Douglas Hackle's Blog
December 5, 2014
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.
Art Graham, moi, and Etienne DeForest
Danger is not his middle name, it’s his first.
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.
Pictured here is none other than the “Baron of Bizarro” himself. Oh, Carlton Mellick III is in this picture too. (That was a joke. Get it?)
Highlight #3 – Accidently (?) spilling my beer all over Kevin Donihe a whole ten seconds after I met the dude.
I didn’t get a picture of the Donihe-Beer-Spill incident, but I think it sorta looked like this.
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.
Me reading in front of people for the first time.
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.)
Bradley Sands reading from his latest novel, Dodgeball High
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.
Didn’t get a pic of the workshop, but here is Brian Allen Carr and Gary Arthur Brown (who attended the workshop with me) later that day and deep in their cups
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).
Garrett Cook with his Wonderland Award for Time Pimp, Best Collection – 2013
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.
Gary, you two-foot-seven, libertarian, skinny muthafracker!
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!!!!!!!
November 7, 2014
The Case of the Already-Solved Case
Also, Clown Tear Junkies was recently reviewed over at Lurid Lit. Here's the link:
Lurid Lit Review of Clown Tear Junkies
Oh, and I'm taking a train out to Portland, Oregon next week to attend BizarroCon !
That's it for now. Stay cool, fool!!!
August 8, 2014
August 3, 2014
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!
Here is the official announcement: Wonderland Book Award – Final Ballot 2014
July 11, 2014
Damn, I haven’t posted anything here since October 2013, which was a month after Clown Tear Junkies was published. As such, this post is one of those time-to-update-my-sadly-neglected-blog type posts. So, without giving too much concern to form or good manners, I’m just going to dump a bunch of links and news here, all writing-related stuff that’s transpired since that time. If you follow me on Facebook, most of this will be old hat, but who knows? Maybe there’s an item or two you missed. Anyhow, whatever. It is what it ain’t. Here goes:
Interviews & Related Stuff
· Nikki Howard interviewed me for her book review blog, now doing business as Horror After Dark: http://www.horrorafterdark.com/2013/12/author-interview-douglas-hackle/
· I was invited to be a featured author for the “Ask the Author” Q&A segment on the Bizarro Fiction Facebook group. Here is the interview in its entirety transposed to my blog on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/5926441-ask-the-author—with-douglas-hackle
· Last but not least, author/blogger/crazyman Frank Edler invited me to breakdown the music video for Ratt’s 80’s rock anthem “Round and Round” on the his blog—Books, Beer and BLOGshit. WTF?!? http://booksbeerblogshit.blogspot.com/2013/12/raising-hackles.html
Recently Published Short Stories
· My short story “The Riverbed: Rated Z” was published in Tall Tales with Short Cocks Vol. 4 (Rooster Republic Press – December 2013) http://www.amazon.com/Tall-Tales-Short-Cocks-Vol-ebook/dp/B00HCK3P30
· In February 2014, my short story “CLASSIC” was published online at Paragraph Line, “a journal of absurdist and outsider fiction, culture blogging, and cough syrup abuse instructional videos,”as described by founding editor/author/madman Jon Konrath. http://www.paragraphline.com/2014/02/21/classic-by-douglas-hackle/
· My short story “Trapdoor People or: The Birthsong of the Trapdoor Reborn” was published in Fireside Popsicles (April 2014 – Edited by Sheila Hall and M.C. O’Neill), the debut anthology from indie publishing newcomer Fireside Press. http://www.amazon.com/Fireside-Popsicles-Twisted-Tales-Told-ebook/dp/B00JM13SN4
· My short story “TERROR THING” will appear in the forthcoming Vertigo Schisms anthology from Surreal Grotesque, edited by Jeremy Maddux and due out in a month or two I believe. This yarn features the return of Courtney Cute, whom some of you may recall from my story “Give Courtney Cute Anything She Wants” in Clown Tear Junkies.
· I just recently finished writing my first novella—YAY me!! When will it be available for public consumption? What publisher, if any, will help bring it to the masses? I don’t have the answers to these questions at the moment, so stay tuned for updates.
· Lastly, Clown Tear Junkies made the preliminary ballot for the Wonderland Award for Best Bizarro Collection. To make the final ballot and become an official nominee for the award, the book must survive the first round of voting, which is taking place as I type these words (voting ends July 31st). Now, it’s against the rules for preliminary nominated authors and their publishers to solicit or campaign for votes. However, I can point you to the web page on Bizarro Central that lists all the prelim nominees and instructs you on how to vote for Best Bizarro Collection and Novel for 2013 if you are so inclined. At the very least, check out the list if only to see many of the cool bizarro titles that came out last year (so that you can go buy and read them ALL or die a thousand agonizing deaths!!) Here’s the link:
March 17, 2014
Ask the Author with Douglas Hackle - March 2014
Douglas Hackle, thank you for agreeing to be this month’s Ask the Author. Firstly, could you tell us a little about yourself before we get started…
I was born with one extra finger and two extra toes (yeah, for real—it’s called polydactylism.) I live outside of Cleveland, Ohio with my wife and seven-year-old son. After graduating from college many moons ago with a B.A. in English Literature, I obtained a writing-related cubicle job where I am tasked to produce a certain manner of business-related copy. I’ve been there ever since. My life is boring and often tedious. I credit boredom and tedium as being the extremely combustible fuels that allow me to write the kind of stories I write. My first published book, Clown Tear Junkies, is a collection of my absurdist/bizarro short stories.
The book questions
Clown Tear Junkies was the shit. Any chance of a future collection of similarly demented work?
Thanks. Yes, absolutely. At present I’m working on my first novella. For months I struggled even to begin writing the damn thing. I broke my writer’s block just a few weeks ago. I now have a prologue, five chapters, and a rough outline. But, yes, given the opportunity, I could sit around all day long eating bonbons while writing batshit insane short stories and flash fiction. So in other words, yes, expect more short fiction collections from me in the future.
How did you land on the title Clown Tear Junkies?
When my publisher and I were brainstorming for a title, he suggested including a reference to “clown tears” because several of the stories in the collection mention clown tears. Within these stories, clown tears function as a potent, addictive psychotropic substance that is often used to lace other street drugs. But aside from sharing that quirky detail, the stories are not connected. Anyhow, after tossing around a number of titles containing “clown tears”—Bottled Clown Tears and Clown Tear Junkies Anonymous were both contenders there for a minute—we agreed on Clown Tear Junkies. The rest, as they say, is hysterectomy.
How long did it take to write Clown Tear Junkies and where did the idea come from?
Hard to say exactly, because I didn’t write all the stories back to back knowing they would be anthologized eventually, and some of the stories were originally published elsewhere. Also, at one point I revised my “finished draft,” removing a few of the stories that didn’t fit that well stylistically with the rest and replacing them with new stories. I’ll guestimate that the whole thing took about seven or eight months to write.
As for the second part of the question, I assume you’re referring to the clown tears idea. I think I first wrote about clown tears used as an addictive street drug either in “The Scream, My Dog” or “The Perfect Popcorn: A Recipe (Or Confessions of a Lady-in-Waiting),” both of which are included in Clown Tear Junkies. I don’t recall exactly how or when the idea came to me. Regardless, I think the idea of clown tears figures as an appropriate symbol for the overall spirit of the book, as most of these stories mix and mash the absurdly tragic with the absurdly comical. Tears–be they shed by a clown or anyone else—can be tears of sadness or tears of joy.
Have you ever used anything other than a computer to write (stories)?
Yes. Notebooks, legal pads, loose printer paper, etc. Any writing I do on my lunch breaks at work is done longhand on paper. Once while riding in a car as a passenger, I scribbled out part of a story on a pad of Post-it notes for lack of anything else to write on.
Who took the photo of Clown Tear Junkies and did you do multiple shots?
Amy Seymour is the photographer who took that photo. My publisher, Etienne DeForest, dressed up as a clown, jumped in that pool, and nearly drowned for the cause. Yes, they took multiple shots in the pool. Etienne, Art Graham (EIC at Rooster Republic Press), and I all agreed it was the best shot.
Who are the writers that made you who you are today?
There are many, but here are a few: Shel Silverstein, Dr. Seuss, Jorge Luis Borges, Franz Kafka, Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Clive Barker, Stephen King, Ernest Hemingway, and Herman Melville.
When did you know you were a writer?
I wrote, illustrated, and bound (with staples) my own books when I was a kid, and I did my first horrible imitations of Poe and Lovecraft when I was in middle school. (Those Poe and Lovecraft apings were so bad that someone should kill me for writing them—seriously.) But I don’t think I considered myself a “writer” per se until I participated in a fiction workshop in college. After doing writing exercises for the first few weeks, each of us was assigned to write a short story for critique by the group. My story was one of the last stories to be discussed. During the discussion, this one girl gushed about the story, said it was the first instance of “real writing” to occur in our workshop of about a fifteen students. That girl was a complete idiot, and that story sucked a big, fat, blue dick. It was an abysmal imitation of Kafka, so bad that I truly deserve to die for writing it. But that’s not the point. The point is that the girl’s praise made me feel really good. I guess it was around this time I began to consider myself a writer. (And I totally should have tried to nail that girl, but I was painfully shy back then. I didn’t get over my shyness until my mid-twenties.)
If you were hired to write a novel-length spinoff for the Indiana Jones franchise, what would your pitch be (elevator pitch or extended pitch)? How many characters would you have Shia Lebeouf play?
The Golden Idol from the opening sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark becomes sentient and wields great telekinetic powers. It decapitates Short Round, lodges itself atop Short Round’s neck stump, effectively becoming Short Round’s new head. This Golden-Idol-With-Short-Round’s-Body ends up fighting Daniel-son from The Karate Kid in a karate tournament. In the last round of the tourney, Daniel-son attempts to take out the Golden-Idol-With-Short-Round’s-Body using the crane kick with which he so famously took out Johnny, but the kick fails this time. Daniel-son’s foot breaks in half when it connects with the hard, metallic head. Golden-Idol-With-Short-Round’s-Body wins the competition, thereby avenging Johnny’s defeat. Golden-Idol-With-Short-Round’s-Body and Johnny himself celebrate the victory by taking turns whipping Shia Lebeouf in the face with Indiana Jones’s whip, eventually flaying Shia’s face off and leaving nothing behind but a screaming, steaming, bloody skull that kinda looks like The Scream. Shia Lebeouf would not play any of these characters, not even himself. Elizabeth Shue would play him in the movie. Wait…are we talking about a novel? A movie? A puppet show? I’m confused. Whatever.
Eh, not much. Just thinking about how I totally should have tried to nail that chick from that fiction workshop. What a loser I am. I’ll punch myself in the face.
Will there ever be an exciting conclusion to Breaking Brony?
Now granted, I’m a happily married man. I’m just wax a little nostalgic and regretful when it comes to opportunities of life experiences I foolishly passed up in my youth. Damn, I really should have tried to bang that chick from the fiction workshop.
Fargle bashargle wop wop wop?
I mean, I could’ve at least asked her out once, ya know? What’s the worst that could’ve happened? She could’ve said no—big friggin’ deal. Yeah, I totally shoulda tried to tag that chick from the fiction workshop.
What does the D in Douglas stand for? Also, Hershel from The Walking Dead is hawt.
It stands for…Douglas? Yes, Hershel is hawt.
But so was that chick from my fiction workshop. I totes mcgotes shoulda tried to lay her.
Have you ever served anyone The Perfect Popcorn?
Ah, yes, the perfect popcorn. Unfortunately I really can’t discuss that because the recipe for “The Perfect Popcorn” is given at the end of my story “The Perfect Popcorn: A Recipe (Or Confessions of a Lady-in-Waiting),” which, as I already mentioned, is included in Clown Tear Junkies. So if you want to learn how to prepare and serve the perfect popcorn, go forth and read my book! I bet that girl from my fiction workshop liked popcorn. Damn, I totally should have at least made an attempt to jackhammer her. What a loser I am. I’m gonna punch myself in the fucking face now. Take this, Douglas…POW!!
What is the worst job you ever had?
I like the song “Round and Round” by Ratt, the final scene in Freddy vs. Jason where Freddy’s decapitated head winks at the camera, and little fucking else in this weary world. I still can’t believe I didn’t try to bed that girl from my fiction workshop. I should just cut myself up like the goth kids do as punishment for being a tiny little bitch!
One fact about you that even someone who knows you would be surprised to hear…?
I’ve never watched a complete episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Full House, ER, or CSI (any of the CSIs). Weird, huh? No? Well, whatever. Anyway, I bet that girl from my fiction workshop liked ER and The Fresh Prince. Man, what was I thinking? I totally shoulda tried to tap that, ya know? What a loser I am. I’ll punch myself in the goddamn face again.
Dafuq we drankin' tonizzite?
How the hell do you arrive at “tonizzite” from “tonight”? I’ll have what you’re having. But to answer the question, I’m drinking Heineken.
I wonder what that chick from my fiction workshop is drinkin’ tonizzite.
If Douglas Hackle was a delicious pie, what would his ingredients be?
What kind of a question is that? You people are gonna to make my head explode with these questions. Okay, let’s see. Hm. A delicious Douglas Hackle pie would contain meat from every endangered species on the planet, because fuck all those endangered species. If it it’s not human, it’s just a big bug is what I say!! Ya know what? Fuck humans too. Put some human meat in that delicious Douglas Hackle pie. Cuz we’re big bugs too!
Do you have a big blue dick?
No. It’s small and pink. Nevertheless, that does not excuse me for not overcoming my shyness long enough to make one attempt to use that small, pink dick to totally DOMINATE the girl from my fiction workshop. What a loser I am! I’ll punch myself in the fuckin’ face again and again! I really should just cut my face off and then sew it back on like the emo kids do.
If someone were to travel back in time to when people used to say "get one's hackles up," and then in fact get their hackles up, would you levitate off the floor slightly? Or just get a boner?
Do you like Twinkies?
I like Freddy and Jason and Predator and Alien and Hershel and Mr. Furley and Mr. Roper and beer. I pretty much hate everything else in this weary world. Twinkies are alright though.
Do you get phantom pains from your tiny pinkie nub?
Fortunately, no. Though I certainly deserve them—don’t I?—for not making a move on that girl in my fiction workshop. What a mcspazatron I was!
Do you have more than one Lawry's t-shirt?
There is only one. But I launder it regularly.
Who is your favorite Golden Girl?
My favorite Golden Idol? Hmm, lemme think about that for sec. Eh, probably the Golden Idol from Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Do you ever wear shoes?
Yes, but only when I have to.
Where did you get them .88 cent sunglasses?
A gas station, maybe (?) I can’t remember. Sometimes it’s all a big blur.
Have you ever peed on a clown? Do you want to?
On those occasions when I wear shoes, I tend to pee on them accidentally. So, yes, I have.
What would happen if Pinnochio said "My nose is going to grow now"?
I don’t know, but it’s giving me a major headache thinking about it. You win.
Will you be attending Texas Frightmare Weekend 2014?
Alack and cursed be the day I was born!! No, unfortunately I will not be able to attend for lack of funds. I’ll be there in spirit though, so please leave one chair empty at the Rooster Republic table and pour out a libation in my honor.
Are you wearing underwear RIGHT NOW? What color is it?
No, which makes the second part of the question no longer applicable.
What's it like to crap awesome? And to follow that up: What's it like to wipe awesome out of your ass crack and discard it in the bowl that's already half full of your awesome leavings?
I must admit that being awesome is really, um . . . awesome. Furthermore, I daresay that at certain times, being awesome can even be awesomesauce. What’s more, when the self-awareness of self-awesomeness approaches the highest levels of awesomeness, it exceeds mere awesomesauce to become something that can really only be called awesomesausage.
You're throwing a Bohemian Grove style shindig. Who would you invite and what sort of weird rituals would you perform?
I’d probably invite James Spader and Crispin Glover and Joffrey (from GoT). Maybe Helen Hunt or Meryl Streep or whatever. Oh, and Freddy and Jason and Predator and Hershel and Mr. Furley and Mr. Roper. We’d all punch ourselves in our faces and then cut ourselves like goth kids and then slice off our faces and sew them back on like emo kids.
Fill in the blank:
If it weren't for Rooster Republic Press, maybe I would have nailed that chick from my fiction workshop (I tire of blaming myself.)
Fill in the blanks:
Thanks to Danger Slater, my purple polar bear with a monocle is insane because I didn’t nail that girl from my fiction workshop, so now my only chance of regaining political asylum with the Eskimos is feltching a blue, Spanish TERROR MOUSE in pre-revolutionary, pre-Eiffel Tower, pre-French Fries France.
Thank you Douglas Hackle for your time and interesting answers, the fans of Bizarro Fiction appreciate it.
If you would like to find out more about Doug and his work, follow these links:
Clown Tear Junkies - http://www.amazon.com/Clown-Tear-Junk...
Blog - http://douglashackle.wordpress.com/
March 6, 2014
Once a month, the Bizarro Fiction group on Facebook does this "Ask the Author" thing where people post questions for that month's selected author. For some strange reason, I'm the featured author for March. So if you do the Facebook thing, and you want to ask me something serious or something riDICKulous or whatever, now's your chance. Anything goes.
Answers get posted after the window for asking questions closes. I think there's still a few days left to post questions.
February 24, 2014
But when I do, I wear my 88-cent shades.
February 22, 2014
Created by Jon Konrath, Paragraph Line is a journal of absurdist and outsider fiction, culture blogging, and cough syrup abuse instructional videos.
CLASSIC by Douglas Hackle
December 17, 2013