Living Among Gnomes; Using a Spork To Dig Inside The Mind of Author Jeremy C. Shipp

August 14, 2009 at 2:45 PM (Interviews)


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Jeremy C. Shipp is a man of many talents.  Whether he is building a fort with his garden gnome army armed with sporks, writing his stories or losing his hair due to his haunted house, Jeremy never fails to entertain!  He is a fiction writer (and if you may, Bizarro Fiction) who has quite a few published works under his belt of sporks.  His tales like Vacation, Sheep and Wolves and his numerous short stories  never fail to twist your mind into a vortex of bewilderment. Jeremy also has created a short film called “Egg”:

So, please come on this journey with me through the recesses of Jeremy C. Shipp’s mind.  Perhaps you will want to have your own army of garden gnomes or party with evil clowns.

I read your first novel, Vacation; it was like a David Lynch movie, very mind bending.  Is that your intention?  Are all of your novels and short stories written that way?

When writing a story or a book, I prefer going places I’ve never been before.  And so, my readers come along for the ride.  Vacation is especially mind-bending, I believe, because the main character experiences a paradigm shift.  He leaves one reality, and enters another, and this is a confusing and surreal experience.

Please, explain your fascination about gnomes.

I’m a giant yard gnome myself, and so I’ve always been close to my kind.  But I walk a crooked line between my people and humanity.  Most gnomes live in hunter-gatherer-based eco-villages, and prefer to avoid civilization altogether.  And while I may be an anarcho-tribalist, I enjoy living among humans.  Outside of my comfort zone, I’ve learned a lot about myself.  I’ve also learned that humans are good at heart.

When did you write your 1st story?  What was it about?

My first memorable short story, I wrote in 4th grade.  The tale was called “Chomper,” and it was about a green alien who ate anything, and who had an affinity for opera.  Then when I was 13, I wrote my first novel, and I’ve been writing about one a year ever since.

Was there an inspiration for you to write; a person or a gnome perhaps?

I’m constantly inspired to write by the gnomes and people in my life.  I’d say that I started writing due to the books I loved as a kid.  Stories by Ray Bradbury, HG Wells, Alexandre Dumas, etc. made me want to try writing a book myself.  And so I did.

I read where your house is haunted; can you share a spooky story about it?

During the renovation period, my dad and I were up in the attic, taking apart the old chimney.  Eventually, something started rising out of a pile of ash.  At first we thought it was an animal of some sort, but it turned out to be an old doll.  We still have the doll, or perhaps the doll has us.

Please, give us a glimpse into your mind; what is your writing process?

I start out with a spark, which might be an idea or a striking image that grips my brain and won’t let go.  Then I brainstorm a bit, or just start writing the story.  Sometimes I know where the story’s headed, but I never know exactly how I’m going to get there.  I like not knowing.  I like feeling the confusion my characters feel.  I put them in situations I don’t know how to get them out of, and we discover a solution together.

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You have a new novel coming out Halloween this year called Cursed.  I have yet to review it, but can you tell us about it?

Cursed is about Nicholas, Cicely, and their friends.  They create an informal support group for cursed individuals.  Together, they try to cope with their problems and find their happiness.

You are on Twitter and you interact with, support and are very kind to every one of your followers, especially your fans; do you feel that Twitter has helped you sell your novels and get the word out there?  How so?

Twitter, Myspace, Facebook, Goodreads—they’ve all helped me to connect with new readers and form new friendships.  Word of mouth is so important to a cult writer such as myself.  My readership is growing steadily, and that’s thanks to the support of my dedicated fans.

Besides writing, what do you enjoy doing?

I enjoy hanging out with my wife and my family, reading books, watching ducks, petting my cat, playing the piano, using telekinesis to move plastic straws, tickling coconut monkeys, listening to the theme song from Charles in Charge, hiking, camping, laughing, playing improv games, meditating, watching the stars, smelling flowers, making lists, collecting weird figurines, Twittering, conversing, doing animal activist stuff, learning about the world.

How long did it take for you to get published?  What was the process?

As I said, I started writing novels when I was 13, but I didn’t start sending my work into the publishing universe until I was 18.  So I had quite a few years to practice.  After a few months of sending out my stories, I was published in an online magazine, and I’ve been getting published in magazines and anthologies ever since.  Of course, I’ve received hundreds of rejection letters over the years, and they’re as much a part of my success as the acceptance letters.

As far as my novels go, I didn’t really attempt to get any published for many years.  But after writing Vacation, I felt as if I accomplished everything I set out to accomplish.  I knew I wanted to get this one published.  Vacation was too weird for many publishers, but not so for Raw Dog Screaming Press.  They embraced my novel, and I thank my lucky stars for their support.

What did you do when you found out that you were going to get published?  Did you have a party with the horde of gnomes?

I partied with my family, the gnomes, the coconut monkeys, the ninja monkeys, and even the evil clowns.  We all danced the publication jig and we ate novel pie.

What is the best advice you can give to aspiring writers who want to get published?

Write from your heart, your gut, your spleen, your mind, your soul.  Check out ralan.com and duotrope.com, and follow the submission guidelines exactly.  Write every day.  Take chances with your style and your voice, and make mistakes.  Make sure you’re entertained by your stories.  If you’re not, chances are no one else will be either.  And don’t worry about rejections.  They’re a balanced part of a writer’s breakfast; high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acid

Please visit Jeremy on his website here: http://jeremycshipp.com/index.html

You can buy a signed book from his bookstore!

Also, follow Jeremy on Twitter! http://twitter.com/JeremyCShipp

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2 Comments

  1. Justin said,

    Another well written piece 🙂

  2. Freddy said,

    I just love this blog.

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