Join us as we peek behind the scenes of our upcoming anthology, ON TIME. Learn more about Evan M. Elgin in his featured interview.
ABOUT THE STORY
What inspired your story?
I’ve always been a little bit of a music nerd, and the inspiration for “Eugene” actually came from my love for 50s and 60s country music, particularly a lot of “underground murder ballads” of that era.
One of these songs is considered a cult favorite by a lot of hardcore country fans, and that’s “Psycho” written by Leon Payne and performed by Eddie Noack. There’s this slow, ominous, and haunting aura in the sound of that song, and I wanted to evoke that same feeling with this story. Basically, I tried to write “Eugene” as a murder ballad translated to short fiction. The song also gives some minor nods to the book and movie of the same name, and I actually found it pretty randomly just surfing through YouTube. You can also find some other covers by Elvis Costello and Neil Gaiman (Post Malone song not included).
Can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist?
The protagonist Bobby-Jay is a very mentally disturbed seven year old. I wrote him with the purpose of unknowingly suffering from Dissociative or multiple personality disorder that has yet to be diagnosed. With that in mind, I’ve always saw Bobby-Jay as more of a tragic figure than just of the typical “evil killer kid” trope. That tragic sense comes in that he’s bullied, taunted, and abused by his victims first. Therefore, his broken mind uses his murderous split personality Eugene as a way to lash out as his tormentors.
What is the most interesting thing about the world you’ve created?
Much like the song “Psycho” I wanted create an almost eerie and ominous world lost somewhere in mid- 20th century America, particularly that of the middle-class suburban South and Midwest.
What genre or mix of genres does your story fit into?
Horror is the prevalent genre of this story. After that I would say psychological thriller and dramatic elements fit into “Eugene,” as well.
How have your personal experiences influenced this story?
Like most people nowadays, I’ve had my personal battles with depression and anxiety. “Eugene” is more than a story about a child’s split personality that kills, but a societal reflection of ignoring or failing see that most mental illnesses are more than just negative feelings. They’re sicknesses that should be viewed similarly as cancerous or infectious diseases.
What would you like readers to take away from your story?
Just to be a little more open, understanding, and knowledgeable to those suffering from mental illness in whatever form. “Eugene” can definitely be seen as the extreme opposite of those views, and the horrifying outcomes that comes with failing to recognize them, especially in kids and teenagers.
What was your favorite part of the story to write and why?
My favorite part was the ending because it took the longest to get right. Although “Eugene” is barely a three-page story, I had a hell of a time trying to bring an ending to it in the earlier drafts. I hate to spoil any lit nerd analyzation, but the ending gives the stark conclusion that Bobby-Jay would spend the rest of his life in prison for the crimes he unknowingly committed. This is also common in a lot “murder ballads” found in American folk and country music. Prison or death always seems to be the end path for the protagonists in those songs.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
When did you write your first story, how old were you, and what was it about?
I’ve always enjoyed writing stories ever since I was kid, so the earliest I say would be elementary school. It was a project for class where we had to create our own picture story book. Mine was this terribly plotted, badly drawn “stranded soldiers meet island monsters” type of story. Very standard for a 90s third-grader who could always day-dream the school day away!
What is your writing survival checklist? (Aka, what helps your write the best: music, snacks, coffee, complete silence, a stress ball, a cat, or an outline, etc.)
Music is a must, and as a music nerd it must fit the particular emotion or mood on what I’m conveying across the page. I also do give myself a vague outline on where I want the story to go and end. Beyond that, I always find writing super early in the morning or late at night to be the best times.
What has influenced you most as a writer?
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton was the first book that made me want to write my own fiction, and The Road by Cormac McCarthy was the book that made me want to take my writing more seriously.
What font do you prefer to write in?
I like an old-school Courier font. It easier to read when I’m editing and re-writing my fiction.
What is your favorite and least favorite word, and why?
Favorite: “Tranquility” – because it’s one of the few words that’s as pleasant sounding as to what it can describe.
Least-Favorite: “Kerfuffle” – because it’s so much more straight forward to say uproar or commotion.
Evan M. Elgin is a writer of both published and self-published fiction. He has been previously published in SERIAL magazine, while his debut novel Vive La Superior! is available on Amazon. He currently lives and works in a void of “suburban weirdness” that makes up Greater Chicago.
ON TIME is coming in Summer 2020. Be sure to follow us on Amazon.