An Interview with Chris Bowsman, Author of A Life On Fire.
by Justin Grimbol
A LIFE ON FIRE is a crazed book. It is about a man who shifts back and forth between realities. Both realities are bleak. One is filled with alcoholic benders and crappy jobs. The other world is haunted by Demons. In one world his girlfriend is dead. In the other the dead don’t seem, well, fully dead.
The subject of this book is depressing. Alcoholism and death are some bleak shit, but the story is not overly grim. At times it is downright hilarious.
One of my favorite characters is Mr. Holman. He’s a dimwit who is constantly inventing things that already exist. He invents shoes with wheels, and a double bladed knife, and an edible container for ice-cream. Hilarious.
At one point Gerald goes to an old friend for solace. They drink together, and though they are both obviously alcoholics, the scene’s not depressing. Instead, I found their relationship to be hilarious and touching.
I’m not say this book is a buddy comedy, or bromance or anything like that. The demons are really disturbing and they pop up when you least expect it. This book had me on edge. It was hard to put down.
Here’s an interview I did with the the author:
Justin Grimbol: Do you consider A LIFE ON FIRE to be a horror novel, a Bizarro novel, or both?
Chris Bowsman: I used to love labeling things and arguing with people over a band or a book’s proper classification. To some extent, I guess I still do, but it gets really difficult when that thing is yours. If someone asks me what type of book it is, I usually say ‘kind of weird horror,’ but if someone calls it Bizarro I wouldn’t argue. I’m a huge fan of Bizarro books and authors, so I don’t mind being associated with them. Andy (Prunty, the publisher), Greg Seymour (Grindhouse editor) and I spent a bit of time talking about which genre it fits best, but ultimately decided it’s not that important.
JG: Were any of Holman’s invention ideas edited out of the book? If so, which ones?
CB: Ha, no. Most of my content editing is done as I’m writing, so it’s not like there are chapters that I pulled or anything like that. It’s been awhile, but I’m pretty sure I tried to think of the most asinine things I could, with the intention of going back and replacing them with something better. In real life, I’m a retail manager, so Mr Holman is kind of my homage to every dumbass customer who has ever asked me something stupid.
JG: What’s the lamest invention you have seen actually exist?
CB: Oh, wow… there are so many stupid things in the world. The Snuggie has to be at the top of the list. When I was a kid, I had something called a snake bite kit. It consisted of a suction cup and a razor blade, so if you got bit by a snake, you could cut open the wound and suck the poison out. Using such a device would likely cause the poison to act more quickly.
JG: What are your favorite books?
CB: I’m sure I’ll leave something out, but off the top of my head: Stephen King’s BAG OF BONES
JG: What are your Pet-peeves?
CB: The biggest one lately is people who won’t answer a fucking question. I manage an auto parts store and have to ask people lots of questions about their cars. After the year, make, and model, I sometimes have to ask which engine is in the car. They’ll often reply with “Does it matter?” I then have to explain that sometimes it does, then they won’t believe it would possibly make a difference, and I have to insist that it often does, all the while pretending I don’t want to smash their head into the counter.
If you’re buying parts for the car, and the clerk asks which engine is in your car, just tell him. If it didn’t matter, they wouldn’t ask.
JG: What’s the worst horror movie you have ever loved?
CB: I love Andy Warhol’s Flesh For Frankenstein and Blood For Dracula an awful lot. The obvious stuff like Evil Dead/Army Of Darkness… I should also mention Jack Frost. If you haven’t seen it, a prisoner is being transported in a blizzard, and the paddy wagon runs into a truck full of toxic waste. The prisoner’s spirit, having combined with the toxic waste, comes back to life in the form of a psychotic snowman.