Interview with Eric Shapiro
Eric Shapiro is a writer and filmmaker. Called "the next Philip K. Dick" by author Kealan Patrick Burke, Shapiro is the author of six critically acclaimed fiction books, among them the novella "It's Only Temporary" (2005), which appeared on Nightmare Magazine's list of the Top 100 Horror Books, and numerous short stories published in anthologies alongside work by H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, Chuck Palahniuk, and many others. His nonfiction articles have been published on The Daily Dot, Ravishly, LGBT Talk, and The Good Men Project. His first feature film, "Rule of 3" (2010), won awards at the Fantasia International Film Festival and Shriekfest, and had its U.S. premiere at Fantastic Fest. His second feature film, "Living Things" (2014), was endorsed by PETA (People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals) and distributed by Cinema Libre Studio. In 2015, he won the 19th Annual Fade In Award for Thriller Screenplays. He is a founding partner of Ghostwriters Central, a writing and editing firm that has received positive notices from The Wall Street Journal, Consumers Digest, and the TV program "Intelligence For Your Life." Eric has edited works published in The Huffington Post and Forbes, as well as two Bram Stoker Award-nominated novels. He lives in Northern California with his wife, Rhoda, and their two sons.
First, let me ask where the idea for Red Dennis came from. What sparked the character, Dennis Fordham?
He’s an element of my shadow side. I co-own a newspaper in Silicon Valley, and my op-eds have made a couple people lash out with fury toward me. My reaction, though hurt and horrified, is constructive; I put the emotions into writing new stories and creating new things. But Dennis is the side of me that’s not healthy or productive. When he’s affronted, he hits back. Did the character idea come before the plot?
It did! The title, too. It was in my head for a couple years before I finally started writing. It took me a long time to figure out the note and the scenario, but I knew I had a name and an emotion, which was rage. In the book, it’s covert, though. It’s buried way underneath. His volume knob is usually set to a low number, but deep inside he’s running red hot.
How much research did
A lot. It was all YouTube videos. I watched hundreds of hours of a guy named Tim Pool, a left-leaning libertarian who spends all day bashing the far left, wokeness, radical Democrats, etc. I liked a lot of what he had to say, but it’s only one line of political argument, aimed in one direction to feed his audience, and it’s all devised to cultivate an “us vs. them” way of thinking, which I try to avoid. Nonetheless, I can see how a guy like Dennis, who’s on the left, could get radicalized by being rejected by his own tribe. He can’t hang with feminism, the #metoo movement, rising equality—he’s not up to it. He’s getting left behind. And it makes him angry on a level that he’s not quite conscious of.
When you started writing it were the twists and turns pre-existing, or a happy accident, or something you were already toying with?