I've been looking into the term "grindhouse fiction," and as mentioned before, I'm not the first to use it. Thing is, I didn't grow up on 42nd Street, sneaking into dodgy theaters and watching Linda Blair take prison showers. I did, however, see a lot of that stuff on cable as a kid. Still, "basic cable fiction" doesn't quite have the oomph I'm looking for, let alone "premium channel late night fiction," or even "bottom shelf VHS fiction."
Not that it matters what we call this stuff... Except when it does. During this quest, I've become intrigued by the bizarro fiction movement, which has been going strong for about a decade. I have a few anthologies lined up for purchase, but more importantly, I'm starting to realize that what I write, what I've been writing for nearly twenty years, can be described as such.
Even when I was writing screenplays, with no hope of production or perusal, the shit was weird. Evil doppelgangers lured their lily-white counterparts into bullet-riddled hellscapes. Visions of a dead woman haunted both her widower husband and her killer. Vampires spent the night in a jail cell, in a battle of shotguns and shape-shifting. They were my take on everything that had fed my cable- and caffeine-addled young mind, a brain in its early twenties, its neural pathways not yet savaged by the realities of adulthood.
I'm 39 now. I've transcended much the early adulthood smackdown, and have come out a guy who writes weird, action-packed stories about moody, violent hipsters. I want more.
That's why the bizarro (and post-bizarro) label intrigues me. For starters, I know I'm not alone. There are writers who have been doing this as long as I have, many even longer, who had the gumption to publish as indies long before I had discovered podcasts about doing so, let alone self-help books. They're likely a lot of fun to read, some of them even thoughtful. There's bound to be a ton (figuratively and literally) who are better at it than I am.
What this means is I have to up my game, which has always been in the cards. Speed Queen began as a straight crime novel, then wound up with a murder by Christmas tree. Its sequels get even weirder, and can't really be classified as crime books anymore. This is a stronger concoction, brought on by multiple genres of B-movies and real-life changes in technology. In the eighties, killbots were the stuff of cheap science fiction. Now we use them to take out terrorists. Putting them in a series that was originally more Sin City than cyberpunk feels natural to me.
I want more, though. I want to be a part of something, yet be able to stand on my own as a writer. I want to create, develop, and expose to the world a fiction that has already cut its feet on the old mass media fragments. Fiction that has bled, yanked out the glass, and kept going. Always odd, sometimes dark fiction that dares to inspire, as corny as that may sound.
I have no idea what to call the motherfucker, but I know I'm in good company.