Dark Ends: An Interview with Clayton Snyder

by Justine Bergman

Today we’re joined by Clayton Snyder, and we discuss his upcoming novelette Savages featured in the Dark Ends anthology, what he does when facing down the dreaded middle, the effects of BPD, and the perfect cup of coffee.

Be sure to check out my review of Clayton’s highly imaginative and wildly hilarious River of Thieves, the first novel in his Thieves’ Lyric series, and current SPFBO entrant!

About the Author

Clayton began reading the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, Madeline L’Engle, and others, at an early age. It ignited a love of the odd, the darkly funny, and the magical in him that never left. Over the past few years, he’s published several short stories with various magazines, and three novels with small presses. When he’s not telling stories, he works as a systems administrator for a game retailer. In his off time, he games, he cooks, and he attempts to play guitar. He currently lives in North Dakota with his wife, two dogs, and a cat that insists it’s the other way around.

WEBSITE: https://claytonwsnyder.com

Care to tell us who are you in 10 words or less?

A meat popsicle. More to the point, I’m a kebab in a world of shwarma. Fuck yo’ rules!

I’m an author with megalomania.

Give us a brief introduction to your Dark Ends story.

I will not! Good day!

A man with the power to bind his personal demons runs afoul of a local criminal.

What was the inspiration for your ​Dark Ends​ story?

A shitload of Vicodin.

I wanted to write about my experiences with BPD.

For those who don’t know, tell us about BPD, and has it affected your writing at all?

Insert Halloween stab stab kill kill music here

BPD, or borderline personality disorder, is at its core, about abandonment. It affects relationships, leads to risky behavior, and can cause massive mood swings. As far as how it informs my writing, I tend to write characters close to myself. They’ve experienced loss, they’ve made mistakes (some huge), and they’re fundamentally broken people. But it doesn’t stop them from trying to better themselves and the world.

What’s a day of writing like in the shoes of Clayton? Do you have any quirks/routines/rituals?

NAME is a real bitch because they just kind of blend in. And they really like wingtips. What a freak.

When I write Cord, I sit down and write nonsense to start. Then I think of what pisses me off about the world—injustice, oppression, hate—and try to figure out if I were a borderline psychopath with little regard for my own safety and a grudge how I’d handle it. Quirks—I have to have coffee, soda, nicotine, and music.

What constitutes a great cup of coffee?

When some jackass doesn’t put a $22/lb roast through a goddamn $12 Black & Decker pot.

A decent blonde roast — not too acidic, not too bitter, lots of caffeine. I love it prepared in a French Press, and taken black. I don’t have a favorite brand, but I did really dig Lavazza, and I have a blonde roast in my office made from Ethiopian beans that’ll wake you up faster than a 747 landing on your bed.

What’s the largest issue you face/have faced while writing?

Once I ate a questionable hot dog. That really slowed me down.

I hate middles. Hate them. They’re the make or break point of most of what I write, and if I’m not careful, they can come out soggy.

What’s your go-to plan of attack when staring down the challenge of a middle?

Screaming, booze, crying.
Oh, the book?

Step back, and see where the plot’s going, where it might go off the rails, and if there’s enough conflict. I’m still learning the last lesson. Sometimes I just want to write something pulpy, and while that’s fun, there’s not a lot of weight to it. So if things are bad for a character, I try my best to make them worse.

What was the hardest scene you’ve ever written?

The instructions to a Q-35 Modulator.

Telling the truth about my life in Savages. Nearly every scene in that short ripped me to pieces.

What is the funniest typo you’ve ever written?

I once wrote that a 95 Chateau Brion was actually an 83 Rothschild. I can tell you my face was red that day, my friend.

“Alice opened weary eyes to the ever-shitting goddess Enya”

Is there one particular book that you hold dearest to your heart? If so, has it played a part in guiding your writing career?

I’m quite fond of Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret?. That book taught me everything I know about grimdark.

I would’ve said no before last month, but Empires of Dust are quite possibly some of the most beautifully written pieces of brutality I’ve ever read. They’ve forced me to work harder.

If you could shadow one author for a day, who would you choose, and why?

Stephen King. I’d steal his soul and keep it in a jar next to Robert Jordan’s.

I wouldn’t do this to any author. We hate it when people are over our shoulder. God, no. I would enjoy maybe a quick dinner with Neil Gaiman or Anna Smith Spark, however. Oh, why. Because I love beautiful prose.

You’re walking down a dimly lit alley, and out of the corner of your eye you see movement in the shadows. What do you do?   

That depends. Is it a bill collector? Because those fuckers can find you anywhere.

I’m kind of dumb, so I’d likely investigate.

As a writer, what or who would you choose as your mascot?

A badger.

An angry badger.

Are you currently working on any other projects that you can discuss?

There was the death ray, but they cut my funding.

The Obsidian Psalm is my new obsession. It’s a story of deceit and revenge in a city of necromancers during a proxy war.

Thanks so much for joining us, Clayton!

Dark Ends will be available this winter.

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