THINGS YOU NEED: An interview with Gavin Patchett

Herein, we have our new correspondent, Hiram Grange, with his first assignment: to talk with author and educator Gavin Patchett about something Gavin is doing or has coming out or some nonsense like that. There are Things You Need hidden somewhere withing this. To that, I can attest.

Hiram Grange: So, who the hell are you?

Gavin Patchett: Uh...My name's Gavin Patchett. I'm a writer and a literature teacher at a small community college in the Adirondacks...and what's with the monkey? Why is it on a leash and wearing diapers? And...did you paint a Hitler mustache on it? What's up with that?

H.G.: Oh, him? Yeah. There was this one time I hunted down Hitler. Well, Hitler's clone. Clones. There were a few few of them. It got a bit blurry for a chunk, once the pills kicked in. I don't really feel like digging up those corpses right now, though. I heard you got into some dicey bits, too, eh?

G.P.: Well...yes. About ten years ago, I...well, I was at a Convention in Portsmouth, and I'd had a little to drink...well, a LOT...and I got into a car accident. Almost died. And, while I was unconscious, I...saw things. Things I'm still not sure were real or not...but they changed me. For sure.

H.G.: Now, we're talking. What kind of thing? Like an army of Garden Gnomes led by a zombie housewife in a mumu?

G.P.: Uh, no. More like an cosmic conflict between this big, squishy, tentacled thing I couldn't quite see, and some little boy with weird blue eyes, who might have been Jesus. Or something. I'd lost a lot of blood, honestly. Anyway, this boy-Jesus-Thing warned me some sort of conflict was coming, and I had to choose sides. Use my writing for good or evil, I guess.

H.G.: Cosmic forces, am I right? Always with the binary choices. Using other people's skills for whatever they want. Wouldn't it be nice if one or the other just said to do what you want, or at least used a bit of that cosmic juju to whip up a nice bottle the old emerald love?

G.P.: It WOULD be nice if a little appreciation were shown, yes. I mean, talk about PRESSURE. A cosmic entity posing as a little boy in an abandoned diner that's really a pocket dimension (or maybe was me hallucinating while I was bleeding out) gives you dire warnings about how what you write is Truth, and Fiction is the Lie that Tells the Truth, and that what you write will come to pass, or you see the Truth that no one else does, and now you must write that Truth, and the thin line between Reality Truth and Story's like a Tim O'brien meta fictional Vietnam War novel, but not nearly as exciting. Almost enough to make me want to drink aga....

Okay. Uh. Wait. What are you doing with a Jodi Foster picture in your wallet, why'd you just take it out, and why're you looking at it so weird..?

H.G.: What do you mean, why am I looking at it? It's Jodi. You not a fan of fine cinema and even finer women? Have you never seen Taxi Driver or The Secret Life of T.K. Dearing? Sure, Contact was bullshit. Making us wait around forever to see some weird, goopy and tentacled up aliens like those ones I stumbled across back in '93 only to have them be her dad. But, she was still Jodi and I still had to watch, you know.

But fine, prude. You’re almost as dull as that Loosh I worked with way back when but I'll put it away. Buzzkill. You mentioned something about a drink? I happen to have a nip or twelve of my dear, sweet green fairy if you'd like.

Most people just use water like boring tools, but I prefer the Hemingway recipe with a little Coleridge topper, myself. While I pour us out a couple, I guess you can tell me a bit about your books. I think you said something about writing something at some point, right? And I'm not being paid to do the five finger mambo with you here.

G.P.: I'll just have a water, thanks. Went on the wagon after that car accident, and while it's touch and go sometimes, I'm gonna try and stay on it a bit longer.

H.G.: Water. Humpf. You fish make with the wild undulating in that stuff, right. The guys just spray it all around, hoping a bit lands on an egg or two. I, for one, never touch the stuff.

G.P.: Um. Right. Anyway, yes. I used to be a midlist science fiction writer. Mostly wrote media tie-ins for video games and television shows. It was solid work, and paid enough so I could write full time. Unfortunately, I thought I was more important than I was. Got to be pretty big-headed. An ass, actually. Alienated my colleagues, my editor and agent, and the few fans I had.

The accident sent me back to Clifton Heights with my tail between my legs, so I certainly didn't think I was such a big deal, anymore. But it took awhile to put away the booze, and even then, I didn't WRITE the stories on my first collection, Things Slip Through so much as I...channeled them, I think.

That monkey doesn't look so good, by the way. It's been lying there for, like, ten minutes. Is it...dead?

H.G.: -ish., but he'll be fine. Just needs a nap sometimes. A real deep nap.

Channeled. I like that. Let's say that's what happened with a few yarns of my own that are floating out there. I channeled them into the skulls of a few writers who thought they could do something with what they heard screaming through the walls when I lived next to them. They didn't do too horrible of a job with it, once I channeled them in just the right way. You don't look much like the channeling type, though.

G.P.: I'm not sure if channeled is the right word, honestly. At first I thought I was just writing stories to deal with....well, deal with some of the dark stuff I had rattling around inside my head. I mean, yeah, I mostly wrote science fiction and now I was writing horror or weird fiction, something like that...but I thought I was just...processing. And yeah, sure, I was imagining all these stories taking place in Clifton Heights, but even so. At first, I thought it was just convenient setting.

But then I starting seeing reports in the news - in the paper, and on television - that bore an eerie resemblance to the stories I was writing. Or I'd hear Clifton Heights urban legends I'd never heard of before (I thought, anyway), and I started wondering: which came first? The story I'd written, or something I'd heard that maybe subconsciously inspired those stories.

It hasn't happened since then. DEVOURER OF SOULS, THROUGH A MIRROR, DARKLY, and this new collection, THINGS YOU NEED, we're certainly inspired by the strange happenings of Clifton Heights, but through stories I've most certainly heard second or third hand. It worries me, though, that it might happen again. Especially after that vision or hallucination or whatever I had about the End coming, and me being Herald for it.

Seriously, man. I think that chimp is dead. What...what's that on it's skull? Is that, like...a metal cap? With wires? My god. Is that, like...a cybernetic chimp? I know I've read a story about that, somewhere....

H.G.: Dammit! I forgot about Bobby running his damn mouth and that damn book and he didn't even pay up. At least Scott had the decency to pony over some good pills. Just...

Just forget about the chimp, alright. My lips and my Jodi are dry and that needs to be fixed ASAP and you need to get walking with your Chosen One nonsense. Everyone thinks they are the center of the end of days, but none of you fools are willing to run into with an old Webley, a bottle of green heaven and a smile. I've already walked that road more times than I care to count and it sure as shit ain't what it's cracked up to be.

G.P.: Whoa, Grange. Relax. I'm not the one with nude pictures of Jodi Foster in my wallet, and dead cybernetic chimps lying around my trashed Gulfstream Trailer...


Chosen One. What the hell do you know about that? Did Mab send you? I've been dreaming lately about maggots and these big tentacled wthings and someone named Mab and she like the queen of the fairie, and I was going to write this story about it, and....


Hiram Grange is most definitely not an estranged member of a certain unnamed collective and beyond a doubt never traveled the world hunting and killing voracious, grotesque monsters and holding of the constantly impending end of days for fun and profit. Nevermind what those idiot authors said in their clearly bullshit books. Except for Scott. Seriously, I am always available if you have some more treats with you.

Gavin Patchett is the author of Things Slip Through, Devourer of Souls, Through a Mirror, Darkly, and Things You Need. He's currently working on his first novel, The Mighty Dead. He lives in Clifton Heights, New York, and teaches literature and creative writing at Webb Community College.