Jeremy C. Shipp, is a Renaissance Man of sorts; dabbling in everything from books to film.
In this interview, he and I will discuss all topics ranging from Smurfs to his newest novel, Cursed.
Aron Deppert: The internets have told me you’ve been writing since the age of 13. Before that, can you remember what you wanted to be when you grew up?
Jeremy C. Shipp: Early on, I aspired to become a cat or an iguana. Later, my dreams were to grow up to be a zoo keeper, a herpetologist, a veterinarian, a writer, and an inventor. These days, I don’t want to grow up.
A.D.: Tell me about the scariest/spookiest thing that has ever happened to you.
J.C.S.: A few years ago, my dad and I were working in my attic, taking apart an old chimney. And we came across a mound of ash. Eventually, something starting rising out of the mound. At first, we thought it was an animal. Nope. It turned out to be an old doll. We still have the doll. Or maybe she has us.
A.D.: In your interview with the Devil, you stated that you don’t eat babies. As a vegetarian, I can’t help but wonder if you would be opposed to eating a soy-based baby alternative?
J.C.S.: Smurfs are actually soy-based life forms, and I eat them all the time. The Smurf babies are especially delicious with a nice Thai red curry paste. And if you add some cauliflower to the mix, then the dish is a bit patriotic.
A.D.: How much of your inspiration are you able to draw from real life?
J.C.S.: There are bits and pieces of real people in my characters. There are chunks of my experiences in my plots. Also, I’m often inspired by real world events. And so, in a sense, my tales are funhouse mirror reflections of my reality.
A.D.: Most authors in the horror/alt-horror genre usually just seem to be out to spook or scare their readers. You, however, try to deliver message. Can you give some insight into the subtextual messages in your latest novel, Cursed?
J.C.S.: I believe that every story conveys a message. The message might be “Life is absurd” or “Life sucks and then you die.” And while there are many excellent “Life sucks” stories out there, I just don’t perceive the world that way. When writing a book or a story, I like to talk about real problems in unreal ways. With Cursed, I was primarily focused on invalidation and disability. For years, my wife was disabled with CFIDS, and while she learned to cope with the pain, the invalidation from others was much harder for her to deal with. Some people didn’t believe she was sick. Some people treated her like she was less than human, or more than human. In other words, the curse isn’t disability, but the way our world in general treats people with disabilities.
A.D.: What do you think are some of the biggest challenges aspiring fiction writers will face?
J.C.S.: Some aspiring writers I know give up too easily. They seem to think that “rejection” is a bad word. But if you give yourself permission to fail and grow, then you’ll succeed. To me, every part of being a writer is challenging. Writing, building your platform, finding the right agent, getting published, marketing, networking. My biggest recommendation would be to learn as much as you can about the business of writing. Take a class, read articles, ask for advice from writers you respect.
A.D.: What do you say to people who think yard gnomes are just cute statues rather than living, breathing, mischievous creatures?
J.C.S.: I say, “I’m a giant yard gnome. Do I look like a cute statue to you? I do? That’s strange. You’re not the first person who’s told me that. Hmm….”
A.D.: What are a couple of advantages and disadvantages to being with a smaller, independent publisher?
J.C.S.: Working with Raw Dog Screaming Press has been a wonderful experience for me. John Lawson and Jennifer Barnes are passionate about the books they publish, and they treat me and my writing with the utmost respect. Of course, working with an independent press means that my books aren’t stocked in many bookstores. My goal right now is to work with both smaller and larger publishers.
A.D.: Which of your upcoming projects are you most excited about?
J.C.S.: I’m thrilled about my upcoming story collection, Fungus of the Heart. I’m also very excited about a horror novel that I’m currently working on. To me, it’s my best book so far.
A.D.: The Green Lantern and Wonder Woman decided to battle: who would win?
J.C.S.: Wonder Woman would win, weathering the wimpy wight’s willpower, and wounding the weakling while wielding wisdom, wit, and whip.
A.D.: Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you’d like to address?
J.C.S.: Here are four sure signs that your stapler is a demonic entity that wants to kill you and take over the world:
1. He enjoys stapling anthropomorphic parsnips to bongos.2. He takes a bite out of crime, and then spit it out into a mason jar, which he keeps in a box of Boo Berry cereal.
3. You often find him dancing the jig of doom.
4. If you prick him, he bleeds clown juice.