NJ Gallegos is Alien Buddha’s Featured Artist for AUGUST 2022

ABP-Hi NJ. Thank you for taking this interview… A few months ago, ABP had the privilege of publishing your novella ‘Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires’. Can you tell us a little bit about this story?

NG– My pleasure! I was watching a documentary about psychedelic drugs because one of my childhood idols, Carrie Fisher, was sharing her experience dropping acid. I had a thought of a man seeing a grizzly bear while tripping and thinking he was seeing a friendly Smokey Bear… before being mauled. ‘Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires’ expands on that, following perpetual screw-up Steven after a breakup. To cope, he travels to my beloved home state of Colorado to “heal” which obviously involves smoking a ton of weed, tossing a lit joint into a forest and igniting a massive fire, and taking psychedelics. Cue the hallucinations! Oh… and lots of bodily fluids.       

ABP– In addition to being a writer of stoner adventure comedies, you also work as a doctor in an emergency room… Do your experiences working in the ER ever influence your writing?

NG– Oh, all the time! I’ve thought of so many story ideas at work. I remember peeing after running my butt off at work and staring at an organ donation poster. My brain thought: What if a sweet housewife got a serial killer’s heart? Boom! The plot of my first novel which I’m currently querying. Medicine lends itself very well to horror which is my favorite genre. Loss of control of your body is one of the most horrible fates and often, the lifesaving procedures we do are a bit grisly when you think about it. Lots of sharp implements and blood. 

ABP– What is the art scene like in Washington, Illinois?

NG– I know some artsy folks! A coworker and pal of mine, Shad, writes hysterical poetry. He even wrote an awesome poem about my cats! One of my favorite stories involves the bigger city of Peoria just next door. A local artist, Joshua Hawkins, was paid by a seemingly normal landlord to paint a mural on the side of a building. So, he did, painting a massive Cookie Monster speaking Russian over the Peoria skyline. The ACTUAL landlord was infuriated. My fiancée made me a magnet of the mural and I laugh until I cry when I look at it. 

ABP– Are you working on anything new right now?

NG– I am! My major work in progress is a still untitled story about a physician who inserts “miracle migraine” chips that eliminate headaches into suffering patients who’ve tried everything else. And the chips cure migraines but… that’s not all they do in the hands of a devious doctor. Naturally, chaos ensures. I also work on short stories when the fancy strikes or I see a cool submission call. Usually some sort of fucked up medical horror. 

ABP– Can you share a sample of your writing with us here?

NG– Here is one of my favorite drabbles;

Primum non nocere

“DOA”, they said. The love of my life came home in a body bag. 

No funeral, no cremation. I’ve got something else in mind. I remember my oath, “Do no harm” and I reject it with venomous rage.

I stalk through the hospital. 

An arm from RM 202; she doesn’t need it. A fresh liver procured from the 4th-floor. One blue eye, almost your shade. 

I slash, my scalpel flashing. Needles pierce flesh. 

360-Joules surges, jolting her back to life. 

Both blue eyes gaze at me, a shy smile stretching anemic lips.

She murmurs, “Hello, my love.”

You’ve come back

ABP– Thank you again for taking this interview. If there is anything else you would like to mention, announce, promote, shout out, or anything of the sort, please do.

NG– Thanks for having me and believing in my story, ‘Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires’! ABP has been a dream to work with. You can follow me on Twitter @DrSpooky_ER where I post way too many pictures of my cats, stupid jokes, and occasionally insightful banter. And shout out to the indie publishing community as a whole. So many amazing presses and talented authors, amongst my favorites: Laurel Hightower, Sarah Jane Huntington, and Ai Jiang.


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