Paul McComas and Stephen D. Sullivan Navigate Uncanny Encounters: “Rod Serling used to tour the nation…”

mccomas-sullilvan-uncanny_enountersI’m going to give away one early surprise here… Because it is too cool not to. Stephen D. Sullivan, co-author with with Paul McComas in the collection of plays Uncanny Encounters tells us early in this conversation that he actually met Rod Serling. And to my mind that’s an indicator of what you’ll find in their book, Uncanny Encounters. McComas and Sullivan go where surprisingly few have gone before.

Special effects have made movies and television the primary performance outlet for the science fiction genre. But you don’t need special effects to tell a good science fiction story. You just need a good story; and you will find them in this book, as plays, ready to perform. McComas and Sullivan take on all subjects and all genres, horror and science fiction.

Stephen D. Sullivan is well-set to take on the movies.  Some of you my remember, with varying degrees of fondness, a movie from your pre0-teen years watching Chiller on Saturday  afternoons.  I know I saw Manos: The Hands of Fate more than once in this august setting.   Stephen D. Sullivan just won the Scribe Award for his adaptation of Manos: The Hands of Fate – Best Novel Adaptation, 2016.  Think about this; the best novel rafted from Manos: The Hands of Fate. 

The stories include nuanced and often funny explorations of characters who find that one new thing that can change their lives forever. This is often less recommendable than one might assume. It is always, however, entertaining to watch.   In this book you’ll find a perfect example of the range and power of genre fiction when translated to the perforsteve-and-paulming stage. By focusing on story and character, you get human involvement from the get-go, no matter what your genre preferences might think themselves to be. These stories also seem as if they would be both easy and fun to perform.

Settle back and enjoy a unique conversation with two of America’s hardest working artists… and be sure to pick up their book Uncanny Encounters – LIVE!

Here’s the link to download our interview. Or take time out from all the madness to actually select the madness in your mind by listening below.



And… Now …for…something… really really really really really really really WEIRD:

Frightful Fundraiser on Oct. 29 at Woodland Pattern Book Center:
“Hal-Lit-ween” Party Includes Horror/SF Performance, Characters-&-Their-Creators Costume Contest

– Michael Wendt,, 414-263-5001
– Paul McComas,, 224-343-6484
(Milwaukee) 2016 Scribe-Award-winning Wisconsin author Stephen D. Sullivan joins the Chicago-based performance duo of musician-songwriter Maya Kuper & (Midwest Book Awards Silver-Prize-winning author—and Milwaukee native) Paul McComas at Woodland Pattern Book Center for a batty benefit on the Saturday night before All Hallows’ Eve.

Masquerading is optional, but everyone garbed as a famous author or literary character will be eligible for one of three costume-competition prizes.

McComas will host as, appropriately, the host/creator of The Twilight Zone, writer Rod Serling.

Sullivan, McComas and Kuper will perform scenes from 2015’s McComas/Sullivan collection Uncanny Encounters—LIVE!: Dark Drama, Sci-Fi Screams & Horrific Humor (9”x12” playscript format, 160 pp. softcover, from Wisconsin’s own Walkabout Publishing). The book’s eight oft-allegorical short to mid-length genre works comprise a 90-minute, two-act stage show,of which the trio will present 30 minutes’ worth of “greatest hits.”

Admission goes to Woodland Pattern, as do proceeds from sales of Uncanny Encounters and four prior, prize-winning books by McComas and Sullivan. Also benefiting the Center: the sale of Spooky & Sci-Fi Snacks such as vampire punch, “creaturecookies” and Soylent Green wafers. Founded in 1979 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Woodland Pattern has spent more than three decades promoting contemporary literature through innovative multi-arts programming, youth outreach and education, and a book store featuring more than 25,000 small-press titles otherwise unavailable in the Milwaukee area.

Go here!

Sat., Oct. 29: 7 pm doors; 7:45 performance
Woodland Pattern Book Center, 720 E. Locust St., Milwaukee WI 53212
$5 suggested donation


Carl Hiaasen Sends Andy Yancy from Bad Monkey to Razor Girl: Can Satire Keep Ahead of Reality?

There’s a huge problem in contemporary literature that to a certain degree, we are in the process of shedding. The problem is that once a writer has finished a book, it may be up to two years before that book can get in front of readers’ eyes. A lot can happen in that time. For writers who are working in non-fiction and in the case of Carl Hiaasen, satire, keeping up with the world is an issue. But to be honest, probably not as big an issue as you might think.

hiaasen-bad_monkey-smHiaasen’s latest novel, Razor Girl, and the novel it is a sequel to, Bad Monkey (from 2013) are excellent examples of the fraught nature of publishing. You might think that as reality hurtles off a cliff into realms beyond satire, novels written say two and five years ago respectively, might have lot some edge. Perish the thought. Hiaasen is one of our most skilled satirists. His comedic writing manages to be timeless, and his characters feel real, and generally likable. He always equals the current level of absurdity, even if consensus reality and the world he creates in his novels have different ideas about where that absurdity is running rampant.

I felt lucky to get to talk to Hiaasen about Bad Monkey and Razor Girl, which comprise the first two books in what I am certain most readers will consider a series they want to see more of. In Bad Monkey, we meet Andy Yancy, who has managed to get ousted from the Miami Police and the Monroe County sheriff’s office. He’s been dumped into Health Inspector job, counting restaurant roaches. There’s a human arm, a bad monkey, a coroner love-interest, and less savory types. You’ll laugh a lot and look forward to Razor Girl, which begins with an inventive twist on the automobile accident insurance scam.

Hiaasen and I talked about the reality factor in his books, which is to say that there’s a formula for readers; if it seems too bizarre to be true, it probably came from the news. If it is believable, it’s made up. The bad news here is that the escaped, 9-pound pet rats are real. The good news in this novel is that it may cut down on your quinoa intake. (It depends on how you feel about quinoa, of course.) You will hear Carl and I talk all about Gambian Pouched Rats in both the long and short interviews.

I must add that while we did not quite get there in our conversation, there’s a bit of monsterific-lite in this novel that would not be out of place in a David Cronbenburg comedy. It’s very funny and creepy enough to feel right around Halloween. Moreover, Razor Girl and Carl Hiaasen leave the door open for sequels. This is the first straight-up sequel he’s done (characters pop up now and again, but not in the serial sense of these two novels), and that’s exciting.

carl_hiaasen-20916-smAlas, the world is headed to hell in a handbasket. It’s almost as if Reality has said, “OK Hiaasen; I’ll see your Razor Girl and raise you, ‘One nation, deity of your choice.'” To a degree one might feel sorry for Reality, having to try so hard to keep up with Hiaasen. Maybe he could give Reality some advice on finding a funnier, more lighthearted and engaging tone.

Here’s the lightning round; take that Reality!

So you think that Consensus makes you tough, Reality? Here’s 45 minutes of Carl Hiaasen with some lessons you need to learn!