My Biggest Interview, Ever!

I did an interview for the Bizarro Fiction fan group on Facebook. Anyone could ask me any question they wanted. This is a LONG interview and you can basically learn anything you wanted to know about me from it. Click READ MORE to check it out.

Jeff, Welcome and thank you for taking part in our Q and A session this month. Firstly could you tell us a bit about yourself.

Hey everybody! I’m Jeff Burk, an author and editor at Eraserhead Press. I am the author of SHATNERQUAKE, SUPER GIANT MONSTER TIME, CRIPPLE WOLF, and SHATNERQUEST. I am also the head editor of Eraserhead Press’ horror imprint, Deadite Press, and have overseen the release of over 70 titles.

I live in Portland, OR and am currently 29 (though I turn 30 in the beginning of June). When I’m not working on books I spend a lot of time going to the movies, playing video games, and working on my garden (I’m growing a lot of hot peppers). I also frequently work with a local side show on business, promotion, and behind the scenes stuff.

I live with a super-friendly, morbidly obese, cat named Squishy.

The book questions…

What were you doing before you were an editor at Eraserhead/Deadite?

Amazingly, I was working in politics. I worked on behind the scenes shit on a variety of political campaigns from local to national levels. It was a very disheartening experience in terms of learning how the political process really works behind the scenes. After a few years of it, I got sick of how both sides are focused on petty fighting rather than finding actual solutions. I couldn’t take it anymore and quit.

Are you a writer first or an editor first?

I have to say editor. I wish I could spend more time on my own writing but my editing and publishing duties comes first. It really boils down to if I don’t finish my story, it really only affects me. But If I screw up an editing or publishing project, I’m affecting another author. I feel that being a responsible editor involves placing the professional demands of my authors above my own.

How do you balance your time as an editor and as a writer?

It’s very hard. As I mentioned above, I feel much more responsible for my editorial duties than my writer goals. One is just for myself and the other has people depending upon me.

What does a typical day look like at work at EHP for Jeff Burk?

I typically get up around noon and make coffee. I then watch THE DAILY SHOW and THE COLBERT REPORT and catch up on the news.

My afternoons are spent dicking around online or running various errands around town. When the weather is nice, I work on the house garden or yard.

Once the evening hits, I normally grab some beer and get to work on whatever project currently demands my focus. I’ll stay up all night (frequently until dawn) working and then crash. The next day I do it all over again.

Though that’s just a typical day. It seems like I have a lot more weird ones.

If you could only pick one book that completely exemplifies everything that bizarro fiction stands for, what would it be?

There’s no way I could pick one, so instead I’ll pick five. These are the books that I recommend to anyone interested in trying out bizarro fiction. They are (in my opinion) the best examples of bizarro’s genre defying madcap imagination.

THE MENSTRUATING MALL by Carlton Mellick III

ASS GOBLINS OF AUSHWITZ by Cameron Pierce

TIME PIMP by Garrett Cook

HOUSE OF HOUSES by Kevin L. Donihe

HYPNO-HOG’S MOONSHINE MONSTER JAMBOREE by Andrew Goldfarb

What is the biggest misconception about Bizarro fiction?

Probably that we’re just gross-out, obscene, and trying to pushing-buttons. While we love that shit and some of our more successful titles do fall into that category, what we are really interested in books that once you hear the title and concept you’re like “Holy fucking shit! I need to read that!” In other words, we simply like our books to not be boring.

HELP! A BEAR IS EATING ME!, JIMMY PLUSH: TEDDY BEAR DETECTIVE, and my own SHATNERQUAKE and SHATNERQUEST are devoid of the gross-out and cheap obscenity that we are so commonly accused of. Yet all of those titles are amongst Eraserhead Press’ best-sellers.

Like most of us who love Bizarro fiction, you probably didn’t even know it existed before you stumbled onto your first bizarro book. What was it, what year did you read it and how did you obtain your copy?

I was at the Horrorfind Convention in Baltimore in 2004 (I believe). The convention was primarily focused on movies but there was also a fairly good representation of authors. At the time I really didn’t read any fiction. I read a lot but it was almost completely nonfiction and comic books. I had basically given up on fiction because I couldn’t find the book equivalent to the crazy movies I was watching (like the shit Troma does).

At the convention I kept seeing these flyers for something called THE BRUTALLY EVIL SATAN SHOW starring Father Carlton Mellick III. I had no idea what that was or who he was but the flyer promoted exploding pentagrams and brain cannons so I had to go.

So I show up to the event room and proceed to watch a giant man with huge mutton chops and dressed in a priest frock, perform a forty-five minute comedy/art routine about all the amazing, satanic shit he had lined up to happen and how it all fell through. When it was over, I still wasn’t sure who this Carlton Mellick III guy was but I knew I loved him. Apparently he wrote books and they were being sold three for twenty dollars (fun fact: Rose O’Keefe was selling books behind the table that day). I hadn’t bought a fiction book in at least two years but the second I saw titles like THE HAUNTED VAGINA and THE BABY JESUS BUTT PLUG, I knew I had to throw my money at them. I ended up buying nine books that day.

Also of interest from that convention, I saw a table for a press I never heard of, Necro Books (who later became my main inspiration for Deadite Press). They specialized in the type of extreme horror I loved in my movies but I could never seem to find the Stephen King clones that dominated the book shelves. They had a bunch of books by some guy named Edward Lee (who was also at the convention). After looking through them I was amazed at how hardcore they were. I had to wait until my next paycheck (fucking Eraserhead Press took all my convention spending money!) and then I ordered THE PIG AND THE HOUSE. Thus began my love affair with Lee and that’s what led me into discovering the extreme horror fiction scene.

But I’m not done yet! On the car ride home my friends and I stopped at the local Borders (the only bookstore in an hour radius from where I’m from). While wandering around the store I came across a display for a brand new paperback release from a local author I never heard of. The title and cover were so ridiculous that I decided to buy the book as a laugh. It looked like a novelization of a SyFy made for TV movie. I didn’t expect that book to become one of my all-time favorite novels and led me to one of my all-time favorite authors. That novel – THE CONQUEROR WORMS by Brian Keene.

Working in the trenches with Eraserhead Press for so many years now, why do you think they’ve been so successful as a publishing house where so many others have failed to sell alternative literature to fans?

Because we’re unique and we’re fun. The types of books that Eraserhead Press and all its imprints puts out are books that almost no other publisher would ever touch. What we do is not for everyone but we’re not interested in reaching everyone. We’re interested in reaching the audiences that have been basically ignored in literature up to this point.

On a side note, it’s weird hearing Eraserhead Press being referred to as successful and “big.” Just five years ago I had just started working with the company, and we were still struggling to get people to take us seriously. It seems that in a very short time that Eraserhead Press and Bizarro have blown up in popularity.

There were times that Rose O’Keefe, Carlton Mellick III, Cameron Pierce, and myself (the four people that are full-time at Eraserhead Press) didn’t know if what we were doing would ever catch on. It’s amazing, wonderful, and such a validation to see how many writers, publishers, artists, filmmakers, and other creative people have embraced bizarro.

Burnout rates are very high in small press publishing and yet you’ve been editing for Eraserhead for more than 5 years. In an industry with enormous workloads and very little return, what keeps you motivated to do this year after year?

Wow, awesome question.

To be honest, on more than one occasion, I’ve wondered if I’ve made a mistake. Working in books is a lot of hard work for very little financial reward. I’ve done the math and I make way less than minimum wage. You cannot go into publishing or writing with the intention of making money. Us full-time writers, publishers, and editors have life-styles way closer to punk bands than film or TV industry people.

It is also extremely stressful. As a publisher and editor, if a book succeeds the author takes all the credit (as they should). But if the book fails, that’s on you as the publisher and editor. You’re investing in someone else’s baby and that’s a huge responsibility.

And when you write a book and pour your heart and soul into it and after months or years of work your book is out in the world but no one cares. Despite your best efforts, you can’t find an audience and the book sells a dozen copies in a year. It feels like you are spending all your time working to produce something you value and you hope others will just to throw it into a void.

That stress builds. When you do it full-time it’s not just about artistic expression, it’s about survival. Then that stress always expresses itself in terrible ways. You drink too much. You are the annoying person that talks about work all the time when out with friends. You lash out at your boyfriend/girlfriend over stupid shit. We all have our own ways that stress negatively impacts us.

I’ve talked with others who have been full-time in this industry for decades and they all express similar feelings from time to time. The stress and demand on your personal life and mind never goes away.

So why do we keep doing this?

Because as low and the lows are, the highs are just as high.

When a project reaches an audience and there is widespread love from readers it makes all those hard times worth it.

There’s when you are a publisher and editor and you discover a new author and you release something by them that, in all seriousness, has everything stacked against it and there’s no reason it should take off – but it does. It’s an amazing feeling to expose someone you believe in to the world and have the world respond back with agreement.

Every event I do, I meet a fan that expresses how much they love my books, bizarro books, or Deadite books. That what we do got them back into reading. I have readers tell me that Deadite books changed their lives. I’m never quite sure how to respond to that because Deadite books changed my life as well.

I was at the H. P. Lovecraft Film Fest one year and this guy came up to me. He explained he was a soldier that had been deployed to Iraq. Right before leaving he bought a copy of SHATNERQUAKE that he took with him. He read it while in a warzone. He loved it and passed it around to other soldiers in his platoon (I hope I’m using the right term, I don’t know much about military terminology). The book became popular amongst them and all the soldiers read it. The reason they liked it was because it was so weird and out there that, for the brief time it took to read the book, they were removed from the war zone.

When someone tells you that, it puts all the petty artistic angst into perspective. It’s a feeling that I don’t know if I could ever truly relate.

And besides, it beats a fucking desk job. No dress code and no drug tests.

How do you respond to critics of bizarro fiction who say that it’s a one man genre, insinuating that Carlton Mellick is the only person who makes a living writing it?

Quite frankly, I don’t give a shit. It’s no different than people that think the horror genre begins and ends with Stephen King. I’m always going to keep doing what I’m doing and (it blows my mind to say this) there are people interested in what I’m doing.

If some people view bizarro as only Carlton Mellick III, so fucking what? Good! At least they know about bizarro. I fucking love Carlton’s books and he was a major inspiration to try writing stories that I wanted to read. I know many other bizarro authors that say the same thing. We all celebrate his success and I sincerely hope he only gets more popular.

And Carlton has earned it. He’s one of my closest friends and I know some of the struggles he’s gone through the years that he doesn’t share publicly. He has worked tirelessly on insanely stupid and brilliant books and has provided an incredible amount of behind the scenes help to many newer authors – I’m one of them.

But does it ever bother me when someone insinuates that Carlton is the only one doing shit or being successful in this scene? Yep. I’d be lying to say otherwise.

But that’s just my own ego. I don’t think there’s a single person in the arts and entertainment that can say that ego issues don’t affect them. It takes a certain amount of ego (or building it up) to write a book, make a movie, paint a picture, record a song, etc… and put it out in the world and ask complete strangers to enjoy it.

When you do that you desire positive response. You want validation that others find what you poured your very being into worthwhile. And when you don’t get it and other’s do it’s sometimes upsetting.

But everyone in this industry feels that way all the time. We are artists so while we have huge egos they are also very fragile. The key is recognizing that and keeping it in check. You’re not actually jealous of someone; you just wish your work had the same audience. It’s truly not about that other writer or artist or filmmaker or whatever – it’s about your own insecurities. And I know from talking to so many artists and entertainers in a variety of mediums and of various levels of success – it doesn’t matter who you are thinking of, there’s someone that makes them jealous.

What’s truly important is that everyone’s success truly helps everyone else. Every single fan that is introduced to genre work from one of the major names is just one potential fan for me. It’s one more new person being introduced to this awesome shit that we are all doing.

And if they don’t get into anything else and end their exploration of the genre with Carlton Mellick III or Brian Keene? So fucking what? It’s one more fan for them and one more voice in the culture calling for the shit that we all like.

Whenever jealousy rears its head we have to remember that we are truly in this together. It’s us independent artists, in all mediums, versus the major media conglomerates that have been dominating art and entertainment for decades. The best way we can help them is to turn on each other over stupid petty shit.

How we become dangerous is banding together and supporting each other.

To quote an African proverb: “Together, the ants shall bring down the elephant.”

Could Bizarro fiction be where it is today without Rose O’Keefe? In your opinion is there someone more influential than her in terms of where the genre is today?

It wouldn’t be in remotely the same place it is without Rose O’Keefe. I don’t know where it would be but it definitely would not be as big as it is now.

Behind the scenes, she is the driving force in presenting bizarro not as just a bunch of small press authors but as a valid genre. It’s her aesthetic and big-picture thinking that has turned Eraserhead Press and bizarro into the forces they currently are.

She also plays very important roles that readers never get to see. Whenever there are problems behind the scenes or an author is feeling depressed or has writer’s block – part of her job is take care of that.

It’s assumed in the circles I run in that Eraserhead and her imprints are slow to move toward Kindle and other digital distribution platforms because of your paperback distribution arrangement with Ingram. Is this the case or are there other reasons why a lot of EHP titles are not available via Kindle?

Eraserhead Press has been around for fifteen years (as of this year) and we have out over three hundred releases through Eraserhead and all the various imprints. For much of that time, paperback was our only option and there were no good ebook outlets.

Of course, that has changed dramatically in the past several years. Ebooks have become way more popular and there is now some great distribution channels now open. Where this leaves us is catching up in making electronic editions available of our books.

With almost all of our current releases, the ebook is coming out the same time as the paperback. But there is still a massive amount of our back catalog that we have to redesign and release as ebook. For those first two hundred releases it wasn’t really something that was on our mind (no one was buying ebooks then). It has greatly changed since then and we are in the process of getting the entire back catalog in ebook.

As far as Deadite Press (which is the part of the company I can really speak about) almost every Deadite book is currently available in ebook through us or another publisher. The ones that aren’t will be coming out or there’s some weird, fuck-up, rights issues attached to them.

But as a whole, we embrace ebooks at Eraserhead Press. We don’t care what format people read books, as long as people read them.

Who is one author you’d love to sign to Deadite that you haven’t yet had a chance to work with?

When I first read this question there was a name that immediately jumped into my head. But since then, it looks like I’m going to be working with that person! I don’t want to say who and jinx it but I will say that it’s one of my all-time heroes and they are a huge name and inspiration to independent artists everywhere!

Now, I would probably say Eli Roth would be one of my favorite people in horror that I would love to work with.

How important was the collapse of Leisure/Dorchester to the future of Deadite?

I kinda hate this question. Not because of being asked it but because I want all genre publishers to succeed and the death of Leisure was a major blow to the horror genre as a whole. There is no longer any dedicated mass market horror press.

With that said, there is no denying that Deadite taking on a large chunk of Leisure’s catalog and authors helped establish Deadite early on. I was a big fan of many of Leisure’s authors and Don A’uria is a fantastic editor (it should be noted that none of the shit that went down with Leisure had to do with him. Don’s awesome. It was higher up company issues that fucked things up).

Leisure was a mass market publisher and there are issues with how those big guys run and many of the Leisure authors were getting fed up with it. Also, many of those authors had been friends and supporters of Eraserhead Press and myself for many years. So when many of them decided they wanted to go somewhere they could get artistic freedom, they came to us.

Many readers and writers consider Deadite as the be all, end all major leagues of cult horror fiction. Where do you view Deadite’s place in the literary spectrum?

Wow, this honestly blows my mind to have someone ask that.

When I first took over Deadite Press it was just being a super fan. I had been working at Eraserhead Press just doing whatever needed done at the office (the “Office Bitch” position) and had also been in correspondence with Edward Lee for several years. He had expressed to me that he was having difficulties getting some of his extreme horror work (which I loved!) published. I proposed to Rose O’Keefe and Carlton Mellick that we release a collection of his work on Deadite Press.

Now it’s worth noting that I did not start Deadite Press. That was done by someone years before me. They worked with Rose and Carlton but only released three books by Andre Duza before leaving the company. I honestly have no idea who that person was. But the imprint had basically been dead for years.

They gave me the OK and Lee was into the idea. He sent over enough stories that we actually released two collections at once – BRAIN CHEESE BUFFET and BULLET THROUGH YOUR FACE. Those were the first two releases I oversaw on Deadite Press. Much to all of our surprise, they did way better than anyone thought.

Rose and Carlton then asked me who else I might be interested in releasing books by. I sent out some emails and, amazingly, the next authors that were interested in doing Deadite books were Wrath James White, Bryan Smith, and Dave Brockie aka Oderus Urungus of GWAR. Things just kind of exploded from there.

I started working with Deadite Press primarily from a fan perspective. And that’s how I still approach every book. Now, I’m fortunate enough to be helping new authors find audiences. Somehow, and it honestly mystifies me how it happened, Deadite Press has developed a reputation for itself. If it’s good or bad, it depends on who you ask.

When I was officially placed in charge of Deadite and we started releasing books on a regular basis, my publisher goal was to create the horror line that I wished existed when I was watching movies like CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST and THE EVIL DEAD and wondering where the literature equivalent was.

To be an actual force in the horror genre was my goal but to actually reach it is something else. I know that many people look up (or down) upon Deadite. But in my mind, I’m still just the horror nerd I always was trying to share the cool shit I found with my friends.

Almost every day there is a moment where I sit back and think about the fact that I work with my very favorite living authors full-time. I pay my bills working with Brian Keene and Edward Lee. Introducing horror fans to great up-and-coming authors like Shane McKenzie and Erik Williams gets me beer money.

I hope I never lose that amazement.

So, to answer your question, it’s fucking weird.

Elaborating on Frank’s question about Brian Keene, were you present for the deal with the former Dorchester authors to re-release their novels through Deadite? Who came up with that idea? Did it all happen at once or did individual authors come to you (or the other way around) with their manuscripts? Is this even something you guys are comfortable talking about publicly?

As answered in the previous question, I suddenly found myself at a strange place early with Deadite Press. I was approaching this all from a purely fan perspective but suddenly there were a bunch of big names to jump onto Deadite. They were into our idea of doingwhat everyone else wasn’t doing at the time.

So when Leisure went under that left a lot of authors without homes. They saw there was this new press that was working with Edward Lee, Wrath James White, Bryan Smith, and Dave Brockie, and many other authors then were immediately interested in working with us.

In terms of rereleasing the Leisure/Dorchester books, those books were otherwise going to disappear and many of those authors hadn’t received royalties for quite some time (if you want to know more, look up the Brian Keene blogs about the situation). The author’s managed to get the rights to their books back but it was unknown what was going to happen to them. Fortunately, with Deadite, I was able to provide a venue to get the books back in print for readers and the authors actually got paid for their work.

In terms of who ultimately came up with the idea of so many reprints on Deadite – that was me.

When I first became a fan of these underground horror authors, I could not afford many of the limited edition hardback books – and that was the only way to read much of Edward Lee, Brian Keene, Wrath James White, and many other authors’ bibliographies. I would buy the super expensive hardback, read it, and then sell it on eBay. It was the only way I could afford it.

I always thought it was very small thinking on the part of their publishers. It was like they were saying that there was only a very limited number of readers interested in these books and printing more than, say one-hundred and fifty copies, was a waste of time.

I believed that there was a lot more readers interested in the sick shit that Edward Lee, Wrath James White, and Ryan Harding were doing than many small press publishers were willing to give them credit for.

Fortunately, the readers of Deadite Press have proved me right.

Do you think Deadite will see its first female writer published in the near future or is she just not there yet?

Deadite already has its first female author – Monica J. O’Rourke. She co-wrote a book with Wrath James White, POISONING EROS, and Deadite rereleased her first novel, SUFFER THE FLESH. Expect to see several more books from her and Deadite in the future.

I’ve been aware of the lack of the female representation on Deadite Press and it’s something I had been hoping to fix. I believe a diversity of voices is something healthy and should be strived for in all genre fiction. Actually, over the past three years, I have commissioned three different female authors for books on Deadite. Sadly, all three projects fell through.

I was amazed and thrilled to finally get Monica. She was one of the first hardcore horror authors that I ever got into. SUFFER THE FLESH was one of my introductions to fucked-up fiction and to present her work to the Deadite audience thrills me!

Remember those extreme clowns in the circus you told Jeremy Maddux about off air? And suddenly Technicolor Terrorists drops from Deadite. Coincidence?

Haha. Total coincidence.

For those that don’t know, I frequently work with a local side show in Portland called The Bedlam Sisters Side Show. I help out with business, promotion, and various behind the scenes shit. And this is a serious side show. The performers do this full-time and they do hardcore shit like putting power-drills up their noses and jumping up and down on broken glass. They are amazing performers and I am proud that they consider me one of their own. I’m normally a behind the scenes guy but I have had a staple gun taken to me a few times on stage.

Which brings us to TECHNICOLOR TERRORISTS. I’ve always loved the circus ever since I was a little kid. I love the bright colors, the charismatic ringmasters and carnival barkers, the clowns, and the weirdos. With Deadite Press I am dedicated to publishing books about the things that interested me. When Andre Duza pitched me the idea of a bizarro/horror book themed around the circus, I was immediately sold.

And it totally is the circus themed book that I’ve been wanting for Deadite Press!

You see a lot of fiction coming through the doors at EHP. What themes are you tired of seeing as an editor? What themes would you like to see more of? / What is the easiest way to get accepted for publication by Jeff Burk the editor? The easiest way to get rejected?

I just have little to no interest in stories dealing with bodily functions. Be it shitting, pissing, or masturbation – I just find it boring. It’s not weird. We all shit, piss, and masturbate – it’s literally the most common human experiences possible. Sadly, it’s normally the first place a new author goes when trying to be “transgressive.”

There’s a lot more to being extreme than just those standard tropes.

If you want to be accepted by me to Deadite Press, show me something that others aren’t doing. Take a risk. Be bold. Most importantly, be unafraid to be yourself.

There’s something that creeps into your mind in your darkest moments that haunts you through your happiest times. You might think you’re alone but you’re not. You’d be shocked at how many people are freaked out or think about the very same thing.

I want to see what is uniquely you. Show me a perspective of the world that no one else can.

Bonus points if you can work in giant monsters.

How many pitches do you pass on for every one you accept?

In terms of an individual author, we may go through a dozen or so pitches before we find something that we’re both happy with.

With open pitches, I’d say it’s about four to six hundred rejections for every acceptance.

If you like a pitch what happens next?

This is the normal process that Eraserhead/Deadite goes through with our authors. First we ask them for a proposal that contains:

1: A title. 2: A short one to two sentence “elevator” pitch. 3: A brief summary of the story.

We ask the authors to send in multiple proposals at one time – because who knows what awesome ideas they might have that they might not think anyone would care about. We got back and forth on this, sometimes with dozens of proposals, until we get an idea we’re both happy with (the writer and the editor).

The pitch and summary are what’s really important. The title can always be worked on during the writing process. Sometimes we don’t have a title we’re really happy with until everything else with the book is done (but we already had a kickass concept).

Once we have an accepted pitch, we work with the author to create an outline. Nothing too specific, but more so than the summary we already have. This is mostly to make sure that the book will have a decent story structure.

Then we let the writer run wild. Once they’re writing, we don’t interfere until they have a finished draft. Then we read that and give input. Sometimes the author turns in a basic perfect first draft and we just do copy-editing (this happened with Garrett Cook’s TIME PIMP). Other times, like with my own SHATNERQUEST, the editor (Rose O’Keefe) requests a complete rewrite.

Once that is all done and we have a draft we’re happy with then comes the cover and backcover – which sometimes feels just as difficult! Finding the perfect art and summing up the book perfectly in three paragraphs to excite the reader can be maddening!

But it’s all worth it. After all this, the books are finally released to the world, and, hopefully, find homes in which they will be loved.

What are writers doing wrong these days? / What are some common mistakes you see authors make that gets them rejected from publication?

This is easy – trying to imitate other writers.

Let’s be honest, everything that can be done has already been done. All stories have already been told and this has been true for hundreds of years now. The key to being a successful story is telling that story that has been told a thousand times before in the way that only you can.

Every person has their own perspective on the world. The trick to being a good story-teller is figuring out what viewpoint you have that no one else does and relating that to readers.

Many writers try to imitate whatever the hot book theme is of the time – whether it be romantic vampires, zombie/public domain cross-overs, or whatever else is the hot topic in the small press scene. But that’s actually thinking way too small. The reason those books took off is because someone that had an irrational love of something just went for it and wrote their book. What a new author should be doing is looking at what they love and embracing it to their fullest capabilities.

What we are interested in at Eraserhead Press is finding authors who are bold in their views of the world and attempting to cultivate that. There actually isn’t a particular viewpoint or style that we are looking for with Eraserhead Press other than finding our authors’ voices and doing our best to encourage them to be the best unique weirdo they can be.

Is there room in this world for stories about pOOp?

I’m sure there is, I’m just not interested in them.

 

Other questions…

Are you a product of Portland or did you move to Portland to be the Jeff Burk you needed to be?

I moved here from the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania. I really hated that place and totally needed to be in Portland to become the professional creative I am these days.

Fun fact – within about a one hour radius of where I’m from in PA, John Skipp, Brian Keene, J.F. Gonzalez, and Edward Lee all were born/ lived for a time. There was something in the water there…

Do you think you and Troy Chambers will ever get around to summoning and trapping that entity? What was it supposed to be again, an Enochian angel maybe?

Haha. To explain to everyone, Troy Chambers is someone that use to work with Eraserhead Press. His official title was “Office Bitch” (a title once held by Cameron Pierce and before that me – I was the first “Office Bitch”). In the very rare occasion we take someone onto Eraserhead Press that’s their first job title. Basically you assist with random office jobs and help with the various imprints. Once you find something you’re good at and love, then you get a promotion to something better suited to your talents.

Troy and I were/are good friends. Where we are different is that he practices and believes in Voodoo. So he believes in literal supernatural entities. I’m, to say the least, am very much a sceptic and have extreme doubts in the supernatural.

Our plan to test this was he was going to make an item that would attract a demon and I was going to keep it in my then apartment for a month to see if anything happened.

However, before we could test this, he found a different life direction and left Eraserhead Press and we never got to do our demon experiment.

I must admit, I’m still curious how that would have turned out.

We know you’ve seen all the extreme horror hall of famers, i.e. Human Centipede, Funny Games, Serbian Film, Cannibal Holocaust. Which one tops the list of most disturbing for you? Which one shook you up the absolute worst?

Yep, I’ve seen all those. I adore extreme horror flicks and go out of my way to seek out all the sickest shit out there. In all honesty, none of it really bothers me. I’m not fazed by fictional depravity. The movies might make me squirm while watching them but nothing really lingers in my mind. A SERBIAN FILM is one of my favorite date movies!

Have you seen Isle of the Damned and/or Pleasures of the Damned? And if so, can you guess which voices G Arthur Brown does?

I have not seen them yet but I’m going to guess “Unnamed Pervert #3?”

Will there be Squishy shot glasses at the next Bizarro Con?

I do think this is a great idea but I have to say “no.” I’m not sure I want to become that kinda guy. I’m already dangerously close to Crazy Cat Guy.

Squishy!?

Squishy!

squish

Any truth to the rumors Squishy will release her EHP debut before the end of the year?

Sadly, despite my best efforts, Squishy seems unable to learn English – much less learn to type. I doubt we’ll be bringing her authorial debut anytime soon.

However, I am planning on having an exclusive chapbook available at BizarroCon titled THE SQUISHY STORIES. You’ll have to wait to hear more about that.

Did you frame the underpants you soiled when you got Brian Keene to sign on the dotted line?

Keene and I actually go way back. We’re from the small piece of shit middle of nowhere small Pennsylvania town. I saw him speak and read at some local libraries and events around the area and I had been a fan of his work since his early Leisure days.

I look up to him immensely but at the core I think of him as another hometown-boy. I’m amazed that either of us made it at all.

Do you have any advice on encounters with B-movie actors besides Shatner?

Attack first to establish dominance. Just like prison.

You mentioned in the foreword to Shatnerquest that you temporarily lost mobility in your hand for about a month and no one knew what was wrong. Did they ever figure out what was going on and are you in better health now?

Never found out what happened. I completely lost the use of my right hand for a month. I woke up one day and couldn’t move it at all – it was basically a dead limb. What was weird was that I had complete feeling and no discomfort or pain. After a month the use slowly came back but then I lost the use of my left hand for a month. That eventually came back too. I saw several doctors but no one could figure out anything wrong. I have the use of both my hands again but that fucking sucked.

What scares the hair off your nuts?

The two things that really fill me with existential dread are something happening to my mind or something happening to my hands. With the use of either of them I would be unable to properly express myself and communicate with the world.

I also hate airplanes. I basically have a panic attack for the entire duration of a flight.

What would you call the scariest experience of your life?

See above about losing the use of my hands for some time. I can honestly say that I have faced one of my greatest fears. You know how people say that when you face what you’re afraid of you gain some strength over it? Bullshit. All I learned was that it really is something to be fucking afraid of.

How much do you really like Leftöver Crack? And punk rock in general? Do you smoke crack?

I love Leftover Crack! They’re one of my all-time favorite bands and I’ve seen them live numerous times. Along with their many off-shoots and precursors – Choking Victim, Star Fucking Hipsters, Morning Glory, INDK, Public Serpents, etc…

I’m really into the whole crusty-ska/punk scene. If anyone likes Leftover Crack, I also highly recommend checking out the Stupid Stupid Henchmen, Anti-Venom, Night Gaunts, and Atrocity Solution. All great bands.

I’ve never done crack but I love drugs! I tend to stick to marijuana, alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco. Occasionally, I like a psychedelic like acid or shrooms. I use to take them A LOT when I was younger but not so much these days. Just don’t feel like it. I have done ayahuasca twice – which were probably the best drug experiences of my life.

But I have no interest in the hard shit, never have. I’ve seen firsthand the effects of drugs like coke, meth, PCP, and heroin too often to have any interest in them.

How do you feel about Kevin and Frank asking you a sh*t ton of questions?

It’s cool.

How much for your jacket?

Never for sale. And I burn my old ones when they get too ragged.

If someone put a gun to your head and said you had to vote in 2016, or lets say you accept suicide lets and even make stakes even higher they put a gun to William Shatner’s head ask the same question, is there any politician you could vote for president in 2016?

As mentioned earlier, I worked in politics for a time and completely turned me off from the process. I’m of the old yippie opinion, “Why vote? It only encourages them.”

However, I would love to be the campaign manager on a Jello Biafra/Lloyd Kaufman ticket.

Too Drunk to Fuck or Holiday in Cambodia?

Great question! “Holiday in Cambodia.” Though, “Pull My Strings” is my favorite Dead Kennedys song.

Invent a new flavor for a jelly bean…?

I would want a jelly bean made of that same shit Pop Rocks are made of – a jelly bean that explodes in your mouth! It should be really spicy and fruity – habanero and pineapple are a great combination.

Shit, they should hire me to design candy.

Thanks Jeff, that was great! And thank you to all of you who asked our author a question this month.

If you would like to know more about Jeff or his work, follow these links.

Thank you everyone for all your wonderful questions!

If you have any interest in continuing to stalk me, you can at the following places:

https://www.facebook.com/LiteraryStrange

https://twitter.com/Jeff_Burk

https://jeffburk.wordpress.com/

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