May 13, 2015

The Strife Aquatic: an interview with Anonymous-9, author of "Dreaming Deep"

Dreaming Deep by Anonymous-9: The hardworking men and women at the Port of Long Beach, California have no idea what’s waiting for them in the deep water. Tugboat Captain Ed Angelus discovers the horror first in a death match aboard the Lady Bulldog, a high-tech z-drive vessel. But when the Coast Guard and Homeland Security arrive on the scene, there’s no trace, and Ed is declared delusional and unfit for duty. A few months later Ed’s former crewmen dredge up something chilling from the depths of Alamitos Bay—something horrific and possibly paranormal. Soon, the truth turns into ugly lies by authorities unwittingly manipulated by a dirty bureaucrat masterminding the investigation. Overnight, Ed finds himself a public enemy at the center of extraterrestrial black ops—outrunning the law until he can warn the world. 

Dreaming Deep is available on

Gef: Dreaming Deep involves some deep sea style horror. What was the impetus behind this story?

Anonymous-9: MONEY!!! I woke up one morning and I said, "The writing's gotta pay. It's just got to pay me today." I scrabbled around for paying markets, I looked at what I had to sell, I came up with a pitch that couldn't be refused and I sold the idea. THEN I had to write it and that's where my mercenary side ran full-tilt into my perfectionistic streak. Everything's got to have meaning. I can't just slam down shoot-em-ups whose only purpose is to entertain (and thank gawd lots of people do, you wouldn't want every writer to be like me). So after the money came meaning. I wanted to celebrate the working men and women of Long Beach in some manner. People that don't usually make it into stories these days. So there's my impetus.

Gef: In our interview at the start of the year, you mentioned reading the first half of this story to some tugboat operators--which they loved--and even sent along a photo of you on board one. Just how deep did you dive into the research of this one?

Anonymous-9: Tug boaters have their own culture. The Port of Long Beach has its own culture. I can say that hundreds of hours of research only skimmed the surface. I can also say how much easier it was to deal with tugboat captains and the Port than to trying to research the LAPD which is my usual beat. Via my research into Port security, I came to realize not just how surveillance has taken over, with billions in high-tech equipment watching 24/7 from every angle, but how surveillance has spilled over into our daily lives and how data collection is a simmering time bomb in terms of how it can potentially be used against individuals. When I got my teeth into that, DREAMING DEEP took off with a bullet. I had my direction, the story had voodoo drums thrumming underneath it. It needs to be a novel. It's good for a TV series too.

 Gef: You first happened upon Lovecraftian horror about fifteen years ago, is that right, when you signed on to run a horror-noir site? Was that the initial allure to that brand of horror or was there something else to hold your interest over the years?

Anonymous-9: At the time I was a stringing for a bunch of film industry magazines--Venice, MovieMaker, BackStage West, etc. This was all print, not web. I did in-depth profiles of major film directors like Terry Gilliam, Mike Figgis, Roland Joffe, Lars von Trier and I guested the Script Comments column for Creative Screenwriting Journal. CSJ's publisher, Erik Bauer, drafted me into the writers' room for a Lovecraft-inspired web series he was producing called THE NAMELESS. My co-writers were Christian Divine (18-Wheel Butterfly) and Jim Mercurio (Hard Scrambled). Christian came down from San Francisco and slept on my living room floor for the first two weeks.

I knew absolutely ZIP about horror at the time but Erik was adamant that he wanted me and had faith that I could absorb the tropes. For a month I drew my drapes and watched every horror movie ever made non-stop. When I wasn't watching movies I played horror SFX in a loop while I read every story Lovecraft ever wrote (that was available to me). Then we went into the writers' room for three months which was in a 1920s building on the rundown end of Sunset Boulevard. By the time I came out of that, and I had three of the ten scripts credited to me, I knew how to write horror. I knew Lovecraft. It stayed with me.

Gef: When it comes to stories that are a bit of a genre mashup or genre blend, do you find yourself wanting to pay homage to those genres or rather bust down as many barriers between them as possible?

Anonymous-9: It's not about that. It's about telling a story the way it wants to be told, and if it salutes the genre, great. If it busts it in the chops, I don't lose sleep. I'm about telling the story in the best way that serves it. All else is ignored. I irritate genre purists and rightly so. We need purists to hold onto the art form. We also need experimentalists to break new ground and smash rules, just because rules need a good smashing from time to time. It cleans out complacency and stagnation. I think there's room for all of us.

Gef: Is the horror genre to expect more visits from you? If so, do you find there is a different mindset needed when writing it as opposed to crime fiction?

Anonymous-9: YUP. I have a short story called M-N-S (n) murder-necrophilia-suicide that was nominated as Spinetingler Magazine's Best Short Story on the Web 2010 and it was just bought and translated into German by Pulpcore. Plots with Guns first published it and Anthony Neil Smith was the developmental editor. I've always meant to turn it into a novel and it will basically be a warped kind of Dante's Inferno as seen through the lens of Buddhist cosmology. I'm serious. Really.

Gef: Nowadays, it's pretty much impossible to write any kind of zombie story in which no character is familiar with the concept of zombies. Do you think the same applies to sea monsters? Because they don't seem to get anywhere near the devotion that zombies and vampires do and I consider it a bit of a shame.

Anonymous-9: My quick answer to that is because it's easier to write about zombies and vampires. You don't need to adhere to any real-world rules, or at least you just look up "vampires" on Wikipedia and see the usual thing about garlic and silver bullets and you're in business. But when you're dealing with sea monsters, there are rules of the sea, and boats and rescue equipment. It's harder to find the technicals out. But in terms of writing competition, the field isn't crowded. One day DREAMING DEEP will hit critical mass and tugboat enthusiasts and boaters will find out there's an accurate story written just for them. It'll pay off eventually.

Gef: Are there any more tentacular tales in the works? What's next on the horizon for Anonymous-9?

Anonymous-9: Readers are waiting for the next HARD BITE installment. CRASHING THROUGH MIRRORS just keeps selling and selling with zero promotion but it's about such a verboten subject, people don't review it. They whisper about it to friends and they come back and buy it too. But no reviews! CTM needs to be written into a novel. I have a tale about a 1940s crime scene photographer in Los Angeles that's going begging. Meanwhile I'm always working on ghostwriting and editing gigs. It's my 24/7 non-stop words and story world.

Thanks Gef!


  1. great interview. I learned quite a lot about Anonymous-9!

  2. Great insights into a great writer!