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This is an excerpt of about the first 1/5 of the interview from Cyber-Psychos AOD #6.

by Jasmine Sailing

Chances are that you have noticed my biased preference toward Brian Hodge novels and are wondering what inspired such admiration. Let me put it simply: I've always looked for a few base elements in fiction. Naturally, intelligence throughout is crucial. You all know that I can't stomach fluffy happy endings. That I have a love for deep characterization which can make you know you might as well be reading the life story of a true person. That a touch of the surreal definitely doesn't hurt. No trite stereotypes, preferably. An intricacy of story-line and substance is definitely handy, especially with deep levels of dementia. And I damn well better be moved in several ways by what I'm reading. Could I find such perfection in a novelist? Guffaw. Well, I used to be that cynical. My first Hodge novel reading experience was Death Grip, his 4th novel. I wanted to know who he was, I expected to be bored as usual and blew it off for the book I was re-reading (Watership Down by Richard Adams, actually). I began reading it on a return flight, and couldn't set it down. I was so immediately engrossed that everyone who had been looking forward to welcoming me home found themselves staring at the back of a book, without a word from me. Here I had found a novel with no good or bad guys, simply an intriguing collection of intricately real humans with their own agendas. They conflicted, they aided each other, they did whatever seemed necessary for their own morals and agendas. They were respectable, they had their weaknesses. The story line was gripping, with definite moments of surrealism and deep levels of structural dementia. And did it go happily? Hell, no. One thing I learned fast about Brian Hodge novels is that you might as well wish for your favourite characters to die fast, because that means they'll be let off the easiest. The characters take their blows, you suffer with them, you get that sheer nihilistic catharsis with maybe the briefest taint of future hope hinted at. Salvation beyond the brink of destruction (as witnessed by Gordon Klock who tried to resurrect my traumatized remains upon my finishing The Darker Saints shortly thereafter). My only frustration pertaining to Hodge novels is that Prototype, originally slated for publication in '93 by Dell/Abyss, has been pushed back to February '96. Yes, I've read it. Yes, it's an incredible tale of psychology and destructive genetics. But damn I'm sick of telling people they need to read it when they can't yet. Well, get it when it's out and, for now, content yourselves with Dark Advent, Oasis, Nightlife, Death Grip, and The Darker Saints for truly intricate melds of psychology, religion, crime, science, and the power of will, as well as a tip of the hat to our favourite musical and visual artists. Hell, I can't rave enough...take this interview and story as a sampler, then read on (and on, until you can find no more Hodge material to read). We may even be graced with a film of Nightlife and a Hodge comic from DC/Vertigo in the future, praise whatever powers you believe in.

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.

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