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Artist Special - Mick Malone

Welcome to the second Artist Special! As I mentioned last month, Artist Special is an interview series that runs the third Sunday of each month. These interviews are with those who make musick and another kind of art (plays, films, sculptures, paintings, and more!). This month I spoke with another poet, Mick Malone, about his new book Cave Body.

I first encountered Mick Malone when he was in the band Worn Colors. I also played with some of the members of Worn Colors in the revolving Diamond Breaker. I only played with them once or twice. Some time ago, I saw that Mick had published a book on Amazon. I thought that was pretty cool and liked the title and cover art, so when I saw he was releasing a new one, Cave Body, I knew that I wanted to ask him about.

Cave Body is a series of short and eerie poems with accompanying illustrations of monsters and expressionistic images of horror. I thought it was awesome when I started reading it. I read about half of it one morning and brought it upstairs to finish later in the day. I have not seen the book since. I rarely ever lose anything, I still have most of the toys and games I had when I was a child, so this must be the work of some entity from either the 34th or 51st dimension. I'm sure I'll find it again one day. You can get one from our evil overlords at Amazon, though. You won't even need to do any inter-dimensional warfare.
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What kinds of things inspire yr writing? I feel like it connects with me quite a bit and is similar to some stuff that I have made. Why all the bugs?
I spend a lot of free time reading about weird shit that supposedly (or definitely!) happened. The other day at work I read a story about a woman in New Zealand who woke up to gnomes trying to drag her body into a wardrobe. I was floored. I came home and drew a weird creature and wrote "the gnomes try to drag my body into the cupboard but I am too heavy." A lot of odd cults, missing people, conspiracies, and creatures make their way into my artwork and writing. I like channeling my personal life through these fantastical elements. My last two books, DOPE GRAVE and Cave Body, deal with a lot of my feelings of hopelessness, that nothing is ever really going to be okay, feeling like a broken person, constant worrying, knowing that everything is meaningless and pointless but you still have to exist and deal with it. But I can never just say "I'm having a hard time right now." I kind of have to make it more absurd, a little tongue-in-cheek. It's probably not healthy. As for the bugs, I honestly don't know. They always just show up. They're fascinating but creepy. I wish they wouldn't crawl on me while I sleep.

You used to make musick with Worn Colors and I know you have played with some other bands too. Do plan to make more musick some day?
I hope so. Playing shows is absolutely my favorite thing to do, and I really miss it. Towards the end of Worn Colors we were all just so busy with full-time jobs and other projects, and all of our new songs were really weird and super long; I think we just kind of burned ourselves out and needed a break. I still hang out with those dudes, and I wouldn't be surprised if we end up doing a project together again at some point.

Did you turn any songs into poems or vice versa?

Whenever any of my bands would get together and start writing something new, I would always look over poetry I've written and see if any of it would fit. It was pretty common for me to kind of cannibalize that work and borrow a few lines from different poems and mash something new together. I find writing lyrics to be very limiting, I've never had a good experience sitting down to write lyrics knowing I'll have to fit this to music. Poetry can just be what it is, and I really enjoy that.

Between the two (musick and writing), which came first?

I've always dabbled in both, but writing was first. I used to love writing short stories - they were usually only like a page or so long and almost always ripping off Jurassic Park or whatever anime I was into at the time. I remember in fifth grade my friends found this stack of like 50 handwritten pages, my "novel", in my desk and were like, "Wait, what? You're writing...for fun?" I never thought it was weird. I just liked being creative.

I didn’t realize it until I got the book, but I, of course, noticed the illustrations inside. They remind me of illustrations I used to make when I was half-asleep, which made them especially strange. What inspired the scratchy style? It fits well with the grotesque and vulgar imagery of the poems.
Honestly, my lack of artistic talent. I have a major disconnect from what I want to put on a page and what my hand can actually do. There's actually a poem in Cave Body about a person being forced to edit speedboats into television shows to not-so-subtly sell more speedboats and I initially came up with that idea as a comic I wanted to do. I mapped the whole thing out and realized I could not draw a speedboat no matter how hard I tried. I even looked for tutorials on how to draw speedboats and still had no luck! Eventually, I decided I could keep trying to learn how to draw things for real and still be awful at it, or I could just kind of embrace this sloppy, messy, abstract weird style and just have fun with it. It's much more in line with the art I enjoy anyway. I love starting a drawing while having no idea what it'll actually be.

Was it difficult to get a book published and on Amazon? Since you have done this twice, what tips do you have for other writers looking to do that?
It's genuinely so easy to self-publish these days, and there are so many ways to do it. I've been using Amazon's CreateSpace just because it's free and makes selling your book super easy. But there are tons of other sites you could use, or if you're crafty you can just make your own and sell it at shows or whatever. I run into people all the time who are like, "Wow, I can't believe you have a book!" It's like dude, I submitted a word document to a website. Literally, anybody who enjoys being creative can do this. I go with self-publishing because I know nobody would actually want to publish my work, and I'm super impatient. Cave Body was very spur-of-the-moment, where I was just feeling restless and decided I wanted to release a short zine-esque book, and the next day I submitted the first draft. (I soon changed my mind on that product and basically rewrote almost half of the book in a couple days). I just love how fast self-publishing can move. The downside is you're stuck promoting it on your own... and that is a nightmare.

Will you be working on a third book? Or what else is in store for the future?
Cave Body is actually my fifth book.

Oh, whoops. What were the other books you released and in what format? Were they also released on Amazon and the like?
I released two collections of short story and poetry when I was a teenager on a different service. They are out of print and I don’t even have any copies. I have three books on Amazon: Doom Riddles (a poetry collection designed to tell a larger, interwoven story), DOPE GRAVE (poetry and artwork), and then this most recent one, Cave Body.
I'm definitely working on some more stuff. I really like writing these small zines/books and releasing them as cheap as possible. I'd like to put out some new music. We'll see. I'm constantly certain that I am going to die very soon, so I just want to be productive and work on shit until all of my bones slide out of my body or my liver explodes or whatever horrible fate awaits me. The seas will rise and wash away it all, so it's ultimately meaningless but fun.
I hope that this look into Mick's work was not meaningless to everyone reading. I'll be back with a new artist next month. I have a few in mind, but nothing is totally concrete yet. If you want to be a part of this series, send me an email at skullvalleyblog@gmail.com or send a message to the Skull Valley Facebook page. As mentioned, be sure to check out Mick Malone's books (Doom Riddles, DOPE GRAVE, and Cave Body) on Amazon. Don't let the bed bugs bite.