Name: Tom Leins

Story Title: Here Comes That Weird Chill

Firstly, what drew you to this anthology?

Above all, the opportunity to throw myself into something completely different. As someone whose short story output is heavily skewed towards crime fiction, I’m always looking for opportunities to broaden my horizons, and tweak my approach. One of the key aspects of the submissions call was Vincenzo’s challenge: ‘If I can get past the first three paragraphs of your story, I am going to want to read the rest of it.’ I wanted an eye-opening first scene which I could escalate dramatically – and bloodily. I hope I succeeded.

What does bizarro fiction mean to you?

I’m a bizarro novice, which was part of the charm in yanking back the curtain and peering inside. To me, bizarro feels like a melting pot where the different strands of genre fiction intersect with popular culture and mutate into something weirder and more interesting.

Which bizarro book has had the biggest influence on you?

In terms of the influence on this particular story, almost certainly Zero Saints by Gabino Iglesias – which may not strictly be a bizarro title…? That book exists at the crossroads where crime, horror and bizarro intersect. It is a book with a bold vision, and it certainly lingered at the back of my mind while I was writing ‘Here Comes That Weird Chill’.

How would you pitch your story to potential readers?

Imagine a grindhouse version of Scooby Doo set in the English Westcountry. To anyone familiar with my Paignton Noir stories, this is my attempt at Paignton Gothic – not a radical departure, but a departure nonetheless. To be honest, I view all of my crime stories as violent, surreal little comedies – this one is no exception.

How close was the finished story to your initial vision?

About as close as it gets! The first draft was written very quickly, and that gave me less time to change my mind and second-guess myself. I had a lot of fun writing it – I hope that shows.

Do you have any additional publishing plans for 2017?

My Paignton Noir novelette Skull Meat was published via Amazon earlier this summer, and a collection, Meat Bubbles (& Other Stories), will hopefully be available before the end of the year. After that, I will be shopping my wrestling-noir short story collection, The Good Book, around – to see if anyone bites.

Finally, if you had the opportunity to put together an anthology, what would be your chosen theme?  

This changes on a weekly basis, but right now I would like to put together a football-themed crime fiction collection. (Soccer, for US readers!) This is the least bizarro idea I have ever had, but probably one of the most achievable. Watch this space…


Tom Leins is a disgraced ex-film critic from Paignton, UK. His short stories have been published by the likes of Akashic Books, Shotgun Honey, Near to the Knuckle, Flash Fiction Offensive, Horror Sleaze Trash and Spelk Fiction. A novelette, Skull Meat, is available via Amazon, and a collection, Meat Bubbles (& Other Stories) will be out later this year.


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