I was recently asked by my dear friend Linn Halton to write about my writing. Seems redundant, but was worth the shot. To give you a bit of background, I typically write humor pieces about incidents that frequently occur in my life. I’ve written about STD’s, my crazy family, bad vacations, and every other strange thing that has fallen in my lap. Coming from the family that I did, you had to be funny to stay sane. We would regularly bust each other’s balls when someone made even the slightest of mistakes. As we grew older, we became more and more sarcastic as our vocabulary and general understanding of life became more and more mature, making my brothers and I relentless.
It really all started in grade school. With a name like Adam Hornyak, you are bound to get made fun of constantly. I didn’t know how to come back at them. I wasn’t in the “cool” clique, nor did I have a lot of friends, so I would be forced to take on other avenues such as sports and music. Some members of my family said that I was very quiet as a kid, just sitting back and taking everything all in. Then, suddenly, I would say something that would make every adult in the room roll with laughter. My parents are both very funny, so I’m sure there is something to be said for the one good gene I inherited.
In high school, it was clear that I had a knack for creating the written word. I always did much better in English than math, but I was still a horrible student. Thanks to my painful inability to study, I came one semester from flunking out. I went to a very large university, and classes my first two years were a herd of 2,000 students, corralled in like cattle. Multiple choice tests were never my thing, and yet, that was all we had. I then realized that if I changed my major to something a little more on the creative side than Criminal Justice, I may just be able to pull myself out of my predicament.
There it was. Telecommunications. It was essentially broadcasting, and I began doing radio news for a station in town. I had to write different versions of my pieces, which kept me thinking of new ways to say the same thing. At the same time, I had met a great group of friends, one of which eventually became my wife (and ex-wife). I surrounded myself with some of the funniest people I’ve ever known and we always had a good time when we were together.
Alas, a book hit the shelves that changed my life. Letters from a Nut, by Ted Nancy. It was a compilation of funny letters and responses. When I was a child, a similar book came out by Don Novello (of Saturday Night Live fame) called The Lazlo Letters. Same concept, but different era. I loved them so much that when I heard about Ted Nancy’s new book, I had to get it. My girlfriend knew my sense of humor and my writing skills and one night said that she thought I could do it. I started up the next day. Before you knew I had about 50 done in the first month. The difference between Ted Nancy and what I was writing is that I had no problem being as vulgar, rude, and inappropriate as I felt like on any given day.
As I was about to move from college to God-Knows-Where, I had the return letters sent to my parent’s house under the name Arnold Houston (to this day, I have no idea why I felt the need for a pen name). I told my mother that if she gets any mail for Arnold to just set it aside for me, and I would get it when I came home. One day, my mother called my girlfriend and asked her who Arnold Houston was. I never told anyone what I was doing, so everyone was out of the loop. My mom then explained how the police came to her house looking for me. Looking back on it now, the letter I wrote was a little over the top, and someone reported me. Nothing happened except that my mom told me to the cut it out and focus on graduating.
My girlfriend wanted to see what this whole thing was about, so I gave her a binder and left the apartment for a while. When I came back, tears of laughter were streaming down her face. She had just finished a letter I had written to the Smithsonian asking if they would like the trumpet my grandfather played while stationed in Dayton, Ohio during World War II. It got a bit more graphic after that, so I will spare you the details, but she got it. My family all read them and they loved what I was doing.
Then life took over. A few different jobs, a divorce, and ten years passed as the Arnold Houston in me hadn’t written one funny thing. Then it happened. About two years ago, I was driving through my town one Spring Sunday, as what appeared to be just about everyone in my town having weekly yard sales. Traffic crawled, and I just wanted to get home. I was fuming and said that I would write about how horrible it is to live in my state. One thing led to another, and it turned into a brief history book, filled with some actual facts, but primarily me complaining. I found a humor site that was eager to publish it, and then it snowballed. One right after another, many of which were in the top ten of their site history’s popularity. I was getting requests to write about certain topics from other writers, and couldn’t believe that I was back in the swing.
I would write scathing pieces on people’s Facebook posts and other states that pissed me off. I can do it in a funny way, but what’s scary is that I can use my superpowers for evil too. I’ve said some horrific things over the years, and sometimes I wish I wasn’t so observant. I’ve managed to piss off a good handful of people, especially those that I know how to push the buttons of. I don’t typically lose in a verbal battle very often, and a lot of it has to do with a lack of a filter between my brain and mouth. Writing kept my anger in check, and made me feel like a person again.
That’s when Gina called. In February, 2011, an old friend, Gina Hussar was putting together a group of writers, fashionistas, and photographers to start a fashion magazine called Front Row Monthly, and she wanted me to be a part of it from the start. Over some lousy omelets, I accepted her offer. It was supposed to be a short, comedy thing, and quickly became much more. There was no way I could get out everything I wanted to say in only 500 words, so we made it 1,000, added an advice column where myself and a sweet girl would give dramatically different advice. I wrote a few serious pieces, did some interviews, but the humor was what I wanted. I’ve always had a knack for finding the joke in any situation, and I was given carte blanche to talk about anything I wanted. Going to a strip club, dating, even how I steal food from hotels.
We then decided as a group to branch off into other arenas outside of fashion and were asked to create spin off sites to do something different than we were with the magazine. Several hands raised, and they all requested to do a website on shoes, or handbags, or the latest styles from around the globe. It was a joke. This was supposed to be different, not a competitor of what we were already doing. I raised my hand and requested to form a literary site wherein writers could get their work out to the world. It was a tremendous success, and I met so many great people, especially from the Loveahappyending group of folks.
Since February of this year, we’ve posted nearly 800 books, reviews, and interviews, and although we are starting to slow down a bit, we hope that the friendships we’ve made with all of the writers continue down the road.
Thanks so much Linn for having me on your site, and I wish you all the best.
Thanks to you Adam, for a great interview! It’s a real pleasure to have you here Adam – behind every one of your hilarious tales there is the trademark of a great observer of life and people. Every time I read something of yours I think ‘I know someone like that’ or ‘I’ve heard people say that’ and it makes me laugh out loud! You capture the essence of some of the ridulous, and not so ridiculous, sides of life that few step back to consider in the grander scheme of things. Just keep doing what you’re doing!
Here are some examples of Adam’s work and find out more about Front Row Monthly – it’s amazing!
Follow them on Twitter: @FrontRowMonthly
Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamHornyak