Bizarro Fiction is a fairly new genre, most often referred to as literature’s equivalent of the Cult section in your video store. One of the founders and core producers of Bizarro fiction is Eraserhead Press, lead by publisher Rose O’Keefe. So I asked Rose a few questions to help clarify just what Bizarro Fiction is (and isn’t). You can also learn more about Bizarro at Bizarro Central.
Q: What are the most common misconceptions folks seem to have about Bizarro fiction?
A: There are a lot of misconceptions, but the only one I want to focus on right now is the reason why bizarro was created. Most people believe bizarro was created so that a bunch of outsider writers would have a genre to call home. This isn’t the case. Bizarro might have a strong community of writers who are as tight as family, but the genre was formed based solely on reader demand. There are a lot of people out there who view “weird stuff” as a genre. They actively go out looking for books and movies that are weird in the same way that some people seek out books/movies that are scary or romantic. This is our target audience. It is a bigger audience than people realize and it is an audience that has been mostly ignored. With the little niche genre of bizarro, we are just trying to fill a void that we see in the publishing world.
Q: If Bizarro Fiction was a movie monster, which would it be, and why?
A: Megalon. Because he was a giant cockroach with drills for hands who shot lightning bolts from a horn on his head. How bizarro is that?
Q: How did Bizarro get started?
A: For the past ten years, three small press companies—Raw Dog Screaming Press, Afterbirth Books, and my own Eraserhead Press—have specialized in publishing weird cult fiction books. There wasn’t a label for what we were publishing when we started. It clearly wasn’t horror, science-fiction, fantasy, or even experimental fiction. The only real way to describe it would be: weird. That’s the only reason people were buying our books. They bought them because they were looking for something weird and unusual to read.