Interview by Christoph Paul
1) I have been hearing chatter that you have an anthology coming out soon. So I must ask, when will your and Michael Kazepis’ anthology Put Some Windex On It: Stories Inspired by My Big Fat Greek Wedding be released?
Probably right after Mike hits middle age and starts experimenting with returning to the Church. I saw him almost cry in a Greek restaurant once, because there were old drachma notes mounted on the walls. It’s coming sooner than you think.
2) You are very critical of micropresses/small presses using P.O.D. but you have to admit Youth of the Nation is a good song.
Total shit. Seriously, the only reason you think that song was good is because when it came out you were a youth who lived in a nation. If only you had been born in an independent libertarian city-state on an oil rig somewhere, you’d know that the only music worth listening to is insufferable prog rock about UFOs and chrome titties.
3) Do horror and weird fiction nerds have schoolboy crushes on you because you neg them on Facebook or because they think you will blurb their book?
I really have no idea why so many chubby horror dudes with beards follow me on social media, but after reading Evan Peterson’s The Prep Diaries, I am beginning it has something to do with the relative socio-sexual desirability of otters and bears.
4) In my research, I learned you got into an online squabble with Cleveland quarterback Brock Osweiler and pop-singer Josh Grobin. I didn’t know those two men were involved in the Weird Fiction/Lovecraft community.
Osweiler does some sort of marionette show; he’s a master puppeteer. I told him once that he should do the Innsmouthians in different voices and he got sore at me. He’s a very sensitive person; a lot of anxiety. He keeps a bar of soap on him at all times in case he steps into the wrong muddy puddle and gets sucked into a parallel dimension. He’d never kill a boar to harvest its fat.
I don’t remember meeting Josh Grobin. Is his head shaped like an asparagus?
5) As a writer, what do I have to do become a poor man’s Nick Mamatas or a full-communist Brian Keene?
Oh God, now I have to go to Amazon.com and read a sample page.
All right, I’m back. This is what you need to do and I am being serious—what you have to realize is that you, and I don’t even mean you in particular, but definitely you, have been entirely mentally colonized by television. (This is a very common malady.) It’s like Ron Sukenick said, “If you don’t use your imagination, someone else is going to use it for you.” TV commercial copywriters are using your imagination for you. Your problem is that you write down the first thing you think is funny, and hope for chortles, and you probably even get them from lesser minds.
So what you need to do is this: when you have your funny little idea, whether it is a funny sentence or a cute title or even just a concept, write it down in order to bring it out into reality, and then press Save As and when you get the little text box to title your document, just hit a bunch of random keys like this: ybrx6vr01btex1-y. Then take that document and put it in a special folder on your computer and leave it there.
Then open another file and will yourself to come up with a second idea. That idea will also be awful, because it will almost certainly be a simple inversion of your first terrible notion. And do the same thing. Save As, type dxbundg-n4b7evb0v, put it in your folder, and forget about it.
Then open a third file and think of a third idea. You will meet your Self, Christoph Paul, your authentic Self. This Christoph Paul will be a virtual stranger to you, Christoph Paul, because you are drowning in a black ocean of memetic shit and have been your entire life, but because you are a bright person in a good relationship, your authentic Christoph Paul will be kind to the hapless mind-serf you perform as out here in the world with the rest of us. And your authentic self will tell you something that only you could tell you. And then all you need to do is type it out and tell the rest of us.
After a month of this four-day-a-week practice (take rest days), go to that folder and see all the first and second-round ideas you had, and feel somewhat embarrassed, but because you are a bright person in a good relationship you’ll mostly feel compassion. Then team up with Christoph Paul to compassionately murder your false self so that Christoph Paul can occupy the cognitive and spiritual place in your upper dantian where currently shit movies and laugh tracks reign.
Photocredit to @http://mauricebroaddus.com/
6) If you got to run and be the program director of an MFA program what would The Nick Mamatas School of Popular Fiction and Poetry be like?
It would be run the way STEM fields run their undergraduate survey courses—with an eye toward weeding people out of the program. Students would also have to read two books a week: one of their own choosing, and one that one of the other students has already read and is prepared to talk about. There would also be a “free enterprise” track for developing one’s skills to write reviews, art catalog copy, technical communications, and other texts that people actually read. I’d also have someone walking around with a Tazer to use on anyone who says the word “flow” when they mean “pacing” or “pretentious” when they mean “self-conscious.”
7) You are a big supporter of the site MeanTrots. What communist figure was Regina George and do you feel the idea of universal income can help us reach Full Communism or would it just strengthen neo-liberalism even more?
Regina George always struck me as a Daniel De Leon-type, which will surely get me barred from the MeanTrots Facebook group, but it’s just my way of saying that she’s awful. I do think universal income would be a good reform, but it has to be won and not granted. We’ll need to grease you up and have you wrestle a quartet of synchronized welding robots to make it happen.
8) Follow up question: Fuck, Kill, Marry: Engels, Marx, and John Rawls?
Oh, fuck them all, definitely, from behind the Rawlsian veil of ignorance. It’s not who you want to fuck, its which organs you wish to exploit.
9) If I take your LitReactor class can I get a write-off to renew my Buddy System Membership?
I certainly hope not.
10) What are you working on now and what do you have to plug?
I am working on two novels, one of which I signed a contract for. Coming this autumn is my anthology with Molly Tanzer, Mixed Up, which features cocktail recipes and flash fiction from Jeff VanderMeer, Cara Hoffman, and many other great writers. The idea is that it’s not for the person who buys it to read, but for someone looking for an inexpensive (>$20) holiday gift to buy for their cousin or coworker with the bewildering haircut.
Nick Mamatas is the author of six and a half novels, including The Last Weekend (PS Publishing), Love is the Law (Dark Horse), The Damned Highway with Brian Keene (Dark Horse), Bullettime (CZP), Sensation (PM Press), Under My Roof (Counterpoint/Soft Skull), and Move Under Ground (Night Shade/Prime). His latest collection is The Nickronomicon, from Innsmouth Free Press. His novels have been translated into German, Italian, and Greek. Nick is also an anthologist and editor of short fiction: with Masumi Washington he co-edited the Locus Award-nominated The Future Is Japanese (Haikasoru), and with Ellen Datlow he co-edited the Bram Stoker Award-winning Haunted Legends (Tor Books). Nick’s own short fiction has appeared in genre publications such as Asimov’s Science Fiction and Tor.com, lit journals including New Haven Review and subTERRAIN, and anthologies such as Hint Fiction and Best American Mystery Stories 2013. His fiction and editorial work has been nominated for the Bram Stoker award five times, the Hugo Award twice, the World Fantasy Award twice, and the Shirley Jackson, International Horror Guild, and Locus Awards. His writing guide Starve Better: Surviving the Endless Horror of the Writing Life (Apex Publications) has been excerpted in The Writer, and he has also published two joke/reference books: Insults Every Man Should Know and Quotes Every Man Should Know (Quirk Books).
Christoph Paul is an award-winning humor author. He writes non-fiction, YA, Bizarro, horror, and poetry including: The Passion of the Christoph, Great White House Volume 1 and Volume 2, Slasher Camp for Nerd Dorks, Horror Film Poems, the upcoming A Confederacy of Hot Dogs. He is an editor for CLASH Media and CLASH Books and edited the anthologies Walk Hand in Hand Into Extinction: Stories Inspired by True Detective and This Book Ain’t Nuttin to F*%k With: A Wu-Tang Tribute Anthology. Under the pen name Mandy De Sandra, he writes Bizarro Erotica that has been covered in VICE, Huffington Post, Jezebel, and AV Club. He is represented by Veronica Park at Corvisiero Literary Agency.