Michael is an awkward university student. He is lonely, socially anxious, and has no experience talking to members of the opposite sex. Michael is introduced to Mia, who is everything he could ever want. She is energetic, exciting, passionate, and much unlike him, massively experienced. Michael's life changes as he falls madly in love with Mia, feeling the passion burn within him; it threatens to swallow him whole, but as time goes on, Michael realizes things are not what they seem to be.
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 jumpscares 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.
an you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I started writing when I was twelve years old, back when I was in sixth grade. This story might reveal how sappy I am underneath all of the doom and gloom that you find in my writing and probably should be more embarrassing than I make it sound, but basically, I was head over heels for this girl. This was my first really, true, deep crush. I scribbled something random down on my phone that was based off of some lyrics from some edgy post-grunge band (I think Three Days Grace) and showed it to her. She told me I was absolutely amazing at what I did and that I should keep going. Little did she know, I was aping lyrics from other people and calling it my own poetry; however, I suddenly had to keep going, so I continued using lyrics from pop-rock and metal to craft my own “poems.” I would send them to her, which gave me more confidence, then posted them on an app called “Poet’s Corner.” Long story short, I asked her out, she said no, then she fell in love with an abusive, older dude, who smoked a lot of weed and seemed a lot cooler than me at the time. I got called out on Poet’s Corner for stealing lyrics, I got embarrassed, then decided I needed to prove myself as someone who actually had the balls to write their own work. I got mildly depressed as I watched my first love stay with some horrible psycho of a person, then I lost my feelings for her, we became best friends for a long time, she developed an eating disorder, and my poetry took on a much darker and sludgier form. This included an obvious horror influence, coupled with my own depression that grew and grew through my middle school years. I wrote my first horror “novel” when I was 13 or so under a false name, “FurthermoreFiction.” I posted my poetry on an Instagram under the same name, before finally going back to my real name, leading to my first actual published novel when I was 15.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I have an obsession with finding new music and diving into the discography of random musicians. In the last month, I have listened to every album by the following artists: KMFDM, Ministry, Author & Punisher, 3Teeth, Street Sects, Young Code, Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Dope, Static X, and the Smashing Pumpkins. Whenever I hear a random song that I even remotely like, I add it to my “VARIOUS” playlist on spotify. It’s most centered around rock and metal, but it’s pretty unfocused and is filled with things that I think sound cool. I’m getting close to having 2,000 songs on it and I’ve been working on it for about six months. You can listen to it here.
Beyond that, I am pretty deeply involved in a variety of other projects. I am a writer for the newspaper at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. I do a lot of opinion pieces, the most recent of which actually was about pride month. I also do a lot of reviews for movies and music. I also make a bit of my own music with JaredMiller. His first song just came out on streaming services and it’s called “I See You Are Also A SoundCloud Rapper.” I play bass, synthesizer, programmed drums, and did a decent amount of sampling. I also did the artwork for the piece, which I am pretty proud of and I suppose makes me something of an editor/photographer. Jared is wonderfully talented and I was blessed to work with him.
Finally, I’m a film major, and while I certainly don’t have as much to show for that, I directed (in collaboration with Travis Hill as part of the now defunct BeckerHillFilms) both music videos for Bury Me In Black. I’ll probably be putting together some short films in the coming years.
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!
Uh…, I was concieved.
What are some of your pet peeves?
Okay, call me crazy, but every book cover looks the same right now, it’s nuts. 95 percent of covers are some person standing in front of a background trying to look dramatic. Either that, or it’s some minimalistic symbol. Go to the bookstore (if they still even exist) or your closest Barnes and Noble and tell me I’m wrong.
Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, but I was adopted by an American family when I was very young and have lived most of my life in Boone, North Carolina.
If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
I would divide it between my family and my partner, Duke. They’ve made my life a very lovely place recently. Seventh Circle wasn’t inspired by them and I’m sure it made them a bit jealous, but they’ve been an amazing part of my life. I’d probably hang out with my parents, then go watch some of my favorite movies with Duke. Yeah, that would be nice.
Who is your hero and why?
David Lynch. Lost Highway and Eraserhead will be endless sources of inspiration to me. His work is just pure… art. You can see his influence on my more surrealist works, like New York Onions, which is available for free on my website. He’s a bit of a madman and I think this video that shows him cooking Quinoa illustrates that quite nicely.
What are you passionate about these days?
Experiences. Especially being in a first world country, I am able to experience so much. Even with the COVID-19 stuff, I have unlimited access to Spotify. People who complain about not being able to find good music are pretty damn lazy. There’s so many different sound pallets and genres to explore that it’s absurd. You could spend hundreds of years listening to songs you haven’t heard before and never reach the end. How could you not find a handful of interesting things to listen to? Netflix and other streaming services make it easy to find any movie you could possibly dream of. Hell, if you have no internet access, you can go walk to a library and rent a book or a movie. If you don’t have the ability to read, I’m not sure how you are reading this, but there’s so much to explore out there. Even if entertainment isn’t your thing, you can download an app like Reddit and surround yourself with new and different ideologies. Or, you could just go outside and say hi to a stranger. Life is much too short to be bored. There’s so much to do, so much to experience.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I sleep, I write, and I listen to music.
How to find time to write as a parent?
I don’t have any human kids, but my partner and I have a kid- a baby goat named Cleo. She’s disabled and has a hard time moving around. She’s a heartthrob. You honestly make time. I don’t compare to anyone who has human children, but if you want to do it, you’ll find a way. Even if you have five minutes in the bathroom at work or you’re up at 2 AM, you find time.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
I am really bad at descriptions. Shit, that’s six.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When people started calling me one. I think that was sometime in the last seven years.
Do you have a favorite movie?
Lost Highway is amazing. Ari Aster also has some fantastic horror works, such as Hereditary and Midsommar. Most recently, I watched Come To Daddy with Elijah Wood in it and quite enjoyed it.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
I usually write with the idea of each scene as something in a film. That’s kind of where my meticulous descriptions come from. Seventh Circle isn’t a novel, but I could see a movie coming from it.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I relate to swans. They're very beautiful and majestic animals, but similar to geese, they can be extremely aggressive and have quite the ugly temperament. I think after people read Seventh Circle, this will make more sense.
What inspired you to write this book?
A few things. First and foremost, I am primarily a horror author, so it felt like it was time to challenge myself with something related to romance. Secondly, my aunt has always complained about my stories being dark, spooky, and evil, so I decided to write something more pleasing to her. Finally, I believe each of my stories has a representation of what's real in life. There's a simple set of themes here: love, beauty, bliss, escapism, and on the darker end, ignorance, obsession, and blind love.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I don't want to be overly optimistic, but at the very least, another free short story will come out this year. I can't tell you a lot about it, beyond that one of the major themes is maternal instinct. It won't be horror, but it'll be rather depressing and dark with some elements of Sci-Fi. It'll also be on the weirder side of things. If things go well with Seventh Circle and that next short story, I should have a third free short story out this year, creating a trilogy.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters inSeventh Circle?
Mia is supposed to be the dream girl of Michael. She's elusive, entrancing, mysterious, and too good to be true. Beneath her confident and quirky exterior, she's damaged goods. She has been used, abused, and taken advantage of by every person she's ever been involved with.
Michael on the other hand, is anxious, nerdy, and awkward. He's sweet but too clumsy and inexperienced for his own good. He can't help but wonder why someone like Mia would give him the time of day.
My favorite character is Richard. He's based off of this guy I sat next to in Math class when I was still in high school. This guy had a lisp, drove the nicest cars money could buy, and left class everyday to snort Xanax. He would sniffle and his nose made a whistling noise.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
The ending. You'll see why. It's only thirty pages or so. The journey is just as good as the destination. And just as crazy.
Who designed your book covers?
I used to do some pretty amatuer pgotography. Granted, everyone with a phone in this day and age can call themselves a photographer; a devalued art, I suppose. I designed the covers for New York Onions, Weeping of the Caverns, and Grey Skies. Seventh Circle was a pretty even split between Aubrey Flowers and I. I made the original design, she perfected it and made a few different versions of it at different sizes, and I turned it into a gif. I thought it would be unique and be something worth staring at for a little bit, even if it’s just a minimalistic symbol. It has some depth.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, I'm a perfectionist usually. If I don't like it, it's gonna get changed and turned into something decent. The most common complaint Seventh Circle has gotten is that it's too short, but I'd rather my work not overstay its welcome. Stephen King has a handful of books that are over a thousand pages long, and to be honest, he fills them with a lot of rambling and detail that doesn't do much for me. His short stories are absolutely masterful and feel right to the point. I don't think I'd make Seventh Circle any longer. Michael's story feels complete to me. I can't say a lot about that without spoiling anything.
Who is Mark Hammelton? Why is he in every single book by you?
I can’t say anything about that. Give me a few years and we can figure that out together.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I would like a bunch of average people who are decent at acting. I don't need an ensemble cast. The story is the important part, not the people playing it.
Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I'm sorry if Seventh Circle pisses you off.
How did you come up with name of this book?
The number seven has a lot of symbolism, both in religion and life. The first and most obvious is the Seventh Circle of hell, which is the circle of hell that is inhabited by damned souls who have committed acts of brutality. It is also held on a pedestal in every major religion; in the Bible, the world being created in seven days and the number being everywhere in the bible. There's seven capital sins and 7 Catholic sacraments. On the surface, this might seem a bit far off from what the book is about, but finish it and you’ll understand. The themes of obsession and infatuation are very prominent with the cover.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
A little bit of both, sure, but beyond all things, my writing feels controlled by imagery. A lot of my imagery comes from random things I ponder or dreams, leading to a lot of the strangeness going on. These images connect themselves together through logic and become their own unique beasts.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
It won’t be immediately apparent from the start. There’s a cliche angle that seems very “normal,” especially for my standards, but the story quickly becomes incredibly unique. It’ll be unlike any other book you ever read.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
Sweat and desperation.
Is there anauthorwhich brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
I actually was lucky enough to have a good conversation with Andy Weir, the author of “The Martian.” He congratulated me for being such a prolific author at such a young age ( I was 18 then and had just published my second novel. I’m 19 now.) He told me that he had fashioned a readership of about 3,000 people through his website, so that really helped to propel him to success.
What book do you think everyone should read?
Four books. The first is “The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck” by Mark Manson. It’s essentially eastern philosophy dressed up with cuss words and simplified language for milinenials. It isn’t as influential as some similar works, but it’s a great introduction to a very specific lifestyle. “Breaking Night” by Liz Murray is perfectly paired with that book. I found it pretty inspirational. The main theme is that no matter where you start, who you are, what you look like, or how much money you have, anything is possible. Finally, “We Need To Talk About Kevin” and “Of Mice and Men” need to be read by every writer. Both are perfect and excellent at description, pacing, and every aspect of the process.
How long have you been writing?
I started making little stories when I was in the second grade, but I really began pretentiously and meticulously writing when I was 12 years old. It’s been seven years since then. I think I’ve learned a lot and I suck a little less.
Do you see writing as a career?
I see writing as my main art form, regardless of if it pays my bills or not. I have film, journalism, and maybe things related to my Russian language ability to make money with. I’d rather use writing to make myself happy and share that with other people.
What do you think about the current publishing market?
It’s awful. Anyone can get published, including weirdos like me. It means there’s a lot of garbage being written and thrown out there, which devalues actually talented people and makes them harder to find. One of my favorite authors of all time has like 5 reviews on Goodreads. Getting traditionally published is costly and very very difficult. Maybe that just means I suck at appealing to the masses or I’m not good at writing, but the market isn’t very good.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
I like anything weird, experimental, or disturbing. “Cows” by Matthew Stokoe was really interesting to me. “House of Leaves” was also fantastic. Anyone who knows anything about that book probably will think I have some serious issues, but I’m not sure how far off the mark that is.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I love to write with music. Whenever I start a new project, especially a novel, I try to make a playlist based on the atmosphere of the novel. Seventh Circle never got one because of how short it is, but Grey Skies has a pretty sizable one full of dark jazz, ambient, and black metal.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I usually balance a novel with a short story. I’ll get a few months into writing a novel, then stop halfway through to write a little short story. “New York Onions” (which is free on my website, by the way) was written when I was approaching the final few chapters of my second novel, Grey Skies. I’m working on a super secret project right now and balancing a shorter super secret project at the same time.
If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?
The Bible. Take that as you will.
Pen or type writer or computer?
I have disgustingly bad handwriting. My partner is something of an artist and they always make fun of me for my handwriting. It’s somewhat ironic; a writer that can’t write very well. Typewriters are cool, but they’re mostly used by hipsters, people who like feeling powerful, and people who want to act like they’re really interesting. They’re the same kind of people who have a coffee-shop themed instagram and listen to Eminem and say, “man, all the rap out there these days is mumble rap. They don’t make the songs like they used to.” Don’t get me wrong, they’re wonderful machines, but they’re just not very practical. As a writer, I’m looking for ease and perfection with the process, so a computer works best for me.
What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?
I was always a very creative child. Not the creative type in the sense that I went and built computers or robots or was very good at math, but I had a very colorful imagination. I wanted some kind of way to use my imagination. I got fairly decent at writing and then it turned into something. As my imagination has gotten more specific and weirder, I’ve realized that writing is the most practical way to handle that. I obviously can channel it into my film and music work, but to me, writing is the cleanest pallate where anything can happen. In film, you need to have a crew, actors, a location, a set, food to feed your crew, etc.. It takes a lot of money and effort which forces you to compromise some of your artistic vision based on what is possible or what will produce income. I believe it was Banksy who said that nothing can be allowed to exist if it doesn’t make a profit. In my world, I’ve found this to be very true about every medium besides writing.
Adviceyouwould give new authors?
A few pieces.
We all suck just a little bit at writing. Embrace the fact you suck, find your weaknesses, and build up on them.
Show people your writing. You could write a piece that’ll be a classic in a hundred years. Even if you publish it and never make a single dollar, keep writing because you love it. Never hide your art from the world.
Execution of an idea is just as important as a good idea. If you have poor execution and a good idea, you’ll probably be ignored. If you have good execution and a poor idea, then you’re in a different kind of trouble. The latter is preferable in an economic sense, but pretentious people like me will moan and complain.
Describe your writing style.
I mix picturesque descriptions with digestible writing. It’s very important for me to balance complexity with accessibility. If you have a dense book that’s full of descriptions and not much else, then it won’t be very fun to read. I try to make my stuff just easy to read.
What makes a good story?
One that’s enjoyable to read. That’s about it for me. If I can read a book written for five year olds about talking goats on the moon and still have a good time, that is just as good (or maybe even moreso) as Moby Dick. Some books are just fun to read, others are a bit of a slog.
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first? What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I kind of bullshit my way through and act like I’m really good at what I do. Outlines help a bit when the inspiration runs dry, but for the most part, I write a series of images and interesting scenes I want to include. I think a lot of writers who want to do this as a career or in any format that is even mildly serious fall into the trap of never pushing themselves. They never go out of their way to write when they aren’t super inspired. It’s usually fun to write, but sometimes, you have to stomach through and do things you don’t want to.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I typically write experimental horror. Seventh Circle is my one main deviation so far from that. Take a guess.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don’t get upset at anyone offering constructive criticism to you, they’re trying to help. You aren’t as good at writing as you think you are, so keep working and listening to other people.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I think that every character is different. If your main personality trait of a character is being a female, then you’ve got a damn boring character. Sure, sex is important, but writing a female isn’t that much different from writing a female.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
It changes from book to book. Weeping of the Caverns took me five months, Grey Skies took me four. I wrote Seventh Circle in about a week. New York Onions took two days. The Black Box (which is packaged alongside Grey Skies) took me two months. I’m working on a novel that I’ve been writing for a year and a half. It really changes from book to book.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
No, it was made up by the Trump administration. Just kidding, it exists, but isn’t as hard to escape as some like to pretend. Immersing yourself in art that isn’t your own is a fantastic way to escape it. Music, other books, and movies sandwiched in between writing sessions can do wonders for inspiration.
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