MASHED Monday Author Interview: Maxine Kollar

Maxine Kollar writes the story, “The Care and Feeding of Your Personal Demon” in our upcoming anthology, Mashed: The Culinary Delights of Twisted Erotic Horror. “The Care and Feeding of Your Personal Demon” is the story of a young man’s dark and demented path, accompanied by his very own personal demon!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself?
I have a degree in political science because I was going to save the world but then I was like… nah. I try to be very careful about the things I say to myself because as a female, multicultural immigrant I don’t want to accuse myself of any bias against me.

When not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
I have grudgingly become a pretty accomplished baker. I keep the family in desserts and they keep me around. It’s a win/win. When I’m not bitterly making sweets I also enjoy cleaning, laundering and cooking. I am being a bit sarcastic but the truth is that, to me, home-care is an art and is something to be proud of.

What attracted you to submitting your story to MASHED: The Culinary Delights of Twisted Erotic Horror?
The framework of the story was there in that I had this unfortunate boy and this demon trying to make a go of things. I thought it was a pretty good story, but seeing the call for MASHED helped me take the story to a new level. I needed to get more in depth with the culinary and erotic aspects to pass muster. The culinary part was easy because I just happened to be making my world famous beef stew at the time (not sure if my husband is ever going to eat it again). The erotic part was a little harder for a number of reasons but sometimes you just have to channel your inner demon.

For your story “The Care and Feeding of Your Personal Demon” what was your inspiration?
I wrote a drabble about a guy that loved to do horrible things like putting a widow with six kids out on the street because she couldn’t pay the rent. His personal demon tormented him by doing nice things like showing up at the widow’s door with a bagful of money. It got me wondering if we weren’t demonizing demons. Maybe there was a little more to them. The demon in this story is no angel to be sure but I enjoyed putting more layers on him.

Influences:                       

When did you first discover that you wanted to be a writer?
I don’t remember not wanting to be a writer. I have poetry and stories going way back. They are not things I would try to get published but it’s an interesting way to reflect. It’s like reading someone else’s diary; only that someone else is you.

What films or books have most influenced you as an author?
I haven’t seen or read ‘Wicked’ but I love the idea of looking at things from an unexpected perspective. That kind of paradigm shift is just breathtaking to me and gives me something to reach for.

Outside of Horror, what other genre’s do you write in?
I seem to write in most genres. I am working on a fantasy middle grade novel as well as an early chapter book that weaves in societal evolution. When I need a break for the kid-lit world, I work on shorter pieces and it was interesting to discover that I gravitate towards dark speculative fiction.  Also, I’ve had poetry published as well as humor fiction and creative non-fiction.

What is the first book that made you cry?
I don’t remember anything like that from childhood but I probably blocked all those terrifying fairy tales. As an adult, it was Shel Silverstein’s ‘The Giving Tree’ that evoked so many emotions in me. The tree gives the boy everything: fruit, limbs, then trunk. When the boy returns years later, now an old and tired man, the tree just offers its stump for him to rest. I dare you to read it without getting at least a lump in your throat.

On Writing:

How do you describe your writing style?
I have a few literary pieces where I became completely immersed in the smithing and weaving of words.  That kind of writing is immensely rewarding and stretches me, like mental yoga. However, when I have a story that needs to be told, I gravitate towards plot-driven, relatable writing.

What advice would you give to new writers just getting started?
Submit or die. Just keep at it. But don’t just keep doing the same thing over and over again; insanity right. Allow your style to evolve.

What part of writing do you find the most difficult?
I hate editing. I want to strangle editing. I should be like Midas and every word I touch should be pure and priceless.  (Shout out to my Grivante Press editor, Kevin. Patience of a saint, body of a god.)

Unless you write full time, I think carving out the writing time is the hardest part. Discipline is generally difficult for us ‘creative types’ but you have to work on a schedule.

What story are you most proud of?
They are not the stories I am proudest of, but the stories I am most proud of myself for writing are the creative non-fiction pieces. I like the veil of fiction but putting myself out there, literally, with pieces from my past was a real departure for me.

Write a 6-word story, GO!
Demon Dinner: Stewing in Your Juices

Is there anything else you’d like your fans to know?
I just recently started running. It may not sound like a big deal but I have flat feet so I just took it as a matter of course that I would never be a runner. I put insole in my sneakers and mostly run on the treadmill but my sad little trot still feels like flying. There is something for me to learn about not limiting myself and not judging myself by other people’s standards.

And now, here is a special preview of Maxine’s story in MASHED!

“The Care and Feeding of Your Personal Demon”

“Shaddafocup,” quietly in the hallway.

“Shaddafocup,” a little louder in my doorway.

“Shaddafocup!” loudly in my room.

“Daniel Javier Freeman, you better watch your mouth!” seeped in under my door.

My words were screamed through clenched teeth at my mother, who I really do love, and those same words pierced through countless layers of earth and caused a piece of Hell to appear in my room.

Let me catch you up. There is a cauldron of demons in the center of the Earth. All these demons have names. If you call one of their names three times, think Bloody Mary, that demon will fly out of Hell and come to you. I know; I didn’t believe it either until I got the name right.

If you’re the right type of person, you’re going to lose some skin on the quick drag down to Hell but if you’re just an average screw-up, then the demon has to bide his time. Sometimes these demons are really good at housework and baking. It doesn’t bother them to make scones and vacuum in high heels and pearls to pass the time. However, some of them get rather testy and would rather boil in the oils of Hell than hang out and get involved in whatever boring junk you’re up to.

I wanted nothing more than to not see what I was looking at but there he was, looking pissed already. He sniffed me and got really mad because he said I was too innocent to drag back to Hell. The other demons would tease him.

I inexplicably squared my shoulders and retorted that I wasn’t all that innocent. I had to wonder whose side I was on. What happened next, trust me, was even stranger.

The damned demon pulled out a pair of horned rimmed glasses and somehow put them on his misshapen face. A whiteboard of sorts appeared in mid-air and the demon’s index finger extended to an upsetting length so that it could be used as a pointer.

On the white board, the outlines of two screaming humans appeared. They were surrounded by pulsing waves of color that seemed to be tormenting them. The demon explained that all humans are encircled by their own unique ‘moral aura’, if you will. Some psychics and all frauds were able to see these auras but since humans are as dumb as shit, they can’t figure out what demons and animals have known forever; you can also smell and taste these auras. He then pointed to the first figure. The first piece of filth, he went on, was nice and fair and humble and his aura tastes like lint. The other figure, well this guy was an eleven on the ARS (Asshole Richter Scale) and his aura was delicious.

He then took off the glasses and said to the figures, “Thank you, Mason and Preston. You may return to Hell.” The figures nodded and burst into flames as the board faded.

After the demon’s finger withdrew to its regular size, he came very close to my face and growled that he was certain, beyond a doubt, (his nostrils filling and flaring for emphasis) that I was too innocent to take back. However, there were some alternatives he was willing to explore with me.

If I asked nicely, he could drag my mother down to Hell and feast on her intestines until the end of all times. You know, while she screamed in the pain of knowing her fate and knowing who had caused it.  Of course, doing that to a loved one would mess up my soul so badly that I would follow them down yonder. This is what was called a twofer, and those garnered so many high-fives from the other demons. I thought about the laundry and the pastries and declined.

The next option was not much better. Turns out that if I die by my own hand or in any act of violence while linked with him, he could take me to the Core. He ran off a quick list of effective ways to off myself but ended with suggesting I suffocate myself by sticking my head up my ass or maybe diving into the pile of laundry behind my door. He kicked a stiff sock up into my face for emphasis and I felt my face flush red as I grabbed a pair of dingy underwear off my desk. I didn’t love the death option either.

I told him I know plenty of characters that would smell great to him. He looked disgusted, quite a feat, and tells me there are rules he has to abide by. He would gladly take one of those Core-worthy characters but in order to transfer ownership, he takes a moment to bemoan the bureaucratic bullshit of it all, I had to get aforementioned ass-wipe to call his name three times. It was all a bit much, and I needed time to think. He said to take my time mulling things over as he pulled out my stack of ‘art’ magazines from under my bed. I turned my back and began to pick up my laundry as he laid his scale covered body across my comforter and unfolded his massive member.

…to be continued!

Thanks for joining us for #MASHEDMONDAYS, Find the rest of Maxine’s story and more sensually sinister tales inside MASHED: The Culinary Delights of Twisted Erotic Horror

Find more #MASHEDMONDAY Author Interviews here!