KARINA BUSH on film with Rebecca Gransden

What film, or films, made the first deep impression on you? 

When I was really small I loved Supergirl and wanted to be her. One of my earliest memories is of jumping down all the stairs at once but it must’ve been a dream. I doubt I had Bruce Lee abilities as a toddler. Arachnophobia was another film that got under my skin. I shouldn’t have watched it. And it shouldn’t be rated as suitable for children. It shouldn’t have been made. The makers are sickos and deserved to be put on trial. My parents too for playing it.  

What films first felt transgressive to you? Do you remember being secretive about any films you watched growing up? 

Definitely Trainspotting. I was dying to watch it when I was 13 and my parents wouldn’t let me. Which just fuelled my need for it. I knew it was something I had to know about. So I bought the book. My mind got blown. I thought oh that’s it, that’s the kind of shit adults are hiding from us.  

Are there any films that define your formative years? 

I wouldn’t say any films defined my formative years but some had an impact on me. Like the Terminator and Matrix movies. They are so logical. They helped me to understand the magnitude of technological advancements and the nature of reality. And the love story between Neo and Trinity is beautiful. Doomed, unstoppable love always gets me. Even better when it’s with a bad boy. Like Natural Born Killers. Such a fun, unapologetic movie. I’d love to go on a violent rampage with a bad boy. Let it all out. Be society’s trash.  

Can you talk about the influence film has had on your writing?  

Anything good weaves its way into what I do on some level. Usually in terms of providing something to aspire to. Like the quality of dialogue or plot. The quality of execution. Energetic influence. Or the atmosphere of an aesthetic. The film that I look up to most is Dead Man’s Shoes. It’s perfect. Writing, performance, and visuals. I can’t think of a film with stronger emotional power. Generally speaking, revenge is frowned upon and I don’t understand why it’s a problem. Society is overly invested in following rules. I find that artificial and suffocating. I’m all for vigilante justice Dead Man’s Shoes style. I have a novella coming out soon called FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION SLUT and a chapter was inspired by a scene from Dead Man’s Shoes. Tony Blair is the victim.  

I also like some TV shows for plot. Mr. Robot, Gomorrah, and Breaking Bad for example. I think the great TV shows are equivalent to the great novels. Plot isn’t particularly fashionable in underground literature but I like being entertained and it entertains me to write a plot.  

Have you ever made a film? If so, has the process of doing that had an influence on your writing? 

I make video poetry and some other stuff like music videos and clips to accompany my writing. You can see some of them on my website and Instagram. I find that writing influences videomaking and videomaking influences writing. They’re very intertwined and generate stuff for each other. My poetry is often an energy form that I can see before I write it. My fiction all comes from a visual place. I see the story as a movie in my head and I don’t write anything until it is fully formed. I usually play it in my head before sleep and grow it over a few weeks then write. I’m more competent at writing but I love playing with filmmaking. I want a massive budget to splash on wacky ideas. Right now, I’m making video poetry for Virtual Reality. Trying to create an immersive tantric poetry experience in VR. With a big budget and experts to execute my vision, it’d be spectacular. But I’ll give it my best shot alone. Being DIY rarely gives me the results I want but it has its benefits. The constant experimentation unlocks new ideas.  

Last year I made a two-minute thing called Medieval Wench Activities about a woman walking around a medieval town and spying on horse dicks and then getting chased by Catholic guilt. I’d love to grow that into something better. Maybe a feature film about a woman whose lover dies from the plague and a witch tells her that his spirit is in a horse. Loads of sensual bestiality scenes. She gets seen by a priest. Who masturbates behind a haystack in the stables then rats on her to the authorities out of guilt. She takes a deadly cocktail of herbs to avoid being publicly executed then the second half of the film is the psychedelic experience of her drug poison death. Dante and Bosch DMT explosion. Kaleidoscopes of horses covered in sparkling bubonic pustules slapping their big cocks off her face. Monk gnomes riding the horses. They also have big horse cocks with mouths that say prayers. A soundtrack by Enigma. That kind of thing. Hopefully an investor will read this and give me a few million.  

 Are there films you associate with a particular time in your life, or a specific writing project? 

Any movies about The Troubles in Northern Ireland, where I grew up.  

Thinking about the places you’ve lived, are there any environments that are cinematic? Have you lived anywhere that has been regularly depicted onscreen? If so, has this had an influence on your perception of the place, or how you’ve depicted it in any of your writings? 

I live in Rome and I don’t think there’s a more cinematic city in the world. The Colosseum and Pantheon still take my breath away. I see the Vatican most days from a bridge. Every time I pass the Trevi Fountain I want to jump in and be fabulous like Anita Ekberg. Rome seethes with majesty. A bird perched on something doesn’t look like a normal bird, it looks like a little God. The sunset doesn’t look like a normal sunset, it drips down the buildings like gold. Living here is like being in a trance or a movie. It’s so easy to zone out and think, and that helps my writing. The perception of Rome is what Rome is like, it’s impossible to distinguish between screen depictions and the reality. Rome is a beautiful old beast. It isn’t just a city, it is an entity. But there is more to it than what is depicted. The streets are filthy. Sometimes I feel like Sonic the Hedgehog trying to avoid dogshit. You don’t see that in the movies.  

Are there films you regularly return to, and do you know why? 

Anything good from the Folk Horror genre. I am a nature worshipper and at my very happiest when I’m in the wild. I suspect because of DNA memory and quantum connectivity. I love the horror aspect because nature will decompose me someday, absorb me back into it. Nature worship isn’t all about skipping through meadows, it’s also about reverence for its power. Folk Horror nails that. The genre also delivers very sharp social commentary.  

I return to a film if it’s visually stunning and has so much going on that you receive something different every time you watch it. Stuff like Enter the Void, The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda, and The Holy Mountain. Gold standards in psychedelic art. I like things that tap into the more interesting parts of consciousness. Things that capture hidden reality and manifest mysteries.  

Do you have any lines of film dialogue you regularly use in your daily life?

“Nobody puts baby in a corner.” 

Are there individual scenes that stay with you? 

Every spider scene in Arachnophobia. The girls lazing hypnotized in Picnic at Hanging Rock. Midsommar when they jumped. When he leaves his body in Enter the Void and when he follows the light at the end. The spectacular frog scene in The Holy Mountain. The Elephant Man going to sleep. Pretty much all of Begotten. That one burns itself into your nervous system. It’s almost like you already know Begotten somewhere in your cells and that’s terrifying. And the final scenes of Threads, it doesn’t get any bleaker than that.  

What films have roused a visceral reaction in you? 

The Wicker Man (original). I wanted them to burn him so much. Cheering on like a cult member.  

Remaking movies is a terrible idea but the Nicolas Cage version is how it should be done. So bad it’s brilliant. He’s wonderfully unhinged and one of the few examples of nepotism being a good idea. I was on a flight with him a few years back from New York to Las Vegas. We locked eyes. I should have bounced onto his lap and gone on that rampage across America with him.  

Which of your writings would adapt most successfully to film? 

FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION SLUT which is about a hot crazy woman who goes on a mission to seduce powerful men and infiltrate the upper echelons of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Part of it was released last year and the full novella is coming soon from Tangerine Press. It would have an all-star cast. The FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION SLUT would be played by Pamela Anderson or Amber Heard with breast implants. Silvio Berlusconi by Jack Nicholson. Klaus Schwab by Bill Murray. Tony Blair by Steve Buscemi. Pope Francis by Dame Judi Dench. Bill Gates by Tom Hanks (Gates has disgusting rubbery lips that feature in my book so I’d demand Tom gets massive lip fillers before we start shooting). And Mark Zuckerberg by Tilda Swinton. I’d want Julia Davis to direct it. Oscar winning stuff. Full of tits and power struggles, with the dramatic backdrops of Italy, Switzerland, and the Metaverse.    

Thanks a lot Rebecca for asking such interesting questions!


Karina Bush is an Irish writer and artist who lives in Italy. She is the author of four books with the most recent, Rotten Milk, published in 2021 by Tangerine Press. Karina's work has also been featured by the Los Angeles Review of Books, Akashic Books, Expat Press, Fugitives & Futurists, the International Poetry Studies Institute, the Dennis Cooper Blog, and more.

Rebecca Gransden lives on an island. She is published at Tangerine Press, Burning House Press, Muskeg, Ligeia, and Silent Auctions, among others. Her books are anemogram., Rusticles, and Sea of Glass.

Art by Crow Jonah Norlander.

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