Yes, it is true. Jeremy C Shipp, the Bram Stoker Award-nominated American novelist and short-story writer, the incredibly-talented author of great works such as Vacation, Cursed and Fungus of the Heart, was so sweet and so kind that he actually agreed to have an interview with yours truly! Did I mention that his work has been published in over 60 magazines so far?
He’s original. He’s daring. He’s Smart. And he’s funny, too. I hope you enjoy the read!
Was there a certain point in your life when you decided to become an author?
When I was a baby, I enjoyed carrying around pens, so perhaps I wanted to be an author even back then. Although, to be honest, I don’t remember much about my aspirations and dreams at that point in my life. Mostly I just remember reaching for shiny things. I do know that when I was in fourth grade, I wrote my first very long short story. That was the first time I remember thinking how fun it would be to become a writer.
When and where do you prefer to write?
I prefer to write in the future, because it’s much easier than writing in the present. Seriously though, I prefer writing at night in my office, surrounded by dancing shadows and inebriated goblins and weeping clowns.
Of all the books/stories you have written so far, which one is your favorite? And why?
I don’t know if I can choose one favorite, but I might be able to choose two. I really like my books Cursed and Attic Clowns. This has more to do with certain characters than anything else. I love Cicely from Cursed and Globcow from Attic Clowns. Cicely is wacky and fun and strong, and Globcow is weird and evil and good-hearted. They’re the sort of people (or demons) I’d like to hang out with.
Do you consider yourself to be a controversial writer? And if that’s the case, what makes you so?
I’m a controversial writer in the sense that within my stories, I sometimes explore controversial ideas and topics. Because of this, I receive hate mail from time to time. But so far my books haven’t started any revolutions or wars.
Why do you write? And what inspires you to write?
I write because if I didn’t my organs would implode and I’d become a black hole that would suck up my entire house, including my spork collection. And since I don’t want to lose that spork collection, I keep writing. But in all seriousness, writing is a big part of how I cope with and connect with reality. I’m inspired by the terrible and wonderful things that happen to me and to people in the world.
As an author, how do you think a controversial lifestyle affects a writer’s readership?
I’m sure living a controversial lifestyle would attract certain people. A controversial lifestyle can be fascinating and sexy and provocative. But honestly, I know little of such things, because I’m a dork. The most exciting part of my day is hanging out in the library next to a stone gargoyle.
What about marketability? Do you think about it as you are writing?
I don’t think about marketability as I’m writing, but I do work hard to market my books after they’re published. I give away free cookies and everything.
Does gender have a definition?
I see gender as socially constructed roles, behaviors, and attributes that are deemed appropriate for certain people. Some people think of gender in terms of male and female, but there are all sorts of genders in the world. For example, the Bugis people in South Sulawesi have five genders in their society.
From your experience, does an author’s gender influence the way they are perceived by readers?
A writer’s gender can definitely create certain expectations in some readers. A reader might think a man writes about certain things and a woman writes about certain other things. But I like authors who write outside of the box, and that includes the gender box. Writing can be a way to defy gender roles, and this can cause confusion or anger or enlightenment.
Where do you put society in the US on the scale of prudishness?
It’s such a mixed bag here. To be honest, I couldn’t even rank myself on the scale of prudishness. In some ways, I’m very liberal and free-spirited, and in other ways I’m quite ascetic and square.
What do you think of the effect of our modern lifestyle on the traditional gender roles?
The way I see it, traditional gender roles have been challenged and, in some ways, cast off by many people around the world. There are many ways to be. Personally, I don’t see myself as a purely masculine being. I embrace masculine and feminine qualities within myself, and most people don’t seem to look down on me for that.
How does being an author affect your ability to observe the ills of society?
I don’t have any special observational skills, but I do tend to people watch wherever I go. I try to educate myself about what’s happening in the world, both good and bad. All of this fuels my writing.
If there is one piece of advice that you would share with aspiring authors, what would it be?
Write every day, even if you only write a sentence. It’s too easy to think that you’ll write your great novel later; that you’ll have time later; that you need to do this or that before you begin. Just write and don’t let anyone’s negativity brainwash you into stopping. Brainwashing, bad. Brainstorming, good.