Archive for Fiction

Author Spotlight: Steve Lowe

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 15, 2013 by royalmanaball

I’m really high on codeine right now, so bear with me. It’s not for recreational purposes, I swear, but that’s not important. Shoot, I’ve been listening to Spacemen 3 all night and I think they are pretty awesome. Right, then…

When it comes to Bizarro fiction, a reader can experience anything from demonic pancake assaults to rabid unicorn attack battalions. This genre offers real treats for a consumer in a literary sea of trite, overdone plots, glittering vampires and, well, a bunch of zombies. Fucking lame. But not all Bizarro needs to be fantastical on its surface. Sometimes the very characters themselves and their behaviors are irreal enough to garner a Bizarro badge of merit.

Steve Lowe is an author whose works fall in this latter category. Lowe’s characters tend to suffer odd circumstances – people who fall into a doughnut hole of absurdity – thus thrusting them into situations that only this writer’s mind could devise.

The man. The meat.

The man. The meat.

Despite these strange events, Lowe’s stories are more character driven. Prepare to read tales about a neighborhood that wakes up one morning to find their sexual partners’ identities have been swapped. Enjoy the life of a pushover who competes in a game that not only stretches his limits, but the limits of sex in general; not to mention a case where a slacker awakens to find he has morphed into a three-toed sloth.

As said, Lowe’s novels are character-centric and this factor makes you care for them all the more. No matter how abject their behaviors (oh, and they can be disgusting), Lowe always injects a tenderness in every one featured, and it’s no wonder that his plots usually deal with the theme of personal change and redemption.

Lowe is very well aware that modern life can suck a sweaty peen for most. With his finger on the pulse of today’s society, he acknowledges that Middle American existence is, by default, bizarre.

The following is a quick glance of all of his books (to my knowledge) that are available for purchase and you can find them right now on Amazon and other fine book vendors:

Muscle Memory: This book answers the question of what happens when you have an inexplicable switcheroo of being with your nearest and dearest. Yes, one character does swap identities with a barnyard animal. Deal with it.

King of the Perverts: Loved this book. Erotica subverted. Dennis is the ultimate mangina whose wife hates his guts. Being newly unemployed, he decides to participate in a reality show where he vies to become king of the perverts for cash and prizes. Under duress and coercion by East-Euro brute “Mongo,” Denny must endure one vile sexual encounter after another from blumpkins to Alabama Hot Pockets. My only complaint is that Lowe left out the Romanian Rollercoaster and the Polish Bikeride. Whatever.

04974-spanish-fly

Samurai Vs. Robo-Dick: Benson opts out of society and won’t leave his parent’s basement. A take on the monomyth, one day, he is coaxed out of the house only to find that the world has suffered some sort of apocalypse and the only “safe” place left is the stupid, suburbanoid gated community in which he squats. He’s forced to take a shitty job with the neo-Fascist neighborhood watch and things get worse for Benson from there.

Mio Padre, il Tumore: Ciao Bella! This book is probably my favorite. This tale is basically a spaghetti western set in… Northern Indiana?!?!? Yes, blend The Godfather, Sergio Leone flicks, Henenlotter’s Basket Case and some Lucio Fulci. Now, set it to a soundtrack by Claudio Simonetti and you have a fine tale of bizarre revenge. Very suspenseful and a departure from some of Lowe’s usual gross-out fare. I really enjoyed this and could see it being directed by Cronenberg one day. So, if you want something a little more sober, this might be a good book of Lowe’s catalog to begin with.

You Are SLOTH!: You wake up one day from your subsistence slackerhood and realize that you are SLOTH! Yes, in a Kafka-esque turn of absurdity, you have transformed into one of God’s stupidest animals next to the platypus. This tale really maximizes great characters and wonderful dialog. It had me in stitches! My favorite denizen of these pages is pussy-begging, PUA asswipe Chris Cross. His banter and one-liners are worth every penny of the purchase. Beware the “death-by-bukkake” part.

A freelance sports reporter by day, Lowe’s books don’t focus on sports, but I would love to see him tackle such a saga sometime in the future. Like, a fucked-up rendition of Slapshot (one of my fave movies) or some such thing. You can do it, Steve. You can do it!

-30, bitches!-

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Writing and the Morality Shift

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2013 by royalmanaball

When you write, you will find yourself inside of a pigeonhole no matter if you are indie or self-published. And it’s not just with the Big Six, folks.

I am known for my YA saga, The Ancients and the Angels. Although the content of these volumes may be dark and unpleasant at times, no blue language is printed, and all of the sex is “offscreen.” There’s tons of violence and vomit in them, though, but parents just don’t seem to give a crap about this. Whatever.

As anyone in this business understands; a writer writes. In a recent blog post by my friend and fellow scribe, Ksenia Anske, she examines the topic of writing and “genre-jumping.” I say, “go for it!”

The burning question is whether this is good for an author’s business acumen. From what I’ve seen, it doesn’t really seem to matter much as long as the work is solid. C.S. Lewis who was renowned for his children’s literature, had written remarkable nonfiction tomes on religious philosophy. Philip K. Dick would alternate between out-of-this-world sci-fi versus weird dramas that criticized Nixonian America. J.G. Ballard took a 180 route with The Atrocity Exhibition and Crash from his more conventional sci-fi offerings.

Writing is an art and an artist is going to explore and you won’t stop this process. I simply cannot write YA and nothing but it forever. Sure, my elves and angels will return, I promise you this, but for the rest of this year, I have the uncontrollable urge to delve into the realm of Bizarro.

This stuff is NOT for children. Already, one of my short stories entitled Conduct Disorder has been green-lighted (lit?) for inclusion into James Ward Kirk’s horror anthology Serial Killers Tres Tria. The piece is nothing less than revolting and cruel. Now, I’m not that kind of a person, and there still remains a strong moral ethos to this tale, but I just took the dark alley (very dark) to get there with this ditty. And it works! So, did anything really change?

Look at it this way; many actors of children’s films extend their feelers into other areas of cinematography. After all, Anne Hathaway of The Princess Diaries has shown the world her boobs plenty of times. Oh, the horror!

Yo, my bewbs rawk!

Yo, my bewbs rawk!

It may sound like I am apologizing here. I am not. No artist should ever apologize for their product. You are responsible for it, sure, but you are also the one who had invested so much time and energy into making it in the first place. Yes, you may get egg on your face when you throw the masses a curve ball, but responsibility is the first phase of accountability. Just take that accountability like a good Scout and be prepared for it.

The bottom line is that genre hopping can involve a moral shift in content. As a writer, you will have to be brave enough to venture into places unknown, and sometimes, they’re bad neighborhoods.

That’s all I’ve gotta say about that.

Writing Upside-Down Flash Fiction

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2013 by royalmanaball

The talented Danielle Tauscher who is the mastermind behind the great literary blog Writing Upside-Down has just accepted my submission for her Flash Fiction challenge! Awesome!

The theme is 2nd-person POV. You know, like Bright Lights, Big City. Although my yarn is set in a big city, there are no bright lights here. The name of my new lil’ ditty is entitled Go!

Anyway, click the pic and enjoy the plunge. Oh, and, by the way, it isn’t YA-friendly. Just warning you.

Illustration: Josh Johnson

Illustration: Josh Johnson

 

For Halloween – Night Commander

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 19, 2012 by royalmanaball

Hello again. I have a short story which I had originally published on another literary site some time ago and I would like to share it with you for this holiday season. Normally, I don’t write horror, so don’t expect a tale which requires a barf bag, but I’m sure you can appreciate its subtleties. Although I write YA, this story’s language isn’t for kids. Sorry!

All right, then. Without further ado… on with the show! I present:

 

Night

Commander

By

M.C. O’Neill

For the last hour or so, I have been waiting for my daughter to show.  She’s supposed drop by with my medication and some groceries, and she had better do it quick, because the cupboards and the refrigerator are damn-near empty.  I look at the clock and it reads ten a.m.  She always comes by at nine; it even says so on that dumb “Memory Board” my nurse has posted in every room of my house.  “Friday at nine a.m. – Jenny visits.”

I think Jenny gets me my food. I’m pretty certain that she brings me the medication because I am legally in her care. The goddamn courts want me in a nursing home because of my “public disturbances,” but my Jenny has a good lawyer who can really cook the books and get things in order. I must say, as a retired attorney myself, I couldn’t have done better.  That boy would make her a fine husband, especially as long as he can keep me in the house that I paid off years ago. To think that a bunch of crooked bureaucrats can throw an honest veteran who pays his taxes out of his own castle is preposterous.

That would never work. Jenny is one of those lesbian-types, so I suppose her marrying that lawyer is not in the near future.  That’s something I keep forgetting.  Sometimes, it’s almost as if I hear it for the first time and I end up confronting her about it all over again. We must have argued like cats and dogs at least twenty times over the subject by now. In the end, I always accept her decisions. “It’s a new day,” we always agree and that usually puts things in the right place again. I need to make sure that I remember this by the time she gets here.

Magda. Magda gets me the medication. She’s my nurse. Jenny delivers the food and Magda gets me my meds. Where the fuck is she, by the way? Looking over on the end table, I see that my pill boxes are all empty except for two capsules. If she doesn’t get here today, I’m calling that damn hospital. I’m telling the doctor on her and I’m having her fired.  I can hardly understand her anyway. She’s Polish or something.  Cute little lady, but I can’t make out her accent sometimes.  Can’t understand why a Vietnam veteran like me would have a Communist for a nurse, but so much doesn’t make sense anymore, that I would rather just watch TV and sleep.  Maybe that’s all a part of this “new day”.

According to the Memory Board in the kitchen, Magda was supposed to be here yesterday to refill my prescriptions and she’ll be back again today at five p.m.  to check up on my situation and cook my dinner.  She makes the best ravioli and sometimes she makes these things called pierogis that are kind of like ravioli except they are full of potatoes. I’ve never heard of them before. Must be what Communists eat, or something.  Hopefully, she’ll make those tonight, now that I mention it.  Either way, she wasn’t here yesterday like she was supposed to be, and I’m running out of meds.

Frankly, this just pisses me off.  If I don’t have those prescriptions tonight, I’m liable to go wandering around the neighborhood naked as a jaybird, and this time, not even Jenny’s lawyer will keep me out of one of those vile nursing homes. It’ll all be Magda’s fault.  She was probably out partying with a bunch of boys the whole night and couldn’t be bothered with an old fart like me.

The line to the hospital is a constant recording: “Due to a heavy call volume, we cannot take your call at this time. Please hang up and try again later for the next available operator. We apologize for this inconvenience.”  Goddamn robot. I must have tried the number at least ten times in the last half hour.

Why don’t they let me remain on hold instead of having to hang up every time? Looks like the entire hospital is full of people like Magda. This world is going to hell. My daughter is funny, my nurse is a Communist slut, and the hospital is out of order. I can’t believe I flew a Stuka for Adolph Hitler in the Big One just so society could end up like this. A “new day” – pathetic.

I’ll try that damn hospital again later, and when I get through, my doctor is getting an earful. It’s too late to call my daughter, because she’s at work now, and she won’t give me her office number because she knows I’ll bother her for every little issue I come across. She’s probably right about that.

When all else fails, I like to turn to the idiot box. Being a retired biologist, I like all those nature shows. Especially the ones with the sharks. They have these young men going down into the deep swimming around in chainmail armor. Every time I watch one of those programs, I keep expecting one of those boys to get a chunk taken out of them, but it never happens that way. A couple of close-calls, but they always come up with hardly a scratch.

My favorite show is that one where all these kids are locked in this big house and a bunch of young girls strut around half naked. This Chinese lady who acts kind of like a robot makes them compete in all these silly games for prizes and privileges. Usually, the games involve a pool or a hot tub and the girls have to get in these skimpy bikinis. One time, this blonde with big titties got so excited because she won a contest, that she lost her top while jumping for joy. The goddamn censors blurred out her nipples, so I couldn’t see all her goods. I got so mad that I threw my pudding cup at the screen and Magda had to clean it off. Now and then, I wonder what Magda would look like in a bikini. Where is she anyway?

News. Horror movie. News. News. Another horror movie. It’s only half-past noon and they are showing this crap on TV. During October, the stations like to air these kind of flicks at odd hours on account of it being Halloween, but looking at the calendar, it’s only April. Maybe it’s some sort of an April Fool’s joke? Some of those films they’re playing are pretty disgusting. They look just like the news casts, except there are a bunch of crazy people biting each other. It must be some Japanese thing. Lots of blood and screaming. It all gives me a headache. Personally, I don’t like watching these kinds of shows now that the house is empty and creaking because they give me the creeps – even in the daytime.

The movies that are on today are especially a bother because they look so real. The studios must be paying some big salaries to those makeup artists, because it looks spot-on like the carnage I was forced to see when I fought in Korea.

I hope the purple dinosaur show comes on soon. I like to watch it with my mommy and we sing all the songs together. All my favorite tunes are on that show, just like we sing at school, but better.  I’ll go to the kitchen and let her know that it’s almost time for it to air and then we can eat lunch afterward.

When I go to the bathroom to wash-up, I look in the mirror and see an old man. A decrepit old man.  Weak with thinning hair. Mom’s been dead for years.  I hate it when I have to remember this. It happens almost every goddamn day.  Sometimes, it’s like I learn about her death for the first time and I can break down for hours. Since I am a retired paleontologist, it’s no wonder I would like that stupid program.  I wish Magda would get over here.

The TV is off, but I still hear all that racket that was coming from one of those dumb horror movies. Yelling and groaning. Looking outside my window, all I see is an empty street under a clear, blue sky. Nice day. Everybody must be at work. There aren’t any cars in the driveways and nobody is rolling down the road.

Out on my porch, there is no mail or newspaper yet. What with that new mailman, I sometimes don’t get the mail until almost supper, but the paper is always here every morning. Usually Magda or Jenny brings it in for me. Maybe one of those damn kids down the street took it.  If they want it so bad they can just ask me for it when I’m done.

Something is strange about today. Everything is very still. Except for that moaning, I don’t hear anything. Not even birds.

Why can’t those kids leave me alone? Out in my backyard, it’s the same story. Not a peep. If those brats don’t stop harassing me with their ruckus, I’m going to call the police. I don’t have the patience for this shit.

The police are the same deal as the hospital. I suppose they have more to attend to than some little bastards playing jokes on an old man, but I pay my taxes! Back when I was a police officer, I would never let even the small things slide. Nothing got past me. All the lawbreakers in this town knew that they didn’t stand a chance against my long arms.  This time the recording sounds like a black woman. I hang up.

It sounds like those little bastards have recruited some friends, because now there is more moaning. Maybe they’re a bunch of those hippies having some of that free love in my backyard.  I’ll be goddamned if the backyard is as quiet as a mouse. Everything remains stone-still.  According to the clock, it’s almost four p.m. and there isn’t even a cricket chirping.

Why aren’t there any children coming home from school?  Shouldn’t those sons of bitches bothering me be in school? Maybe they should get a job. I poke my head out the back door and yell that suggestion with as much power as my old lungs will allow and slam the door shut just to pack in the message. That ought to do it. Maybe I used to smoke, but I can’t really remember if I did.

I’m so damn hungry.  I forgot that I haven’t eaten today.  Where is Jenny and my food? When Magda gets here in a few minutes, she won’t have anything to cook and I need to eat with my medication.  I could boil that last egg I have in the refrigerator, but I remember that the hospital put a lock on my stove so I don’t burn the house down. Only Magda and Jenny have the goddamn key.  There isn’t any booze left either because the doctors won’t let me have alcohol.

Looking outside again, I see that night is coming soon. The sky looks kind of like a rare steak, and seeing it only makes me even hungrier. It’s been awhile since I’ve had good meat like that. The mailman still hasn’t shown.

That does it. I have been having a terrible day. I’m so tired. According to the clock, Magda is late and Jenny is already off work, and still no sign of her. They can take their dear, sweet time getting here to do their jobs.

I don’t care anymore, I’m so beat. They can work around my schedule now. Since I’ve been waiting for them all day, they can wait on me all damn night.

My daughter is as queer as a football bat, my nurse is a Commie, the hospital and police are full of lazy bastards, and the TV censors the titties and plays nothing but those God-awful horror movies. There is something else bothering me, but I can’t remember what it is, and hopefully I don’t.

I’m going upstairs to take a nap and I’ll get up when I feel like it. When I do get up, if they don’t have my dinner ready and my medication stocked, I’m going outside buck-naked and letting the whole neighborhood know what a real man looks like. Just to prove that I’m a nice guy, I’ll leave the door unlocked and I’ll keep the lights on.

 

FIN.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

 

 

 

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