Dean Moses is the author of A Stalled Ox, a novella about a religious cult and cannibalism.
Your novella, A Stalled Ox, sounds like an interesting and special read. Where did the inspiration come from?
Thank you. Before moving to New York City I grew up in England. Whilst writing A Stalled Ox, I often thought back to my childhood for a very specific reason: Mad Cow Disease. I can vividly recall newscasts reporting on the epidemic, and the horrific images—my TV screen bursting with thousands of dead livestock. To a young child (especially a vegetarian child) the news seemed to be reporting the end of the world. That footage has stayed with me, so imagining a world without meat was pretty easy. This was just one inspiration, another came from an interest I have in religion. It is my belief that religion can be a powerful force for good, but in the hands of a malevolent few, it can also be an equally powerful force for evil—a tool used to make otherwise good people perform wicked acts, simply because they are taught that it is right.
Even though it’s a challenge to summarize any book in just a few words – try to describe A Stalled Ox using only 3 words.
Morality, compulsion and ideology.
I can’t get over the fact that you’re writing about a religious cult and cannibalism – I find it so different yet intriguing! Is there a special reason why you choose to write about those subjects?
Addiction can originate from many different paths: drugs, sex, television, video games, and food— things we could all, potentially, become addicted to. I remember my father becoming angry when he did not receive his dinner at the expected time, which almost always consisted of meat products. So I wondered: If something as widely available as meat suddenly became a rare commodity, would it also become an addiction? This, in turn, got me thinking about cults. Sects throughout history have often preyed on people’s desires and impossible expectations. A cult seemed to go hand in hand with my invented addiction.
How long did it take you to write A Stalled Ox?
I began working on it in January of 2015 for an annual competition, jointly held by the website JukePop Serials and my Publisher 1888 Center: The Summer Writing Project. The objective is to write a novella, one chapter at a time, for readers and fellow writers to enjoy. I am very thankful and happy to say that A Stalled Ox was one of three novella’s chosen for publication, alongside Let’s Stalk Rex Jupiter! by Allison A. Spector and Beneath Blair Mountain by Shannon Barnsley. Despite having prepared in advance, it was still a very difficult and nerve-racking experience. Attempting to release each chapter on schedule, not to mention the fear of readers’ feedback, was a scary thing. A part of being a writer means giving a bit of yourself for another’s enjoyment, yet I am not going to lie, I was terrified. But in the end all the hard work paid off. After A Stalled Ox was chosen, I had a great editor, Shaunn Grulkowski, who helped me clean the story up and make it even better. It was published in November of 2015, so, all in all, it was about a year of continuous work.
I always love to hear other people’s favorite books, especially when it comes to authors. So, which book is your favorite and why?
This is a tough one—I have so many. It has the potential to change each day. Today, I would have to say Peter Pan is up there. I love its coming of age theme, and, subsequently, its longing to reject it. Also, The Great Gatsby, I think it’s truly a masterpiece.
Please tell us something unusual about yourself to end with;
It’s difficult to say, what I may think is normal another may believe is unusual. There is one thing that does stick out, though. Moving to and living in New York City, followed by becoming an author, is a dream come true. So, I am extremely afraid of losing the place that has since become my home. Whenever I see the Empire State Building I have to stop in my tracks and blow a kiss to one of my home’s grandest symbols. For some, unknown reason this act fills me with confidence.
An isolated religious cult has reportedly been consuming meat while the rest of the planet has been forced to live a life without it. Presuming this sect has resorted to cannibalism, two agents from an organization known simply as The Agency are dispatched to investigate. Will they find evidence of humans eating one another? Or is something even stranger taking place?
“In the tradition of Serling and Bradbury, A Stalled Ox is a gruesome, yet beautiful story that wraps a complex morality tale in an engaging and fast-paced horror story with a touch of espionage. Crafting a world where no one is truly innocent, Moses invites the reader to follow Agent Howard Harrington as he discovers what true evil is.”
Find A Stalled Ox here; Amazon US / Amazon UK / Goodreads