Gina Ranalli has been in bizarro fiction since the beginning. She even helped come up with the name after once describing her work as “mondo bizarro.” Like many of the Featured Authors, I discovered her work through the Bizarro Starter Kits. Her novella Suicide Girls in the Afterlife made me an instant fan. Since then I have come to call her a good friend.
Check out my review of her novel World Revolver.
Here’s our interview. I hope you enjoy!
ZÉ BURNS: What started you on the path as a writer?
GINA RANALLI: Probably being a loner with an overactive imagination coupled with being sent to my room a lot as a kid. I had only so many records to listen to and books to read so I just made stuff up and wrote stories to pass the time. It eventually became a habit and a form of therapy. Even now, I start to feel mentally and emotionally unhealthy if I haven’t written anything for a while.
ZB: You’ve been in bizarro fiction since the beginning. Could you share a bit about those early times and your role in it all?
GR: Well, obviously it was a lot smaller back then. Rose O’Keefe and I were the only women involved, which was interesting. I’m not sure any of us had any idea how much bigger it would get. I know I didn’t. It was just a group of people who were drawn together by the love of weird books and films. Writers whose work didn’t fit into any other genre so we created our own. I’m not sure I would want to label my specific role but I was certainly the vehement feminist of our group at the time, writing a lot of social satire regarding women’s issues, though that wasn’t exclusively what I was doing.
ZB: Which books/authors influenced you the most?
GR: I’m influenced by so many. Tom Robbins was a huge influence because his books are just so much fun. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole is an absolute favorite. Vonnegut, Shirley Jackson, Anne Rivers Siddons, Neil Gaiman, Roald Dahl, Lovecraft, Octavia Butler, Gemma Files, Kelly Link, Kathe Koja, Angela Carter, Robert McCammon. The usual cast of characters for most writers these days. The list is never ending. And it’s not just books and authors. I’m influenced by movies and music, by dreams, sentence fragments, single words. Influence is everywhere.
ZB: You’ve written in multiple genres. How do you define Gina Ranalli as an author?
GR: I think I define myself by not defining myself, if that makes any sense. I find it very stifling to actively try to come up with ideas that fit neatly into any particular category or genre. I’d never get anything done if I sat down and said, “Okay, now I have to write something bizarro.” The ideas come however they come and I just follow where they lead. It sounds ridiculous to put it that way and probably not particularly professional but it’s how it’s always been for me.
ZB: You have an impressive oeuvre of over 20 books. Which one(s) are you most proud of?
GR: I tend to be fairly critical of my work–they’re all imperfect little bastards–but I really like both Ghost Chant and Unearthed. I think they’re both tight, suspenseful little novellas with the right amount of weird creepiness to them and they were fun to write and came out the closest to what I had envisioned when the concepts first occurred to me. I also like Rumors of My Death a lot. It’s silly and fun and was written before bizarro had a name.
ZB: What can we expect to see from you in the future?
GR: There are a couple things that’ll hopefully be coming out soon. I can’t give away too much but one of them is a dark, social commentary; the title alone might piss off some people, so that should be interesting. The second project is deeply under wraps and I can’t talk about it at all yet except to say that I hope the concept spreads far and wide. There’s at least one more thing I’m still working on–more of a traditional horror story–and that should be finished in not too long. I’m excited for all of them to see the light of day and for whatever else comes next.
Thank you, Gina for your time!