The following is an interview with author David Simmons regarding the recent release of his debut novel, Ghosts of East Baltimore, through Broken River Books. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Simmons about his creative process in bringing the story to life, his creative influences, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent release of Ghosts of East Baltimore! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise?
David Simmons: Thank you. The book is about Baltimore. It’s like a love letter to Baltimore. But it’s also about a guy who gets out of prison and wants to make some fast money so he can buy proper clothes for a job interview. But what starts as a quick lick turns out to be pure chaos. Dope dealers in mecha suits, ultraviolence artists, Greek mobsters, interdimensional drugs, gangbangers in gimp suits, and he has to figure it all out in time to make it back to the halfway house for his 9:00 p.m. curfew.
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in bringing the story to life, and what (or who) have been some of your creative influences?
DS: I love my wife, I love my daughter, and I write all my s–t in my phone. That’s my brand. That’s what I do.
I smoke a lot of weed, try to drink more water. I respect other drugs but don’t f–k with them. I read every chance I get. I be in the trap, absorbing the vibes, collecting dialogue to use in something later. I like to sell my stories and use the money to buy gold jewelry, gold teeth, Sergio Tacchini tracksuits, Cartier glasses. It’s all a part of my process.
J. David Osborne, Kelby Losack, Grant Wamack, Eddie Rathke, Soduh, The Wire, GGL Slick, Brian Evenson, Young Moose, 1090 Jake, D Harlan Wilson, Donald Goines, Ryu Murakami, Bloodborne…these are some of my creative influences.
BD: If given the opportunity, do you foresee expanding the world of the book or its characters into subsequent stories?
DS: Sure. Ghosts of West Baltimore could be fun.
BD: What makes Broken River Books the perfect home for Ghosts of East Baltimore?
DS: I don’t come from the literary world, the MFA program world, indie author world, whatever all that means. I come from the streets. Authenticity is important to me. In the same way I would not listen to a rapper that is capping, telling lies in their music, I’m also not interested in working with crime writers who ain’t about their s–t. Everybody within Broken River Books is sturdy. Authentic. We stand on business. We know about the themes we write about.
I was reading something from an author who didn’t seem to know what he was writing about. His lack of authenticity took me out of the moment. Basically, this fool has a part in his story where the main character gets locked up, and whiles he’s locked up, his aunt dies. But he doesn’t know that. Because he’s locked up. That was the first mistake. Folks doing time know everything that’s going on outside. Folks got iPhones in prison, posting on IG and TikTok and all that. So, how is the MC not gonna know that his aunt died?
The second flaw: The MC gets out of prison and shows up at the project building his aunt used to live at, and for all he knows, where she still lives at. But when he knocks on the door, the aunt’s boyfriend answers and gives him the bad news. The aunt overdosed while the MC was in prison. OK cool. That’s what’s up. Except the aunt lived in the projects, which means the project building is section 8 housing, and that type of unit would be in her name and only her name. They’re definitely not letting the boyfriend keep the unit after the aunt dies. That would never happen. There would have been a whole new family living in that unit.
Maybe s–t like that doesn’t bother y’all but these kind of inaccuracies, things presented as real-life scenarios in crime fiction that could never actually happen…that s–t takes me right out of the story and I can’t get back in it.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Worm’s story will connect with and impact readers?
DS: I’m a crime writer and a horror writer. I don’t wish to inspire or influence. My goal is to entertain, and when nobody’s looking, I sneak in some educating. In order to write a book that takes place in Baltimore, one must do their due diligence. I’m talking top-to-bottom research. You gotta get into the housing covenants and the redlining and the gentrification and the corrupt policing. You got to get into the GTTF, the Gun Trace Task Force, all the wild s–t they got caught for.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
DS: I have a few short stories that will be in some upcoming anthologies later this year, some more in 2023. Looking forward to sharing that with y’all. Also been corresponding back and forth with Coyote Black, hoping to do some work with them in the future.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Ghosts of East Baltimore?
DS: Ghosts of East Baltimore is available in paperback or on Kindle. You can get it here.
The trailer for the book is pretty cool and you can look at here.
And if you want to keep up with me on social media, see what I’m up to, all my s–t is below: