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Interview with Stephen E Crockett



Interview with Stephen E Crockett, author and recovering drug addict

by Susan Keefe

 

Hello Stephen and welcome, thank you for agreeing to this interview about your books. You have written a total of ten books thus far, but for the sake of this interview I would like to concentrate on the ones which in a brutally honest way chronicle your life as a drug addict, and alcoholic.

Your style of writing is hard hitting, no holds barred, and brutally honest. Throughout the pages of these two books, Diary of a Drug Addict https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01MYX17O0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1488630094&sr=8-1&keywords=stephen+e+crockett and Black Tar: For the Love of Heroin https://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Tar-Heroin-Stephen-Crockett-ebook/dp/B009HTG9EG/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1488630094&sr=8-2&keywords=stephen+e+crockett you chronicle your life, which began with a childhood spent in a fundamentalist religious environment that was all too often brutal in its extreme. In several of your books the bible is used, not as an instrument of instruction and control, but as a weapon of abuse.

 



This is very true and the manner in which it is used as a weapon of abuse that can manifest on all levels of being, spiritual, intellectual, emotional and physical. This type of mental and physical itself is explained in great detail in my latest book “The Puppet Master,” but that is a subject for another interview and I won't go any further into it here. My escape from the savagery of religious fanaticism into the real world, to make my way for better or worse, as a child barely turned a man, was ill timed at the very least, and destined to fail miserably and completely. I had no idea the world could be such a dangerous place. I was stunned. My father's religion had protected and shielded me from so much that when I left his house I felt like I had walked from under my umbrella of innocence. I would find out the hard way that the world is full of distractions and pitfalls and I can honestly say that I wasn't prepared to say “no” to things you must resist.

Could we start with your childhood? You were bought up in, as you put it “dirt water, backwoods, religious fanaticism” subjected to religious abuse and beatings if you dared to question what you were told. Some say that this type of upbringing would keep you under the thumb and that you would meekly follow in your elders’ footsteps, but you did not. Instead you did what teenagers the world over do, you rebelled, experimented with drugs and alcohol, and it was this which led you along a lifelong path of self-destruction. Can you pinpoint a specific thing, or situation which triggered this?

My father enforced an incredibly strict form of religious servitude. Verses had to be memorized before play could begin. Devotions in which he droned on about one Bible subject matter or another preceded every meal so most of the time what we ate, we ate cold. No church we ever went to was ever good enough for him so after several years of “visit and dismiss” my family became known as somewhat of an outcast. And then there were the times when he couldn't find a new church to drag us to and so he held court in the living room of our home, where he burned in the flames of his holy fire for the benefit of his family, and his family, alone. And then there came a three month stretch in my sixteenth year when he did find a church that matched his religious fervour. We participated in every meeting, which proved to be a gruelling schedule for me. One Sunday the congregation was assembled in the main hall with my family taking up five seats on one pew fairly close to the front of the church which was where my father liked to sit. The closer to the fire the better. In the midst of conducting one preparatory ritual or another, a request went out from the pulpit asking for anyone in need prayer for a sick or travelling love one to stand and ask for prayer. My father immediately stood up and said; 'I would like everyone in this church to pray for my son. He refuses to participate in church events, never reads his Bible unless forced to by me and has probably never said a prayer in his life. He is obviously a sinner and without prayers from this church he will end up going to hell.”

I was beyond stunned. I was embarrassed, humiliated, and for the first time in my life there was no more tolerance in me for his religious bullshit. When he sat down I stood up, worked my way down the pew to the main aisle and from there to the front doors of the church, which I flung open with force and an incredible feeling of freedom. I walked home and my shadow never darkened another church door. When the rest of my family got home from morning church services the tension was palatable. My father was mad and so was I. Both of us were set in our way and when he demanded that I continue going to church I said “no.” What could he do? I was almost seventeen, had a part-time, year-round job and enough money to buy my first car. Which is exactly what I did. That car was my freedom. I had fractured the religious vice-grip hold my father had on my family he shrank in importance. I had won the day and several month's later when I turned seventeen I moved out and stayed with friends. I wouldn't see my family again for almost thirty years.

Since ‘free’ from the tyranny, did you not ever once consider going back, making peace with your family, and towing the line?

No. Not once. The world would have had to be a terrible place for that to happen. However, the very opposite occurred, I made friends, got a full time job, bought a brand new car, split the rent on an apartment and always had money in my pocket. At that point in my life rebelling and then leaving my family to stew in their vat of unorthodox religious fanaticism was the best thing I had ever did. To have the strength to stand up to my father and then walk away was empowering. I was now a man and I called my own shots.

You very graphically describe how it feels to take drugs, and the effects they have on your body, and mind, yet you were able to function for many years as an apparently ‘normal’ person, skilfully hiding your addiction from work colleagues, and rise through the management ranks. Your life, relationships, alcohol, and drug use are detailed honestly in the books. As someone who has never taken drugs I found them fascinating, was that the reaction you wanted to receive from your reader?

I found drugs incredibly fascinating from the start. I made friends who used drugs in a recreational way and that's how I got started. I steadily climbed the illegal drug ladder and when I got to the top, I found heroin waiting for me. But there was something more to it than that. I loved the prep time. Whether it be the pulverizing of cocaine or the careful mixing and cooking of Heroin. Finding a vein and hitting it first try was a; part of the process that was, in and of itself, an addiction. Nowhere is that more evident than when I describe shooting Jack Daniels because I didn't have anything else to shoot and was determined to shoot something. It was a foolish waste of good veins.

Black Tar, and Diary of a Drug Addict, have parental guidance notices on them, and I know as an author this is all you can do. However, I noticed that the different drugs, how to take them, what to mix and what not to, is detailed sometimes to an alarming degree, alongside the effects they produce. Did you not feel that you might be encouraging youngsters to try them, after all we all know children cannot resist something they shouldn’t look at?

I chose to tell my story in as brutally honest and detailed as I could because to do it any other way would have been a disservice to the subject. You can't understand how heroin abuse can destroy the veins in your arms until you understand what a junkie is doing to destroy his arms. So describing the manner in which drugs were used in a graphic manner was the only way to do that. The graphic content label is meant to warn people of the books content and that's as good a warning as I can give. These books are for adults. I don't write children's books therefore children should not be reading my books. Truthfully, I wouldn't recommend reading Black Tar and Diary of a Drug Addict to anyone under the age of eighteen.

Writing IS very therapeutic, and I can imagine that writing the diary and notes must have been very enlightening to you when you were able to look at them. Did you ever envisage, before the recent past, that they would be made into books?

If not for Create Space, Kindle Direct Publishing, and the rise of independent publishing and the e-book phenomenon, these books would probably never been published. There are a number of reasons for this. I refused to allow an editor to “clean it up” or “make it right.” I wanted the first-hand account heroin addiction to be as in your face as possible and I'm not sure your standard publishing company would have taken these books, this subject, from an unknown author and published them. I truly believe that independent publishing is the only way Black Tar and Diary of a Drug Addict would have ever been made available for people to read and learn from. And I want to empathise “learn from.” Some may read these books and consider them nothing more than trumped up tales of drug abuse but there is more to it than that. The way I describe the use of a needle to fill a junkies arm with pin-prick holes that result in ugly bruises and flattened veins is truth. When I vividly describe the way a junkie will tear into their arms repeatedly of a needle just trying to find a vein that will take one more shot, and that this is repeated several times a day, should make most people sick to their stomach. A lot of readers thank me for writing Black Tar because it gives them a perspective they can use to either explain their situation to loved ones or help someone they knew get out of a drug induced tight spot. For many people it's like looking in the mirror.

What is your life like now?

I have never been able to accumulate much in the way of worldly riches and I have all gone accustomed to that way of living. There is a name for everything and I once heard my way of living described as “minimalist living.” So at least I'm in style somewhere. When my father died in 2008 I reunited with my mother at his funeral. We talked about our respective living arrangements and I moved in with her. I have spent the last ten years living with her. If not for my mother I would have never wrote the first book. I would probably be dead. But, because of her, I have a place and time to write and I have made good use of this opportunity.

What made you decide to become an author?

I won a short story writing contest in the sixth grade and I've been writing ever since. I believe writing is a way to keep yourself clean. Diary's, journal’s, when visited daily are a great way to hone the skills of a wordsmith and for me writing is: “An economy of words” in which to work out your fears, loves, hopes and ambitions.

Who encouraged you to publish these two books on such a personal subject?

Nobody. In fact when I let a few friends read the first edition I was roundly criticised for “wasting my time on such a subject.” In their option living through it and getting clean should be enough. There was no good reason for dredging up the past with books that were so graphic. But I had learned to stand my ground at an early age so I published as planned with no thought or care for how I would impact anyone.

How hard was it to expose your life in this way, lay your past open for everyone to read?

I didn't view it as an expose' so much as a subject I had first-hand knowledge of and could truthfully write about. It's my “ounce of prevention” and I can't see anyone reading these books and deciding that being a homeless, jobless, drug addict living on the street and sleeping under a bridge as being the path they wanted their life to be. If anything Black Tar and Diary, are precautionary tales meant to steer anyone who reads them away from drugs. To send them, kicking and screaming, into the land of sober.

You are also the author of ten other books which are mostly horror and demonic type stories. I have read many of these and they are really good, creepy tales of horror and the supernatural. Where did you get your inspiration for them? Did the ‘experiences’ of your drug induced brain conjure the basis of these stories up?

Every book that I have written thus far as had something to do with my life. I have come at my life from every angle imaginable. Peeled off circumstances, mingled it with local crime and the mystery of a place, an environment or a group of people. I have an incredible imagination The subject matter for each of my books are drawn from many wells over years and sometimes decades and then, when the time is right, are woven together with an occult or supernatural horror overtone. I realize some of my subject may not be everybody's cup of tea but I also know that a great many readers actively seek out this type of book. So, to spark your interest I am going to list every one of my books, published to date, for your consideration.

One note of importance. The publishing industry is an ever-changing beast and I do feel that in time all books will either be e-Book or Audible. So I have removed myself from the paperback industry and am focusing on e-Books and the spoken word. To make finding my books easier for interested reader I am going to provide a master link for my Amazon page. Just link this one link and you will be taken to every book I have ever published. Enjoy yourself and get lost in a good book. https://www.amazon.com/Stephen-E-Crockett/e/B007TIQMLM/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1488814538&sr=1-2-en

In conclusion Stephen, what is the message you want to put across to your readers in the books you write?

I spend a great deal of time researching every point of interest that crosses my paths and as you can imagine I have files upon files from which to draw my subject matter. When the time is right and a subject has stirred my imagination the process presents itself. I begin by drawing my subjects into the framework of a manuscript and I faithfully flesh them out so that their environment and their role in it is understood. There does come a time in every manuscript when the writing takes over and the author finds that he is nothing more than a scribe. A slave to the subject, held fast by its chains until the end when the book presents itself complete and I, as the writer, am freed of my chains. I do everything in my power as a writer to make each book exciting for a reader to read and better than the one before it. I am quick to rewrite books that I feel need more work. I want the reader to have a pleasurable experience reading my books and I work very hard to make sure that happens.

Thank you for agreeing to this interview Stephen and for telling us about your life and books.



Diary of a Drug Addict, as reviewed by Susan Keefe - http://www.englishinformerintheuk.com/full-article/Diary-of-a-Drug-addict

Black Tar: For the Love of Heroin, as reviewed by Susan Keefe - http://www.englishinformerintheuk.com/full-article/Black-Tar-For-the-Love-of-Heroin

 



 

 
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