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Rereleased: Muscle Memory

Once released under the New Bizarro Authors Series, Steve Lowe’s body-swapping bizarro classic has returned, its comic absurdity stretched to new lengths.

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More Muscle, More Memory…

Billy Gillespie wakes up one morning to discover his junk is gone. In its place is his wife’s junk. Billy is now Tina, and Tina is probably dead. That’s because Billy’s dead. His lifeless body is still in bed and empty beer bottles and a container of antifreeze litter the kitchen counter. Did Tina really poison Billy? Can he and his neighbors, all experiencing their own bouts of body switcheroo, fix this before the Feds find Billy’s body? Was it aliens, or God, or the government? What was Edgar Winter really doing with his sheep? Is pro football Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw the key to everything? What Would Kirk Cameron Do? In the expanded edition of this New Bizarro Author Series original, all will be revealed. Maybe.

“It’s always a risky proposition: to take a well-known trope (especially one that peaked in the films of the 80s) and try to find a new way to spin it. In Muscle Memory, Steve Lowe takes his cue from movies like Freaky Friday and Like Father, Like Son, presenting a tale of bodies switched and swapped all over a small community. Using some clever writing however, Lowe transcends the typical structure of those stories and takes it to a whole new level of absurd and hilarious wonder.”  —Michael Allen Rose, author of Embry: Hard-boiled

Get it here!


How Lowe Can You Go: Interview with Steve Lowe

By S.T. Cartledge

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Steve was in with the first bunch of Bizarros I interacted with online. What I know of Steve I have observed through his online presence and interactions through social media. Late 2010, I started reading Bizarro fiction, and I had come across this thing called the ‘New Bizarro Author Series’, where, each year, a group of first-time authors would publish their first books with Eraserhead Press, and over the course of the next year they would try to prove their ability to sell books and make a name for themselves in the publishing industry.

It was in this proving period that I got to know Steve. My ambition at this point was to join the NBAS at some point over the next couple of years, so I was excited to get to know the 2010 NBAS authors and read their books. Steve was very approachable. I read his book, Muscle Memory, and another book he had published simultaneously; Wolves Dressed as Men. Since then, Steve has more than proven his worth, writing up a shitstorm and publishing a bunch of new books. And on top of that, he is a family man and a sports writer. He’s got his fair share of commitments, yet he still makes time for pesky folks on the internet.

S.T. Cartledge: Steve, what was the first Bizarro book that you read?

Steve Lowe: SHATNERQUAKE by Jeff Burk

STC: How did you come across the Bizarro genre?

SL: I was searching for a publisher that might be interested in this weird little story I wrote. Someone suggested Eraserhead Press, which I looked up and discovered the New Bizarro Author Series. So I submitted, and about a year later, MUSCLE MEMORY was published.

STC: Tell me about your New Bizarro Author Series year. What was that experience like for you?

SL: It was a long, at times difficult, but extremely rewarding year. I learned as much about what not to do as what to do when you try to market and sell yourself and your work. And I’ve made a ton of friends like Caris O’Malley, Kirk Jones and Andy Prunty thanks to that experience, so I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

STC: You had two books out in 2010, Muscle Memory for the NBAS, and another book called Wolves Dressed as Men. Can you tell us a bit about those books, and how they came about?

SL: Muscle Memory was originally a short story I wrote for a contest between friends over on Zoetrope. I believe one Shane McKenzie was part of that group as well. Once that was over, I knew I had to do more with MM, and I’ve since gone on to write a sequel/continuation of the story which is still available for free on Smashwords.

WDaM was my first attempt at writing a story longer than about 3,000 words. My first real go at a novel. It ended up being nowhere near novel length, and it’s not Bizarro at all, but it was a great learning experience and showed me I could tackle longer works.

STC: You followed up with three books in 2012, two through Grindhouse Press, and one through Bucket ‘o Guts. I read, and loved, King of the Perverts. To those that don’t know, what is the story about? And what compelled you to write King of the Perverts?

SL: KotP is the story of a guy who’s down on his luck after losing pretty much everything in an ugly divorce. He needs money and agrees to take part in a reality show produced by a porn company. The premise is a sexcathlon – the first contestant to complete 10 increasingly disturbing sexual acts wins $1 million. I wrote this book, partly, to see how far I would go. It’s certainly nowhere near some of the extreme books out there, but when I got to the final act, called “A World of Shit”, I had a few moments of pause, to say the least. Readers always say how they love the part describing the Alligator Fuckhouse, but no one has mentioned the Alabama Hot Pocket yet. Like me, they might be trying to scrub it from their brain.

STC: Grindhouse Press only publishes a small handful of books each year. What was it like working with them on two books in the one year?

SL: I love Grindhouse. Everything about working with them has been exactly what I could hope for from a publisher. Timely responses to questions, excellent editing and layout, knockout book covers by Matthew Revert. Plus, they publish great reads, and have since the beginning, so I’m proud to be part of their lineup.

STC: You also write sports articles from time to time. What does that involve, how often do you do it, and how do you balance your time between reporting on sports and writing fiction?

SL: I’ve been covering sports for newspapers and the Associated Press since 1999. I’m currently covering a college hockey team for the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune, and covering a regular beat definitely takes up much more time than just doing games on a job-by-job basis. But covering sports is where I really learned how to write properly, the bare bones of what a story is. From your lead to grab attention, to your conclusion to tie everything up, I learned how to get in and get out in an economy of words, and still tell the story that needs to be told. You can see this influence in my fiction as well. I have yet to write anything longer than 45,000 words, which wouldn’t be considered a full novel length. But I’m working my way up to that, eventually.

STC: Do you have any writing habits (good/bad) that you’d like to share?

SL: I usually listen to music when I write, but mainly as background noise because lyrics distract me, so I prefer classical. Other than that, nothing specific. Usually, I write whenever I can find the time, so it’s more about losing myself in that zone and being as productive as possible when I’m there.

STC: What are your favourite books, and who are your favourite authors?

SL: I’ve been into crime fiction a lot lately, and my current favorites are Tom Piccirilli and Donald Ray Pollock (The Devil All the Time is a hell of book).

STC: Would you like to offer any tips for aspiring writers?

SL: Sure: write. Don’t aspire to write, just write. Even if it sucks at first, don’t stop. You’ll never learn things along the way if you don’t do it as much as possible.

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Steve Lowe is the author of Muscle Memory, Wolves Dressed As Men, King of the Perverts, Samurai Vs. Robo-Dick, and Mio Padre, il Tumore. Expect to see more of this guy in the near future.

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