This week I’m taking a look at some of my favorite female authors on the bizarre fiction scene and their work. Some I’ve mentioned previously on this blog, but I feel the need to trumpet them, as they are just that good.
Swarm of Flying Eyeballs
It would not be a list of female bizarro authors if I did not include Gina Ranalli. She was there from the start and even helped come up with the name “bizarro fiction.” Of all the women on this list, she is the only one I’ve met in person and was immensely welcoming to a neophyte like me.
In this slim volume, Gina gives us two bizarre horror novellas, on polar opposites of the genre’s spectrum, both with their merits. Through simple language, she weaves a complex story. The ending of the first novella may be among my favorites in all of horror, while the second plumbs the mind of a self-obsessed lothario, executed with incredible characterization. Gina has written nearly twenty books, but this, I feel, is a great place to start, especially for the horror-inclined.
Madeleine is an integral part of the British Bizarro Community and one of the kindest souls out there. I know I’ve mentioned her book Fortune Box before on this blog, but it remains one of my favorite (if not the favorite) bizarro collections I’ve read. And in my opinion, it should have won the Wonderland Award last year. The stories within, though independent, revolve around the mysterious Tower Ltd. and the packages it sends out, each with a Twilight Zone-esque lesson inside. The effortlessness and whimsy seal the deal. Read this book!
Girl Like a Bomb
While I don’t know if I’d label Christian a “bizarro author,” her work definitely seeps into the bizarre. She has written some of my favorite books in that area, including the surreal sci-fi novel The Crooked God Machine and her amazing collection Ecstatic Inferno. Here I decided to focus on Girl Like a Bomb, her most recent work and, in my opinion, the most approachable. It tells the story of Beverly Sykes, a young woman who discovers a power: she can better people and change their lives through the act of sex. But this power has consequences. Just as her power changes others, it will end up changing Beverly as well.
Last time I mentioned Christian on this blog, I described her as the “queen of the unexpected metaphor.” Indeed it is her gift with language that draws me in and holds me there. Christian’s imagery and verbal acrobatics make her one of my favorite bizarre authors.
Amy M. Vaughn
Ever wanted a hole drilled into your skull? Robert does. Depressed and alone, he has become obsessed with so-called brain mites. His only solution is the act of trepanation, boring a hole in his head to let them out. A combination of vivid prose, humor, and the bizarre made Skull Nuggets one of my favorite books of 2019.
Vaughn’s novella beautifully portrays mental illness, a topic treated with inaccuracy in much of literature. Amy is not a stranger to that affliction. She publicly—and, I would say, bravely—shares her struggles with bipolar disorder. On top of that, she is a champion of the bizarro fiction genre, enriching the community with her numerous efforts—most recently editing a collection of bizarro writing prompts Dog Doors to Outer Space.
I interviewed Amy here.
I’ll be back soon with some more of my favorite female bizarro authors. In the meantime, stay safe and sane in these crazy times.