Most of your fiction has a theme of self-sacrifice for your beliefs/values. Do you consider that to be a crucial, yet too often lacking, factor in our lives/world?
Brian: Yes, I do. I don't think there are enough things that people tend to feel passionate enough about to the point of self-sacrifice. There's a shitload of stuff that I've given up, like financial security for one, to do what I want. I'm utterly free in that regard. But then I can see sacrificing a lot more before it's over. There's points I've gotten to in certain novels, particularly The Darker Saints and Prototype, where towards the end I was so into it that everything was going, like health and hygiene, and I could actually conceive of a novel that would kill me. Of course I would have to be the one to take that final leap, but I could actually conceive of that, get in that frame of mind. It seems a very pure act at that point. Everything that gives people the most security is the tangible things: their houses, their cars, their stock portfolios. These tangibles are just another kind of fence, a corral that they put around themselves. Anything that is of an intangible nature, a spiritual nature-not just lip service spiritual like Protestant worship of omnipotence-is so much more difficult for people to hold on to simply because they've been programmed to go after the tangibles. It's letting someone else do the programming for them; letting someone else reach right in and hard-wire them, tell them what is going to make them happy. A lot of times it works for decades but then they suddenly hit a wall. I've seen that with a lot of people. For 15 or 20 years buying into a certain lifestyle, or a certain belief system, and all of a sudden they come slamming 80mph against a brick wall and everything comes flying out the window. This path was chosen for them, it might not have been theirs if they had been left to their own devices. It didn't work for them. They're left shrugging their shoulders, looking around, saying "What the hell happened here?". I get a certain amount of vindictive pleasure, everybody loves a good crash.
Especially when they're supposedly the ones who are so much more stable. Religion, anywhere from primal instinct to Vodoun to Sumerian to Catholicism, is often present in your fiction. Do you merely find it fictitiously enticing, or is it due to personal belief in the drives of external/internal powers?
Brian: Using those things has never been calculated, I certainly didn't do anything along those lines because I thought it was fictitiously enticing. So far I haven't seemed very capable of doing anything calculating, it's all very gut instinct. I'm just interested in exploring the different spiritual avenues and a lot of that is reflective of things that I'm doing. Even the things I rejected, like the televangelism belief system in Deathgrip. That wasn't anything that I was ever really buying into, but it was interesting to explore. I think in most of the books and stories where you're coming across that, you usually find that the more radical stuff is what is working for people. It's not institutionalized, it's not commodified for mass consumption. It's on a deeply personal level, or with a very small group of like-minded people sharing it. They usually found that avenue for themselves, found each other themselves. If I'm trying to put out any kind of message, it's that you should seek out those avenues for yourself and you'll probably find something, there are so many belief systems out there. Not necessarily belief systems, if you're interested in touching something of a more spiritual nature, getting past the mere surface reality, there are 1000s of avenues which can help you reach that. For me, anymore, it's shamanism. That seems to be working for me and it's introduced me to a lot of experiences that I wouldn't have had otherwise. Part of that is letting go of a certain amount of control. Shamans in primitive cultures don't even remember what they've done in their trances. It's such a split between standard reality and, what it's called in text books, shamanic reality. But I like to explore the different avenues, try to reach beyond what we see with our own eyes.