Today I have a member of the New Bizarro Author Series on for an interview. Shane kindly allows me to interogate him and share about his new book House Hunter. He also is offering up an ebook copy of House Hunter. Those of you who love bizarro will squeal in excitement at the chance and those of you not familiar with bizarro this is your chance to try it out. Embrace the bizarro in a death grip and don’t let go.
Please tell me about yourself –
I started writing for fun about five years ago. Then I started studying it at Curtin University. Now I’ve got a degree in creative writing and literary & cultural studies, and I’m half-way through an honours thesis on bizarro fiction. And I’m having so much fun dissecting the genre from a different angle, and trying to figure out exactly what it does, and why. I have as much fun studying as I do writing, as I do reading. I get really excited about the thought of spending the next few years writing and studying bizarro (I’d love to go on to do a PhD on bizarro, if the opportunity presents itself), but I don’t often show that excitement as an outward expression. Prior to the release of my book, one of the best feelings I have ever felt came to me when I was on the phone to my mother and she said the words, “I am so proud of you.” I like to think of myself as a humble writer, but really, I live for these moments.
What is something about you that no one knows? –
That’s a tough question. If it’s something that no one knows, then how would I know? I could guess. Maybe I’m secretly the Incredible Hulk. And no one would know that because I never get angry. I’m also one of those people who reads about illnesses and convinces themselves that they have that. I’m like that with mental disorders, and I’ve been reading the wikipedia article on Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, and I’m convinced I have that. When I first started listening to music I would sit in my room with my discman on, CD on repeat, and I’d memorize everything I could about each new CD I got. Then I got too many CDs I couldn’t possibly memorize them all, and now I have a whole lot of CDs sitting around I’ve never even played before. I’m kind of like that with books too now. I like having collections of things, even if they don’t do anything. My bizarro collection is starting to get beyond my control with the amount of books I still have to read. Chances are that I won’t get around to reading all the books I own, and chances are that I don’t have a mental illness that I think I do. And chances are that I’m probably not the Incredible Hulk. But it’s something to think about.
How did you discover bizarro and what about it appealed to you so much? –
I read Carlton Mellick III’s ‘Candy Coated’ online and loved it. I looked up some books, then ordered Cameron Pierce’s ‘Lost in Cat Brain Land’ and Mellick’s ‘Satan Burger’. It snowballed from there. One thing that appealed to me the most was the originality of it all. There’s nothing else like it out there guaranteed, yet it’s all really readable (and entertaining) stuff. Creativity and entertainment are two core ideas I find very important to good bizarro reading. And there’s plenty of it to go around.
Some favorite authors and books?-
Mellick and Pierce have stuck with me. ‘The Egg Man’ is my favourite by Mellick, and ‘Cthulhu Comes to the Vampire Kingdom’ is my favourite by Pierce. I’m also a fan of D. Harlan Wilson’s ‘Blankety Blank’, and probably my favourite book this year was David W. Barbee’s ‘A Town Called Suckhole’.
What are you reading now? –
Pierce’s latest collection ‘Die You Doughnut Bastards’.
What is your writing space and writing routine like?-
It’s chaotic. I’ve got two computer screens set up for multi-tasking, and I’ve got a few synthesizer instruments on the desk from when I used to mess about with music production. The desk is covered in bank statements and receipts, loose bits of paper with random stuff written on them, books I’m reading/studying, notebooks, and other pieces of accumulated junk. I do my uni work at this desk, as well as my writing, so it’s very rarely cleaned or kept tidy. Don’t get me started on filing cabinets… As for my routine? Very erratic. I make notes of ideas on bits of paper whenever I think of something, and leave them lying around all over the place. I fit my writing in around part-time work and full-time study, so it can get a little intense at times. I do most of my writing at my desk, but I like to keep a notebook handy for plotting out the bones of a story and scribbling and fleshing out ideas. I write when the words come, which is generally when I make time to sit down at the computer. It usually helps when I’ve had an idea brewing in my head for a while, as opposed to trying to conjure something up from nothing.
How did House Hunter come about?-
I’m pretty sure the idea came from the title. The story just grew out of those two words. I was sitting on the concept for a little while last year, and it only really came to life when I pitched the idea to Kevin Shamel and joined the NBAS. I was heavily influenced by manga and anime, with their flair for bizarre worlds and crazy action sequences. I wanted to do a strong female protagonist because it’s what I’ve grown to love, from watching Hayao Miyazaki’s films. ‘Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind’ in particular.
How did you become part of the NBAS?-
I was participating in an online workshop run by Garrett Cook. He provided us with information from Shamel about what he was looking for in the NBAS. I followed it through and pitched about a dozen ideas to him. He picked House Hunter out, and I wrote the first draft in Garrett’s workshop. I had my sights on the NBAS the previous year, but Kevin Donihe mentioned that we needed to attend BizarroCon, which just wasn’t possible for me at the time. And it didn’t help that I was trying to get together a complete manuscript to submit, which just wasn’t coming together the way I wanted. I’ve been following it for the past couple of years, and I was just waiting for the opportunity to get on it.
Have you received any advice from past years authors? –
A lot. I came across the second NBAS group shortly after they begun. I read all their books and talked with a few of them on places like facebook and goodreads. I followed last year’s group through too, and they’ve been very encouraging. I got to meet most of the authors from last year and (along with the rest of this year’s group) I got a bit of a run-down of what to expect from the year, what’s fun, what’s tough, and a few tips and tricks. I also bumped into Justin Grimbol in the bathroom at BizarroCon and picked up a few marketing tips there. But I don’t recommend lurking in bathrooms in the hopes you’ll receive free writing/marketing advice.
Do you have some interesting plans to pimp yourself and House Hunter this coming year?-
I’ve set myself a goal to get back into writing short stories on a regular basis, and I’m hoping to get a few new stories out in a bunch of different places. I’d like to give people the option to read some of my short fiction before they decide if they want to pick up House Hunter or not. I’d also like to run a few giveaways and competitions. I want to give people more of an incentive to check out my work. I’ve also been spreading the word about my book at work and, since I work in a warehouse, there are a lot of people to talk to. Even some of the vendors have been pretty receptive too. And most likely I’ll get in touch with some of my creative writing tutors at uni at some point, and see what they have to offer. I’ve been to a few local poetry slams and readings over the past couple of years, so that might be another place to try to promote the book and introduce the local artistic types to the secret world of bizarro fiction.
What would you say to someone who has yet to read bizarro?-
It’s weird, it’s creative, it’s entertaining. And it’s full of surprises. If reading is meant to be fun, bizarro is a non-stop monster party with a lobster-handed Willy Wonka as the DJ.
What would you do if your car ran off the road and you woke up to find your favorite fan had dragged you to her home, saved your life and she looked like Kathy Bates? –
I’d block out all the sick shit from that book and get the hell out of there. Probably by transforming myself into a sarcastic/asshole author and taunting her until she cries a river and I can catch and harness a salt-water crocodile to ride out of there. But then I’d feel bad and send her a story about what happened, except in the story I am not so mean to her and we are almost like friends.