The hermit sat on a stump that poked up through the floor of the cabin, giving the impression that the home was built around the stump, but closer inspection showed the floor was an extension of it, as if the floor grew from the wooden stump. He was staring at the young man seated across from him. He scratched at his beard and grinned before speaking:
"So...Tristin, we've felt what you've been doing with your new podcast. Did you know that The Hollow changes and grows when someone spreads the Spirit of Halloween? Oh yes, and that's just what I mean by 'feeling' what you're doing with Flatline Radio. We're very pleased that you've decided to be out guest here."
"Well I couldn't imagine turning down an offer such as this! Thank YOU for having me! You have such wonderful hospitality! Only—the fuzzy handcuffs were a little overboard...." Tristin said, wriggling his wrists.
"You may be right," he chuckled. The hermit snapped his fingers and an elongated furry creature released it's small maw from it's own tail, freeing Tristin's wrists, crawling over them and down one leg of the chair. It traveled across the bark covered floor, up the hermit's leg, and into his lap. The hermit began petting it with one grey hand before continuing, "Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself before we talk about your show?"
"My name is Tristin Pierce, or you may know me better as Pierce, the host of Flatline Radio. My beginnings in the haunt industry were sparked from a very young age, when I became fascinated by the sheer idea of Halloween. The fact that one day out of the year, we can dress up as anything or anyone else, and not be frowned upon for doing so, it just excited me! As I physically matured, I mentally did as well, and so did my views of Halloween; the cute, happy costumes turned to dark, bloody sinister ones; candy corn turned into severed fingers; and the infamous fun line, 'Trick or Treat!' turned into agonizing screams of terror.
At the age of 13, I aspired to open my first attraction, and while it was never achieved, I still plan to open my own attraction one day. At 14, I began working at Arx Mortis Haunted Attraction, located in my quaint little hometown of Killen, Alabama. (Nice name huh)? Arx Mortis kick-started me into learning the bloody ropes of the haunt industry. When I was 15, I learned of a podcast that had the best name in the industry. It had everything—the best format, an amazing crew, and the most amazing fan-base. I contacted the owner and revealed my idea of a segment featuring a younger haunter, and his views on the industry. Thus began my original segment that started me in the haunt podcasting industry—Fresh Meat: A younger View of the Horror and Haunted Attraction Industries.
Being part of this podcast, I visited many haunted attractions, ranging from my home-state of Alabama, an attraction in Tennessee, a haunted steamboat in Kentucky, and three different attractions in Ohio. Unfortunately, my enjoyment at this podcast was short-lived, as it seems to have met its demise just months after I came on board. But now, at 16, I own and operate Flatline Radio, which is still the haunt and horror industries' newest podcast; and to my knowledge, I am the youngest haunt podcaster to date."
"An impressive list of achievements, especially for one so young." The thing on his lap made a noise somewhere between a purr and a growl. "The podcasting world is very lucky to have someone like you. So, on your new show, do you have a particular focus or format?"
"Flatline Radio aims to be one of the top haunt and horror podcasts on the market. We try our hardest to focus on events within the haunted attraction industry, as well as happenings and events in the horror industry—such as films, music, televsion, and what-not."
"I see, and what about your audience? Do you cater to a particular age or focus group?"
"Our target audience has to be the children...of course I'm kidding..." Tristin said while moving a clinched fist to his mouth and feigning a cough. "Anyway, we try to aim for any and all haunters and horror enthusiasts by offering segments that may reflect what the listeners enjoy themselves."
"A sense of humor! I like that...." The chair beneath Tristin shivered as the hermit laughed. "And what about the segments on Flatline radio?"
"As for right now, we have six (I think) that come in every episode: Flatline News-myself, Haunted Meltdown-Robert Rage, Haunt Swap Shop LIVE-SFC Michael Freas, Random Haunt Facts-Raghead, SCARETours-Michael Bolton (who is our United Kingdom representative), and Rancid Reviews and Sinister Cinema-Jigsaw Jim."
"Ah wonderful, a coterie of Halloween lovers! Can you tell us a little about your cohorts?"
"Well, Robert Rage, (whom if you haven't guessed, is my dear friend Rob) is one of my dearest friends who has been with me through thick and thin, and has now found himself stuck in the podcast," Tristin said, while giving an evil laugh, of the mad scientist variety.
"SFC Michael Freas also 'jumped ship' from the previous podcast and set sail with myself and Rob on the U.S.S. Flatline Radio. He formerly hosted the Haunted Europe segment on said podcast, but now hosts Haunt Swap Shop LIVE on Flatline.
Raghead also works with me and Rob at Arx Mortis Haunted Attraction. We're not sure what he is, or why he is—just leave it at that.
Michael Bolton just made his American debut on Flatline. Michael is from Somewhereinengland, England. Therefore, this makes us unique, in that we are the only podcast with knowledge of what is going on in the haunt industry overseas.
Last but not least, is Jigsaw Jim. He coveres the cinematic scheme of Flatline. He is the only other survivor that boarded the U.S.S. Flatline, when the other podcast fell. He did the same segment, which is now being applied to Flatline Radio."
"Wonderful, we must 'invite' them to be our guests here in the future. I notice that you play various genres of music on your show, we love music in The Hollow, do you prefer certain musicians or genres?"
"If you really pay attention, we use a slew of different music; we try to do something old and something new each week. For example, we may do a new 'Dubstep' song a the beginning of our show, and then a classic 'Stones' song later in the show."
"Do you release episodes often or do you like to keep us hungry for more?" At the mention of the word "hungry," a large crow caw sounded from the kitchen. "Oh quiet down girl!" the hermit said, "you'll get your fill soon." He glanced back over at Tristin, "I do apologize...she's so impatient! Now where were we? Oh yes—frequency of episode release."
"At one time, we told ourselves that we would do the first and fifteenth of every month...but to that I said, 'Nay! We shall come out with a new episode every other week!' (that's not really how it happened, just how I envisoned it....) But yes, we had begun with a twice a month schedule, now we broadcast every other week."
"I confess that, like Ellie there," he nodded towards the crow, "I'm a bit impatient as well, at least when it comes to waiting for my favorite podcasts to be released.
I'm curious, how did you come up with the title of your show?"
"Any and all recognition for the basis for the logo and the idea for the name must go to my co-conspirator, Robert Rage. Honestly, all I did with the logo was design the graphic on my computer. I'm not entirely sure where the name came from, but it stuck, and I'm glad it did."
One of the hermit's eyebrows raised, his expression prompted by his feeling that Tristin was holding back some secrets concerning the origin of the name. "Oh I do love secrets!" he said—but decided to let the subject go. "So with all of the podcasts making a name for themselves, what sets Flatline apart from the others?"
"The difference is that we play off our ages; we are younger haunters, as I am only 16 and Rob is 22, so we try to bring newer and fresher views to the table. The other podcasts are run by adults, and we've had the same views on the industry since the industry began. Being younger haunters, our minds tend to interpret things differently, therefore, this makes us unique. But let me assure you, although we may not be be as physically mature—mentally, we are. The show is professionally sewn together piece by piece, and while the show may not be absolutely perfect, I do guarantee that you will have a quality product you will be proud to have taken an hour out of your day to listen to."
"Consider me assured!" he said, with twinkling eyes. "What about the future? Do you have plans for format changes or for the growth of Flatline Radio?"
"Honestly, I believe that Flatline Radio has a good format. Basically, our format is this: intro, organized chaos, and outro. We also try to time our music for one song every 15-20 minutes. Now what I mean by 'organized chaos' is that we dont have a set time or schedule for segments, news, or music. We gather all or audio, pool it together, and just play 'eenie, meenie, miney, moe,' that way, you never know what's going to happen next; one week, news may be the first thing you hear, but on the next show, it may be on the last 15 minutes of the show, and the same applies for the rest of the show's segments. So I think, for now, the format will stay. But we are always looking for new segments and segment ideas. Right now, we're in desperate need for a home haunter/prop builder segment. If you have any other ideas for a segment, let me know!"
"'Organized chaos,' I like that....Speaking of the future, what are your personal aspirations in the haunt industry?
"As I mentioned earlier, I plan to open my own attraction one day, but for the time being, I love being at Arx Mortis. Our crew is a tight-knit
teamfamily. I love each and every last one of them and I love being around them. Also, as far as plans for the future, I plan to grow Flatline Radio, and to–hopefully–make it into an award winning podcast that sets the example for everyone else."
"Noble goals to have," the hermit said, as he stood up and walked to the back of the room, the creature on his lap scurrying up to his shoulder. He faced the back wall where two branches jutted through, one in each corner; they held lanterns. He moved his hands in front of them and small flickering blazes came to life within the globes. He turned back to his guest. "I apologize for the interruption, it must be getting dark, to your eyes. Now...Just for fun, who would your 'dream interviewee' be for the show?"
"My favorite contestant from SyFy's hit television show, Face Off, Matt Valentine. I loved his work and I was rooting for him until the very end. Unfortunately, he didn't win, but I still loved his work more than anyone else on the show."
"Thank you. I'm sure you've gleaned some nuggets of wisdom from your experiences in podcasting, would you care to share any?"
"Don't go into the podcasting realm looking for a fight; we all try to be friends with each other. Cross-promote, let them know when your new podcast is out, post on your podcast's Facebook when another podcast releases a new episode. Keep the peace, man...."
Tristin felt something twitch above his ear and he reached up to find a white daisy poking out from his hair. Laughter burst from the chest of the hermit, "I'm sorry! I couldn't help myself!" he said, while displaying the universal V-shaped peace sign with two long, grey fingers. The laughter became mild, "Ah... but you're right, peace among the community only helps it grow." After a moment he said, "What about your experiences outside podcasting and Arx Mortis? Do you have any to share?"
"Well, when Arx Mortis isn't open, (some Sundays and Mondays) another local attraction opens its"That sounds like fun! So you enjoy scaring people—a wonderful trait to have! Now tell me Tristin, what scares you when you go through a haunted attraction?"
doorscrops. Deadwood Hollow, which is a haunted corn maze and trail, are very good friends of mine. I have a redneck character, Doopert P. Jebidiah, and I push everything to the limit when they're open."
"Needles...." Tristin said cringing. "I'm extremely belenophobic, so if you know I'm coming to your attraction, prep your syringe, because as soon as I see it, chances are I'll 'flatline' myself!"
"Oh, that's so good to know," he said grinning. "Decorating is an important part of the season for many, do you decorate your home for Halloween?"
"My office, or the newly turned 'Flatline Studios,' is decorated for my favorite holiday 365 days a year, sometimes it's 366!"
"I expect nothing less! And your family and friends, what do they think about your decorating madness and your passion for Halloween and haunting?"
"They find it odd that I have such an interesting hobby and often don't understand its importance to me. My father always asks, 'Now son, how can you make a lot of money doin' this here sorta thang?'" Tristin said, while affecting an exaggerated southern drawl. "I always reply, 'I can't. that's why you have to have a love for haunting. It's the same with your hunting and fishing, I just have a different hobby.'"
"They rarely understand us....Now for a question that is not only my favorite, but the answer has the potential to make this place 'grow' as I was telling you earlier; what is one of your favorite memories of Halloween?" the hermit asked, as he reached behind the stump and revealed an ordinary mason jar. He unscrewed the lid, and crouched in front of Tristin, then held the jar close to Tristin's heart as he waited for the answer.
"It was the first time I went into a haunted house; I was twelve, and I was scared to death about going in. Luckily, my aunt forced me in. As soon as I got past the first two rooms, I was fine, and I was enjoying myself the whole way through. Not four months after my first haunt experience, I was working at Arx Mortis. I had the bug, and I still have it!"
The hermit sighed while smiling, "Thank you very much," he said, as a mist flowed from Tristin and into the jar. The hermit screwed on the lid gently and placed it next to him as he sat back down on the stump. The blue-white glow flowed happily inside the container and illuminated the side of the stump, as well as one of the hermit's hooves and furry legs.
"We're coming to the close of this little interrogation. If we decided to let you go, how would your fans get in contact with you?"
You can visit us on our website, www.flatlineradio.com where you can send us an email from our homepage. You can also email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find and like our page on facebook and send us a message there.
The hermit leaned forward and said, "Do you have anything you want to add before we terminate the interrogation?"
"I would like to thank the Code Blue Crew for anything and everything they do for me and for Flatline Radio, so I think that pretty much sums it up! Thank you for having me kind sir! It has been a fun interview and I wouldn't mind doing it again sometime! In the meantime, we'll be keeping our fingers on the absent pulse of the horror and haunted attraction industries; so lean back and let your blood slow, to Flatline Radio! Thanks!"
"The pleasure has been all mine Tristin," the hermit said, as he picked up the glowing jar and lifted it to his face, the mist illuminating his human-like eyes. "All mine...."
I want to mention that Flatline Radio announced, shortly before the publication of this interview, that they are offering 100% free advertising on their podcast! Anyone involved in the haunted attraction industry: vendors, haunts, websites, other podcasts, etc., can receive a free, 30 second advertising spot on their show until October 2012. This has never been done before. Jump on this opportunity folks. I know that if I made money with a website or business, I would be the first to sign-up.
Thank you very much to new followers, Aylmer and Jenn's Brain. Don't forget to explore their blogs as well.
I'm constantly fiddling with the format of my posts and interviews to try and bring something a bit different to Halloween and haunt industry blogging. I certainly appreciate your feedback on these changes; what you like, don't like—let me have it. Thank you kindly for reading!
All images used in this post are © 2012 Tristin Pierce and used with written permission.