In which I interview me


oxygenmantransHi kids! We have a spate of interviews coming soon, some fun conversations with writers you might not know, or should know better, and I thought I’d kick it all off by asking myself the ten questions I asked everyone else.

So here we go:

Where should a reader that is new to your work start?

Probably the ‘before Crazytown’ chapbook. That would at least give a person an idea of what I do. I don’t have a lot of stuff available under this byline.

Is there a piece that you are particularly proud of?

‘the association’, from Caravans Awry, is probably my favorite of the things that are available. It manages to subvert a pile of cliches, trades on some of my inside knowledge of the Chicago area, and features a rare sympathetic character. I’m also very fond of ‘Looking for Ghosts’, from Test Patterns, which has historical Tucson locations and a literally mindblowing premise.

Whose work do you read, yourself?

My reading trickled down to almost nothing when I was reading for anthologies but it has picked back up again. I do reviews when I can, and am reading books by John Claude Smith and J. R. Hamantaschen, and several volumes from Word Horde, for those purposes.
For fun, I like speculative fiction best. I just re-read the works of Cordwainer Smith and James (Alice Sheldon) Tiptree, Jr., and am embarking on a read of Alistair Reynolds’ works, having obtained a few new ones.
I’m just getting started with a new John Langan and a new Farah Rose Smith, for in-genre works.

What kind of beer goes with your pizza? And what’s on the pizza?

I actually don’t care for beer with my pizza – diet Coke is my choice. If I have my druthers, I like a plain old sausage and cheese pizza, Chicago-style medium crust (this doesn’t mean deep dish – that’s Sunday-dinner pie). Sliced mushrooms and red onions sometimes. Party Cut! Triangular pieces are not my first choice.pizza

I do like my beer though. Local beers are my favorites. Craft brewer Iron John’s makes a mocha chile stout that’s to die for. I drink Sam Adams’ Boston Lager as a default. One at a time – I’m diabetic. So taste is paramount!

 

Do you consider your work weird, or horror? Or do you leave that to the marketing department?

My work is pretty solidly spec fic. I like to travel in the borderlands where horror and science fiction meet, and I’m not much for fantasy. Clarkean science, yes. But I work out how the science works for myself – I just don’t tell the reader. I love to shine the lens of hard science on the ‘Cthulhu Mythos’ – working in that milieu is comfortably like playing cover tunes for me. That’s the stuff that got me writing again, twenty years or so ago. Well, that and an interactive novel called IDENTITY CRISIS, which was on my website for a few years.
So… given just those two alternatives, ‘weird’ works. I don’t care much for most of the standard horror characters or tropes. Cosmic horror for me. And Tuckerizing. I lampoon almost everyone I know at one time or another.

You’ve been convicted of crimes against the empire. What would be your last meal? Include something big to hide the explosives in.

A big honkin vat of my famous chili and a huge cheeseburger to pour the chili over. Twice-fried fries and an endless Coke.

Are you involved in any arts besides writing? Any odd hobbies we should know about?

I’m a bass player turned multi-instrumentalist. I played in bar bands for many years and could handle the bass or guitar chair in most professional bands. I also draw and paint on occasion, and collect alien figurines and science fiction paperbacks.
Last year, I took up gardening. My approach is holistic – I don’t plant in rows or anything like that. I till the soil and scatter the seed, and we see what happens. The sun here is obnoxious and you have to plant early or everything will die by midsummer.

Cats or dogs?

I used to be a dog-person but my ex taught me to love cats too. Felines are better for apartment living. I have four of the little bastards. Three of them are related and can’t stand each other.
There may be a lesson there.

I do have a dog, or he has me — he just doesn’t live here. Charlie dog, who lives next door, is convinced that he owns me and tries to cover me with little-pooch slobber as long as I’m in his vicinity.

Animals and I get along fine. I’m also a big fan of rabbits, but they live such short lives that I don’t think I could get any moe.

Tell us about a work-in-progress.

I’m working from time to time on a ‘Russian novel’, a big, sprawling epic with some family history thrown in and a ton of Slavic folklore explored. It’s my comfort writing – I work on it when everything else is making me crazier.
One of the main characters started as a Tuckerization of writer SL Edwards and blossomed into one of my best inventions – the tireless, slightly misguided entrepreneur Emerson Samhain. Emerson’s origin story will appear in Planet X Publications’ Test Patterns: Weird Westerns as ‘In The Name”, and he also appears in the unpublished novelette ‘The Fleecing of the Golden Hound’, which has cameos from characters in the other two stories.

Is there anything else you would like readers to know?

I do this all for you.

Thanks for reading. We now take you back to your regularly-scheduled commercial.

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Hmm


crazytown2

art by Candra Hope

Pretty much all I have to talk about here is stuff I’m working on, and I’m trying to blog every day, so that’s what we’ll talk about.

I’ve been writing professionally for 42 years, on and off. During that time, I’ve produced an awful lot of trunk fiction and thousands of anonymous/pseudonymous articles, as a good portion of my work has been as a ghost/news article finisher.

That gave me a lot of practice to fall back on when I first purposed to become a full-time writer, about six months after my bout with ARDS ended my formally-employed life. It took a couple of years to get myself together, and in 2015 I put together a little book of oldish fictions, poems, and flashes, for practice, and started working on a book expanding those pieces into full-length stories.

There being no urgency to release it, I’ve been tinkering with those pieces, occasionally subbing versions to anthologies/magazines, and have finally arrived at versions I can live with on the printed page.
Am sitting here looking at the proof copies of my first full-length collection and first novel, which are part of the same story-cycle.

tfgyves

art by Yves Tourigny

Stories that end that cycle and commence a new one will be in the last two collections from Planet X, Strange Stories of the Sea and Test Patterns: Weird Westerns respectively. I’m waiting to see when those will be released to schedule release dates for the things I have in hand right now.

But there will be three chapbooks shortly, to start getting funds for future work. I’ll also run GoFundMes for the two collections from external writers SL Edwards and Calvin Demmer once I have the artwork.

And there’ll be a third collection, to be announced sometime in the nebulous future, and perhaps a fourth and a fifth. I’m looking at things. Oxygen Man is a new press and we’ll have growing pains. We’re undercapitalized and will have to generate funds from outside for a while. This means pulling some things from circulation and putting them out myself, in order to facilitate the rest.

I have three more collections and eleven novels still on hand. Stay tuned.

oxygenmantrans

 

Thud


oxygenmantransWell, the Kickstarter failed miserably at 18%, so we’re back to funding books individually, which was plan A. Plan B was finding an investor, which collapsed for complicated reasons. In lieu of explaining that all, I’m just gonna blame me. Same for the fund drive. It’s just easier. I’m in charge, therefore it’s my deal.

SL Edwards’ and Calvin Demmer’s books will go through exactly as planned, with GoFundMes for list-building purposes for each. I’ll put out four additional books in 2019-2020 — three related collections and a novel, and we’ll see where that leaves us.

That makes Sabbath Bloody Sabbath a 2020 project going forward.

Disappointing but I’m grown.

On the other hand, the final volume of the Test Patterns series, the Weird Westerns, is taking shape. We have a table of contents, as follows:

Ashley Dioses – Strung by a Noose
S. L. Edwards – The Older Laws of John Armitage
Scott J. Couturier – Buzzard-man
John Ghost – The Terror at Cleopatra Hill
Thomas Joyce – No God’s Country, No Man’s Land
Jill Hand – The Burning Women of Glory
Christopher Slatsky – Justo’s Mummy Magic Capac Cuna Medicine Company
GD Dearborn – Daltrey Returns
Dustin Chisam – Into the Emerald Frontier
Sarah Walker – The Foreigner
John Paul Fitch – Gut Shot
Erica Ruppert – Oh, Bury Me Not
Sean M. Thompson – Dark Sky Above
Max D. Stanton – The Transported Man
Alan Sessler – The Ogre West
Can Wiggins – Sweet Betsey from P.I.K.E.
Zoltan Komor – Planted Bullets and Coffin Whores
KA Opperman – The Sheriff and the Succubus
Duane Pesice – In the Name

 

Several of these pieces are over 10K words. I elected to close the thing out as several participants are Tuckerized in my story. This is the final anthology of new fiction from Planet X Publications, which is going silent running after 2019.

We’re going to have a couple of interviews here, in tandem with greydogtales, of which more when we know.

In the air


The Kickstarter for Oxygen Man Books is live, and the butterflies are more than eagle-big, especially as it’s starting slowly. But there are thirty days to go.

We’ve four books on the docket, and are asking for an entirely reasonable 3500.00, given what each entails. The big SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH anthology is the most costly — that probably won’t fly without crowdfunding. The other three books — S. L. Edwards’ THE DEATH OF AN AUTHOR, Calvin Demmers’ NEW SKULLS FOR THE OLD CEMETERY, and my own CRAZYTOWN are going to happen no matter what. They’d just be easier to manage with more capital (what isn’t?).

I’m also offering two chapbooks, for those who want to contribute in smaller ways. Sufficient funding will see those and the two collections getting interior illustrations.

We have lots of plans beyond that. Click the link and see if it’s for you.

oxygenmantrans

32 White Horses


I read about Mr. Boots before breakfast. That’s a great little story. Last night, before bed, I read ‘blue broken mind’ and ‘An Incident…’
They’re both in volume one. If you’ve been in prison, or under a rock, that 32 White Horses on a Vermilion Hill, Volume One. You should have a copy by now, and of the sister volume. If not, they’re still available. Great writings for a worthy cause.
I’m still trying to process that we actually *did them*. In case you didn’t know, Planet X is a two-man show. I do procurement, proofing, and promotion. Michael Adams, who doesn’t get near enough credit, does art direction, formatting, and financing.
There are typos and weird errata. That’s to be expected when you do two full-size books in an awful hurry (one month). We’ll fix those errors as we encounter them. I’m going through both mss as a reader and keeping a list for my inner editor’s satisfaction.

These books were produced to benefit author Christopher Ropes, who has ameleogenesis imperfecta, a dental condition that causes much pain and broken choppers. The weird fiction community has banded together to try to be of service. You can help too, and benefit thereby. 64 stories and poems by a cross-section of weird and horror writers, from first-time publications to best-selling veterans.
Let’s keep these books going! Please help! 

Christopher still needs funding for his teeth. GoFundMe link in the previous sentence.

32 White Horses on a Vermilion Hill. They are champs, they don’t stand still.

Volume One. Volume Two. Vol 1 art by Mutartis Boswell. Vol 2 art by Nick Gucker.

Thanks for reading! Thanks also in advance for any help you can give. Donations gladly accepted. The books are also available in TPB. From the folks who brought you Test Patterns, Creature Features, and Caravans Awry.

Coming soon


I’m going to move all of my webstuff over here and probably pony up for business class so I can have MP3 players. I’m pretty satisfied that WP fits my needs, as they are at this time, and for some of my websites, the move is long overdue.

duanepesice.com already points here, and lettersfromoutside.com will follow suit shortly. I hope to complete both by the first of the year — will start formatting stories for both during November and December.

Coming real soon are Test Patterns: Creature Features and Caravans Awry. Those should be ready by Hallowe’en or thereabouts. Those are both fantastic anthologies from Planet X Publications, which I edited and have work in. Creature Features is about 135,000 words, and Caravans Awry is about 75,000. That’s 210K of new speculative fictions coming your way.

Planet X will also be releasing a novelette and a novella around Xmas/the first, both of which are nearing completion. The Forgotten God (@18K), which has never been published, and Fear and Loathing in Innsmouth (@40K), which was originally written in 2001, but has never been published as a complete narrative, and has been rewritten over the last couple of years.

This is in addition to my daily columns at Bleed Cubbie Blue,  reviews and interviews at greydogtales and Ginger Nuts of Horror, occasional postings at music sites like reverbnation and bandcamp, and other nefarious activities. Stay tuned 😉

Just so you know. Thanks for reading.

benched


I’m a politics junkie. I have been one for many years. I used to get in fistfights in sixth grade with a kid named Mark because he loved Nixon so much and I was a staunch McGovern man up until Eagleton.

After that, nobody was on George’s train, and Tricky Dick skated on in. Parallels with current Brett Kavanaugh machinations could be drawn.

tandp

Dark gods help me, I watched every moment of both sides of the testimony on C-Span. One of my side hustles involves collecting quotes and anecdotes from such public spectacle, a clipping service sort of activity that I usually perform by copying and pasting quotes from articles, but sometimes I get involved enough to watch live and just transcribe on the spot. Perhaps I should have been a court stenographer…in any event I type very rapidly and accurately when I’ve enough caffeine in me and it’s early enough that I have some energy.

Anger has its own forms of energy, and so I didn’t flag very much through the nine hours, live-posting to Facebook, writing down fun quotes and impressions, getting all wired on the unfairness of it all.

This even though I am an unreformed white hetero cis male. I am, however, not now, nor ever was, an abuser. No means no.

I have other ways to be an asshole, like hating everything 80s and 80s-based, and disliking large swaths of content in the horror field that I nominally work in. I’m on the spectrum, but sometimes it’s not really clear where such contrarianism stems from. I’ve just always had it.

People have excoriated me roundly for it, too. They say “Not liking the things other people like doesn’t make you cool.”

Word. Neither does liking those things. Usually I’m just trying to work out why I don’t like them, but sometimes I just troll. I admit it. Some things are just too much for me to take, like GHOST.

Or the modern-day Republican party. I’m a card-carrying Dem, and determinedly sinister on social issues, being a disabled-American among other persuasions, and because, while both sides take the money, the Democrats occasionally dither in the direction of social consciousness and trying to improve the lives of their constituencies rather than the Tweed class.

Occasionally. But the liberals are in bed with the neoliberals and most of the progressives have less financial backing for their ambitious programs than they do for their eternal campaigns, and pass less good legislation than gas.

It’s difficult to remain positive when there really isn’t a side to anything.

And there we come full circle to the Kavanaugh hearings and the state of politics now. It’s possible to have a side, to feel right (at least some of the time). Granted, a few take greater liberties and try to police every thought and action in a sort of spinach inquisition, and they’re very busy and visible, but they’re just a few in the grand scheme of things and they usually vote the right way, so what the hell? Just don’t argue with them. It isn’t worth it.

It’s very much like arguing with a Trump voter, who they closely resemble.

Everybody wants to be the Judge.  Even those of us who don’t believe in a Final Arbiter.