I Read From My New Bizarro Book At The Brighton Fringe And Didn’t Run Off Crying!

Hello popsicle sticks! I read my own work to an audience of complete strangers for the first time in my life, my new bizarro book 4 Rooms In A Semi Detached House, for the 2017 Brighton Fringe Festival. My hands were shaking, I was terrified.

Brighton has a lot of cool stuff in it so I made a little backstage video as well as filming the first reading (which has an impromptu Q&A at the end), and I also offer advice to any live reading newbies such as myself. My boyfriend Bill, who does my book covers, and our friend Steve had art showing in a gallery at the same time and I added clips of them discussing their work below.

Ta dah!

Fun times around Brighton, including books, rainbows and lots of tea:

The first reading, 11 am, at Made Cafe:

Bill discussing his work at The Round Georges:

Stephen Waring (LoFiGuy) discussing his work:

7 Advice Podcasts For Writers Of Weird Fiction And Horror

I don’t know what I’m doing! Sometimes I think I do but, more often than not, the further into this writing game I get the more I realise I know far less than I thought. However help is at hand in the form of people who know a bit more than I do making words into microphones. Take their hand (don’t kiss it, it’s probably sticky) and follow them down a dark corridor. Or a well-lit one, whichever seems nicer.

Speculate!speculate!

Billing itself as the podcast for writers, readers and fans, Gregory A. Wilson and Bradley P. Beaulieu have been referred to as ‘the best interviewers currently podcasting about genre fiction.’ They’re also joined by Michael R. Underwood and all have a good background in writing weird. As well as in depth interviews they review books and discuss writing techniques and publishing.

Bizzong The Bizarre And Weird Fiction Podcast

If you like silly and daft you’ll feel at home here, but there’s a lot of information too. Frank Edler interviews a different weird writer each episode to discuss their work, life, and zombie Elvis.

The Horror Show With Brian Keenexkeene_horrorshow_podcast-cover.jpg.pagespeed.ic.K9Jc-hqB_E

Brian Keene seems like a nice man. He and his friends discuss horror fiction as a genre, the various news and points of interest facing horror authors and, well, pretty much anything else. It’s like having a nice cup of tea – except when they talk about something unpleasant, then it’s like having an unpleasant but interesting cup of tea.

This Is Horror

This is also an informative podcast! Authors discuss their personal work, outlining stories, getting published, getting self-published and everything it entails – pretty much anything a horror writer needs to know.

The Outer DarkTheOuterDark1

Winner of the ‘This Is Horror’ award 2015, guests are interviewed about their books and writing techniques followed by ‘news from the weird.’ This is any information weird writers may find interesting such as anthologies looking for submissions.

Dead Robots’ Society

Soothing and amusing, they chat with a guest on subjects ranging from beta readers, selling yourself, emotional arcs and mankinis with heels. deadrobotssocietypodcast

The Horror Writer’s Podcast

Zach Bohannon and J. Thorn ‘discuss all things horror’ including an interview with the director of The Invitation, horror news and interesting TV. Bless their cottons.

Ta dah! Fill your ears with facts and interesting titbits and may it help you on your journey. Don’t forget to pack a lunch!

Maddie’s bizarre book club

I like to feast my brain and eyes with things that are rather unusual, as you may have guessed. Since winter began – my official hibernation and reading time – I’ve had the joy of finding some right good ‘uns which I shall share with you now. Ooh, and on a lovely snowy night too (unless you’re…somewhere it’s not snowing). I can almost hear the ghosts outside wailing about unpaid bills and the ten pence Johnny still owes.

This is my reading face
This is my reading face

1. Wisconsin Death Trip. This collection of news stories and unnervingly beautiful photography made it’s first appearance in the 70s. At the turn of the century (the Victorian one, not the other one) small towns in snowy Wisconsin were a tough place to live, inducing some pretty bizarre activity from the locals. Flick through the articles of the time and be drawn into a very spooky – but true – world.

Incidentally the events of the time are used as the backdrop for another book I enjoyed, twisty historic thriller A Reliable Wife.

2. The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse. A humorously clever cross between Se7en and Old Mother Hubbard, the back of the book explains it better than I can:

Once upon a time Jack set out to find his fortune in the big city. But the big city is Toy City, formerly known as Toy Town, and it has grown considerably since the good old days and isn’t all that jolly any more. And there is a serial killer loose on the streets.

The old, rich nursery rhyme characters are being slaughtered one by one and the Toy better hauntedCity police are getting nowhere in their investigations. Meanwhile, Private Eye Bill Winkie has gone missing, leaving behind his sidekick Eddie Bear to take care of things. Eddie may be a battered teddy with an identity crisis, but someone’s got to stop the killer.

When he teams up with Jack, the two are ready for the challenge. Not to mention the heavy drinking, bad behaviour, car chases, gratuitous sex and violence, toy fetishism and all-round grossness along the way.

3. The Best Bizarro of the Decade. I couldn’t really have a list of weird books without it. Everyone has preferences on their choice of out-there reading material and some of these short stories will not be your cup of tea (trust me I even hated a couple. I’m not saying which). However there are others which I found brilliant and very funny. If you can keep an open mind you will be rewarded. Maybe.

4. Better Haunted Homes and Gardens. This picture book is very sweet and pretty and future goth children will love it. If you can find a reasonably priced copy I recommend it, I know it brought out the kid who still loves Halloween in me.

5. Red Velvet and Absinthe. What can I say, I love (very) risque paranormal Stiff-coverstories. These gothic tales are some of the best I’ve found and most have a different (and rude) way of looking at classic spookiness.

6. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. Mary Roach is a funny lady. This book is an entertaining read about the different and unexpected ways a human body is used (crash research, nose jobs etc) and I was particularly fascinated when it came to learning about the minutiae of rotting.

However I must admit to skipping a few chapters in the middle – I just didn’t find the bits about planes crashes etc as entertaining. Weird as that sounds. But…the majority is well written and very humorous. Enjoy!

Well, there we have it. So many words, so little time, and so little human brains to ingest while doing it. Oh, no, I found another box. Farewell till next time!

Interview with author Jeremy C Shipp

Hello my little slices of pepperoni. You may remember American bizarro author and all round anomalous egg Jeremy C Shipp from such books as Cursed (which got him nominated for the Bram Stoker award), Vacation, Fungus of the Heart and Sheep and Wolves.

He kindly assented to an interview regarding his work and writing in general (and to not press charges; I mean, kidnap is such a strong word) and here it is:

Which of your books is your favourite, and why?

J: One of my books that is near and dear to my heart (and spleen) is Cursed. The story was a blast to write, primarily because of the character Cicely. She’s a loveable weirdo with a heart (and spleen) of gold.

 

What impact has the Bram Stoker nomination made on your career?

J: I would say the main thing is that more readers have tried my books. Also, the nomination gave me  super powers. For instance, with the power of thought alone, I can transform sporks into slightly smaller sporks.

 

What’s the one (or more) thing you keep in mind when writing gets difficult?

J: This is your dream, Jeremy. If you’re not going to fight to live your own dream, then you’ll have to live someone else’s. And that’s no fun.

 

How do your ideas come to you?

J: Dreams, nightmares, personal events, world events, people on the street, people in the clouds, a little goblin named Bob who lives in my skull.

 

Is it possible to make a successful living from writing?

J: Yes. Mostly, it just takes a lot of work and dedication. And skill. And luck.

 

Who are your heroes?

J: Super Grover, my family, my friends, Hayao Miyazaki, Joss Whedon, Felicia Day, Kurt Vonnegut, Larry Blamire, Tree Trunks.

 

Is being a Bizarro writer a natural state of being, or do you sometimes have to push yourself to make your ideas even weirder?

J: It’s my natural state. Sometime I have to push myself to make my ideas palatable for human consumption.

 

What goes through your mind when you see your published book/story?

J: Hooray! Book! Time to sing and dance and eat chili cheese fries!

 

Did (or do) you have to do a lot of networking to get your stuff popular?

J: I enjoy entertaining and connecting with people on Facebook and Twitter, and I believe it’s on these sites that most people first hear about me and my work.

Thanks Jeremy, you may live another year. Bye!

Fake book reviews by a fake sock puppet

I noticed everyone in the land of the internet discussing an issue involving sock puppets. I later learned it had something to do with a writer posting fake reviews ‘with a sock puppet.’ Naturally I took this to be literal; he had surely filmed his hands covered with said socks and glued eyes on them, trashing other writers whilst praising his own work using a silly voice.

Sadly this isn’t what happened. It was just some unfortunate with no fans writing under pseudonyms on sites such as Amazon, which apparently is known as ‘sock puppetry.’ His name is RJ Ellory, here’s an article about it.

Some of the commenters underneath seem to have mistaken him for James Ellroy, author of The Black Dahlia and LA Confidential amongst others, but I imagine he has better things to do. Like licking eyeballs or something.

Editing a Book

I only have my own experiences to go on so if anyone can offer me any advice I’d be ecstatic to recieve it. I’m currently editing my first book and it’s torture. Writing is the easy bit in my opinion, it’s what comes after that’s the real tedious work part. Does anybody else find that?

Writing makes me a jolly, happy go lucky pixie. Editing turns me into the worst kind of teenager who’s been forced to sit down and do their homework. I’m trying to keep in mind some tips I once heard (from some lady who got published so I guess it’s probably sound advice):

the first draft you should just write, the important thing is to get it down.

The second draft you need to go back and fix the plot holes, rework events so they’re in the right place etc.

Third draft you can spend making it even better.

This is all great, but I just wish I could throw the manuscript at a Victorian assistant for the second draft and tell him he won’t get any coal unless it’s done properly.