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'Lockdown Laureate:' An Interview with Author O F Cieri

Updated: Sep 30, 2022

While O F Cieri`s Lockdown Laureate has a familiar feel to it, it is unmistakably unique. Dark, introspective, and filled with inspiring illustrations by Soren Häxan, the collection calls out to the strangeness in all of us.

To learn more about the story behind the story, read our interview with the author below.

Tell us a little about yourself and your journey to becoming an author.

I've worked in other mediums, but over the course of experimenting with different methods I learned that I finish more projects with my writing.

What was the inspiration behind Lockdown Laureate?

I used to struggle with short fiction but something fell into place when I went into lockdown. Not only could I put together a story in less than ten pages but I found journals that would accept them, and once I got a little bit of support I found more momentum, which led to more support. Feedback helped fuel more creative output. Not everything in LL was published in the past two years, but everything served the process of developing a new method.

How would you describe your collection’s ideal reader?

Readers of weird literary fiction, horror fans and alternative nerds. Nothing fits an existing genre, but everything has recognizable shades.

Do you have a personal favorite story from Lockdown Laureate?

Hard to say. Some could have been done differently but all of them are complete. I think each story has its strengths.

What were the challenges in bringing this book to life?

None. This book was easy to put together, and I'm glad I did it in the way that I did. My publisher is in their first year and they are insane and glorious. The illustrators are two of my favorite freelance graphic designers on the internet and their work looks amazing together. Rachel Lilim made a great, twisted cover, Soren Haxan lent me his portfolio and Evan Dean Shelton has been the mad genius making all the pieces fit.

What has influenced you the most as a writer?

I read for fresh material. Other books have other people’s perspectives which helps me flesh out what people see as realistic, predictable, unexpected, et cetera. The more excited a book makes me, the more I want to respond to it. I’m avoiding authors and titles because I don’t always use positive inspiration. A lot of my best work comes from reading something I hate and stealing whatever I think I can do better.

Do you have any other projects in the works at this time?

Yes, my third book, Backmask, will be published by Malarkey Books in June of 2023. It's a historical fiction novel about the invention of backmasking– which was a conspiracy theory in the 80s that music had secret messages encoded in them to make kids go insane.

What does literary success look like to you?

Less restraints, more freedom to do whatever I want. The more resources I get the more I’ll make.

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