Writer Interview: Dennis Villelmi

When and why did you first start writing?

I can remember writing short stories soon after I’d passed through the rite of literacy.  As a bantling I’d thump out bits of fiction on an heirloom typewriter, or pen pages of scary stories or science fiction.

Yet, it was really when I was thirteen that I had that epiphany of the pen after I had chanced upon Clive Barker’s “The Great and Secret Show.”  Barker’s prose was like nothing I’d encountered before; it was electrifying, sensual, and equally unsettling.  After having been immersed in such an intimate union of words and Barker’s own fantasies, I knew this something I wanted, perhaps needed, to do. And so I’ve been working with words to create my own worlds since.


Who is most supportive about your writing?

My father, first and foremost.  He’s always been there to tell me to stay at it; to never give up.  Also, I’ve gotten a lot of encouragement from two fellow writers and friends with whom I co-edit the dystopian webzine “The Bees Are Dead,” or B.A.D Press. They’ve been ceaseless in their support.


What do you enjoy writing, and what do you find yourself writing about most often?

Whenever I’m writing, invariably I go into the most tenebrous corners within.  It’s never been by decision; it’s automatic.  My writing is ever the vehicle for dark and outrè themes.  I like the surreal, the chthonic, because for me it’s always a matter of catharsis. As I always say, there is more beauty to be found in the darkness than in any place within the dominion of light.


What was your favourite book as a child?

“The Giving Tree,” by Shel Silverstein.  Such a poignant story.  My initial exposure to literature was by way of this book.  I can recall vividly reading it with my late mother and even at such a young age it registered so as to draw tears from my eyes.  Years later when I was, I think, seventeen, I picked it up in a bookstore and re-read it and it was sobbing by the final page. Simple, but powerful.


What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done in the name of writing?

Aside from the poetry I compose, I’ve also written up interviews with several veterans of the horror genre. I even did an interview with a certain Hawaiian state representative who made national headlines last year.  Incidentally, these interviews can be found on the aforementioned site, “The Bees Are Dead.” It always feels kinda weird when I send an interview request to someone in the genre, or the industry in general; more so if they’re in politics.  It’s weird in that, here I am reaching out by email or social networking from a physical environment that I can only describe as Dostoevskian, and it’s for the sake of getting the lowdown from someone I’ve only seen on screen.


What do you find the most difficult or challenging about writing?

For me certainly, and I believe I speak for a lot of writers, the inceptive approach rather feels like you’re trying to solve ‘the riddle of the Sphinx.’  You’ve got this idea, this inspiration to write, but how to collate any and all source materials so as to successfully communicate that idea can often be a real challenge. I tend to invest a fair amount of research into anything I write, whether it’s a poem, a review, or an interview. Writing is definitely an inward operation, an internalized journey that can either illuminate or devour, depending on how prepared you are when you finally set yourself to the task.  But if you’re well-armed, then you’ve got a good chance of slaying the Minotaur; that is, you can be reasonably sure of bringing the theme of your journey back to an audience in a form that it can both relate to and relish.


Tell me about the piece of work that you are most proud of writing, or about the writing accomplishment you are most proud of.

That would be the book I wrote and which was released on Halloween 2014: “Fretensis, In the Image of a Blind God vol 1.”  It’s a slim opus, but it was meant as the opening salvo of a series.  I would describe it briefly as Rimbaud and Kerouac hook up with Alfred Kubin and Bosch.  Unfortunately, the indie publishing house that released it went under not long after, and the book has been out of print since.


What are your writing plans, goals or dreams for the future?

Priority one is to find another publisher “Fretensis;” I’m very intent on continuing the series as I’ve got a lot of ideas that I want to give shape to. “Fretensis” has potential as a modern epic poem, and more than anything I want to see it live again. Besides that, I’d like to continue interviewing industry insiders with the aim of being picked up by a more mainstream entertainment industry publication.  Until then, I’d be quite content to stay on with B.A.D. Press as I’d like to see it grow into far more than what it is presently. Given the state of the world today, there’s more of a market for the apocalyptic than ever before, I think, and B.A.D. has the compass for making its way to the forefront of that market.


Dennis Villelmi is the author of numerous poems which have been featured in such publications as “In Between Hangovers,” “Duane ‘s PoeTree, ” “DEAD SNAKES,” “Aphelion Webzine,” and “Peeking Cat Poetry.” His book, “Fretensis, In the Image of a Blind God vol 1.” was published in October of 2014. (Temporarily out of print.)  When he isn’t writing poems, he serves as co-editor and interviewer for the dystopian -themed webzine “The Bees Are Dead.”  Mr. Villelmi lives in Virginia.