What Happens To Kevin Strange Now?


So what happens now?

I’ve been on a month-long assault on political correctness and public shaming inside the horror and bizarro fiction genres. For my troubles, I’m being publicly shamed across social media and small press publisher blogs. Close friends are asking me, “are you ok? What happens now?”

I’m 100% fine. I anticipated everything that’s happening to me publicly because it’s happened dozens of times before. There would have been no need for Kevin Strange to speak out if there wasn’t a dire problem within the internet writing communities. Everything that’s happening to me on social media right now proves that I’m right.

What happens next?

What happens next is I finish writing all the books for 2017. I’m anticipating a banner year for new releases. Six brand new horror and bizarro books is my goal. We’ll see if I get there. I’ll be doing conventions again, as well. My first show is Horror Hound Cincinnati in March 2017 with many more dates to follow.

What won’t happen in 2017? If I’m right about the self-censorship running rampant through genre fiction, then my newest bizarro fiction short story collection ALL THE TOXIC WASTE FROM MY HEART won’t appear on the preliminary ballot for the Wonderland award for excellence in bizarro fiction next June or July when the ballot becomes public even though I’ve had books listed on the ballot as far back as 2012. Even though I’m the only author to ever be nominated twice in the same category in the same year.

I won’t be on the ballot not because I’ve done anything WRONG but because I’ve been critical of the genre, which is the first rule you do not break in internet writing groups. You do not bite the hand that feeds, even when your criticisms hope to IMPROVE the artistic freedoms of the authors writing in the genre in question.

If I do make it onto the ballot, I’ll be surprised. Many other authors who have spoken out against the practices of the genre fiction police have been blacklisted for far less than my month-long diatribe against the self-appointed gate keepers of our beloved bizarro fiction.

If I do make it onto the ballot, I suspect that it will be precisely BECAUSE of this public prediction that I’ll be silenced and censored for trying to save the genre from social justice and cultural Marxism.

I doubt I’ll be asked back onto the popular bizarro podcasts to discuss my point of view and the points of view of MANY authors too scared to speak out about the problems facing our community even though I’ve been a guest on these programs multiple times in the past. Once you’re marked as a bad apple, you’re a bad apple for life.

What I’d LIKE to happen now? I’d like to be invited to Bizarrocon 2017 to talk about the danger of genre censorship, of letting so-called gate keeper editors at influential small press publishing houses bully and harass authors online for expressing political and social opinions that differ from the powers that be.

I’d like an hour on the podcasts to state my case and show other writers that they have nothing to fear from being black listed by internet writing communities. They can still write books. The self-publishing world is thriving and many authors have cut ties with not only legacy publishers but the small press as well. There is life (and much more likelihood of success) outside of facebook writer groups.

I’d like to have a sit down with the BWA and discuss measures that can be taken when an author or publisher becomes the victim of public shaming and witch hunting inside of our community. After all, what exactly is the point of having these associations if not to help our authors find success and protect them from harassment from within the community?

We dive on our women like live grenades at the slightest hint of a SINGLE WHITE MALE approaching them for conversation. Can we not provide the same type of help when we see an author witch hunted online?

In other words, I’d like my voice, or the voice of someone like me, to be heard and understood by those who have the real power to create REAL change, positive change within our community so that all voices are free to express themselves without fear of prejudice or harassment for not bending to the social will of the few very vocal social justice warriors at the top of the bizarro food chain.

But that probably won’t happen. I’ll probably just be silenced like everyone else before me.

19 thoughts on “What Happens To Kevin Strange Now?

    • This infectious ideology has been running rampant through the creative arts communities for years. The problem with small press horror and bizarro is the communities are so small, people are afraid to speak out because everyone knows everyone. You’re just asking to be black listed and left to die alone. You immediately become toxic.

      I’m trying to show people that there’s really nothing to be scared of because there’s nothing to lose. 99% of these people sell 0 books anyway. It’s a social club. It’s trendy, not lucrative to be a member of these groups.

      We can make a change.

      • Precisely. Anything within the 200 member Bizarro world has been proven to be of no significance to any outside it. It’s been around 18 years in it’s current form and very simply, no one cares.

        I know that you profess respect for the genre. To each their own.

        What does matter is that the book buying public has rejected it; perhaps making more rabid the circle jerking nerds sequestered in the “great” city of Portland.

        The majority of it is a low level comic book without the pictures. But, it seems that ignoring it doesn’t make it go away.

        • I believe in bizarro fiction. But no amount of faith matters when a small group of political zealots controls 99% of what people see and hear from the genre.

          • Don’t really understand. They can’t sell anything; so what difference would their inclusion mean to you?

            OK;let’s say Bizarro is as valid a literary genre as any. The 99% is Mellick and O’Keefe. That’s all. The others are puny little suck ups, grasping at an old straw. So, I guess you pissed M&O off. I say good. The emperor and empress have no clothes and are very sensitive about it.

            As you know Bizarro is splintering right now. It’s about time that the competent writers differentiate themselves from the morons.

          • I’m actually good friends with Carlton and Rose has never been anything but nice to me. It’s the people who work for her, and some of the second tier writers who push their politically correct agenda down the rest of the community’s throat.

            Calrton and Rose don’t ever speak up or out on these topics which is good and bad. Good because they’re neutral, bad because when your employees spend all their time raging on Facebook, it looks like you condone their behavior.

  1. I’ve been included on every preliminary ballot since 2012 without any urging from me, so we’ll see what happens…

  2. Yes, it does make that appearance and rightly so. It’s an old game. I really, really like KS; but I just can’t stop the minions beholden to me from saying all these bad things about him.

    Frankly with friends like that who needs enemies?

    That’s cynical, unprovable, and possibly playable if one doesn’t cut the umbilical cord. It’s also got about an 80-90% chance of being true.

    On your side of the thought, I write books of differing kinds, cyber met some of the Bizarro and fringe while doing some light B. I ‘d talk about stuff, and one time I saw one of yours which I did like as opposed to 90%. I mentioned this to one of them and was told; “He’s not a friend.” I’m not saying more.

    I just really don’t understand what good there is in it for you to be liked by people who can’t make themselves a decent living. Amazon sales rankings below 100, 000 correspond to “forget about it.”

    Best wishes. This whole Bizarro thing is a tempest in a pisspot.

    • I’ve gone to the coast and written books alongside Carlton and had many great chats with Rose. If privately they don’t like me, then they have a weird way of showing it. Anyhow, I understand where you’re coming from and agree 100% that bizarro is a genre for preeners and posers in its current state, while only a hand full of people can actually make a living at it.

      I know of exactly 1 book that’s broken through and earned its author a respectable wage in the last 5 years (other than Carlton’s books, of course.) That’s one out of hundreds, so the odds of making a living writing exclusively bizarro are slim to none right now.

      But it’s a genre that’s only 20 years old. That’s still a baby in terms of literary legacy. So I’ll continue to support it and speak of it with pride because I do believe that literature needs a cult section, even if people aren’t presently buying it outside of wannabe authors themselves.

      The point of me speaking out about how it’s being ravaged by political correctness is in the hopes of actually helping break it free and get it back to the point that it was around 09-10 when a dozen authors (still a tiny amount relative to any other genre) were selling well and earning a decent living from their bizarro titles.

      I directly blame the influence of a few politically motivated individuals for watering down bizarro to what it is today, which is writers selling a few books to other writers while the general audience ignores it all.

      I believe its still savable.

      • I hope so. Much of my commentary applies to the book world in general. There are just so many books available; many free or $.99; and it’s going to get worse.

        As long as writers are not depending on money from books I say; “Go for it. Have some fun. Lightning does strike sometimes.” Most people take that as “trolling” and it’s not intended that way.

        Having said that, the book world is very competitive and I’ve seen many stories of blacklisting and carpet bombings when one starts to break out.

        I knew one author who does okay; and he does it primarily through having established many Goodreads threads people find interesting. It took a lot of work, but he depends on no one.

        It’s hard to generalize about Bizarro, as many do think it’s meant to be offensive. For the little it’s worth, personally I think it’s problems are;
        1) The humor is very male oriented; like Junior High gross out jokes; while readers of fiction are 90% female.
        2) The “reviewing” system is broken. Friendly reviews give virtually everything 4 or 5 stars. Readers and buyers know this. This actually applies to all indie books.
        3) If I was to do another lite Bizarro thing, which I strongly doubt, I’d put in pictures or drawings. The fantasy genre as well as others are doing this already.

        Best wishes.

        P.S. There are many Bizarro-like webzines popping up all over. Of course they pay zero to $50. One called “Horror Sleaze Trash” is doing some interesting stuff, and the writer can get a percentage.

        • If the function of bizarro is to act as the literary equivalent of the midnight movie, or the cult section of the video store, then it stands to reason that a primary component of that will be offensiveness.

          Midnight movies became what they because because the John Waters, the Lloyd Kaufman, the Jodorowsky, the Ken Russells, they had an edge and a bite to them that acted as a cinematic step behind the curtain at the freak show circus tent.

          Bizarro had that edge in spades when it rose in popularity in the late aughts. I think what killed it was two fold.

          First, the cult filmmakers, as they made these movies, were universally panned by critics and by the movie-going audience at large. That is by definition what a cult movie is. A commercial failure which gains an audience through other means over time.

          In much the same way, when the first really popular bizarro books were hitting with a cult audience, the authors themselves were the victims of very harsh criticisms about not only their writing style, but about their ability to write prose in general. And as we all know, writers have the biggest and most fragile egos of all the creative artists. Criticism is a hard pill to swallow, especially when you think you’re a great artist intentionally creating low-brow art.

          So bizarro was abandoned as it gained notoriety by the very authors who helped create its momentum. Those authors can be found today writing trout fishing anthologies and other high-brow literary books. You can see the overcompensation in their later works as they shifted focus toward gaining respect from the literary communities who to this day snub bizarro as juvenile garbage.

          The other problem—the problem that affects me most greatly as I don’t give a single fuck what critics or the literary elite think of me—is the slow politically correct corruption of the genre that has authors afraid to be controversial, edgy or in any way disrupt the social justice narrative that’s found its way into bizarro (and every other fiction genre.)

          There are plenty of authors willing to fill the vacuum left by the writers who ejected from bizarro in favor of critical accolades, but bizarro is no longer friendly toward real outsider perspectives. It’s been watered down to talking animals and household objects and really little else. There are few masters of the genre left who toil in bizarro exclusively or even competently.

          The self-appointed genre policemen attack early and often on social media to make sure that the social justice narrative is understood and followed. If you expect to ever be published by one of the few bizarro small presses, it doesn’t take long to see which subjects are off limits and which perspectives are unwanted before you ever even type up a manuscript that you intend to submit. The social rules are well written. You don’t need a rejection letter to know what not to write about.

          Unfortunately, the renegade, punk rock attitude that got bizarro to where it was at its height is non-existent in today’s social climate and that is why I think it is failing to provide most authors with even a modicum of success.

          • Wow. Quite a plausible viewpoint. Not an argument, I offer a nuance or two. To put some perspective on this, I’m a 67 year old married male, who started to creatively write after retirement. My predilection is for David Foster Wallace, who I believe paved the way for Bizarro. He said; “The purpose of writing is to disturb the comfortable and to comfort the disturbed.”

            With far less viewings than you, my perception was that much of Bizarro sought to be destroyers of the sacred cow politically correct. Yay. But when someone does “The Baby Jesus Butt Plug” it is merely stupid or offensive. On the other hand politically correct people seem repulsed by the title of “Frankenfairy” while the content is actually gay supportive.

            Regarding the cult status, my bias comes out. In movies I could well enjoy those that unintentionally came out badly; though it seemed all too easy to make one bad on purpose. TROMA is an exception as is Rocky Horror and some of Corman. The difference to me is that Jodorowsky and many Western European film-makers are not trying to make a bad, stupid film. They are just truly alternative; while the Bizarro writers I’ve spoken to briefly act proud to be called stupid.

            I am not an afficionados of camp , unless it is done as well as Russell or Ludlum. So, taste pops in.

            I was not previously aware that Bizarro had a heyday. You know what I mean and my thoughts are not yet fully formed.

            In a way you’re getting into the question asked of every writer on TV shows; “Do you write what you want or what you think your audience wants to read?” Excepting DFW, every one I’ve seen make the yes-no question into a long ass dissertation. Nobody asked, but for me I do what I want and challenge myself with other styles.

            So, in terms of market praise, I don’t give a flying either. I did get a fast start which quickly ended. But, bottom line, it’s a hobby.

            Yes, writers are a sensitive lot. That’s a recent observation for me. Personally, I know that many people will not like parts or all of what I’ve written. I knew that before I started. It’s inevitable. So what? I always distrusted those who say they like everything as “Anyone who agrees with everything you say is either not paying any attention, angling for something or is too stupid to bother talking to.”

            But, the Bizarro founders (in the literary sense) are right now very sensitive when it would seem more in their own interest to be adaptive.

            I do possibly have one disagreement. I’ve always regarded writers who stick with one genre limited. I think better writers can and do write most anything. Within the evolving limitation of the word “Bizarro” it seems that their writers disdain description. poeticism, and length; much like one-hit-wonder Pahlianuk says “writing is verbs” as opposed to his predecessors who considered it adjectives.

            Bizarro, if the unfortunate term survives, (Irreal sounded better) can apply to any genre; Bizarro literary (maybe Saunders), Bizarro YA, Bizarro adventure, etc. etc. However, right now Bizarro is defined by a few people at Eraserhead, who are not at all consistent in what they say, and seem to be protecting a business on the skids. Whether or not they care for outside opinions, it obviously is what it is.

            So, to make them happy, I guess we should all offer our congratulations; and pretend not to watch while they die.

          • These are great observations and I think I would only add one clarification.

            A cult movie, or in this case a piece of cult fiction, comes in two forms. The intentionally bad and obnoxious, like John Waters’ “Pink Flamingos/” or Lloyd Kaufman’s “The Toxic Avenger.”

            And the intentionally provocative like Jodorowsky’s later works or David Lynch’s films.

            I would put DFW in that second category of cult fiction, but I am totally comfortable defining both types as just bizarro fiction.

            Just as there are many different types and styles of science fiction and fantasy, so are there many types and styles of bizarro. In order for it to function as a viable alternative genre, it needs a single defining term.

            So while you would never put Russell and Waters in the same category in terms of talent and visual style, it is fair to call both of their styles midnight movies or cult movies.

            As such, I think it’s fair to put DFW and Carlton Mellick in the same category as well.

  3. Well, OK; nobody can be sure of what’s going on in someone else’s mind. But when a whole bunch start doing the same thing at the same time, it makes most wonder if there isn’t something going on.

  4. Quite frankly, Kevin; most readers have no interest in what goes on behind the scenes. If they knew they might stop buying books altogether.

    • I would love for all of this to stay private but the social justice culture has made it impossible for constructive criticism to get through the so-called gate keepers.

      They’re so quick to publicly out anyone they perceive to be a threat to their narrative that you have to turn around and play their game right back at them to get your voice heard.

      Everything I’ve been saying here on my site lately I’ve said 100 times in private conversations and on social media. It just gets shouted down every single time.

      I just had enough. After the last witch hunt, I decided to pull their same shit on them and out the whole damn community publicly for all to see.

  5. I’m not faulting him at all. I’m not faulting any of the authors who have left bizarro behind. I think I explained what their motivation was. They didn’t want to be seen as juvenile hacks. I didn’t mean that as an insult. I meant to illustrate the vacuum that was left but not filled, and show a correlation between that unfilled vacuum and the loss of sales and huge downturn in yearly releases from the bizarro presses.

    There were years that EHP and her imprints released over 100 books. There are less than half of that being released now.

    There were at one time nearly a dozen small press bizarro publishers. They’ve been consolidated down to maybe 2 or 3 with each putting out 12 or less books a year.

    I’m not crazy but I AM the only person talking about it.

    • Yes. From one source I’ve heard that the big 5 have actually cut their releases by 30% each of the last three years. Other sources vary a bit and the info is difficult to get as excepting one, they are not US based; and/or are subsidiaries of a larger operation.

      But some drop seems a reasonable guess to me, as a few years back Hachette had a major dispute with Amazon over discounting. After 30 days of some of their sales not being recognized they settled.

      We’re really just tiny, tiny fish in a huge ocean.

  6. Cheers, Kevin. They can be even more vindictive when embarrassed in public. I think you know.

    Charles Barkley used to get thrown out of games for protecting himself. He’d scream at the refs; “Call the first one!” on his way to the bench. But, you know that’s not the last game. There’s always another tomorrow.

    Charles is in the Hall of Fame. The others are not.

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