La legado vido! With Toneye Eyenot!

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Toneye Eyenot writes tales of horror and dark fantasy which have appeared in numerous anthologies over the past three years. He is the author of a clown/werewolf horror novella titled Blood Moon Bigtop, released with JEA Press, plus the ongoing Sacred Blade of Profanity series with two books, The Scarlett Curse and Joshua’s Folly, also published through J. Ellington Ashton Press, and a third currently in the works. He is the editor of the Full Moon Slaughter werewolf anthology, and the upcoming Full Moon Slaughter 2: Altered Beasts anthology, also with JEA. Toneye lurks in the Blue Mountains in NSW Australia, with the myriad voices who tear the horrors from his mind and splatter them onto the page.

Ryan Lieske: Greetings, Toneye! Thanks for taking part in La legado vivo! What is the first book you remember reading, or having read to you?

Toneye: My first reading memory was The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

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RL: What is the book that sealed your fate as a lifelong reader? 

Toneye: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton probably had the greatest impact on me as a kid. Got it from my 6th grade book club and instantly wanted to be a “Greaser’ haha. Started growin’ my hair long (much to the dismay of my Catholic high school teachers hahaha) and wearing only black shirts and denim. Even started stealing my mum’s smokes at 11 years old. Then eye went on to read all of her books. Rumble Fish was another favourite. Her books are classics in my opinion. S.E. Hinton was a big influence into my teens.

RL: Some people tell me that, even if they were a voracious reader as a child, it was their middle-school and high-school years that had the most impact on the reader they are today. Would you say this is true for you? 

Toneye: Ah! Haha! This question can be answered in part by saying, “refer to previous answer.” Eye believe Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum” was my first taste of horror fiction. It was either that or Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. They were both around the same period in high school. These stories sparked my love for horror fiction.

RL: What was about these two works that sparked your love of horror? Was it the prose you responded to, the imagery?

TONEYE: Both. Poe and Bradbury were masters of prose and the imagery their words created in my mind have stayed with me throughout my life. Stories like these led me to seek out more and horror has been a mainstay ever since.

RL: Were you one of those kids who went rogue from the curriculum and read whatever you wanted, sometimes even ignoring what was assigned to read altogether?

Toneye: Haha yeah, eye was a rebel and still am to this day. My motto has always been don’t tell me what to do, kunt. Ask, and you shall receive, but tell me what to do, and rest assured it won’t be done hahaha. That went for reading as well as life in general. There was a book at the school library called Christiane F. about a drug addict. Can’t remember who wrote it, but eye borrowed it from the library and never returned it. Lucky, because once they realised what it was about, they banned it from the school. It was a big buzz around the school and everyone wanted to read it. It intrigued me, and was probably instrumental in swearing me off ever trying heroin. You could say that book saved my life, being the rebel eye was.

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RL: I’ve never heard of that book. Can you talk a little more about it and its impact on you?

TONEYE: This was such a long time ago, the details are quite vague. Eye am going to cheat here and add a link which can fill you in way better than my patchy memory ever could haha. Looking it up, eye am surprised to find this is actually an autobiography and Christiane F. is actually a real person! That detail escaped me, even back then in high school. Set in Berlin, she was a musician and actress who documented her life between the ages of 12-15 as a heroin addict. All eye can remember from reading it (this was back in the early 80’s) is that it was a harrowing, very real story (how real, eye am just realizing now) that shocked me considerably as a teen.

RL: Did your reading life ever supersede or cause conflict with your social life growing up? Were you more apt to hide out in the library at school, or stay home on a Saturday night to read a book?

Toneye: No, not really. Me and my small circle of friends were tight growing up. We were always out ‘n’ about, getting up to mischief. Never let reading get in the way of hangin’ out with my mates. Being grounded a lot resulted in a lot of reading though, so it kinda balanced out well haha.

RL: Nice! Same here. I was somewhat masochistic about that, because I secretly loved being grounded because it gave me an excuse to hide away with a book. Are there any particular books you remember standing out for you during these “groundings?”

TONEYE: The S.E. Hinton books mentioned earlier, mainly. The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, Tex, and That Was Then, This Is Now. Those books were read and reread so many times throughout my youth that eye can remember them all quite vividly, even though it has been many years since reading them last.

RL: What new books, literary styles, or genres were you exposed to in college? 

Toneye: My parents dragged me out of public school halfway through 6th grade and eye served out the rest of my sentence in a Catholic all boys school. The rebel in me kicked in hard then and my grades in every subject, bar English, slipped gradually from Year 7 onwards until expulsion towards the end of year 10. That was the end of my indoctrination in the education system. You may notice my ummm unorthodox spelling of “Eye” instead of “I,” but that is just me being a weirdo and not any kind of reflection of illiteracy. English has always been my strong suit and storytelling, whether written or spoken, has always been deeply ingrained in me since the beginning of my schooling. Playing with words ie: “eye” and often substituting words which contain “c” with a “k” is kind of a little pet habit formed from hanging out with some unconventional characters from the extreme Metal scene eye have spent my late teen/adult life in. My desire to be different from the norm seems to have worked for me over the years at least. But, eye digress. By the age of around 17, eye began to explore books on magic and witchcraft, moving away from fiction for a while and immersing myself in occult practices.

RL: Are there any particular books or authors that were instrumental in fomenting your interest in the occult? I know that might be difficult to pin down, but what books lit the fuse, so to speak? Did you perhaps learn of these books or authors because of the music you were listening to (lyrics, or band’s philosophy)?

TONEYE: Yeah, the music eye listen to has many bands who draw from occult philosophies. The majority of Black Metal bands have a decidedly Satanic influence, and in the early days, eye was drawn to Satanism, mainly in defiance of my Catholic upbringing. Eye got my hands on Anton LaVey’s Satanic Bible at about 16-17 yrs old, and Crowley’s The Goetia a little after that.

When eye helped form my first band at 18, my guitarist was heavily into ceremonial magic and we formed Nomenclature Diablerie (which loosely translates as “Baptised in Sorcery”), writing songs based on a lot of what we read together in The Book of Ceremonial Magic by A.E. Waite.

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By around the age of 20, eye drifted from Satanism and began to delve into more traditional Witchcraft and many different Pagan philosophies and mythologies. Books by authors such as Marion Weinstein and Scott Cunningham, among many others. In later years, eye discovered Carlos Castaneda, and his books have had the biggest influence on my way of thinking and the nature of reality since.

RL: Talk a bit about your seminal bookstore experiences.

Toneye: My go-to bookstore was The Esoteric Bookshop, an obscure little bookstore in Sydney, during my late teens and early twenties. They stocked every imaginable book in the many branches of the occult. We’re talking 25-35 years or so ago now though. That place closed down years ago. These days, eye like to check out second hand bookstores to find the odd hidden gem.

RL: Did you find, as you grew older, that the books of your youth began to mean less to you? Or do you still enjoy all the types of books you’ve been exposed to throughout your life? Are there certain authors, genres, or books that make you cringe remembering how you used to love them?

Toneye: No. Every book throughout my life has had its place and has been somehow influential in shaping me into who eye am today. Admittedly, you won’t find me sitting down these days to a nice relaxing read of The Very Hungry Caterpillar haha. Obviously, tastes change as we get older, but no, every book was significant to me.

RL: How has your reading life survived adulthood?

Toneye: Well, there were the “party years” where eye was more interested in getting fukked up and going to Metal gigs several nights a week, drinking every day and experimenting with a myriad of different drugs, up until my mid 20’s when my son was born and eye settled down. Eye returned to my occult studies then and also began to delve into fantasy as well as a return to horror fiction. Being in bands for most of my adult life, lyric writing has been a passion of mine since around 1989-1990. My lyrics were what got my foot in the door to the indie publishing world. Nowadays, as an author and an editor with J. Ellington Ashton Press, time spent reading for pleasure is almost non-existent. On the other hand, as an editor, eye am constantly reading the works of many, many great established and up & coming authors.

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RL: Excellent! Are there any up and coming authors whose work particularly stands out for you?

TONEYE: Sooooo many it’s impossible to list them all, but to name just a few—and eye will say my faves—Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason, aka Sisters of Slaughter, are my top favourite. A twin sister writing entity from Arizona, they have written some superb horror. Mayan Blue, being the debut of 2016 which took the indie writing world by storm and earned them a Stoker nomination, is one of my all-time fave novels. Very proud of my wolfsisters for that achievement! Eye am about to get stuck into their latest release, Those Who Follow. Very excited about this!

Another is Jim Goforth. He is my Metal brother from here in Australia, and the bloke who guided me into the world of indie publishing, bringing me into the fold of J. Ellington Ashton Press and making me a part of their family. He writes some of the most brutal horror around, often compared to the late, great Richard Laymon (who, eye will confess to the mortified reactions of your readers, eye have yet to read any of his work). Eye cop a lot of flack and accusations of ‘blasphemy’ when eye tell people this haha. Jim has released some insane novels, thick enough to drop a charging rhino with. His series Plebs is something you definitely need to get your hands on. The sequel, Riders, was so large he had to split it into two massive books of pure, unadulterated mayhem. The bloke’s a modern day master of horror.

Another, more recent discovery is an author named Lucretia Stanhope. She is in my top 3, along with the above mentioned. She is an extremely talented storyteller who is comfortable in many genres, ranging from paranormal romance and fantasy, through to extreme horror. Her Elemental Witch Trials series has had me hooked from book 1 Blessedly Bound. At the time of this writing, she has released 10 in the series with another 3 in the wings and a 14th book in progress. Her comedic horror novel Rather Be Fishing is another brilliant piece of writing and high on my list of recommendations. Eye could go on and on and on with the bloody pool of talent emerging from the depths but eye think eye have rambled a little bit here so we’ll move on hahaha.

RL: It’s all good. I love to promote the work of new and emerging authors. Thank you.

What types of books are you mostly drawn to currently?

Toneye: Predominantly horror now, in all its various sub-genres. Extreme and psychological horror being my personal faves. Over the past say, 15 years, the works of Carlos Castaneda have been a huge part of my life. His tales of Power and sorcery have provided me with a very different view on the nature of reality and have helped me open my eyes to many different possibilities which the average person would find preposterous.

RL: How do you share your love of books with others?

Toneye: The Facebook (or Faecesbook, as eye like to call it haha) community is where eye spend most of my time. It’s a necessity as an indie author, to be chained to this social media juggernaut. Since entering the publishing world back in around 2014, eye have made countless friendships with readers and fellow authors alike, and we all share our new discoveries in fiction, as well as our own work. The support network is brilliant, and aside from a few bad apples, generally, it’s a very friendly and supportive world. My online “Family.”

RL: I’m one of those people who reads several books at a time. I’ve been called a “reading polygamist.” Are you? Our are you pretty monogamous when it comes to reading?

Toneye: Nope. Eye am somewhat of a monogamist. Eye need to keep my focus when working on any one particular book. While eye stated earlier that reading for pleasure is almost non-existent now, don’t get me wrong—eye derive great pleasure in my “work.” Eye don’t like to consider it work at all. Eye have never had as much fun as in the past 3 years as a published author and editor.

RL: Now, I’m not a big fan of the term “guilty pleasure.” However, for want of a better term, what are your literary guilty pleasures?

Toneye: Ok. One genre of fiction eye have rabidly steered clear of is Romance. The thought of it has always made me cringe. That is, until eye met one particular author on Faecesbook named Lucretia Stanhope. Now, she writes paranormal fantasy predominantly and as we got to know each other, eye found myself drawn to her series, The Elemental Witch Trials. She has written 13 books in the series and eye have to say, they are some of the absolute best works of fiction eye have ever read. She has also written some of the most brutal and gruesome horror as well; an extremely diverse and multi-talented author. Her series has a very strong romance element to it, though it is blended into a world (or worlds, more to the point) of magic, fantasy and horror. Eye fell in love with the first book, Blessedly Bound, and the editor in me saw things which could do with a little tweaking—even the best authors need an editor. She is a self-published author and eye have taken on all of her work as editor, both for my own pleasure as well as to hone my editing skills. So yes, while eye wouldn’t call it a guilty pleasure, it certainly has been and continues to be a pleasure to read her work. Lucretia Stanhope has, in no uncertain terms, made Romance not such a sickening concept to me haha. Do seek her out on Amazon. You will not regret it 😉

RL: This one could apply to all art, really, but in terms of writing, what are your thoughts on “genre?”  Does it matter to you?

Toneye: No, not at all. Many books eye read/edit these days blend many different genres and quite often can be difficult to pidgeonhole into a specific genre. My own series, The Sacred Blade Of Profanity series, began with the idea that eye wanted to write a horror novel. In 2011, The Scarlett Curse was my first foray into writing, outside of lyric/poetry writing—which eye have been doing for the past 27 years now. As it began with the intention of being a horror novel, it took on a life of its own and steered more into the world of dark fantasy, while keeping a definite flavour of horror bleeding through the words. Pretty much all of my short stories, however, are strictly horror. Eye guess eye just “labeled” my work there hahaha.

RL: Are you a physical copy person, or do you prefer other ways of “reading” books, such as e-books or audio? Does the “delivery system,” as King calls it, matter to you? 

Toneye: Most of my reading, by necessity, is electronic these days, but there is nothing quite like the oldskool paperback experience. Eye love to hold a book in my hands while reading. Physically turning the pages is a somewhat sacred, and heading uncertainly towards being a “lost” practice in this digital age. This saddens me.

RL: Do you take a book with you wherever you go?

Toneye: Not always. Eye am mostly a hermit these days anyhow haha. Eye rarely leave my lil’ den, unless it’s to go and see my son play in his various bands over the years. In which case, carrying a book along with me is a definite no-go.

RL: Do you collect books? Have shelves laden with them? Why is it important to you to have a collection of books in your home?

Toneye: Eye do. Eye have hundreds of books (pretty amateurish, considering many of my friends and peers have thousands haha) but, as mentioned above, with the digital age taking over as it is, eye believe it’s crucial to keep the old ways alive.

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Shelfie courtesy of Toneye Eyenot.

RL: What books―and they don’t have to necessarily have to be all-time favorites―do you feel have influenced you and shaped you the most: as a human being, as an artist, etc.?

Toneye: By far, the works of Carlos Castaneda. From his first book, The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, right through to the more practical Magical Passes book, his works have completely rewired my perception of reality.

While metaphorical (Don Juan, his teacher and mentor, is an entirely fictional character), Castaneda blends the fantastical world of ancient Mexican sorcery—spanning generations of sorcerers dating back to the Toltec era—with practical and pragmatic techniques of becoming a “Warrior.” Not in the sense of combat per se, but more a mastery of the self. His book, Magical Passes, is basically an instruction manual of physical movements designed to smash all that useless, stagnating energy which we constantly project out into the world as ego-driven emotional attachments, and return that energy to our vital centres. Eye have practiced these Passes for many years and can attest to the fact they do indeed give the practitioner more energy, more confidence and more of a “warrior’s spirit.” As a sufferer of depression over the past 20 years, these books have been invaluable to me. One particular quote by Don Juan Matus has pulled me out of the dark hole of depression time and again without fail: “We make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” 

RL: Have you ever read a book that made you cry? And, have you ever read a book that truly, deep down in your soul or psyche, disturbed you or went too far and made you not want to finish it? 

Toneye: No books in particular eye can think of which made me either cry, or disturbed me to the point eye couldn’t finish. You’ll be hard pressed to disturb me, to be honest. Eye have a particularly sick sense of humour and what many might find disturbing, or even disgusting, eye find more hilarious than anything haha. That said, in an anthology eye put together last year, Full Moon Slaughter—an antho of Werewolves and Lycanthropy—one story in particular was so heartbreaking, it did bring tears to my eyes reading it. “Perspective” by an exceptional author named Roma Gray. Damn you, Roma!! *shakes fist in the air hahaha.

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RL: Without giving anything away, can you talk a little bit more about that particular story and what you found heartbreaking?

TONEYE: Roma writes with a unique voice eye haven’t encountered anywhere else. There’s a kind of innocence to her words (that’s the only way eye can describe it) that conflicts with the tales of horror she writes, making it somewhat more real and believable in your mind. Perspective is about a man nearing the end of his life who goes searching for his mother, who vanished mysteriously when he was a child. Being a werewolf tale, you can probably guess the why and how of that occurrence. So, without giving too much away, he finds her and their meeting, along with the outcome and aftermath, was an exquisitely tragic twist to the tale. It was Roma’s delivery which brought the tears. She is a truly gifted author.

RL: Lastly, just for fun, what is the one book―be it a widely lauded classic, or bestselling popular phenom―do you find absolutely terrible or unreadable?

Toneye: Yeah, eye won’t give names or titles, but throughout my editing career, eye have encountered some obscenely terrible writing. Editing nightmares to be sure, but, eye worked my magic on ‘em and made ‘em shine in the end. There have been a few which eye have found myself yelling out “FUUUUUUKKKK” as eye go, but the persistence paid off, and these authors were more than happy with my work. And here, eye shall anticipate pitchforks and torches at my door but, there are a couple of Stephen King books eye couldn’t finish. He may be a legend in the writing world, but eye have found some of his books to be insufferably boring. 

RL: Thank you for discussing your reading life with me. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Toneye: It has been my absolute pleasure, brother! Fangs so much for letting me prattle on. Eye hope these long-winded answers to your questions have been the least bit interesting, if not entertaining haha. Hails n howls to you and your readers!

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LINKS TO FIND TONEYE EYENOT ONLINE:

TONEYE’S FACEBOOK

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

TONEYE’S AMAZON STORE

TONEYE’S TWITTER

 

 

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