Join us as we Ramble On with author Jeremy C. Shipp!
Jeremy C. Shipp is the Bram Stoker nominated author of Cursed, Vacation, and Sheep and Wolves. His shorter tales have appeared or are forthcoming in over 60 publications, the likes of Cemetery Dance, ChiZine, Apex Magazine, Withersin, and Shroud Magazine. Jeremy enjoys living in Southern California in a moderately haunted Victorian farmhouse called Rose Cottage. The gnomes in his yard like him. The clowns living in his attic–not so much. Feel free to visit his online home at jeremycshipp.com. His twitter handle is @JeremyCShipp
Jeremy is the author of the novels VACATION and CURSED, and the collections FUNGUS OF THE HEART and SHEEP AND WOLVES, all available from Raw Dog Screaming Press as well as on Amazon. And of course you can order through your local independent book seller as well.
And now, on with the interview:
ANTHONY: Okay, let’s get the 800-lb gorilla in the room out of the way right away. Attic clowns? How are they scarier than Pennywise in IT? And can’t you call in an exterminator?
JEREMY: For me, the Attic Clowns are much more terrifying than Pennywise because they’re living in my attic instead of in a book. They throw flaming pies at me, and while I’m sleeping they replace my organs with balloon animals. I’ve learned that if you gaze long enough into the abyss, the abyss will giggle back at you. I’ve tried calling a few exterminators, but they always end up transmogrifying into rubber chickens.
A: Attic clowns, yard gnomes. On a more serious note… like your life apparently, your work is often called “bizarro.” To me, that brings to mind the defective anti-Superman, something imperfect and plodding. Not words I’d use to describe your work at all. So for my readers who are unfamiliar with the term, can you explain “bizarro fiction” and mention a few other authors that might fall into that description?
J: Bizarro fiction is the genre of the weird. Bizarro has been described as “Franz Kafka meets John Waters” and “Dr. Suess of the post-apocalypse” and “Takashi Miike meets William S. Burroughs.” Bizarro books are not only strange, but thought-provoking and fun to read. Some prominent authors include Carlton Mellick III, Jeremy Robert Johnson, and Chris Genoa. Anyone interested in learning more about Bizarro should check out www.bizarrocentral.com.
A: Like most of my favorite authors, you write both novels (VACATION, CURSED) and short stories (collected in SHEEPS AND WOLVES and FUNGUS OF THE HEART), and even your novels are fairly succinct. Do you usually have an idea of length when a story pops into your head, or do you let the story take you where it will?
J: From the get-go, I know whether an idea will grow into a novel or a short story. But beyond that, I just write the story until it’s finished. Somehow, my novels usually end up around the same length.
A: Do you see yourself ever producing the doorstop-sized fantasy/sf so many genre writers seem to eventually write, or are you content to write in shorter bursts?
J: As a minimalist, I don’t think I’ll ever write an extremely long novel. But perhaps someday I’ll write a series of books that could be compiled into a book of admirable girth.
A: One of the things I noticed about the short stories in FUNGUS OF THE HEART is that the worlds in which they take place feel so fully realized and yet there’s often very little world-building detail in the stories themselves. How much work do you put into creating the background for your short stories versus your novels? Is it a conscious choice as to the level of descriptiveness in any particular story?
J: For every one of my tales, there’s a lot of world-building that goes on in my notebooks and in my head. But then, when I write the actual story, I only include those details that I believe are important. For me, that’s what being a minimalist writer is all about. I often spend just as much time building the reality for a short story as I do for a novel.
A: I know you’ve been actively promoting your own and others’ work being published through Amazon for the Kindle. Tell me a bit about how that cross-marketing project got started for you and where you see it going.
J: For years, I’ve helped other authors promote their work on sites like Facebook and Twitter. These days, I’ve been focusing more on Kindle books, because I believe ebooks are the future. Recently, I created a site called dailykindlebargains.com, where I blog about bargain kindle books. I’m surprised at how popular the site is already, and my hope is that it will continue to grow.
A: If I had a Kindle, I’d check out dailykindlebargain.com. Someday! You also run Yard Gnome Boot Camp writing classes online. How has the turn-out for those been, and when is enrollment opening for the next one?
J: I love teaching, and I love writing, so teaching the craft of writing is a fantastic experience. The classes always fill up quickly. I’m have some slots open for my July course, so anyone interested in learning more about the class can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A: So what’s next for fans of your work? When can we expect the next book, and can we get a hint as to what it’s about?
J: There’s a stage musical in the works called Nightmare Man, which is based on one of my short stories. More information can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/nightmaremanmusical. Right now, I’m writing an Attic Clown book, as well as a young adult fantasy novel. Hopefully, these will be published within the next couple of years. I’m also putting together a monster anthology called Aberrations, which should be out within the next few weeks.
A: I’ll be watching for that and adding it to my TBR pile. Now for my usual last question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to recommend it to someone who hasn’t read it yet?
J: I have quite a few favorite books, but if I had to choose one, I’d go with The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. Roy’s unique writing style is amazing to me as both a writer and a reader. I’d recommend this book to anyone who loves good books.
A: Thanks again for taking the time to chat, Jeremy! Always a pleasure.