Favourite quote: 'I'm a vampire! I'm a vampire! I'm a vampire! I'm a vampire! I'm a vampire!' - Vampire's Kiss (1988)
Leo X. Robertson is a Scottish process engineer and writer, currently living in Oslo, Norway. He has work most recently published by Unnerving Magazine, Helios Quarterly, Open Pen and Expanded Horizons, among others.
I’m sitting with my dad in his kitchen in Glasgow having just listened to the audiobook excerpt of my story. It was awesome!
When I wrote “The Audition Altar” I was thinking of John Waters films, and Anna Parker Naples, the voice actor, nailed the lascivious and sometimes hyperbolic tone of the text. I didn’t expect Ms Naples to do both the male and female voices, so it was a joy to hear her capture the gormless and naive Geoff as easily as the creepy and presumptuous Zoe Trope, and yet she made them her own. Even although I wrote the story, I was excited to hear what happened next!
It’s rewarding and humbling to have my story honoured by such talent. It also felt the good kind of weird, which is very much in the Twisted50 spirit.
The foreboding introductory music and the skill of the voice acting in this and the other audiobook excerpts I’ve heard so far has blown me away. It adds a totally new dimension. Fifty stories from fifty different authors giving a total of fifty new interpretations from fifty different voice actors in, what, about seven to eight hours worth of listening? That’s a highly compressed diversity of talent! And as I say, even if you’ve read the stories before, like I have—even if you wrote one of the stories—this is something new.
I’ll definitely get the Twisted50 audiobook when it comes out! (pre-order HERE)
Leo X. Robertson
I wrote a story about things I didn’t know I wanted to say.
To me, it’s about the absurdism of the corporate adult world, how graduates are coerced into designing their lives in ways that are pleasing to companies, perhaps unknowingly sacrificing experiences that would bring them unique joy instead of trying to look good on paper, two pursuits almost exclusively at odds with one another. In “The Audition Altar”—my best alliterative copy of “The Casting Couch”, not that I’d know what that is!—university qualifications and work experience become fetishised, revealing how banal and unsexy they actually are.
An aside: I think Snapchat and Instagram, two things I don’t understand, are the equally horrific opposite of that, making people think that everything they do has to be entertaining, pretty and fun. Life is about half-sexy, half-dull—pretending it’s all sexy or all dull, or trying to make it so, is dangerous.
It’s that expression I claim to dislike: work to live, don’t live to work. Again, the truth is somewhere in the middle, but in certain circles, you have to fight to live. Plus, companies now
don’t just want engineers: they want all-singing, all-dancing, always smiling, team-playing… you get my point. I’m exhausted just typing it. They’re not as impressed that you held down a
long-distance relationship, got married at twenty two, then not three weeks later your mum passed away and you began to teach yourself how to write fiction—all of this, by the way, is way harder
than an engineering degree or a work placement. That some of it happened in Spanish, though? Pretty damn applicable to the workplace!
That’s the absurdity of the disconnect between what you achieve in life and what actually gets rewarded. There’s enough there for me to write about indefinitely, because if I thought this was bad as a masters student, oh boy! Wait until the adult world!
I wouldn’t say I enjoy making people feel uncomfortable, but I do think it’s the most important function of written stories. Conversations with me typically evoke above-average instances of nervous laughter. Most of my stories involve the same—at least I hope they do. People don’t like to be uncomfortable, but if they did, why would I set myself to this task? I don’t think it’s enviable. In fact, I thought the result of my writing experiment for Twisted50 was so sordid and odd that it had no hope of being understood, let alone enjoyed, encouraged by a wonderful community, or included in the final book.
Twisted50 offers an exciting opportunity for anyone at any stage in their career. If you don’t end up having a story included in the collection, you still spend time with a solid writing group and network with cool, welcoming and encouraging people who were thankful you spent time writing fiction.
People like that are not easy to come by. I wrote a story about it.
Leo X. Robertson is a Scottish process engineer and emerging writer, currently living in Oslo, Norway. He has stories published by Fiction on the Web, Creepy Campfire Quarterly
and Schlock! He also has a horror novella, “Bonespin Slipspace”, published by Psychedelic Horror Press. Find him on Goodreads or follow him on Twitter: @Leoxwrite.
Read my bio HERE.