This past summer, when I was taking breaks from saving the world from evil supervillains, I was stuck working a semi-desk job at my college fitness center, making sure that nobody would kill himself trying to be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger. For the most part, the job wasn’t bad; there was air conditioning, Wi-Fi, cable, a comfortable chair with an ample amount of back support—all things my apartment lacked.
After a while, I got bored—so, I did what any responsible millennial who had too much time on his hands and access to the web would do: I created a Goodreads account. I joined a reading group for indie presses. And then I discovered C.V. Hunt. I ripped through all of her work in a few sittings. C.V.’s writing is both hysterical and absurd. Take, for example, this line from her novelette, Baby Hater: “…the wail of a crying baby turned into something I craved after hearing it a few times. It was nice to know someone, even if it was an infant, felt the same way I did—miserable.”
I mean, what’s not to love about that?
Some more about C.V. Hunt: she lives in Dayton, Ohio, and is the author of eleven books. Her short story collection, Misery and Death and Everything Depressing, is a current nominee for a Wonderland Book Award. Ritualistic Human Sacrifice, her latest, is available via Grindhouse Press. I recently got the opportunity to ask C.V. a series of really tough questions over email. Well, they weren’t really that difficult—but we talked about Ohio, beer, her pet snake, what it’s like to be a writer with an Internet presence in the year 2015, novelettes, and something called the “bizarro scene.” Her answers did not disappoint.
As a person who is generally really uncomfortable around children, I find your narrator in Baby Hater extremely relatable. Where did you get the idea to write this whole concept of a “hero” punching babies?
The plot originally stemmed from a joke with a friend. We were horsing around and one day and I blurted, “You make me so mad I want to punch babies.” Their response was to hound me to write a story about someone who punches babies. I kept thinking: Who would punch a baby?
I’m a childless person by choice. I’ve never had the desire to have children and had a tubal ligation at the age of twenty-six. Whenever I meet new people, they ask the same questions: Where do you live, What do you do, Do you have any children?
When I tell them I don’t have any and don’t plan on having children, they act as though there’s something wrong with me psychologically or tell me I’ll regret it. I’ve always found it strange that people generally assume a woman is defective on some physical or mental level because she chooses not to have children.
I married those two concepts and wrote Baby Hater.
Personally, I enjoy reading novelettes a lot. Did you set out to write a novelette originally, or did it just sort of happen?
Originally I planned for Baby Hater to be a short story. But I had too much fun writing it and got carried away. I don’t like to put restrictions on my writing. I never do an outline and always write until the story feels complete. Novelettes and novellas seem to be my comfort zone.
The bizarro scene seems to be gaining a huge following lately. Where do you think it stands?
I believe everything has potential to grow. I like to think there is a chunk of the population that’s tired of reading the same stories all the time. I love horror. I also love literary fiction and absurdism and a vast variety of subjects. I hope there are people out there who want to pick up a book and say, “Oh my god! What am I reading? This is so strange.” It’s just a matter of getting the books to those people.
You live in Dayton, Ohio. Tell me a little about it. Are there any cool dive bars I should know of when I visit (eventually)?
Dayton’s the sixth-largest city in Ohio and is located an hour from Columbus (first largest) and an hour from Cincinnati (third largest). Between the sprawling suburbs and highways connecting the three, it sort of feels like the city that never ends. Dayton is also home to the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, so low-flying, large military planes are common and terrifying if you’re not used to them.
The best place to hang out is the Oregon Arts District. It’s a historical district located downtown, filled with bars, breweries, shops, restaurants, an LP store and an independent movie theater. It feels like I’m at the theater, The Neon, at least once a month, and usually stop at Lucky’s Taproom & Eatery for dinner and a beer beforehand. I’ve recently discovered The Barrel House, which keeps twenty craft beers on tap and a fully stocked bookshelf. When I lived downtown I would visit The Century. The bartenders at The Century will proudly tell you they provide the most extensive selection of bourbons & whiskeys this side of the Ohio River.
I stalked your Instagram for a good 20-25 minutes. I noticed you’re really into craft beer. I actually decorated my entire apartment recently with a bunch of cool bottles. What’s your go-to beer these days?
It changes all the time. Recently it’s been Grolsch’s lager, Weihenstephaner’s Heffe Weissbier, or Bell’s Oberon Ale. If I have money to splurge I’ll buy Saison Dupont’s Belgium Farmhouse Ale or Goose Island’s Sofie. Recently I’ve discovered that Stone makes a saison, but it’s hard to come by around here.
It’s funny you mentioned decorating with bottles. I recently moved, and have been lining the tops of my kitchen cabinets with bottles. It’s still a work in progress. I’m always fascinated with the names and designs the small breweries come up with.
I’m also kind of jealous of your pet snake, Skully—he looks pretty badass. Mind if I borrow him for a weekend or two?
Sure! He mainly spends a lot of time sleeping though. I’m not sure how entertaining he would be. Most people think snakes don’t have a personality. Anyone who’s ever owned a cat knows each one has its own quirks. Snakes are like that. Some days he’s a cranky old man and doesn’t want to be held or taken out of his tank and other days he’ll slither all over the living room if I let him.
Your Internet presence is solid. What role do you think social media plays in terms of publishing and writing?
I think an author or publisher’s Internet presence can easily make or break them when using social media. It’s hard to have a steady appearance without looking desperate to attract attention to your work. Some readers are interested in finding out what makes a writer tick. They want to be able to relate to you as much as they do your work. Most readers don’t want to log on and see constant posts about where they can buy your latest book without a personality attached. Also, if you’re online too much, they might find your oversharing annoying. Too little and they may become uninterested.
Using social media as an advertising platform can be tricky. A sentence written can be read a thousand different ways by a thousand different people. The inflections are lost in the written word and your post can be misinterpreted. A moment’s misinterpretation can cause the reader to unfollow the writer or publisher. When that happens, there’s not only the loss of potential future sales, but the potential the person would have recommended your work to another person.
My general rule is I’m only online to be a clown and entertain people. I try to remind them occasionally that I write and am always trying to sell more books.
Tell me about your new book, Ritualistic Human Sacrifice. I just got done watching Sauda Namir read an excerpt from it and I’m hooked.
Ritualistic Human Sacrifice is my first horror novel. My goal was to merge the horror of the protagonist’s everyday existence with an external horror beyond his control. It was difficult to keep focused and not deviate from my original goal. When I started it I decided to think of Bret Easton Ellis and Bentley Little’s writing to keep me on course. I hope I succeeded. Here is the back cover description:
Nick Graves is a miserable man. Every day he comes home from his dream job to a stale marriage. On the day he finally summons the courage to tell his wife, Eve, he wants a divorce, she has exciting news for him—she’s pregnant.
Nick is a spiteful man. He purchases his dream home in an ideal location far away from family, friends, and coworkers. It’s a life-changing decision he’s chosen to make without Eve’s consultation.
Nick is a terrified man. He quickly realizes the residents of his new hometown are a bit eccentric. After a trip to the local doctor’s office, Eve begins to behave strangely. And once Nick finds out what’s really going on he’ll never be able to look at Eve the same way.
I’m sold. What are you working on now?
I’m currently taking a small break from writing to enjoy the Halloween season. I usually cram my free time full of horror movies in the month of October. And I’ll be attending BizarroCon the first week in November. I know my creative batteries will be charged then and I already have ideas for what I want to write next.
Shawn Berman is a warm beer. Shawn Berman is a strip club on a Monday afternoon. Shawn Berman is Brad Pitt’s twice-removed cousin. Shawn Berman has work featured in tNy, Potluck, Maudlin House, and Drunk Monkeys. Shawn Berman can be followed on Twitter at @ramonbermanez.