An Interview with the genre-hopping, bizarro-lit king Brian Asman

Punk Noir Magazine

Can you tell our readers a little bit about how you got started in the Literature scene?

Sure. I’ve always written off and on for most of my life, but in 2016 I decided to get serious about writing fiction. The LitReactor forums were a great foot in the door, gave me the confidence to start submitting work to different markets and introduced me to a bunch of cool people. Also took some classes that were immensely helpful—their horror writing course and The Choreography of Violence. Through one of my LitReactor contacts, I heard about a horror class Stephen Graham Jones was teaching at the Stanley Hotel, and jumped on that. Super fun, it snowed every day and we watched scary movies at night. I’ll never forget watching The Autopsy of Jane Doe, and then one of the hotel staff came into the room pushing a metal cart covered in a white sheet. Totally freaked us all out!

Tell us about your recent work?

My newest is a haunted house novella called Man, Fuck This House. After doing SF horror with Jailbroke and a bizarro martial arts comedy with Nunchuck City, I wanted to write something more explicitly in the horror genre. In both style and content its quite a bit different than the stuff I’ve published before, and I’m really excited to see how people respond to it.

Describe your writing style in 5 words?

Punchy, energetic, and utterly bonkers. 

What and/or who are your inspirations?

Stylistically, Garth Ennis is a big one. John Connelly and Joe Lansdale, for both their writing prowess and ability to genre-hop. Tana French, because her style and approach to fiction is so different from mine I learn something new every time I read one of her books. Thomas Ligotti—no one has the ability to transport me into a completely different reality like Ligotti can.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with a bunch of really amazing writers who’ve been massive inspirations to me—Stephen Graham Jones, John Skipp, Tod Goldberg. I’ve learned a hell of a lot from each of them, to the point where I could open up a book, point to a certain paragraph, and be like X taught me that.

I’m also inspired by a lot of the writers I’m acquainted with in the indie/small press scene, like Chandler Morrison, Gemma Files, Christine Morgan, Duncan Ralston, Autumn Christian, Max Booth III, Lucas Mangum, S.W. Lauden, Sarah Chen, and many, many more. The amount of amazing fiction I’ve been reading lately is off the charts.

What advice would you give to up and coming indie authors?

Write a lot, read a lot, and don’t be a dick. And don’t give up. Every single person I met when I first started out has achieved some degree of success in the intervening years, whether it’s publishing a book or a short story. 

What are your plans for the future?

To keep writing. Do more stuff in the comics and film worlds. Make more friends. And hopefully sell a novel to one of the bigger publishers.

Oh, and one of these days I’m going to take IDW into letting me write a TMNT Universe issue about the villain Pizzaface, mark my words. 

What is an issue you care about deeply?

Artistic freedom. Definitely not as bad in horror and crime as certain other genres, but fundamentally I believe the Artist is the only one who gets to decide what sort of art they’re going to make. Everyone else can decide to experience it, or not, but when it comes to policing what art gets created—or engaging in things like review bombing campaigns, or uncharitably attributing a CHARACTER’S noxious opinions to the writer themselves—I’m staunchly against that. I do believe in freedom of expression as a value, not just a legal doctrine (in the US, at least), because speech is my business. Speech deserves and requires both legal and cultural protections in order to flourish.

On the flip side, I wish more people would spend time creating art instead of tweeting about the books/movies/TV shows/poems they think shouldn’t exist. The answer to art you dislike is more art—yours, specifically. 

What novel are you reading now?

Cuts You Up by David Blackwood. It’s a goth slasher with fairy tale elements, but also a very compelling meditation on trauma. Really unique blend, and Blackwood’s a great writer who should really be on more peoples’ radar.

What music are you listening to now?

Same stuff I’ve always listened to—I read once your musical tastes crystallize in your early ‘30s and that definitely applies to me. I gravitate towards punk, stuff like Alkaline Trio, Off With Their Heads, Lagwagon and Bad Religion, and horror punk/psychobilly bands like the Misfits, Murderland, the Koffin Kats. I’m also a huge fan of the Gaslight Anthem and Brian Fallon’s solo records.

What did you last eat?

Chicken tacos with guac and salsa verde, followed by a blonde brownie. 

If you could go on a drinking binge with 5 writers alive or dead who would you choose?

KillerCon notwithstanding, which is basically a three-day drinking binge with a lot of my favorite living and almost-dead writers, I’d have to go with Bret Easton Ellis, Garth Ennis, James Ellroy, Mary Shelley, and Edgar Allan Poe. 

If you could travel to a time and place in history what would it be?

Fake history—the Hyborean Age. Real history—man, so many. Ancient Rome would rock. I’d be fascinated to see World War II unfold in real time. Watching the pyramids being built, either the Egyptian or Mayan varieties would be pretty cool. But I think if I could only do one, it would be to travel back to 1947 Los Angeles and find out who actually killed the Black Dahlia. I don’t think there’ a single mystery in all of human history I’m more obsessed with, because at a young age I talked my parents into buying me a little “Unsolved Mysteries” book at the supermarket and that story really affected/scarred me.

What would you like written on your gravestone?

Just my name. If I’ve done my job, that’ll be all the information a passerby will need.

Bio:

Brian Asman is a writer, editor, producer and actor from San Diego, CA. He’s the author of I’m Not Even Supposed to Be Here Today from Eraserhead Press and Man, Fuck This House, Nunchuck City and Jailbroke from Mutated Media. He’s recently published short stories in the anthologies A Pile of Bodies, A Pile of Heads, Welcome to the Splatter Club and Lost Films, and comics in Tales of Horrorgasm. An anthology he co-edited with Danger Slater, Boinking Bizarro, was recently released by Death’s Head Press. He holds an MFA from UCR-Palm Desert. He’s represented by Dunham Literary, Inc. Max Booth III is his hype man.

Find him on Instagram or Twitter (@thebrianasman), Facebook (brian.asman.14), or his website http://www.brianasmanbooks.com.

Brian AsmanBooks.Comics.FilmTwitter: @thebrianasmanWebsite: www.brianasmanbooks.comIMDB: imdb.me/thebrianasman