DREM: How old are you, my friend?
TONY: I’m in my forties, a fact that still shocks me constantly. There are days when I feel so much older than that, and there are days when I feel like a boy pretending to be a man and nobody’s noticed yet. When will I grow up? And how is it I’m not dead yet?
DREM: Where do you live?
TONY: Put it this way… I wouldn’t mind living elsewhere. I live in a quiet neighbourhood close to the city. There’s a smattering of wild life here which is nice. It’s nice to hear the magpies warbling in the mornings. It’s not so nice to have big dogs barking at you from behind fences. Big dogs give me the willies, even when I know they can’t possibly get to me.
DREM: Do you have a profession besides blogging?
TONY: I’ve had a string of jobs in my life. When I was a Christian, I worked at a religious book store. I sold flowers door to door at one point. I was a glorified photocopier jockey at a university one year. The longest I’ve held down a job was as a cleaner at a milk processing factory. Thankfully, I wasn’t mopping up after cows. I was cleaning offices. Still, it wasn’t glamorous, and it was pretty thankless. The only time I heard from anyone was if they wanted to complain about the unseen speck of dust lurking behind a fridge or something. Presently, I help to run Unbolt and I concentrate on my webcomic too. I also do whatever I can to make my wife’s home life just that little bit nicer.
DREM: When did you start writing?
TONY: It would’ve been when I was in high school. I didn’t have many friends during those years so I’d hide in the school library every lunch time to read, draw and, of course, write. Looking back on it now, it strikes me how desperately lonely and disengaged I was. Everything I wrote was about life not being worth living and how I needed to not be here any more. I filled entire diaries with these thoughts and it astonishes me that I never acted on them. Perhaps writing it all down helped me in some small way to still feel anchored to people. To this planet. Hell, just to the fact of my breathing in and out.
DREM: How often do you write?
TONY: I write every day, even if just a few lines. My thoughts are scattered at the best of times so it’s always a good idea to corral them whenever I can. I have a note book and pen on me whenever I’m out and about, and there’s always stuff to write with and on within arm’s reach when I’m at home.
DREM: When do you write and how? Like, in a journal, on a computer, and what time of day?
TONY: I write in the aforementioned note books. I hardly ever try to compose something on the computer. For some reason that never feels right. I don’t know why. Perhaps there’s an immediacy to jotting your thoughts down as fast as they’ll come that typing lacks. I don’t know. However, when it comes time to work up a second, third or umpteenth draft of something that’s when you’ll find me perched at the computer. It’s a lot easier to make changes in a Word document than on a page with mostly everything scribbled out. And as for when I write, there’s no rhyme or reason to that I’m afraid. I write whenever stuff hits me, and that can be late at night when I should be in bed or in the middle of the day when I’m taking a piss (or having the piss taken out of me).
DREM: Why do you also Write To Heal?
TONY: I have to. That’s the simplest answer. I have depression, severe body image issues, and I can’t grow a manly beard to save my life. I’ve spent decades of my life pretending I have it all together. I clearly don’t. This is not something you can just talk about at the local pub with any passing stranger, or even your closest friends for that matter. People get scared when they see that you’re scared so I write it all down instead. It’s my outlet. It helps me to let the doubt and grief and self hatred flow into something productive, something creative and potentially beautiful. Does this process heal me? Sometimes. Do the results heal others when they read it? I can hope.
DREM: Why do you continue and has it changed?
TONY: I continue to write precisely because not much has changed. Certainly, I’ve lived longer than I expected to. I fully expected life to have broken my heart to the point of laying down and dying by the time I was twenty. Zip a few decades later and I’m still here. Yup. No one is more surprised than I am. What isn’t surprising is how difficult I still find it to connect with other people. And I still want to bash my face in whenever I see it. Oh, and the black dog? She continues to use my leg as a chew toy every other day. So, what do I do? I continue to write. It’s the only thing I know to do. It’s the only thing that makes sense of all the other things.
DREM: What dreams do you have for your writing?
TONY: I didn’t really have any until recently. Two women in my life have spurred me to believe that anything’s possible again. My wife got the ball rolling with her belief in me, and Tetiana has kept the ball rolling with the projects we’re currently working on together. Before all of that, I’d resigned myself to obscurity and disappointment, but now I find I’m actually confident that we will achieve something! I don’t know what exactly, but at least it doesn’t feel impossible!
DREM: Where do you find your most inspiration while healing?
TONY: I find inspiration mostly in music and stories. There are a handful of bands that I adore like My Silent Wake, Wovenhand, Amorphis, Dead Can Dance, and The Cure. Their lyrics never fail to transport me to some other place where emotions can be reconciled in some way and circumstances can play out differently. As long as I can hear another story then I can entertain hope for my own. I’m also hugely into comics and anime, and the idiosyncracies of those mediums are what drive me in my own creativity, to improve my craft in any way I can. And last but not least, there are the handful of people in my life who inspire me too. I wouldn’t still be here if it weren’t for them. My wife. My parents. My sister. Tati. I hope I’ve sufficiently conveyed my love for them because, quite simply, without them I’m nothing.
Interview by DREM
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