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"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Friday, April 24, 2015

Literally Just a Chunk of Congealed Cow Blood (Interview with Phronk, Author of STARS AND OTHER MONSTERS)

I think it was Walt Whitman who once said:

Friends.  Romans.  Countrymen.  Lend me your ears!

Let's compare with a more modern (though no less noteworthy) quote:

"Fart fart," fart.  Fart fart fart fart fart fart fart fart fart fart.

Sadly, Walt "I'm too good to reply to my fans" Whitman declined my request for a review.  The author of the latter gem, however, has agreed.

Friends.  Romans.  Fartrymen.  I present to you the inimitable Phronk.  If you've ever heard me speak in person, you've heard the story of this impressive gentleman.  Presented with the proposition that anyone "...can literally write the word 'fart' 100,000 times and slap a cover of [a] baboon urinating into his own mouth, then upload that cool motherfucker right to Amazon" our hero Phronk saw not a sarcastic critique of the state of self-publishing today, but rather a challenge.  The result was BABOON FART STORY: part novel, part prank, part political statement, part Dadaist performance art, part string of 100,000 instances of the word "fart."

Today we talk to Phronk about BABOON FART STORY, as well as his real (?) art, his work as a doctor, and various other things that you would ask history' greatest genius.  Let's meet the man (?) and dive right in!

About Phronk

Phronk writes a lot of odd things. His stories involve things that don't exist, things that might exist, and things that shouldn't exist.

He received a PhD in psychology after writing a dissertation about what makes horror films frightening. So yeah, he wrote the book on horror, and continues to write horrific things by cover of night. By day, he writes about technology, helping people out of modern digital nightmares.

Phronk is also the creator of Putting Weird Things in Coffee, which is a blog about putting weird things in coffee.

He lives in London, Ontario, and has an unhealthy relationship with chocolate.

Find him on his website, Facebook, Goodreads, or Twitter.


SK:  Welcome, Phronk!  Let's get the obvious first question out of the way.  A lot of people were shocked and angered by the ending of BABOON FART STORY.  (Spoiler alert!)  Specifically, I'm referring to the famous "fart" scene, which is comparable in its notoriety only to the ending of GONE GIRL or "The Sixth Sense."  Do you feel you could have ended it differently without jeopardizing your artistic integrity?

P: I wanted to make the ending special. Readers had invested so much time in reading the word "fart" 99,000 times, that I wanted those last 1000 farts to really say something. Like, really say something, you know? Artistically speaking. So the final pages take on an angry, feverish tone, before our narrator reels in the chaos, and brings the story full circle to expel a message of hope. The final word says it all.

SK:  As a doctor, have you ever pounded repeatedly on a dying person's chest yelling, "Live, damn you, live?"

P: Dying person? No. Dead person? Well ... keep in mind that I write about undead things, and my PhD is in horror films.

SK:  You've been called (by certain owners of this blog) "history's greatest genius."  How do you respond to such obvious and puerile attempts to curry your favor?

P: Facts is facts! This particular blog owner needs no currying to gain my favour though. In high school, I thought I was going to be an artist. One of my greatest works of art at the time was -- this is true -- titled Billy and the Cloneasaurus. It was a drawing of a creature with a dozen eyes, six tentacles, and two or three vaginas. So maybe different than your BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS, but I have a deep connection with the title.

SK:  Can you tell us about the origin/meaning of your pseudonym?

P: That also originated in high school. I was a quiet kid, so in the first few days of school, I guess I never told anybody my name. For whatever reason, a name was chosen for me, and that name was Phronk. It might have some hidden meaning that embodies that special level of cruelty that only high school kids can pull off, but it stuck, and it's easy to Google.

SK:  Your work (your non-prank work, anyway) is a mixture of the horrific and the strange.  Do you consider yourself a bizarro author?  Considering you've written treatises on horror I'd be interested in your thoughts on the sub-genres.

P: I think the bizarro genre is one of the most interesting things happening in fiction. Especially in this age of the Internet and self-publishing, it's harder than ever to show readers something they haven't seen before. Bizarro fiction puts shock and novelty front and centre, often right in the book titles. It's a force against Internet overload ennui, but also thrives in a globally connected network where weird-ass people can find stories that tickles their weird-ass fancies. 

I wouldn't say I write bizarro yet, though I aspire to. One reviewer said I ride the edge between bizarro and accessibility, which is a very nice compliment.

SK:  What is the strangest thing that you have ever put in coffee?

P: The strangest in recent memory was blood sausage. That shit is literally just a chunk of congealed cow blood. I blended it into coffee and dreaded taking a sip, but the weirdest part was that it tasted pretty good. My tastebuds liked it even though my brain was repulsed. Kinda like when you get a weird boner at something you shouldn't, and you're like "well, I guess I'm sexually attracted to artisanal cheese now." You know?

SK:  Do you find that, in the wake of the BABOON FART STORY, you've become an internet celebrity?  And if yes, do the people at your day job know about it?  And if no, does that make you, for all intents and purposes, a real-life Batman?

P: It's become almost cliche to point out that Warhol was right, though fifteen minutes of fame was being generous. I've been lucky enough to have several allotments of fifteen minutes, which is amazing. One of those allotments came when BABOON FART STORY was seen by millions of people over a few days. It doesn't come up much now, but it was so awesome for connecting with writers who got a laugh out of it. Those connections have outlasted the fame.

A few people at work know about my life as Phronk, but I try not to make it obvious that I have a non-millionaire non-superpowered secret identity. I did have a little kid come up to me in a bar with hand-drawn BABOON FART STORY fan art once though, which was pretty much the best moment of my life.

SK:  Well, thanks for being with us today, Phronk.  Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you'd like to say that we didn't get to cover in this interview?

P: Buy my book so that someday I actually do have fans to leave closing words for. Oh, and I'm working on a sequel to STARS AND OTHER MONSTERS! The first book compared celebrity power to vampire power in a gore-splattered romantic comedy plot structure. The sequel's plot resembles one of those "adult goes back to high school" movies, like "Never Been Kissed" or something, except there's no school and it's more about evisceration than kissing. Anyway, it's going in some uncomfortable directions, so I'm excited to see what happens.


Stan Lightfoot is the perfect paparazzo. He and his talented canine companion can track down anybody, anywhere. He’s on the hunt, and with the next flash of his camera, Stan could ruin a celebrity’s life and become a millionaire. His work has gone unappreciated by everything from beefy bodyguards to vicious Chihuahuas, but this time he’s interrupted by something new: a vampire.

When she discovers Stan’s talents, the fanged woman demands his help in introducing her to her celebrity crush. It’s an offer he can’t refuse: Stan must deliver the world’s biggest movie star on a non-silver platter, or find himself on the menu instead. He’s forced on a twisted road trip through nightmare America, and his new companion doesn’t mind driving through the night.

Stan has a few days to figure out this perplexing woman with a monstrous hunger for blood and an all-too-human obsession with fame. Her power is god-like, but he’s been in tough situations before. Maybe he can at least save his dog. The bigger conundrum is that to the perfect paparazzo, a star who doesn’t want to be found is as dangerous as any monster.

Get it on Amazon and tell your friends about it on Goodreads!

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