For We Are Many by William Becker ~ Genre: Dark Contemporary
The beauty of being able to finally let go is something that Robert has craved for a very long time. Just days after his birthday, he prepares to embrace nothing.
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William Becker is a young horror author with a mind for weirder sides of the universe. With an emphasis on complex and layered storylines that tug harshly on the reader to search for deeper meanings in the vein of Silent Hill and David Lynch, Becker is a force to be reckoned within the horror world. His works are constantly unfathomable, throwing terror into places never before seen, while also providing compelling storylines that transcend the predictable jump scares of the popular modern horror.
His first novel, WEEPING OF THE CAVERNS, was written when he was 14. After eight months of writing, editing, and revising, the story arrived soon after his 15th birthday. During the writing sessions for his debut novel, he also wrote an ultra-controversial short story known as THE WHITE SHADE that focused on the horrors of a shooting. Living in a modern climate, it was impossible for THE WHITE SHADE to see the light of day. Following a psychedelic stint that consisted of bingeing David Lynch movies, weird art, and considering the depth of the allegory of the cave wall, he returned to writing with a second story, THE BLACK BOX, and soon after, his second novel, GREY SKIES.
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Q: It’s not hard to figure out from reading the first few pages or even the description of your newest story, For We Are Many, that it’s a pretty heavy piece about mental health. How does mental health impact your art? How do you incorporate into your stories?
A: I’d be lying deeply if I said that ideas about mental health had nothing to do with my work. For We Are Many is a very blunt and personal piece about suicide, abandonment, and depression. I tried really hard to get this aimless and hopeless angle into the story. A lot of the feelings of being suicidal are captured pretty well, in my opinion. I’ve struggled to a large degree with depression and I’ve been in therapy before. For We Are Many is probably the most personal piece I’ve ever written. While I’ve never committed suicide (obviously,) there are a lot of things in there that are very real and true.
It goes beyond my honest attempts to capture mental health. Seventh Circle, which also came out this year and is available on my website, is about societal pressures to lose your virginity and something of an obsession with another person. It’s about using another person and their intoxicating presence to fill a hole within yourself.
The Egg, another free short story, was written about confusion about sexuality and my personal fear of becoming a father. It deals a lot with co-dependence and having your meaning stripped away.
While not all of my stories are as blunt as saying a main character has OCD, anxiety, or schizophrenia, I think I incorporate concepts about mental health quite heavily.
Q: Your work is considered fiction, but you’ve said before that you incorporate little pieces of the real world into your writing, like basing characters and their interactions off of things you’ve really seen. How does that work?
A: This is a hard question to answer. On a more surface level, I will use someone’s name who has helped me with writing. I have a habit of sending little pieces of writing to certain people and as a thank you, I’ll name a character after them. For example, I named May Elizabeth Dawes after my cousin’s girlfriend, Stephanie Dawes.
On a deeper level, there’s a large portion of For We Are Many that is written about infidelity. The protagonist’s girlfriend has a quite obvious sex addiction, and after cheating on him multiple times, she insists she’s going to try and “get better.” She turns herself into the victim, even though she is the one cheating on him. This was based off of a close friend in high school who cheated on his girlfriend in a similar way. He’s changed his life around for the better, of course, but it greatly disturbed me when it happened and slipped its way into this story. I also use a lot of conversations that I hear and turn them into elements of the story.
A lot of my other imagery is based on some of my weirder dreams. It’s probably not hard to determine how this manifests itself in my work.
Q: Do you implement your personal beliefs or philosophies in your books?
A: Yes! One hundred times, yes! I can’t talk a ton about it, but I have a concept floating around in my head right now for a story called “The Goat and The Whore.” It’s going to be about karma and reincarnation. I was raised catholic, which I think shows in some of my work, but as I grew older, I began to gravitate towards some Buddhist beliefs. I really love using the Four Noble Truths in my work.
I also believe that people have a duality of being inherently awful and inherently good. I rarely write a character that is 100 percent good. Sure, there are people I write who are more “good” than others, but most of my people are very human. I don’t like writing protagonists who don’t make tons of moral mistakes.
I’ve talked countless times about how much each story is based on a thought or fear I’ve had before, but the one I’ve neglected to mention is about symmetry and infinite loops. I believe that life is a series of circles and mirrors. We are never exactly in the same place twice, but many events in our lives mirror one another and echo one another. These “echoes” are most apparent in beginnings and endings. The first example I can think of is the Seventh Circle. The first chapter, where our main character falls in love, is called simply “Mia.” This is pretty straight forward in meaning. The final chapter is called “Persephone,” also known as the queen of hell. If you’ve read the story, then you most likely have a pretty darn good idea as to why.
Q: Do you use writing as an escape or as a form of expression?
A: Some people might read my stuff and flip either way, and I agree. I think that some of my work lies pretty deeply on the expression side of things, while also as a form of escape. I’m a bit fan of creating characters that resemble me or people I know, but also being very nuanced and quite different. My characters are all connected to one another and me in very specific ways, but they also exist in something of a vacuum. For example, I relate to some aspects of Roman Toguri from my second novel, Grey Skies, but I don’t personally find myself identifying as a broken psychopath.
New York Onions is based a lot on a family member who overdosed on heroin, but it’s obviously in this strange, dream-like place that resembles very little of the real world. I would say my work is not unlike very abstract paintings. It might represent or pull elements from reality, but it exists as something of a mix between expressionism and escapism.
Q: What drew you to writing horror?
A: I wouldn’t say I necessarily gravitate just towards horror, but darker work as a whole. Sure, things like Grey Skies or The Egg are obvious horror, but New York Onions doesn’t really count as a horror story in the traditional sense, and neither does For We Are Many. I would argue I mostly write work that is dark and features strange imagery, not necessarily “horror.” It gets exhausting hearing family members say, “oh, he writes spooky ghost stories.” I don’t think I’ve really ever written something that resembles a Hollywood horror film with lots of jump scares and demon possession. My work feels more ethereal and honest than that. Maybe I’m tooting my own horn and sound like a pretentious jerk with that, but…
There’s something I find easier about writing things that are dark. I love to challenge myself with different genres and I know for a fact that I’ll write something more positive and family friendly one day, but that being said, it’s easier to experiment in the darkness. I like to think of writing darker content as working in a really dark room. I’m not exactly sure where the limits are, how large the room is, or how much space I can actually work with. It’s easier for me to just feel my way through and make something that is very grotesque and strange, yet also very natural and drenched in feeling. Writing work that is more… Hallmark, for a lack of a better word, feels much more obvious and in your face. It’s like working in that same room and turning on the lights. Suddenly, you know what’s directly in front of you. You have limits when it comes to genre, mood, and content. I feel like it’s harder to write something true without being able to incorporate anything that exists. It’s the reason why dark and abrasive music like Swans is more experimental and interesting to me than Taylor Swift.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing about a four minute pop-country song about someone’s ex that I don’t love, but a very fluid composition that’s thirty minutes long and features a sixty year man shouting obscenities always has a lot more feeling. Once I have my plate more clear, I’m going to write something more normal and tame as a form of challenging myself, but for now, I find darker work to be the easiest way to express myself.
Q: You talk a ton about music and how it influences your work. What are some albums you’ve heard recently that have excited you?
A: I listen to an absurd amount of different genres and going through the discographies of full artists is one of the things I love to do in my free time. I’m currently working as a delivery driver, so I have a lot of time to listen to music. I suppose it’s easiest to list them out by genre.
Electronic: Maniac Meat by Tobacco
Country: Black Ribbons by Shooter Jennings
Metal: Pain is God by Pig
Rap: Anti-Icon by Ghostemane.
Q: What’s the worst part of writing in 2020?
A: Oversaturation. Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing to have access to such amazing artists who wouldn’t have had the same exposure thirty years ago, but it also makes it much harder to get random people to actually check your work out. In between all of my creative projects, it’s very difficult to dedicate a ton of time towards marketing. On top of that, knowing where to market yourself is very hard. Instagram hasn’t been great recently because hashtags have been blocked in response to election disinformation. Thanks to *whoever* is responsible for that, cough cough. Currently, I’ve been up close and personal with authors on Wattpad and that’s been giving me a decent amount of success. I tried for a while to send my stories out to blogs, but I found that I felt like something of an annoying person just shipping my work off to anyone who would read it. It was hard to develop meaningful connections with these people who are more than sick of dealing with indie authors.
Q: What’s your favorite scene you’ve ever written?
A: I’m just going to use this one. It’s unreleased right now and for that reason, unedited. It’s VERY NSFW. It just personally interests me.
“I dreamt again of my birth home that night. I was young again, only my mother wasn’t standing over me, watching me dig into the sand. I was completely alone in the middle of the desert. I glanced around me and saw that the place where we had lived was gone. For miles in each direction, I was surrounded by sand and nothing else. Digging in the vast ocean of sand seemed pointless. I felt
exhausted even in my dreams, but something about the desolation felt wrong. I was out of place. I didn’t belong here.
Suddenly, the sand seemed to slowly sink into the earth where my hands were, creating a miniature canyon that opened into a black abyss. The slit in the sand couldn’t have been wider than an inch, but it seemed to go down forever. I felt a shiver go down my body. The slit called for me. I needed to be inside of it. The blood flowed from my head, all the way down to my groin, filling me with a jittery sensation. The sand smelled of roses and other exotic scents. The hole in the sand
grew ridges along its edges, becoming more organic, more alive, yet still made of sand. My body throbbed with ecstasy, an ecstasy that was so intense that I lost all other sensations. My mouth was watering. I bit down on my tongue. It wasn’t right for me to be here, staring into the slit of the earth. I crawled over the ground, ignoring the grains digging into my palms.
My breathing became the beat of all life, heavy and rhythmic.. I needed to be inside of her slit, to put my hands inside of her. My right hand grazed the ridges at first, but I wanted more, shoving my index finger into the hole. It was wet and sticky. My penis throbbed beneath my white robes.
Maggots. Neurosis. Rot. Filth. Decay. Circle. Beginning. Growth. Birth. Reclamation. End.
I tore my robes off with ease, as if I was gliding through the clouds. As if they were a weight on my ankles, I felt free once they were removed, as though I could fly off of the ground.
My naked body felt comfortable on the sand, as if the earth was a blanket that wanted to swallow me whole. I took my erect penis and slammed it into the wet, tight, slit. My eyes rolled back in my head with pleasure. Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt. My mind and body were overwhelmed by the sheer bliss.
I was panting in a pool on my own fluids, which seemed to be rejected by Mother Earth. The slit was gone and once again, I was alone. The sun had disappeared, leaving the desert vacant and black. My feelings of arousal had been replaced by a feeling of emptiness. I had satisfied her and she had rejected me. I shivered, rolling in the sticky pool of semen.
My eyes shot open as a cold breeze grazed my skin. It was still dark out, too early for us to start moving again. My face was wet with my own drool, which I wiped with a swipe of my hand. Beneath my blanket, there was another wet spot on the mat that was thankfully not visible. I adjusted my flaccid penis that had mysteriously been pulled from my pants. I sighed, taking my finger to the mat and whiffing the oceanic scent of my semen. Hopefully, no one would notice the smell. I began quietly rolling up my mat.”
Q: Who is your favorite author right now?
A: Aron Beauregard. No contest. Google him, he’s awesome. Also his covers are some of my favorites.
Q: Your imagery seems to be pretty important to you. What thought process goes into your covers and author photos?
A: Every single one is just a bit different. I can probably go through all of them individually.
Weeping of The Caverns- I was going for something like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre or the first Black Sabbath album. It’s a very grainy image of my neighbors house in Boone. I took that photo when I was twelve with a digital camera, then threw it through photoshop. It was really my first time editing an image like that. It ended up becoming the cover somewhat randomly. I did have the money or skill to create a cover that I absolutely loved, so it just ended up being represented by a photo of some house. I absolutely adore the back cover. For anyone who actually owns a copy, you can see it’s a photo of a man standing beneath a tree. It’s very subtle and a little spooky. I basically was out in a field beside an abandoned house and told a friend to stand underneath the tree. A little bit of editing later, and it turned into the back cover.
Grey Skies- This one was shot, I think, back in late 2014 with an iPhone. I wasn’t even a freshman in high school yet. It’s weird to think I’m twenty years old now and that feels like a decade ago. It was taken on a street near Blowing Rock Elementary school. A lot of the kids who went to the school wouldn’t take the bus, they’d just walk into downtown Blowing Rock and hang out at the park.
I had a close male friend who went out with some female friends a few days before the photo was taken. I’m not sure why, but one of these ladies sat on his lap. Being a pretty hormonal middle schooler, he got an erection and this got him a decent amount of bullying. That photo is a picture of him walking down the road, crying with headphones on. It ended up perfectly capturing the mood I was going for in Grey Skies.
Author images- It was very very hard for me to figure out how I was going to represent myself as an author. A few months before Grey Skies came out in 2019, I decided I needed to make myself some author pages on the internet. I texted a friend named Hope Rosenfeld, who you can see credited on my website, and asked her if she wanted to do a photoshoot. I wore a big leather sports coat, a cowboy hat, and a David Lynch shirt. I wanted to create photos that were eye-catching, but also very gothic and mysterious. Late stage Johnny Cash was a pretty huge influence. The problem that I still have with those photos is that I should have worn dress shoes or boots.
New York Onions- Can’t remember the building right now, but I took the photo on the roof of a skyscraper in New York.
Seventh Circle- Probably the only cover I have that has no text, and also the first of mine to be a GIF. This one was originally created by Aubrey Flowers. She wasn’t quite sure how to make it into a gif, so I took it my own hands and used a free online gif maker. It ended up becoming very trippy. I’m not completely sure how I made the effect, but I really could stare at it for hours.
The Egg- I bought some eggs from the supermarket, hung up a white sheet, then took a ton of different photos of it from different angles. I still have at least fifty different photos of that same egg. I tried my hand at editing using a variety of different applications, before I finally ended up with three different versions. I had a poll on my instagram asking which looked the best, before I finally decided to make a gif out of my favorites.
For We Are Many- Originally, this was made by Ashley Kincaid. It was a plain, white photo. We had originally planned on creating four different images, but she lost interest in the project. I took her original, plain images, then played a lot with the cover, border, and background. Then went from a black and white image of a gun and tissues with no text to a blue, yellow, and black piece of art that’s really grimey. It’s a shame because I absolutely adore Ashley as a person and her style is amazing. You can follow her on Instagram at @Type4me
A: Is it pronounced “Gif” as in gift, or “Jif” as in the pasture butter?
Q: Do you do any more photography or digital art?
A: Yes. I love doing a ton of photography and editing. I don’t consider myself all that good at it, but the end result is usually interesting.
Q: What other creative things do you do outside of photography and editing?
A: Right now, I host a podcast called First Degree Tea. You can hear me awkwardly talk about serial killers and criminals on that. I also created the theme song for that. I also compose a different score for each new episode. I also edit two other podcasts, one of which is called We Talk Too Much, the other is Jersey Girls Don’t Pump Gas.
I’ve done some music stuff with JaredMiller, I’ve directed two music videos for Bury Me In Black, and I’ve edited a few novels, most notably, The Night Made This Decision by Alexis Sundquist. One of the coolest projects I’ve got coming kind of soon is an audiobook that’s more of an audio experience. Most audiobooks are just some guy reading in a relaxed voice, which certainly has its time and place, but I want to make something more exciting. I want to make an audiobook where I do the narration, but I have a different voice actor for each character, ambience for each location, and lots of background music.
How do you stay motivated?
I’m not really sure. My cousin and I are roommates next to an Applebees. I set a goal to write 1600 words a day. A few days ago, I asked him to motivate me to keep writing. He said if I hit my goal that day, he would buy one free appetizer for me from Applebees. I think my motivation comes from strange places, haha.