Stories of High Strangeness

A zombie goes looking for something more important than his next meal. A one hit wonder faces certain death or worse because he refuses to play ‘Free Bird’. An X rated ghost story plays out on the floor of a porno film dubbing stage. A low level drug dealer comes up with the perfect plan to wipe out the competition. A stud in a post- Apocalyptic world has one small problem.

What is it that I do? I’ll take the fifth on that one. Suffice it to say my stories are weird, bizarre and occasionally unclassifiable. If you’re brave enough, this is the ticket to ride the dark skies of Stories Of High Strangeness.

There’s some squishy stuff, some Merchant Ivory stuff, some extreme, some subtle. If there’s a master plan it’s to mix pathos, hope, melancholy, humor and real characters into a stew of shadows, light, carnage and feelings of ‘What the #%@!’.

The Gods I bow down to? Rod Serling, Charles Bukowski, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Bloch, Harlan Ellison and Ray Bradbury. I live and die by the vibe of Black Sabbath, Dio, the soundtracks from The Exorcist and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and the more manic strains of 60’s psychedelia.

Stories of High Strangeness is my debut collection. I actually make a living doing this. Don’t tell the authorities.

-by Marc Shapiro, Stories of High Strangeness

Where did you go to college?

I went to East Los Angeles Community College where I received an Associate Of Arts Degree in Journalism. It was a two year program. It took a bit longer. I went the first year, goofed off, dropped out. Volunteered for the army. Spent two years getting my shit together, came back and was suddenly a model student.

What was the college experience like?

It was a realistic approach to knowing what it would take to make a living in the real world. The teachers in my Journalism and Creative Writing classes were encouraging. Before I graduated I was already selling interviews with rock musicians to national magazines as well as assorted underground newspapers. Went right from college to my first fulltime newspaper job.

What kind of books do you read?

Just about anything that strikes my fancy. Big on science fiction, fantasy, horror and the occasional mystery. I read non genre short story collections, poetry, comic books, biographies you name it. Any writer worth his salt is reading when he is not writing. You can learn a lot by reading other author’s works.

Does writing come naturally to you?

Yes, especially when I’m writing fiction. Ideas are like raindrops, they’re always around. When an idea strikes a chord I mentally file it away and play around with it. When it comes to the actual writing, I just write. Things pop into my head that just seem to work on any number of levels. Once the creative ball is rolling I tend to write very quickly. I’ve had situations where I’ve written a story, submitted it to a publication and received an acceptance in less than a week.

Do you come from a long line of authors?

No. I’m the first in my family. My father was a blue collar guy, worked in the garment distinct. My mother was a stay at home wife and mother. That being said, raising three kids is hard work. Both my parents were readers. The daily paper was always around and there were always paperback novels in the house.

What is your ideal genre to write in?

Science fiction, horror and fantasy have always been my jumping off point. For a number of years I’ve written celebrity biographies which boil down to solid journalism and research. Writing non fiction is a whole different animal. But I rarely write fiction with a specific genre in mind. I just write the stories and figure out where they belong later. I like surprises.

Any niche genres you’re interested in?

I tend to get inhibited when I find myself writing for a particular kind of publication. The idea of writing a zombie story specifically for a magazine that wants zombie stories is a bit off putting for me. I’m sure a lot of writers can write to order and I could probably make a lot more money if I could write to order. But that’s just not me. Most of my stories tend to find a home eventually so I must be doing something right.

What other talents do you have?

I’m not sure how talented I am but I do paint once in a while. Abstract stuff. Never exhibited in a gallery or anything like that. It’s always just been a hobby and a way to blow off steam.

Did your life inform your writing in any way?

My guess is yes. I was always a fairly introverted kid. I was into comic books and paperback novels and had a small group of friends who were into the same things. Loved B movies and science fiction television shows of the day. Anything that would allow me to escape the reality of growing up and I was there.

Your dream home?

I’ve always fantasized about living in San Francisco or Berkeley. Or the beach. I’ve spent some time in Europe during my army days and so I got a definite buzz from that. But I can honestly say that living in the suburbs of Monrovia, Ca. is aces. You can walk down the street and people say hi or ask you how you’re doing. A lot of people know I’m a writer but don’t make too big of a deal out of it. Which is fine with me.

Who are your heroes?

Wow! That’s a tough one! Let’s just go for the A list. My wife, my father, authors Charles Bukowski, Rod Serling, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury. Lots of metal bands like Black Sabbath, Dio, Cirith Ungol, Blue Oyster Cult.Basically all the cats who have had something creatively going on and have used their heads for something besides a hat rack.