Tag Archives: the wicked library

Should artists apologize for their work?

imageLet’s talk about artists apologizing for their work.

I posted this up on my personal Facebook page a couple days ago, but wanted to bring it to a wider audience (so, like, the extra two people who read this blog) to hopefully get some discussion running. I’m interested in your opinions.

You may have recently read about the whole controversy concerning that Sia video with Shia LaBeouf and Maddie Ziegler. Now, Maddie shouldn’t be any stranger to controversy and bullshit, seeing as how she’s on that nutty show “Dance Moms” that my wife watches. For that matter, LaBeouf has also had his fair share of controversy lately. All that aside, though, the point of this blog post isn’t them, but the fact that people found the video pornographic, pedophilic, and perverted. Whether it is or not isn’t the point, either, but that she apologized for it at all is the point here.

I want to know why?

To repeat what I said on Facebook:

Art disturbs you. And by disturb, I don’t just mean it pisses you off, but enlightens (geniuses have long been considered “disturbed” as well) you, sets you free, or shackles you. Art should exploit emotion, otherwise what the hell is it good for, and for that reason, I don’t think artists (musicians, writers, filmmakers, painters) should apologize for their work. Just be prepared for whatever comes of it, good or bad.

As a writer, I know exactly what I’m writing and why I’m writing it. I’m aware if it’s likely to offend someone, if it’s going to piss people off, and it’s at that moment during creation that an artist needs to think about offense. If you’re going to worry about how people will react and feel you’re going to want to apologize for it later, don’t write/paint/sing/film it. Otherwise, buttercup, suck it up, put yourself into the universe with your art and be proud of it.

As Uncle Stevie has said in the past, “If you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.

You can replace writer there with any artistic endeavor. We’re not members of polite society, but the ones who peel the layers back and expose the bullshit to the world. The world doesn’t like it and they shouldn’t. As one Facebook commenter said, “people see perversion where they want…” (insert Hasbro dick joke here…)

A story of mine, “Cruel and Unusual,” is one of these pieces. It deals with a rich man whose son is raped and killed and the revenge he seeks on the man who did it. It’s brutal, graphic, and I had the hardest time selling it, but I never apologized for the content. When I did finally sell it, I thanked the publisher, because it had been rejected numerous times for content and his response was, “Well, that’s the point, isn’t it?” Yes, sir, it is. You can listen to the story here, read by Nelson W. Pyles on The Wicked Library. Nelson’s received some pretty interesting feedback on the story, too.

Well, Brownies, what do you think about artists apologizing for (potentially/actual/imagined) offensive material? Should we or should we not? I think my position on the matter is clear, but I want to know yours, as both consumers of art and/or artists.

A Confab with author Nelson W. Pyles

nelsonauthorNelson W. Pyles is a creative jack-of-all-trades. He’s a writer, podcaster, and a musician all rolled up into over six feet of a badass nice guy. There’s a rumor he’s even recording a couple of audiobooks now. This makes sense to me because I’ve heard Nelson’s Christopher Walken impression. If you haven’t heard it, listen to the 9th Story podcast. You’ll hire him, too.

Nelson’s debut novel, “Demons, Dolls, and Milkshakes,” came out late last year and if you haven’t read it yet, you’re missing horror/comedy at its best. His band, X-Proph3t, continues to make music, and of course his podcast, The Wicked Library has been making all kinds of noise since its first episode, featuring such horror luminaries as Joe Lansdale and Daniel Knauf.

Nelson was gracious enough to take time out of his insanely busy schedule to answer a few questions I had about all his work, and what he thinks the missing Stitch doll is doing today.

Chris: Like most of us, you have a job and a family, so inquiring minds want to know where you find the time to write, read submissions and record a podcast, and then go play kick ass music? (I won’t mention the audiobooks…)

Nelson W. Pyles: I wake up insanely early every day!  I try to get as much done as possible in the short amount of time I have where I don’t have to be husband and daddy. It’s hard to do, but it is doable. Not ideal, but it works.  I’m lucky in that I have the support of my wife and kids. They are amazing and I couldn’t be luckier. The music is actually the easiest component. I write the words and sing, record and I’m done. It’s the lowest amount of work, and more satisfying than it ever was when I was gigging all the time. That sucked.  This is better and less difficult to juggle.

Chris: Let’s talk Demons, Dolls, & Milkshakes just for a second. I know you’re a naturally snarky bastard, and so I am, but every time I try horror/comedy, it seems flat. Why horror/comedy? Was that planned or did it just come out as you were writing?


Cover art by Maddie von Stark

Nelson W. Pyles: It really came out as I was writing it. There is a certain point in writing where your characters kind of take over your story; they have their own stories to tell and they tend to supersede whatever plans you may have had for them. That, for me, is a good thing. The characters in DD&M really came to life in a way I didn’t expect and I’m so happy it turned out to be such a fun book to write and apparently read as well.

Chris: This is the stuff of legends. You made a Stitch doll out of a football, sent it to Maddie (the cover artist for the book). She did her art thing, and sent him back. En route, he went missing, and he’s never come back. Conceivably, there’s a pissed off, six inch demon running around the Midwest wreaking havoc. Care to comment?

Nelson W. Pyles: In all honesty, I like to imagine that someone got him and freaked out in a very big way!  If the book ever becomes a huge hit or a movie, I hope that person realizes what they have…if they didn’t throw the ugly little bastard away!


Everyone, meet Stitch. Stitch, the internetz.

Chris; Everyone talks about the literary influences that got them started, and I’m sure you have yours, but I’m more interested in your non-literary influences today. Who, and what, keeps you writing now?

Nelson W. Pyles: This may sound cliché, but my wife and daughters. When I was growing up, I didn’t have any support from my family for anything I did creatively. My biggest support didn’t happen until I met my wife in all honesty. I write for her and the girls. If someone supports something you love, you should keep doing it. No one had ever put that much faith in me.

Chris: X-Proph3t. That’s some badass music. When’s the tour? Or at least a live show people can come see.


Nelson W. Pyles: Sadly, the band was never designed to play live. That was actually a stipulation when I agreed to sing and write with Chuck and Tony. XP is unofficially on hiatus. Tony pulled me in for a project called Novus. We just finished recording the album, and it’s a lot different that XP. More progressive, less aggressive.

Chris: Keeping in the vein of music, do you play an instrument or are just “the singer?” That sounds bad, but it’s not. I can sing (we all can), I just can’t do it well. I can’t play drums, either, so there’s that, too. Or the guitar. I can’t even write lyrics. Damn. Okay, so…

Nelson W. Pyles: Ha! I do play guitar, but in all honesty, I barely play well enough to pass an audition to get into my own band! I write the words to the music I’m presented. The Novus project was a really different experience; it turned into a therapy session I was having with myself. Tony would read the words and ask if I was alright…

Chris: Talk to me about The Wicked Library. You’ve rolled out Season Five twlcoverrecently. I think it’s a great thing you’re doing, balancing new and upcoming writers with some genre favorites. How long do you see the podcast running? I imagine the stories will always be there if you ask for them. As long as the listeners keep coming back? Or do you have a finite time period in mind?

Nelson W. Pyles; I really don’t know how long it’ll be around. Probably until it ceases to be fun-and for all the work that goes into it, it’s still a lot of fun for me and Maddie to do.

Chris: Last question. Writing, music, or podcasting. If you have to pick one, which would it be? Why?

Nelson W. Pyles: I’d have to say writing. It’s what I’ve always wanted to be and I can be that anywhere I am.  Podcasting and music I take very seriously, but for me it’s always just been about being a writer. I wanted to be in KISS when I was in second grade, but I wanted to write when I was in kindergarten. I look at KISS now and think how lonely that life must be. Writing I get to play God. I get to be the truest version of me that I am. That’s pretty hard to beat!

Enjoyed this interview? Be sure to follow Nelson on Twitter and Facebook!
To find all of Nelson’s writing, click the link for his Amazon Author Page.
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