The cult section of the literary world

Posts tagged “bizarro

Dilation Exercise 107

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires a story, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

Alister knew they were just plants, but he sensed a desperation about them.


As the days became shorter, the nights colder, they came up with a simple plan.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Weeds” copyright © 2006 Alan M. Clark.
Cover illustration for Weed Species by Jack Ketchum – Cemetery Dance Publications.

Captions are original to this post and have nothing to do with the literary project with which the artwork first appeared.


Dilation Exercise 106

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

Alister understood enough Morse code to know he was hearing only half a conversation.

Each time the old wisteria branch paused, he wondered who was responding to its tapping.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Branch in the Wind” copyright © 2000 Alan M. Clark. Interior illustration for Flaming Arrows by Bruce Holland Rogers – IFD Publishing.


Dilation Exercise 105

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

Unseen, silently encouraging mistakes, they congregated in the surgical theatre when the surgeons were busy.

The passed patients would have their parts back.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Spares” copyright © 1997 Alan M. Clark. Cover illustration for Spares by Michael Marshall Smith – The Overlook Connection.


Dilation Exercise 104

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

The idea of shooting a flaming arrow into the heavens to rekindle the waning moon was considered a primitive one, not to be taken seriously by modern science

When confronted with the disaster of the the first manned mission to the moon, the Chief Scientist of NASA pointed out that the moon had not in fact caught fire.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Flaming Arrows” copyright © 2000 Alan M. Clark. Cover illustration for Flaming Arrows by Bruce Holland Rogers – IFD Publishing.


Dilation Exercise 103

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises. Special thanks to Karl Fischer and Cameron Pierce for their assistence with this exercise.

At the 2093 Ultimate Bizarro Showdown, everyone thought the aliens would have the upper hand because they were by definition bizarre to us.

But to win first place, all Alister had to do was to stand before the judges and read the epitaph from Karl Fischer’s tomb while feeding a swarm of tiny, tiny blackbirds.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Fat Power” copyright © 1995 Alan M. Clark. Illustration for “Fat Power” by Sherry Briggs – Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Mid-Dec 1995.


Dilation Exercise #102

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

The operation was a simple ten minute procedure if the body occupying the slab was cold and disposable.

The staff had not had a “live one” to work on for some time, however, and they were determined to enjoy the warm flesh that had been offered.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: Detail from “Chuckling Beneath His Mask” copyright © 1984 Alan M. Clark. Interior for The Pain Doctors of Suture self General by the Bovine Smoke Society (Alan M. Clark, Randy Fox, Jim Goad, Peteso, Thalia Ragsdale, Stephen C. Merritt, Cynthia Grissette Merritt, and Beth Gwinn) with an introduction by F. Paul Wilson, published by Arts Nova Press. The painting also appears in black and white as an interior illustration for Pain and Other Petty Plots to Keep You In Stitches by Alan M. Clark, Randy Fox, Troy Guinn, Mark Edwards and Jeremy Robert Johnson (introduction by F. Paul Wilson), published by IFD Publishing.


Dilation Exercise 101

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

When the animals finally banded together and decided to take the world back, the celebration lasted for many days.

Since humans generally didn’t believe they were animals, most people merely stood on the periphery watching, having no inkling of what it all meant and how their lives had been irrevocably altered.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: Detail from “Animal Rite” copyright © 1980 Alan M. Clark. Unpublished.


Show Me Your Shelves: Josh Myers

Josh Myers is a cool guy who likes to read and write books, so we got along from the start. After reading Feast of Oblivion, published by Copeland Valley Press in 2012, I wanted more of his fiction. He said he was working on something. That was good…for a while. Then I got impatient and started pestering him about it. In retaliation, he took his sweet time. Whatever. The point is that GUNS is almost here, and talking about it was the perfect opportunity to also ask Josh to show us his shelves. Dig it.

Who are you and what role do books play in your life?

I’m Josh, a guy from New Jersey who occasionally writes a book or two.

I love books to pieces. When I was young, my parents always encouraged me to read, no matter how weird the books were that I was drawn to. In grade school, my first few teachers had a deep love of books, and they really helped to instill that in me early on. And having become friends with a bunch of really talented writers over these past few years, man…it’s just the best. These are all people who share that deep, deep love of books. When I meet up with most of my friends, one of the first questions asked is, “So what have you been reading?”
There’s just something so great about a book that you can’t get from any other medium. I mean, I love movies and a fair amount of TV, but give me a book any day. I’m literally surrounded by them. There are books on all four walls of my room, and they bleed out into the rest of the house. Sometimes I worry about the shelves over my bed giving way and burying me under books, but in the grand scheme of things…is it really such a bad way to go?
[Flash forward to 2022: Josh Myers dies under a pile of books, last words reported to be, “Oh jeez, I was wrong, this blows.”]

If you had to get a tattoo of a cover, what cover would it be and why?

You mean besides this one?

I got this for a few reasons. One is obviously because I’m a big fan of Andersen Prunty. He’s one of my favorite writers, and a damn nice guy. But I also just really love that design. Brandon Duncan an insanely talented dude, and he absolutely killed it with the FUCKNESS cover. And it sort of speaks to my own slightly skewed sense of patriotism.

But back to the question.
Right off the top of my head, probably Matthew Revert’s HOW TO AVOID SEX. The book is so damn impressive, and I love that image on the cover. Plus, I imagine it would translate really well as a tattoo. So well, in fact, that it might end up happening sometime.
And I don’t think I need to tell anybody at this point what an incredible designer Matt is. His covers always blow me away. But his writing, too, is just extraordinary. I think a lot of people overlook that because of his stellar design work. I really believe the guy is one of the best writers going, though. I mean, have you read BASAL GANGLIA?
(Side note: I actually do plan on getting a tattoo of an image from Matt’s novel, THE TUMOURS MADE ME INTERESTING pretty soon.)

Desert island cliché question: you can only take ten books. Go.

That’s not fair and you know it.
I’m sure that five minutes after I send this I’ll think, “Oh nuts, I really should’ve included THIS, or THAT,” but as of right now (4:03 pm EST, 4/5/14), my desert island books are as follows:

CATCH-22 – Joseph Heller: I don’t think I can say anything about this that hasn’t already been said much better by someone else. One of my all-time favorites.

BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS – Kurt Vonnegut: As the asterisk tattoo on my arm will attest, I’m a pretty big fan of Vonnegut. It’s hard to pick just one of his books, but I think the overall madcap spirit of this one might just be my favorite. Then again, talk to me tomorrow and I’ll probably tell you CAT’S CRADLE.

BASAL GANGLIA – Matthew Revert: Buy. This. Book. Crushingly gorgeous stuff. One of the best I’ve read in years. I feel like it’s a book I’ll end up reading quite a few times throughout my life.

THE COMPLETE STORIES – Flannery O’Connor: Do I really need to explain this? O’Connor was, as far as I’m concerned, one of the most brilliant writers to have ever lived. And while I was tempted to pick WISE BLOOD, this is 550 pages worth of her genius.

ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE – Benjamin Alire Sáenz: I enjoy a lot of Young Adult fiction, and I enjoy a lot of so-called “queer” fiction, so when one of my best friends recommended this, I bought it the next day. It’s an incredibly beautiful book. I can’t sing its praises enough.

THE DOOM MAGNETIC! TRILOGY – William Pauley III: Because sometimes you just need some good old-fashioned out-and-out weird action fun. Plus, it’s three books in one, so, technically, I WIN.

BLEEDING SHADOWS – Joe R. Lansdale: To be honest, I haven’t actually read this yet. But I’m a huge fan of Lansdale, and this is nearly 500 pages of stories and novellas. Should keep me grinning for a while.

LYNCH ON LYNCH – ed. Chris Rodley: If I can’t watch any David Lynch movies on this desert island, at least I can re-read this and get glimpses into the man’s brain.

ELMER GANTRY – Sinclair Lewis: Opening lines: “Elmer Gantry was drunk. He was eloquently drunk, lovingly and pugnaciously drunk.” Total genius, and criminally underrated.

ROLE MODELS – John Waters: Maybe my favorite ever non-fiction book. Even if you don’t like his films (and boy oh boy, I DO), you can’t help loving John Waters. He’s a true inspiration. A saint for all the outsiders and minorities of minorities. This book could very well be my bible.

Are you answering this interview drunk? What role do you think boozing has played in your career?

I wasn’t when I started.

and

Not much until recently. With the next book I’m working on, I started taking a notebook to my favorite bar (Triumph Brewing Company in New Hope, PA) and jotting down notes while drinking beer. It’s surprisingly effective. It’s also a really good excuse to go drink.
Actually, wait.
Yeah, no, I’m wrong.
And maybe drunk.
Okay, so I live next to my grandparents, and most afternoons I go have a beer or two in the garage with my grandfather. During the writing of GUNS, starting in the very early stages, I would get ideas from the stories he would tell me from his youth (Catholic school, crazy relatives, etc) while we were having beers and shooting the shit. This was back when GUNS was still really rough ideas. From drinking with my grandfather, I got a character I really love, and a bunch of other things I can’t talk about without spoiling.
So I guess boozing HAS had a role in my “career” already.
Thanks, beer!

Your next book took a while. Why did you make us wait so long? What were you reading while you wrote it? Do you hate us?

I made you wait because I like to feel important.
No, that’s not the case at all. I’m just a really slow writer. My work ethic when it comes to writing is pretty awful. And I wasn’t really used to writing something as straightforward as this story had to be, so there was a frequent feeling of “this isn’t working”. I very nearly gave up a few times. For a while I was pretty much resigned to the fact that the book wouldn’t be done until 2015. If not for the fact that Justin was already working on the art at that point, and if it weren’t for the group of friends who have been supporting me, this book definitely wouldn’t be finished right now. Hell, it probably would’ve been totally abandoned and I’d be drinking myself into oblivion.
But thanks to those people, what I have now is a book I am incredibly proud of. A book that I can shake in peoples’ faces while I drink myself into oblivion.

I was reading a lot of crime fiction while I wrote this one. Not exclusively, not by a long shot. But as it’s a crime story, it felt appropriate. Although I love crime fiction anyway, so I probably would’ve been reading the same things regardless.
As far as crime, I know I went through a ton of Ken Bruen and obviously Lansdale, some Richard Stark, Jim Thompson, Duane Swierczynski (a huge influence), Wallace Stroby, George V. Higgins, a few Hard Case Crime books, a touch of Derek Raymond, and James Sallis.
Beyond that, I was honestly reading quite a bit of YA. So maybe that odd dichotomy shows up in the book. Or maybe I’m drunk.

Yes I do.

In 3k words or less, answer the following question: why should we go out and buy GUNS?

Because Justin Coons and I have put in a whole lot of effort over the last year and a half to make this thing the best it can be.
Because it’s loaded with violence and vengeance.
Because Justin’s artwork is goddamn beautiful.
Because Matthew Revert’s cover design makes me so happy I could kiss him, but he’s in Australia and my lips don’t reach that far.
Because there are written extras by Matt, Justin, William Pauley III, and my awesome friend Kerry Cullen, who happens to be a really brilliant writer herself.
Because Chuck Copeland will give me a stern talking to if it doesn’t sell as many copies as he has determined it should sell. He won’t tell me how many that is, but I assume it’s over eight and less than twenty-two.
Because it’s a thinly-veiled tribute to my ailing hero, Tim Smith, and the music he made with his beautiful band, Cardiacs. Tim’s a lovely person who made lovely music and I wanted to thank him for that.
Because I got a tattoo of an image from the book and I’ll feel pretty dumb if nobody buys it.
Because books are made to be read, and with all the other options out there, it would put a big ol’ smile on my face to know that somebody read mine.
Thank you.

Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of Gutmouth and a few other things no one will ever read. You can find him on Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias


Dilation Exercise 99

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

As hard as it was, getting the barbed wire out of her was the easy part.


If she survived the first round of surgery, and the surgeons found a way to remove the greedy ranchers, the stubborn cowboys, and the hired guns that kept the range war going, there would still be herds of cattle to deal with and all those strays to round up.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Study for ‘Hemogoblins’” copyright © 2000 Alan M. Clark. Unpublished.


Show Me Your Shelves: CV Hunt and Andersen Prunty

You want to talk about talented duos? It doesn’t get better than these two. Seriously. Andersen Prunty is one of my favorite authors, an editor/publisher whose taste I agree with and whose work ethic I admire, and a man I got to “study” for an author spotlight I wrote for The Magazine of Bizarro Fiction. CV Hunt is ridiculously talented, keeps surprising me with each new book (seriously Other People’s Shit was crazy and funny in ways I didn’t know she could pull off), and has delivered three outstanding books in less than a year. Almost as important as all that is the fact that they’re both Book People, my kind of people. Who wouldn’t want a peek at their shelves?
Who are you and what role do books play in your life?  

CV: My name is C.V. Hunt and sometimes I write stories. I’ve always been an avid reader and never imagined I would be writing someday. I like to think all those books I read were research for finding my voice when I finally sat down to write. I still read every day, but I find myself engrossed in more than just the writing now. Certain things like the layout, the publisher, and the cover design now have my attention. Before I starting writing I read books solely based on the back cover description.

AP: My name is Andersen Prunty. Books take up at least 38-41 percent of my life. That fluctuates periodically. Sometimes it’s as much as 62-71 percent. I write books sometimes. I edit other writers’ and my own books. I publish other writers’ and my own books. I’ve worked in bookstores for about five of my twenty working years. At my current day job, I listen to a lot of audio books. I don’t watch a lot of TV, don’t even have cable, and books fill the void this cultural anomaly inevitably creates.

What are some of your favorites? Are there any books you both love? Are there any books you guys ended up with two copies of after moving in together?  

CV: My favorite books are always changing. Right now I’d say my favorites are Tampa, American Psycho, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and Invisible Monsters. I think Andersen and I both agree that American Psycho is a great book. A lot of times we try to read the same book within days of each other so we can discuss it. We did end up with a few doubles, but some of the doubles were books Andersen had bought and didn’t think he already owned. I’ve started a shelf on Goodreads of everything we own so we can consult it when we raid a book store.

(The shelf is amazing. You can check it out here.)

AP: We both had copies of American Psycho and Fight Club. Carrie had the ridiculous movie tie-in version of American Psycho so we donated it. But her copy of Fight Club was a first edition so it was way better than mine. Recently, I think we’ve both really liked Mike Kleine’s Mastodon Farm (full disclosure: I published this through Atlatl) and Alissa Nutting’s Tampa. Also, when we first met I remember talking about how much we both liked Bentley Little’s The Association. I have many many favorite books. Too many to name, probably. And I hardly ever re-read things. Some of the books that I have gone back to or could see myself going back to in the future are:

When folks have a few dozen books, space/cleaning/moving are not problems. When you have shelves upon shelves upon shelves, things change. How was your recent move and how much of a pain was it to move all those books? 

CV: I think we ended up with sixty boxes of books that had to be moved. Andersen was in charge of alphabetizing them once we were in the new place.

AP: We moved from a one-bedroom, 500 square-foot apartment to a house that is much larger so space isn’t really a problem. One room is just completely empty so we’ll probably eventually put books in there. Or maybe a meth lab, depending on the economy.
The move was challenging. My brother and I tried transporting the boxes of books to the lobby of the building via handtruck and somehow broke the elevator in the process. It subsequently involved a frantic call to the building manager where I informed her that if I had to carry 50 boxes of books down six flights of stairs I would probably die and she would have that on her hands. Miraculously, the elevator started working and we felt victorious.

Sharing a space with a writer for a prolonged period of time can lead to insanity and, in many cases, bloodshed. How do you two manage to deal with the pressures than come from writing, publishing, editing, plugging, etc.? 

CV: I actually find it to be less stressful. He’s the most supportive person in my life and he understands the time constraints when you work a day job. We usually set aside an hour or two in the evenings to work on our own projects. We’re both considerate and try to not be a distraction to other if one of us is obsessed with finishing something or getting to a good stopping point.

AP: Weekly shaming.

What can you tell us about your latest book? Why should we go get it yesterday?

CV: I recently self-published a novelette titled Baby Hater. If you’re really into reading a story about a woman who punches babies in the face then you should check it out.

AP: Sociopaths in Love. People seem to love it or hate it. One guy on Goodreads recommended it to sadists and filed it on one of his shelves labeled “absolute trash.” I feel really good about that!

You’re both prolific, so I’ll throw in one more question: What’s next? 

CV: I’m bouncing back and forth between two projects at the moment. I’m compiling a short story collection and writing a book. I’m an organic writer so I’m usually secretive about writing projects because I’m afraid I’ll jinx the story somehow. I don’t even let Andersen read anything until I’m 100% done and it’s ready for the final edit. The working title of the book is Hell’s Waiting Room and I still haven’t come up with a title for the short story collection.

AP:

 photo cvandy5.jpg

 photo BabyHater.jpeg

 photo sociocover.jpg


Show Me Your Shelves: Max Booth III

Max Booth III is an author, editor, and publisher of weird fiction. He also does strange things in a hotel at night for a living. He loves books and rumor has it he has a new one out there, so I asked him to show me his shelves.

Who are you and what role do books play in your life?

I am the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, a small press of dark, weird fiction based in San Antonio. I have edited numerous anthologies, my most well known probably being So it Goes: a Tribute to Kurt Vonnegut. I’ve even written some stuff. Last year Dark Moon Books published my collection of bizarro flash fiction, They Might Be Demons, and Post Mortem Press is releasing my debut novel, Toxicity, in April. I also write online for LitReactor, Zombie POP, and Revolt Daily, not to mention my blog at TalesFromTheBooth.com, which I keep frequently updated.

 photo max1.jpg

PMMP publishes everything, and that includes bizarro. What space do you think weird fiction occupies in today’s literary scene and why do you choose to publish it?

Weird fiction has always been here. We just haven’t always called it weird; we’ve disguised it with terms like “experimental fiction”, which can throw some people off before even opening the book. The weird genre is loved by many, especially in film—Terry Gilliam comes to mind right away. In literature, we are able to be even weirder. Film can only take you so far, while words can dig into your mind and plant seeds.

The tribute anthologies are a great idea. How do you go about selecting the authors you’ll pay tribute to? Okay, so this cliché question has to follow that one: who are some of your favorite authors?

So far I’ve chosen writers that have played a big inspiration in my own writing. Writers that I read growing up. Vonnegut, Bukowski, Elmore Leonard…they are all writers that played a big part in shaping who I am as a writer. Plus they’re all dead now, and that’s a damn shame. But I am also trying to be careful and only choose writers that had a very distinctive style from others; writers that made this world their own. I’m not sure who I’ll target after Elmore Leonard. Time will tell.

 photo max2.jpg

You work, edit, publish, promote, write, and get your own work out there. How do you find the time to do it all?

I admit that my writing is not as frequent as it was before starting Perpetual Motion Machine, but I prepared myself for that beforehand. I’m lucky to have a full-time job as a hotel night auditor; it’s a very slow job, and leaves me with a lot of downtime, so I typically do all my editing and writing between 11 P.M. and 7 A.M. I am also very lucky to have a business partner, Lori Michelle, who picks up after all my slack and makes sure shit gets done.

What’s your latest book about and why should we pre-order that toxic bad boy?

Toxicity is my first novel. It is my love-letter to films like Snatch and Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels. It is the product of somebody who grew up watching the films of Quentin Tarantino and devouring the books of Elmore Leonard. You should pre-order it if you like dark comedies and crime novels. Fans of the absurd should look no further.

You should pre-order it because this is my first novel, and I need you to have faith, I need you to give me a chance. I am confident that this book will make you a fan for life. Because if it doesn’t, then what the fuck am I even doing?

My writing is my life, and my life is something I will not waste.


Dilation Exercise 98

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

Bill Toby Gerbil marries a can of fresh worms.


Bride was lost in a fishing accident only days later.

About the photo and caption:
In the 1980s, before digital photography was available, I used a polaroid camera to get instant pictures for reference photos for my illustrations. The photos were terrible, like the one in this post. My good friend, Jack Daves, who unfortunately passed away in 2004, liked my photos because they made him laugh. He was a very funny fellow, a great horror writer, and a wonderful musician who helped create the band, The Secret Commonwealth. Jack liked captioning my reference photos. The one I share today is my favorite – written by Jack Hunter Daves. He still makes me laugh.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

 


Show Me Your Shelves: Tiffany Scandal and Michael Kazepis

Check it out, Show Me Your Shelves is featuring a couple for the first time! You know you like it. Tiffany Scandal is part of this year’s NBAS and Michael Kazepis’ debut novel is coming soon from Broken River Books. This is one talented couple. They also look cute together, just don’t let them know. Now dig the interview. It’s a good one.

Who are you two and what role do books play in your lives?

TS: I’m Tiffany Scandal. I’m a writer, Suicide Girl, and photographer. Books were my security blanket growing up. I was a weird kid with a lot of imagination and reading was my go-to for escaping reality. I remember going book shopping with my family, and getting into trouble because I would read the books they thought would last me a week on that same day. Teachers eventually started loaning me literature and by junior high, I was reading college-level material and was usually one of two kids constantly in the library.

While that’s cool to look back on, it was problematic at the time—in high school, I actually got kicked out of the honors program because my vocabulary was “too grandiose” and I was consistently given F-minuses (that shouldn’t be a real grade, right?), all because my teacher didn’t believe that a fifteen year old was capable of writing what I was turning in. No matter—books were there for me, and they didn’t care if I was a snobby little shit or not.

MK: My name is Michael Kazepis. Lately, I’ve been writing weird urban crime books. Being a military brat, fiction had always been this way to combat a loneliness that developed from moving back and forth between continents, never keeping the same people in my life. I started young with my brother’s comic books and Stars and Stripes newspapers, whatever was laying around, and it grew from there. As an adult, I’ve continued to change locations frequently, and whatever survival mechanism compelled me to escape into fiction seems like permanent function now.

What’s interesting (at least to me), considering how much I read, is that I’ve got crippling attention span issues and shouldn’t be able to. People often have to repeat things to me, even when I stare right at them, trying hard to concentrate. Most speech just drifts around me, dissipates. Notepads help a lot when I’m at work and I’ve developed an ace shorthand to keep me sharp. I’m lucky that reading has always been one constant I can lose myself in, narrow the focus a while. Never feels more centered than when I’m in the last stretches of a novel.

Did you guys put your books together when you moved into the same place? How does that work?

TS: Pretty much. Michael has severe OCD when it comes to bookshelf organization. When we recently rearranged furniture in the house, he sat on the floor for a few hours, organizing the books by genre and writer. Not all of his books are here, but if they were, I’m sure there would be lots of duplicates. Dude’s got good taste.

MK: I only brought a messenger bag full of books to Portland, but I’ve learned to prioritize between what I’m reading and what I can’t live without. Luckily for me, Tiffany came ready-made as a partner, so a fine collection was waiting when I moved in. The rest of my books are spread across three cities. It’s just easier to build anew than keep carrying it all around.

What are some of your favorites? Is there a book or books you guys disagree over? One you both really dig?

MK: No particular order—the first three Pynchon novels, HOPSCOTCH, BLOOD MERIDIAN, everything Sam Pink, AMERICAN TABLOID, THE DARK HALF, THE NIGHT GARDENER, WISE BLOOD, everything Cody Goodfellow, REVEREND AMERICA, the Gately stuff in INFINITE JEST. Cameron Pierce’s LOST IN CAT BRAIN LAND had some stories in it that made me feel. Daniel Woodrell’s BAYOU TRILOGY is meaty as fuck. I think my favorite has to be the ten or so loose pages left of my first copy of GRAVITY’S RAINBOW—I got so frustrated at that book the first time I read it that I tore it to pieces, distributing most of its pages across the Indianapolis loop. But for some reason I couldn’t shake that book out of my head, and over the years it’s become the one I revisit most.

Tiffany and I don’t disagree much on books. I suppose I don’t get Sylvia Plath, so maybe that counts. But we like Bolaño’s ANTWERP a lot. We pick books to read to each other. Recently it was ZEROVILLE by Steve Erickson. Now it’s I AM GENGHIS CUM by Violet LeVoit.

TS: My turn already? Jesus. Too many to even know where to start. Uh, EVERYTHING AND NOTHING by Borges is my absolute favorite collection of short stories.  OF LOVE AND OTHER DEMONS by Garcia-Marquez made me cry like a baby. HELL HOUSE, NEUROMANCER, THE SHINING, RAYUELA, THE BELL JAR, WRITTEN ON THE BODY, WISE BLOOD, the SHADOW OF THE WIND series. THE BABY JESUS BUTT PLUG was my gateway book into bizarro fiction. From there I fell in love with ROTTEN LITTLE ANIMALS, TRASHLAND A GO-GO, WE LIVE INSIDE YOU,  PLACENTA OF LOVE, OCEAN OF LARD, TUMOR FRUIT, HAUNT; shit by Cody Goodfellow, Brian Keene, Shane McKenzie, and J David Osborne. I’m sure I’m forgetting to mention a million more books.

Mike and I actually enjoy a lot of books together. Picking up books we’re both excited about and taking turns reading chapters/sections to each other—yeah, we’re gross. We haven’t really disagreed on books, but there have been excerpts I’ve read by Sylvia Plath and Jeanette Winterson that he didn’t seem overly impressed by. So my queer/feminist section may stay relatively untouched by him, which is funny because Michael loves hanging out with lesbians.

MK: That’s true. Lots of my friends happen to be lesbians.

Writers are divas. How do you guys deal with each other when the “writing blues” attack? How do you go about offering support?

MK: Writers are tough to be around. Most times we communicate it’s easy to just imagine actual vomit or shit seeping copiously from our mouths. I’d be afraid to hear my own conversations from a distance. Often with other writers on social media, both professional and not, I find myself wanting to type “shut the fuck up” into the comment sections. I always manage to stop myself, thankfully. But they’re also my people, so it’s love-hate. I’m sure someone feels like that about me.

One way that having a partner who’s also a writer has been beneficial is that over the past six months, she and I have supported each other when pressed with deadlines. You learn that there are some moments to provide someone with space and other moments for bridging that space. It’s also nice when we have time to proofread each other and can immediately point out oversights, shit that on its own takes days or weeks, maybe longer. There’s a scene in my upcoming book that Tiffany actually wrote for me, because I was clueless as to its execution—she was sketching out an example of what I could do with the idea and her version turned out better than what I had tried to do, so I pilfered it.

TS: Ha! Have fun trying to guess which scene that is, I guess. Michael and I are wondering which scene I might get incorrectly credited for. Now, going back to the question, writers are total divas. I was gonna write some witty banter about conversations with writers, but I like Michael’s answer better. So we’ll just go with what he says about puke and shit. As far as our relationship goes, I feel that it helps that we’re both writers. We understand each other pretty well and have been able to navigate proper support based on that. Space, pep talks, forced breaks, coffee refills, food. It’s kind of awesome. I also love that we can bounce ideas off of one another. And when we get stuck on scenes, we tackle them together. I’ve lost track of how many times we’ve both thrown our hands up in defeat over a scene, and the other comes in with a calm voice, asks about set up and goals, and offers a suggestion. We both love seeing the ideas we give each other click and hearing the rapid progression of keys being hammered at immediately afterward.

Okay, so you both have books out there. Tell us about them so we can go buy them.

MK: I get bummed by certain aspects of the writing industry, particularly salesmanship. I was explaining this to David Osborne, who’s publishing me, and he said “Well, tough shit. Go sell your book.” So in as few words as possible—LONG LOST DOG OF IT is Mediterranean neo-noir—an homeless detective in a strange city, a mob enforcer whose last job leaves a witness, an expatriate intent on murdering her unfaithful girlfriend, an assassin with a striking resemblance to the 35th President of the United States. Overlapping lives, etc. I like the logline for Lynch’s INLAND EMPIRE, “a woman in trouble”—this is like that: some people in trouble.

THERE’S NO HAPPY ENDING is bizarro horror. A love story at the end of the world. Everything falling apart in the literal way. Dresden and Isobel get separated right around the time things go to shit. Lots of memorable scenes: the ark, the aquarium, the infinite room, the ending. Real simple conflict: Will they find each other again? The situation says, Outlook Not Good. It’s part Y: THE LAST MAN, part ANGEL DUST APOCALYPSE. Deathly bleak at times too, but with a real sense of humor about it.

TS:Uh, they’re awesome! My book, THERE’S NO HAPPY ENDING, is an apocalyptic love story where two lovers are fighting impossible odds to find each other before the world physically disintegrates into nothing. It’s violent, gory, kind of funny, and heartfelt. People other than my own family seem to really like it. It’s available now through Eraserhead Press in paperback and Kindle on Amazon.

Michael wrote a punk-as-fuck crime noir book. LONG LOST DOG OF IT feels like what you’d get if maybe David Lynch directed a Bikini Kill video, but with badass action scenes. The imagery in this book is both haunting and boner-inducing. It’ll be out on both paperback and Kindle through Broken River Books on February 1.

Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of Gutmouth and a few other things no one will ever read. You can find him on Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias


Dilation Exercise 97

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

He hated his older sister when she stole his candy bar, but then when she began to choke on it, he panicked for fear of losing one he truly loved.


Although he began beating her chest to clear her obstructed airway, it felt so good to punish her, he just kept at it.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Dead Little Girl” copyright © 2011 Alan M. Clark. Interior illustration for Flesh and Blood 13, appearing with the story, “Who Killed Little Betty,” by Brian Knight.

Captions are original to this post and have nothing to do with the literary project with which the artwork first appeared.


Dilation Exercise 96

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

In the midst of the great struggle for the soul of mankind, the revelation of the great wobbly breasts of Cartoon Pope was so startling for Evil Crabman that it nearly took the fight out of him.

Then, imagine his surprise when the pontiff asked for a hug.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Cartoon Pope” copyright © 2011 Alan M. Clark. A controlled accident painting created during a controlled accident workshop Mr. Clark taught at the Emerald Art Center in Springfield, Oregon.


Dilation Exercise 95

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

The boy had no close friends, his parents didn’t understand him, and he loved nothing in the world so much as monster movies; so, he fled reality, entering the television one afternoon during his favorite show, The Horror Feature.

He fought his way toward the light, dodging giant mutant bugs, deadly alien creatures, and ancient evils from the Dark Ages—not knowing what he’d find when he got to the source, believing it had to be better than what he’d had.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Holywood” copyright © 1991 Alan M. Clark. The image is inspired by a story concept b by David Conover.

Captions are original to this post and have nothing to do with the literary project with which the artwork first appeared.


Dilation Exercise 94

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Since this week’s workout is so close to the holidays, Robert Devereaux was asked to lead the exercise with material inspired by his series, The Santa Claus Chronicles. Using the cover artwork for the existing three novels as inspiration, he has written the captions below to deliver a seasonal delight! There are links to the books on amazon.com in this post.

Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the images, and allow your imagination to go to work on them. Please don’t expand on the story lines in your comments. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

At the height of their passion, Saint Nick remembered having left his genitals in some needy grown-up’s stocking

Once retrieved, which could be accomplished in a flash, how might he conclude this fiery encounter with a genuine money shot?

Artwork: “Santa and the Tooth Fairy” copyright © 1992 Alan M. Clark. Cover art for Santa Steps Out, by Robert Devereaux, published by Deadite Press.

Hmmm, a pooper of coins.

How might he give such a gift to deserving tykes worldwide, without turning them into scorned freaks?

Artwork: “Santa Remote Viewing” copyright © 2011 Alan M. Clark. Cover art for Santa Claus Conquers the Homophobes, by Robert Devereaux, published by Deadite Press.

Elevated to Son-of-God-ship, what a time to pop a boner!

All the heavenly host has noticed and stopped singing my praises, turning their eyes to the Big Boy Himself.

Artwork: “Santa’s Wet Dream” copyright © 2013 Alan M. Clark. Cover art for Santa Claus Saves the World, by Robert Devereaux, published by Deadite Press.

Captions are original to this post and are not excerpted from the novels.

Cameron Pierce has an article on LitReactor about Robert Devereaux’s Santa Claus Chronicles.

 

—Alan M. Clark and Robert Devereaux


Show me your shelves: Justin Grimbol

This column is called Show me your shelves, but here at Bizarro Central, we do things differently. This week, we feature an author who agreed to show us his shelves and didn’t have any: Justin Grimbol. If you know Grimboli, you know this somehow makes perfect sense.

Who are you and what role do books play in your life?

My name is Justin Grimbol and I write books. But even if I didn’t write book, I would read them a lot. I love books. When I was young I read comics mainly. Underground shit. Love and Rockets. Ed The Happy Clown. But then, when I was about 21, I read Ham On Rye by Bukowski. I got obsessed with that weirdly warm and wild effect sentences have on my mind. I started reading nonstop. Now I hate comics. Too many pictures. Not enough words. Fuck comics. I write now. I write all the time. I write books and poems and stuff on Facebook. I can’t stop. It’s getting crazed.

I asked you to show me your shelves. You showed me a stack of books. What gives?

About ten years ago someone stole my car. I had so much shit in the trunk of that thing. I had hundreds of books and my entire wardrobe. I was devastated. It was Thanksgiving. I had to get home. I took the train, cause I had no fucking car. The train was packed. I cried in front of all these people and they were looking at me. Some people were looking at me like I was a crazy person. Some were looking at me with pure compassion. They didn’t know what had happened to me. Maybe I got my heart broken. Maybe a relative died. They didn’t know I was crying about a stolen car and clothes and books and DVDs. I got so mad at myself. I promised myself to never get so attached to things like that again. That weekend I got rid of all my comics, all my books, and all my DVDs. I enjoyed getting rid of all that stuff. It felt freeing.

So I buy lots of books. But I don’t keep them. I sell them to book stores or give them to friends. The stack in the photo is of what few books I keep. I call it THE SACRED STACK. I love the books in that stack. I love them too much. I can’t get rid of them.

 

What are some of your favorite books?

Most of my favorite books are in the stack. But there are some books that should be in the stack, that aren’t. HAM ON RYE should be in that stack. There should be more Mellick in the stack. Mellick has so many great books. He deserves a stack of his own, but I gave all my Mellicks to the kids in this rehab I used to work at.

I have a Kindle, so some of my favorite books are on that little gizmo. I love Prunty’s Fill The Grand Canyon and Live Forever. And Cameron Peirce’s Pickled Apocalypse of Pancake Island. And Sam Pink’s Person and Hurt Others. All those books should be in the stack. One day I will buy paperback copies of these books and they shall join THE SACRED STACK. But the stack can’t get too big though. I will have to get rid of some of THE STACK’S current residents.

Oh, I forgot! THERE’S ONE MORE BOOK THAT SHOULD BE IN THE STACK! Crapalachia by Scott McClanahan. That’s my new favorite book. I read it and the fucking thing blew my mind to little Grimbols that started dry humping each other. It’s so good. It’s not in the stack because I lent it to my dad. But it will be in the stack soon. SOON!

You like to write filthy stuff. What’s the filthiest books you’ve ever read?

The Dirty Havana Trilogy by Pedro Juan Gutierrez. That book is crazed. So much sex. So much raw nasty goodness. Then there is Going Monstering by Edward Lee. That’s a different kind of filthy. That book made my soul and my body feel filthy. Like I needed to take a shower. With scolding hot water. And scrub myself down with sand paper. Anything to get clean again. It’s amazing but just wrong. Gutierrez is different. He makes me want to party and sweat and have clumsy-beautiful sex.

What’s your last book about and why should we run and buy it?

THE PARTY LORDS. It’s a rowdy little book. Its like Sixteen Candles dry humped Deliverance, or the Wrong Turn movies. It’s a funny book. But sappy at times, too. I grew up watching Fried Green Tomatoes over and over again. I’m a sappy guy. And that sappiness gets into everything. I can’t help it.


Dilation Exercise 93

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

Alister had often wondered if the mechanics of his brain were responsible for making him like Harold or if the cruel man were indeed worthy of friendship.

But other than a best friend, Alister thought in the last moments of his life, who would do this for me?

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “The Long Walk” copyright © 1992 Alan M. Clark. Interior Illustration for Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, appearing with “The Walk” by Greg Egan.

Captions are original to this post and have nothing to do with the literary project with which the artwork first appeared.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon


Show me your shelves: Ross E. Lockhart

By Gabino Iglesias

I never judge people by their looks; I judge them by their books. I love talking books and often wonder what the bookshelves of authors, editors, publishers, reviewers, and fellow book addicts look like. This is my attempt to satisfy my curiosity and share those bookshelves with the world. Writer, editor, and Cthulhu devotee Ross E. Lockhart kicks things off.

Who are you and what role do books play in your life?

I’m Ross E. Lockhart. I make books. I’m an anthologist, editor, author, and publisher. I edited and published the anthology Tales of Jack the Ripper through my company Word Horde, and I’m the author of the punk rock novel Chick Bassist, published by Lazy Fascist Press. I’m also a voracious reader and have amassed more than enough books to build a small-to-medium-sized fortress out of them.

When did you start reading and what got you hooked on it?

I’ve been a reader as long as I can remember, and I’ve been writing almost as long. I’m a big fan of story’s power to sweep us up into something larger than ourselves, and the way that story-telling is integral to the human experience. Nothing is quite as reaffirming, yet revolutionary, as a well-told story.

Ross reads to Elinor in front of his bookshelf. Elinor is known in the publishing business as the dog that edits the editor.

What are some of your favorite books? Any prized tomes in your collection?

I’m a huge fan of classic weird and fantastic fiction, particularly Poe, James, and Lovecraft, but I’m equally influenced by Lenny Bruce’s How to Talk Dirty and Influence People and Groucho Marx’s Groucho and Me. I take horror and comedy very seriously–both genres seek a physiological effect, whether shudder or guffaw–and find the line between the two to be about as thin–and slippery–as a banana peel. The difference is whether slipping on that banana peel lands you on your ass or breaks your neck. As for prized tomes, I’m not much of an autograph collector–to the point that I often forget to sign books for friends. I buy books to read them, to lose myself in them, but not as commodities. I do have a few rarities, but those tend to carry stories of their own.

Are there any books you’d like to add to your collection?

Absolutely. My Amazon wish list is out of control.

You work with books, so tell us what you’ve written/edited so we can buy it!

Chick Bassist is my latest novel. Tales of Jack the Ripper is my latest anthology, but I also edited The Book of Cthulhu I and II, and am working on a third volume now.


Dilation Exercise 92

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

In 1957, when televisions could hardly maintain horizontal control, she was a sex kitten and he was an obese man who could no longer get around on his own.

So why did the network believe a reality TV show about the couple would sell?

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Fat Man and Sex Kitten” copyright © 1985 Alan M. Clark.

Captions are original to this post and have nothing to do with the literary project with which the artwork first appeared.


Dilation Exercise 91

Below you’ll find Alan M. Clark’s weekly Dilation Exercise. Please look at the picture, read the caption, above and below the image, and allow your imagination to go to work on it. If the artwork inspires an idea, please use the comment feature to tell us something about it. Need a further explanation? Go to Imagination Workout—The Dilation Exercises.

Although the teams and the fans kept to all the colorful traditions, the game wasn’t what it used to be.

But, then, neither was reality.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “The Campbell House” copyright © 1985 Alan M. Clark.
Interior illustration for Imagination Fully Dilated (inspired by the artwork, Peter Crowther wrote the story “The Space Between the Lines” for the anthology) edited by Elizabeth Engstrom and Alan M. Clark – Cemetery Dance Publications.

Captions are original to this post and have nothing to do with the literary project with which the artwork first appeared.


Dilation Exercise 90

In an effort to promote my new novel, The Door That Faced West, due for release in February 2014 from Lazy Fascist Press, I created the Dilation Exercise below based on the story. The novel is inspired by the earliest known American serial killers, the Harpe brothers, Wiley and Micajah, and the three wives they shared. Comments are welcome, but please do not expand on this storyline.

Although she’d made the decision to push Suesanna to her death the first time they’d shared the duty on the bluff, Sadie couldn’t follow through because she didn’t want the infant the woman carried to suffer.

The second time the two shared the duty, for a noon to sunset shift, the older woman left her child with Bett.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Bluff” copyright © 2013 Alan M. Clark. Interior illustraion for The Door that Faced West (The artwork will appear in black and white in the paperback book)


Dilation Exercise 89

In an effort to promote my new novel, The Door That Faced West, due for release in February 2014 from Lazy Fascist Press, I created the Dilation Exercise below based on the story. The novel is inspired by the earliest known American serial killers, the Harpe brothers, Wiley and Micajah, and the three wives they shared. Comments are welcome, but please do not expand on this storyline.

Because the Harpes had created havoc with such ferocity and gotten away with the violence for so long over a vast wilderness territory, the people of the frontier began to believe the brothers were more powerful than ordinary men.

The danger seemed to escalate as the rumor mill attributed all unsolved crimes within the territory to the Harpes, and a common, unreasoning fear, suggesting that the brothers were supernatural beings, kept honest folks from fighting back.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

If you like Alan M. Clark’s artwork, please try his writing in both short fiction and novels.

Artwork: “Harpe Party” copyright © 2013 Alan M. Clark. Interior illustraion for The Door that Faced West (The artwork will appear in black and white in the paperback book)


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 797 other followers