September 17, 2015 § Leave a comment
The interview I gave to TJ Redig for his awesome and insightful Scrivener Soapbox podcast is now up on his site and iTunes! Click here to listen: we talk Slash, my writing process, and serialization, while also digressing to N.W.A. and Dragonlance, which is a pretty unique pair of enthusiasms, I guess.
And even if you’ve already tired of hearing me talk about myself and my work due to years of acquaintance, I recommend subscribing to the show and checking out his other episodes. In addition to being a great way to find new indie authors, they are always filled with useful insights into the world of writing and self-publishing that are sure to help writers with their own work.
September 13, 2015 § 1 Comment
Hello Internet. Sorry it has been a while since the last time I posted saying I was sorry it has been a while since the last time I posted. It has been a hectic couple of months, as my wife and I moved into a new apartment while preparing for our first baby, which is due mid-October. I have been able to keep up writing on a couple of new novel-sized projects, but as usual, my internet writing has been pushed towards the back burner.
That should be changing soon, though, as I just cut back to part time at work in order to be a part-time homemaker once the baby comes. Hopefully this means that I’ll be able to do a bit more of the sort of here-and-there, short attention span writing that the internet requires. So stay tuned to the blog, and my twitter; worst-case, I’ll just start posting baby photos to keep my presence up.
(Here is a photo of my non-human babies, Louise (top) and Murray, to ease you all into the cuteness)
I was also recently interviewed by TJ Redig for his Scrivener’s Soapbox podcast. The episode should be up by the end of September, but in the mean time, you should check out some of the older ones (Mark Rapacz and T.A. Wardrope were recently featured, for example).
Lastly, I’m able to go part-time, because my wife got a full-time position teaching at St. Kate’s this year! She’s got a cool new website you should check out here, and if you’re a Harry Potter fan or scholar, you can read her essay “Doubting Dumbledore”, in the awesome collection A Wizard of Their Age, available from SUNY press. I’m so proud of her and excited for this next chapter in our lives!
August 5, 2015 § Leave a comment
Foreigners (Waeguk) by Mark Rapacz is not the sort of book we normally talk about on this blog. While there are parts of it that are funny—in a nervous, laugh at the gallows sort of way—it is mostly as serious as a knife in the gut. But Mark is a writer who I have admired for many years and whose diverse work I always enjoy, so when New Pulp Press offered me a review copy of his latest novel, I jumped at the chance, regardless of how far it was out of The Oldest Jokes in the World normal purview.
Foreigners (Waeguk) is a gritty crime novel set in South Korea, following the Ben, a young American, as he realizes again and again he’s deeper into the underworld of Korean crime than his naive pride initially let him believe. At the start of the novel, he’s an English teacher by day as the criminal family he works for launders money through a school; by night, he thinks of himself as a prop: just a big Midwestern piece of muscle, threatening because of his size and status as a foreigner. But by the end of the novel, he becomes intimate not just with the reality of his life of crime, but violence on the global scale of empires.
There is plenty of great action in the novel—gruesome gunplay and hard-boiled hand-to-hand combat—but it is intercut with insightful and gorgeous writing. Ben is a great protagonist and great narrator, both sensitive and full of rage, the product of having to fight for himself as an out of the closet teen in a conservative farm town. Ben’s anger, often exacerbated by alcohol, helps drive the plot, but just as often, it fuels a passage of scorching, brutal insight into the injustices of our world: “I was stealing its children, culturally, ceaselessly, daily, so they could grow up and speak impeccable English and get good jobs and Samsung or Hyundai or LG or, better yet, leave the country and go to a pristine American university and maybe come back to continue to build the country their parents fought and died for, the little tip of this little peninsula that they claimed for themselves, had defended for centuries from the Chinese and the Japanese, and when it looked like they were truly fucked, they had these Americans—these GIs—these waeguks who flew in and fought with them and then did not leave.”
Like Ben and the rest of the complex characters in the cast, the novel is fueled in equal measure by the urge to empathize and the urge to destroy. As such, Foreigners (Waeguk) is an unsettling but satisfying read, well worth your time. Get it here. And if you need a laugh after, check out Mark’s hilarious L’Toilettes d’ Alcatraz, a must for any modern coffee table.
July 20, 2015 § Leave a comment
If you’re in Minnesota at the start of August, you should come help me celebrate the release of two new masterpieces literary pulp: Todd Wardrope’s sci-fi epic Arcadian Gates and Mark Rapacz’s gritty international noir Foreigners (Waeguk). In addition, both myself and the incomparable David Oppegaard will be reading from recently or soon to be published work.
Given the location, I wish I had some of the fantasy-infused stuff I’ve been working on recently, but it is a ways away from ready, so I will instead be reading from Slash. I’ll also be trying to sell through the last dozen or so sets I have of the serial zine editions of Slash. At just the lowest price ever, just $15 for all seven, you’ll be paying just over two dollars per hand-made, professionally edited, Indie-Reader Approved episode. If you’ve already got Slash, be sure to bring your book money anyways, because all the authors present will be bringing great work to sell and share.
I hope to see you there!
July 7, 2015 § Leave a comment
Got some great short stories that form a cohesive unit? A dozen flash fiction pieces that explore a theme? Or just one, gorgeous longer short story?
I hope so, because we’ve just opened our 2015 Possibilities Period at Red Bird Chapbooks! For the duration of July and August, we’ll be accepting collections of fiction, poetry, CNF, and everything in between, so send us your best. You can find the full guidelines here.
Didn’t think chapbooks were for fiction? We’ve been trying to combat that misconception for years, and I think we’re finally getting some traction. When I started with Red Bird, we had a handful of brave authors sending their manuscripts, while last year there were nearly a hundred fiction chapbooks to choose from, and even with Nancy Hedin joining the team, I felt like there was more good work in the pool than we were able to choose for publication. Though I know how awful it feels to hear that as a writer, it is a great problem to have as an editor! We’re publishing six incredible and diverse collections of fiction in 2015, whereas we didn’t even have six submissions that first year.
This year we’ve added on Beth Mayer for a third fiction editor, so we will be publishing nine fiction chapbooks in 2016! That said, after impressing a lot of folks from all over the country with our lovely, handmade books at AWP this past spring, we are expecting even more great work will come pouring in this year, so make sure to send your best stuff.
Interested in knowing more? Here’s an interview I gave to Bonnie ZoBell at Everyday Fiction a few years ago, detailing what I’m looking for in a chapbook and what makes them such a great format for a fiction writer.
June 26, 2015 § Leave a comment
It’s a story set in the distant future about dropping mile-long pipes into gaseous planets to get high off huffing the layers of their atmospheres. Plus, it’s beautifully produced and acted, so you don’t even need to read. And it’s free! So just click the picture below, press play, and relax. And when you’re done, check out the rest of Red Shift’s shows this season. They’re all great and really diverse.
And if you’re here because you listened to “The Pipe Cleaner” and think you might be interested in checking out some more of my work, you should try Slash. It’s a metafictional erotic thriller / comedic murder mystery / romantic slasher about fan fiction and murders on the set of a TV show. IndieReader named it a Top Book of 2014, and you can get it at Amazon (by clicking here) for real cheap. Or you can click over the www.slashserial.com for information on how to get it for other devices or in physical reality.
June 20, 2015 § Leave a comment
Hey guys—sorry it has been a while since I’ve been on here. I am deep into a new project that is spiraling out of control in a good way. It seems like it will be a big fat novel, at the very least, or maybe a trilogy… So it might be a while before it is in any sort of readable shape. Which isn’t to say I won’t have any new work soon. I am sending out a short story right now, and I hope to start a new one, as well as some more humor pieces for AutoAnatta, as soon as things start to feel stagnant in the novel.
What I’m most excited about getting out to you, though, is a sci-fi piece I wrote for the Red Shift Podcast that should be finished later this year. Red Shift is a new show from the Fancy Pants Gangsters podcasting network, featuring pulpy sci-fi and horror stories that harken back to a classic age of radio dramas while bringing a fresh and modern zest to the genre.
Every episode so far has not just been well-written, but well-acted and –produced, so I can’t wait to see what the Pants Commander and his team put together for the episode I wrote. You don’t have to wait for mine, though—why not head over to their site right now (or like them on Facebook) and check out the four great episodes that are already up? There are devastating explorations of morality set in the distant future as well as chilling tales of horror set in our own time. For fans of the metafictional madness of Slash, though, Drew Chial’s “The Narrator” will probably be a great place to start; while it delves deep into theories about the nature of story through some metafictional magic, the great acting and dialogue keep the characters feeling real and important throughout, so the conclusion works as a revelation on many levels.
And if you feel at all inspired after listening to a few, you should whip up a quick sci-fi script of your own, because they have an open call for submissions for one last special episode to cap off this first season. It is due on June 26th, though, so you’d better get typing…
I really don’t think there is anything more luxurious than having someone tell you a story—and it’s free! So go ahead and get with Redshift on Facebook, their site, and/or on iTunes, so you’ll be all caught up and ready for when “The Pipe Cleaner of Bilge-Hob IV” hits the airwaves later this year.