Corey Croft and his novels Coward, Furies, and Becoming Buddha

Lois Lane Investigates Authors
11 min readMar 5, 2021
Author Corey Croft

Corey Croft is from Surrey BC, Canada. His use of gallows humor helps to him stumble gracefully in a meaningless world. He avoids eye contact with strangers and doesn’t understand most kinds of science. As a child he was taken to church every Sunday and worried that every time it rained it would flood, biblically.

Here’s an interview with him about his work and writing philosophy:

When we first talked, you mentioned that you deal with depression and anxiety, but that you don’t mind making fun of those things in your writing. How did you reach that point, and does that help you deal with those feelings?

I’ve always had a very dry and dark sense of humour. I think it’s just the way that I took-in the things around me, which was always a little different from my peers, and probably contributed to a lifetime of making tsunamis out of minute ripples in the water. It’s better now, I learned out to paddle with the current.

There was a point when either my delivery got better, or the world got drier and darker enough to match my mind, and I started to draw people in instead of offending them and pushing them away. I believe that we all feel the same things, albeit with varying intensity. If anything, humour tends to lower the drawbridge and open conversations. It eases people to listen to someone treating tragic feelings and situations with degree of lightness. It helps them feel ‘normal’ and allows us to be ourselves: to start addressing these feelings, to think about them, to talk about them. Which for some, is borderline taboo, even in their own mind.

We all get depressed, nervous, eaten with worry, but we rarely assume the person sitting next to us does or is capable of feeling what we feel. The feeling of building the next-man up to a colossal stature, for no other reason than our own anxiety. Humour is a way of opening up, without making it appear salient or direct, tempering the atmosphere, and showing others what lies beneath our fleshy surfaces. I’m not just two eyes a nose and red hair; I’m a real human with real emotions who is often challenged by the weight of his thoughts and fears.

Normalizing things like anxiety and sadness is important. On a societal level, it allows people to act and behave like humans, which is something that was repressed for so long with extended narratives about putting on a pretty face or being a tough guy. You are pretty with mascara running from sad-tears and tough worrying that the earth will open up at any moment and swallow your most loved ones whole. If anything, I think that makes us much more beautiful and gritty than bottling it in and suffering silently.

Humour is more than a panacea. It can be a medicine that succours our pain, but has a greater purpose still. It instigates a journey towards a healthier mind while enlisting passers-by to join, whether they realize it or not. Its true beauty is getting people to laugh at it, because it’s funny, and with it because it’s relatable.

At least two of your books have characters described as rather ordinary and mediocre. What draws you to that sort of character, and do you think ordinary characters can be dramatic enough to drive a story along?

The every-person is a great canvas, but a better easel.

An ordinary protagonist, with its own idiosyncrasies and perspectives, is a relatable shepherd for the reader to explore the fictional landscape. They chaperone the reader through a world which is curated to challenge, confront and ultimately test them. Whether they are dynamic or passive, they possess tend to possess qualities that we can see in ourselves, and strengthen our connection to the story and our ability to be consumed by the story. If we don’t see ourselves in the character based on the traits that the author has imbued in them, then we most likely can still liken them to someone who we do know, and fascinate at the arc of Sarah or Billy’s journey.

They can also afford the author the luxury of neutrality. A pawn who interacts with secondary or tertiary characters who play the role of ideological or philosophical drivers. The protagonist becomes a fly on-the-wall, almost a journalist, which permits us to see watch dialectic unfold through the viewpoints of others. Also, if the author is focused on world-building, imagery, description or theory, the ordinary protagonist can shoulder the weight of the picture.

Your book The Furies is about teens surviving a rough neighborhood. How do you effectively write teen characters? Some writers create spoiled brats, others craft unrealistically perfect mini-adults who save the world while earning straight A’s and being homecoming queens. How do you create that balance?

The important thing about teens is that they are adults, but younger. They are complex and diverse cats that have lives which are just as compelling or boring as grown-ups. They think of themselves as grown, knowing all the answers and having everything figured out. I suppose by that definition, there are a lot of adult characters that we may do too much justice to. At any rate, teen characters deserve to be treated as any adult character would, with the same time dedicated to weave their complex web of attributes.

As we get older, I feel that we tend to downplay our younger selves. Adults, we’re a tad arrogant, no? We reckon that because we were (or anyone) younger, we couldn’t have been wise, capable or likely to handle a situation with tact and grace. While I was writing The Furies, I was reminded that life was tough. There were situations that I learned from, but still had to go through them. It was much more strenuous than it is now, with the onslaught of hormones and new experiences to negotiate. There were forks in the road, almost daily, that had lifelong consequences which I may still suffer the effects of today.

It comes down to never simplifying any characters, young or old. Clichés exist mainly when the writing is lazy. There are infinite characters that embody long-standing, concretized tropes. However, it’s not because of that warm-bath familiarity that we love them. It’s because the author has taken the time to enrich their backstory, to add the elements that make us care about and have empathy for them. I Ask yourself: “would I want to be written like this?” Is the entire aspect of your multifarious soul being captured adequately? Has the author painted you majestically or kicked sand on your identity? The same question, reversed: “would the character be pleased with this?”

The characters in the Furies are real. For me, that is where they fly highest. Whether they are based on actual people or imaginary personages, they are real.

Do you have thoughts on why YA fiction has become so popular? What do you think is drawing people to the narrative of teens who shoulder the responsibility for saving the world? (Personally I think that has to do with Generation X realizing how much of a mess we made/let the world fall into and our realizing that the Millennials are starting to get a clue about some things).

It’s interesting, that authors often downplay the complexity of teenager life, giving them facile characteristics, yet charge them with the fate of the city/world/universe. I don’t think that the two are exclusive, mind you. We love an easy-to-follow, underdog story. Taking a group of naïve, aggressively uncomplicated heroes and pitting them against an unstoppable force is old hat. However, old hats don’t need to be broken in and fits naturally. The resurgence of attention to comic books through cinema, where most characters are stuck in their teens and early-adulthood, plays a major role.

It’s comfort. It’s the zenith of fantasy. It’s a way to ensure that all contemporary trends are capitalized on, and classic, even tired tropes are renovated and revitalized. In other words, it’s a brand new sword for the same old battle.

I feel as though you are correct as well. That it is up to the new generation to lead us out. But, again, it harkens back to the post war era. It’s cyclical. Things are built to be razed, built again to be torn down. I feel that we will see another rise of grunge culture in the media once again. It has persevered, pieces have remained, but I mean its marketability and mainstream commercial appeal.

Life is more complicated now than previous decade, due to our ability to communicate, research and be influenced at the speed of a blink. However, people are not far from our ancestors that lived a millennium ago. We’re more alike than we care to admit. We haven’t evolved genetically, but we’ve evolved the world around us, socially and technologically. This has been accomplished through the continuous efforts of the next generation. The ones that we may simplify and underplay, are the same ones that we place our trust for in a better tomorrow. It’s a story that keeps on inspiring.

Do you think teens grow up faster if they struggle, or come from a rough area? Are the teens in The Furies more grown up?

I don’t subscribe to the notion that children from poorer areas grow up faster. I used to, but that has changed. They grow up different, how two branches split from a tree. It depends how you qualify maturation, even adulthood. Because a two pre-teens lose their virginity, are they ready for the consequences? Because a 16-year-old can be tried like an adult, does that make him one?

Coming from a poor area can expose you to things others may never bear witness. It can harden you. Leave you a cynic. There’s charm in having a street-wise acumen and being nice with the hands. But, what good is that when opening a bank account or forms or things that come natural to people who grew up without the constraints and harassment of their environment? Trial and error can mean life or death. Supervision can be minimal. Justice is either mitigated by a street code that prizes the strong and punishes the weak, or system that is lackadaisical until overly severe. Lessons are often learnt through consequences, which can alter one’s path forever. Are most adults surrounded by pitfalls of low-income and low-opportunity? Do you grow up faster running breathless to jump over widening 1000-foot drops, or walking at an agreeable pace, taking in the scenery and being able to stop and rest your body?

Struggle does make a person tough, but, do they have to be? Is it such a worthwhile trait nowadays? Having a sand-paper work ethic and determination is commendable. Assuming everyone is out to get one over on you and forever playing the wall is alienating. When all you know is struggle, that chip on your shoulder can become a boulder. In a life of continuous plight, the spirit dampens and sags. In poor areas, there’s an atavistic necessity to be manly for survival. Depression, anxiety and their cousins are not allowed to be shown and rarely discussed. It intensifies the feeling of struggle and increases the feelings of frustration and combativeness, leading people to lash out. Struggling is fine on an intrinsic level, the overcoming of an obstacle, but not when its a societally or culturally imposed one. We tell ourselves that struggle makes us better, but are forced to watch as those without the same volume of it climb higher. So, how beneficial is it? How good is a life where you must drag a bear-trap around your ankle?

The kids in the Furies think they are, but again, aside from Sally, would any of them succeed in another arena? They’re tough kids, but they’re battle worn at their young ages. 17-year-old shoulder the stressors of the now at the sake of the future. Interestingly, that is something that almost all of the kids aren’t comfortable with: the future. Part of being grown is staring at the horizon and planning ahead, using logic to organize the next steps in life. It’s having the confidence and foresight to manage the present while planning for the future. The Fury kids are consumed by their immediate realities, unable to imagine a world beyond the hood, as if life begins and ends on their blocks. While other kids their age are prepping for university, getting their driver’s licenses and gradually earning responsibility, the Fury kids are gripped by drama with drug dealers, gang leaders and their broken homes. Ultimately, their growth is due to their climate, and they’ve done so while being poorly-equipped for any other season.

What’s next for you in your writing journey? What are you working on now?

I am currently editing my next novel. It will be the first of a series that combines the classic elements of hardboiled and noir novels with dirty realism and neo-noir. It is a saga of revenge and redemption. I haven’t read, or seen, anything quite like it. I call it goon lit. The series is called The February Sessions and the first book is called Scumbag Rehab. My editor and I are just going through the last touches. I am uncertain on when I would like to release it, and whether or not to do it independently or vie for a traditional publisher. It is very vulgar. It is violent and erotic. And, funny, albeit very darkly so. I wanted to give people the same feeling they get when watching a Tarantino movie, all the crude and elemental emotions, which seem very simple on the surface, but increasingly profound and stirring the longer time that is spent with it. The first book is a nice introduction to Feb and his world how he sees it. He talks about his dark past while trying to move on with his future. In spite of the subject matter, it’s very relatable. An no, he is not a teenager. I’m excited and nervous about it. It’s overwhelming on the sense and may put some people off with the language, but I also feel as though it is something that may come to define my writing. My main goal is to get it off the ground in the right way, learn from previous launches and try to connect with the right people. The anxiety must be good, right?

I have the entire series planned out and have written several novels. Covid allowed me the time to get far ahead on that. I also have many short stories, novellas and even a finished novel that I would like to start working on. I would like to offer people as much as I can. It makes me happy to connect with an audience and entertain, as well as touch people’s lives.

Beyond that I am trying to ameliorate my social media and marketing presence. I love writing. I hate marketing and social media. But, I am eager to try something new to generate more engagement and outreach with potential readers, while solidifying the bonds that I’ve made with current supporters. It also makes me anxious. It’s a deep, black cavern to peer in to. The light from any torch doesn’t even let me see my feet. But, for the greater good and the sake of my passion, I will do it.

More about Corey Croft and his published and upcoming work here.



Lois Lane Investigates Authors

Blogger, writer, publicist, and literary aficionado with insatiable curiosity.