How to Grow Bizarro: Amy M. Vaughn (1/6)

Welcome to Part 1 of 6 in our series “How to Grow Bizarro 3.” This series began on the Zé Burns Blog back in December of 2019. How to Grow Bizarro 1 covered ways the average reader could help strengthen and expand the genre, while How to Grow Bizarro 2 looked at the larger picture. This current series asks authors and publishers THEIR thoughts. To start us off is Babou 691’s own contributing editor Amy M. Vaughn.

By Amy M. Vaughn

The first two entries in this series covered a lot of ground—nearly every reasonable idea there is to grow bizarro! So I’ve decided to create a wish list that is perhaps unreasonable, that goes beyond the good ideas and hard work already being implemented. None of these suggestions are impossible. They only require people willing to make them happen

1. Specialized support networks

My number one wish is for the formation of organizations by and for groups that are underrepresented in bizarro, such as people of color, women, and LGBTQ+ authors. Best case scenario, these groups would manifest as autonomous, supportive, safe spaces for minorities to connect, share knowledge, and create opportunities for their members

2. A consortium of publishers

A consortium is simply an association of businesses with a common objective. What if all (or a bunch of) the small bizarro presses got together and figured out how they could help each other, how they could exchange information and lessons-learned and promote each other? It may sound a little kumbaya, but I believe it could lead to tremendous gains.

3. Revive and expand the Bizarro Writers Association

What a valuable industry tool for keeping people informed of new publishers and releases, bizarro and adjacent cons and awards, marketing opportunities, reviewers lists, articles of interest about and for the genre, and so on. It could be a means of bringing people together, sparking discussion, and helping people feel involved. It could also facilitate the creation of the groups mentioned in wishes 1 and 2.

4. Regional gatherings (post-pandemic, of course)

How fucking awesome would that be? A Midwest one would fly; a northeast one would fucking jam. Perhaps facilitated through the BWA, I’m envisioning casual gatherings at some bar in some hotel. Writers, readers, friends, whoever, coming together for readings, trivia, maybe a presentation or two the next day, maybe not. I, for one, would drive my ass to Phoenix for that party.

5. Wisdom database

Everyone stumbles upon bizarro in different ways, and for the good majority, once they find it, they want to write weird shit, too, regardless of whether they were trained writers before or not. What if we had a database or an anthology, a collection of essays from experts sharing what they know about genre writing and about bizarro in particular? What’s your expertise? Is it generating ideas? Making it weird without losing the reader? Wrangling characters? Write that shit up. Share the wealth and let’s create a repository of bizarro-centric writing advice.

Yes, these are all touchy-feely, good time, potentially anti-Capitalist ideas. But for me, I’m really just here to write for like-minded freaks and read stories you can’t find anywhere else. Royalties are gravy—elusive, watery gravy.

I know some people are hoping to “make it” through bizarro, and I honestly believe the entries in my unreasonable wish list would help them get what they want, too. A genre can only thrive if people love it, and love is contagious. What these wishes have in common is that they nurture and spread the infection.

Amy M. Vaughn writes weird little books like Freak Night at the Slee-Z Motel and Skull Nuggets. She’s also the editor of Dog Doors to Outer Space and a contributing editor at Babou 691.