Bizarro Horror Fiction Author MP Johnson | Freak Tension Zine

Information about writer MP Johnson's horror fiction and bizarro fiction, Freak Tension zine and more.

It’s that time of year when I start looking back and asking myself, “What the fuck did I do with my time?” Here’s the answer:

The Wonderland Book Award

Every fall, the Wonderland Book Award honors the best novel and best short story collection in the world of bizarro fiction. This year, Dungeons & Drag Queens won in the novel category! I’ve been writing my whole life, and it feels fantastic to get some validation that I’m doing something that other people enjoy.

Two New Books

I released my third and fourth books: the gory Cattle Cult! Kill! Kill! from StrangeHouse Books and Sick Pack from Bizarro Pulp Press.

Weirdpunk Books And Blood For You

My love of punk rock and weird fiction inspired me to form my own publishing company, Weirdpunk Books. I co-edited the debut, Blood for You: A Literary Tribute to GG Allin with Sam Richard. It was funded with a Kickstarter campaign and accompanied by a DIY zine called The Highest Power, which marked my first zine since the last issue of Freak Tension a few years ago.

A Shout Out From Publishers Weekly

Very few of my short stories made it out into the world this year. However, one of the ones that did got a lot of attention. The venerable Publishers Weekly reviewed Giallo Fantastique and gave a shout out to my story, “The Strange Vice of ZLA-313.”

Also, I accomplished a major goal. In December, my story “Love Skull” appeared in Dark Discoveries magazine. I’ve been reading that mag and submitting stories for most of its decade-plus run. It feels good to finally get a piece in those pages.

Bizarro Bash, Conventions And Readings

I set up and promoted my biggest event yet. Bizarro Bash, which corresponded with the annual AWP convention, was a massive success. Well over 150 people crammed into the back room of Grumpy’s Downtown to catch readings by myself and other bizarro writers. This was one of four events I ran this year.

I traveled all over the country for conventions like Texas Frightmare Weekend, Rock and Shock, Flashback Weekend and Crypticon. I lost track of how many cons I did. It’s always refreshing to sell books in person and just nerd out with fellow horror fans. I’m finding that one of the coolest things about this whole writing business is the friends I’m making along the way. Totally unexpected bonus!

Shirts

I had Bill Hauser design some MP Johnson shirts so people could show off their love of weird books (and my books in particular), and the craziest thing happened: People bought them and wore them!

Looking Forward

I don’t think I can top the Wonderland Book Award, but I’m already ahead in terms of books. The first half of 2016 will see the release of: Dinosaurs & Drag Queens from Eraserhead Press and Berzerkoids, my short story collection, from Bizarro Pulp Press. I’m hoping to release four books in 2016.

Weirdpunk Books will release its second book, Hybrid Moments: A Literary Tribute to the Misfits. It will be co-edited by myself and Sam Richard. Submissions are open now. We will probably run a Kickstarter in the fall.

I’m going to wrap up Freak Tension with a greatest hits zine collecting some of my favorites from the 15 issue run. Then I’m going to move into new zine territory with my as of yet untitled drag queen zine, which will tell of my misadventures in the world of drag and feature interviews with drag queens, reviews of drag shows, etc. I’m pretty psyched about it and hope it will become an annual thing.

The debut book from my new press, Weirdpunk Books, is out now:

Blood For You: A Literaty Tribute To GG Allin

In this book, underground fiction’s finest authors take notorious punk rocker GG Allin and put him into the most insane, horrific, twisted fictional stories you can imagine. I’ve been dreaming of this book for years, but nobody was publishing it, so I decided to enlist Sam Richard as co-editor and make it happen. Of course, no publisher is quite nuts enough to publish something like this, so I had to form my own publishing company too.

Weirdpunk Books isn’t any old independent publisher. It fills a void. As far as I know, there aren’t any other presses out there devoted to the convergence of punk rock and weird fiction. So I’m going to publish a book a year or so, or really whatever I feel like. On deck is Hybrid Moments: A Literary Tribute to the Misfits.

Sick Pack, my fourth book (and second this year) was just released by Bizarro Pulp Press. Check out the cover art by Matthew Revert:

Sick Pack

Are your socks knocked off? Good. Keep them off, because you’ll be more comfortable without them when you start reading the book after you buy it from Amazon.

I’m really proud of this book because of how perfectly bizarro it is. It’s got hypnotic abs. I’ve also managed to include a super awesome punk rock mosh pit finale. Along the way, there’s necromancing coatimundis, body part bounty hunters, mustache crime lords and so much more.

You know that question that writers always get about where their ideas come from? And sometimes writers give some crazy esoteric answer? The concept for this book actually grew out of a goofy conversation I had several years ago with my friend Dylan. “Those abs are hypnotic!” “Yeah, but what if they were actually hypnotic?” I get a lot of ideas from just goofing around with friends.

Here’s the blurb from the back cover:

Fabulo’s six pack is hypnotic.

Literally.

His abs can hypnotize people, and that’s why they appear on the covers of romance novels worldwide. He’s in-demand and life is good for him. But what about for his abs? Did he bother to ask them if they wanted the spotlight? Of course not. The truth is they’re sick of it. All the dieting and crunches. They want more out of life, so they vamoose, forcing poor Fabulo to replace them with something altogether different and altogether disgusting, an all new…

Sick Pack!

Blood for You, the literary tribute to GG Allin I am co-editing with Sam Richard, is now available for preorder. In case you haven’t seen the glorious cover by Justin Coons yet, here it is:

Blood For You: A Literaty Tribute To GG Allin

If that’s not enough to sell you on the book, then how about this list of authors/GG Allin worshipers who will have stories in it:

  • Nick Cato
  • John Bruni
  • Jorge Palacios
  • Andrew Wayne Adams
  • Airika Sneve
  • Richard Arnold
  • Shawn Milazzo
  • Nicholaus Patnaude
  • David C. Hayes
  • Nicholas Day
  • Kevin Strange
  • Gabino Iglesias
  • Joel Kaplan
  • Jeff Burk

Go on, preorder it. You know you want to.

That’s a rhetorical question. Obviously you do, or you wouldn’t be reading my blog. The real question is: Are you ready to share your love with the world?

Good. You can do so with this rad new T-shirt with art by Bill Hauser:

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It’s available in purple or black for a measly $10 plus shipping. Now you’re probably thinking this is some shitty, poorly fitting cheap shirt, right? Nope. This is a high quality soft style shirt printed up by Alchemist Printing Company. Nothing but the best for you guys, okay. I’m not in this to make money.

You can score one at the Freak Tension store.

This month marks the 10 year anniversary of my first published short story. “Retirement” appeared in Kopfhalter! #2, edited by Keith Gouveia and published by AP Fuchs. Kopfhalter! Magazine #2Of course, I had been publishing Freak Tension since 1998, and I had snuck quite a few short stories in amongst all that punk rock shit. Still, getting “Retirement” published was a big deal. It was proof that someone other than me thought my stuff was good enough to publish. And considering I had accumulated a few hundred rejection letters at that point, the validation was much needed. It kept me going.

Here’s some history: I started writing as soon as I figured out how to hold a pen. I’m not going to get into the whole “I had a rough childhood boo hoo” thing. Hospitals. Scars. Let’s just say I needed to spend a lot of time hiding from the world. So I hid in my room. Comet Avenue. Early eighties. Sprawled out on piss yellow shag carpet. Weird scrap paper with musical notation on the back. I scribbled out story after story. Monsters. Mutants. Dinosaurs. Slime. I hid in those stories. Those stories kept me safe.

Now I’ve had more than 50 short stories published all over the world. Last year I published what I believe is my best bit of flash fiction, “The Songwriter’s Fingers,” in Revolver, a pretty prestigious literary journal located here in my home base of Minneapolis. Just last month I got a shout out in Publisher’s Weekly for my latest short story, “The Strange Vice of ZLA-138,” which appears in Giallo Fantastique from Word Horde. I’ve got three books under my belt now too, with more coming up really quick.

I keep writing because I need to. I still need that place to hide. But this world is tough. It doesn’t always reward such behavior. Every day there are forces at work to crush creativity. I don’t know what I would have done without the little boosts from supportive publishers and from the people who read my special brand of nonsense. That still blows my mind. People reading my stuff? Writing is such a solitary thing. As a kid, I just sat there alone writing story after story, never even considering that they’d entertain anyone other than myself. Little me would have been sooo psyched.

So from me and little me, thanks for reading our shit. Thanks for keeping us safe.

I am super proud to be associated with Razorcake. Issue after issue, the zine is filled with thoughtful writing that goes way beyond merely talking about what punk bands are cool these days (although Razorcake has that covered too). The new issue is out now. This is the cover:

Razorcake 86This issue is worth buying for the interviews alone. Super intelligent people who are doing cool things that you should know about. Get your copy via Razorcake.

And I wrote some reviews that you can also check out online:

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