BETWEEN TWO FLAMES WITH THE SEVENTH TERRACE
With the release of Forbidden Fruit, the second (or sixth, depending your reckoning) instalment in our Purgatorio anthology series, we are inviting our fabulous contributors between the flames to get their hot, gluttonous take on their story and the book and life in general, such that it is in these end days.
Today we welcome Mike Thorn, author of “Vomitus Bacchanalius”, a tale of ultimate culinary and dinner party pleasure gone delightfully sideways. Mike, please tell us a little about yourself in exactly twenty-seven words.
TST: Specificity is important and those extra twelve words won’t hurt anyone, right? Maybe we shouldn’t ask. In fact, forget we said anything.
All right, let’s get right to the oozing meat of it. What does gluttony mean to you? Is it inherently a bad thing? How does that play into your story of excessive consumption found in this unwholesome volume?
Mike: I was about to to say that gluttony is okay in moderation, but upon consideration, gluttony is, by definition, about the lack of moderation. With “Vomitus Bacchanalius,” I wanted to depict the celebration of over-consumption among privileged elites, and the incumbent exploitation therein.
TST: Damn privileged elites! We’re never sad when they get what’s coming to them, even with the collateral damage inherent in these sorts of… situations. Now, tell us about a time you overindulged, like really stuffed yourself silly…with anything.
Mike: One of my very earliest memories is of a giant bag of Jujubes that some unsuspecting adult left within my toddler-fingers’ reach. My baby id took hold, and I started cramming fistfuls of them into my mouth, barely taking the time to chew.
The memory is hazy, but I know someone caught me in the act and stopped me from choking … maybe the Heimlich maneuver was involved? In any event, this was an early lesson about moderation (there’s that word again).
TST: Mmm, Jububes. Now we’re hungry. We just did an trail ultramarathon and they had them at an aid station in the middle of nowhere. Saved our damned lives! Moderation? It has its place. Probably.
Which of your characters could you see popping up again in other stories?
Mike: Many of my protagonists don’t make it past the final page… but I have a feeling that I haven’t seen the last of Cate, from “The Auteur” (published inDarkest Hours).
TST: We’d love to see Cate again! She’s a survivor. So, since we conscripted a recipe from you, tell us about your usefulness in the kitchen. Does preparing food get your creative gravy gushing?
Mike: I enjoy cooking! For me, it’s a good form of distraction, especially if the meal I’m preparing is comprised of several moving parts—I totally zone into the task at hand. I have a few go-to dishes I tend to make often—tofu scramble; Beyond Meat spaghetti sauce; seitan sausage with mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, and greens; and a rice bowl with roasted sweet potatoes, sauteed spinach, pinto beans stewed in fresh tomatoes, and tahini-miso sauce.
TST: Drool. God, we’re so hungry now, ravenous actually. We’re tempted to kidnap you and make you cook for us. We didn’t just put that in writing, did we? Damn. Oh well, it’ll be worth a couple of years of fugitive status.
While we ponder that: Roman orgy, aliens, and effluent. Would you tell us a little about your research process?
Mike: This story took a while to gestate. When you folks graciously invited me to contribute, I took some time reflecting on the theme of gluttony, and it took me a while to “find” “Vomitus Bacchanalius.”
I spent some time perusing the Internet for myths and stories involving gluttony, and I came across an article describing popular misconceptions about the ancient Roman vomitorium (commonly misperceived as a place where revelers barfed mid-celebration to clear stomach space). It dawned on me suddenly that I could explore gluttony through an elaborate Bacchanalian orgy held by members of high society. The genre elements fell into place soon after that.
At the time, I was doing some preliminary research for an essay, and I was fully immersed in Georges Bataille’s Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927-1939. Bataille’s ideas definitely found their way into this story, as did the Schopenhauerian concepts that undergird so much Black Metal Theory.
TST: We loved it and are so glad you took the time to craft such a wonderfully horrible story.
So, what’s next for you? Any forthcoming releases, hatchings, or germinations we should be on the lookout for?
Mike: My second short story collection, Peel Back and See, comes out from JournalStone this October. I think it might be the darkest book I’ve written.
TST: We are so looking forward to it. Thanks, Mike!
About the Author:
Mike Thorn is the author of the novel Shelter for the Damned and the short story collection Darkest Hours. His fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies and podcasts, including Vastarien, Dark Moon Digest, The NoSleep Podcast, and Tales to Terrify. His film criticism has been published in MUBI Notebook, The Film Stage, and In Review Online.