The cult section of the literary world

Interview: Vince Kramer on Gigantic Death Worm

by Justin Grimbol
This is one of the most wonderfully over the top books I have ever read. I read it late at night. My girlfriend kept waking up to the sound of me laughing hysterically. She got really annoyed. I kept thrashing around the bed acting like little kid that was being tickled. That’s how much fun it is to read this fucking book.
It’s packed with crazy. There’s tons bears that spit wolves, partying college kids, raunchiness, Mexican ninjas, death worm’s spitting out all sorts of crap, things getting bit off, partying, and pervert Mayans. All the characters are despicable, but by the end I found myself completely attached. It’s a real skill to take a despicable character and make them loveable without being sappy. And this book isn’t sappy, not even for a second.
I loved this so much. I bought it on kindle. But I’m going to have to buy the paperback as well. I need to be able to hold this gem in my hands.

As soon as I finished the book I wrote to the author and asked him for an interview.

Justin Grimbol: What was it like to write this book? You had to be cracking yourself up the whole time.

Vince Kramer: It was intense. I had my roommate/editor (Kevin Shamel) take away my internet router AND my cellphone, and I sat in a hot room in July and banged the whole thing out in three days. I’m so addicted to the internet that it was mandatory for it to be taken away. And it was even taken to another state (Washington) where there was no chance I’d get it back until Kevin came home. I was just at my friend Carl’s birthday party a few nights previous and he and my friend Cameron were talking about starting their three-day writing marathons that week. I had only been writing four pages here and there for months so I asked a lot of questions and got some killer advice on doing it. I mean, these guys are the masters. I think Carl wrote I Knocked Up Satan’s Daughter that week and Cameron wrote Cthulhu Comes to the Vampire Kingdom. And I finished Gigantic Death Worm. It was almost too easy. I didn’t stop to edit and just had a lot of fun writing it. It was a blast, actually. And another awesome thing that Cameron said was that you know you have something when your own shit is making you laugh out loud. So yeah, I actually had many moments when I just couldn’t stop laughing after I wrote something. It was like, “Holy shit, did I really just write that?” And by the time I got to the part in my book where the worms are destroying the city, it was the 4th of July and everyone in the neighborhood was setting off fireworks all night. So, there were big sounds of explosions all around me every five seconds, and I just imagined it was the sound of Gigantic Death Worms destroying the fuck out of Portland. I think that really helped me with advancing that part of the story, LOL.

JG: How did you get introduced to Bizarro fiction?

VK: I grew up with Carlton Mellick and he’s pretty much remained my best friend since high school. When he started writing and moved to Portland ten years ago, I bought every single one of his books the week it came out on Amazon. It’s one of the coolest things ever to have one of your closest friends growing up become your favorite writer. Carl just was writing the kind of stuff I’ve always wanted to read. I didn’t even know there was a genre called Bizarro until years later and there were lots of other killer writers in the scene. Carl gave me a copy of one of Kevin Donihe’s books on a trip to Portland in 2005 and I immediately loved the fuck out of his writing too. And the Choose Your Own Adventure book Carl co-wrote with him blew my mind. And so, on subsequent vacations to Portland over the next few years to see Carl, the whole thing just started blowing up with Bizarro getting bigger and bigger. My vacations started to become very Bizarro-oriented. I was introduced to Mykle Hansen (who’s like a GOD), and tons of other great writers (AND people) in the scene like Cameron Pierce and Jeff Burk. And eventually Carl reeled me in, said he always thought I was kind of an aspiring writer, and made me go to Bizarro Con. I’m glad he did.

JG: You love toys. You brought a bunch out in a performance once. Did playing with toys help you write this book?

VK: Fuck yes, they helped a shitload. Playing with action figures really flexes your creative muscle and helps you out a lot with your characters, situations, and even dialogue. Worm-Head Girl was even birthed from me creating her action figure out of different parts one night for fun and annoying the shit out of Kevin with her. I took multiple forced perspective-shot pics of him being attacked and shot at by her. Kevin Shamel HATED Worm-Head Girl. It was the funniest thing ever. And by the time I had my story outlined and my characters rounded out on notecards, I had a figure from my collection for each one of them. Dave was Chuckles from G.I. Joe, since the character is kind of me and I’m blonde and like to wear Hawaiin shirts. Mike and Suzanne were Scarlett and Snow Job, also from G.I. Joe, because the characters came with skis and ski-poles. A Mexican ninja was Spirit, the Native American G.I. Joe, who had tons of killer weapons. I used that crazy dog cenobite from Hellraiser as one of my bears, my Snake Eyes figure came with a perfect wolf, and Spirit even came with little green snakes that were perfect for Dave’s brain parasites. And to top it all off, I had the huge worm toy from Dune that I had gotten from the vintage place here in Portland, Billy Galaxy, to pose as my Gigantic Death Worm. I had a perfect diorama of a whole fight scene from the book displayed on a giant crystal centerpiece on my coffee table the whole time I wrote the book. The toys are so fun I brought them to the performance at Bizarro Con for a little show-and-tell, and it definitely would be funny to shoot a video of them acting out a scene from the book. I’ve dabbled in that before with some Star Wars figures before and it turned out pretty hilarious. Action figures rule.

JG: Your writing style is so casual and so unique. How long have you been writing?

VK: Thank, dude! Well, just about 11 months really. I discovered flash-fiction back in January, and that sounded easy because it’s so short, so I started writing those like crazy. I guess I got a lot of practice because I ended up writing almost a hundred of them, probably enough for a whole book. I just wrote and wrote and I think I got a lot better as I went on. I think I gave up at one point though, but it wasn’t long before Kevin was at my house on vacation reading some of it and laughing his ass off. He was in tears. He was choking. At almost every line of my stories. I was really in shock. From that point on I got nothing but tons of encouragement from Kevin. And Kevin wrote one of the funniest books ever, Rotten Little Animals, which I was already a huge fan of, so Kevin really knows his comedy. I really don’t think I would have become an actual writer if Kevin hadn’t read some of my stories that night. Hearing someone laugh out loud in person at my shit really just nailed it for me. One of the main things I’ve always tried to do in my life is make other people laugh and I think with writing, I can succeed in that in a bigger way than ever before.

JG: Did you listen to music while writing this thing?

VK: Oh god yes. And this is a really funny thing. I’ve been collecting tons of vintage albums on vinyl since I moved to Portland, since we pretty much have the best record stores in the world. I’m a huge metalhead, but I’m also REALLY into the ‘80s. I had just started buying every single one of my favorite ‘80s pop bands’ albums I could find. Mike + the Mechanics, The Fixx, Devo, Talking Heads, Asia, Saga, The Cars, Loverboy, Cyndi Lauper, Billy Joel, Tears For Fears, The Power Station, Kajagoogoo, Madonna, The Romantics, Berlin, The Thompson Twins, Men Without Hats; you name it – I’ve got it. I have a pretty sweet record player set-up in my living room, and I’ve spun tons of these at all the big Bizarro house parties I’ve thrown up here. I had a big Caribbean Coconut Cup Drink Hawaiin Shirt Party (you’ve heard of those, right? LOL), and Billy Ocean’s “Suddenly” was in rotation a lot. Caribbean Queen is one of my favorite songs ever, and that record ended up staying in the player for a long time after. I just loved it. Me and Kevin even came up with a hilarious movie idea based on it about Billy Ocean’s private island, and the girl with amnesia who gets shipwrecked there and washes up on the shore, meets him, falls in love, gets her groove back, but then finds out she has cancer and dies or something. We called it “Into the Ocean” and came up with the tagline ‘She came out of the ocean, and got into his car.’ It was so fucking hilarious!! It was that one, and Nervous Night by The Hooters (the one with And We Danced and All You Zombies), that were the records I spun pretty much ALL THE TIME for a month. Couldn’t get enough, they’re just the best fucking records ever. So, by the time the writing of my book came around, I had bought a bunch of other new vintage records to listen to, but found they were really, really distracting since I hadn’t heard any of them yet. It turned out I literally couldn’t write anything unless Billy Ocean or The Hooters were playing. I was just so used to them! They were almost like white noise by that time. So, in the end, I really have to credit Billy Ocean a great deal for helping me write Gigantic Death Worm. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it probably wouldn’t have been written without him.

JG: If you could get one major actor to star in the film version of GIGANTIC DEATH WORM, who would it be?

VK: Oooh, that’s a tough one. I’ve never thought of that. Well, I think it would have to be Taimak, the star of that cheesy ‘80s kung-fu movie The Last Dragon. That’s pretty much the best movie ever. I have a framed signed glossy from him hanging on my wall that says “Vince – you got the power of the glow” (YES!), and it’s a big source of mirth and inspiration for me. But he’s black so they’d just have to make Gigantic Death Worm with black people, which would probably turn out really awesome. Hell, they could even just make The Last Dragon 2 and have a big death worm in the background destroying the city for no reason and I’d be pretty happy.

JG: What is your favorite part of this book and why?

VK: The scene in the newsroom with Mark Curtis and Lin Sue Cooney.
Growing up in Arizona, I had to look at that guy and his big stupid mustache every night on TV for about 20 years. I always wanted to make fun of him, her, and their stupid fucking news show. I thought it would be funny to cut to a scene like that in the book, where they’re talking about the worms destroying the city and the correlation between that and 2012 like it’s no big deal and they’re laughing about it, and then they just switch to a fun celebrity story. That’s what I always hated about newscasters – they’re covering some big tragic and terrible story and they smile the whole time to be personable and always add a little comment at the end they both laugh at. And someone just like, died horribly or something. So, I always wanted to lampoon that. Having the newsroom explode while it’s devoured by the gigantic death worm, and have everyone die a fiery death, I love it; it’s just so fucking hilarious. I laugh my ass off every time I read that page in my book. It’s my favorite by far.
Vince Kramer’s GIGANTIC DEATH WORM and Justin Grimbol’s THE CRUD MASTERS  are now available on Amazon along with the rest of  the 2011 New Bizarro Author Series!

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