Brian Hodge's Bio | DE '97 GoHs

Death Equinox '97 GoH Questionnaires: Brian Hodge

Q: What are your perceptions of Death Equinox; what do you expect to do and experience?

Brian: It's easily the most intriguing and content-varied convention I've ever heard of, let alone attended, something that was sorely needed to get out of the rut most cons seem to default into, so I couldn't be more pleased to be a part of it. I expect to see some friends and acquaintances, hope to make a few more, especially since the area is going to be my new home a few months later. Hope to learn a few things from some of the more specialist demos that'll be going on. I'm particularly looking forward to the tribal music entrainment, since it was my suggestion. And I suspect I'll experience a hangover or two. Oh, and since that Sunday is my birthday, I expect lots and lots of presents.

Q: Do you consider literature to be solely meant for escapism, or should it also be used as a means for exposing the darker aspects of society that people tend to want to avoid?

Brian: I think it should ideally be an entertaining expose. I love getting lost for hours in somebody else's world as much as anyone. But I do feel let down if I don't see anything there I recognize, or find anything there to bring back into mine. Barring the odd trifle done strictly for fun, I tend to be pretty confrontational in most of my work. There are too many of those darker aspects in plain sight for me not to feel compelled to illuminate them, on as many levels as possible. Although relativism is impossible to escape. What I might consider a dark aspect of society is someone else's savior. Say, the excesses of the military-industrial complex. Conversely, what I might think is worth exploring and personally beneficial, somebody else would readily demonize. Say, shamanism. So all I, or anyone, can do is create the most honest 3-D mirrors I can, of what is and what should and should not be, and let the reader take it from there. Assuming anybody's reading at all. Most people don't. Of those, most don't want anything that digs beneath the skin. So reading becomes as soporific as Must-See TV.

Q: With fictional characters, do you think they should be portrayed as good and evil or should they fall more to the grey sides of conflicting purpose as people do in actual life (though individual motivations may seem evil to any given person)?

Brian: Considering I did two novels - Nightlife and The Darker Saints featuring a lead character deliberately named Justin Gray, I'm pretty much wearing ambivalence on my sleeve. Gradations are always more interesting than polarities. A moral continuum allows for movement, whether it's climbing or falling, instead of lingering in a deadly dull stasis. I find it easier to occupy a character's head and understand his or her motivations that way, mainly because I recognize that potential for duality in myself. Sure, there are moral absolutes. Example? No justification, ever, for child molestation. It will always be an evil act. But so much else really can be dependent on circumstance. So, if life is that complicated, why should fiction be diluted into life's pale shadow?

Q: Does writing hold a form of spiritual catharsis for you?

Brian: Psychological catharsis, definitely. I've vented a lot of anger that way over the years. People I'd like to run down like a wolf runs down a deer. Sit on their backs, slice their hamstrings while they kick and squeal. Then get vicious. Oh yes. But I try to rise above that, so I content myself with paper surrogates. Now, this isn't to say that I don't find anything spiritual in writing. Quite the contrary. Given that I frequently explore spiritual issues, there are times when writing feels like a very benedictive act, rather than a cathartic one. Even if it comes off as angry, it's still a kind of prayer, although I'm not assigning any theological or dogmatic implications to that. Actually, I enjoy picking apart dogma and theological absolutes. Getting to the cores of the spiritual side of existence, rather than blind, rote belief in what's been institutionally instilled as being beyond question.

Q: What do you personally consider to be the most important form of "awareness"?

Brian: Self. But it's a continually evolving process. Our consciousness is balanced at a very peculiar nexus of uniquely individual inner perspective and universally broad perception. We encompass divinity and diabolism. Impulses from selfishness to altruism in an eyeblink. Spiritual longings and animal urges. We learn, we assimilate, we readjust our world views accordingly. Is it any wonder that we occasionally give ourselves the slip? Look inside and don't recognize much? We forget we're not the same people we were, say, five years ago. Nor should we be.

Q: Do you write to change the world, change yourself, or make a quick buck?

Brian: None of these are mutually exclusive, but since "writing" and "quick buck" rarely if ever belong in the same sentence, we can rule that out. Considering how comparitively few people are ever going to be exposed to one's work, we can probably rule out changing the world, too. Although it's always validating when you realize that you've gotten through to someone who's read a little deeper, seen a little farther into what you've intended. Someone who's picked up on the magick invested between the words and lines. Every now and then that comes my way. But I don't live for it, it's just a very welcome bonus. So, what I consider my most serious and heartfelt work isn't so much an act of self-change, as a record of it. The questions and the laughter and the screams in the night when it feels as though the cell door has slammed shut for the last time, and the process of figuring out how to spring the door off its hinges one more time. The breakdown of parts of myself and reconfiguring them on the page, trying to make a deeper sense of them. If someone else gets something out of it, so much the better. And occasionally it acts as a kind of message in a bottle, and I meet someone that I otherwise wouldn't have.

Q: What fills you with hope?

Brian: Aye, now there's a tough one. Different longings are fed by very different fires. But in the broadest perspective? Probably three things: The inextinguishability of human resilience. The clockwork consistency of seasons and life cycles. And, more personally, a gradual but steady accumulation of experiences that confirm my belief in dimensions and significances far beyond what we can usually pick up on in the vale of day-to-day. Sometimes they can seem very far away, beyond reach. But for times like that, there's always stout and Irish cream.

Brian Hodge's Bio | DE '97 GoHs