Updated: Jun 19, 2021
In the seventh of our Q&A features, we chat to the contributor behind our opening poetry piece, Those Who Come After, which sets the scene for both the terror and beauty that awaits in the pages of The Needle Drops... Volume One. With such a diverse portfolio, Alex provides much insight, several recommendations and a unique tale or two about his many personal and professional forays into the world of media, whether videogame journalism or the performing arts.
Alex De-Gruchy is a writer (and infrequent singer and actor) whose work has included comic books, videogames, film, short prose fiction, poetry, radio and other audio, and more. You can find him at alexdegruchy.wordpress.com and on Twitter @AlexDeGruchy.
So, Alex - the ominous, foretelling Those Who Come After is the first experience our readers will have within Volume One, a glorious lead-in to all things horror. Could you give us a little insight into your writing process in regards to poetry?
Funnily enough, Those Who Come After is the first poem I ever wrote, in late 2020. Poetry was just something I never dabbled with or read much of. But I’ve sung in a few bands over the years and written plenty of lyrics so this experience helped since I wanted to work with rhyme when it came to poetry. I’ve written a few more poems since Those Who Come After and my process is pretty straightforward, starting with a sentence or two summing up the basic idea and then fleshing it out with a list of relevant images, moments, emotions, themes, etc., most of which usually make it into the poem in some form. Then I write the actual lines and hammer it into whatever structure I think works best, and it’ll take a few drafts and a lot of picking over the smallest details before I’m finally happy with it.
Aside from poetry, your portfolio encapsulates a broad and diverse selection of works, from short fiction to videogame journalism to comic books. Which is your ‘preferred’ space to work within?
As much as I enjoy writing non-fiction, if I really had to choose then I’d pick fiction over it as I’ve been telling my own stories in one form or another all of my life. As for mediums within fiction, it’s a tough call. I like the control I have over something like prose fiction or poetry, not to mention the precision involved, but at the same time comic books and videogames have their own particular charms as well, whether it’s seeing a talented artist help bring your script to life in a comic book or the interactive storytelling possibilities offered by videogames.
Being such a multi-faceted creative, how do you adapt to different formats, especially in areas you were previously unfamiliar with? Do you find your key creative (say, written) talents easily translate across mediums, or is there a lot more deliberation and process in selecting your projects?
Part of me loves the performance and energy aspects of singing and acting – singing in particular – while another part gravitates towards the solitary nature of writing but I’ve never had trouble reconciling those things. In terms of writing, there can be some challenges and learning curves but I’ve never found it especially difficult writing across different mediums, at least the ones I’ve tried my hand at anyway, I’ve always liked working on different types of things. Although personally I do find writing prose fiction more challenging than writing, say, a comic script, song or comedy sketch.
"Part of me loves the performance and energy aspects of singing and acting – singing in particular – while another part gravitates towards the solitary nature of writing but I’ve never had trouble reconciling those things."
The “Metroidvania” genre is nostalgic for many, and you held writing responsibilities on the videogame Loyalty and Blood: Viktor Origins, which takes inspiration from the classics of such. What is a particularly fond memory of yours in regards to gaming?
God, we could be here all day, I’ve loved videogames literally as long as I can remember so I have a lot of fond memories regarding them. I grew up playing games in the 1980s and 90s so I do feel like I got to experience and enjoy the medium’s early years at the perfect time in my life. But if there’s a specific type of fond memory that comes to mind first, it’s the hours I spent playing two-player games like Streets of Rage, Golden Axe and ToeJam & Earl – I was a Sega kid – with my father.
Could you tell us a little about what’s on the horizon from yourself that our readers should keep an eye on?
A few months ago I finished writing my first prose novel, although who knows when that will finally see publication. I’ve got several short prose stories and poems due to be published in various anthologies such as Cosmic Horror Monthly and Ghostlight over the next year or so, and I also co-plotted and scripted the two comic book series C.H.E.S.S. and Blowtorch, both of which are currently being published by Second Sight Publishing. Oh, and if you’re a fan of surreal comedy / stream-of-consciousness nonsense then you can check out my ongoing blog The Diary of Poncho Bakewell. You’ll probably be the first.
What indie horror flicks have particularly resonated with you (if any) over the past few years?
I’ve always been a huge fan of horror in any medium and to be honest when it comes to movies I find the majority of modern horror pretty underwhelming – critically acclaimed films such as The Babadook, Hereditary and Midsommar did little for me. For a long time now I’ve felt that videogames have far exceeded movies when it comes to providing truly effective horror experiences, with games like Silent Hill 2, the Resident Evil remake, Zombi U, the P.T. demo, Alien: Isolation, and many others having the ability to unnerve me like no film has in a very long time. I think the added immersion that videogames can provide as an interactive medium is an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to horror.
"For a long time now I’ve felt that videogames have far exceeded movies when it comes to providing truly effective horror experiences, with games like Silent Hill 2, the Resident Evil remake, Zombi U, the P.T. demo..."
Sketch comedy is another area you’re well versed with; where does this originate from, and what would you recommend as an example of the “best” sketch comedy show out there?
I’ve always loved comedy so it’s just always been something I’ve enjoyed writing. As for sketch comedy specifically, my recommendations would be Monty Python’s Flying Circus (of course), The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer (Vic and Bob are tied with Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson as my comedy idols), The Fast Show (at least before it became too repetitive) and the first series of Big Train (the Bee Gees / Chaka Khan sketch is one of my favourites of all time).
In three words or less - what can our readers expect from Those Who Come After?
A poem, minimum.
Thank you for your time and gorgeous poetry, Alex. We think our readers will adore such a strong opening to the anthology: an indicator of what horrors awaits beneath the drop of the needle...
Thanks, I’m happy to be a part of the anthology and I hope the readers enjoy Those Who Come After.