Halloween Extravaganza: INTERVIEW: A.S. Coomer

Meghan: Welcome to Meghan’s House of Books, A.S. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

A.S. Coomer: I’m a writer, musician, artist, and friend of cats. I was born and raised in Kentucky, where I currently reside, but I travel as often as I can.

Meghan: What are five things most people don’t know about you?

A.S. Coomer: I was commissioned a Kentucky Colonel in 2019 for my literary and creative endeavors. I have a degree in Social Work, specializing in Child Protective Services. I worked with families and children in difficult situations and environments for several years before devoting myself full-time to writing. I’m a composer (record forthcoming) and fan of ambient music. I like Heath bars crunched up in my pancakes.

Meghan: What is the first book you remember reading?

A.S. Coomer: The first book that I remember reading is Stellaluna by Jannell Cannon.

Meghan: What are you reading now?

A.S. Coomer: I’m one of those weirdos that have a few books going at the same time. Right now I’m reading If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin, Voodoo Histories by David Aaronovitch, Barn Dances & Jamborees Across Kentucky by J.D. Wilkes, The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow, & The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry.

Meghan: What’s a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn’t expect you to have liked?

A.S. Coomer: Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence.

Meghan: What made you decide you want to write? When did you begin writing?

A.S. Coomer: I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember. I started writing early, in grade school: stories, poems, comics, lyrics. I’m an introspective person, so the writing life just felt right. I began writing full-time four years ago.

Meghan: Do you have a special place you like to write?

A.S. Coomer: I don’t have a special place to write, per se, but one of my cats, Vigo the Carpathian, has been in my lap for every novel I’ve written.

Meghan: Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

A.S. Coomer: I wake up every morning at 7am, make a pot of coffee, and go straight to the writing.

Meghan: Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

A.S. Coomer: Writing, in general, is often challenging. It’s the proverbial head-to-wall, word by word, line by line until, simply, it isn’t. That being said, natural, scene-specific dialogue is always a challenge. Sometimes I feel like a confused translator trying to get the text to say what I envision in my head.

Meghan: What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve written so far?

A.S. Coomer: My novel, Memorabilia, is the most satisfying thing I’ve written thus far. The book is experimental and strange, but accessible and, hopefully, relatable. It’ll be available for purchase or download via 11:11 Press on December 7th, 2019.

Meghan: What books have most inspired you? Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

A.S. Coomer: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury really sparked my inspiration when I was younger. I love that book. There’s a sense of magical possibility in most of his books, but that one particularly. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers was an inspiration too. I read it at the right time and it said the right things to me. It also showed me what a novel could do as well as what it could refuse to do.

As for my writing style, I’ve been influenced by Kurt Vonnegut, Carson McCullers, Ernest Hemingway, Jean-Paul Sartre, Virginia Woolf, Stephen King, James Lee Burke, Cormac McCarthy, F. Scott Fitzgerald, to name a few.

Meghan: What do you think makes a good story?

A.S. Coomer: A good story takes up its own real estate in your head. It keeps the pages turning while you’re wading through the text the first time and then holds its space inside you after you’ve put the book back on the shelf.

Meghan: What does it take for you to love a character? How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

A.S. Coomer: For me to really love a character, they have to be believable. Characters have to be believable even if they’re not especially relatable. I try to write characters that act as only they’d act.

I’ve been working with unlikeable characters in my most recent work (a horror novel forthcoming from Grindhouse Press), which has been a whole lot of fun.

Meghan: Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

A.S. Coomer: Polly Jean is very relatable for me these days. She’s the eponymous protagonist in a story that was originally published in Oxford Magazine. She is a vagabond on the road with a partner, at the beginning of the story, but feels stifled and confused by the other’s presence in her solitary life.

Meghan: Are you turned off by a bad cover? To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

A.S. Coomer: I am. Who looks at bad covers and says, “I can’t wait to read this”? Well, I guess there are times when a cover can be so bad it’s good.

I try to stay as involved as I can in my book’s covers. This is different with each publishing project based on the contract and the publisher’s way of doing things. I’ve shot down some proffered covers on a few occasions, but more often than not I work with the publishers and their artists by giving suggestions or feedback on what they come up. It’s an interesting collaboration usually.

Meghan: What have you learned creating your books?

A.S. Coomer: I’ve learned a lot about writing with each book. I think the proficiency arc is trending upwards, or, at least, I’d like to believe it is. Writing books for a living is always teaching me patience. I’ve honed a mantra these past four years: Patience is a practice that takes practice.

Meghan: What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

A.S. Coomer: There are several scenes in Memorabilia that were very difficult for me to write. The protagonist is dealing with death, art, and meaninglessness throughout the book.

Meghan: What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

A.S. Coomer: I don’t stick to one genre. I’m deathly afraid of standing still. My books are different because they’re different. Each takes up its own space and stands on its own. I’ve never tried to write for a particular audience or demographic, other than myself.

Meghan: How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

A.S. Coomer: Titles are important. Sometimes they’re not though. It depends on the book. Most of the time, the title is pretty evident once you’ve completed a project. The title should do more than just peak interest in the book, it should sound something of deeper resonance from within the story.

Meghan: What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

A.S. Coomer: Novel, definitely. They take so much time and effort that when you’ve completed one, pushed and pulled it through all the edits and over-analyzations, you feel a much deeper sense of accomplishment.

Meghan: Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

A.S. Coomer: Each of my books is different. I don’t write one particular genre. My target audience is the lover of the word.

The Fetishists is a subversive novel about power and dominance. A young, rich lawyer attends a sex-slave auction only to have his world flipped upside-down. I’d like people to take away a different perspective on power and inequality after reading it.

Rush’s Deal is a Faustian coming of age story with a non-visual comic story companion. This novel is currently out of print, but a new paperback edition is under contract for publication.

Flirting with Disaster & Other Poems is my first full-length collection of poems.

Shining the Light is the biography of fictitious musician Homer Antumbra.

The Devil’s Gospel is a thriller about parental expectations and religious fanaticism.

The Flock Unseen, forthcoming from Clare Songbirds Publishing House, is a collection of four, literary stories.

Misdeeds, forthcoming from Shotgun Honey Books, contains five crime short stories and the novella Dellie’s Ditch.

Memorabilia is an existentialist novel about meaninglessness and creation.

Meghan: Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

A.S. Coomer: The Devil’s Gospel had a completely different ending. It left things much more ambiguously. The new ending gives the book a more final closure than I’d originally intended.

Meghan: What is in your “trunk”?

A.S. Coomer: I’ve been working on a ten-song collection of ambient compositions. I think I’ve got it about tinkered into completion.

Meghan: What can we expect from you in the future?

A.S. Coomer: Memorabilia comes out December 7th, 2019. Misdeeds, a collection of crime fiction and a novella, is due out in July 2020. The Flock Unseen, a collection of literary fiction, is due out in late 2019 or early 2020. The Coomers released an eight-song EP called Live at MotherBrain on Halloween 2019.

Meghan: Where can we find you?

A. S. Coomer:

A.S. Coomer:
Facebook ** Twitter ** Instagram ** Amazon ** Goodreads
YouTube ** Bandcamp ** Spotify ** Blog

The Coomers:
Facebook ** Instagram ** Bandcamp ** Spotify

Meghan: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you’d like to say that we didn’t get to cover in this interview?

A.S. Coomer: I’m constantly working on something new, y’all. The best way to stay up-to-date is to subscribe to the blog.

A.S. Coomer is a writer, musician, and taco fanatic. A.S. was commissioned a Kentucky Colonel, the highest honor bestowed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, for his literary and creative endeavors and contributors. Books include Shining the Light, The Fetishists, Misdeeds, Flirting with Disaster & Other Poems, The Devil’s Gospel, The Flock Unseen, and Memorabilia. He runs Lost, Long Gone, Forgotten Records, a “record label” for poetry, and co-edits Cocklebur Press. He plays guitar and sings in The Coomers.

The Fetishists

Jefferson Wellman is a lawyer and has everything—money. He also has a particular taste when it comes to pleasure. And what Jefferson doesn’t have he can purchase. His friend, Richard, visits him at his office one day with a contract and an invitation for a fetish auction by a new company. Bad Pain Entertainment guarantees to have what Jefferson is looking for… a ‘ponygirl’. But when Jefferson shows up for the auction located in a remote wooded area, things don’t go exactly as planned: Richard never arrives, Bad Pain’s personnel are a little peculiar, Jefferson wakes up missing a few fingers, and the rest of the attendees are dead. Jefferson believes he has the knowledge to keep his reputation from being ruined. But what he doesn’t know is he is now the focus of a new kind of fetish.

Shining the Light

There is a light and there is a darkness. There is, also, a space in between. Homer Antumbra inhabited this no-man’s-land. In his flickering flame of a life, he shined the light and lived with the darkness. His life and work changed the craft of songwriting, both showing what a song could be and hinting at where it could go. His work redefined a genre before shattering any attempts at categorization. Shining the Light is the first in-depth look into the man, the myth, the music of Homer Antumbra, ensuring the light still shines.

Flirting with Disaster & Other Poems

Flirting with Disaster & Other Poems is the debut poetry collection from writer & musician A.S. Coomer. The collection consists of sixty poems, including the Thelma’s Prize winning poem I’m not sure how I feel about the sound, Pushcart nominee: The Old Skins of the New Snake, & several previously unpublished poems.

The Devil’s Gospel

Biology Professor Kevin Ballard finds his quiet life rocked by a series of vicious mysterious events. 

First, his mother is slain in his childhood home. Then his girlfriend (and research assistant) is kidnapped from their cabin and he finds that the plant he’s studying is apparently being used in strange local rituals. 

To top it all off, the police think Kevin is somehow involved. Who wants to wreck his life and why?

Memorabilia

When adjunct professor Stephen Paul accidentally discovers the suicide note of his recently deceased friend, he unwittingly trips a wire into his own enigmatic madness. Within hours, the basic characteristics of his life rupture and are transformed by incarceration and psychiatric chaos. As a prisoner of the state and of his own body, Stephen’s existence appears absurd, ruthless, and barely stitched together. He must come to embrace that the only way out is through an associative mind, one that is as much invisible as it is material.

Memorabilia is a Kafkaesque narrative driven by the existential nature of creation. It’s a novel of self-discovery, exploration, and understanding, risking more and more as it progresses. A.S. Coomer questions the nature of reality and the reliability of the mind.

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