Tony Nesca and Nicole I. Nesca, from Screamin’ Skull Press-Part 1

Tony Nesca and Nicole I. Nesca, run and publish their books under their self-publishing house, Screamin’ Skull Press. Both give great insight into the current self-publishing world and what “underground” writing means, their answers brimming with enthusiasm. This is part one of the interview:

As you mention them in your site’s pages, might I play devil’s advocate from the jump here and ask…given the current weak global culture we live in and the social media dumbing down of the populace, is it even possible we will see another Anais Nin or Hunter S. Thompson in our lifetimes?

Tony: Well, outside of Nicole and myself, there are a few, but not many. And when I compare ourselves to two writers such as Thompson and Nin, I don’t mean personalities or lifestyle, I mean writing styles, that renegade rebellious sort of rock and roll scorn for the mainstream. That breaking of the rules of grammar, writing to your own rhythm, experimenting and reinventing, all that stuff.

Our writing is pure expressionism, self-expression, from the heart and from the guts. There isn’t any marketing research to see if it’ll sell or not. But yes, globally we are at an all-time low for art and culture, if not all-time, certainly a low of the last two or three centuries. Even the underground writers are imitating the mainstream. Vampire stories, spaceships, wizards and forests, detectives, spy thrillers, that’s all you see in the self-published, indie writing world. Outside of poetry, and there are definitely some great poets out there, the thrill in writing has all but disappeared. There are a handful that we are aware of, and I’m certain that there are more, that want to do something more honest, more from the guts and heart. But, as you laid out in your question, the dumbing down of the masses has enveloped everything that is art and culture.

Nicole: I have to be brutally honest here; I would say unlikely. Very unlikely, considering that the “woke” cancel culture has pretty much shamed, blamed, or canceled anything or anyone who doesn’t agree with them. I’m sure positive writers like these exist but won’t be found on social media. Mainstream is the current “like” for the moment. Writers are out there. Really great poets, novelists, and journalists who are being quieted and “liked” away from social media.

If you could describe the kinds of words you make, each of you, how would you describe your written output?

Nicole: Well, Hemingway once said something like, there is nothing to writing. You just sit at the typewriter and bleed. I agree. My style of writing is putting emotions down on the page, without censorship and without fear.

I once heard to write what you know. Most of what I write could be considered autobiographical fiction. It could come from an old conversation, a memory of someone that I used to know, a childhood memory, etc., and then embellished or worked to create a theme or an emotion.

Tony: I also write in that style that is called autobiographical fiction. Not all my novels are written in this style, but many of them are, and many of the stories and poems as well. So, I interweave my real life with my imagination, and come up with something that I hope is entertaining and insightful.

Stylistically, I write in a stream of consciousness, free flow style. There are sentences that can go on for pages, and then there are full stops with short declarative and powerful sentences. The idea, for me, is to experiment with the rules of grammar. These are not written in stone. This is art.

Again, in the site’s language you use the word “underground writers,” what does that term mean to you?”

Nicole:  That’s a great question. I guess for me; it would be anything that is not mainstream. Or doesn’t follow the river of popular opinion. Think Sex Pistols while arena rock and 20-minute guitar solos were the “thing.”

Tony: Simply an alternative to the mainstream. Books that don’t look, feel, or read like most books out there. What a Jim Jarmush movie is to mainstream Hollywood, our writing is to mainstream genre fiction.

What’s ‘street writing?’

Tony: Well, the hip hop and rap world is usually associated with the term street writing. How I mean it, is that the characters in these stories are reflections of the real world – people swear, people have sex, and we describe it, and sometimes there is violence and hatred, as well as love and all that other stuff. Street writing to me simply means real writing. Real people, no heroes, no straight villains, we are all kind of good and bad at the same time.

Nicole: Street writing, in my opinion, is writing that is laid-back, down-to-earth, and casual language. It can be heard in storytelling, folklore, comic books, reality T.V., soap operas, all genres of music, Scorsese’s films, Tarantino films, subway walls, bus seats, and has some honesty behind it. Topics are not usually about a fantasy world but rather the “real” world where sometimes shitty things happen to good people, or shitty people do good things.

You can find Screamin’ Skull Press here: Screamin’ Skull Press – Renegade Prose and Poetry (screamingskullpress.net)

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