Interview with Biff Mitchell

Author of Blowing Up

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How would you describe "Blowing Up" to a new reader?
  • Blowing Up is a book of short stories focusing on humor and magical realism/surrealism in a world on the brink of destruction by its most intelligent species. The title comes from the lead story, 100 People, 10 Bats and 1 Cat Blowing Up which gets into the minds of the people, the bats and the cat at that moment they are blown up in nuclear holocaust. You’d be surprised at the thoughts rushing through the human cranium in those first seconds of death.

    How the reviewers describe it:

    “Blowing Up doesn’t fit well into any category. A mixture of satire and science fiction, spiritual pondering and scatological polemics, the book is utterly original.” (Lisabeth Sarai, Goodreads reviewer)

    “Blowing Up is a collection of short fiction stories that sprinkles absurd humour and surreal observations into horrifying situations.” (Jenna Rideout, Westveil Publishing)

    “If you’re a fan of the weird, speculative fiction, or just looking for something new to shake up your reading routine, then you’ll want to grab this book.” (Liliyanna Shadowlyn, The Faerie Review Book Blog)

    “If you are in need of some good, tongue-in-cheek and honest humour, this book is exactly what you want!” (Bri Wignall, Naturalbri Reviews)

    “Stephen King on Steriods.” (The International Review of Books)
What was the inspiration behind 'Blowing Up' ?
  • These stories were written over a period of years and published in a variety of literary journals so the inspiration comes from a variety of sources, but mostly from the crazy messed up world we live in. The lead story or inspired by nuclear angst. The ‘muse’ stories were inspired by my fear of muses and the torment they bring to writers.

    These stories show a variety of voices because I’ve never liked a book of short stories with just one voice…as though they’re nothing more than puzzle pieces out of order in a larger work.
Which authors do you admire? How have they influenced your writing style?
  • I like the Beat writers, including my favorite (who for some reason is rarely associated with the Beat Movement and more so with the Hippie Movement). That would be Richard Brautigan. Everyone should read “In Watermelon Sugar” once a year for their entire lives. I also read Tom Robbins, Christopher Moore, Hemingway, Tim Dorsey, Dashiell Hammet, Chuck Palahniuk, Dan Simmons and any writer who breaks away from the norm in storytelling.

    I think most of these writers have given me direction in writing humor that has no interest in political correctness and stories that go beyond anything that can be termed ‘normal.’
Can you tell us a little about the locations in your book?
  • Being a book of short stories, Blowing Up, has locations all over the place including the future, the afterlife, ancient Syria and Molly’s Coffee House. However, each of the locations is the perfect fit for the story.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
  • Don’t even think about being published. If you do, you’ll be writing for your audience and not for yourself. It’ll be similar to butt-kissing in the corporate world. Always write for yourself and write every day.

    Don’t ever think that anything you’ve written is anywhere near finished until you’ve revised and re-written at least half a dozen times.

    Don’t sleep. Ever.
What's your writing process?
  • I get an idea. I fill a hard cover notebook (that I carry everywhere along with pens) with everything I can think about the story for a few months (I called this the story dump).

    Then I create a story board on my living room wall with cards for every scene.

    This gives me a chance to see the whole picture at a glance and identify those areas that need more writing and those that can be dropped or merged with other scenes.

    I don’t write the first word of the first paragraph until I’ve completed all the character studies and have a fairly stable story board.

    When the first draft is finished, I put it away for a few months before I start the re-writing and editing.
Which character in 'Blowing Up' has had the greatest impact on readers?
  • I think this boils down to two of the characters. The first is from a novella length story called ‘Surfing in Catal Hyuk”:
    It would be impossible for anyone to lead a more ordinary life than Bobby Parker, whose life was ordinary to the extent that the more you saw him and the more you knew about him, the less you would remember him and the less you would think about him.

    He was pizza without toppings. Bran flakes without milk.

    The next is an unnamed man in the story ‘Killing Asshole.” He’s a serial killer on a rampage to save the world from assholes…but something strange happens at the end.
If 'Blowing Up' were to be adapted for TV or film, who would you see in the lead role? Who did you have in your mind’s eye when you wrote him/her?
  • These being short stories, it’s difficult to imagine then as movies, but ‘Surfing in Catal Hyuk’ has the potential to be a very boring movie made successful by a stellar cast.
How have readers responded to 'insert title'?
  • So far, I've received 5 five star reviews and one 4.5 star review. These are from reviewers. I'm guessing that the readers are so flabbergasted by the book that they need years to even find the words to being the praise.
Where next? What are you working on now?
  • I have three more novels on the go along with a weekly serialized story called 'The Existential Adventures of Crazy Man and the Dog Sidestepper.' ( Plus, a few more short stories.
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Welcome to the World You Live In.

It's a mess. It's diseased, polluted, over-populated and too close to the sun. But it's all we have and we're losing it fast, so we may as well have a good laugh before the sun reaches out and reclaims us.

In Blowing Up, Biff Mitchell shakes the foundations of a world gone bad with outrageous dollops of inappropriate humor. Nothing is sacred, nothing is spared. Nothing is safe in a world accumulating too much ammunition for too few targets.

So welcome to Mitchell's world of ghosts who have to get the last word, ball-busting muses who torture for the hell of it, a woman who sheds rabbits from her eyes instead of tears, an office of petty-minded workers fused together in a nuclear holocaust and a world where you write grammatically correct essays or starve to death.

But there will be laughter.