21 October 2010

Clowns, Curses and Everything in Between an Interview with Jeremy C. Shipp

Jeremy C. Shipp is an American novelist and short story writer of Bizarro fiction and horror. He's been published (or will be published) in Cemetery Dance, ChiZine, Apex Magazine, Pseudopod, Withersin and most recently in Brain Harvest. He's been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for his novel, Cursed. And best of all, he is one of the nicest, most down to earth guys there is. Whether you're chatting with him on Twitter or friending him on Facebook he always gives 110% to the conversation. Shipp lives in Southern California in a moderately haunted Victorian farmhouse called Rose Cottage with his wife and cats. He also has a legion of yard gnomes and some creepy attic clowns.

This was my very first interview and I was super lucky for it to be with Jeremy. He's an all around nice guy who makes you feel at ease when talking with him. Read below for our little chat and be sure to check out his website!

TC: When did you fall in love with this type of writing, i.e. horror, fantasy?

JCS: I loved horror and fantasy storytelling as far back as I can remember. Even as a kid, my brothers and I would play make believe and our recurring characters included the Grim Reaper, a mummy, and a floating mouth that could eat people and send them to various dimensions like the one where giant worms rule the world. In fourth grade, I wrote my first full length short story. It was about a green alien named Chomper who liked to eat everything around him. He also had an affinity for opera.

TC: What was the first story you ever had published?

JCS: My first published story was called “Love Thy Demon.” The story was dark and funny and twisted, and also not very good.

TC: How has your success with writing affected your personal life?

JCS: Now when a family member asks me “Any good news?” instead of saying “Nope” I usually have something good to report.

TC: How much research goes into each book/short story?

JCS: For novels like Vacation and Cursed, I research so much that my brain ends up going supernova. I research less for my short stories, although I am a bit obsessive, so even if I’m writing an absurd story about a zombie polar bear, I’ll spend way too much time researching polar bears.

TC: Are any of your characters based on real life people?

JCS: None of my characters are exactly like anyone I know. However, I sometimes imbue my characters with personality traits that remind me of real people. For instance, Nicholas from Cursed uses lists to create order out of the chaos of his life, the way that I do from time to time.

TC: What inspires you most when you write?

JCS: My family, my friends, my cats, strangers I overhear on the street, world events, dreams. Most of my inspiration though comes from a magical tap-dancing troll who lives in my spleen.

TC: How do you feel about being categorized as a "Bizarro" writer?

JCS: I love writing and reading weird fiction, and so it’s a pleasure to be a part of the Bizarro fiction movement. If anyone reading this would like to learn more about Bizarro, I’d recommend visiting this site: bizarrocentral.com.

TC: Can you give us a hint of what you’re currently working on?

JCS: Primarily, I’m working on a middle grade fantasy novel and a new horror story collection. I’m also trying to organize a civil war reenactment in my garden with yard gnomes and coconut monkeys. Not as easy as it sounds.

TC: Has there been any mention of a book to screen adaptation of any of your work?

JCS: There is a story to stage musical adaptation in the works. The musical is based on my short story “Nightmare Man.” In addition, there is some interest in a film adaptation of Cursed, so fingers and toes crossed.

TC: What do you like to do when you're not writing?

JCS: I enjoy hiking in the hills, playing the piano, yakking with yard gnomes, burying my brain in books, moving mangoes with my mind (and fingers).

TC: I'm sure EVERY writer at some point has had to deal with rejection. For other aspiring writers out there, can you tell us how you handled rejection?

JCS: At the beginning of my career, rejection letters were painful for me. I took them personally because I was seeking validation from others, rather than building up my esteem from within. Once I learned that I didn’t need anyone to validate my writing in order for my writing to be worthy, then rejections didn’t bother me anymore. Ultimately, I used all my early rejection letter to construct a papier-mâché statue of Buddy from Charles in Charge. Very empowering.

TC: What are some of your favorite movies or books?

JCS: A few of my favorite books: The God of Small Things, Nineteen Eighty-Four, The Giver, A Clockwork Orange, Slaughterhouse-Five, Original Wisdom, Wicked, Let the Right One In, Kafka on the Shore, Holes. Some of my favorite movies: Oldboy, The Happiness of the Katakuris, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Dead Alive, Memento, The City of Lost Children, Lagaan, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra.

TC: Any chance that you'll be doing a book tour around Dallas?

JCS: I did a signing in Dallas a couple years back, when I was visiting the set of Egg, the short film I wrote. I’d love to tour Dallas sometime soon. Oh, and you can watch Egg in its entirety here.

TC: What advice do you have for new writers?

JCS: Write every day. Write even when writing is the last thing in the world you feel like doing.

TC: As I was reading Sheep and Wolves, a little tennis ball came randomly rolling by. Any chance I missed some fine print about receiving a free yard gnome with every purchase?

JCS: Owning a copy of any of my books tends to attract yard gnomes as well as anthropomorphic onions. Be warned: these onions will make you cry. They tell such sad stories.

You can visit his website by clicking here.

You can check out and order some of his works here.

Thanks once again to Jeremy for being such a gracious guest!


  1. "I research so much that my brain ends up going supernova."

    ...finally-- the one definitive answer to the so many many unanswered questions about the twists and turns in Jeremy's brain. Supernova. Got it.

    Great Q&A Guys. Thanks for sharing.
    Karen :0)

  2. It's a brave new world for writers and arists, whether we excel in the classic or the edgy. Jeremy is a writer for today, whacky and fearless in his narrative flow. His characters are both highly improbable and yet truly recognizable as people you know and like.

    Cursed was a fantastic, fast and furious read -- highly recommend!
    Well done, Jeremy!