Welcome to today's Chit Chat and All That! with, Benjamin Russell and Chrystian Marrero. Both of these gentlemen have a penchant for the, shall we say more unusual and perverse when it comes to writing. So for now I shall leave you all in the safe hands of the Incubus Chronicles creator and the author of Danvers Asylum.
Hiya everyone, I’m Benjamin Russell, Benji to my “close” friends and I’m here today with my newest NNP friend, Chrystian Marrero, to talk about Muses. It is my pleasure to kick off today’s chit-chat, about a subject near and dear to my heart, by setting the scene for you. For reasons best left unsaid, Chrystian and I got a late start on putting together this blog post. To be honest, when the realization hit us that we needed to get cracking on putting something together, both of our respective Muses decided to take an extended holiday. Considering the topic we have to discuss, such a Muse brain cramp is either prophetic or ironic – depending on one’s perspective.
Not knowing what else to do, I hit on the idea of holding a séance to help us reawaken our slumbering Muses. Chrystian’s response to my idea was – “Oh hell, why not.” So, off we headed to my ‘media room’ to conduct our séance-inspired chit-chat and find our lost Muses. For those of you who missed my earlier NNP Blog post (click on the embedded link), my “media room”, is resplendent with movie posters of some of my all time favorite porn stars: Vanessa del Rio, John Holmes, Jenna Jameson and the incomparable Linda Lovelace. What can I say; my Muse sometimes needs visual stimulation too.
We cleared a space on the floor in front of the big screen and sat on yoga mats that I keep laying around for emergencies. I dimmed the lights, lit some candles and started the incense to burning. Oh yeah, I had some music playing in the background, a playlist of mine that included Nickelback, Mary J. Blige, the Black Eye Peas and a few other artists that my Muse likes. Ok, let’s get this show on the road.
Hey Chrystian, did you remember to bring the Ouija board?
Yes, I have it right here.
Great. I hope that between your Muse and mine, we will get an inspirational message on the board. Now, I don’t know about you, but my Muse can be incredibly temperamental. There are times when she doesn’t want to share me with anyone or anything, not even sleep. When she’s feeling especially creative, she’ll fondle me in my sleep until I wake up with a raging idea throbbing in my head. Of course, there are other times when she’ll give me the cold shoulder and not talk to me for days. What kind of relationship do you have with your Muse?
Actually, my Muse is a very playful and complicated thing. It often likes to tease me with a very vague and very cryptic silhouette of an idea whenever I least expect it, and then simply shies away as if it were embarrassed or confused and goes into hiding. Weird, right? So usually, I have to go and try to find my Muse before the idea it gave me slowly fades away. However, it’s still a rather generous Muse, I must say. It always leaves a trail behind so I can hunt it down and capture it again. That’s how all my stories begin, really; in my quest to find my long-lost Muse, guided only by the scattered trail of fragmented ideas it left behind. Nevertheless, eventually I do find it again and we reconcile. That’s when the magic of the story is truly born.
Chrystian, no – that’s not weird, let me tell you about weird. So you refer to your Muse as “It”, well for sure my Muse is a she. I’ve even give her a name – Jezebel. She’s a shape-shifter and lately I think she’s turned into a blue bottle-fly. If you hear something buzzing around your ear, that’ll be her. I have no idea when she’ll appear. Sometimes I can be exercising, reading a book, listening to some music or here in my media room “meditating” and she’ll just pop an idea into my head. It seems that almost anything can trigger my Jezebel to start playing with me - she goes with the flow. Hey look the Ouija board is moving – ‘M’, ‘I’, ‘S’. Hmm, I wonder what that means?
You’re right, that is weird. M-I-S, I don’t know, maybe there will be more letters. BTW; thanks for the heads-up about Jezebel, I’ll be on the lookout for her. One of the things I want to know about your writing process is how do you choose which story you're going to write next? Sometimes writers have many different ideas that could be transformed into several stories, so how do you choose which ideas to listen to, and which get tossed aside?
When Jezebel grabs me by the family jewels - I “always” listen. I take every story idea she gives and I create a story outline or “outline-thingie” as my friend Bonni Sansom calls it. My outline format consists of a short story synopsis, brief bios for the main characters and a few sentences on each of the chapters/scenes that Jezebel put in my head. These outlines are usually about 3-4 pages and they give me a running start when I sit down to start writing the story.
Look at the board, three more letters. ‘T’-‘R’-‘E’.
Now, that gives us M-I-S-T-R-E. I have an idea, but I’m going to wait before I say anything. Right now, we’re on a roll and I don’t want to upset the proverbial apple cart. Do you ever have trouble deciding what Point of View you want to use for a certain story? Or does the Point of View become clear to you from the minute the Muse starts talking?
Chrystian, when I first started writing, I gravitated to first person POV, it just felt right at the time. However, lately it seems that Jezebel likes third person omniscient POV the most, because then she can see through all the characters eyes, but the trick is to avoid head-hopping.
Ok, here comes some more letters, ‘S’-‘S’. Oh wow, that spells M-I-S-T-R-E-S-S. Damn, Chrystian are you thinking what I’m thinking?
Yep, I think we’re on the same page. All things considered, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.
Hey, many writers (myself included) often like their characters to share some of their own personal philosophies and ideas, because that way it's a lot easier to sympathize with your own characters and make them feel more realistic and vivid to the reader. Have you ever created a character that goes against this rule? A character that no part of you could ever sympathize with?
Forgive me for laughing my ass off. Here’s the start of the second word ‘G’-‘I’; that’s funny. I guess she wanted to make sure we found our Muses.
My short answer to that question is yes, but it’s a qualified yes. For story-telling purposes, I try to introduce a certain amount of conflict into a story. Either emotional conflict, where a character is dealing with some inner-turmoil, or conflict between characters. That means I invariably end up with at least one character in a story that I cannot completely identify with. How about you, has your Muse ever had create a character that you hated?
I can’t say that it has. My Muse -- ‘It’, as you called it earlier -- has never come up with a character that I can’t relate to at least in some small way. Even John Stephenson, one of the most demented characters I’ve ever worked with, had many things about his personality that resembled mine almost perfectly. Oh, and one thing I’ve been meaning to ask: your Muse, Jezebel (yeah, you’re right, that is very weird), has she ever come up with something that you felt you couldn’t write? Something that was maybe too difficult to put into words or too big to wrap your head around?
Chrystian, no – not yet. However, since Jezebel and I have this love-hate relationship, sort of like most of my relationships. I’m sure there will come a day when she torments me with some outrageous scenario that blows my mind.
Another letter – ‘N’. Now we have M-I-S-T-R-E-S-S G-I-N. Duh, I am at a loss for words.
You mentioned earlier that sometimes your Muse turns her back on you and doesn't talk to you for days. When she does, what do you do to bring her back? Or do you simply wait it out and give her time to come back on her own?
Oh, and I almost forgot! Where did the name Jezebel come from?
Well, I’ve found through trial and error, that the best way for me to get Jezebel to come back and give me some love is to woo her. Sometimes that means taking her out to dinner at a fancy restaurant and treating us to a gourmet meal. She also really likes it when we cuddle up and watch a movie together; that generally gets her creative juices to flowing. However, the one thing that never fails to perk her up, when I read her a bedtime story. Yep, a glass of wine and a hot book/story by one of the writers from Naughty Night Press works every time. Oh yessss, I can almost guarantee that after I read her one of those sexy tales, Jezebel will be spooned up to me all night while she whispers new ideas in my ear.
You asked where did the name Jezebel come from? Well, to make a long story short, I found her while doing research for a series of paranormal erotica stories I’m working on called the Incubus Chronicles. Jezebel is a shape-shifting Wiccan and a Succubus High Priestess. She is one of the major characters in the series and she is also the mentor to a certain tormented Incubus. My Muse has a bad habit of arousing me in my dreams. She also is prone to wake me up in the middle of the night with new ideas, so it seemed only fitting that I’d give her the name of a succubus – Jezebel.
Chrytian, look - ‘A’. Well, I do believe our Ouija Board is trying to tell us something. If I’m not mistaken, it has spelled out a name – Mistress Gina. What do you think it means?
Chrystian - Benjamin
* Ben and Chrystian struggle to keep a straight face * “I have no fucking idea,” they say in perfect harmony. The walls shake and then a cold wind blows out all the candles.
Click, click, click, click* The unmistakable sound of high heels moving at a fast pace across a hardwood floor suddenly floats between them in the stillness of the dark room and chills rush up Ben’s spine. The sound of a whip can be heard as it cracks through the air. The tip of it just brushes against Chrystian’s back, causing him to jump and turn toward the door. A framed outline of a woman can be seen in the doorway by the light of the moon through the window behind her.
A maniacal laugh echoes throughout the pitch-black room and Benjamin knows instantly who it belongs to. He jumps up, trepidation on his face, as once again the sound of her whip can be heard whooshing through the air, this time landing across Ben’s ass with an audible *crack* and his sudden intake of breath.
A sultry voice edged with a huskiness born of pure lust and depravity reveals Ben is correct, “Hello boys.”
Chit Chat and All That! would like to thank Ben and Chrystian for their post today and a special thank you to our surprise guest, Mistress Gina *wink*
Next Monday on Chit Chat and All That! we have Kiki Howell and Abby Hayes talking about the paranormal.