Hey, yo, foolz. Writer/reader/bizarro fiction enthusiast Zé Burns interviewed me for his blog. We talk about my writing style/philosophy, “honesty” in writing, what I have coming down the pike, and that place in France where the naked ladies dance. Check it out maybe:
Terror Mannequin by Douglas Hackle is the reason why I read bizarro fiction, a blend of humor and the preposterous assembled in the perfect ratio. It’s one of those stories that makes you ask: “How did he ever come up with that?”
When I began reading, I thought the book seemed predictable. How wrong I was. Hackle launched me into his insane world where each paragraph was a startling revelation. Terror Mannequin lies on the nutso-bananas side of the weirdness spectrum, yet it is immensely readable. His writing style is neither too colloquial nor overblown, hitting a happy medium.
It is the story of Glont Lamont, his two “nephews,” and one crummy Halloween night. These nephews, in fact, are ancient beings, loathed by the town of Selohssa (spell that backwards). Both Tom Two (perpetually two years old) and the Membrane (name self-explanatory) are…
Awwww, YEAH! (I feel that since I am submitting this for Dead Head Reviews, I need to tell you that I didn’t just throw an “Awww, yeah” out there for nothing – it is from the book.)
Look, I loved this book, and if I am honest, it was kinda unexpected. I don’t get a lot of laughs out of the stuff I read, but this book was absolutely laugh-out-loud hilarious. I would have called it a combo horror/bizarro going in. I have heard it referred to as absurdist; but for me, while it is absurd as hell and chock full of horror, it was a comedy. I found myself smiling throughout and laughing often, and you can ask my friends – I don’t smile a lot. Well, I don’t have friends either, but how else am I supposed to read all these books? That’s…
‘Sup, y’all? Hey, have you picked up a copy of my new novel, TERROR MANNEQUIN, yet? No? Well, if you’re on the fence about getting it, maybe one of the reviews cited and linked below can persuade you to drop down to the side of the fence that’s a lot more fun than the other.
Click image to go the book’s Amazon page.
Livius Nedin, who has interviewed the likes of Mark Z. Danielewski and David Duchovny (yeah, as in Mulder!), and guest host Frank Edler got together and reviewed TERROR MANNEQUIN for the 467th episode of Booked. Podcast:
“Batshit craziness!…Genuinely funny in the most ridiculous way. I really enjoyed [TERROR MANNEQUIN], and I honestly think that if you’ve never read a bizarro book, this might be the one you should grab.” –Livius Nedin, host of Booked. Podcast.
BookTuber Kevin Whitten, aka “Well Read Beard,” gave TERROR MANNEQUIN 5 stars, calling it “laugh-out-loud hilarious” and a great pallet cleanser for any horror fans who might occasionally find themselves all “horror-ed” out. Check out his video review of the book and maybe subscribe to his YT channel:
“To say that Terror Mannequin is a comedy would be to downplay the nihilistic tragedy of it all. To call it a satire of office culture—and Thomas Ligotti’s weird tales of same—is to minimize the often-gruesome horror at play…Yet, for all that bizarro fiction is often not my thing—and Terror Mannequin is often no exception—there are moments that are genuinely brilliant.” –From Orrin Grey’s review of TERROR MANNEQUIN at Signal Horizon:
“Hackle isn’t afraid to get you clutching your seat with fear only to have you giggling in the next sentence, and vice versa. And because what you’re reading is so unapologetically peculiar, none of it feels out of place…In all, Terror Mannequin was an unexpected treat. Well worth a look (only don’t look at the jack-in-the-box…)” –From Ben Walker’s review of TERROR MANNEQUIN at Kendall Reviews:
“…Terror Mannequin is weird, bizarre, humorous and very often horrifying, and despite the plot going to some incredibly strange and uncomfortable places, I enjoyed it immensely…All of the key elements of the [bizarro] subgenre are to be found within Terror Mannequin, but Hackle deploys them in a deft and sure manner, building up the weird and horrific elements slowly but surely until it reaches a gore-stained and near-incomprehensible crescendo that you can’t escape – and don’t want to regardless – because of just how damn good it is.” Click on the link for the full review. –From Adam Selby-Martin’s review of TERROR MANNEQUIN at The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Reviewer:
The Four Gentlemen of the Apocalypse, the first release from Strange Edge Publications, is now available for purchase on Amazon. This ebook collects four novelettes written by Dustin Reade, G Arthur Brown, S.T. Cartledge, and yours truly. My contribution is a story called “The Ballad of TERROR TINY TIM.” At just under 15,000 words, TERROR TINY TIM straddles the line between novelette and novella; it’s the longest piece of fiction I’ve had published to date, and sort of marks my long-form debut, if you will. [Will you?] Here’s the synopsis for TERROR TINY TIM included on the Amazon page:
In an absurd world where the letter “r” has yet to be discovered, something evil is said to lurk behind a locked door in a suburban sex dungeon where a kidnapped father and an incestuous bigamist named You-Don’t-Have-To-Be-Lonely-At-Farmers-Only-Dot-Com find themselves imprisoned for life.
If I had to further describe the novelette, I might say it’s sort of an absurdly comedic bizarro nightmare about the responsibilities of parenthood. Something like that. Also, as Danger Slater put it, “The Ballad of TERROR TINY TIM is like the Bad News Bears meets…Deliverance meets…A Christmas Carol? I don’t even know.” And other folks, namely Brian Allen Carr, Matthew Revert, and Jason Wayne Allen, had some nice things to say about the collection as a whole too.
As the popularity of bizarro fiction continues to grow, so does the number of talented people working in the genre. For that reason, I am especially honored to have my work featured in the newest Bizarro Starter Kit, which is now available for purchase on Amazon.
I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again here: I can think of a whole slew of writers who might have deserved my spot in this collection more than I did. In fact, after I was informed late last year that I’d been selected for inclusion in the book, part of me didn’t believe it was true. Part of me thought it was a cruel joke, that one day I’d answer a knock at my front door to discover the entire bizarro fiction community—perhaps led by Carlton Mellick III, Rose O’Keefe, and Bradley Sands—standing out on my front lawn laughing, taunting, jeering, and pointing at me. “Hahaha! Did you really think you were actually going to be included in a Bizarro Starter Kit, Douglas??” someone would spit-shout. “Hahaha! What a fool you are, Douglas! Time to die, asshole!!” they’d chant. Then the bloodthirsty mob would beat me down to a pulpy pile of blood and guts and bone and skin and shit and chyme and chyle and tears.
But that didn’t happen! Yay, yo!
Anyway, here’s from the back cover:
“There’s a new genre rising from the underground. Its name: BIZARRO. For years, readers have been asking for a category of fiction dedicated to the weird, crazy, cult side of storytelling that has become a staple in the film industry (with directors such as David Lynch, Takashi Miike, Tim Burton, and Lloyd Kaufman) but has been largely ignored in the literary world, until now. The Bizarro Starter Kit features short novels and story collections by ten of the leading authors in the bizarro genre: Brian Allen Carr, Violet LeVoit, David W. Barbee, Shane McKenzie, J. David Osborne, Kirsten Alene, Robert Devereaux, Douglas Hackle, Eric Hendrixson, and Nick Antosca.”
My contribution to the Kit consists of two stories from my collection, Clown Tear Junkies, along with three new stories titled “The Many Bad Habits of My Main Man Klin-Klat, a.k.a. the Tap Dance Kid,” “TERROR SARDINES in TERROR SAUCE,” and “The Bored Ouija Board.” Check it out!
Last month, I took an Amtrak train from Cleveland, Ohio to Portland, Oregon to attend BizarroCon 2014. In case you’re not in the know, BizarroCon is an annual gathering of bizarro writers, artists, editors, publishers, and fans. Held at the fanciful and haunted Edgefield hotel, it’s a four-day retreat that includes readings, panel discussions, writing workshops, parties, food, books, and beer.
I had a swell old time. Here are some highlights:
Highlight #1 – Finally meeting (in real life) the publisher and editor of my book, along with my other friends from Rooster Republic Press. It really is a fantastic thing when the digital friends inside your laptop become flesh and blood.
Highlight #2 – Meeting all sorts of other cool Bizarro folks, ranging from luminaries like Rose O’Keefe (Eraserhead Press publisher and friendly host extraordinaire) and many leading authors in the genre, to up-and-coming writers and new fans alike. I could do a bunch of name dropping here, but just go to this link if you want to know who all was there.
Highlight #3 – Accidently (?) spilling my beer all over Kevin Donihe a whole ten seconds after I met the dude.
Highlight #4 – My first live reading EVAH! I read three stories from Clown Tear Junkies. Fortunately for me, I was drunk, a little slaphappy, and suffering from sleep deprivation, or else I might’ve been a little nervous.
Highlight #5 – Checking out other authors’ readings, among them Bradley Sands, MP Johnson, Kevin Donihe, Jeff Burk, and Cody Goodfellow. (But I missed A LOT of others. It’s impossible to get to all the readings. But If I make it out there again, I plan on attending way more than I did this first time.)
Highlight #6 – Attending a workshop on writing dialogue with Brian Allen Carr. Dude knows his shit. And I hadn’t done any writing workshops since college, so this was cool.
Highlight #7 – Drinking Bizarro Beer! Eraserhead Press and friends—namely Rose O’Keefe, Jeff Burk, Garrett Cook, and Jason Rizos—homebrewed craft beers named after recent bizarro book releases. These microbrews were served on tap at Eraserhead Press’s 15-year anniversary party on Friday night of the con.
Highlight #8) Attending the Wonderland Awards Banquet. On Saturday night of the Con, a tasty fajita buffet was served in the banquet hall of Edgefield Manor prior to the announcement of the winners of the Wonderland Book Awards for Best Bizarro Collection and Best Bizarro Novel of 2013. My nominated collection, Clown Tear Junkies, did not win. However, a very cool moment occurred when Cody Goodfellow (last year’s winner in the collection category) gave a brief speech about what makes a good fiction collection before he announced the five nominees. There’s something special about having a person who, in all truth, is probably like 12,672 times smarter than yourself announce your name and the title of your book in front of a crowded banquet hall of likeminded crazy people, causing said crowd to erupt in genuine hoots, hollers, and applause. It was all just sort of wonderful and surreal, regardless of who took home the prizes. Alright, my text for Highlight #8 has officially gotten too long. In conclusion, congrats again to the winners: Brian Allen Carr (Best Novel – Motherfucking Sharks) and Garret Cook (Best Collection – Time Pimp).
Highlight #9 – Participating in the Ultimate Bizarro Showdown! Immediately following the Wonderland Awards Banquet was the Ultimate Bizarro Showdown, wherein contestants are given three minutes to perform a bizarro skit of their own design and an additional three minutes to perform if the “drunk and impatient” crowd deems their efforts worthy. This year, if your act went over the six minute marker, you were cattle-prodded (no joke) by host Michael Allen Rose. I DID NOT sign up to participate in this event; nay, I would have been perfectly content to be a passive member of the audience and entertained by those who did sign up. But somehow I let fuckin’ Gary Arthur Brown talk me into helping him out with his skit. Just when he managed to get me up onstage in front of millions of people (okay, more like a hundred), Laura Lee Bahr (who was one of the judges) ran out to tell us that I wasn’t allowed to be up there. For a few seconds there I really thought I was in trouble. Then suddenly I found myself surrounded by a chorus of people—Laura included—singing “Round and Round” by Ratt. Joke’s on me.
Highlight #10 – At Eraserhead Press’s anniversary party, Rose O’Keefe announced the authors to be featured in the newest Bizarro Starter Kit (that would be the Red one, if you’re keeping track of the colors) due out in March 2015. I’m honored and humbled to report that I was one of the ten authors selected. I can probably think of at least two dozen other writers I might have picked to fill that slot instead of me, but the editorial panel that made the decision apparently likes my flavor of bizarro and considers my work relevant enough for inclusion. Needless to say, that just makes me want to fall out my chair and metamorphose into a wannabe-fetal, pre-Krull, post-Shia LaBeouf, ice road trucker-shaming, TERROR ANVIL from 1786!!!!!!!
In case your unfamiliar with them, the Wonderland Book Awards were created to honor the best bizarro fiction novel and collection of the year. Clown Tear Junkies made the final ballot for Best Bizarro Collection published in 2013. The other four nominees in the collection category are DangerRAMA by Danger Slater, Hammer Wives by Carlton Mellick III, Time Pimp by Garrett Cook, and Zombie Sharks with Metal Teeth by Stephen Graham Jones.
Many thanks to those who voted for my book and anyone who favorably reviewed and/or rated it during the year or else helped spread word about its existence in some other way. Congrats to the other nominees!