Interview with Jeff Oliver and Gordon Reilly (Venomous Words)


Jeff Oliver

Jeff Oliver was born in Baltimore, Maryland on April 6th, 1982. Jeff began writing Dark Poetry at just 11 years old. Transferring darkness to paper at such a young age. There are thoughts about a troubled childhood, thoughts of love and imagination that never elude his pen. A poet by passion and a father of 8 beautiful children. His dedication to his family & his craft is second to none. Jeff lives in Western New York State. Jeff is a writer of intense emotions. His books include: Strange Sounds, Poetic Fiction: Journals of Silent Screams (Self Published) Scattered Thoughts, Volumes I, II & III. Drops Of Insanity (Cosby Media Productions). Venomous Words & New World Monsters. (HellBound Books). New World Monsters II: The Voices in Your Head & Dracula: One Twenty-Five (Publisher to be determined). Jeff will continue to write from the deepest corners of his soul. Sometimes searching his own soul scares the Hell out of him.

Follow Jeff on his largest Social Media Platform at:

Books By Jeff Oliver

Gordon Reilly

Gordon Reilly AKA Venom macro is a Special Operations Veteran who found macro photography of scorpions and invertebrates as a hobby. Bringing people closer to nature in a way they can observe the world of 435-million-year-old animals is his goal. His images allow for admiring the intricacy of their beauty while respecting the animal from a safe distance. He’s been noted as being one of the best to photograph scorpions in their entirety. He prefers to remain faceless; few know what he looks like or who he is. His photography is shrouded in mystery, much like the animals he photographs. “Beauty is in the details.”

Visit Gordon’s websites today:

Instagram: @venom_macro

Facebook :

VCFor live Scorpion Purchases:

For Macro-Photography High Resolution prints:

“The poetry and photography in Jeff Oliver and Gordon Reilly’s Venomous Words draw you into a beautifully dark and rarely seen world. Reilly’s stunning photography of scorpions and other invertebrates are gorgeous, haunting, and fascinating. Oliver’s poetry dives deep into the more macabre philosophies of the human struggle. He doesn’t flinch! A wild and unique collaboration! Loved it!”

—John Palisano, Bram Stoker Award-Winning author of Ghost Heart, President of The Horror Writers Association.


Q. Jeff, how did you get started as a writer, and poet, and what attracted you initially to dark fiction?

A. (Jeff) I embarked on my writing journey at a very young age. I didn’t have much of a choice. It was my only way to escape what was constantly pounding in my brain. I was called out of my name, hit, punched, kicked. You name it. I wrote it all down. I was obsessed about it. I dreamed about it. I screamed about it. I wrote stories about each bruise. I wrote those stories in a maddening way. To this day the abuse inspires each letter that is bled out of my decomposing soul. The love of my Wife balances the madness. So I guess I can’t really say I was attracted to dark fiction. Dark fiction has always been attracted to me. I’m just the messenger for each blood curdling scream.

Q. To Gordon, how long have you been a photographer and how did you get your start?

A. (Gordon): I first picked up a camera roughly 3 years ago. I had always wanted to try detailed macro imaging. Once I got started I couldn’t resist wanting to see “more”. I started my Instagram page venom_macro  after a fellow hobbyist whom I didn’t know had seen a few early images that I did. He coaxed me into starting a page and it grew pretty rapidly.

Q. Whose idea initially, was this project and where did the idea come from? What inspired you to do this type of book?

A. (Jeff): Gordon came to me one day on social media and asked if we could collaborate on Instagram. I was down at first until I saw his Macro-Photography… I was blown away by the detail of each of his hauntingly beautiful images. So I said “Fuck It” Let’s write a book! This will be epic! So we did and here is the final result. Venomous Words. It was both of our ideas.

Q. How did the two of you meet and start working together?

A. (Jeff): We met on Instagram messenger. It’s how it usually happens these days. We instantly clicked and started working on the book right away. Hundreds of hours were put into this book. The writing and the photography were fused together into an innovative collaboration. It is indeed the first of its kind.

(Gordon): One night I was checking my Instagram explore page and I saw Jeff’s poetry and it really intrigued me. The more I read his work I couldn’t help to think how the words paired so well with the images I was creating. Basically I reach out to see if he’d be interested in doing a simple collaboration. After speaking to Jeff via messenger we decided to do a post to check how it would be received within my follower base. It was welcomed and got really good responses. The rest just fell into place. Jeff is a maverick. He found inspiration through my images which in turn made me want to photo EVEN MORE! It’s been a wild ride so far and it’s only getting better!

Q. What kinds of special photographic techniques is Gordon using for all of the magnificent close-ups in this book?

A. (Gordon): I use various lighting techniques to illuminate the subject from all angles. I prefer a “showcased” style image where the viewer is immersed into the animal itself without the distraction of backgrounds. I believe it centers the animals very well and allows the viewer to enjoy the small intricacy of each. You basically see EVERY detail. Being a self-taught macro photographer I spent a lot of time studying some of the best photographers’ work. The macro community is absolutely outstanding. I received much advice from the top photographers in the field. The beauty is in the details! It takes much patience to allow the subject to settle for a photoshoot. I stack my images. Meaning, most of the images you’ll see in the book are roughly anywhere from 20-50 images stacked together to increase the depth of field (focus). As you can imagine subjects do tend to move which can ruin an entire photoshoot. You have to be patient, learn the behavioral characteristics and wait till they give you the optimal position.

Q. Initially, there were some challenges with getting a publisher or printer who was able to handle the higher resolution images that you needed printed for your book. Tell me a bit about those struggles in that journey and how things finally panned out.

A. (Jeff): I searched for over a month for a publisher and nobody would take it. One said yes then backed out. Some lashed out at me for inquiring about it by calling me pushy and narcissistic. (Eye Roll)  Some kindly said they were not interested. Then when I reached out to James Longmore and Xtina Marie over at HellBound books James said yes and took on the project. Now here we are. HellBound books have been amazing and are highly recommended.

(Gordon) It was extremely important to me that the images were seen in the resolution they were photographed in. It had to be top notch and our publisher really listened to what my vision was to convey the details to our audience.

“With equal parts dedicated to vengeance and metamorphosis, Venomous Words is an engaging and thought-provoking collection.”

– Steve Stred, Splatterpunk Nominated author of Sacrament and Mastodon.

Q. The way you have the images and the poetry join together so that they resonate with one another is truly unique. How did you decide which images would go with which photos? Did you write poetry specifically for certain images, or take photos for certain poetries, or did you have both of them already created and decide which ones were together the best?

A. (Jeff): So It happened like this. Gordon added amazing photos to the document. Gordon also wrote the descriptions for each creature. I then studied each photo and description for a few minutes and let whatever wanted to escape out. Kind of a freestyle mindset. It’s how I write. No script, no filter, it just flows out. I also added a few that I already had written out if they fit with the photograph.

Q. Do you relate to the creatures in the images, and if so, how?

A. (Jeff): I had to relate with each one in order to fuse the correct words into the creatures. I didn’t relate before I started this project but I surely do now. I was thinking: How do they know when to use their venom and when not to? Hunting techniques, eye color, size of stinger, and most importantly venom toxicity. I learned a lot writing this book.

(Gordon): Jeff really paid close attention to all of the info I was able to give him on each specimen. His inspiration runs wild and it really matches even better than I originally expected. I believe there’s a duality of beauty and danger with each image. The final image of the book, “The scorpion heart” really shows this well.

Q.  Although spiders and scorpions can be scary, they aren’t innately horrific, as they are natural creatures. How do you feel about the different ways that people view the insects that are portrayed in your work? Do you think that sometimes they are feared unfairly? Scapegoated and people do not see their true beauty?

A. (Jeff): We made them beautiful and scary. So is this book the best of both worlds? We are about to find out. I never knew anything about any of these creatures until I met Gordon. Now I know quite a lot. These creatures are not scary to me. They are definitely not scary to Gordon. He also breeds Scorpions at his home. Feared unfairly? Yes. Now people will see their beauty in these highly detailed photographs.

(Gordon): Arachnids are vilified often. I really wanted to bridge the communities by showing every aspect clearly without losing the audience. In each description, I give subtle info on each specimen to inspire people to want to know more about the scorpion hobby and keeping invertebrates all together. They may look scary, but in all honesty, they, like many other creatures, simply want to exist. Yes, there is no doubt that some of the scorpions featured in this book are the most venomous in the world,, however, the true intent was to awe people with the images and create a desire to learn more. I think knowledge reduces the fear factor whilst still respecting each animal for what they are and the damage they can cause if taken lightly.

Q. For each of you, what projects are you currently working on and what can we expect to see from you in the future?

A. (Jeff): We are working on Venomous Words: The Internal Breakdown. It is the second volume of our collaborations. This time Gordon will be flowing into my poetry in a reverse ripple effect. In the first volume I fused my words into his photographs. This time he’s fusing his photography into my poetry. Pretty cool huh? I have 4 other projects as well that I’m working on like a mad man. I’m not playing. I got kicked out of recess in grade school because I was not playing. (Joke) I’m not egotistical I promise. Confidence can be confused with that easily. Venomous Words is only the start of a long journey of many epic collaborations from Gordon and I. Now we have just one more question for you…

Are you ready?

(Gordon): I’m always working to find new angles to show the audience. I typically add different lighting techniques which furthers my skill set making each image better and more interesting. As Jeff said, “Are you ready?” Says it all! The images for the Internal Breakdown are even more intriguing. We are bringing something to the table that most overlook simply because it’s not easily seen with the naked eye. Now, the audience has autonomy to dive deep into the macro world and enjoy the incredible poetry that goes with it! This is truly a one of a kind partnership.

~ by Sumiko Saulson on March 23, 2022.

2 Responses to “Interview with Jeff Oliver and Gordon Reilly (Venomous Words)”

  1. Thank you so much!

  2. It’s so beautifully done. Bravo! 🔥

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