Last week we heard from Alan Baxter, talking about his novel ‘Bound’. You can read that here in case you missed it. This week we dive into Bizarro fiction waters! What is Bizarro fiction? Bizarro is a kind of surreal, absurd style of storytelling where pretty much anything goes. The genre continues to grow. Bizarro heavyweights such as Carlton Mellick III, Kevin Strange, Cameron Pierce and numerous others have all contributed to this vibrant scene with books that sometimes defy all logic, taking the reader on a journey into the unknown where you are never sure of what is going to happen next.
Each year Eraserhead Press publishes the NBAS range of books, around November time, if memory serves me correct. I always look forward to checking out some of the new talent on show within the genre. Last year saw the release of ‘Arachnophile’ by Betty Rocksteady as one of the NBAS books. It’s a love story with spiders…yep, you heard that right. This oddly erotic tale was fantastic and I absolutely loved it. Very weird, but very easy to read as well. The book explores a number of different themes and I urge you to check it out. It is only a short read, less than 100 pages, but well worth your time and it serves as a great gateway into the Bizarro world.
Betty is today’s guest on BTB Storytellers, talking about ‘Arachnophile’. Enjoy. Thanks to Betty for this great piece.
So I wrote an erotic horror novella that focuses on the relationship between a man and a spider.
I hated spiders, and I had never written erotica before.
Arachnophile was written as part of the New Bizarro Author Series 2015 lineup. I had done a few of Garrett Cook’s workshops, and he liked my work and invited me to participate. He wanted a few pitches to work from, and the spider one was sort of a filler in my brainstorming process. It started out extremely different, something like “Arachnophobic man lives in a society of giant spiders, no one believes him when he discovers the occult agenda of his new neighbor.” Garret liked the giant spider bit, but thought I should make it a romance. Ditch the occult horror bit. And he kept pushing me to make it sexier.
I was at an in between point in writing. Summer makes me really tired, and uninspired, and this all started last August, and I just figured, what the hell? Let’s just do this thing. Let’s just keep saying yes.
Arachnophile was totally a breakthrough for me. I powered through it in less than a month, and just kept pushing myself harder. Can’t picture spiders being sexy? Too bad. Make it sexy and write it down. And judging from the responses I’ve gotten, I managed to make spider sex totally plausible. Don’t like writing romance? Too bad. Make it romantic and write it down. Miss the gore and horror aspect of your writing? Well… okay, let’s let a little of that through.
Writing erotica was uncomfortable for me as it was, it was definitely pushing all my boundaries, but once I accepted the idea that my mom could NEVER READ IT, I was able to break through. It was really liberating to let go of all the taboos and push myself harder than I had before, and let weirdness come out in my writing – I always liked weird, and I love reading extreme writing, but this was the first time I REALLY set it free. My writing since has been totally changed by the experience, and I squash my own boundaries as much as I can. I just don’t squash spiders anymore.
Like I said, I was never a big fan of spiders. They creeped me out. I squashed them or made someone else squash them. They’re so alien, so far from human, and they move so fast. Ugh. I knew it was irrational, they don’t hurt us, nature, blah blah blah, but I just didn’t like them, that disgust came from somewhere deep inside me that I couldn’t quite place. But now I was writing a whole book about spiders, so I didn’t really have a choice but to learn about them.
I read some Wikipedia articles, read about different kinds of spiders, watched a bunch of short documentaries on YouTube, and you know, they were really kinda interesting. At first it made me twitchy and uncomfortable, but like, being uncomfortable is kind of cool. I liked it. I kept learning and kept writing and now, they don’t really creep me out at all. I don’t smush em anymore. I watch them. I’ve somehow become the spider girl and people keep sending me links to weird spider stuff, and I keep buying spider jewelry, and now I’ve got spiders on the brain and I’ll probably fall in love with one, sooner or later.
Pick up a copy of ‘Arachnophile’ from here.
Look at all these places to find more Betty Rocksteady!