2-Minute Drill: Cameron Pierce

Today’s guest on the Drill, youngster Cameron Pierce, redefines the word weird. His titles include ‘Ass Goblins of Auschwitz‘, the recently released short story collection ‘Lost in Cat Brain Land’, and the upcoming ‘The Pickled Apocalypse of Pancake Island’. These are facts.

Cameron Pierce also has six toes on his right foot, plays the mouth guitar and turned down a position with Scotland Yard so he could follow his true calling to Portland, Oregon to build miniature ships in bottles. When the miniature-ships-in-bottles bubble burst in the early 2000s, Cameron turned to writing. These are not facts. But it would be really cool if they were. Please read on to learn some more facts that may or may not be entirely factual.

The 2-Minute Drill is 5 quick questions and 5 quick answers from someone you probably haven’t heard of, but should hear from. This isn’t some rambling, long-winded author interview here. We dispense with the pleasantries and get down to brass tacks. We ask the tough questions and get the tough answers that you need to know. And if not, we’ll just make them up.

This is Cameron Pierce. He is 22 years old. He writes about weird things like butt people who drink cider made from fermented children and prisoners who make bicycles and sex dolls out of dead kids. (Reminds us of those Hardy Boys novels we loved so much  in our youth.) Here he is answering stupid questions posed by us. We have warned you ahead of time what is in store. We do not offer refunds. Thank you and enjoy.

2-MD: Do you mind if we call you Whippersnapper? Or would you prefer Young Fella? (Don’t make us pull out Snot-Nosed Punk, because we will. You have been duly warned.)

CP: I’m in my bedroom and the window is open. I just heard my neighbor say, “Shit man, I don’t know if I like it now.” That is how I feel about these names. Not really, though. I don’t mind them.

2-MD: Damn, we should not have started off that way. We always do that. Let’s try again: So tell us whippersnapper, what sort of fugue state does your brain have to be in to write books about Ass Goblins and Pancake Islands in such marathon bursts? And at what point in the process do the hallucinations kick in?

CP: Writing marathons can be helpful for first drafts, but for me, writing is about rewriting and learning to kill yourself again and again. I feel like I become a pathetic human being when I’m really invested in a book. I am no longer alive. I am never alive. With “The Pickled Apocalypse of Pancake Island,” I sometimes spent hours just learning about the French connotations of one word or something. I carried that book around like a fucking tumor.

Although the first draft of “Ass Goblins of Auschwitz” was written in three days in July 2009, I had been quietly freaking out in my mind about it since November 2008. I was writing other stuff, a lot of other stuff — you have to keep working no matter what — but I felt “Ass Goblins” in my gut every day. I didn’t know what it was for a long time. Finally, I got beyond being scared and pulled it out of myself.

Writing, for me, isn’t about hallucinations. I get enough of those in life. Sometimes writing makes me float off like balloon, but I feel like I would be floating no matter what, and without writing, I would pop. Under heat. Under atmospheric pressure.

Sometimes I feel like a big chunk of my brain is missing. It hasn’t always been missing. I don’t know who stole it or where it went. Putting words together is nice, though, and writing is basically the most spiritual thing I have. It kills me. I wish nobody ever said or wrote anything. I am a Catholic who knows that God is dead. I’m always halfway between a funeral and a pizza party. Don’t ever take anything I say seriously, or else I’ll punch you in the face.

2-MD: Let’s play a game called “If… then…” : If this statement is true: “With six you get egg roll” then (fill in the blank “______” ) is also true.

CP: Now my neighbor said, “I get the crappy jobs.” I want to lean my head out the window and say, “Life is a crappy job. Enjoy.” I feel pretty good today.

CM3's monster burns.

2-MD: How many times a week must you resist the urge to trim Carlton Mellick III’s sideburns with a pair of garden shears?

CP: Garden shears make me nervous. Anyway, the sideburns are a source of comfort. Carlton Mellick will survive the apocalypse. When I hang out with him, I like to think, “Yeah, if there were zombies around right now, we would totally win.” Not that you ‘win’ over zombies, but you know you’ll ‘win’ over them when you’re around Mellick. He’s resourceful and a good planner.

2-MD: Bradley Sands called you a “spineless douchebag” in a recent Drill. Would you care to pull out your white glove of revenge and slap him across the face with it?

CP: I was on the phone with Bradley a few nights ago, while I wandered aimlessly through a grocery store. I don’t even remember what I bought. (2-MD: Way to sock it to him. He’ll be stinging from that one for sure…)

Bonus question… 2-MD: Dude, can I borrow a buck? I’m good for it, I swear. There’s only one Whatchamacallit left in the vending machine and I’ve been craving one of those for like two years.

Bonus answer… CP: No dude. I need to drink that dollar. There’s a cat sitting to me left and it’s totally jacking all my fluids. It went straight from my coffee to my water. I’m dehydrated as fuck.

Crap. I really wanted that candy bar.

Book review: ‘Lost in Cat Brain Land’ by Cameron Pierce

Before randomly crossing paths with Cameron Pierce on Twitter more than a year ago, I had not been exposed to the term `Bizarro’ outside of Superman or Seinfeld re-runs. Then I learned that Pierce was not only a young writer, but he had a book coming out called `Ass Goblins of Auschwitz’. My (understandable) initial response was something along the lines of “What the hell is wrong with this freakin’ kid?” But then I ran across his name again in a horror anthology (Horror Library Vol. 2), with a story called `I Am Meat, I Am in Daycare’, and on other places like The Dream People. His stories were so surreal and wildly imaginative that I soon found myself looking for more. Cameron Pierce was my first exposure to a new brand of fiction that didn’t care what I thought about it, wasn’t trying to win my approval or pander to me or kiss my butt. In fact, it was more like trying to kick my butt. I loved it.

Fantastic cover art by Alan M. Clark.

Fast forward to now, and after sampling much more of what Bizarro has to offer, Pierce seems to me to embody what this burgeoning genre is about. His stories are surreal and dreamlike, some whimsical while at the same time disturbing, and often in need of multiple readings to sift through and decipher the meaning behind the words. I’ll readily admit that I don’t always succeed in the latter, but I still enjoy trying because, simply put, Pierce can write his tail off.

And that brings us to his new collection, `Lost in Cat Brain Land’. I can’t recommend it enough. Pierce has a real talent for blending his nightmarish landscapes and characters together on the page like a painter covering a canvass. At times, it flows and the colors mingle and complement each other; other times it seems as though they’re flung at the page in heaps and splatters and look like a jumble up close, but when you step back and see it as a whole, you recognize something more is there. His stories drift and flow and envelop the reader, like a fog. You feel lost, as the title suggests, and blinded by that fog, but still wrapped up in it, immersed and even trapped in his imagination.

As evidenced by these stories, which delve into subjects like a fascist mustache and a hunk of beef hanging out in a daycare, and touch on recurring themes like meat and loneliness, Pierce can write the weird, but he can also just flat out write, especially in the short form. Among my favorites were `Death of a Dog Eater’, the aforementioned `I Am Meat…’ and `How to Live Forever’. For a collection, this one earns its five stars, and now I’m looking forward to checking out `Ass Goblins…’

2-Minute Drill: Bradley Sands

When this world grows dark, when men with pride and honor and integrity are in short supply, there is one to whom we can turn. A shining, heroic beacon in the night, a pillar of strength behind whom we can cower, whose legs we can clutch like frightened children while he fights for our freedom and survival against the wicked forces of tyranny and evil. That man is … not who we’re interviewing today. This guy’s name is Bradley Sands. He’s a writer. So, yeah, that pretty much tells you a lot right there.

The 2-Minute Drill is 5 quick questions and 5 quick answers from someone you probably haven’t heard of, but should hear from. This isn’t some rambling, long-winded author interview here. We dispense with the pleasantries and get down to brass tacks. We ask the tough questions and get the tough answers that you need to know. And if not, we’ll just make them up.

Bradley Sands is the author of It Came From Below the Belt, and the recently released collection of bizarro stories, My Heart Said No, But the Camera Crew Said Yes! He’s also the editor of Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens. Apparently, he’s never met a ridiculously long-winded title he didn’t love. Time to get our Drill thang on …

2-MD: Bradley, we hate to break this news to you, but it appears that some of your “friends” don’t think very highly of you. Now, brace yourself, because this will come as a shock… Your so-called friends went behind your back and published an anthology called ‘Bradley Sands is a Dick‘. Hey, don’t shoot the messenger here, we’re just trying to be of some help. What do you have to say to those “people” who did this to you?

BS: I am fully aware of my so-called friends’ actions considering I’m the one who published the anthology. I get my best ideas when I’m drunk. Andersen Prunty served as the submissions editor. His first name makes him sound like a dork, which is extremely appropriate. We received about two thousand submissions a week. It’s amazing what desperate, shitty writers will submit to these days. Andersen Prunty, the dork, made a great deal of them cry. Although it had more to do with taking his pants off at the funerals of their loved ones than rejecting their stories.  (2-MD: Ohhhh… so they went in FRONT of your back and published it. Those bastards.)

Bradley Sands, before his face shit out a huge hairball.

2-MD: Your photos online are very misleading. You look to be a clean cut fellow, but we’ve seen recent evidence to the contrary that you have developed quite the birds’ nest hanging from your face. Can you tell us what your beard smells like at this very moment and how many McDonald’s Happy Meal toys you have stashed in there?

BS: My beard smells magnificent, like heartbreak, helplessness, and Selsun Blue shampoo. No Happy Meals in there, but I do have a thermonuclear detonator.

2-MD: Regarding your book, “My Heart Said No, But the Camera Crew Said Yes!”, is this in any way based on your affiliation with the folks from Girls Gone Wild? And in the spirit of GGW, would you be willing to show us your boobs? How about for $20? The ladies out there would love it, we’re just sayin’. Think book promotion dude, c’mon. Don’t be a dick.

BS: I’m not affiliated with Girls Gone Wild, you moron (you really should have done research on me before writing these questions). I’m involved with their competitors, Accountants Gone Bananas. But it’s not like Girls Gone Wild is much competition for us. Watching boobs on TV can only be entertaining for so long. Eventually, it’s as exciting as attending a conference on environmental engineering. But watching accountants experience the throes of psychotic breakdowns never gets boring….And I will show you my boobs if and only if 200 people buy my book as a result of this interview. (2-MD: Pff – research is for weaklings, and … Wait a second… did he just say watching boobs can get boring? Really? Why, we are without words…)

2-MD: Sorry. We shouldn’t have called you a dick. Since we’ll be at BizarroCon together in November, I suggest we challenge the rest of those bastards who were talking shit about you to a tag team arm wrestling contest. And we can even play some Tag Team as our intro music. It’ll be totally sweet and badass.

BS: I arm wrestled (quote) bizarro author (unquote) Cameron Pierce during the first Bizarro Con a couple of years ago. I was about to win, but then he pushed my head into the hard metallic part of a chair. That guy is a spineless douchebag, and he’s publishing a book of mine around September or so. When I sent him the book for consideration, I included a death threat rather than a cover letter. Now what the fuck is your question here? (2-MD: This just in from the Department of Redundancy Department – a douchebag is, by definition, spineless. And what the fuck was your answer here?)

2-MD: OK, serious question: if a normal person runs across a Bizarro out in the wild, what are the best techniques to fend off an attack? The old field manuals all suggest boxing their ears and scolding them like a puppy, but when we tried that with Jordan Krall, it just made him hump our feet.

BS: Suggest they spend more than three days writing a book and they will lose control of their bodily functions. This will incapacitate them, giving you an opportunity to run away.  (2-MD: We are truly in awe of this answer…)

My God, what hath we wrought here? We’re not entirely sure, but it feels like a slice of awesome. It’s been some time since the last Drill, and now we remember why. Bradley Sands, you were a stout competitor in this round of electronic jousting and we thank you for participating. Now, get the fuck outta here.