Don't Do Drugs Irresponsibly Five Drug-Fueled Short Stories (Author Interview)

Can you tell us a little about Don’t Do Drugs?
Don’t Do Drugs Irresponsibly, in a way, was a test for myself. My first book was also experimental being from the viewpoint of a single character taking the form of his journal. That was only seventy-some pages, not the largest piece of work. So, I aimed to have something with more substance for my second book. 228 pages later, I feel I accomplished that, even with it being broken up into short stories. I feel this was more of a test of my writing skills, tackling multiple characters and more descriptive imagery.
Further, I wanted to bring up a discussion on drugs and other issues softly. For example, Abbie and KJ are two separate characters, two separate stories, and two separate endings to their stories, yet they take the same drug in the same house. Without giving away too much, I wanted to hint at why their endings are so different. Are there any external factors that cause the difference in their endings? If Abbie and/or KJ reacted to the drugs differently or simply looked differently would their stories end the same way?
 I also used this collection of shorts as a launching point for future works. Raheim will be seen again in a full-length novel. The question is, how long before or after the events that take place in this book?

Any plans to turn it into a series?
Actually, yes, there is. This subject allows for continuous collections of shorts following either the same characters or entirely new ones. Continuing this as a series can allow different perspectives and viewpoints and entirely different scenarios or types of personalities. It would also allow me to improve my writing on this subject. I feel this book doesn’t delve too deep into the more serious issues of drug use, and a follow-up book could allow me to explore that more adequately.

What motivated you to write the book?
I was actually working on a different story revolving around love and Valentine's Day, but as I was writing that and getting deeper into the story, I found myself disliking what was there. So, I pivoted to something that felt a little fresher. To pass the time, I was watching YouTube videos talking about people’s experiences with different drugs, and that sort of opened a rabbit hole on the subject. The next thing I knew, I was reading first-hand accounts of Datura trips online and using them to inspire my own short stories.

How did you come up with the title for the book?
Well, while writing a story all about drug use it only felt appropriate to have drugs featured in the title. At the same time, I don’t necessarily think each and every person should be doing drugs, so I didn’t want to falsely advertise that I supported drugs blindly. Instead, I support responsible drug use, thus came the title, Don’t Do Drugs Irresponsibly. The Don’t in red, the Do Drugs in white to catch the eye of whoever walks by, since it’s not every day you walk past a book in all bold letters telling you to DO DRUGS. But I’m getting slightly off track. With each story in the collection featuring a story going sideways, I feel the title conveys that these are not the right way to do drugs and that the stories you’re reading are examples of irresponsible drug use.
What advice do you have for fellow writers-other than run!?
To walk. To be patient and not force anything. Take notes. I have a Google Doc strictly dedicated to ideas where I jot down one sentence, one paragraph, fragments of ideas, or any idea I have that isn’t fully fleshed out. Furthermore, keep learning. Masterclass has helped as I’ve been taking notes during classes taught by actual authors. We’re in a day of age where nearly everything is a Google search away, and that includes improving skills. So, my message to fellow writers is to walk slowly and examine the nature around you. Take the time to let thoughts come and go, find time to sharpen your skills, and slowly put everything together until you have a finished product that you can be proud of.

Were their experiences in your personal life or career that came in handy when writing this book?
Most certainly, writing sports articles helped me immensely in writing Raheim’s section, while real-life experiences also snuck their way into the book, but I won’t go too deep into details on that in order to keep some mystery on which story or stories I’m referring to.

What scene or section did you have the most fun writing?
I would say, RAHEIM. His section is one I didn’t expect to stretch as much as it did. As I was writing, the pages kept filling and filling with lines as his world developed quickly around me. He was always a part of a story that will eventually be a full-length novel, but he is not the story's main character. So, writing RAHEIM, I was surprised and excited to see how much I was able to jot down. Besides, there’s something fun about knowing key details to his story that no one else knows. There are many unanswered questions to Raheim’s story that readers won’t be able to know until a future novel is finished. A novel that I view as one of two possibilities of being my magnum opus. Aside from all that, though, RAHEIM was a fun section for me to write because it’s a football section. I love sports, and football is at the top of that list. I used to write sports articles on Fansided covering the Philadelphia Eagles, and it brought me back to that. So, Raheim, I think, by far, was the most fun section for me to write in this book.

What challenges did you overcome in the writing this book? 
Of course, the typical challenges were something I overcame. Typical writer's block and self-doubt as I write. Not to mention trying to stick to deadlines and guidelines I set for myself while maintaining a balance of work-life, social life, and leisure time for me to unplug and relax. Personally, it’s the last part that I find most difficult. When I dive into a project, I get anxious and antsy, wanting to get it finished and over with while also enjoying the process of creating. I typically will find myself internally stressing out while I’m supposed to be relaxing because I feel like I should be working. However, I’ve been teaching myself that time off is just important as time on. Overworking yourself and burning out won’t make the quality of work better. So, it’s better to take a step back and breathe and relax rather than force words onto a page just for the sake of forcing it.

What do you like to do when not writing?
When not writing, I’m typically working funny enough. Being employed at a regular 9-5 while writing this book meant a lot of balancing workloads. Luckily for me, I work on a computer anyway, so during my free time, I would type my book while at work. Actual relaxation, though, I enjoy spending time outside when it’s sunny and nice out, playing basketball. I like video games too but I’m also a big movie and tv fan, and I’m always looking for something good to watch. While writing this, I actually finished Neon Genesis Evangelion, an all-time classic anime, for those that don’t know. I also finished watching Berserk, while Perfect Blue skyrocketed up my movie ranks, leapfrogging over Pulp Fiction for the number one spot just to be dethroned by Everything Everywhere All At Once. Although, I do have the three ranked the same, with 9.8/10.

Where can readers find out more about your work?
I only have two books out, but both are available on Amazon. However, if you’re curious about any of my old sports articles, you can search for my name on Google, and they will appear. In the future, I plan on having a website where readers can truly learn more about me and support me directly.