I’m visited by Brian Kirk this week, who has a new horror novel out by Samhain Horror called We Are Monsters. It is a great read about things going horrific in an asylum. It is rare that the first Samhain title from an author is this strong. I met him at World Horror Con and he’s a great guy. Everyone needs to download a copy of this book today.
Hi Russell. Thanks for having me on your site. Very kind of you, my friend. You asked me to talk a bit about what inspired my debut novel, We Are Monsters. Well, like many works of fiction, this one was inspired, in part, by psychedelic drugs.
In this case, by the most potent psychedelic chemical known to mankind: dimethyltryptamine, more commonly known as, DMT.
Most fans of horror fiction are familiar with altered states. But, for the uninitiated, DMT is a chemical that exists in most all living creatures, including us. It is presumed to be produced by the pineal gland and released during REM sleep and moments of extreme duress, such as at the time of death.
It may be what causes us to dream, and be responsible for what we see when we die. Some consider it to be the doorway through which our souls enter and depart our bodies (if you believe in such things).
A representation of someone under the influence of DMT.
When concentrated doses of DMT are consumed, either injected or smoked, the drug produces a 5 to 10 minute hallucinatory experience whereby people often report having their perceptual filters stripped away allowing them to view the underlying fabric of reality.
People also report visiting, what they believe to be, alternate dimensions where they establish contact with alien entities. These reports come from government funded clinical studies comprised of serious, sober individuals. Or so we’re told.
An artistic rendition of the DMT realm.
In We Are Monsters, a troubled, yet brilliant psychiatrist is experimenting with a derivative of DMT to see what effect it has on people suffering from schizophrenia. At first, the drug he creates shows great promise in alleviating his patient’s symptoms. It appears to return schizophrenics to their former selves. But (as you may imagine) something goes wrong. Unforeseen side effects begin to emerge, forcing prior traumas to the surface, setting inner demons free. His medicine may help heal the schizophrenic mind, but it also expands it, and the monsters it releases could be more dangerous than the disease.
One’s immediate reaction upon reading this may reasonably be, “Why the heck would anyone give someone with mental health issues an hallucinatory drug?”
While I’m certainly not advocating doing this, it’s not nearly as far-fetched as it may sound. There has been a huge resurgence in the research of psychedelic chemicals. And many of these tests are showing these compounds to have several therapeutic properties, particularly in the field of psychotherapy. While it may sound counterintuitive, these psychedelic compounds have proven effective in the treatment of a variety of mental ailments, such as chronic anxiety, depression, PTSD, OCD, and even schizophrenia.
The truth is that we don’t properly understand what causes altered states of consciousness, be it in someone suffering with schizophrenia or someone ingesting DMT. But there appears to be a biological purpose for it, otherwise it wouldn’t exist in nature, and our brains wouldn’t be designed to interact with them in the way that they are. Or, in the case of DMT, to produce it and release it into our system.
I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of altered states of consciousness, and am intrigued by the latest research being conducted in the fields of psychotherapy. What if, not too far from now, you go to see a psychiatrist and leave with a prescription to LSD? That would redefine the phrase, “Take two of these and call me in the morning.”
This general interest helped inspire the drama that unfolds in my debut novel, We Are Monsters. Probably not what you were expecting to hear, huh?
Thanks again for having me. Anyone interested in checking out my book can order a copy here.
And for anyone interested in striking up a virtual friendship, please connect with me through one of the following channels. Don’t worry. I only kill my characters.