And here we have the artist formerly known as… Erin. Aaron Crocker is one of my online friends, and he writes poetry and prose as well as works in the film industry. Book credits include Synchronicity and Menoetius, and Forbidden, an experimental dark fiction novella. He’s also an anthologist and editor, as well as an advocate for domestic abuse victims. I am honored to host this bookish conversation with my friend, Aaron.

Why don’t you introduce yourself to the group Aaron? Tell us how you got into writing, filmmaking, and the arts in general. What would you say is your favorite medium in which to create and speak truth to power?

Hi, my name is Aaron, and I am a recovering doughnut addict. In my spare time I enjoy dragging things through the woods at night and construction miniature guillotines out of toothpicks—since my HOA refuses to allow me to own a full-size structure, even if I promise to keep it in the back yard.

On a more serious note, I started writing as an undergrad. at the University of Mary Washington, and it clicked. Growing up an avid reader, I quickly embraced creative writing and it became a mode of healing, survival, and self-discovery as well as a passion. Creative writing acted as a segue into the film industry, another passion of mine.

My favorite artistic medium, currently, is screenwriting and directing. My long-term goal is to write, produce, and direct a full-length feature film based on one of my manuscripts.

You’ve written in various fictional genres, as well as spoken word poetry. You’ve also written scripts and made films. What has made you want to create in so wide a world (as they say?).

I create within a variety of mediums because, I don’t feel ‘claustrophobic’—for lack of a better word. Writing novels is amazing as is speaking poetry, but my spirit needs an extensive form of artistic expression or I begin feeling stagnant, but really, I listen to my intuition and I “go” where I feel comfortable at any given point in time.

Who do you look to for inspiration? Who are some of your favorite authors and filmmakers? If there’s one perfect book or film out there (not made by you), what is that perfect work?

I’m largely into philosophy, whether I agree with it all or not, I appreciate the expressions—Plato, Kant, Emmerson, Aesara of Lucania, Margaret Fuller, Diotima of Mantinea, and the list could go on, but I’m sure most people are already asleep at this point and I won’t further that.

Currently my favorite filmmakers are Ari Aster and Robert Eggers, looking to the classics it would be Tobe Hooper and James Whale.

And as far as a perfect book or film, I am not sure that I have ran into a “perfect” one. 

What do you think of the online writing and filmmaking community? Is there merit to building friendships and connections with artists on the internet? What are the drawbacks to such a community, without a face to face interaction?

Through my years of networking within the online writing community—and I will speak to film and writing as separate entities as the communities are widely different in many ways—I’ve found an interesting mix. I’ve made some amazing friends with numerous writers in a variety of genres. I’ve definitely witnessed a fair share of close-mindedness and judginess, but I am sure that’s any community.

I can’t say that I’ve networked widely in the filmmaking community, but I’ve managed to make some wonderful connections.

Building friendships with other artists online has its ups and downs. It’s beneficial in terms of having a support system if you need some constructive feedback on an idea. In retrospect, it can be a bit distracting at times as well. It’s all about creating a balance with that.

The drawbacks are the same as a lot of online connections, in my opinion. I think that looking to the internet in general, a lot gets lost in written text and taken out of context—we lose nonverbal physical cues as well as vocal inflection, so it’s easy to have ideas and feedback misunderstood. Even though I am an introvert, I prefer face-to-face interactions with readers as well as other artists.

You’re an indie artist of sorts, with many of your works done on your own. Do you see the future of publishing and art moving in a more independent direction? Is there a benefit to this?

I don’t know that I can speak to the future of the publishing industry, but I certainly see my professional future sticking to the independent industry. Having been traditionally published and having had two traditional contract offers on “Synchronicity” and reading over those contracts, I felt as though I would lose quite a bit of creative control along with royalties. The mainstream industry is not right for me, but I am sure there are other authors who love it.

What would you say is your one message you want to get across through your work? What do you want your readers and viewers to learn from your books and films?

My works are not the easiest to read and they’re certainly not for everyone. When I sit down to begin any creative project, the first and most important question I ask is “What is this piece going to say about what it means to be human?”  I don’t judge the “good” or “bad” of that answer. I write what is in the world and do so, mostly, from a realist perspective.

Some of my pieces, “Forbidden” for example, which largely hinges on cult and religious abuse and utilizes this in heavy metaphor where each word has a particular and deep meaning—hence why I left it to novella length–is not for everyone and that’s okay! Not everyone will identify with every piece of art. The relationship between Lila and Wesley through “Synchronicity” and into “Menoetius” upsets readers. “Why would you write such a toxic relationship?” They ask.

“Because they exist in this world.” That’s my answer. I write what is in this world. I’m not saying it’s “good”, just that it exists. And as mad as that might make a reader, I’m okay with that. I want what I produce to elicit feeling, whether that’s anger, fear, happiness, whatever that feeling might be.

One final question: What is your favorite movie of all time?

Haha! NO IDEA! I couldn’t pick a favorite, so let’s go with anything horror/sci-fi based.

Thank you so much for talking with me today Aaron. For those of you who would like to know more about our guest, his Facebook page can be found here.

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