Where are you from?

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I grew up in a happy home in Southern California amidst palms trees, monster toys, and animals (such as a goat, turkey, tortoise, rats, pythons, iguanas, ducks, chickens, rabbits, frogs, newts, mudskippers, monitors, tarantulas, guinea pigs, gars).

Tell us your latest news?

My newest book, Fungus of the Heart, was published this month. Also, my stories were recently published or are forthcoming in Cemetery Dance, Shroud Magazine, Brain Harvest, and Withersin. My free stories can be read here (http://jeremycshipp.com/onlinestories.htm).

When and why did you begin writing?

I wrote my first novel when I was 13, and I’ve been writing about a book a year ever since. I started writing because I loved stories. Even as a young kid, I would play pretend with my brothers, and our games often involved complicated plots with recurring characters. I fell in love with stories because my parents read to me, and because of my childhood heroes. These were people such as Terry Gilliam, George Lucas, Jim Henson, HG Wells, Jules Verne, Alexandre Dumas.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I’m a minimalist, and I make stylistic choices based on the psyches of my characters. For instance, in Cursed, the story is told in list format, because my point of view character is rather obsessive, and he’s doing what he can to make order out of the chaos of his life.

How did you come up with the title?

I decided on “Fungus of the Heart,” because this is an emotionally evocative image that speaks to the overall theme of the stories. Every human being experiences “fungus of the heart” at one time or another. When we’re lonely. When we’re betrayed. When we can’t save the person we love most.

Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?

Love without respect isn’t really love at all. And even in the worst of situations, there is hope. There’s light.

How much of the book is realistic?

The realities that I created in Fungus of the Heart are funhouse mirror reflections of our own world. And so, the realities in my tales are simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar. I never strive for realism in the traditional sense, although psychological realism is very important to me.

What books have most influenced your life most?

Here are some books that have had a profound affect on me, in one way or another: Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, The Time Machine by HG Wells, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, 1984 by George Orwell, The Giver by Lois Lowry.

What book are you reading now?

I’m reading The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, and a couple others.

What are your current projects?

Right now, I’m writing a new horror story collection and a middle grade fantasy novel. Also, a musical stage play is in the works based on my short story “Nightmare Man.” And in my lab, I’m working hard to create a being who’s half attic clown, half yard gnome. I forget why.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

When I was 18, my creative writing teacher Phillip Brugalette encouraged me to start sending out my work to publishers. That’s when my writing career began.

Do you see writing as a career?

Writing is my career, my passion, my calling.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I suppose the hardest part of writing for me is the construction of sentences. I tend to obsess over finding the right words, the right rhythm.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

One author who I love is Arundhati Roy. In her book, The God of Small Things, she makes the English language her own. Her imagery is beautiful, heartbreaking. Her sentences flow like music.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Writing helps me to understand myself better, and creating these stories about relationships reminded me just how important my family is to me. I think writing in general helps me to be a kinder, more respectful human being.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write every day, read everyday. Don’t let rejections get you down. Go to sites like ralan.com and duotrope.com, and follow the submission guidelines. Also, I think it’s important to appreciate the inherent value of your stories, and not to seek validation through publication.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

If an attic clown ever invites you to a Giggle Party, just say no.

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