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BizarroAuthor

Madeleine Swann & 4 Rooms in a Semi-Detached House

by Lee Widener

Madeleine Swann entered the Bizarro realm with her debut novella “Rainbows Suck,” released through Eraserhead Press’ New Bizarro Author Series in 2015.  Now her second novella “4 Rooms in a Semi-Detached House” is available from Strangehouse Books. I asked Maddy some questions and she answered them!

LEE:  Tell us about your new book.maddy

MADELEINE:  My new novella is about a girl, Aisha, who lives on a street where each room of each house leads to landscapes in an alternate dimension/the past/whichever you prefer. The front rooms lead to a cinema during the Depression, the bedrooms to a Parisian Salon, kitchens to a Georgian banquet hall in space and studies to a psychedelic book shop. Disturbing things take over the rooms and Aisha thinks a secret of hers might be the cause.

LEE:  I know you have a particular interest in avant-garde cinema and also the psychedelic experience. From the trailer for this book it seems these interests play a large part in the story. Is this true, and if so, what other interests of yours show up in this book?

MADELEINE: Avant-garde films and books are a huge inspiration to me. Also I love Pre-Code films, vintage cinemas and vaudeville so I set an area in the early thirties. I also enjoy writers and artists of the twenties, in New York and the expats in Paris mainly, so they’re in the bedroom. The Georgian period is an era I find fascinating, partly because of the lawlessness but also because they were getting to grips with science and life post-religion (mostly). Plus I love all the frills, they were so flouncy. Finally there’s a psychedelic book shop because I felt like I joined the hippie movement in spirit from the age of about 16. Not so much now but I was really into it.

LEE: Can you tell us something about how this book came to be? What was the spark that got you thinking about what came to be this book?

MADELEINE: I genuinely think it just came to me while I was watching Regular Show. It’s taken a lot of work from three editors to get it to a place where I’m really happy with it, but the idea itself just sort of popped in my head. I wanted to write a story involving different periods of history and something involving a street, and there it was!

LEE: I find your talk about using three editors fascinating. I have a piece I’m working on that I’ve sent to two editors and I still don’t know what to do with it. What was it like working with multiple editors? Did you pick and chose which feedback seemed more apt, or did you do a rewrite, felt like it still wasn’t right, so you sent it to another, or what?

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MADELEINE: Well, it’s a bit complicated. First off I sent it as a novelette to an anthology but nothing came of that. Then I asked Garrett (Cook) if he’d edit it, I got his notes back and worked on them. Then I asked the publisher if he’d consider releasing it as a novella, he said yes and ended up giving me notes too. I worked on those and then was told Rooster Republic didn’t have room that year but StrangeHouse did, and then they edited it too. I didn’t use every single note but I did most of them.

LEE: Let’s talk about Bizarro Fiction. Do you consider yourself primarily a Bizarro writer, or do you work in other genres as well?

MADELEINE: I think of myself more as a weird writer, but I suppose that fits under the blanket of bizarro. I just like exploring weird, dark things and wherever that takes me is fine.

LEE: What would make a good soundtrack while reading this book?

MADELEINE: Well, if I told you that Miley Cyrus’ Dead Petz was the actual soundtrack to my writing, it would probably put you off. I think anything jaunty and odd, like Mike and Rich or Tobacco.

LEE: You do a lot of outreach to your readers: blog posts, Twitter, youtube videos, personal appearances at festivals and such. What works best for you, and which do you most enjoy?

MADELEINE: I genuinely enjoy all of it. Probably Twitter and blogging the most because I blog about things I enjoy more than myself, and I like sharing the weird arty things I find. I’m very nervous about meeting and talking to people but I’ll certainly be working on that this year! I’m trying to get more used to it by reading my favourite stories to camera and talking on YouTube and it’s getting easier.

LEE: What’s up next for the Evil Pixie?

MADELEINE: Well, I’ve got a few short stories coming out at some point this year, and I’ve just finished a new novella/connected short story thing which is inspired by a section of The Red Tower by Thomas Ligotti, though it’s very different in tone. Also I’m reading from 4 Rooms at the Brighton Fringe Festival, The Big Green Book Shop with Laura Lee Bahr and others and I’ll be at Bizarrocon. See you there!

Trailer for 4 Rooms in a Semi-Detached House:

You can find out more about Maddy and her work, complete with links to buy her books at her website:

MadeleineSwann.com

Read her weekly column at CLASH Media:

Memoirs of a Professional Weirdo

Read her blog here:

Madeleine Swann Blog

Follow her on Twitter: @MadeleineSwann

Subscribe to her Youtube channel:

Madeleine Swann on Youtube


Lee Widener is the author of “David Bowie is Trying to Kill Me!” and “Rock N Roll Head Case” published in October 2015 by Eraserhead Press. His collection “Under the Shanghai Tunnel & Other Weird Tales” will be published in 2017.


Show Me Your Shelves: Mandy De Sandra

Sometimes you do an interview and then life happens and the interview never sees the light of day. That happened to me with this interview you’re reading right now. Luckily, it’s never too late to take a look at the shelves of the queen of bizarro erotica, the great Mandy De Sandra.

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

MDS: In my mind I am still working for the Dept of Labor and in an open relationship with my boyfriend Trevor. He is very into cuckolding and watches me have sex with alpha studs while we party on his yacht.

Books are everything to me. At my Department of Labor job we don’t do much actual work so I read to pass the time. I read so I can write. I love Bizarro Fiction, horror, and literary novels. People are surprised to learn I only read one erotica author, Tiffany Reisz. I love her writing and The Siren series.

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GI: As an erotica writer, how do you deal with every guy out there thinking you’re just begging for dick pics?

I actually welcome dick pics. I got the idea from the terrific show You’re The Worst. Basically, I save all my dick picks and sell them to SmallPenisHumilation.net. Small penis humiliation fetish is on the rise and most of these guys aren’t packing. The site pays 5 dollars for under 5 inches and $7.99 if it is really thin, too!

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GI: There seems to be an emerging genre that blends satire, politics, and sex. As a pioneer in this area, why do you think we crave this type of literature? How and why does bizarro come into the equation? How hard is it to stay on top of current events? How does our short memory for news affect your writing?

MDS: Someone said I am South Park of erotica. I like that and love Matt & Trey so much, even though they are not hot but I’d let them DVDA with Trevor and Henry Price.

I love Bizarro Fiction. To paraphrase that sexy fucker Brian Keene, Bizarro Fiction is all about being genre fuckers. Why not give weird erotica a good genre fucking?

I want to do stuff besides the news tho. I want to write more about publishing. I am working on something now titled “I Was Published in An Anthology for Exposure, But All I Got Was Fucked in the Ass & A PDF.” Also academia, as I get very excited about the idea “My MFA Teacher Made Me Gay.”

I get requests now to write about people in the news. That is why I did the one about British Prime Minister getting head from a pig.

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GI: If you could have one of your books turned into a movie, which one would it be and how would you cast it?

MDS: My favorite book of mine is Ravished by Reagansaurus. I must admit that I see this book as more Bizarro than erotica even though there is a lot of dinosaur bukkake. It is also my only novella. I would love to see the cast behind Wet Hot American Summer play all the roles.

GI: What’s your latest sexy tale about and why should folks go dip their eyeballs in it right now?

My latest sexy tale is Fox News Fuckest published by New Kink Books. I am a big fan of comic books, I have Trevor collect and then masturbate to the pictures. My favorite is The Age of Apocalypse and this book is part of series I am calling The Age of Trumpocalypse. The second book will be Donald Trump & The Alpha Billionaire Buttrons.

Thanks for having me, you sexy stud.

Love Mandy

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Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of Zero Saints (Broken River Books),  Gutmouth (Eraserhead Press), Hungry Darkness (Severed Press), and a few other things no one will ever read. You can find him on Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias


Show Me Your Shelves: Scott Cole

I met Scott Cole online a few years ago and then had a chance to hang out with him at BizarroCon. He likes talking books and movies, so we got along splendidly. He’s an easy guy to get along with and one someone whose passion for weird films, horror, comics, and bizarro are hard to ignore. Needless to say, I was stoked when he become a fellow NBASer. Now, besides his bizarro chops, we get to check out the stuff he’s filled his shelves with. Dig it.

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

SC: I am Scott Cole – master illusionist, renowned chef, military strategist, humble philanthropist, and author of SuperGhost.

Books are big for me. I’m always reading something. They’re one of the few things I spend money on, beyond food-and-shelter-type necessities. I worked in an indie bookstore once upon a time, and was able to buy books at the store’s cost. That was a hungry year.

I’ve probably got enough books in my house to use as bricks to build another house. Maybe I’ll do that someday, just so I have somewhere nice and quiet to sit and read the ones I haven’t gotten to yet.

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GI: You read horror, bizarro, and other genres. Give us your top ten for the last two years. Then, tell us about a book you loved that no one would’ve guessed you dug.

SC: I’m constantly behind when it comes to new stuff, and I’m always going back to read things I missed, or just recently discovered (for example, I’ve been reading a lot of 1930s “Weird Menace” stories the last several years). There’s just so much out there, and so many new books coming out all the time, it’s impossible to keep up. But I’m trying. So let’s say Top Ten Things I’ve Read in the Last Two Years (Or So), Which May Have Been Released in the Last Five or Six, Although I’ll Try to Keep it as Current as Possible. In no particular order:

I Am The New God by Nicole Cushing
The Atrocity Vendor by Nick Cato
Never Bet the Devil by Orrin Grey
Light Boxes by Shane Jones
Misery and Death and Everything Depressing by C.V. Hunt
Fantastic Orgy by Carlton Mellick III
We Live Inside You by Jeremy Robert Johnson
King of the Perverts by Steve Lowe
Clown Tear Junkies by Douglas Hackle
In the Fishbowl, We Bleed by Jeremy C. Shipp

People will look at this list and say “But what about _______?” And I’ll just have to say “It’s in my TBR pile. I’m getting to it. I swear.”

As for a book I loved that no one would guess? Hmmm. Would people be surprised to know I enjoy the hell out of some Dashiell Hammett? Or that I have a big collection of reference books on graphic design? Or that I generally don’t like superhero comics, but do have a couple dozen Batman collections? I have no idea.

How ’bout I change this question around too, and instead give you a movie that no one can seem to believe I hated. Easy. Cabin in the Woods. I saw a preview screening before the hype started, and I…disliked it. Actually, I could rant against it for hours, but maybe I’ll save that for an essay.

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GI: Finish these sentences:

SC: Adam Cesare is: actually just a family of turtles living inside a canvas bag stitched to look like a human.

Philadelphia is: probably nicer than it gets credit for, and definitely far, far weirder than it’s known for.

Writing bizarro is: about the most fun one can have telling lies without getting into (too much) trouble.

My favorite sandwich is: the vegan cheesesteak at Blackbird in Philly. Seriously amazing, whether you eat meat or not.

You have to read Junji Ito because: he’s one of the most important voices in modern horror.

Your momma is so fat: making fun of her is only making things worse.

GI: Got any ghost stories from real life? What/who/where would you haunt if you were a ghost and why?

SC: When I was a kid, we would visit my grandparents’ house on Cape Cod a couple times a year. The stairs going up to the second floor were hidden behind a door in the living room. One day, while my parents and grandparents were outside, I was inside watching a Creature Double Feature, and that door suddenly popped open. I jumped up, ran to it, and saw some sort of dark shape at the top of the stairs. I closed that door real fast.

Now, the door opening could’ve had something to do with the house settling, and the shape I saw may have been conjured up by my monster-movie-obsessed mind, but I’m not going to say that’s what it was for sure. Who knows.

If I was a ghost, I’d probably just hang out in graveyards and spooky old houses and pretend I was “living” in an old movie.

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5. What’s your NBAS book about and why should we all run and buy it?

SuperGhost is the story of a mad scientist who steals phantom limbs from amputees, and uses them to build a giant ghost-monster. The amputees, of course, then have to band together to defeat the SuperGhost, save the city, and take back what’s rightfully theirs. Oh, and there’s ice cream!

I sometimes describe it as being like Frankenstein meets Ghostbusters meets Godzilla. It’s probably the weirdest kaiju story around, at least for the next day or two.

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


Show Me Your Shelves: Jeff Burk

Jeff Burk was one of the first people I met outside of Facebook that quickly joined my “if you don’t like this person, you’re an asshole” list. I’ve talked books, beer, and horror with Jeff and it’s always been great. I’ve also talked about piracy, politics, the ins and outs of publishing, and even black pus and being tortured by bed bugs, and Jeff has always been cool, honest, and charismatic. Oh, and then there’s the fact that he’s one of the first bizarro authors I read and a man whose work I still dig immensely. So yeah, if you dislike Jeff, there’s something wrong with you. Here’s what he had to say about books, his shelves, his mast…er, his cat, and some upcoming books(!).

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

JB: I am Jeff Burk. I am the author of SHATNERQUAKE, SUPER GIANT MONSTER TIME, CRIPPLE WOLF, and SHATNERQUEST. I’ve also done a shit tone of short stories, interviews and essays. In addition, I am the head editor of Deadite Press and I do editorial work for Eraserhead Press.

I am a full-time writer and editor – so it is no exaggeration to say that books are my entire life and my life depends on them. Not only are they a personal passion, they are how I pay all my bills and feed my cat.

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GI: You know a lot of authors, so picking favorites will be hard, but I’m gonna ask you anyway: apocalypse is here and you can only take Squishy and five books. Which five make the cut?

This is super hard but I think I can do it.

1: THE INVISIBLES OMMIBUS by Grant Morrison and various artists – My favorite long-form comic book. It’s a super-psychedelic, anarchist adventure comic and I have a super nice hard-cover edition that contains every issue ever published. It’s basically the comic book world’s version of Jodorowsky’s THE HOLY MOUNTAIN.

2: ZOMBIES: ENCOUNTERS WITH THE HUNGRY DEAD edited by John Skipp – my all-time favorite horror anthology. It used to be, THE BOOK OF THE DEAD (also edited by John Skipp), but his more recent zombie collection blew the original away (in my opinion). From classic atmospheric tales to hardcore horror, this has it all, plus shit tons of zombies.

3: THE WAY OF THE TAROT by Alejandro Jodorowsky – I find Tarot cards fascinating and my favorite book on the subject was written by the brilliant Alejandro Jodorowsky (of EL TOPO and THE HOLY MOUNTAIN). Not only is it the best, most insightful, work ever done on the cards, it’s also a wonderful spiritual guide to life.

4: ALL I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FILMMAKING I LEARNED FROM THE TOXIC AVENGER by Lloyd Kaufman and James Gunn – Part history of Troma Studios (the oldest independent film studio in the world), part how-to-guide for DIY filmmaking, and part feel good guide to living an artistic life. I love this book. Nothing else gets me hyped up to go out and make art of my own. Plus, my copy is signed to me from Kaufman himself.

5: HOWARD THE DUCK OMMIBUS by Steve Gerber and various artists – there’s no harder book to recommend to people than the original comic of Howard the Duck. Sadly, George Lucas’ film has completely destroyed the reputation of one of the most brilliant, funny, and insightful comics ever written. This features the most brutally honest depiction of depression that I’ve ever come across (seriously) and is my go to read for when I feel down and just need the idea that someone else understands.

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GI: Where can I get some decent tacos in Portland? How does it feel to be a human paintbrush?

JB: For good tacos, just hit up any taco cart – of which there are dozens of them spread out all over the city. They are cheap and delicious. Or you could just come over to my house while Garrett Cook and I are having a cook out – we make some pretty kick-ass food and tacos are easy for the menu.

Being a human paintbrush is pretty awesome. You can make great artwork without having to do any work. (In case you are not aware, the brilliant Alan M. Clark, who has done covers for Eraserhead and Deadite Press, has done painting demonstrations using my dreadlocks as the brushes. He’s even painted a portrait of me using only the hair attached to my head).

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GI: You obviously love horror, but your own work is more bizarro/fun/weird/funny than blood/black pus/tentacles. Why is that?

JB: While horror is my true love and I can never get enough sadistic violence and gore – my natural writing inclinations do not go that way. What comes easiest to me (and what readers seems to like) is silly sci-fi stories with lots of action.

However, I have finally started work on my first straight-forward horror novel. And it will be fucking nasty (in all the best ways).

GI: What’s your latest book about and why should we run and get it?

My latest book came out over a year ago – SHATNERQUEST. Rather than pimp that, I rather talk about the three books I have in the works. Who knows, you might be seeing them soon.

HOMOBOMB – a tragic love story about a bomb that is attracted to other bombs when it is supposed to be attracted to people and buildings.

LORD OF THE LARPERS – a rewrite of LORD OF THE FLIES but with live-action role-players in the roles of the characters. The villains will be Civil War re-enactors led by “Robert E. Lee.”

A SNUFF FILM IN A HAUNTED HOUSE – my first straight-up horror novel. It’s about…well, the title kinda tells you.

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


Show Me Your Shelves: Chris Kelso

Chris Kelso is one of those dudes who’s simultaneously likable and hard to love. Sure, he’s easy to get along with and always has a smile on his face, but then you read his books and you go “Fuck this guy, I wish I’d written this.” Oh, and he’s also ridiculously prolific and has a presence here in the US despite living in some faraway land known as Glasgow. In any case, he has a new book out, so I thought it was time to ask him some questions and get him to me me his shelves. Here’s what he had to say.

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

CK: I’m Chris Kelso, a dress-wearing polyglot savant who lives in the Highlands. Books play a crucial part in my life and have done since I was about 14. You can imagine how difficult it was for a remarkably unpopular teenager in parochial Ayrshire to find happiness and contentment. I started throwing myself into books – comics at first then I progressed to distinguished works of fiction soon after. It provided me with, and continues to provide me with, an extreme form of escapism – although my relationship with books, the role they play and the act of reading itself has changed slightly since I embarked upon a ‘writing career’ because recently I feel like I only read to learn my craft, to take notes and to develop as a writer. When I think about it, maybe I don’t read for just so much for escapism these days, which might be quite sad (not that I don’t still take some pleasure from reading).

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GI: You’ve published a lot so far and you’re still a young cat. Are there any other hungry youngsters out there who you’d recommend to folks who dig your work?

CK: There are a lot. Most of the writers I know are young cats, I mean Max Booth III is 21 or something! I mean Jesus Christ! I think Preston Grassman, Jason Wayne Allen, Grant Wamack and Michael Allen Rose are all great, Rob Harris is great, Gabino – you’re great. In the other European countries Konstantine Paradias and Michael Faun are both young and hungry and brilliant. Love Kolle can spin a cool yarn too. They write smart transgressive fiction and will, without a doubt, forge long, prestigious careers for themselves.

GI: Is it hard selling books to folks in the US when you’re all the way in Glasgow? How’s the beer over there?

CK: It’s hard selling books anywhere to be honest. People in the US are actually a lot more responsive to my style of nihilistic nonsense than folks in Scotland. I really don’t sell a lot – fortunately the beer over here is radioactive horse piss that gets you good and lousy drunk.

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GI: Best stuff you’re read so far in 2014, go!

CK: I’m enjoying Matt Bialer’s epic poem “Ascent” right now, but there are a dozen others I loved. “Time Pimp” by Garrett Cook is up there amongst my favourites with all the golden oldies I raced through this year, like Paul Auster’s “New York Trilogy” and Koestler’s “Darkness at Noon.” I also picked up Leopold Von Sacher Masoch’s classic “Venus in Furs” which I really related to. Actually, I had the pleasure of reading an early proof of Seb Doubinsky’s “WHITE CITY” which is coming out next year…but it’s a cracker!

GI: What’s in this new collection of yours and why should everyone go buy it the second they’re done with this interview?

CK: “Terence, Mephisto and Viscera Eyes is a collection of stories set within the Slave State. This is a much more measured and mature effort from me (at least I think so anyway!). There’s a story called ‘Baptizm of Fire’ in there that deals with a dystopian Lagos and the Slave State’s silent puppeteering of the Nigerian University confraternities. It’s much more melancholy than my usual stuff, it has much more heart – which was completely my intention. People should by it because I need to sell books…and I’m a real nice guy…

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


Show Me Your Shelves: Cody Goodfellow

Cody Goodfellow. Man, I don’t know what else to tell you people about Cody Goodfellow. I’ve interviewed him and reviewed his work because what he does is the kind of rare thing that actually deserves attention. If you don’t get it by now, you probably never will. However, I’ll give some of you the benefit of the doubt (hey, maybe you have better things to do than check out every little thing I publish) and say this again: if you’re not reading Goodfellow, you’re reading wrong.  Anyway, enough from me.

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

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Books allow me to do and think and experience everything that I’m not.

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So Cody wrote that as an answer, but he also sent me a short essay before I even sent him my questions. Here’s My Book Problem:

I have a book problem. If all the shit I’m driven to do could fill a room, I’d have to live in a mall, in a tent in the parking lot. I come from hoarders, but I can throw away anything but a book.
I started collecting books with my first trip to the library. Several years later, the library made me give all those books back and I moved onto the Scholastic monthly order form habit. Bunnicula, The Monster Club, Dynamite Magazine, The Shadow Over Innsmouth… I worked at the library in elementary and junior high, went on the annual bookbuying trips. In high school, I spent more on books than on drugs. And I really liked drugs.
The other day, I read a Harry Crews novel for the first time that I bought on impulse while standing in line to buy my textbooks my freshman year of college. I worked at Barnes & Noble for six years, and at Iliad, a righteous used bookshop in North Hollywood, for three, and I bought an armload of books with every paycheck. I self- published my first two novels with a buddy back in ’99 and ’03, so I still have a couple hundred copies of each in my garage and a cargo container on my parent’s lavish country estate down south.

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The house is on fire. You have a small backpack and three minutes to stuff it with your favorite tomes. Which books go in the bag?
A signed Barker that he did a fantastic drawing in… My Arkham House Lovecrafts, that damn Lovecraft Centipede Press art book, the deluxe Secret Teachings Of All Ages, my Giger art books and a portfolio of my oldest daughter’s drawings… but by then, I’d be on fire, so fuck it, I’d just sit down and reread Wein-Wrightson-era Swamp Thing until I’m incinerated.

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You know words and stuff. I think reading’s for nerds. Can I write one of them novel things without reading books?
The odds are against you, but if you’ve lived through a lot and you can imagine a story, then you can tell it. And if you can think about it coherently enough to tell it all the way through and don’t eat your own brain, then you may be a writer. And if you’re bigger than most readers, you might be able to make them read it.

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How many forbidden tomes are in your possession? 
All of them, I think. My first wife forbade all new books, so I had to disguise them as food.

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Why should everyone drop what they’re doing right now and go buy a copy of Repo Shark?
It’s fast, it’s fun, it removes embarrassing stains from contoured sheets. Seriously, it’ll probably take you longer to read it than it took me to write it.

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Wanna try to figure out everything you’re looking at in each pic? Here’s Cody’s guide:

Today, we’re only looking at the hardback library in my office and the stacks of mostly unread stuff I keep in here to annoy myself. The paperback and nonfiction aisles in the garage, where most of my shit is, are still in a state of chaos. As difficult as it may be to make out many of the individual titles, I had to rearrange a lot just to get at what you can see, and in so doing blocked off the door, so I’d finish the same day.
This isn’t everything I read or even a lot of it, but these are the things I care about and have buried myself with, so it’s safe to generalize that I love almost all forms of pulp more than life.
So… the office fiction shelves are maybe 1⁄4 of my hardcovers, but the stuff I like to watch slowly deteriorate in what little sunlight leaks into the room. In the first bay, A-G, you’ll see a lot of Bacigalupi, Ballard, Barker, Blaylock, Blumlein, Cain, Campbell, Crews, Dick, Eco, Ellison, Ellroy, Gaiman, Gibson and a lot of Hot Wheels cars.
On the second bay, things get messy, but if you can see past the action figures and novelty bongs and preschool tchotchkes, there’s a lot of Hodgson, Howard, Hunter, Huston, Jeter, a lot of (old, mostly good) King, Laidlaw, Lansdale, Leiber, Ligotti, and almost all the Lovecraft. The old selected letters are absurdly expensive, but opening one anywhere is like kicking in a cellar window and peeking into a haunted house.
McCammon, Mieville, Moorcock, Newman, Niven, Palahniuk and some Partridge in a Powers tree… Prominently displayed, you might notice the Manuscript Found In Saragossa that I said I was going to read for the Bizarro Central Summer reading list. It turned out to be more of an autumnal book. Right now, I’m rereading Hour Of The Dragon by Howard.

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On the third and final bay, beneath my Halloween mask collection, a lot of Schow, Shepard, Shirley, Simmons, and then Clive Barker’s stupid bondage action figures get in the way. I kind of wanted to see if I left them there for several years, would their silhouettes get burned onto the faded spines. This experiment is far from completion. A lot of Michael Shea, Simmons, Clark Ashton Smith, George Browning Spencer, Stableford, Stephenson, Stross, Sturgeon, Thompson, Wagner and Wolfe. Cut off underneath, the anthologies runneth over, indifferent to posterity.

Sideshow attractions include the Really Huge Mound of Unread Graphic Novels, which takes up about 30% of my floor space. This seemingly unfortunate mess actually serves the vital purpose of hiding all my really special art books (nudge, wink, please kill me) from the hostilities of sunlight and the vice squad.
The graphic novel bays hold most of the comic books I have read, including a rather alarming set of EC and Warren reprints, all too many Marvel Masterworks volumes, and a pallet of Spectrum and Expose and Juxtapoz, for when even rudimentary sequential art becomes too mentally taxing. Also included is the nonfiction shelves of stuff I’m supposed to be reading for my next couple books. A lot in there about urban blight, private prisons,
mercenaries, the Great Depression and stage magicians. Up top, keen-eyed readers might notice my short reference shelf, including the dictionary my grandmother gave me for my tenth birthday, French and German dictionaries, Harms’ Encyclopedia Cthulhiana and the most invaluable tool in any writer’s box, Plotto.
So, I own my book problem. Meanwhile, my pioneering research into an effective way to smoke books continues apace…

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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


Show Me Your Shelves: Shane Cartledge

Shane Cartledge is one of the really cool emerging voices in bizarro fiction. His first book, House Hunter, was published in 2012 as part of the New Bizarro Author Series. Since BizarroCon is nonstop fun and mayhem, I didn’t get to sit down with my Bionic Brother in Portland, but have been in touch ever since, and he’s a great guy: talented, mellow, humble, and he loves Junji Ito. Now Shane’s second novel is here, so it’s a perfect time for him to show us his stuff and talk books. Dig.

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

I’m Shane. I read books. I write books. I live them in my head. Books are the key to my imagination. Smashing words together in a way that makes different people picture different things in their heads, I think that’s a very powerful thing. It seems mostly harmless, but it can be terrifying, the things books can make you think. It can also be beautiful. At times it can be blissful, surreal, chaotic, or cathartic. With each book, there is a different experience to be had, and within books, a complex network of thoughts and emotions. It overwhelms me. I read to experience those feelings. I write hoping that other people can feel it too while reading my own work. What more is there to books?

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You were part of the greatest NBAS class ever. What did you learn? Do you think it changed your career in a significant way?

I have five other authors to thank for my NBAS class being so great. The books were magical. I went to places I’ve never been and never could imagine from the comfort of my own home. I made so many friends and I learned that this first book was only the beginning of something. I learned what hard work really is, and that I’ll never achieve much without it. I learned that respect and admiration is earned. You don’t wake up published and dive Scrooge McDuck style into a pool of royalty money. Every book sold is a blessing. Every book read. Every review. Every time someone tells someone else about this book they read that was yours. I learned that everyone won’t love my book (and some might really dislike it) and that’s okay, and the solution to it is to wake up the next day and keep writing. Write something better. Write what you love to write. Write what you’re afraid to write because you think it’s beyond your limits. Don’t be afraid to go insane. Of course the NBAS changed my career in a significant way. I became part of a collective. I found out how little I knew about the publishing industry, how little writing experience I had, how much hard work I had ahead of me if I really wanted to stick around. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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Is living in Australia an impediment to your career in the US? Are there any pains that come from it besides the price of sending books this way?

Pretty much all the book-related shipping I do is international shipping. I’ve had books sent to me that have wound up missing, and some of those books were one-of-a-kind limited edition type deals. It hurts both me and the guy on the other end. Every time I ship books out I’m worried they won’t arrive. I’ve come to peace with the cost of international shipping, and I’m constantly thinking of ways to work around that to give people the best deals I can without running at a loss. But I’m always concerned about whether or not my books will arrive. It sucks being so far from all the writers I cherish. It sucks that I can’t afford to fly out to Portland for BizarroCon each year. Talking with other writers is something I’m getting used to, trying to work around American time zones in order to have a decent conversation. I guess the other thing would be that I don’t really have much of a local writing collective. It might just be that I’m shy and don’t get out all that much, there isn’t much in terms of readings/events/conventions in my part of the world (and specifically my part of the country). I’m constantly telling myself that I need to talk more with local poets and writers and try to latch on to everything that comes along and try to boost it up a bit, to try building up a local network.

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You read books and comics, so let’s split it: give me the best five books you’ve read this year and the top five comics.

Okay. Books:

One – Long Lost Dog of It, by Michael Kazepis. His prose is so smooth, the details are so sharp and clear, the story is raw and aggressive.

Two – Crystal Eaters, by Shane Jones. I just finished it, and there’s this mythic quality about it, the child-like simplicity of the concept and the way that you see it from the beginning charging head-first towards heartbreak.

Three – The Creek, by Justin Grimbol. There is a lot of humour and a lot of heart in Justin’s writing, and I think it is beautifully displayed here in his poetry collection.

Four – The Last Horror Novel in the History of the World, by Brian Allen Carr. Carr’s writing, like Jones, has that mythic quality about it, but it exists on a darker spectrum. It’s an all-consuming monster, and it is beautiful.

Five – Black Cloud, by Juliet Escoria. This is the world unfiltered and brimming with conflicting emotions. Short stories with characters saying and doing things you wish they wouldn’t, feeling things you know are true feelings. It feels real.

Comics, while I read American comics on occasion, I read a ton of manga. Here’s my five picks:

One – Knights of Sidonia, by Tsutomu Nihei. If there’s one name I can hammer into the skulls of people reading this, it’s Tsutomu Nihei. His works are beautifully, apocalyptically sublime. He is a science fiction visionary and artist.

Two – Claymore, by Norihiro Yagi. This one’s been going on for a while, and I’m currently up to date at volume 24 in the series. The story has a Dragonball Z style build up of powerful heroes fighting powerful monsters with each volume building up to something larger and more inconceivable than the last. I read it for the monsters which never cease to amaze me.

Three – Attack on Titan, by Hajime Isayama. Giant naked humanoid creatures eating humans towards extinction? Brilliant!

Four – Gyo, by Junji Ito. I’ve had this manga on my watch list for a long time but volume 1 was always unavailable. It’s a 2 volume horror manga from the author of the infamous Uzumaki. Same tone, except instead of being haunted by spirals, it’s a fish apocalypse. Gruesome. Wicked.

Five – Mardock Scramble, by Tow Ubukata and Yoshitoki Oima. Cyberpunk assassin revenge story. Seven volumes. Lots of action. And there are shape shifting hamsters and talking dolphins in there somewhere too.

What’s your new book about and why should we spend our coffee money on it?

My new book is about milk (get Day of the Milkman HERE!). How a world is drowned in it, people rely upon it to continue their day-to-day lives, and then a milkman wakes up to find that he’s the last of his people, left floating in a curdling ocean. It’s about the will to survive. It’s about the search for meaning and understanding. It’s about coping with loss and trying to comprehend the world around you. But really, it’s just about milk.

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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