Interview with Diane Hatz, author of contemporary satire Rock Gods and Messy Monsters
Rock Gods & Messy Monsters is one woman’s search for herself among the blood-soaked walls, dangling body parts, and alien-hatched explosions inside Acht Records.
It’s the 1990s. Alex arrives to work at Acht, her improbable blonde hair streaked stress magenta and anger black. Her first duty is to wipe blood off her boss’s walls, to clean up his blood vessel explosion. It goes downhill from there.
On the surface, Rock Gods & Messy Monsters is a story about life inside an entertainment company. A cast of comedic characters exemplifies the inner workings of Acht, where power and greed mask incompetence.
A series of escapades involve Alex, a hard-working, lower-level employee desperately trying to get promoted. When she does, she realizes her dream is a nightmare. Corporate executives are busy working with aliens to manufacture a half-human, half-robot superstar. At the same time, one of the doubly-named Senior Senior Executive Presidents attempts to overthrow the Deity in charge.
Underneath and between the lines of exploding body parts and brain extractions, Rock Gods & Messy Monsters is a cautionary tale. It reminds us that our dreams can be illusions, and learning who we really are takes courage and a commitment to self-love.
For more information – www.rockgodsandmessymonsters.com
Excerpt from Rock Gods and Messy Monsters
The blood didn’t bother Alex but cleaning it up made her angry.
“Damn it,” she cursed aloud as she surveyed the red stained walls and coagulated mounds of Langley ooze around her boss’ corner office.
Alex returned to her desk, her wildly improbable blonde hair already streaked stress magenta and anger black. It was coming to an end; Alex had to get out of her job. But with the worldwide recession and lines of job applicants she saw every day on her way into the building, she was lucky to have a job, especially in a major record company.
Alex put her backpack on the floor and unzipped the side of her head. She reached in and pulled out her brain, placing the throbbing gray matter in the customized, faux crystal cerebrum urn Acht Records had supplied her with her first day at the company. She had fought the procedure at first, refused to sign the Cerebrum Extraction Release form, but with times being as hard as they were, and with the knowledge that she had spent over six months unemployed before being offered this job, Alex knew she had no choice.
And after wandering through the homogenous maze of Acht, up and down forty floors of identical gray hallways and glaring fluorescent lights, she had realized she would be better off if she removed all traces of thought and intelligence before commencing employment at the company.
Interview with Diane Hatz
-What inspired you to become a writer?
I don’t know if anything in particular inspired me to become a writer – I wrote since the day I learned how to write. I’ve had a journal since age eight or nine. I write because I have to write. It’s no different than breathing.
If you asked what inspired me to become a full-time fiction writer, I took the leap at the beginning of this year. My business had shuttered because of covid; I had moved from New York City to Santa Fe a year earlier to start a new life, and it suddenly hit me that it was now or never. The pandemic helped with my decision also. I’m not getting any younger, and none of us know how long we have. It’s scary, and I don’t know where it’ll go, but I hope everyone gets to feel the exhilaration (and fear!) of trying something so new in the latter part of their life.
I’m also extremely fortunate that I had enough money saved that I could take a couple years off to pursue a full-time career in writing. I’m happy to skip a few vacations and some new clothes to do this.
-If you could visit your book’s world for a day, what one thing would you do?
I would have stood up to the boss that terrorized me (that part of the book is based on me, though fictionalized and made surreal), and I would have quit on the spot. I stayed at the record company I worked at and took it, and that’s on me. I will never allow myself to do that again in any situation I’m in or with any person I might meet.
-It’s two in the morning. What does your protagonist reveal in confidence? (Don’t worry, we won’t tell.)
She’s frozen with fear and too afraid to change her life. She puts on a good front, but she’s full of anxiety and feels that she isn’t good enough. The book is her journey through these feelings.
-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?
I’d definitely hang out with Hellie – she’s the entrepreneur of the group, and she doesn’t care what the others think or do. I wish I could have been like that when I was in my twenties. I also think it would be hysterical to hang out with Weena and watch her re-glue her body parts all night long. There’s an anxiety and loneliness in her that I can relate to. Alex is based around me, so I’d love to hang out with myself. Don’t we all wish we could share some of the wisdom we’ve gained through the years with our younger self?
-You’re in a tavern, and a dwarf challenges you to a duel. What do you do?
Buy her a beer and a few shots and get her to sit down and talk. Anyone challenging another person to a duel is in pain, so I’d want to find out her story. And I would listen, truly listen.
-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?
I’ve tried science fiction and wasn’t able to write anything worth reading. I think world-building is an art, and I’m not sure I have that skill. I know I didn’t fifteen years ago when I attempted it. Hmm, maybe that’s a challenge to take on sometime soon.
About Diane Hatz
Diane Hatz worked at major and indie record companies, managed a band, and freelanced as a music publicist. She is co-founder of The Relay, a fanzine on The Who, which is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She’s attended thousands of concerts.
Diane has a Masters in Creative Writing and is currently focused on writing fiction. Her book Rock Gods & Messy Monsters is currently available from most online retailers. Her substack “Next Draft with Diane Hatz” is a newsletter for creatives looking inward. And some writing stuff.
During her sometimes-surreal career, Diane founded the nonprofit Change Food, worked to shut down factory farms, organized & spoke at major TED/TEDx events, and executive produced The Meatrix, a Webby Award winner. She has studied with many spiritual teachers, including The Dalai Lama.
In late 2020, after 30 years living in downtown Manhattan and the East Village, Diane moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. When not at her computer creating, you can find her hiking, road tripping, or breathing in all the beauty the Southwest has to offer.
Diane Hatz will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.