Transgressive fiction is nothing new. In fact, although I coin myself a transgressive writer, it's kinda like saying punk rock after the 1980s. To be a true trangressive writer, many would argue you must've been a published pen between the late 1800s and early 1900s. However, many writers of the new and sorta new can be found quite easily today, such as Amy Hempel and Chuck Palahniuk. Oh yeah, James Joyce - you know Ulysses - is a pretty common gem. While we're name dropping: Bret Easton Ellis, Anthony Burgess, Elizabeth Young.
Trangressive fiction started with prose that was often banned or chastised for being too obscene, too vulgar, or just too close to home. These stories brought the social struggles of their times into an honest - admittedly sometimes dark - portrayal. Some people go to the extreme, while others might just rip on consumerism.
The thing about transgressive fiction is that's it's about what's right. Here a 3 points to consider if you ever find yourself bored in a Barnes & Noble and want to count the trangressive writers throughout the entire store.
Today I was spoiled with an opportunity to interview author Andrew Cyrus Hudson, the mastermind behind Somewhere in the Shadows: The Anthology. See, he's the guy who designed the book and had it made.
He's worked with multiple aspects of publishing, and his passion resides in producing a book from the ground up. He's also the guy who asked me to be in the short story collection. You know that "Charlatan" thing I've been, admittedly, self-promoting like crazy as of late? That's the short story I contributed.
For now, here are the publishing-related questions and his uncensored response to them all.
C.M. Humphries (C):
How long did the entire publishing process for Somewhere in the Shadows take?
Andrew Cyrus Hudson(A):
If we're talking about the time it took to produce it, not that long. The short story, all drafts, just took an hour a day for about a week or two and the rest of the time was simply contacting people (ironically the email updates probably took the most time). However, it's not a simple matter of writing a short story and getting everyone together. It's waiting on the production to take place and for people to get back to you. So with that taken to account, I started contacting everyone December of 2011 and finally got it out December 2012, making it about a year to get it made.
C: How did you decide which authors would be in the anthology?
A: There were several different methods of figuring out which authors should be on the list. The easiest ones were my writer buddies I already knew, such as Jonathan D. Allen. All I had to do was shoot him an email asking if he'd be interested in doing an anthology (or in the case of writer buddy Andrez Bergen, he contacted me with an interest in doing it). Everyone else though, was a discovery. Marissa Farrar was an interesting find because I found her through the "also purchased" links in Drift (back when I miscategorized Drift as horror instead of thriller). But everyone else was mostly discovered through a simple process. I'd look at various followers and followers of followers on Twitter, see if they wrote in a vein close to horror, check out their site, determine if they're decent writers (as in check out their samples or bibliography and see if they can in fact write a short story), and then get into contact with them. Some indie/small pub writers who wrote big horror novels politely declined because they weren't comfortable with writing short stories (lesson learned: not every authors has written a short story or knows how to). Some authors who climbed on board backed down later due to obligations that are completely understandable. So in the end, the author list was more by chance and it ended up working out perfectly.
C: What were the overhead expenses for producing such an anthology?
A: The overhead cost of an anthology is the same for any self-published novel. Meaning that it can be as cheap or as expensive as you want. Remember that it doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg if you do your research. But also remember that cheap people get cheap results, and you can't cut corners and rip people off if you want to have a good anthology (and be a decent human being). The total cost (mainly formatting and art) was about $120.00 all together. But as stated before, it could be a free or a few grand depending on how much of it you do yourself and who you hire.
C: What are your future plans for Somewhere in the Shadows or for other story collections?
A: I'd like to eventually get Somewhere in the Shadows in CreateSpace and Smashwords format early next year. As well as try to get it in the hands of a few more readers who aren't my friends or family before it inevitably falls off the charts. As far as other plans go..
-Somewhere in the Stars: If Somewhere in the Shadows is about horror, then the next logical progress would be science-fiction. It would be a collection of short stories having to do with either space, exploration beyond the ordinary, or other planets. I'd like to bring back all of the crew from Somewhere in the Shadows and possibly a new writer or two (I guess making an anthology is kind of like The Expendables). Although I'd have to wait until early summer before I even think about doing another anthology. Otherwise I'd burn out and go crazy.
-Collaborative Book: I always wanted to do a collaborative book. Perhaps write a novel with a fellow author or even multiple authors to see how crazy the direction would take us. Or maybe write a fictional world/town with a specific set of rules and then we'd all get to write stories set in that place.
-Writer's Faction: This is the most important thing above all. This wouldn't be like a writer's group, which is essentially a support group. This would almost be like a publisher, except that we wouldn't have to pay into it. Basically we'd help each other out. When we do promotions (e.g free book), we do it together. A larger fan-base for one writer would be a larger fan-base for all. I don't want to sound doom and gloom here but I think writers who go it alone in the digital biz are going to find it increasingly difficult as time goes on. Self-publishing doesn't have to mean alone-publishing.
C: Where can everyone find you online?
A: Everyone can find me at andrewcyrushudson.net . I'm actually starting a website all over again (long story short, GoDaddy.com now owns andrewcyrushudson.com), so apologies for the site being somewhat under construction.
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Ask Andrew Cyrus Hudson Anything About Somewhere in the Shadows or independent & self-publishing in the comments - and earn points towards a hand-bound edition of No-Injury Policy!
"And the Zombies Starved"
Zombies were all the rage back then.
It started off with movies like Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland, all the comedic romance stories disguised by those flesh-eating beasts. Cara and I’d watched them all during their midnight releases. When it first began, I was just as much a fool as anyone else. That was true until I remembered my distaste for the film Pearl Harbor. Some said Pearl Harbor was a masterpiece in the way it isolated a personal story from something much larger. Critics said it humanized the United States involvement in WWII. I said it was populist bullshit designed to sell the same old Hollywood love-story. It was a multi-million-dollar rerun masked by something that looked like war in the background—a love triangle and explosions in the distance.
Such storylines could’ve been juxtaposed with any other set of circumstances: an interstellar dilemma, an ominous dreamscape on Elm Street, inside of a failing 50s diner. Back then, it was tongues in throats and, oh yeah, zombies eating brains. But it was all the rage and it had everyone hooked.
One night after work, Cara came home with an atrocious set of heels painted black and green with something I assumed to be a face of a brain-munching undead. “You like them?” she asked. “I don’t think they make too many of them. They’re Zombie Heels.”
I nodded and kissed her before we went to bed.
The next morning, on my way to work, I saw dozens of women pass by wearing green, red, and purple variations of the same goddamn Zombie Heels. When did the undead become so colorful? Even at work, women wobbled in and out of the sandwich shop with the click and clack of cliché until I had my first apocalyptic impulse. That was, I wanted to shoot every last zombie-sporting sucker right through the skull. Zombies were never meant to be cute, colorful, or cuddly. They were—and always would be—a mixture of medical and social experiment gone awry. If Hollywood turned the stories of Jack the Ripper or Jack Kevorkian into whimsical love stories, would women start dropping their day jobs for the glorious life of prostitution or start carrying around their own IV tubes?
My only sense of relief derived from the fact, when the customers ordered their sandwiches, they asked for BLTs instead of brains. And I only discovered sleep when I realized that one day the fad would pass. Be it the end of my beloved creatures as they were in their raw, gruesome forms, but the end of mainstream madness nonetheless.
But it only metastasized. The following morning, I awoke to a thump on the nightstand next to our bed. My eyes peeled open like fresh blood oranges to see Cara hovering over me with a grin that slit her face in half. “Look,” she shouted as she pointed at a book next the alarm clock.
I glanced over and saw a book with zombies on the cover. “Jesus, no,” I muttered. I read the back cover:
Roman and Julia are forced apart by their wealthy parents, never to express their love for each other again . . . That is until a scientific experiment to turn their parents into super humans turns them into flesh-eating monsters.
“Doesn’t it sound great?” Cara asked, truly impressed with her find.
“Do you realize what this is?” I asked her.
“Yeah, it’s a gory zombie book.”
“Gory—No, this is nothing more than Romeo and Juliet . . .”
Something boiled under my skin. Whatever it was, it hid under the façade of anger and consumed me in a matter of mere seconds. I snatched the book and showed Cara exactly what I thought of it by hurling all three hundred pages at her chest. The problem was, I aimed too high. The book smacked against her temple, and Cara dropped limp to the floor.
“Shit,” I yelled.
Back then, the police were overzealous and overabundant, and they didn’t care how or why your wife was unconscious in your bedroom. If you’d hurt her, the police would hurt you. So I ran.
Past all the houses on our street, down through the shopping centers and glass testaments to mankind, I sprinted for nowhere. It didn’t matter where I ended up so long as I was away. On my journey, though, something came over me.
Everywhere I turned there were watered-down zombies. Passersby wore tattered t-shirts with cartoon zombie prints. Chuck Taylors and high heels alike boasted some demented aspect of beauty coinciding with the zombie. Was I alone in the world? Maybe all these people were zombies in the Haiti sense; carrying on the last thing they were told or shown. On every corner, marquees contained zombie puns within the movie titles. There were zombies everywhere.
Enraged by the zombie rage, I hurried along my path of uncertainty, brushing by zombies on every crosswalk. I knocked down a woman in her forties when I saw her zombie earrings. I took out some punk on a zombie-themed skateboard and almost cried when I saw blood rushing onto the sidewalk from underneath his head. Right before I took a bus headed out of town, I knocked out all five members of a street band called The Lost Sombi.
Wiping off the sweat from my brow, I found a seat on the bus and tried to regulate my breaths. The bus reeked of cat-piss, cheap cologne, and mothballs. Together it stirred into a brew I’d associated with decay. Although my senses peaked and the bus ride was slow, I kept to myself. During the trip, however, I couldn’t stop thinking about Cara. Did I knock her out, or did I actually kill her? How many zombies did I take out during my escape from town? It wasn’t my fault—It was those stupid movies trying to cover-up tasteless and unmemorable plots with the walking dead. It was the devolution of mainstream society from Barbie to Zombie High.
Just when I thought I’d regained my composure, a little boy turned around and stared at me, before he shoved his Game Boy in my face. He said, “I just got this.” While his mother tried to stop him from talking to a stranger, the boy kept yapping as a remake of Zombies Ate My Neighbors flashed on the screen. “See, you go around and shoot zombies with Super Soakers and kill them, and you can throw soda cans and twin-pops at them, and you . . .”
I punched the kid square in the face.
The mother screamed and swatted at me with a zombie purse, as I stood up and smashed her son’s Game Boy on the grated floor. At once, the bus halted, and one-by-one, the travelers came at me.
Swiping the purse, I wacked and pushed everyone in sight until I reached the front of the bus.
Tossing the purse to the ground, I ran as fast as I could to an old hotel at the end of the next block. Inside, I pulled out all of my cash from my wallet and told the woman at the desk, “I need a room as high up as you’ve got.”
She threw me a curious look and remained still for a moment. A phone resided next to her, a few inches from her anxious fingertips. She tapped along the countertop, her slight movements drawing more erratic by the second. The woman peered up at me, and I stared right back at her. As she started to reach for the phone, she pivoted around and grabbed the top left key from a pegboard behind her. “You’ll need to write yourself in,” she said before she slid a clipboard of forms in front of me.
Back then, time eluded me. I might’ve stayed in the room for a few days, although it felt like months. From time to time, I clicked on the television to see if I needed to find a new hideout, but there was one time when the evening news surprised me with a different sort of newscast. On the screen, a woman so starved she might as well been a zombie reported the tale of a new cult hero. A video package displayed dozens of people boasting hats, shirts, and lunchboxes with my face. Not only did the merchandise depict an unauthorized interpretation of me, but it my hand was a shotgun pointed at a mob of poorly sketched zombies. The videos of my fans cut short when the reporter pressed on her earpiece and said, “We’re now going live to the hotel, where our ‘cult hero’ was last seen checking in. Breaking news, folks: I’ve just received word that police are now in search—”
I slammed my thumb on the power button of the TV remote controller and bolted for the window. The window wouldn’t give as I tried to lift it open, so I grabbed the nearby end table and shattered through the glass no sooner than the police plowed through the door of my room.
Down below, reporters and a swarm of fans with my t-shirts all screamed up at me. There was a way out, for sure. I could’ve escaped through a set of emergency ladders around the hotel, but I hesitated at the sight of at least three hundred people cheering me on. Didn’t they get it? I guessed there were a lot of people who didn’t get it back then. Now I had to choose between escape and perpetuating the very thing I detested. It was either that or I’d have to succumb to the officers’ efforts to arrest me and go to jail as a wife-beater. One more glance at all the zombies below on the streets and I decided to do what was right. The right thing was not the rage back then. Arms straight out in front of me, I dropped to my knees and said to the police officers, “Please."
By nature, literature has always remained somewhat conservative. I don't mean this in any political way, and I don't mean the content is too PG (I think that wave is almost over). When I say literature is a bit too conservative, I mean the concept of a book or publication. Literature has always been slow to react, as we saw with the Big 6's hesitance towards eBooks. And even though we're somewhere in the transition from print to digital, I don't think the eBook will ever save literature, so to speak. I've come up with 3 ideas for literature to save itself, or otherwise it might contribute to it's own death.
There's a good chance this post will piss a lot of people off. See, this one is all about publishing - what it is and it isn't. It's no secret that No-Injury Policy is self-published, but trust me, there's a great deal of trepidation as I type this sentence. See, self-published works often procure the curious eye and the furrowed brow. Self-publishing is said to be for the impatient, the lazy, and the worst of writers. But ever wonder who says such things? Consider this: I, like many authors, have a dream of one day being part of either Random House or Penguin Group. That means you made it, right? If you guessed "yes", the you really need to keep on reading.
When expectations are high, money is tight, love is tainted and stress is ubiquitous, the citizens of Chase County will do anything to make sure they survive. From the deconstruction of a town to frivolous intercourse with strangers, No-Injury Policy explores the dark depths of human nature when social pressures peak. No sooner than the meek taste retribution, however, they encounter the demons that have aided authority figures to the top - demons that refuse to lose control no matter what it takes.
No-Injury Policy is the 1st short story collection by C.M. Humphries, showcasing seven of the eeriest tales from every town in Chase County: Raven's Crook, Lovington, Lakeside, and Long Brooke.Following along as I provide a snippet of each story in the collection. If there's a picture to the left of the premise, that means I blogged on a topic from the story. Be sure to check them all out.
Admit it. At least once or twice in your life, you've probably put down a book before you finished it. Now I'm not psychic by any means, but my guess is it was a book for school. For a vast majority of you - well, myself included - it was during high school. Don't we all love 19th Century Literature? Of course we do. Do we like a ton of it thrown at us at once with strict completion and examination deadlines? We probably like it a lot less then. So what do you do when you're on a time crunch with a literature assignment? You look online for summaries. What's there to fear? Here's what:
Literary Giants Can Be Trolls Too
At the risk of sounding old, let me say that when I was a kid, we weren't reading contemporary literature in high school. As a matter of fact you born-after-1994 kids, you should thank your previous generations for forcing high schools to offer up a reading list with a modern feel. Or post-modern, if you wanna be a dick about it. Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Twilight, Crank - These would've never been read in high school during my time. (All right, I'll stop being condescending now.) When I was in high school, we were ravenous for a book printed during the 1990s or 2000s. With that said, sometimes Hemmingway, Hawthorn, Shelley, and the whole gang were a bit tedious to read and test over and over on. Mark Twain wasn't as funny the third time around, and he actually seemed more racist than anything. Sure there were Spark Notes and the like to help students ace through their studies.
Now, of course, we've got Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. You can just search the forums or search your question directly. In most cases, a forum will have the summary of a book and less than intelligent analyses. What you might never expect is a pissed-off writer insulted by a students quest not to read his book.Although the post has since been deleted, the student originally asked Yahoo! Answers,
"I haven't been able to finish this book. Can someone give me a complete review, including everything important? I REALLY need this! AND it's not because I'm slacking." The book is The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To. And the author is DC Pierson (who honestly looks fresh out of graduate school), who replied, Hi! My name's DC Pierson, I wrote the book "The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep And Never Had To." First off, I'm really excited that my book is being suggested for summer reading. On the other hand, I'm bummed out that you don't want to try and finish it, and not even because you think it's bad, but just because it seems like work instead of like fun.
I'm not going to sit here and act like I didn't sometimes not read assigned books for class in high school. Even though it's referenced once in my book, the book you're avoiding reading, I've never actually read "The Scarlet Letter." So I'm sympathetic to your plight. But I think you'll find there's a ton more sex, swearing, and drugs in my book than anything else you have been or will be assigned in high school, and I don't mean in the way your teacher will tell you "You know, Shakespeare has more sex and violence than an R-rated movie!" I mean it's all there, in terms you will readily understand without having to Google them. Plus not once to I refer to anything as a "bare bodkin" or anything like that.
I guess all I'm saying is, of all the books not to read, to beg the Internet to read for you because your library is being remodeled, mine seems like an odd choice. (I recently had to read it aloud for an audiobook edition, and we recorded it in about 10 hours, and I was not reading fast at all. Maybe read it aloud to yourself an hour a night between now and when class starts? Or get together with other kids who have to read it for school and read it to each other? Maybe one of these other kids will be so impressed with your oratory skills you guys will end up making out. That would be pretty cool, right?)
Here, I'll give you an extra hint you'll get to put in your paper if you end up writing it: It was all real. A lot of people have asked me if it was supposed to be real or not, and my feeling is, it was. You won't know what I'm talking about unless you read 'til the end, though. And you might disagree with me on this "it was all real" thing once you get there. Just because I wrote it doesn't make my opinion more valid than yours. Wouldn't it be cool to tell your teacher, "The author says he thinks (it) was real but he's an idiot and I disagree with him and here's why!"
I finished my book. I bet you can, too.
Where They Went Wrong: Student vs. Pierson
Pierson (left) obviously finds time to read between shots.
First off, I think there's a valid shot taken against the student. You should never ask anyone - or the Internet - to do your reading for you. This is a terrible idea, and instead of making your teacher think you didn't read the material, you'll make them think you might need to be held back.
Second, the student does score one on the author. His question was less full of grammatical errors than the author's answer.
Third, the author proposes a strange scenario in which a student might score a little foreplay. The author scores a point for creativity, and the student just scores.
Fourth, the author scores great publicity for answering the question.
Five, both the student and author lose a point for acting on impulse. While going with your gut can often be serendipitous, both participants in this forum lose a point for sounding like high schoolers.
Six, the student scores a point for creative excuses. However, you should never say you're running behind on a book because the school's library is closed when the book is mainstream fiction which can be found ANYWHERE! Let's go with a 1/2 point on this one.
Student - 1 1/2 points
Author - 2
In all seriousness, though, I think an author answering a question like this is beneficial. While at first it seems like trolling or bullying, the author is actual careful with his words and facetious at times. In the long run, however, Pierson provides the student with some comical relief, real-life solutions, a personal challenge, and a slight scolding that might influence him to read books in the future.
If you were in Pierson's shoes, what would you have done?
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How Social Media Changed Everything.
Try to imagine when you first started roaming the web. Do you recall a time when there were no "like" or "share" or "tweet" tags? Do you remember having to email links to videos, pictures, or articles while staying within your allotted amount of storage space? It's rather difficult, I think.
It's almost beautiful in the way we can share information instantaneously these days, but such a widespread digital-social landscape has certainly brought its shortcomings.
The way we handle information these days can be overwhelming at times. Ideally, we could share relevant new stories, both "real news" and personal. We can completely specialize the content we consume.
Every digital revolution has brought meaningful ways to communicate on vast levels, but sometimes, what is newsworthy is often too subjective or even the impulsive result of popularity contests. Information with the most likes spreads the quickest and all too often draws in commercial potential, thus rendering the data as serendipitous and insightful as a cliche.
Be honest with yourself: Do you see more memes than watchdog stories spreading on your news-feed? I cannot count the amount of misinformation or narrow-minded bits of information that has become widespread because it hit some sort of melodramatic soft spot. Even with all the falsehoods social media spreads, there are worse consequences.
The way we share the news and personal stories in "real life" used to be something on a majestic level. There used to be a sense of permanence.
Now, however, stories are a competitive sport. Everyone is sharing, sharing, sharing in order to achieve some sort of relevancy. This is both good and bad.
The good new is, we are communicating so much faster. In some spheres, character limitations force us to choose our words more efficiently, but can also cause too much condensing. Too much condensed information begs to be tossed away for the next story.
It's important that some stories remain immortal, but in most cases, we toss information around so quickly that the stories are lost in some sort of virtual abyss.
While I'm a novelist and traditional writer at heart, one of my biggest ambitions in life is to tell stories through as many mediums as possible. I want to share stories through all the forms of writing, video, music, etc. The more options that become available, the more I want to deliver a story through them.
Unfortunately, one of the greatest ways to share stories among limitless audiences has become too murky. Even I find myself watching a funny parody on Facebook, rather than stopping on an important article and reading it.
There are social media out there wishing to change the way we treat out stories. Such entities as Cowbird aim to keep stories alive in the most vibrant forms we can concoct.
I've been researching Cowbird quite a bit, because it's all about storytelling. I hope to see more entities like this as social media platforms evolve. If you're interested in keeping your stories alive and not the subject of popularity contests, I suggest you check Cowbird out. This isn't any sort of endorsement; instead, it's encouragement to research the web and find the best ways for you to communicate. For instance, Facebook is a great for keeping up with family and friends, whereas Twitter is much better at channeling interests. Find what works best for you and use it to help keep social media effective.
Such sites as Cowbird aren't intended to replace the more prominent social networks. Instead, it aims to connect people in a more meaningful and intimate way such as photo galleries, stories, and poems.