Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Interview with Dean Moses

My guest today is Dean Moses, author of A Stalled Ox.

Hi Dean, welcome to Just Books.
Would you like to kick off by telling us a bit about yourself?
Thank you for having me on, Rainne. My name is Dean Moses. I’m 25 years old. I was born in England and grew up in Brighton. However, at age 19 I moved to New York City where I hoped to marry my longtime friend and achieve my childhood dream of becoming a writer.
In more recent years, I’ve been lucky enough to exhibit my writing through the New York Times’ Lens Blog as a transcriber, writing articles for the New York Amsterdam News, and currently, writing for the Spring Creek Sun, a Brooklyn based newspaper. The constant writing and grammar polishing goes a long way to help with my fiction writing, in which lies my true love. I am also currently contributing to BONED, a collection of short, fiction stories free to read that involve skeletons in one way or another. It’s open for submissions, and is curated by 1888 Center’s Nate Ragolia.



How did your journey as a writer begin?
I have always loved to tell stories, ever since I was a child. Whether it was acting out long tales with my toys or writing pages upon pages of stories I made up about the video game characters I played, there is nothing else I ever believed I would or could do. In 2014, I entered a serial into JukePop Serials and 1888 Center’s annual competition: The Summer Writing Project (SWP.) The SWP tasks authors with writing their own novella, one chapter at a time. Readers and fellow writers read each chapter as you make them available, giving you instant access to feedback. Despite not wining that year, I learned a great deal from the experience. When the SWP came around last year, I put all I had learned from the year prior into my work and wrote A Stalled Ox. To my great appreciation, A Stalled Ox was chosen for publication. The SWP is about to get underway this summer, so I highly recommend your readers check it out if they have an idea for a novella.



Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I always like to have a beginning, middle, and end set up before I write out a story. With that being said, sometimes the path that leads me towards that middle or end can change.



Do you have a specific writing style?
For a while I did not have a fixed writing style, I flipped flopped between tenses and perspectives. Now I tend to write in the past tense, using the third person point of view.



Where did the inspiration for A Stalled Ox come from?
I am sure some of your readers will remember the   
Mad Cow Disease epidemic. I was a child when the  
I am sure some of your readers will remember the Mad Cow Disease epidemic. I was a child when the news of Mad Cow Disease broke. Watching those graphic broadcasts abundant with dead livestock was quite horrifying. Each passing day brought more awful footage. Those images stuck with me. The whole thing got me wondering: What would happen to the world if meat suddenly disappeared, if livestock all around the world started to die? Members of my family, like my father, loved eating steak and burgers, demanding it on an almost daily basis. So I also wondered: Would meat become an addiction to some if it became a rare commodity? This notion may sound a little silly, but as human beings we can get addicted to a wide array of things, and we crave what we can’t have. The other aspect of my book looks at those who take advantage and manipulate the vulnerable. I’ve had a long interest in cults and how they get their followers to believe what they preach. Having a cult target those suffering from my invented addiction just felt as though it would be a perfect fit.



…And how did you come up with the title?
The credit has to go to my editor, Shaunn Grulkowski. A Stalled Ox originally had another title, but when Shaunn came up with A Stalled Ox I instantly fell in love with it. The phrase comes from a bible passage. I don’t want to spoil anything, however, I will say that readers will understand its meaning upon finishing the book.



How long did it take you to write A Stalled Ox?
I began writing it in January of 2015. It was published in November, so including editing it, almost a full year of non-stop writing.



What is your favorite passage from A Stalled Ox? Can you give us a peek?
This scene sees the cult leader appear onto a stage and address his followers:
The figure stood before his flock with flowing hair, hanging beard, and tattooed body. Like a starfish, he spread his legs and arms far apart; his pointed fingernails sent the attention of the room skyward.

ʺYou see now there is no God above, don't you, my children?ʺ His children nodded their heads and murmured in agreement. ʺYou see God before you, working to make your lives better. Outside this sanctuary, the rest of the world eats like rabbits; forced to partake in sickening diets. They fight over what is taught in their schools, evolution, or the words of false idols. They are governed by a secular government.”

ʺPraise the Lord," a woman shrieked.

The man on stage paused to take in the praise they gave him, before he continued his speech. ʺBut not in here. Here we eat what humans were meant to eat. Here we are taught the true word of God—my word. Here I govern my children, here I am the light that shows lost ships to shore. I am the harbor that gives them a home and I am the shipwright who tends to their wounds. Here you are safe, here you are cared for, and here you are home!"



Which writers inspire you?
This is a tough one. I am in love with the works of Edgar Allan Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and J. M. Barrie. Each one of them has a special place in my heart for their unique imagination. There are also a few screenwriters who have had a big impact on me, such as Rod Serling and Orson Welles. Those two really inspire me.



Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
Probably Orson Welles. After hearing many, many interviews with him, he seems to have a wealth of knowledge, both in the arts (like writing) and life in general. When I think of Orson, I think: that is a man who truly lived life. He wrote, directed, acted, painted, and performed magic tricks all over the world.



When you consider your future, what would you like to make happen for you?
Of course I would like to have a range of books on the market, but more than that, I hope to hear from my readers. There have been so many books that have gotten me through hard times, books that have distracted me when I needed distracting. I hope that I can write books that have that reach—I hope my writing can do that for others. Also, I feel that I have already been able to prove people wrong, the people who said: “you can’t do it, you won’t be able to be a writer.” I hope that I will continue to show them how wrong they were, and make the people who believed in me proud. 



How do you spend your free time?
I love to explore New York City, with my wife, Amanda, and walk the streets that so many great artists have walked, especially in the rain—New York looks even more magical in the rain. I also love to spend time with our three cats and writing partners, Basil, Bella, and Bonnie.



Would you tell us more about your cats?
We own three cats, one longhaired black cat and one shorthaired black cat. We recently adopted our third. He is a Siamese who nobody wanted because he is incontinent and needs to wear a diaper the majority of the time. He is smart, handsome, and loving, we needed to have him.



What is the best book you've read in the last couple of months?
I would have to say Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.



...and finally, what was the best gift you ever received?
When A Stalled Ox was published, my wife, Amanda, had the cover printed into a poster and gave it to me as a gift. That meant a lot.



Thank you very much for joining us, Dean.
Thanks again for having me on.


Join Dean on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Read BATHED IN BLOOD a short story by Dean Moses

Get your copy of A Stalled Ox from Amazon








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