Happy Thanksgiving Roomies! It’s the season of giving, and we are so excited to be starting our brand new season and sharing it with all of you tomorrow. Truely, for us it’s the gift that keeps on giving. That’s right, I said it…. we are a gift! And I’m thankful for it!
We were able to sit down with ‘Venus Fly Trap’ author Jason Pouris, and talk to him about his writing process, and the horrors that keep his attention.
GR: Hey Jason! It’s great to see you back for another season of The Grey Rooms. How long have you been writing?
JP:I only started focusing on it a few years ago, but I have enjoyed creative writing since elementary school when I was growing up in Greece.
GR: What got you into writing?
JP:Writing for me is a byproduct of my desire to create stories. For as long as I can remember I found myself wanting to entertain myself or my friends with a narrative of my own creation. In the beginning it was all improvised. I don’t think I even considered writing any of it down until middle school. I somehow still remember some of it 20+ years down the line. Then it evolved over time into fan fiction, playing and creating stories in Dungeons & Dragons, a few failed attempts at writing books, and briefly learning how to code so I can create a text based video game.
GR: I can see a lot of that in the way that you write, have you always written horror?
JP: Horror has been a keystone fascination of mine for just as long. Mostly through movies and video games. However, I didn’t actually write anything horror themed until college. My desire to do so was spurred from reading the entire bibliography of H. P. Lovecraft over a summer.
GR: Oh! I bet that was a great and terrifying read, has that style always been your favorite kind of horror?
JP: Hands down cosmic horror. I mentioned Lovecraft, but that is just part of it. I’ve always been fascinated with anything even slightly related to the topic. One of the reasons I enjoy it is because it uses the unknown in nature to create fear. My degree is in biology and I was initially planning to go down an academic route into genetic engineering. I also have a practically lifelong fascination with the universe and astronomy. I always seek those unknowns. Another reason has to do with the shift in perspective. Not just from other horror, but from other types of stories in general. Humanity is just a toy to be played with by creatures from beyond time and space. The nature of consciousness and how your own mind can betray you. The descent into madness of simply viewing things beyond comprehension. It’s odd and creepy. Incredibly nihilistic. And it all feels way more relatable than any story centered around what a lot of people would call normal life. I also think the twisted perspective helps ground me to reality through the many years of dealing with my, to put it mildly, not so great mental health.
GR: How do your story ideas come to you?
JP: I spend probably unhealthy amounts of time consuming information. The medium doesn’t matter. It’s all useful. I’ve been doing this for most of my life since, for various reasons, I realized that I had to be able to entertain myself if I didn’t want to get bored. My mind likes to grab ideas and obsessively analyze them, so I fed it everything that was available. I was lucky enough to have a great family so I had plenty available. From TV and games to the twenty tome encyclopedia at my house. And like a baby with toy blocks I smashed the ideas together in my head. After constant repetition it slowly started making sense. These days all it takes is one word or phrase and my mind just runs with it creating an entire narrative without much active effort. So I have no specific source or method. My ideas just pop up from anything and everything. The motivation to actually sit down and write them though. That’s the difficult part.
GR: I think that is a struggle for a lot of authors to overcome. What would be the best piece of writing advice you’d give to authors just starting out?
JP:My writing advice would be to explore. Not just what you like. Try it all. I’ve read and watched plenty of legitimately bad stories. But everything is useful as long as you use it properly. From filtering bad ideas out of your work to improving on failed ideas by putting your own spin to them. Nothing is static and neither should you be. Many have said this before, but here it is again. Never. Stop. Learning.
GR: What projects are you working on now? (Or-Do you have any projects that are recently finished that you’d like to talk about/plug?)
JP: I’m building a portfolio of short stories. Different settings, different genres. Trying to explore what I’m capable of and what is more interesting for me to write about. I’m definitely going to submit at least one story for the next season of The Grey Rooms. I have quite a few mostly ready or in the works that could be appropriate so we’ll see how many I can finish.
Instagram is where I’m most active. I post quite a bit of poetry there. A lot of different styles, rhyming patterns, and meter. One of them is a weekly serialized story about a ‘demonic’ horse called the Night Mare and her journey through a fictional world. My attempt at mixing poetry with horror and humor. Poetry is the outlet I use to speak about my mental health and any other topics I find interesting from math to magic. Slowly building a poetry book. I’m also spending some of my time playing guitar and singing which made me start writing songs.
I’m adding more and more creative endeavors to keep myself busy and distracted. Trying to figure out how I can transition to doing something like this full time, but in a way that works for me. Wish I had more to share!
GR: Well I can’t wait to read what you send us for the next season. What advice would you give to a writer who would be interested in submitting a story for The Grey Rooms.
JP: Death is scary. But what’s more scary is how you get there. The content is not as important as the feeling you’re trying to convey. To me that’s what each of The Grey Rooms represents. Unique versions of despair. Here’s an example. Answer this and use the answer to make a story: “How do you make a leader lose hope?”
GR: Wow, I think that’s a great question for all aspiring authors to contemplate, “How do you make a leader lose hope?”, makes for an even better story.
If you’d like to hear more stories from Jason Pouris, you can take a peek behind the door and check out these episodes: The Rivers