Austin James is one of the rising stars in the bizarro fiction scene. Currently, not one but two of his books are on the ballot for this year’s Wonderland Awards (check that out here). I “sat down” with him to get a peek inside his bizarre mind.
You can find my review of his novella/collection The Drip Drop Prophet and Other Stories here.
ZÉ BURNS: When did you start writing?
AUSTIN JAMES: First grade. My teacher, Claudia Gray (RIP), told me “when you write, anything can happen.” Her encouragement was all it took for me to find (my first?) addiction.
ZB: Who are your influences?
AJ: My mind goes a thousand directions. So much has influenced my writing, so many people. Tarantino, Maynard. This list might never end. But to stay in the literary world, I’ll have to list the main three. Note that there are so many others, but these three specifically expanded my awareness and understanding of what writing is, some based on the circumstances of my life when I first discovered them.
Charles Bukowski. I found Buke in my early twenties, shortly after I quit drinking and drugging. His stories and novels were very relatable at that point in my life, and his poetry taught me that what I had written in high school could grow to levels I hadn’t imagined.
Chuck Palahniuk, mid-twenties. I read pretty much everything he had out at the time. It wasn’t the first time I learned that you can write about anything (see above), but might have been when I finally understood what that means.
Stephen Graham Jones, mid-thirties. I’m not sure I need to explain this one, but I think he’s impacted my writing because he writes from a background I have a lot similarities with. Small town shit, dark and weird world. This is probably the least elegant way to describe what his writing does for me.
ZB: The Drip Drop Prophet and many of your other stories are clearly bizarro. Others not so much. How do you classify yourself as a writer?
AJ: I don’t. I think of my style as “obscure and uncomfortable”.
ZB: What was your inspiration for The Drip Drop Prophet?
AJ: Building true, deep relationships with people is very difficult. And scary. And something I’ve always struggled with. Being vulnerable enough to really let someone inside you, give them everything, trust them not to destroy you…that shit is terrifying. Prophet is a whimsical manipulation of this—if you can’t let people in, why not something else?
ZB: What can we expect to see from you in the future?
AJ: I’ve got a handful of stories circulating slush piles. I feel like they are a new level for me as a writer—style, content, everything. Maybe one day someone else will agree.
I’m also working on a post-apocalyptic novella about losing control. It could end up being the best work I’ve written so far. But I’m taking my time with this one, because that’s what it needs…what I need right now. Probably come out sometime in 2020, assuming it comes out at all.
Thank you to Austin James for his time! Check out these awesome books:
The Drip Drop Prophet and Other Stories
You can find him online at:
Amazon Author Profile: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B071WHTKN6