Publisher Interview: Ira Rat of Filthy Loot

By Zé Burns

We’re continuing the Publisher Interview series with one of the most unique presses out there: Filthy Loot, headed by the multi-talented Ira Rat. You may know Filthy Loot from their zines like the Fcked Up Stories series. Or their novellas such as Madeleine Swann’s incredible The Vine That Ate the Starlet. Or from our own Amy Vaughn’s edited collection of bizarro writing prompts Dog Doors to Outer Space.

Along with being a publisher, Ira is both an artist and a writer. His books include Pacifier and Participation Trophy, while his art can be found in his visual manifesto i’m sorry mom. He even helped design the Babou 691 logo.

It was my pleasure to “sit down” with him and talk shop.

ZÉ BURNS: What led you to start Filthy Loot?

IRA RAT: It came together rather organically but stems from the desire to make “cool” things. I had been meeting a lot of really talented and interesting writers while trying to place my own writing, and when I saw there weren’t many places that were representing the kind of material that I like, I decided to do the first F•cked Up Stories zine.

Everything else snowballed from there.

ZB: How would you describe the work you publish?

IR: The catch-all term that I’ve been using has been misfit fiction because the things that I like are always those areas in-between. Right now we’ve been doing a lot of genre fiction including horror, bizarro, some light sci-fi. Though we have one mini-anthology in the works called Little Birds that is indie lit and poetry.

The plan is to have a little bit of everything.

ZB: What goes on behind the scenes at Filthy Loot?

IR: A lot of me throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. Begging for/reading stories, stapling zines, designing covers, doing layout, and packaging orders. I get help from my wife Emily with the shipping/etc and have gotten editing help from Amy Vaughn and Sam Richard. But most of it is just me pursuing harebrained ideas and gut feelings.

Right now it’s me staring down a stack of 50 submissions for our existentialist body horror mini-anthology Isolation is Safety, a half dozen book submissions, and re-reading the next two novellas, trying to will the pile down to a more manageable size before I dive back in. I’d welcome other “readers” into Filthy Loot, but I have such specifically eclectic tastes that it would almost be more work to do that. 

Though, saying that, I had next to zero input into what was in LAZERMALL and Dog Doors to Outer Space. Those are entirely Sam and Amy. 

ZB: What really grabs you in a submission, in a good way?

IR: I like something that has a classic narrative shape but is novel or experimental in some way. Back in art school, I wrote a lot of essays on wanting to bring high brow and low brow together into a uni-brow of “art”. I don’t think that I’ve moved too far past that concept.

The many, many logos of Filthy Loot

ZB: How many different logos do you have and why do you have so many?!

IR: I could go into my crackpot artistic theories, but that would probably bore everyone but me. Okay, probably me too. haha. So, I’ll just say that it’s damage from growing up watching Nickelodeon and MTV constantly messing around with their logos. If the press wasn’t the first thing that came up when you Googled Filthy Loot, I’d be a little more concerned with consistency.

Though, officially, there’s only one logo. Everything else is just for fun.

ZB: What’s next for Filthy Loot? Any exciting releases in the near future?

IR: We’ve been working on some things for a while now, like Demiurges: An Unconventional Writer’s Deck, which I’ve been piecing together with Katy Michelle Quinn, Christoph Paul, Danger Slater, and Amy Vaughn. It’s a deck of cards that’s designed to help writers become unstuck by randomly choosing a card, then the suggestion on that card will (hopefully) hijack their brain in such a way that it’ll help them out of the situation.

We have the mini-anthologies I mentioned before, Little Birds and Isolation is Safety. Novellas from S.T. Cartledge and the debut from Madison McSweeney. I’m sitting on about half a dozen ideas for other zines/mini-anthologies that I just don’t have the time to open submissions for at the moment.

What I’d love is for someone to send me a great short novel that reminds me of Camus or Breece Pancake, great contemporary art that we can put out as a zine, a book of poetry that rides the line between Rimbaud/Bukowski/Brian Alan Ellis, or pure drivel that makes me giggle like an idiot.

Thank you, Ira Rat!

You can find Filthy Loot on:

Zé Burns is a Seattle-based author of horror and the surreal, an avid proponent of bizarro fiction, and a lover of all things weird. He is the editor-in-chief and owner of Babou 691. You can find him on Twitter at @ZeBurns or on his site: