Monday, February 29, 2016

YouTube Curation: Teddy Has an Operation

by Karl Fischer

There's a video called Teddy has an Operation, which you may have heard about. Its creator, Zefrank1, is best known for Sad Cat Diary, Sad Dog Diary, and the True Facts series, all of which are animal themed and comedic in nature. Teddy Has an Operation, which has the second most views of any of his videos, is something else entirely. 

In the video, a teddy bear undergoes an operation to fix whatever condition is ailing him. The doctor cuts him open one layer at a time and addresses each problem that he encounters. Meanwhile, Zefrank1 narrates the proceedings in his gentle, over-enunciated, ambiguously accented voice.

The first time I saw the video, I wept. I just blubbered uncontrollably, fat tears rolling down my face. It's worth noting that I was going through a profoundly difficult period at the time, but the sadness that the video elicited was almost sublime. So much pain and yet it was so goddamn beautiful.

While the video has generated almost 17 million views, the majority of its audience seems to have ignored any potential nuance and gone straight to, "Ewww, are those REAL organs?!" Yes, gentle Youtube simpleton, those are real organ meats that he is cutting into. Now shut the fuck up and let me explain why this is a beautiful portrait of anguish and not just shock fodder for your fucking reaction videos.

How about you just eat a big old bag of dicks instead, you fucking parasite
Teddy is a person rendered as a childlike object. His physical operation is an abstraction of the mental processes taking place. Teddy's Bonbon Layer, the source of his sweetness, is filled with "unhealthy" bonbons. His Play Pouch is almost depleted of sprinkles. What we have is a bear who self-medicates. His depression is running him ragged, unable to play, unable to truly enjoy things. The doctor can treat these symptoms by removing the bad bonbons and adding more sprinkles, but the underlying cause behind all this must be identified.

The veneer of the plaything is stripped away and Teddy's viscera is laid bare. We come to his Crotch Unicorn - the manifestation of his imagination and sexuality, which are intact. The doctor says this a good sign indeed, for Teddy probably has a significant other. Sexual dysfunction in a relationship where a partner is struggling through mental illness is no goddamn joke. Teddy's gangrenous Kidney Crayons are then removed, allowing him to experience empathy for others once again, instead of just feeling sorry for himself. His Courage Sack is opened and we find it riddled with fear. Teddy is afraid, and the only cure is to transmogrify this fear into a more helpful motivation - curiosity. It is here that the unusual juxtaposition of tone and imagery begins to crystalize, forming the portrait of a sick and anxious patient. It is not absurd, but melancholy, mindful.

The last thing we come to is Teddy's Heart. Before seeking treatment, Teddy likely doubted his own authenticity as a sensate creature. Irrational fear does horrible things to a person and can take on a life of its own. Backed by depression, anhedonia, and loss of empathy, relentless fear tells the mind that the good feelings it seeks are not genuine, that it has no love, that it never did. It was only ever a construct, one that was kept alive by coincidence and circumstance. And now, that circumstance is gone, says the fear. This is who you truly are and what you are meant to experience. Forever.  

Teddy's Heart is undeniable proof that the fear is wrong. "Look how big it is," says the narrator. "Look how much love Teddy has." Contrary to his fears, Teddy harbors an abundance of emotion. And at the center of all that emotion and love, his Heart's Heart, broken by a Bad Boy, as the doctor reveals. "What did the Bad Boy do, Teddy?" opines the narrator. "Oh, Teddy." The why of it all is not important, only that a catalyst was buried deep inside, left to fester and rot. In itself, the Bad Boy need not represent heartbreak, or even a person. Memories and thought processes build a tower inside us, and can grow crooked, sometimes losing support and causing great damage. Memories cannot be replaced, but the unhelpful thought processes which promulgate suffering can be, as is with Teddy when he is given a "new child" to love.

The operation is pronounced a success. We end with Teddy in a hospital bed, stitched and dressed in bloody bandages. The narrator says goodnight, sweet and sorrowful. Teddy will be alright and so will we.


by Lee Widener

I'm so pleased and excited people are reading and enjoying my New Bizarro Author Series novella "Rock N Roll Head Case," that I'm holding a contest to reward two of the lucky readers with prize packages worth over $30 each!

How do I know readers are enjoying the book? Here are some quotes from reviews!

"Bizarro at its finest. It gives readers a giant dose of crazy with a nice side of odd, while also pumping with true heart and a beautifully woven message."

 "James and the Giant Peach--if it was directed by Quentin Tarantino while on an ether binge."

" It's a story of failure and redemption, of violence and peace, of the truth behind the facade of this dimension we live in. It's the story of Alice Cooper's f***ing head!"

" a whip-snap rollercoaster ride stretching to epic proportions"

Sounds pretty cool, doesn't it? I think so! That's why I want to give stuff away to people who took the chance on reading a book by a relatively new face on the Bizarro scene. I love you readers that much!

"Oh, but I haven't read Rock N Roll Head Case yet, but I still want to win a prize!"

Don't worry dear readers! There is plenty of time to enter. Order the book now, read it and try for the prize.


Tell me about the prizes!


Each of the winners will get ONE of these pieces of original cartoon art by Rock N Roll Head Case author Lee Widener!

     The Magic Bubbleman Shows What He's Good For

At the Mountains of Weirdness
(These are not prints, but actual hand drawn works of cartoon art. Each picture is 5" X 7"  hand drawn and colored on sturdy 200 lb. paper and signed by Lee Widener)
PLUS- each of the winners will get one of these:
A brand new, unopened copy of The Slow Poisoner's latest release "Slithering Skull" on cassette tape! Contains six previously unreleased songs, including "Midnight Earwig Buffet" and "Voices Green and Purple."
Image Comics Freak Force #2 (1994)
PLUS a copy of fanzine MANTRA #6 (1985) that is so rare I can't even find a picture of it online. Contains art/stories by fan artists Steve Keeter and Larry Blake)


You choose which book you want!

 That's right- you win another NBAS book, PLUS a piece of original cartoon art, PLUS either a Slow Poisoner cassette or comic book and fanzine.

Okay, that sounds incredibly awesome! How do I win??

I'm glad you asked that, because this is the coolest part. You just have to answer one question. You see, I wrote an Easter egg into Rock N Roll Head Case, and you just have to figure it out. Clue:

The Easter egg is the name of someone VERY WELL KNOWN in the Bizarro community, but I didn't just stick the name in the book. No, the name is Spoonerized and then turned into a phrase.

What the hell does that mean?
A Spoonerism is when you switch the first letters of a couple of words around. For example:
RED BOOK would become BED ROOK
SILLY BOY would become BILLY SOY

Get it? But I didn't just Spoonerize the name, I also turned it into a phrase that sounds just like the Spoonerized name. For instance:

If I Spoonerized the name Christoph Paul, it would become Pistoph Chraul.
And if I turned Pistoph Chraul into a soundalike phrase it would become: PISSED OFF CRAWL.

Get it? Just to be clear: the answer is NOT Christoph Paul.

SO: Read Rock N Roll Head Case. Find the phrase that is a soundalike version of a Spoonerized name of SOMEBODY VERY WELL KNOWN IN THE BIZARRO COMMUNITY.

Who can enter: ANYBODY! I haven't even told the person whose name I used!

DO NOT post your name here, or anywhere on Facebook, or Goodreads, or anywhere!
Either message me on Facebook or Goodreads, or send me an email with the subject CONTEST to

First two correct answers win!
Sounds easy- right? HA- no, sounds HARD! That's right- but fun! I know a lot of you love puzzles and mysteries, so get reading and see if you can solve this one!


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Why Elephant Vice?

Elephant Vice – Chris Meekings

Do you like Vincent Van Gogh paintings? What about Ganesha, the elephant-headed, Hindu deity? How about crime fiction or Leathal Weapon movies?
If you like any of the above then you'll love the new bizarro novella, from Eraserhead Press, Elephant Vice.

What the heck is bizarro?

Bizarro is a newish genre in literary fiction. It's the genre of the weird, the cult video section. It often contains dreamlike or cartoonish logic applied to real world emotions. Sometimes it's raw, sometimes it's gross, but it's always interesting. Bizarro strives to be strange, but fascinating, thought-provoking, and, above all, fun to read.

Ummmmm, Okay. Sounds fun. So, what is Elephant Vice?

Vincent Van Gogh is a cop with a dark past. He painted some of the greatest artistic masterpieces of our time. He cut off his ear out of love for a prostitute. He was a great painter. He isn't anymore. He's a tough as nails loose cannon cop who plays by his own rules. When a drug called **** hits the streets, it starts turning people into the object their essence most resembles. Van Gogh is put on the case. But this hard case has a new partner. His methods are unusual, his attitude incompatible and he has the head of an elephant. He's the Hindu God Ganesha. Can these two put aside their differences and learn to work together? Probably. It's a buddy cop thing.

Well that sounds fun, but why should I buy it, what is it about?

It's got Vincent Van Gogh as a detective in a Lethal Weapon style vice case! But also, it's more than that. It's about art and artists. It's about how artists view the world. It's about colour. It's about betrayal and love. It's about jealousy and temperance. It's about solitude in crowded rooms It's about a crazy, drunken, Dutch detective and a Hindu deity. It is, above all, about life, and the search for meaning.

Where can I buy it?

Pretty much anywhere where you can buy books! It's available in both softback and ebook format.,,, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones etc.

Slasher Camp For Nerd Dorks - A Review

Slasher Camp for Nerd Dorks - Christoph Paul

I'm not the biggest fan of slasher films, let's start by saying that. I've seen the First Nightmare on Elmstreet, Halloween, Pyscho, Candyman, Hellraiser, but none of those films large amount of sequels. I've never even seen Friday the 13th. I'm more of a monster movie kind of guy – give me a guy in a big rubber suit and I'm a happy bunny. I am familiar with all the characters from slasher films, we do have the internet after all. So, with that in mind, my delightfully delusional delinquents, I picked up Christoph Paul's Slasher Camp For Nerd Dorks.

So, this is the story of Jason Voorheesberg, a teenaged slasher with major anxiety. He is sent, by his mother to a summer camp in an effort to become a better slasher – slashing having been made legal in a twisted US system. There he is mercilessly bullied by the more confident jock slashers, and also picked on by the camp councillors (basically Predators). He does managed to form a burgeoning love interest with Rachel, a Slazer from a neighbouring camp (Slazers are the protagonists of slasher films who survive and kill the slasher).

I gotta say, I enjoyed this book a lot. The chapters are zippy and short and move the story along at a nice bright pace. The characters are good and although not especially deep, seem right for the genre Christoph is riffing on – slasher films have never been paragons of character development.

The main point is, this book is funny, it's Christoph's main strength. The novella zips along with a fun, Revenge of the Nerds feel. And there are many things to love in here. I especially liked the Pred's battle cry of “YOLO”, because most of the character's Christoph is mimicking don't live only once, but come back every film. And the whole thing is great and fun for the first two acts, as far as it goes.

And then, in the final act, Christoph switches gears on us, and gone is the fun zippy, tongue-in-cheek, parody and instead we get a different beast. And Christoph takes off his Marx Brother's glasses and sets about giving us some hard questions to think about. This was the part that I really liked. What is Jason Voorheesberg really made of? Are monster's born or raised? Is it nature or nurture? Is it fate or do we have a choice? These are good solid questions to be asking, and Christoph will leave you to decide.

Excellent work, Christoph. A good romp, followed by a sharp kick in the emotions. YOLO!


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

King Space Void - A Review

King Space Void – Anthony Trevino

Gargantuan, Semi-Robotic, Planet-Eating Monster, you say? I'm in!
All right, King Space Void owes a teeny, tiny little nod to Jack Kirby and Galacticus but let's be honest here, everyone who is being creative at this moment in time owes a debt to Marvel somewhere.

So, King Space Void is the tale of Dane Shipps, a worker in the guts of the eponymous, planet-devouring god. He's a regular schmo, but slightly dissatisfied, think Winston Smith at the start of 1984. He meets Scarlett, who is a sort of commando from one of the planets about to be devoured. She, using Danes naivety, convinces him to step outside his routine. Together they journey through the titan's innards in an attempt to stop the monster once and for all.

Anthony's novella has a smattering of the Orwellian about it. The great clanking machine which one cannot possibly hope to destroy and the small rebel band trying to take it out. But, it also reminded me of the Odyssey as well (just like Karl's Towers but in a different way). The episodic nature as Dane travels from organ to organ, each organ being a new setting of weird, is good and fun and keeps the story from becoming stale and it is this quality which reminded me of Odysseus's journey.

Some of these island stop off's didn't work for me, although they are varied I would have preferred them be directly linked and representing each biological system, and then the descriptions and inhabitants reflecting that. And sometimes the pacing can get confusing especially during the action sequences. But these are little quibbles and in future projects I'm sure Anthony can refine this.

At first glance, this novella can appear a little nihilistic – there's a giant, robotic, planet-devouring monster on a search for the end of the universe and we're the ones running it! But look a little closer and there is hope in here. Perhaps hope in just the moment of existence before you are obliterated, or perhaps hope in a wider sense, the reader will have to decide.

Do, I recommend King Space Void? Yes. If you like the idea of Orwellian 1984, mixed with some Homeric Odyssey, through the filter of Marvel's Galacticus, then you're completely bat-sh*t crazy, but you've also found the book for you! So, take a journey on King Space Void, it's well worth the read.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Rainbows Suck - A review

Rainbows Suck – Madeleine Swann

Oooooh, Fashion! We are the goon squad and we're coming to town. Beep-beep!” So sang David Bowie on Scary Monsters in 1980. I don't know whether Madeleine listened to this whilst writing her novella, Rainbows Suck, but I'd like to imagine so.

Tilli, a poor and almost destitute artist, is picked by an overlord group of sentient rainbows from outerspace to become a living piece of art. As she struggles to gain recognition as an art exhibit (exhibits which fail to be noticed are eradicated) she chooses to perform increasingly degrading sexual acts. She then catches the eye of Felicite, an already established work of art, and the two form a relationship.

This is British bizarro, my tentacled reader, we are in London, fashion and culture capital. But it's London as never seen before. There are familiar sign posts, museums, and dingy apartments, and journalists. But, there's weird here too, ubermensch rainbows for one.

So, what the hell is this book about? On the surface it seems like nothing what-so-ever. Evil rainbows and living art? But let's dig a little below the surface, shall we? Well to me, weirdly tentacled reader, this novella is about culture, and fashion, and celebrities and swings in the zeitgeist. That makes it a massively ambitious piece, and it's worth your time examining it.

We all now live in this celebrity culture. Madeleine starts there and, as all the best bizarro does, subverts it. She takes it too extremes. And then, tentacled reader, she starts to ask the questions. How far will celebrities go to keep that status? How far can art go? Is it even art any more? Remember, the art only lives whilst it's being observed and fawned over, if no one pays attention then it is killed. Isn't that a lot like our current celebrity culture? Kayne West only survives if you pay him attention.

Listen to me – don't listen to me. Talk to me – don't talk to me. Beep-beep” sings David Bowie, prophetic in my view.

So, there's a brand new dance, tentacled reader, and Madeleine is playing the tune. Does everything work in this novella? No. Some of the imagery is a bit confused and sometimes we lose a bit of focus and pacing. But that doesn't mean there isn't a whole load of stuff to enjoy in here.

I thoroughly enjoyed it Madeleine, Beep-beep!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Towers - A review

Towers – Karl Fischer

We were Towers and we shattered the sky.” So starts Karl Fischer's Towers. It sounds like a lyric or a line from a poem, doesn't it? Well keep that in mind, my little curious one, because that's what this book is, a massive love poem.

The basic plot is after a thousand years fighting giant monsters as a massive sentient tower, our hero, Alti, hopes to be reunited with his love Quantra in some sort of eternal paradise. However, once his thousand years is up Alti is dismayed to find, instead of paradise, he is once again just a human within one of the gigantic towers. He then sets out on a homeric odyssey to be reunited with Quantra and spend the rest of their mortal lives together. And homeric is right, this is an odyssey, not just on the journey that Alti endures but through his own physical transformation.

This, for me, appears to be the central question Karl is asking: what would you do for the one you love? How far would you go? It is this emotional question, and Karl's response and thoughts on it, which drive most of what's interesting about this book. In the end, this is a long epic love poem – look, my love, look how far I will go, how much I will endure, how much I will sacrifice, my world, my religion, my friends, even my body. You can't help but love someone who is willing to show his emotions like that.

As I said, this is a poem, and it stands or falls on the reader coming to terms with that. Do all the images hit home, not for me, but most of them do and that is enough. Some of the imagery I found confusing (that's probably a consequence of the speed I read it at) and some of the secondary characters were a bit hit and miss for me. But in the end, the main character of Alti and his emotional roller-coaster is what pulls you through.

So, all in all, my little curious one, do we recommend this book? Yes, you should read it. Karl is trying to tell you something important. We all start as Towers, emotionally separate from each other, and then as we grow and change and metamorphose we become powerful and vulnerable at the same time. We cry out for someone just like us, our own breed of monster, and if we're very lucky we may just find that someone who is a monster like us because in the end we're all monsters for the ones we love.


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Too Cool Not to Share

by Lee Widener

We've been making a lot of noise on this blog about the second phase of having a book published: promotion. It requires even more hard work, time, and effort than writing the book. It takes hours and hours of research and outreach, finding review sites, making contacts with people, pleading for Amazon reviews, angling for interviews, on and on. Just like searching for a publisher and submitting work, there's a lot of rejection.

So, the other day when I came home and found something wonderful in my Facebook feed, I couldn't stop smiling. This was something that came out of the blue, something I hadn't asked for, didn't have any part of, and that made it even more rewarding.

A bookstore in Mableton, Georgia had put a quote from my book "Rock N Roll Head Case" up on their marquee. We writers like to talk a lot about how lonely writing is, and it's true. But here was proof positive my work had touched someone enough that they wanted to share it with the world. A big, big thanks to the Book House. You've made it all worthwhile.

The Book House Facebook Page

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Where Are They Now? Interview With S.T. Cartledge

by Lee Widener

Shane Cartledge is another writer that I first became aware of from working on The Bizarro Zombie Anthology That Wouldn't Die. His story of a zombie choo-choo train was one of the most original concepts in the book, and is indicative of his uniquely weird outlook. Here's a bunch of stuff I asked Shane, and a bunch of stuff he said in reply.

LW: How in the world did you get started writing?

SC: I've always been creatively inclined in one form or another. I grew up learning classical guitar and piano. I reached a limit there with the skills I could learn versus the practice and dedication to the art. Then I started playing around with music production using some very basic programs. That was where I started connecting with people online, and when my interest in making music waned I turned to writing. At that point I had just discovered H.P. Lovecraft and Palahniuk and a few other writers with a lust for violence and madness. That fed back into my own writing.

LW: Was it always weird shit?

SC: I don't think it was always weird. Before Bizarro I went through a lot of phases before I found my voice. After my terrible imitating Lovecraft phase and imitating Palahniuk I kind of got into steampunk. I read a small selection of steampunk books and tried writing one for my first NaNoWriMo. I was fascinated by cyberpunk and all the different offshoots of steampunk, and shortly after, I started reading manga and watching anime, and shortly after that, it was Bizarro.

LW: When did it turn weird, and why?

SC: A writing friend of mine came across Carlton Mellick's short story 'Candy Coated' online on Vice. She shared it with me knowing that I loved weird stories. I read it, loved it, found a few Bizarro titles that I liked, looked up a ton more, and I instantly knew that it was crazy weird and crazy fun. The first two books I bought were Satan Burger and Lost in Cat Brain Land. I read those in a day each and I scrambled back online for more. The more I read, the more I shared on Facebook. Some of the Bizarro authors I'd been reading connected with me on Facebook, and then I thought maybe there was a future in this for me.

LW: And how did this lead to your NBAS book?

SC: I started reading the NBAS from the second year. I read the details online and spoke briefly with Kevin Donihe about it. I had been working on a couple of stories and I had done a couple of online workshops to get more involved. I was doing a workshop with Garrett Cook which included a thorough description of the sort of process that Kevin Shamel was looking to go through to recruit new authors. Specifically, he wasn't after finished books, but high concept pitches which could turn into popular books. House Hunter was one of a whole bunch of ideas which made the cut. A lot of the first draft of House Hunter came together during that workshop.

LW: You mention taking a couple of workshops online. Who else did you take a class from in addition to Garrett? What are some of the things you learned in the workshops that you think helped you as a writer?

SC: I've taken three online workshops all up. One with Jeremy C Shipp, one with Garrett, and one was with Garrett and Bradley Sands. I think the biggest thing you can learn from a workshop is that you need to put the time and effort into writing if you want your writing to go somewhere. I feel like there's no big secrets to being a writer, there's just learning processes. Exercises help to motivate, and having mentors reading and commenting on your work is good preparation for what you need to do to make your writing stand out, and gives you some preparation for what it'll be like when it comes time to working with an editor. Writing is a solitary act, but when you take your manuscript to a potential publisher, it's good to have some support already, and knowing that finishing the manuscript is only the first step in a process that requires a lot of hard work.

LW: So tell us about your NBAS book House Hunter, and what it was like writing it.

SC: I feel like other bizarro authors probably get this a lot, but when House Hunter came out, I'd tell people it was a story set in a world where houses are living people, and one of the first things they'd ask in response was 'where do you come up with that?' or 'what made you think of that?' To me, these ideas may grow subconsciously from real things, but on a conscious level, they're born in a vacuum. I had the idea of setting an Alice in Wonderland inspired (and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind inspired) action adventure story in that world and it came together and I sent it to Shamel. Then came the edits. And I realised how much work there was left to go. At the time I was finishing up my degree and starting my honours thesis, and I think that pressure drove me crazy but I think it was necessary to get the story over the line. Day of the Milkman was a dream compared to that.

LW: Kevin Shamel was your editor?

SC: There were six NBAS authors and Kevin Shamel had five of us. Kevin Donihe had Gary. Shamel was great to work with, very supportive, great to talk to. He understood it all because he'd been through it.

LW: You mentioned that Kevin Shamel wasn't looking for manuscripts, but instead was looking for pitches that could be developed. What was that process like- moving from pitch to finished manuscript?

SC: You need to pitch the right thing to the right people or they won't care. It's important to think of your idea as a product, as a finished book, how it would stack up in the current book market. If you can't do that, it'll be a struggle to sell your book. But then you can find that pitch at any point when writing a manuscript, so really, each to their own, I guess. I think it is a process which helps focus your writing and gives you a clearer target in mind. I've had a lot of pitches floating around for a while now, and sometimes I take a few of them and blend them together, borrow ideas from one story to another. I don't get hung up on making this idea work if it's not coming together, and if it might fit better in a different scenario.

LW: What effect has having a book in the NBAS had on your life?

SC: It's opened the doorway to so many wonderful opportunities. I've met some fantastic people, shared some fantastic moments. Bought and read some amazing books. Got some free books from friends. Learned so much about writing and publishing. The NBAS feels like a faint glimmer of what your true potential can be. It's just there waiting for you to realise that the only difference between you and that other person is the amount of effort you put in. It's given me the permission to be ambitious, even if I fail one day, there's so many opportunities just waiting for people to take them.

LW: You live in Australia, but you came all the way to Portland for BizarroCon that year. That takes a lot of commitment.

SC: Connections and inspiration are the main things I took away from BizarroCon. I'd have to say knowledge was another big thing. There are so many crazy smart people there who got to where they are because they really knew their shit. I was a shy young author at the time, so I feel like I didn't make the most of the opportunities I had to really get to know people and form those stronger bonds, but years down the track, those bonds have become stronger and the insight and information I've gained have been a trickle-down effect. I'm constantly learning things, and it's brilliant. I just try to tiptoe carefully through the small press landscape, hoping I don't commit some tragic faux pas which will lead to my immediate career suicide.

LW: Did living in Australia present any special challenges either in the creation of your NBAS book or the promotion? Do you feel at all cut off from the Bizarro community, and if so, what have you done to counteract that?

SC: In the creation of the book, no. Promotion, yes. Do I feel cut off from the Bizarro community? Absolutely. I won't lie. It's rough. I met all these amazing people, and I've never seen them since. Some of them I talk to all the time. And I've made a lot of new friends since then. You talk to all sorts of different people online, you get a feel for who you click with. I tend to focus on that. Nurturing relationships with the right people. There's a lot of people I'd love to know better, and I probably would know better if I lived locally. And I'm still trying to figure out this promotion thing. That's the hardest thing I feel, not just about the NBAS, but about being a writer in this moment. It takes a lot of hard work. And not only that, but you need to be intuitive, to see the literary landscape for what it is and know how to tackle it so that you reach your readers. I'm always trying to write new books and trying to keep momentum going, build professional and personal relationships, keep my mind off missing the face-to-face contact I had at BizarroCon, and build a local presence. The hardest thing I've found is getting out into the real world and connecting with people in my home town. I'm getting there though.

LW: I have followed your efforts to promote your work at large book fairs in Australia with great interest. How did those events go for you, and do you have any ideas for other authors who might want to try similar events?

SC: I've done one major convention, a book launch, and a large toy/hobby fair. The convention and the fair were tough. The convention went pretty well due to the sheer number of people, but I feel like I'm yet to really harness the rabid nature of that demographic and pull them into buying bizarro books. I've been thinking about it a lot recently, how it feels less like some guy chasing his publishing dream and more about pushing my particular brand of fiction as a business. I think that will be the fuel that lights my fire going forward. Definitely the best event of the bunch was the book launch. I pulled in the right crowd, and sold more in one evening than I did in two full days in front of thousands of nerds, or than I do in many months of online sales. I think going forward, my advice would be to consider yourself as a brand, know your product and how to sell it. Keep it simple, and if there's not enough cool stuff on your table, find out what you need to bring people in and get it.

LW: What about life post-NBAS? What else have you published, what's on the horizon?

SC: I've published another novella through Bizarro Pulp Press, Day of the Milkman, which was received quite well. I recently self-published a poetry collection, Beautiful Madness, which has been doing awesome for me. I also had a novelette in the Strange Edge anthology, the Four Gentlemen of the Apocalypse. On the horizon I've got two manuscripts with two publishers at the moment. One is a trilogy of narrative poems and the other is a project I've been working on for the past 2-3 years. I usually struggle to define it, but it'll be my next novella/novel, and I once described it as 'a sprawling sci-fi/fantasy prose poem sort of thing, set in a giant enclosed city, following a gang of cyborgs and children as they fight lizard monsters and cosmic gods.' I think that's the best summary I've come up with to date. It's gonna be epic. I've also got a bunch of other projects and ideas floating somewhere in the pipeline, and I've got plans and hopes for working with a bunch of different publishers over the coming years, and I'm currently trying to start my own publishing endeavour, but I'm keeping that pretty quiet for the moment, until I'm ready to make that move in the (hopefully) near future.

LW: What about music? Is that still a part of your life? I took lessons briefly from my sister, who was a piano teacher, and I'm still sorry I didn't keep up with it.

SC: I don't play much any more, but I occasionally collaborate with musicians and I'll probably do a few projects in the future which will find their way online. If I can get my own piano some time in the next few years I'll probably pick back up on my music as a hobby. I think that'd be a good thing to be able to step away from the work of writing and the day job and the other life-things which have been taking up so much time of my life this year, which I know will continue well into the years to come. Life is busy, but life is good. A piano would be a good way to soothe the mind and break away from that hectic buzz.

LW: And now for the question I've been waiting to ask. It's certainly the most important topic, more important than than all this boring writing stuff. Have you ever been attacked by a dust bunny, and if so, how did you defeat it?

SC: Are dust bunnies real? I haven't been attacked by a dust bunny. Drop bears though... I was nine and camping when one fell on my tent. I had to fend it off with my emergency spoon. I think he regrets it though. He sent me a friend request on Facebook the other day. I haven't responded yet.

LW: Really? Dust bunny attacks in the USA are reaching epidemic proportions. Perhaps we should all move to Australia. Those drop bears sound terrifying though. Thanks very much for your time, Shane!