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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: Jessica McHugh

I can’t remember when I “met” Jessica McHugh online, but her good attitude, constant hustle, and sense of humor made her one of those folks I like keeping in touch with despite the fact that we’ve never shared a beer. In a nutshell, Jessica’s one of those cool writers who make the indie scene a pleasure. She takes care of her own work constantly, but still finds time to share the love with her “inky cohorts.” In any case, all that taking care of business has lead to a few books in different genres, and one of them is perfect for the crowd that usually drops by Bizarro Central. Check out what she had to say.

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

JM: I’m a chick who will never stop playing make-believe. As hard as it can be generating unique plots, as poor as I am, as stressful as deadlines are, as slumped and swamp-assy as I get sitting in a computer chair for ten hours, I’m eternally, unapologetically, head-over-heels in love with writing. It’s the most fun work ever, and you better believe my swampass is going to explore as many parts of the playground as possible.

You can probably gather that books are essential to my overall well-being and happiness. Whether I’m playing make-believe in my own worlds or giving myself over to someone else’s creations, I need books for entertainment and education—in and outside of my career. That being said, I tend to read slowly these days due to overall exhaustion and lack of time. I think a lot of writers get shamed for not reading enough—and that “enough,” of course, is based on another person’s reading speed and timetable. But I submit that you just have to read as much as you can. It’s great if “as much as you can” means you read five novels a month. It’s great if it means you read one novel a month. It’s great if you take a few months to read a short story anthology filled with a variety of tales and writers. As long as you’re making an effort, the books will forgive you. Books are cool like that.

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GI: You write everything. Do you change magic hats to painlessly switch genres? Do you sacrifice mythological beings in order to write funny stuff, eat a sandwich, and then write about bad things?

JM: I’m afraid I’m somewhat ignorant when it comes to this answer. I don’t know how it happens. I don’t who or what flips the switch. I just know it happens when I need it to, and as long as I keep paying the Goblin Lord in enchanted chocolate doubloons, everything will be just fine.

Or maybe it’s because I trained myself to switch projects/genres/POVs, just like I trained myself to write in various locations and noise levels. When I decide it’s time to put away the young adult novel for a while and write some seriously fucked up horror, my brain usually obeys because I’ve conditioned it to do so. But there are exceptions. Occasionally, I’ll hit mental blocks when I’m switching genres, so I find it helps to change my physical location. I’ll move from my Writing Hut to the living room or to a restaurant—any place that changes the scenery, clears my head, and prepares me to embark on this new journey.

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GI: You seem to have the social media platform thing down. Any tips for newbies? Words of advice for folks who invite me to their release party in Manila on a Tuesday night? How much time do you usually invest on your online presence? Are the days of the secretive Pynchon-esque figure officially over?

JM: I hear pretty frequently that I’m adept at social media, but honestly, I’m just being my normal annoying self. Readers have always wanted to be friendly with their favorite authors, to know what makes them tick instead of merely assuming from their fiction, and social media provides us with that opportunity. I’m just taking advantage of that desire and my natural ability to be a loudmouth. Personally, I think writers need to let down their walls—or bust them to rubble, actually—to infuse their characters with honest thoughts and emotions. Doing that ensured that I no longer have a filter when I write (though I screw the filter back in place when it comes to editing), so I often don’t filter myself online or in person, either. It can get me into trouble, no doubt, but I think I come off okay most of the time. There are definitely people who hate pretty much everything about me, especially my fondness for using the word “cunt,” but I’m learning to ignore those hateful comments. When it comes down to it, I’ve never been that secretive about my personal life, and I’ll admit my proclivity to being a bit of an attention whore, so I’m naturally comfortable being an open book to my readers.

So…tips? Be yourself. That’s what people want, and being yourself is healthy for you, too! If you’re shy or scared to be so unguarded online, tell your followers that. We all have different personalities, different truths and stories to convey, which is what makes this such a magical time to create and share your art with the world. Being honest about your fears and doubts, celebrating your accomplishments, owning up to your mistakes, or encouraging your fellow artists might be outside of your comfort zone, but I swear to you, those anxieties are nothing compared to the joy you feel when people tell you something you wrote or posted had a positive effect on their lives.

Obviously, there are lines you shouldn’t cross on social media, and there are things you can do to make sure your posts/links get seen, but a lot of that is trial and error. It just takes time and effort, like everything else in the writing world.

Oh, and I can’t deny that a part of me would love to disappear with a typewriter and a case of wine and spend my days writing novel after novel in solitude. But I think I’d survive about six months before I cracked. I’d definitely need someone to step in and tell me it’s time to shower and rejoin society.

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GI: If the house is burning down and you have to run out only with the books you can carry, which books make it?

JM: If I’m being logical, I guess I’d have to grab the least replaceable books. So I’d gather all my work-in-progress stuff, then I’d scoop up my autographed Peter S. Beagle books because they’re all in one place. But if there’s a damn fire, I doubt I’d be thinking very logically, so I’d probably only get away with “Zombie Butts from Uranus.” It’s a classic in its own right, I suppose.

GI: What’s The Green Kangaroos about and why should weird lit lovers get to the clicking and buy a copy as soon as they’re done reading this?

JM: “The Green Kangaroos” is a filthy fun adventure through the world an unremorseful drug addict named Perry Samson. Perry would like nothing more than for his concerned family to ditch their concern so he can continue shooting atlys into his balls, but they can’t let him do that when there are rehab avenues not yet explored. One such avenue is the Sunny Daye Institute, which begins Perry and his family down a perilous, and possibly deceptive, road to recovery that takes them from 2099 Baltimore to Antarctica and into the fantastically horrid nature of addiction itself.

This novel from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing was the most fun writing experience of my life so far. I don’t know if it was playing a first person male character, that Perry himself was so delightful disgusting, or because of the dazzling genre goulash this book became, but crafting “The Green Kangaroos” felt like a joyride in stolen car—if said car was rusted and smelled like rotten hotdog water. It was revolting, but it was freeing. This book also served as a way for me to forgive the trespasses made by an addict in my own life, so even though it’s not a direct representation of those events, it will always be close to my heart because of my past. I didn’t expect it, but “The Green Kangaroos” quickly became my favorite world in the McHughniverse.

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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: Mark Rapacz

by Gabino Iglesias 

I met Mark Rapacz the same way I’ve met a bunch of cool people: he had a book out there I wanted to review. City Kaiju turned out to be a lot of fun and I was wondering what else Mark could be cooking. A few months later, the mailman brought me an answer to that, and it was something so cool it made me ask Mark to show me his shelves. Get ready for some books and some toilets.

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

Whoa. Who am I?

Nearly three years ago I moved to California and for anybody new to the state they give you this really weird gift basket. In it is a bottle of Napa wine, a hunk of cheese that isn’t as good as Wisconsin’s (hard for a Minnesotan to admit), and a therapist.

So, my therapist and I have been working on this question, “Who am I?” for over a year. Outside the context of self-affirmations, positive thinking, and quasi-spiritual advice that has me twisting my leg over my head and straining my groin (it cures anxiety!), I’m a writer, editor and designer.

Depending on my mood and time of the year, I spend more time working in one of these creative modes than others, and it’s impossible to do them all at the same time. When you try to do all three, you just end up spending more time with the Gift Basket Therapist, doing more stretches and breathing exercises, and obsessing about resource inequality issues in the Bay Area, which Gene never thinks is on point because it’s not specifically about my issues.

What I’m saying is that books are sort of like yoga, only easier on your ass muscles.

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Tell me who your favorite kaiju is, and then what book you would give him or her as a birthday gift.

My favorite kaiju is Gamera because he’s a giant tortoise and can fly by pulling his arms, legs, head, and tail into his shell and shooting jets of flames out his arm/leg holes, which makes him dart around like a flying saucer. He can also fly like a rocket—depending, you know, on the circumstance.

I like the symbolism behind Gamera and turtles and tortoises in general—that of a protector of some kind. Sometimes they protect nature, sometimes humanity, sometimes they’re guardians by virtue of being creators of the universe. It depends on what folklore you’re looking at. Gamera actually has connections with the Black Tortoise, or guardian spirit of the north—of the winter season— which could also mean the protector of death.

Being from the cold wastelands of Minneapolis, I like that connection because it allows me to daily judge these weenies in California who think 65 degrees is cold. There’s also something about being from a place where death is a totally reasonable outcome if you get locked out of your apartment at the wrong time of year. This teaches you humility (in a mind-blowing awesome way).

I like the pace of turtles and their connection with peace and longevity—their depiction as beings who were here long before us and will be long after. It puts the human life span, and by extension our obsession with ourselves, in perspective.

I mean, I think writers are clinically self-deprecating, so turtles probably aren’t the healthiest choice of spirit animal—maybe, like, a penguin in a Hawaiian shirt might be better—but … I don’t know what I’m trying to say. The Kardashians should maybe get a pet box turtle and give it some dumb Hollywood name. It might make them come off as more human that way.

I’ve also always had an obsession with turtles and tortoises. I’ve been known to write about them (here and here). I have a huge ceramic turtle collection and have planned a number of vacations to the Galapagos that my wife and I cannot afford. Costa Rica has some service vacations where you can help sea turtle hatchlings into the ocean. Always wanted to do that, but have been reluctant because it might affect my reputation in the writing world as the consummate badassthatIam. Like, I can do over ten pull-ups, I own a BB gun,and I have read a number of David James Keaton’s Facebook posts about violent movies.

If Gamera flying-saucered to my apartment right now, I’d tell him to read the first and most amazing book of American kaiju fiction: Moby Dick.

Then I’d show him my small stack of City Kaijus (the kaiju book I wrote) and guilt him into finally writing that Amazon review he promised. Or, I’d ask him to just plasma blast every copy because that would probably be a better promotional tactic than the review.

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Your shelves look like mine, which is to say packed and groaning under the weight of too many books. Is there a method to your madness? What makes you buy a book? The cover of City Kaiju is awesome. Do you think covers sell books?

I usually just see what mastermind and pulp aficionado Craig T. McNeely is reading and buy whatever he tells me to. Or, I read your [Gabino Iglesias’] reviews. I’ve bought plenty that way. I follow Anthony Neil Smith and whenever he says he has a book coming out, I buy it. I do the same thing with Mike Miner’s books. Basically All Due Respect anything right now is a sure bet. Sometimes David Oppegaard goes insane at two in the morning and sends me a draft of one of his works-in-progess to proof. I really like that. Always love seeing a book before it officially comes out.

Covers by Matthew Revert, Dyer Wilk, and Eric Beetner sell books.

How would you describe Blastgun Books in 27 words?

Blastgun Books is releasing TA Wardrope’s book of sci fi kaplow, Arcadian Gates, on March 17. Pre-order now.

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What’s your latest book about (tell us about its history too!) and why should folks go get it immediately?

My latest book is called Les Toilettes d’ Alcatraz. It is an ultra-serious look at the depravity of federal incarceration through the lens of Instagram filters. It has writings about life and love, including poetry, essays, captions, and diatribes that will, more or less, save your soul the moment you crack its spine.

Actually, if you don’t buy this book of amazing photographs and musings, you will be complicit in your Eternal Existence on the Wheel of Want and Suffering, and you will never break free to become a Hermitbird of the Cosmos, flying into the heavens on a Rainbow Trail of Maniacal Bliss.

So, a billion years down the road when it’s just you and Gamera on some hunk of lava stone in a sea of fire somewhere out in the worst parts of the Multiverse and Gamera is about to plasma blast your soul nuts off for the duration of another ice age, you’ll only have yourself to blame.

Don’t have your soul nuts blasted off by a turtle god. Buy this book now.

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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: 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