Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. Those of you who are not a member won’t be aware that the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit it is via membership or an invite to the tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation with all sorts of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers. Over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, I shall be chatting with my guest about their work in progress, or latest book release.
Today I chatting to Sal Cangemi. Sal Cangemi writes books and is best known for writing absurdist satires that flirt with horror and black comedy without ever committing to either genre. His plays, Avenue L and In the Kotten Kandy Lounge were staged, but he chooses to concentrate on novels and novellas these days. When not writing, Sal can be found enjoying a good cigar, watching movies (that most people have never heard of), and, of course, reading. He lives in New York with his wife, daughter, and cats. Welcome to the tearoom. First let me start by asking you when you first begun your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
Hello! It’s not easy to say when this journey began as it’s kind of been an on\off thing for a long time. However, I came back to writing two years ago after about a 20-year hiatus. I write satire that is mainly horror\comedy. I wanted to be a horror writer, but I am simply too much of a goofball and everything comes out with a large dose of humor.
What writing elements do you think is your strongest points, and what would you like to do better?
Characterization would be my greatest asset. I have worked for many years is many places and have an insane number of eccentric crazies to choose from when creating characters, situations, etc. I am mostly interested in story. Because of this I sometimes ignore the beautiful dance words can do on the page and just think story, story, story. I would like to become more poetic in how I choose words, create sentences, etc.
Tell us a little about latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
I have a finished novella that I have been sitting on and will look for a home for soon. I am also finishing up a new novel. Most of the stuff I have on deck are all relatively new ideas. However, I often do go back and take a scene or an idea from older stories or plays that I wrote and never did anything with.
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
Oh boy. Quite a few. I assume I am like most other writers as far as this goes. Most of it needs to stay where it is!
Do you write a synopsis first or write the first chapter? If you only write short stories, do you plan your story or let the characters lead you?
I totally let the characters take me to the story. I usually have a basic idea and then go with it. Oddly, that basic idea, most times, is removed from the final story, which means I wing it. I am toying with the idea of outlining my next project. However, I usually start off trying this and then give it up. So far, I do not outline. I have not found one single formula of outlining that works for me. As a result, I likely re-write more than most authors. But thems is the breaks.
Choosing only five of your favourite authors, (Poet, Playwright, or Screen writer) can you list them in order 1 begin the top of your list and say how have they influenced your writing?
Oh wow, this is tough.
#1 is Rod Serling. When I was about 14 or so, channel 11 (in NY) began playing the old Twilight Zones. This was in the mid ‘80s. My mother told me that I would love them. I saw the black and white and old timey feel and thought, no way. But I watched one episode and never looked back. No question that the Twilight Zone is my number one influence.
#2 Clive Barker. When I was about 20 I found the Books of Blood and could not believe short stories could be so unique! His novels were also just so different, I was hooked. A one-of-a-kind writer.
#3 Woody Allen. Allen is, of course, a filmmaker, but his writing is so natural. His characters are just so real. They talk over one another. They move around in and out of the frame. They bitch. Just like real life.
#4 Charles Bukowski. Bukowski may be the most honest writer ever. He writes about waking with aches and pains and a hangover. He writes about love and hate. He was not afraid to put all of his character defects on the page. I am not as fearless as Bukowski, but I learned if I am not honest in my writing then it will become someone else’s – it will be some generic nonsense.
# 5 Mmm…does this one really need be mentioned? Anyone writing (certainly writing anything related to horror), is a fan of Stephan King. What can I say that has not already been said?
When reading your work through do you ever find that your daily mood swings are reflected in your writing?
That is a great question. I was having a horrible bout of depression yesterday (rare for me) and was writing and wondering this very thing. I do not think so. I think the characters dictate the tone and not my mood. However, there could always be subtle thing here and there that I am not seeing. But in short, I would say no – my mood does not affect the writing.
Is there anything about you your readers might be surprised to find out?
I play golf (not very well). I play guitar (better than I do golf). I love foreign horror movies. I love cats. Mmm…none of this is very surprising.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I work a fulltime day job so I write on evenings and weekends only. I wish it could be a fulltime thing but what writer has ever said differently.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Yes. My name is a bit of a mouthful and clearly Italian. But I just could not come up with anything cool so Sal Cangemi it is.
How do you select the names of your characters? Do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?
I just mix and match a bunch of names until I know it sounds right. Like a key in a lock and that lovely “click”.
Thank you so much for join me, Sal. To find out more about Sal Cangemi’s work click on the link below:
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Members’ Books, don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops too.