I do so love bizarro. It’s weird and quirky kinda like me. Okay it puts me to shame but I like variety tis the spice of life you know. J.W. Wargo another bizarro author – you all know how I like to stalk them all, kindly allowed me to interrogate him. His new book Avoiding Mortimer is one that I simply love the sound of one to check out for sure.
Rest in Processing…
Mortimer has tried his whole life long to avoid everything. He’s estranged from his undead family, stuck in a shitty job, and his only friends are ants. Mortimer decides to avoid the rest of living. But it turns out there is much more to avoid after suicide-Eternity in a body-making factory, a soul-hungry ant blob, God and his minions, the Afterlife, and even what lies beyond it. Aided by a sentient pile of dreadlocks, his acquired skills, and dumb luck, Mortimer attempts to avoid everything-and does a miserable job of it. A bizarro adventure story about life, the afterlife, the after-afterlife, and avoiding it all-especially the parts like working as an aglet-biter, or drinking shots of Holy Fuck.
1. What is something about you that no one knows?
I tried to save a dying squirrel in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
2. How did you discover bizarro and what about it sucked you in?
By accident. I was in the Portland Central Library looking for Absurdist books when I came across the name Carlton Mellick III. I ended up borrowing books by him, Kevin L. Donihe, and D. Harlan Wilson. Reading “Shall We Gather at the Garden?” was what really sucked me in. It’s still one of the weirdest things I’ve ever read. For years I had been writing all this stuff I thought was silly and weird and fun but no one was interested in it, and figured that was just the way of things. All that changed when I discovered Bizarro fiction.
3. How did becoming a bizarro author yourself come about?
I think for myself, it was a much longer process than it has been for others. I discovered the genre in 2008, shortly before I left Portland to become a full time hitchhiker. I was traveling almost nonstop for three years and never found the time to sit down and write anything substantial. I began a novella in 2009 that I intended submitting for the 2010 New Bizarro Author Series, but never finished it. It wasn’t until the Winter of 2011 that I decided to make it a priority to get published. I pitched three ideas to the editor, he liked one and I wrote it. The rough draft was accepted shortly thereafter.
4. What was bizarrocon like?
BizarroCon 2012 was my fourth I attended, and it was quite possibly the most memorable of the four as it was my first as a published author. It’s a small convention in relation to others, about 50-100 people. It’s a very close knit group and more like a family reunion than a convention. It has the standard convention activities: workshops, panels, readings, but every night is basically a big party and every year they hold my absolute favorite competition: The Ultimate Bizarro Showdown. Contestants give the weirdest performance they can. Judges rate the performances and prizes are awarded to the top three.
5. Do you have plans to try out other genre or are you a one genre man?
I write primarily Absurdist, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy stories, but have written straight fiction and poetry as well. My stories tend to fall into more than one genre, but most could be considered weird fiction.
6. Please tell me about Avoiding Mortimer
Avoiding Mortimer is a absurd philosophical tale about a man’s journey through the afterlife. Mortimer, the man in question, suffers from an Avoidant Personality Disorder and commits suicide after a particularly bad day. He discovers that there is a post-mortal realm and it has been corporatized. His journey takes him through several states of existence, including Limbo and Void, and he interacts with an assortment of characters including a glob of partially digested ants, sentient dreadlocks, and God, himself, known as the Afterlife Administrator.
7. What do you go out of your way to avoid?
Quite the opposite of the protagonist of the book, I have an “I’ll try anything once” attitude. I am Neophile at heart and am always looking for new things to experience. That being said, I am a pacifist and will avoid violence whenever possible.
8. What do you have planned next for readers?
This year I will be focused primarily on promoting my book and trying to earn a contract with Eraserhead Press. Over the Winter, I recorded an Avoiding Mortimer audiobook, complete with a voice cast, and am giving it away free to anyone who reviews the book on Amazon, and/or sends me photo of them licking the cover. More details on the giveaway can be found here: http://jwwargo.blogspot.com/