June 2021 4th Circle Interview with Josh Schlossberg
DESI D: Name one author you admire and explain how they helped you become a better writer.
JOSH SCHLOSSBERG: I know I should probably say someone like Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, or Shirley Jackson, but the author who influenced my writing the most is definitely John Steinbeck. (What’s funny is it’s recently been revealed that Steinbeck wrote a werewolf novel that’s never been published, and people are calling on his estate to release it!)
Steinbeck’s writing comes across as so simple it’s almost like spoken word, but it’s deceptive in that it’s no easy feat. And not only are his stories deeply meaningful, they’re timeless—as is his prose style which avoids the flowery, clunky sentence structure that dates so many “classic” authors. If a literate alien picked up Steinbeck’s work today, I bet it wouldn’t be able to tell if it had just been written or published centuries ago.
Of course, I’m not saying I’ve achieved close to any of this in my writing. But I think he’s been rubbing off on me and I hope I’m making some progress.
DESI D: As a co-founder of Denver Horror Collective, can you tell us a little about the journey that brought you here?
JOSH SCHLOSSBERG: Several years ago, when I was getting my foot in the door as a horror author, I didn’t find any of the mainstream establishment institutions to be very helpful or even welcoming. What’s more, many other emerging and seasoned authors told me they were experiencing the same thing.
All I really wanted was a local horror fiction critique group, so I found a few like-minded folks and we started our own. Since then, Denver Horror Collective has mutated and spread like an out-of-control virus. As “patient zero,” I’m truly sorry.
DESI D: Malinae is a chilling tale of a disabled senior citizen trying to save his beloved wife; can you tell us a little about how it came into being?
JOSH SCHLOSSBERG: MALINAE is roughly based on what my maternal grandparents—both of whom passed away over the last couple of years—were going through at the end of their lives, where my grandmother had Alzheimer’s and my grandfather had congestive heart failure. Watching my grandfather struggle with his own ailments, while undergoing the trauma of his wife of seventy years seeming to slip away before his eyes, made me want to write a story from that perspective.
While the characters Ward and Malina aren’t anything like my grandparents, their situation certainly inspired the book. Of course, since MALINAE is cosmic folk horror, Alzheimer’s ends up being the least of their concerns.
DESI D: What would you choose to be your mascot and why? And of course, what is the next project we can look forward to from you?
JOSH SCHLOSSBERG: I want to say something cool like a wolf stalking the forests for fresh blood. But if I was being honest, it’s probably a frog.
I was I obsessed with amphibians as a kid, and my parents said I always used to peek into storm drains looking for them. But I also identify with how frogs split their time between two worlds—land and water—without quite fitting into either. I’ve also got really long legs. And have been known to eat the occasional insect.
Right now, I’m working on what I’m calling my modern American environmental Jewish folk horror novel. All I’ll say about it is it takes place in the forests of Colorado, and I hope to have it finished by the end of the year and in the trembling hands of readers sometime in 2022.