More Bizarro Than Bizarro – Q&A
Name: Rhys Hughes
Story Title: Mummyfixation
Firstly, what drew you to this anthology?
The main reason was the editor, Vincenzo Bilof, who has always been nice to me and supportative of my work. Also I regard him as a witty and amusing man. If he puts out a call for an anthology, then I am going to be interested automatically. Another reason was that I write a lot and have always written a lot. I am prolific, so I am always looking for outlets for stories, especially anthologies that publish absurdist, surreal or peculiar fiction, and this anthology seemed to be an ideal match for me!
What does Bizarro fiction mean to you?
I had never even heard the term until a couple of years ago. I understand it to mean a type of weird fiction that isn’t afraid of humour and also that doesn’t mind an author really pushing the boundaries of symmetry and taste and inventiveness. A lot of weird fiction is actually very conservative and safe in nature. It believes that the wildest stories can be told in the most ordinary language, except that the stories aren’t really as wild as they claim to be. So essentially weird fiction is often just rather boring and restrained. Bizarro is like a traffic cop waving on the author’s imagination and saying, “Don’t stop there, keep going! Keep pushing the ideas and situations further!”
How would you pitch your story to potential readers?
I would say that if you are interested in Egyptology and pyramids and the process of mummification and the whole archaeological shebang, then this story will bid welcome to your mind inside its words as an honoured guest and all it will ask you to do in return is to be willing to go a bit sideways when the lateral logical asks you to, and not to fight the motion when you feel the story going off at a tangent, but to sit tight on your chair and allow it to proceed on its way.
How close was the finished story to your initial vision?
This was one of those stories that had no initial vision at all when I began writing it. All I had was the opening line, “First they found the mummy of the daddy,” and I just took it from there. I felt compelled to write that line down when it popped into my head for no apparent reason and once I had written it down I felt compelled to add to it. Sometimes I meticulously plan stories and sometimes I don’t. This one was a non-planned piece. I just went with the flow to see where it would end up and the ending really surprised and delighted me. Making it up as I go along doesn’t mean it isn’t tightly organized or precisely structured. I now have enough experience to be able to improvise with just as much assurance as when I write carefully plotted tales. I think of it as a jazz approach and in this particular case a pharaonic jazz approach. What pleased me was that the ending neatly and unusually ties up all the loose ends that are created as the story wrote itself. I had no idea it was going to end that way until it did.
Do you have any additional publishing plans for 2017?
I don’t have any more books scheduled to be published this year. Next year I am hoping to have my weird Western, The Honeymoon Gorillas, published and maybe also my collection, The Ghost Comedians. We shall see! I have started writing more non-fiction recently and maybe my first book of essays will appear at some point in the future but I can’t say when. I will be writing, writing, writing, of course, because as it happens this has turned out to be one of my most productive writing years ever!
Finally, if you had the opportunity to put together an anthology, what would be your chosen theme?
Oh gosh! I have long daydreamed about editing an anthology but the truth is that the work involved would probably drive me crazy in a short time. Yet I would love to put together a tribute volume to Italo Calvino, another to Mia Couto, one generally of tropical zone stories (in style and mood as well as setting) to help balance out the fact that nearly every anthology I have read is ultimately full of temperate zone stories. I would love to put together an anthology themed around music, for example African or Cuban music. And an anthology of stories based on paradoxes would also be really nice.
Check out Rhy’s Amazon author page here: https://www.amazon.com/Rhys-Hughes/e/B0043O1WQA/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_6?qid=1506109056&sr=8-6