Just thought I’d share some notes detailing the story behind the stories of The Tower:
“Hypnagogia” is the act of hallucinating just before falling asleep. The entire story was birthed from this one word, so I felt it appropriate to use it as the title.
This was the first story I wrote for The Bedlam Bible series, back in 2013. I never intended for it to be any more than a stand alone short story. In hindsight, it’s kind of hilarious to me that I wrote it without the intention of going further with it, because it very much reads as an introduction to this bizarre place and even creates little backstories for a bevy of characters that are only mentioned by name and never actually seen. What can I say? It’s true… the Eighth Block Tower would’ve been contained within a single story had it not been for the input of one insightful reader.
But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Let’s take a step back for just a moment…
After having written “Hypnagogia,” I started compiling a handful of short stories for a collection entitled Goddamn Electric Nights. Right around that time, a writer/publisher named Jordan Krall (Dynatox Ministries) invited me to submit a story for an anthology he was putting together called “Sex Dwarf.” I sent him “Hypnagogia” and he accepted it for publication. Not long after that, he invited me to attend something called Krall Con. It was described to me as a sort-of convention that took place in some sleazy motel in New Jersey, however not inside any rented convention space, but instead inside each of the hotel rooms of all in attendance. Everyone was to migrate from one room to another, and if you were there (as either a guest or as a fan) you too were expected to host some part of the event in your room over the weekend. Only 10-15 people in total were expected to attend (and I wasn’t sure if that number included me), so I respectfully declined his kind offer, but agreed to do a live reading via the internet.
The event itself was pretty wild, featuring live performances from noise bands, questionable beverages served in open Gatorade bottles, and topless dancers. I’m still a little bummed I missed out on it, to be honest.
Just before my reading was about to be broadcast to a room of lovable weirdos, I knew I had to do something over-the-top to compete with all the madness, so I emptied an entire tube of fake blood over my face and got to it. I read “Hypnagogia” in its entirety. The actual reading is a blur and I likely wouldn’t have remembered it at all if it wasn’t still available to view on YouTube. Oh, and I still have the bloody pages around here somewhere as well! I come across them every now and then and laugh.
Anyway, so the important part of this story is that one Joseph Bouthiette Jr (yes, THAT Joseph Bouthiette Jr) was one of the weirdos in attendance that evening. He wrote to me afterward and told me how much he enjoyed my reading. He asked me if I had any other “Eighth Block” stories—actually, he was much more aggressive… what he really said was, “There ARE other ‘Eighth Block’ stories, AREN’T THERE?!” I told him there weren’t, but he insisted that there should be more, MANY MORE. I considered it, but had too much on my plate at the moment to really give it serious thought.
Joe loved that story (probably still does). He brought it up often over the years and would always ask if I had written any more “Eighth Block stuff.” One day he happened to ask just as I was invited to contribute to two anthologies, and wouldn’t you know it, I had nothing to contribute. I thought about the themes of each anthology (one was for ‘slasher stories’ and the other had a kaiju requirement) and combined those themes with my weird little Eighth Block Tower setting. Within a couple weeks I had written “The Invalids,” my slasher story, and “Under Green Brain,” my kaiju story. I sent them to both the editor and to Joe.
Neither of the anthologies (“I, Kaiju” and “Three Blind Mice”) ever came out, unfortunately. Not uncommon in the world of publishing. However I wasn’t upset over it, cause I now had these stories to play around with.
I thought hard about these three stories, how they were connected. It had to be more than just that they were just residents in the Eighth Block Tower. Then it hit me: mental health. Each of these stories were about individuals struggling with their mental health. This was no coincidence, because at the time these stories were written, I was really struggling with my own depression/mental health. I couldnt help but to write about it.
Anyway, so once I found what connected them, suddenly the floodgates were thrown open and a rush of wild ideas came to me, all “Eighth Block stuff.” I couldn’t write fast enough.
I wrote the second book, “White Fuzz,” in 2 days. More on that later…