Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Mr. Moon Interviews Jeremy C. Shipp
I love independent fiction like heroin loves the needle. Seriously, immediately after finishing Jeremy C. Shipp's incredible new collection Fungus of the Heart I sat down and wrote out these questions. Jeremy is a stand out talent and a star on the rise, his talent is only overshadowed by his kindness and humility. I'm very proud to bring you a few words with the wonderfully unique Jeremy C. Shipp.
Q. Let’s start at the very beginning. Do you remember the first thing that made you want to write? Please include any social influences as well as other author’s work.
A. My greatest influence was playing pretend with my brothers when I was a kid. We would come up with complex storylines and recurring characters such as the grim reaper and an extremely lucky wrestler with two Neanderthal sidekicks. I also fell in love with storytelling thanks to creative individuals such as HG Wells, Terry Gilliam, Ray Bradbury, George Lucas, Alexandre Dumas, Jim Henson, Jules Verne.
Q. Do you remember your first published story?
A. My first published story was called “Love Thy Demon.” It was either about a demon or an anthropomorphic tea cozy. I can’t remember which.
Q. What are you working on right now?
A. I’m hard at work on a new dark fiction collection, a middle grade fantasy novel, a screenplay, and a couple other projects. Oh, and I’m starting an indie rock band with the Mothra Twins and Max Headroom.
(Interviewer note: Be careful that Max Headroom is a son of a bitch.)
Q. Who is your ALL TIME favorite bad guy for books or movies?
A. The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra.
Q. Why does Jeremy C. Shipp write bizarro fiction and not glittery vampire stories?
A. I go wherever my imagination takes me, and my imagination takes me to worlds inhabited by zombie polar bears, boys who live in cabinets, and mold sprites.
Q. For your story ‘Flapjack’, from The Bizarro Starter Kit: Blue, the characters seem to have their own language. How did you come up with it? And do you have a translation guide in case I missed something?
A. I’ve always loved playing around with language, and so it was easy for me to come up with Flapjack-speak. The only translation guide exists in my head, but every word in the story can be understood through context.
Q. How far would you make it through Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory?
A. Being vegan, I’d go to Billy Bonka’s Vegan Chocolate Factory instead, where all the chocolate tastes moderately disgusting. Billy Bonka believes it’s wrong to remove Oompa Loompas from their native lands, and so he enslaves the plant-based Poompa Ploompas instead, which is much more ethical. I would make it all the way through the factory, because I’m quite the goody two-shoes. After I inherit the factory, the Poompa Ploompas would convince me that all plants have feelings, and I’d end up starving to death.
(Interviewer note: Poompa Ploompas are delicious sauteed in olive oil and garlic.)
Q. If you could pick 6 horror movies for an all-night movie marathon which would they be?
A. Audition, Dead Alive, Psycho, The Happiness of the Katakuris, May, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra.
( Interviewer note: I'm goggling the Lost Skeleton of Cadavra as soon as i post this!)
Q. In your fantastic new collection of short stories. ‘Fungus of the Heart’, there are several reoccurring themes; such as War, Redemption, Family, Gender, Love, Hope and Despair. As different as the stories all are they all seem interconnected if only through theme and subject. Was this intentional? How much of your personal life do you put into your stories?
A. I wanted each story to be its own universe, but I wanted these universes to be funhouse mirror reflections of our own world. Every story in the collection focuses on relationships. Love, family, friendship. My personal life bleeds into my stories, and my stories bleed into my personal life, but I would never write an autobiography or a memoir. The characters and situations in my stories are only somewhat inspired by real life. For instance, the way that Cicely and Nicholas (from my novel Cursed) talk to each other reminds me of how me and my wife talk to each other sometimes.
Q. As a leader in the new Bizarro movement you’ve organized an on-line writer’s workshop. Can you tell us all about it?
A. I teach an online writing course called the Jeremy C. Shipp Yard Gnome Fiction Army Bootcamp. My students read lectures and complete weekly writing exercises. They also write and critique short stories and novel chapters. If anyone reading this would like to learn more about the course, feel free to email me at email@example.com.
Q. Who said, “It’s a fucking show dog! It has papers!” ?
A. I have no idea, dude. Walter Cronkite?
(Interviewer note: Soooo close, Walter Sobchek. John Goodman's character from The Big Lewbowski.)
Q. Stephen Roberts (of The Dark Fiction Show fame) states in his bio that your novel ‘Vacation’ changed the way he looks at fiction. Does being an inspiration to your fellow writers make you feel as sexy as it would make me feel?
A. Being an inspiration to other writers makes me feel like a yard gnome shaman who’s just discovered a new species of magic mushroom.
Q. Whiskey, water, or coffee?
A. I don’t drink coffee or anything alcoholic, so I’d have to choose the Smurf smoothie.
Q. How many yard gnomes live in your yard? Have you ever seen them attack?
A. The colony in my yard consists of 634 worker gnomes, a Queen, four shamans, and a pair Vaudevillian gnomic pirates. I once watched my yard gnomes tear apart an attic clown using nothing but their titanium sporks. It was horrific, and yet somehow grotesquely beautiful.
(Interviewer note:I would be scared shitless around that many yard gnomes!)
Q. Quick, name drop five Bizarro talents!
A. Andersen Prunty, Tom Bradley, Gina Ranalli, John Edward Lawson, Carlton Mellick III.
Q. Any advise for aspiring writers?
A. Read and write every day. Write even when writing feels like the last thing in the universe you want to do. Also, don’t let rejection get you down. Rejection letters are good for you. They’re high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Q. Your attic clown saunters down to steal some bagels from your breakfast table and is confronted by none other than Earnest Hemingway. The two have a brief but silent conversation with their eyes, and then the shouting begins. It wakes you and you crash into your kitchen as the attic clown yells, “This house isn’t big enough for the two of us!”
Being the calming voice of reason you talk them into working out their problems the old fashioned way; with a two out of three falls battle!
Round 1. A spelling bee between the two big-word-loving-fiends.
Round 2. A bare-knuckle boxing match ala’ the 1930’s.
And if necessary….
Round 3. Each man builds his own giant robot warrior (think Voltron) and must destroy the other!
You have 1,500 words to describe the carnage and the outcome!!!!
Looking down at the index card, I say, “Spell Kilimanjaro.”
“K...I…L—” Ernest begins earnestly.
“I’ll kill a man, Jer-o,” says the clown, and chortles until he pops a blood vessel.
Ernest sighs. “I’m not nearly drunk enough to spend time with such a fool.”
“It’s six in the morning,” I say.
“It’s six in the evening in Kilimanjaro,” Ernest says.
“No it’s not.”
At this point, the Attic Clown squirts the ground with demonic seltzer and raises a horde of balloon animals. They’re all bees and they’re all swarming around Ernest. They’re saying, “K.I.L.L.A.M.A.N.J.E.R.O.”
As the bees stab Ernest all over his body, the old man says, “K.I.L.I.M.A.N.J.A.R.O.”
“Ernest wins,” I say, and the bees all pop, spraying blood and pus all over Ernest’s head and safari clothes.
Next, the Attic Clown and Ernest shrink down to the size of a whiskey bottle. The attic clown changes his clothing and enters the Rock 'em Sock 'em Robot ring.
“I’m not going to get into the ring with Tolstoy,” Ernest says.
“But that’s not Tolstoy,” I say. “That’s just the Attic Clown in a Russian military uniform.”
“I refuse to fight anyone Tolstoy-esque.”
“Fine. The Attic Clown wins this round.”
For round three, Ernest and the Attic Clown build a couple of miniature giant robots out of LEGO bricks.
Ernest's Drunktron tries to shoot the Attic Clown's Gigglebot using a miniature giant shotgun, but the Drunktron can't shoot the broad side of a robotic barn.
Meanwhile, the Gigglebot slaps the Drunktron over and over with a miniature giant rubber chicken.
Eventually, Ernest is destroyed but not defeated.
Whoa, the first ever deathless DEATHMATCH, and I still loved it!
Bravo! thank you Jeremy C. Shipp!
You can find more Jeremy C. Shipp here...
Next up Benjamin Rogers!!!!!