Random-Ass Interview: Jon Padgett
Sean: If there’s nothing to do, and no one to know, does that mean it’s fair game to eat pizza in the bathtub?
Jon Padgett: Ligotti’s “old principles” (“there is nowhere for me to go, nothing for me to do, and no one for me to know” and its variants, which he acknowledges in “The Bungalow House” are as illusory as any other worldview) ring truest when in the throes of deep depression. At those bleak times, I imagine eating pizza in a bathtub would be quite nice, relatively speaking.
Are you in fact a sentient puppet? Be honest? It’s one of those situations where your soul was switched with your ventriloquist dummy, isn’t it?
Am I a sentient puppet? You bet.
I suggest that there’s no difference between our souls and any ventriloquist dummy’s soul. Of course, that may just be the dummy talking.
Have you ever tried to, or thought about, writing a novel?
When I was twelve years old, I set out to write a sequel to Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles. A couple of years later, I started writing a sequel to Michael Moorcock’s Stormbringer. Neither project got far.
Honestly, since then, I haven’t planned or even considered a novel. When stories come to me, however long they turn out being is the length they feel like they want to be. So far, that hasn’t amounted to more than 15,000 words or so. I can’t imagine deciding to write a novel from the outset and then plotting it out. That stated, if it happens someday, it happens. At one point my long short story, “The Infusorium,” was threatening to become a novel. I’m quite relieved it didn’t.
Creepiest song you can think of?
Is there a Fat Mountain?
On fat mountain, eating pizza in a bathtub is pretty much all anyone ever does.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen online you’re comfortable sharing?
I doubt I’ll ever get over the weirdness of writing an email (which I guessed) to my all-time favorite author and receiving a long email back, which began an often daily correspondence and close friendship and mentorship, still going strong after twenty-one years. I can’t say the Internet never did anything for me.
Is Matthew M. Bartlett in fact a goat with a human suit? (Don’t tell him I asked you, he’ll do unspeakable things to me).
Matt Bartlett is an insanely talented and skilled writer of supernatural horror stories—one of the best and most imaginative writers of the strange I’ve ever read or had the pleasure of collaborating with. He’s also a dear friend.
And yes, between you and me, I’m pretty sure he’s a goat with a human suit. But what a voice that goat has.
Do you consider yourself a better writer or a better actor? Do you think you’ll ever perform any time soon?
I don’t consider myself an actor per se anymore, but I do believe I’m a better reader/voiceover artist than I am a writer. Despite the fact that I’ve practiced writing decent fiction for many years (and had the best possible teacher), my talents, experience and background in drama vastly outweigh any writing ability or background I’ve accrued. I’m much more insecure about my writing output than I am my voiceover work to date, which I can be downright cocky about at times.
I recently performed both Ligotti’s “The Bungalow House” and my own “20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism” at a Cadabra Records event in Philadelphia to an enthusiastic, packed house. Every time I read aloud, that’s a performance to my mind, but this was a special one—accompanied by brilliant composer/musician Chris Bozzone and sound engineer, Barry Knob.
All this stated, I read aloud as I write. It’s part of the process. For me, how a story sounds spoke out loud is at least as important how it reads on the page. Oh, I’ll be the Guest of Honor at Pioneer Con in Alabama this October, and I’ll be reading then (if not elsewhere sooner).
Most mediocre crummy coffee shop you go to?
I’ve got a cerebral aneurysm (unruptured), and my neurosurgeon forbade me coffee, which I never cared much for anyway, truth to tell.
If we are in fact totally insignificant, does that mean being disappointed is actually just the truth of the human condition?
I’ll tell you a secret: I don’t feel totally insignificant all or even most of the time. Or, to put it another way, I believe that we are all of equal worth, from what we consider the lowliest single celled organism to human beings to blue whales and tremendous fungi colonies (or vast stars and black holes for that matter). All forms, living and otherwise, are temporary ones. There is a vast emptiness before us and ahead of us to which we all belong. I suspect that the crushing feeling of horror in the face of an illimitable universe originates from our fear of death/identity-loss, which the vast distances of emptiness and inconceivable hugeness of heavenly bodies in the cosmos often bring to mind. To put it plainly, feeling “insignificant” is illusory mind-stuff and is a matter of perspective, every bit as much as self-importance is.
Do you like pineapple on your pizza?
Not particularly, though it’s fine as I recall the couple of times I’ve tried it.
I’ve been partial to “balls” lately, but I like cursing in practically any form.
Favorite part about NOLA?
It's full of weirdos. That’s probably why it’s the only place I’ve ever felt at home.
Thanks for taking part. Any plugs?
Hey, thank you! A couple of things come to mind. I know the cost is steep, but this limited box set, Secret Gateways, Nightscape Press is putting out containing fully illustrated, deluxe hardcovers of my revised and expanded debut collection, The Secret of Ventriloquism, and Bartlett’s revised and expanded Gateways to Abomination and a third, collaborative volume containing about 22,000 words of collaborative work between the two of us, is going to be downright amazing. My book alone contains sixteen color illustrations by Harry 0. Morris himself and includes cover art by him too. These are all original works. Aeron Alfrey is working on cover art and many illustrations for Bartlett’s book too, and Morris AND Alfrey are collaborating on the third volume’s illustrations. This is wonderfully high-end stuff and are sure to be collector’s items for years to come. Only 250 will be available. Oh, and did I mention my book is getting a Foreword by Thomas Ligotti and Bartlett has John Langan doing his? I don’t know when this review is coming out, but there’s currently a 30% off sale going on, and that means $45 off for this box set.
Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t plug the most recent issue of the This Is Horror Award-winning Vastarien: A Literary Journal, which is—in a word—magical. It’s available now in print and electronic formats.