Please welcome Michael Aronovitz to the blog! His new book, Phantom Effect, just came out, and he kindly answered a few questions about it, and more!
Phantom Effect has a fascinating premise! Will you tell us more about it, and what inspired you to write it?
Phantom Effect was one of the few pieces that came to me on the spot, sitting at the computer with very little prior brainstorming or planning. I had one line in mind: “I ain’t scared, asshole.” I started with that, and soon I’d created serial killer Jonathan Martin Delaware Deseronto caught in a late night November rainstorm out on Route 476 with two back flat tires and a dead body in his trunk. It sort of took off from there.
What kind of research did you do for the book, and what is your writing process like?
In terms of “research,” it is a daily task, not difficult, because of the Internet. Usually, any research I do relates to smaller things, like name brands and clothes (fashion is not something I know much about). Still, the larger story issues specific to Phantom Effect, like construction sites and music came from my experience. We write what we know, and I felt confident with construction sites and tools and such, as I spent eleven years in the trades. In reference to music, I was a professional rock musician in the 80’s, so it wasn’t that much of a stretch modernizing that kind of thing. As for writing process: every morning 5 AM until around 12. Then I exercise and practice the banjo.
You’re a teacher, but have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us more about yourself and that progression?
The two developed together. I wanted to be a writer in my early 30’s but didn’t have some of the technical know-how, being out of the scholastic world for so long. I went back to school, got two masters degrees, started teaching writing, and wrote lots of stories simultaneously. The two functions of teacher / writer came to fruition in 2007 when I sent stories to Lovecraft Scholar S.T. Joshi, who guided the rewriting process and published them through Hippocampus Press two years later (Seven Deadly Pleasures). This was linked to my teaching in that I reached my goal in 2007, becoming a college professor of English. As T.S. Eliot said (and I loosely paraphrase) we can’t create the new until we have a good idea of what the masters did before us.
A rock opera when I was a freshman at Temple University. It was titled “Hybrid” and it was awful. The first meaningful thing I wrote was the short story “The Clever Mask” in 1992 in author and stage producer Ken Bingham’s Continuing Ed. Creative Writing Class. That became the rough draft of one of the four stories I sent to S.T. Joshi fifteen years later. It is currently the second piece in the previously mentioned collection.
You’re no stranger to writing about scary subjects, but what’s something that truly scares you?
An interesting question. Apathy scares me. Not being heard. The possibility that I could be driving home one night and a kid chases a ball into the street in front of me before I can stop. Interestingly, I was thinking the same thing recently, trying to conjure up subject matter for a short story, and I heard somewhere that Facebook’s main goal is to eliminate your privacy. Now THAT sounded scary to me, and I began imagining what the next stage of social media would be. I toyed with the idea of exchanging pin numbers and codes and being able to read the mind of your “friend,” and I got the story “Soul Text,” which recently published in the Ghostlight anthology.
What authors have influenced you the most?
If you could experience one book again for the first time, which would it be?
I take it you mean a book I am reading by another author. That’s easy. The Silence of the Lambs. If you mean the creation process of one of my own, it would be Phantom Effect. My discovery of this serial killer’s horrific funhouse of flashbacks was an absolute joy word to word.
What are you currently reading?
Stephen King’s Finders Keepers.
What’s next for you? Is there anything else you’d like to share?
My novel in progress, Dead Red, will be done this spring. I am also currently writing rock reviews about horror and new bands that matter. The series is called Goblet of Shock, and I have included the link to my latest review on Melbourne Australia’s “Heaven the Axe.”
About Phantom Effect:
Jonathan Martin Delaware Deseronto is a six-foot-five serial killer with a problem. He’s stuck out on I-476 in a heavy November rainstorm with two flat tires and the dead bodies of a cop and a co-ed named Marissa Madison in his trunk. Desperate to get off the highway, he drives his car on its back rims towards Exit 6. The car stalls on the ramp and Deseronto uses the last of its momentum to plunge over the crest of a steep slope and crash into a length of concrete pipe below. The car comes to rest on the edge of a construction site where machines are positioned to tear down an old Motel 6.
For Deseronto, the worst is yet to come. Marissa Madison had been a psychic of sorts while alive, using her ability to assist people in their personal journeys. Now, the ghost of Marissa will utilize her strange gift, trapping Deseronto in the abandoned motel, and forcing him to live the last, fatal week of her own life as a passive passenger in her body . . . Soon, Deseronto will experience something truly horrific: the mind-numbing terror of being stalked by himself.