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Monday, October 31, 2011

PL INTERVIEW SERIES: BRIAN YOUNG AKA "DR. FEAR"

PARANORMAL LIBRARIAN settled down with the author, artist, and scholar in his mythic lab tucked away high in the craggy, snow laden Alps, far removed from humanity and its petty toils and trials.  Seeing the man sitting in the high backed antique chair  it was hard to find words for the surroundings.  It was ... a mad scientist’s laboratory as the sparks and sizzling of the energized machinery behind him created an exotic nimbus effect.  A white draped shape on a wheeled trolley behind twitching nervously - a mad counterpoint to the electricity dancing in the lab.  Every once and awhile the figure concealed by the drapery seemed to move and rise. The good author, however, ignored the slowly reanimating corpse on the gurney nearby but it drew the glance of the interviewer more than once!   The strains of  Ataraxia, an Italian music group, filled the air as he causually offered me a drink and then sat back in some satisfaction sipping a Code Red Mountain Dew!

Thank you Brian Young aka Dr. Fear for allowing this interview. I know you are busy with your wriitng and other creative activities.  Tell me though, when you are not writing or being Dr. Fear, what are your past times?
I usually am designing and running roleplaying games on Friday nights or studying my Celtic studies to some degree, working towards earning my PhD in Celtic Studies someday soon.  Mostly my hobbies have become my expertise in things over time and a career but with gaming that isn’t possible. I have been doing that hobby since 1984 and it has been my source of inspiration of ideas, storytelling, etc. to this day. When the season is right I like to camp too and be away from the drama of things and the noise and simply keep things peaceful and serene.  
When did you become Dr. Fear,  how did it develop, and what was your inspiration?
My love for Halloween and horror was so great during my time in Undergrad School that I had to do something about it and aside from my hobbies and art, I had no other outlet that I could think of until I was about of school.
In 2002, I was working at a local cable station as Board Operator to maintain the auction. I ran the audio, cameras, etc and basically produced it every night.  One night for New Year’s we did a Rocky Horror ‘Time Warp’ show and wanted people to participate in costume at the studios. The turn out was not great but the idea suddenly hit me that I had the means to make a horror show and should. My mind leaped back to the days of watching Count Gregore and slowly I, and my (then) and now late ex-wife Jaemi, started to work on the show. I wanted to do something that honored horror in a campy way, a little mysterious and creepy but mainly fun for kids.
So I thought about having the role being played by someone as my mad scientist character and I would produce it. I didn’t want to be on camera but no one was brave enough to take on the role and I was stuck playing my own creation. So we had covered all of the most basic elements of horror: a mad scientist, vampire and ghoul in our core cast. We would have on endless fun characters that would fill the other monster/horror archetypes.
We did six live shows on Friday nights initially at that station and midway went to Saturday nights until things became tense there due to internal problems, but I called the show ‘Dr. Fear’s Friday Fright Show’ at that point. We later moved to the local public access channel called Pegasys and I reworked the show and concept now calling it ‘The Mysterious Lab of Dr. Fear’. Every show is a learning process and still is to this day, the ‘Lab’ being where all of the action happens in the show obviously. It is the nexus point to the strange, demented and weird from show to show, though on its own it has never done a show but maybe someday soon it will… 
What are some interesting events from your career as Dr. Fear?  Any bloopers?
For our first Halloween event, we hosted a live Trick or Treat for the kids on Pegasys and had over 700 people during our hour and a half show, it was a tough night but very fun.  The next year, we and our friend Tammy Wilson, wanted to make a massive Halloween event for the town and over months created Scare on the Square. We had her on the radio show we do on Sunday nights interviewing her about ghost-hunting and one idea lead to another. Needless to say that event is Enid’s tradition now and has unequalled attendance for any and all events in town. After the previous year’s live Trick or Treat, I wanted something that could be epic and bring the holiday back to town in grandeur and this was it!
Another thing we did was give fun hexes and curses to the rival Indoor Football teams that would come to town. Our hexes jinxed many teams, or they thought that we had done so and it was a fun, eccentric period of the show in the early days (2002-3).
In 2005 we shot a show with our inspiration and mentor Count Gregore for the first time and we brought him to Enid in honor of our show’s third anniversary. That caused a fun stir and we even aired the fans speaking to him and getting autographs and giving him gifts of appreciation. Sporadically since, we have filmed with the Count many times over and each time it is magical and very fun to do.
We have hosted Improv acts at Sci-Fi conventions in OKC and I have many panels on horror, and still do to this day. I love doing it because it gets our efforts out to a crowd that is more populous and appreciative to what we do rather than just remaining in Enid.  There are many more unique and quirky things we have done to add to the list…
And as for bloopers, we have many of them! One of the first ever was by me shamefully. We had an old luggage crate for the first episode that I had to open to find Mr. Grimly’s body parts that we shipped over from our trip from Germany and I could not figure out how to open it. Again and again during the shoot I was trying to open the latches and could not do it and so we had our first blooper, luckily we were not live anymore and could pick the best take and I can edit it, but this was a humbling blooper.
Next year (2012) is our tenth anniversary and I plan to write a book on the TV show and its history, involvements in events and various functions and just a fun guide through the Mysterious Shows of Dr. Fear. I also will be filming and producing some small documentaries on our local haunted house and other interesting and fun people and things in our state too.
How marvelous! Broadcasting for such a long time you have had many interesting episodes and many stories to share. Something to definitely look forward to in the days and years to come will be both the book and the films.  What do you think your impact has been among members of your audience?  Your community?
For a while it seemed like we were unknown in town. We had no response or fan-mail and I felt that we were doing it all for nothing but gradually during our Scare on the Square events, haunted house visits and by word of mouth, I found out that people were talking about us. Children spoke of our show during lunch-hour and we were finding out that people would sit up at night and eat popcorn and laugh while watching us, so I know that are being seen by a devoted following after nearly a decade and that feels good.
As for the community at large, it sadly has appeared one of apathy and no appreciation generally. We are skipped over by the local arts magazine and newspaper.  Often it feels like the general populace would rather not have us present since we inspire the interest of Halloween and horror in a strongly religious community. But also, the public access channel is only viewed by less than half of the total population as well and that is a factor in some of the ambiguity of why we are not paid attention to.
Our influence will show in time. Maybe someday in the far future some fan will want to do the same thing and carry on the tradition that I inherited from Count Gregore myself? The trends in TV though leave little room for old fashioned horror shows because they are not Reality based or full of ‘real-life’ drama sadly and our way is one that is fighting to remain alive. There are more horror hosts than ever before now spread across the country, most are Shock hosts and not the classy old fashioned style horror shows that most of us have grown up watching, but at least the genre is still existing in some identifying form.   
What would you have liked to do with your show had there been more time, money, wider support, funding, staff, etc.
If I had the money and extra means I would have many more sets, characters and editing done by others. But because we are a ‘No Budget’ horror show, we are cast and crew. I had envisioned many sets, new story directions, better acting and production and a consistently well made show. We jokingly call our (not so) special effects group ‘Industrial Cardboard and Duct-tape’.
Where do you see yourself in the coming years?  You have a series of books in the steampunk genre being published. in the coming months. Will Dr. Fear remain or transform within the steampunk culture?
I see us still making the shows until our means to show them dries up. Pegasys’ funds are slowly fading due to some dirty business with the City of Enid that happened many years ago, and once that goes away we may move to internet based productions somehow. But so far we have made over a 112 episodes and will keep going.
This season I hope to make a Steampunk themed episode to honor my novel series and merge the two interests for one moment in time. I will play a Jules Verne movie and try to find some way to drag our show into it and make it harmonize with my previous work.  There are not enough Steampunk styled movies that were made to make a long running set of episodes after but I will look for what I can.
At conventions and events I will be mixing my booth now and merging the Horror show with my Steampunk Horror novels, meaning that my costume will be the same but with some Steampunk elements.
As a writer, what are your influences?   The perennial question of any author is always , "Where do you get your ideas"?
Over the years my influences have been mainly Robert E. Howard and H.P Lovecraft, in both story-telling and writing techniques. My horror influences are derived from several sources. First the dislike of the modern vampires and how influences like Anne Rice and Stephanie Meyers have created vampires that are less frightening and inhuman. They have made the ancient vampire into a pretty, seductive superhero that is still very human and it makes the alien and sinister aspect of them less so. So with this dislike of the modern vampire, I wanted something that is a return to the Old World vampire in its full glory, a hideous, blood swollen pallid corpse that thirsts for more and is sinister through and through.
There are no pretty vampires in my stories and romance is hinted at but the grim and ghastly reality of how awful that would be is emphasized, there is no necrophilia in my stories, at least not directly as a story focus. If you study early European vampire lore and my own books over time you will see how they agree unlike modern vampire literature which has pigeon-holed itself in a way by its assumed limits.
My next influence is music. I do a weekly radio show on Sunday nights called ‘The Mysterious Hours of Dr. Fear’ where I play horror, Halloween and Gothic music and stories, and it has helped me to explore the music in a way that I would never been able on my own. Music is one of my greatest influences ultimately. I see sounds as shapes in my mind that somehow, if it is the right tone and theme, can inspire me greatly.
Another influence was an old set of unused ideas about the origins of the vampires that no author has ever discussed really. Folklore and myth generally use the Bible as their basis for such origins but there had to have been an earlier Pre-Christian set of theories in Antiquity, and I look for those sources or deduce them on my own with some speculative academic hypothesis.
But as my common practice goes with my creative projects, I avoid all other works in the same medium and genre to keep from being an unwilling copyist of their ideas. I haven’t read one book in the Steampunk genre ever, only dabbled in some of the popular works to see what is out there that might be similar to my own. So far there is nothing and that makes me happy and content that what I am creating is original. There was just luck and chance that my ideas had a genre ready and waiting for them that is labeled ‘Steampunk’ and that makes it easy to classify it due to my strange and unusual technologies and inventions.
Readers often like to find authors similar in tone, subject, or style to another.  Who would most enjoy your work: readers of Stoker, Lovecraft, Shelley, King, Koonze, etc? 
Readers of Robert E. Howard may like my action sequences and how I set them up but I have no idea who would be the most fond of what I do, at least not until the other books in the series comes out.  My first novel in the series is minimalist in style due to me writing an unfamiliar perspective and genre but after the first book my style has more depth and color. I am excited to see the following books in the series in print more than the first actually! In book two I am comfortable in this style of writing and genre and let it all go.
My other novel projects have closer ties to many other authors but those books are yet to be written or finished. Once they are, people will see a great change from my current Steampunk Horror style I think, in perspective and story.   
When you write do you require a special place, quiet, mood music, a favorite chair or sweater, etc.?
Usually I listen to my iPod in headphones and sit at my laptop with plenty of chips or some snack and something caffeinated to drink and focus. Book one was written in my dining-room over three months bringing my notes and outline to life but in book two I wrote it sitting in my front-room on the coffee-table oddly. Once I get my music going, I can create and it always works.
I believe that I could almost write anywhere if I had my outline, music and laptop.
Who is Brian Young?  How similar are the two personas of author and Dr. Fear?  In the real world do you like sports or other pursuits?
Most have described me as eccentric and I used to not see it but over the recent years I do so now, it has taken time but I guess they have some truth in what they say. I was always very nerdy and still am to this day very much but until two years ago I didn’t want to admit it. Now I am happy of who I am and have embraced it finally. Personally I am academic and creative, those are the two words that describe me the best I think. Doing the shows and having been in the public eye for so long I try to remain humble and shy because I have never had much of an ego. Many people I have seen over the years are consumed with ego and do not possess much talent or skill and that keeps me grounded well when I am in their company.
Dr. Fear is different. He is a clumsy egocentric mad scientist that wants to conquer the world at any cost and do so without remorse. I wanted him to be the Straight Man in our humor that juxtaposes his evil aims and schemes and is almost normal in his morals in some twisted way compared to the lab assistants Grimly and Trinka and the other list of characters on the shows. I jokingly call Dr. Fear ‘the Doctor that couldn’t’ because none of his plans have ever worked or ever will, but he gets close. I am by no means similar to the Doctor! Once I put on the costume I become him for the shoot or event and then I am me again after it is off and I am away from it all.
Personally I am the furthest thing from a sports fan. I have more to do with my time than the fawn over over-paid jocks that simply move a ball from place to another, it is existential and does not benefit me, the fans or the world in the end. I usually like to pursue purely creative outlets in some degree or another, either with my artwork, writing, TV and radio production, gaming or planning and participating in events. Ultimately I want to live a very productive life and leave a legacy behind of the arts and culture that have influenced others and spawn other derivative ideas and be remembered for what I have done for the world, or my little part of it. I aim to always be a contributor and not a spectator in life...
The music faded and in the silence the hissing of the equipment seemed muted as well.   The good author, artist and scholar sipped his drink and the early evening shadows dimmed the snowy glare outside.  On the long journey back from the misty mountains of the imagination I contemplated the interview. Brian Young aka Dr. Fear will see published a striking and original trio of works in the near future.   They will be unique additions to the mythos of the vampire and the emerging steampunk genre and the astute will no doubt look for them.  One thing is very clear,  If the books are as complex and deep as their author, they should be a certain hit with readers.  



Brian Young will have his Silent War series released starting this spring. A dramatic and intriguing story line is inventively woven through the first book De Civitate Sanguino: The City of the Bloodthirsty. It is set for release on March 1st by Damnation Books. Others, will soon follow.  Young holds degrees in history from Northwestern University, Oklahoma and University of Wales, Lampeter.
[The PL Interview Series is a quirky approach to learning more about up and coming authors. For an interview contact whorlbooks@gmail.com. Put "Paranormal Libarian" on the subject line.]



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