LDM Interviews In The Dark With Tiffany Scandal

Hey. I'm Tiffany Scandal and I'm a good-for-nothing broad.

Every so often, I get to talking to cool people. Musicians, lingerie designers, authors, artists; rad people to remind me that life is fucking rad. So without further ado, here is the first of hopefully many interviews over the next few weeks.

My book, There's No Happy Endingwas published as part of a New Authors Series through Eraserhead Press. I was one of seven budding authors the press decided to take under its wing and show the ropes of what it takes to write, publish, and promote a book. Over our first year, we're asked to try to sell a certain number of books, network, and create a name for ourselves. Authors who excel in the graded categories could potentially be offered a contract with Eraserhead. A goddamn great learning experience, if you ask me. Anyway, I consider the other authors I was published with to be my bizarro brothers and sisters. So now that our first year as a published author is almost up, I figured I'd flash the proverbial bizarro bat signal so that we'd join forces and talk shop. The only author that couldn't make it out was Dustin Reade, but rumor has it, he's been pretty busy scouting badass golden girls for an army of Grambos.

 Anyway, to keep true to Scandal-fashion, copious amounts of liquor were provided and the lights have been turned off for a little game of get to know you . . . in the dark. Kinda creepy. Kinda sexy. Kinda . . . shit, let's just get on with this. Where's my whiskey?

The lights are off. What just happened?

A bit dark in here, isn't it? Hard to breathe. Smells like vinegar. That could be me. Let me just nudge myself into the corner, knock aside these spider webs. Ah, much better.

Oh, hey, Jamie.

JG: Hey, Tiffany!

So you wrote a book called The Mondo Vixen Massacre. Tell us a little about it.

JG: Okay, well, THE MONDO VIXEN MASSACRE is a Bizarro home invasion/revenge story, but it's also a love story about the choices and transformations an abused protagonist goes through in his violent journey to save the only woman he loves. Oh, yeah, I forgot about the rats, the snakes, green ooze, robots, and slow dancing.  

The Mondo Vixen Massacre is available now in print and kindle formats. You can get your own copy here.. Cover art by Matthew Revert.

The Mondo Vixen Massacre is available now in print and kindle formats. You can get your own copy here.. Cover art by Matthew Revert.

Bizarro is known for having shock-value quality. Almost like Troma meets David Lynch but in book format. Were there any scenes that, looking back, you’re still surprised were birthed from your imagination?

JG: Definitely. There's an intense juke joint scene. It spirals into absolute madness. I remember plugging into some jams and letting my fingers dance across the keys until my dancing just sort of started happening on its own. I think I had Grinderman's song Get It On looping for hours and that song is built on a weird loop, so every time it started over, it acted like a trigger for my fingers to keep pace with my mind. But, yeah, the juke joint scene rockets over-the-top, hog wild, goes to a stinky, dark, and gory place I didn't even know I had inside me. Or a place I didn't want to let out. But I did. I gave birth to a beast. And I'm glad I did, even if I had to wash my hands, shake off the goop, after writing it.

Bizarro is kind of a specific genre that still doesn’t have a huge audience (but we’re working to change that). How’d you come to know Bizarro and what made you want to write it?

JG: I came across Bizarro around 2011 or 2012 just clicking weird books on Amazon. Living in Beijing, I had no access to any kind of Bizarro scene, so I honed the power of the Internet to discover cool-looking books that called out to me. I was searching for books with a "cult movie" kind of feel and, luckily, I stumbled upon some Bizarro titles, some folks who had beat me to the punch. I kept digging and reading and was enjoying what I was reading. Having a Kindle helped things. Around that time, I was writing shorter pieces, but something about Bizarro fueled me to let loose on the page and tell a longer narrative I really wanted to tell without feeling pressured into one genre. All of this resulted in my NBAS title. As you can imagine, I was overjoyed when THE MONDO VIXEN MASSACRE was picked up by Eraserhead.

What has your experience with NBAS been like so far? Any advice you have for writers just starting out? What projects are you working on now? What do you have lined up for the future?

JG: NBAS has been a wild and fruitful ride, the kind of experience that will stick with me for the rest of my life. It's great, because you get to communicate closely with the other NBAS authors and you really do meet a lot of new folks in the Bizarro community and other genres, too. Working with Eraserhead Press has been superb and they really welcome you in, sharpen you up.

As for advice, I'd probably end up passing on poorly said misquotations of the wisdoms I've received from those who are much better at writing than I am. That said, I always try to out-write myself with each new project. I want to get better and keep getting better. Barreling through self-doubt is always an issue, but I write, because I love it and I feel the need to do so. If you work within the realm of necessity, you'll almost never let yourself down. As for the future, I do have some Bizarro and pulpy projects I'm carving up and try to work on two or three new things at a time. We'll see what makes the cut and what gets tossed to the burn barrel.

Speaking of which, do you mind if I flick this lighter on for a sec? You said it'd be dark, but I didn't think it would be this dark. Or, we can keep it like this. I can get used to these spiders. Thanks, Tiffany. 

Sure thing, Jamie!

During this time, a massive flame burst out of the lighter and exposed the biggest fucking spider I've ever seen in my life. Jamie, like a hero, waved the flame and scared the spider away. No spiders were harmed during the conduction of this interview. Also, the flame helped me find a spider-free whiskey. For more on Jamie Grefe, here is appropriate stalking information:

Website

Twitter

And don't forget his book The Mondo Vixen Massacre


Now with my whiskey in tow, I'm off to feel the . . . i mean, uh, feel for the next author. 

The lights are off. What just happened?

I'm not drunk, but I'm slightly high, so I hope that counts. ... It helps me sleep.

Oh, hey, Andy! Don't fall asleep just yet. I got a few questions to ask you. You wrote a book call The Cheat Code For God Mode. Tell us a little about it.

ADF: Margy and Victor are two geeky friends who love video games and happen to find one that controls their universe. Soon they find themselves being hunted and banished to the Old Internet where they learn a world-shattering truth.

The Cheat Code For God Mode is available now in print and kindle format now. Get your copy here.

The Cheat Code For God Mode is available now in print and kindle format now. Get your copy here.

Bizarro is known for having shock-value quality. Were there any scenes that, looking back, you’re still surprised were birthed from your imagination?

ADF: Cheat Code is pretty tame when it comes to some of the tropes found in bizarro. I even had to ask Bradley during the editing phase if this would be considered bizarro since it didn't have guts, gore, and sex. I do want to use what I learned in Shane's horror writing workshop for a future work, though.

How’d you come to know Bizarro and what made you want to write it?

ADF: Fellow bizarro author Michael Allen Rose and I have been pretty bizarre for about a decade now, and I was living vicariously through him and his BizarroCon experiences for several years. I had been writing fantasy, so bizarro was a nice transition. Just less fairies and dragons.

What has your experience with NBAS been like so far? Any advice you have for writers just starting out? 

Like MAR told me years ago, the bizarro family is one of the nicest, most helpful groups of people I will ever meet. It's been the best. And I guess my advice would be - get to know your fellow authors. You don't know everything, they can help.

What projects are you working on now? What do you have lined up for the future?

I'm still illustrating Shane McKenzie's Puppy Love. Drawing is time consuming, so it's taking a while. I have an experimental piece I'm putting together that I'm really excited about. It tells the story of this time-traveling geisha but through the eyes of people who meet her, and how they would record it. A lot of research, this one.

Well, thanks Andy! I'll let you get some sleep. For appropriate stalking information, you can follow Andy de Fonseca on Goodreads. And don't forget about her book The Cheat Code For God Mode.

Onward!

In the dark, I bumped into someone and just felt a massive beard.

Oh, hey, Daniel.

DV: Hey.

So you wrote a book called The Church Of TV As God. Tell us a little about it.

It’s about a guy named Jeremy, kind of an everyman, just some average slub. He’s a slacker. A guy who never lived up to his potential, maybe. Probably based off of myself. Or anyone really in their mid to late twenties, living a post-college life. Working a shitty job, a job he hates. The only thing special about him is that his head is turning into a TV. And he doesn’t really seem to care all that much about it. But, then again, he doesn’t care about much of anything, really. But his head is turning into a TV. He has no idea why. Just that it’s something that happens to all the men in his family. Like a hereditary disease or something. And then, all in a short amount of time, his life totally changes. First he catches the attention of a TV worshipping cult. Then he meets a totally badass talking dog named Benjamin, who invites himself into Jeremy’s life, whether Jeremy likes it or not. The cult (called The Church of TV as God) approaches Jeremy to tell him of his destiny. They think he is their savior. The one spoken of in their religious teachings. A man with a TV for a head that will bring about the second coming of The Great TV in the Sky. But Jeremy doesn’t want any part of that. And, as they say, hijinks ensue.

The Church Of TV As God is available now in print and kindle format. Get your copy here.

The Church Of TV As God is available now in print and kindle format. Get your copy here.

Were there any scenes in The Church Of TV As God that, looking back, you’re still surprised were birthed from your imagination?

I think maybe the end of the book. All the chaos there. It’s gross and it’s fucked up and it’s pretty dark. (I won’t go into detail about it though, for obvious reasons). But, as far as my book goes, I think it’s kind of tame when compared to other bizarro titles. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just because I wrote it. But I was actually hesitant to submit it for the NBAS because I didn’t think it was “bizarro” enough. I don’t know.

How’d you come to know Bizarro and what made you want to write it?

The first bizarro anything I ever read was issue 6 of Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens. I found it at Quimby’s in Chicago. I read it. I loved it. And then I think I kind of forgot all about it for a while. I’d been seeing random bizarro books come up in my recommendations on amazon for a while. It was right around the time Cannibals of Candyland came out. I ordered that and War Slut and Extinction Journals and Angeldust Apocalypse. And the rest is kind of history. I’ve been a huge bizarro fan ever since. As far as writing bizarro goes: I don’t think I ever set out to write bizarro, not really. I think my writing had always been weird and out there and crazy. It’s just that upon discovering bizarro I now had a word for the kind of writing I was doing. In college I was reading a lot of Bret Easton Ellis and the like, and tried to write more serious/literary stuff, but I couldn’t do it. I just wanted to write about talking dinosaurs and bats made of bacon and trash monsters and stuff. Needless to say my writing was not well received in the writing workshops at my school. I got bummed out because of it too. I wanted to be a writer but I didn’t think anyone would ever want to read my shit. After I graduated I kind of stopped writing for about two years. And then I saw Garrett Cook posted on facebook about a bizarro workshop he was teaching. I took it and that was when I really devoted myself to writing bizarro.

What has your experience with NBAS been like so far? Any advice you have for writers just starting out?

This year has taught me a lot of stuff. One thing is that I’m pretty terrible at marketing myself and my writing. I don’t know how to do it. My marketing techniques extend to pretty much just posting BUY MY BOOK! WON’T YOU PLEASE BUY MY FUCKING BOOK ALREADY???? on facebook. Over and over and over again. It also taught me that there is more to being a writer than just writing. Which is kind of depressing, I think. The best advice I ever got (and this includes the four years of writing classes I took in college) is simply JUST FUCKING WRITE. Turn the TV off. Get off the damn internet. And fucking write.

Word. What projects are you working on now? What do you have lined up for the future?

I am working on a few things at the moment. I’m slowly writing what I hope will be my next book. The current working title is THE DEATH OF EVERYTHING and I’m calling it a junkyard bizarro noir story. And I just finished a collection of non-fiction vignettes called AMPHETAMINE PSYCHOSIS. I’m working on touching them up a bit and then I hope to shop it around. I’m also editing a lot of my poetry. I have hundreds and hundreds of poems. And I’m hoping to put together another chapbook. This one will probably be called POEMS!! 2!! (My first chapbooks was called POEMS!!).

Thanks, Daniel! To stalk him online, check out these links:

Tumblr

Website

Twitter

And don't forget about his book The Church Of TV As God

Moving on!

I heard beeping from a handheld gaming device in the distance. I trudged forward and found myself with Amanda Billings, the author of 8-Bit Apocalypse.

Hey, Amanda. Tell us a little about 8-Bit Apocalypse.

AB: Atari games have come to life and are hell-bent on destroying Denver. Jimmy Toledo, a former arcade prodigy turned Chuck E. Cheese slave, is the only man who can save the city. He just needs some help from Russian cat massage whisper videos to sooth the social anxiety that comes with saving civilians. You know, like most heroes. Centipede, Frogger, Donkey Kong and more come to life and smash apart the city while most Denver residents fight to post the best pics on Instagram. I’ve loved video games for as long as I can remember—the first system I had was a Commodore 64 and my favorite system is the TurboGrafx-16--so it was fun to play around with old school games in 8-BIT.

8-Bit Apocalypse is available now in print and Kindle format. Get your copy here

8-Bit Apocalypse is available now in print and Kindle format. Get your copy here

Bizarro is known for having shock-value quality.  Were there any scenes that, looking back, you’re still surprised were birthed from your imagination?

AB: Knowing myself, I’m not really surprised by anything that I came up with. One of my favorite scenes to write was a sex scene between a government agent who looks like R2-D2 and a Denver rando who thinks she’s about to die. Jimmy considers joining in for a threesome. I think it’s the first time I’ve used the word “chode” in my writing, so that’s a plus.

Bizarro is kind of a specific genre that still doesn’t have a huge audience (but we’re working to change that). How’d you come to know Bizarro and what made you want to write it?

AB: I wrote a weird story about game boards coming to life and interrupting a couple’s first date with their murderous rampage (I swear, I don’t just write about games killing people). I was Googling around to try and find a home for it when I stumbled across BUST DOWN THE DOOR AND EAT ALL THE CHICKENS. Bradley Sands published my piece and that was my first step into Bizarro. I’ve always loved the absurd, so it seems like a natural fit for me.

What has your experience with NBAS been like so far?

AB: I have learned so much through the NBAS process. The biggest thing I’ve discovered is what a loving, supportive community there is in the Bizarro world. The advice and feedback I’ve gotten from everyone in the Bizarro community, from my editor Bradley to other authors and former NBAS veterans, has been tremendously helpful.

Any advice you have for writers just starting out?

AB: Read everything you can and don’t be afraid to write what you love. I come from a very traditional writing background—I attended a pretty traditional MFA program and have spent most of my professional life surrounded by very talented literary fiction writers with clear definitions of what does and doesn’t have literary value. As a writer, I’ve always found tremendous importance in experimentation and play, even though it’s hard to keep those critical voices out of your head as you start to go down those paths.

What projects are you working on now?

AB: Bradley is putting together an anthology of walkthroughs for video games that don’t exists—fantastic idea, right?--so that’s the next project I’m looking forward to being part of.

What do you have lined up for the future?

AB: Right now I’m just trying to be happy. Does that sound like a lame answer? 

Not at all, Amanda. Thanks for answering these questions! Don't forget to check out her book 8-Bit Apocalypse.

With the lights still out, I fumbled my way through the dark room. I'm not sure if I'm stumbling at this point because of the whiskey or because my eyes are having a tough fucking time adjusting. Anyway, I have one person left to introduce you to. Ladies and germs, meet Bix Skahill.

BIX! You wrote a book called Babes In Gangland. Tell us a little about it.

BS: Babes in Gangland is an odd little book for odd little people.

Babes In Gangland is available now in print and kindle format. You can get your copy here

Babes In Gangland is available now in print and kindle format. You can get your copy here

Bizarro is known for having shock-value quality.  Were there any scenes that, looking back, you’re still surprised were birthed from your imagination?

BS: I'm always shocked when people are shocked by my book. There's nothing in it that seems terribly upsetting but people seem to think it is. I suppose having a swearing, sex-starved baby is shocking to some people. Not me. It's my life.

Bizarro is kind of a specific genre that still doesn’t have a huge audience (but we’re working to change that). How’d you come to know Bizarro and what made you want to write it?

BS: I found Bizarro (Which I call Bixarro) thanks to my friend Keith. I wrote a book in grad school and was desperately trying to get it published with regular, boring old publishers. They all rejected it and said it was too weird. Again, I didn't think it was that weird, but hey. Anyhoo, after my hundredth rejection notice, my friend Keith told me about Bizarro. I've been a fan ever since.

What has your experience with NBAS been like so far? Any advice you have for writers just starting out?

BS: What I like most about the NBAS (except seeing my book in print) is the other NBAS authors. It's been great getting to know them. As far as advice to new writers, write something that scares you, makes you creeped out a little, something that makes you laugh or be afraid to turn out the lights.

What projects are you working on now?

BS: I am working on a book called Dope Tits. I don't like talking about work before it hits the streets, so yeah, it's called Dope Tits. That's all I'll say. The title, which is Dope Tits. Okay, I'll tell you this much, it's about a young woman who has psychotropic tits. Therefore, the title. Dope Tits.

To learn more about Bixarro, you can lurk him through the following venues:

IMBD

Twitter

And don't forget about his book Babes in Gangland.

Alright ghouls and gals, hope you all enjoyed this game as much as I did. Keep it creepy.

-Scandal


Tiffany Scandal is a writer, Suicide Girl, photographer, intern at Living Dead Magazine, and wants to interview you (seriously, if you want to be harassed, let her know). Her first book THERE'S NO HAPPY ENDING is out now through Eraserhead Press.

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