After reading his incredible novel The Orphanarium (my review here), I was very curious to take a peek inside the head of its author S.T. Cartledge. Here’s what he shared with me.
ZÉ BURNS: When did you start writing?
S.T. CARTLEDGE: I didn’t really start writing until just after I left high school. My first short stories were bad Lovecraft-esque gothic horror and it sort of evolved from there as I read a bit of steampunk and started getting into some edgy literary fiction like Fight Club and American Psycho, but I didn’t really develop a voice I liked until I came across bizarro.
ZB: Who are your influences?
STC: Within bizarro I’d say I’ve been influenced by Carlton Mellick III and Cameron Pierce in particular. There’s this really cool manga artist called Tsutomu Nihei who had a particularly heavy influence on the Orphanarium. Richard Brautigan is another big influence too. I like stories that really stretch the imagination. Roald Dahl and Lewis Carroll should be on the list too.
ZB: How did you discover bizarro fiction?
STC: A friend recommended a short story they found online, Candy Coated, by Carlton Mellick III on Vice. I loved it and looked up his work and came across the whole bizarro scene in about mid-2011.
ZB: What are you reading now?
STC: Laser House On the Prairie by David W. Barbee
ZB: You’re writing your next book on your phone. Doesn’t that hurt your thumbs?
STC: I usually only write in short bursts, nothing too strenuous. And it sure beats the hell out of staring at facebook for hours on end.
ZB: With a prolific blog, a young child, a full-time day job, studying to become a teacher, and your writing, how do you possibly make time for everything?
STC: I can break that down for you. My blogging keeps me sane. It helps me catalog and discuss topics I enjoy talking about in a space which is somewhat removed from the likes of facebook and twitter. Less background noise. The young child is the trickiest part of my life right now. She consumes so much of my time and effort, when she sleeps in my arms, that’s my downtime. That’s when I recharge and get most of my reading, writing, and blogging done. As for the studying to become a teacher, that’s on the agenda but it’s not in action right now. I’m thinking the start of next year I’ll set those plans in motion. And then I’ll definitely be sacrificing something else in order to fit it in.
ZB: What can we expect to see from you in the future?
STC: By the time this interview comes out Clash Books will have released Pixel Boy in Poetry World.
On November 1st I have my next bizarro novella coming out on Eraserhead Press. It’s up for preorder already, and it’s a surreal young adult island thriller called Cherry Blossom Eyes.
After that I’ll be looking to find a home for the slice of life bizarro novella I’m completing at the moment called Vampire of the Sun.
I should mention that Cartledge has a spectacular blog The Manifold. Its content is similar to mine, so if you like my blog, you’re certain to like his. Not only that, he posts several times a week (sometimes daily) if you need your bizarre fix more than once a week. Check it out!
As an added bonus, I have the privilege to reveal the cover for his next book Cherry Blossom Eyes:
Thank you to S.T. Cartledge for his time! You can find him at:
And his latest books: