Writer of the bizarre and the fantastic,
author Jeremy Shipp takes us into a world that is both provocative and entertaining. His imagination seems to have no
bounds and we are enthralled with the stories he weaves for us. And the funny thing is, his stories not only entertain,
they make us think. So, grab a cup of your favorite brew, sit back and relax, and read our interview with this prolific
author of the strange.
Oh, and I suppose you are wondering why there are so many garden gnomes pictured on this page....
yes, well.. didn't you know they were fabulous little creatures? Jeremy loves and collects them. Although
these are not his gnomes, I'm sure they are related somehow to those garden gnomes he knows! Seriously....... he
Tell us a little about Bizarro fiction. What is it?
Bizarro is the genre of the weird. Akin to
the cult section of the video store. Bizarros tend to create stories that are equally entertaining and thought-provoking.
influenced you to write in this genre?
I never set out to write Bizarro fiction, or horror, or dark fantasy. But when
writing, I open my heart, and these are the stories that gush out. I suppose my work is strange because I’m strange.
And I’ve always been strange. As a kid, I loved films like The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and Return to Oz. And
I would often play odd games of pretend with my brothers. Some of our recurring characters included a lucky wrester and his
Neanderthal minions, a floating mouth that could eat people and send them to other dimensions, and death.
When did you start creating these incredibly
strange and incredibly likable stories?
In 4th grade, I wrote my first short story. It was about a green alien
who ate anything and everything, and who enjoyed opera. Then, when I was 13, I wrote my first novel, and I’ve been
writing about one a year ever since. Over the years, my stories have grown stranger and (hopefully) more likable.
|A Garden Gnome
From what I've read you don't
just travel down the rabbit hole, you live in the rabbit hole... how
much does your environment influence what you write?
When I was a child, I lived in a magical world where anything could
happen. Then, when I was a teenager, I lived in a bleak world filled with unspeakable horrors. Now, I lived in a world filled
with unspeakable horrors and magic, where anything can happen. I choose to surround myself with weird people, weird creatures,
animals, ghosts, magic, and the spirits of nature. I would classify myself as an animistic anarcho-tribalist, and my worldview
influences my environment, and my environment influences my worldview, and both influence my writing.
You are a prolific writer, are you an avid
reader? Who are your favorite authors?
I tend to spend more time writing than I do reading, but I still read
every day. I love reading, and reading loves me. Some of my favorite authors are Arundhati Roy, Piers Anthony, Kurt
Vonnegut, Brett Easton Ellis, Barbara Kingsolver, Neil Gaiman, Franny Billingsley, Amy Hempel, Aimee Bender, George Orwell,
Haruki Murakami, Chuck Palahniuk, Anthony Burgess, CS Lewis, Douglas Adams, Francesca Lia Block, Roald Dahl.
I like asking this question because everybody has a different answer
or a different version of the same answer: Do you discover your characters, or do they discover you? Are they
all in your head vying for attention, wanting to tell their story?
When I first start writing a story, my characters
are strangers to me. Then, they become acquaintances. Then, friends. In truth, my characters often feel quite independent
from me. Sometimes they speak or behave in a way that surprises me. This, I like.
How much time do you dedicate to writing,
and with a family, how do you find the time?
I try to write at least a few hours a day. But ultimately, family is
the most important part of my life. I’ll always prioritize time with my family first. My wife and I make sure to give
each other a couple hours of undivided attention every day. I suppose I can easily make time for writing and for family
because I rarely watch TV, and I’m a fan of simple, minimalist living.
Do you do all your marketing, and
how much time do you dedicate to that?
I spend at least an hour a day working on interviews, or chatting with my readers,
or creating contests, etc. I do work hard to share my work with the world. But I’m not the one responsible for whatever
success I’m blessed with. In a sense, I have a marketing team made up of numerous dedicated fans who help spread the
word about my books and stories on a daily basis. I’m a cult author, and I couldn’t be one without my readers.
What has been
your best experience and your worse experience as a writer?
On the publishing side, my best experience was the publication of my
debut novel, Vacation. This was a deep-seated dream come true for me.
On the writing side, my best experience is always the process of writing.
For instance, I had a blast writing Cursed. The characters were ideal imaginary friends.
On the communal side, I love speaking with my fans. I love when readers tell me that one of my books
touched their heart.
As far as worst experiences go, I don’t
really like getting hate mail. Hate isn’t very nice.
How has your writing evolved over the years?
out trying to write like my childhood literary heroes. HG Wells, Alexandre Dumas, Jules Verne. I tried, and I failed. Over
time, I discovered my strengths and weaknesses. I experimented, and eventually I found my own unique, authentic voice and
style. Also, my work seems to have grown stranger in recent years. I suppose this is due to the fact that I’m less
fearful than I used to be. I embrace the stories that exist inside me, and I don’t censor them or reshape them.
Was it a long
and winding road to publication for you, or did you find it fairly smooth?
I started sending out my work to publishers
when I was 18, and it wasn’t long before my first acceptance letter. But this was only due to the fact that I wrote
for 6 years before I even tried getting published. I wrote many books and many, many short stories that have never been published,
and never will be.
What advice would you give to aspiring
Don’t write what you think you should write. Write what you want to write. Because if you’re
passionate about your work, your readers are more likely to feel the same way. Don’t worry about rejection letters.
Writers are professional failures, and the more you fail, the more you’ll succeed. Also, go to duotrope.com and ralan.com
for submission guidelines, and follow these guidelines exactly.
Rarely is there a writer who writes simply for publication.
Publication is the reward. Why do you write?
I love writing. The process is magical, frustrating,
therapeutic, empowering. Writing helps me to cope with the horrors of civilization, and it helps me to stay hopeful. In
addition to all this, I love sharing my work with others. I know stories have the power to affect people in positive or
negative ways, so I take my role as storyteller very seriously. I do what I can to make the world a better place, even in
the smallest of ways.
If you never get published again, would you
still write as much?
I’ll always write. Even if I were trapped in a dimension filled only with Vaudevillian manatee
key chains, I would still write as much as I do now. In fact, I’d probably write more, to battle the loneliness. And
in our reality, if no one ever wanted to publish my work again, I would still give out my books. And if no one wanted to
read them, I’d feed them to my pet fire sprite, and keep on writing.
is your intense fascination with gnomes? How did that come about?
I’m not sure when I started loving
gnomes. Maybe I’ve always loved them. Maybe I was a gnome in a past life. I suppose my affinity for gnomes stems from
my affinity for nature. Gnomes live in hunter gatherer-based eco-villages. While civilized humans work to fulfill the needs
of their social systems, the gnomic social systems work to fulfill the needs of the gnomes. I like this.
What's next for Jeremy Shipp?
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on a new novel
called Bridge, a story collection called Fungus of the Heart, a comic series, and a short film. I’m also hoping to
put on a coconut monkey-based musical in my backyard based on the TV show, Out of This World.
Where can readers find your work? Where
can they buy your books?
Readers can learn more about me and my work in the following online worlds:
Thank you Jeremy for taking the time to answer
these questions. You're the kind of author who inspires others to write. You have a tremendous
imagination and we are lucky to have you as part of the literary world.