We’re thrilled to have here today Epstein Dorian from Leland Pitts-Gonzalez’s new horror novel, The Blood Poetry. Epstein is a 36-year-old failed English teacher.
It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!
Thank you so for this interview, Epstein. Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?
Hi, I didn’t realize I was even doing an interview. I’m quite used to interrogations, particularly with ghoulish, bloodsucking mothers! I know bloodsuckers are a cliché these days, but my mother really is one! Sure, she’s tried to give up the “living victim” gig by procuring blood from a heroin addict, but I’m not sure that’ll last. I’m convinced I was reasonably portrayed in (what’s his name’s?) novel. He was simply supposed to be a ghost writer—transcriber, really—for my multidimensional, rewritten diaries. Given that, then, I’d like to proclaim: 1) I am not a bad man, or father, or husband; 2) My mother is, in fact, the gateway to all of “the evil that men do”; 3) I can read my own thoughts; 4) As I found out today, my name is not Epstein at all and I am no longer the protagonist of my own life.
Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality? If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?
No, I like black-and-white movies, silent movies, really. The invention of talkies and full-on color was an abomination! I would like to return to being a minor, 2-dimensional, black-and-white character. I hate being real. I want to return to that author’s imagination (what was his name?). I want to downsize my family of origin; and donate the Ownership Certificate of my daughter, Sylvia, to normies and not vampires. I mean, really? Pediatricians, teachers, psychiatrists, priests, boyfriends, husbands, and morticians hate vampires-as-grandparents! I’m alone in wanting to be “unimagined,” returned to the genie bottle, and rescinded from the Heaven Invitation List. I guess I don’t want to exist, or something, etc.
What do you believe is your strongest trait?
It’s been said by some (who, I’m not sure) that I have a crazy-making, storytelling voice. For me, it’s not storytelling at all, but my internal monologue—me talking to me. I seem to refer to myself as “You” instead of “I,” though. That’s kind of weird.
I watch true crime, serial killer reality shows instead of paying attention to my daughter, Sylvia, or looking for my missing wife. Um, I don’t think it’s so bad, though. At least they’re not actual snuff films. And, the whole deal helps me from becoming someone worse than I am now. I have a little rage problem as well, and come off as a bit “inappropriate” to some. I’m not sure why, though. I’m simply another feeble man and potential fiend.
If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?
I would like to be played by David Thewlis from Naked, Ed Norton from American History X, or Christian Bale from The Machinist. Um, yeah.
Do you have a love interest in the book?
Sure! Her name is Jessica. Some would characterize it as a libido interest, but I’m that superficial. I can love, hypothetically at least. She’s great, beautiful, a bartender, and a bit of a masochist! All good traits for a potential mate. I do question her judgment in men, though.
At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?
I think I became nervous probably in the second sentence of my “thought transcription” (e.g., the novel). I mean, I’m friggin sprinting toward my daughter’s school to inform her that her mother, Abby, is missing. Or really, I’m compelled to unveil my whole life story—the entire preposterous and horrific empiricism of our lineage. It’s all pretty screwed up from the outset, or even before then. The acknowledgement page? The quote?
If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?
I wouldn’t want to be my daughter, Sylvia. She dies, comes back to sentience, and develops autism. She’s been dealt a bad hand. Plus, she’s essentially good, which is always a burden. And being able to read the footsteps of others’ thoughts and intentions? That’s pretty creepy, not to mention that she has to deal with my unwanted eyes.
How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?
I would say it’s all pretty cathartic and exhilarating, for me at least. It’s exhilarating in the way that jumping out of airplanes without a parachute is exhilarating. Or, the way that exhuming a family member’s corpse is exciting—fearlessness and rage all mixed-up with obsessive love. Oh, and blood! Always consumption of the life-force, and blood.
What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?
Rethink all of your decisions from here on out. Change my name. Change my birth certificate. Change my fingerprints. If you must absorb my identity into your own, transform my spirit into something benign, or put your soul into a witness protection program. I’d like to continue to be infamous. It’s a bit cool and gives me street cred. It doesn’t matter, though—every choice we make in life is the wrong choice.
Thank you for this interview, Epstein. Will we be seeing more of you in the future?
Yes, but in a doppelganger kind of way. I’m imagining a name like “Leland” or “Beelzebub” from here on out. That is, if there’s a future for any of us—which I’m beginning to doubt. Apocalypses are too hip to be ignored—fashion makes everything inevitable. Fashion=Armageddon. I’ll be there for that show!
Leland studied creative writing and ethnic studies at San Francisco State University where he discovered the enormous possibilities of poetic language, experimentation, and critical theory. He eventually earned an MFA in Writing from Columbia University on a merit fellowship. He has published fiction in Open City, Fence, Dark Sky Magazine, Drunken Boat, and Monkey Bicycle, among other literary journals. He is also the Project Director for an upcoming literary series of happenings, Phantasmagoria, for which he received fiscal sponsorship from The New York Foundation for the Arts. He lives in Brooklyn, NY. This is his first novel.
Visit Leland on the web at www.THEBLOODPOETRY.com.
Like Leland Pitts-Gonzalez on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Phantasmagoria.nyc
The Blood Poetry is a dark and otherworldly literary novel about a clan of grotesques. Epstein, the protagonist, who delivers his innermost rants in a berserk vernacular all his own; Abby, Epstein’s wife, whose disappearance sparks our protagonist’s descent into guilt and vice; Olivia, Epstein’s mother, who is undead and tames her ruthlessness by joining a Pentecostal church; Astor and Fester, conjoined twins who date back to the Civil War and elders of the Pentecostal church who profess their own brand of redemption to Epstein; Professor Applebaum, Olivia’s boyfriend during Epstein’s childhood, who forced Epstein to participate in a series of horrifying acts; and our once rambunctious Sylvia, Epstein’s daughter who returns to life after dying, only to become repulsed by the sound of her grandmother’s thoughts and all human touch, but whose yearning for her father to restore her to health is Epstein’s best chance at reclaiming his own humanity.