Go with the classics, right?
Andy Deane: You can’t lose.
And I just sold my latest novel, and I’m working on the next one. It is a zombie novel. I got a quarter of the way through it, and I thought at some point this stuff will start playing out like a Romero film. That’s why I threw a twist in there that I think people are going to really enjoy. It makes things a lot crazier.
Buzzy Mag: You can’t really have a good horror story without a certain amount of crazy.
Andy Deane: You can, you can, but that stuff’s always appreciated. Like Ginger Snaps, the werewolf film out of Canada-I love the humor in that movie. American Werewolf in London, anything like the early Sam Raimi films, Peter Jackson films-all that stuff’s great. There’s a great sense of humor in all of it.
But I like both. I like the really grim horror, too, like all the extremism coming out of France right now. Martyrs is probably my favorite horror film. I don’t recommend it to everybody. It’s very hardcore. If somebody isn’t ready to see that, they probably shouldn’t see it.
Buzzy Mag: Who directed it?
Andy Deane: I’m probably going to slaughter the pronunciation of his last name, but it’s Pascal Laugier. But I’m blown away with it, and the film he did before that, called House in the Woods, also. It’s one of those slow moving ghost stories like The Others. I love that sort of stuff. There’s actually a song on the new album about The Others.
Buzzy Mag: Are you looking to write something that has that kind of grimness?
Andy Deane: The novella I just sold-it doesn’t have the kind of ghost story, where it’s creepy, but there’s not a slice of humor in it. It’s the first thing I’ve written like that, and it’s the first thing I’ve written from a third person standpoint. But it’s not funny, because there’s nothing there to extract any humor there at all, but I love it. I’m very happy with it.
[Bella Morte bassist Marshall Camden approaches from the parking lot.]
Andy Deane [to Marshall]: You know I’m doing an interview?
[Marshall licks the side of Andy’s face.]
Andy Deane: It’s the worst band in the world!
Marshall Camden: Tony owes me twenty bucks, because that tasted nothing like onions.
Buzzy Mag: Anything you’d like to add?
Andy Deane: I’ve also got a new Rain Within album coming out later this year, and Brighter Fires will be touring like mad. Brighter Fires is Gopal Metro and me. You met him at the merch table. He was the guy with the twin hawks. He’s the guy I started Bella Morte with.
Jean Marie Ward writes fiction, nonfiction and everything in between, including art books, novels (2008 Indie Book double-finalist With Nine You Get Vanyr), and short stories such as WSFA Small Press Award finalist “Lord Bai’s Discovery” and “Personal Demons” in the award-winning anthology Hellebore and Rue. Her videos include author interviews and tutorials.