Sebastian Vice & Outcast Press: The Dark Side of Transgressive Fiction

Sebastian Vice & Outcast Press:  The Dark Side of Transgressive Fiction

By Angelique Fawns

What do you do if your stories are so edgy even the publications who profess to like experimental fiction won’t take them? If you are Sebastian Vice, you start your own press. Vice is looking for literature that dares to explore themes most editors consider taboo. This is his mission statement:

 

“Outcast Press wants stories cut from the bone, written from the gristle that sticks to your soul, based off brain-burning images scorched onto paper. We like raw, honest, dark, in-your-face, tales. The ethos at Outcast Press is a rejection of sacred cows.”

Outcast Press is currently open to poetry submissions that explore “raw, dark, honest and shocking themes.” Submissions for short stories and novels will reopen in January 2020.

 

I sat down with Vice to learn more about his first anthology and vision.

 

AF: How did Outcast Press get its beginnings?

SV: I’d flirted with the idea for about a year until I pulled the trigger. Until recently, I was primarily a short story writer. The problem I ran into was finding magazines that would take my material. It’s one thing to get rejected (that’s fine, every writer gets rejected—a lot). But to come up empty, over and over, on places that will consider really dark, taboo pieces, is disheartening. It’s one thing to get rejected a lot (all writers need to live with that), it’s quite another if there’s an almost complete void (unless you dig really, really deep).

I suppose one day myself, and members of my team just snapped. We saw one too many fake edgy, fake dark fiction magazines, with a laundry list of caveats of what they don’t take. We worked out some preliminary details, and started Outcast Press. 

 

AF: I’ve also had many rejections, so I can understand the frustration. Outcast Press asks specifically for “transgressive fiction”, can you define what you are looking for?

 

SV: There are a lot of articles online I could gesture to. I recommend looking up Lauren Sapala, and Trainwreck Tendencies. Both of these women do a fine job of outlining what transgressive fiction is. I’d also look up G.C. McKay. He has an excellent YouTube video on what transgressive fiction is.

I suppose my personal, very broad conception of transgressive fiction is as follows: literary fiction + a splash of [insert another genre]. I like to consider it the bastard child of literary fiction and other genres. This isn’t sufficient, of course. As the name of the genre suggests, there needs to be some kind of transgression. How you present that transgression is up to the author. Often, though not always, it has a literary fiction bent with a healthy dose of social or normative transgressions, with a flavoring of [insert genre].

That being said, I do recommend people look at the people mentioned above, and become familiar with the big and small players in the genre. 

 

AF: I find when you try and swim against the current, you inevitably encounter some pushback. What has your reception been like?

 

SV: So far, the reception has been positive. We aren’t the only press doing what we’re doing, but not many others are. There’s a hunger, a deep hunger, for dark, brutally honest, in your face, sometimes taboo stories. In a world where places like to play it safe, we don’t. I’d like to think the right people respect that.

Will there be pushback? No doubt. Will we offend people? Sure. Does this bother me? Not in the least. We aren’t for everyone, and that’s ok. Our press doesn’t serve everyone. We serve the writers and readers who like transgressive fiction and dirty realism.

If in the process of doing what we do, we ruffle feathers, that means we are doing something right. Here’s a story. Many years ago, The New Yorker published a story that caused a massive cancellation of subscriptions. The magazine got hate, as did the author. Who’s the author? Shirly Jackson. The piece? The Lottery. You know, the piece everyone reads in high school and/or college. The New Yorker took a chance, and published a modern classic. If we’re lucky, we will publish a piece that pushes the boundaries and become a modern classic (I suppose time will tell).

 

AF: You mentioned that you write stories yourself, can you tell us more about them? 

 

SV: Oh yes. I suppose this is the self-promotion part of the interview. I won’t drone on and on. So, I’ll just highlight some stuff I put in cover letters.

“Sebastian Vice’s short fiction and poetry has appeared in Punk Noir Magazine, and A Thin Slice of Anxiety. His flash fiction piece “One Last Good Day” has been nominated for Best Of The Net 2021. He has forthcoming short stories in Cinnabar Moth Publishing, Close To The Bone, and Outcast Press’ anthology In Filth It Shall Be Found. His debut novel Heaven’s Tourist will be published by Cinnabar Moth Publishing (Nov 2022). You can find him on Twitter: @sebastian_vice.”

Suffice it to say, when not managing the press, I have a lot of irons in the fire. I’ll ride this car till the wheels fall off.

 

AF: Any advice for writers submitting to Outcast Press?

 

SV: Most writing advice is horseshit, so I don’t know what to say other than this. Write from the heart, fuck external validation, and if you feel writing in your bones? Keep at it. Put in the work. It took me 10 years to get something published. It took Bukowski something like 20-30 years to get any kind of fame. Play the long game. That’s about it. Any other advice will border on me trying to impose my own preferences on others. I’ll stop here. Write. From. The. Heart.

 

AF: That’s about as direct and to the point as you can get for writing advice. What’s in the future for Outcast Press?

 

SV: Friday October 15, we have two books dropping. We have our anthology In Filth It Shall Be Found, and Sean McCallum’s excellent novel The Recalcitrant Stuff Of Life. We are heavily focused on these two releases. 

We currently have rolling submissions for our online poetry feature, which has been a massive hit. Props go to Amy-Jean Muller for being our poetry Editor-In-Chief. She does a fantastic job. We encourage everyone to check it out. Other than that? Well, we have a full line up for Spring 2022, Summer 2022, and Fall 2022. We are blessed so many people trust us with their work. We are grateful for each writer we work with. Our success is based on them and our fans. We appreciate both. More than words can express.

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