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VOTM in Lit Hub

Many thanks to Siel Ju for her excellent profile of Vermin on the Mount in Literary Hub: “The Reading Series That Wants Readers to Feel Like Rock Stars.” It was great to reminisce about the highs and lows of running a reading series for a dozen years. Plus, lots of members of the Legion of Vermin (Jami Attenberg, David Fromm, Amelia Gray, Scott O’Connor and Wendy C. Ortiz) weigh in on their experience with VOTM. Here’s the opening paragraph:

“A dominatrix-cum-memoirist. A PEN/Faulkner Award finalist. An ex-junkie rock star. A bestselling novelist. When you walk into a Vermin on the Mount reading, you never quite know what you’re in for.”

16 June VOTM Kenney

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin SD: Shawna Kenney

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

KENNEY: I was reading at Tower Records in Boston on my first book tour and came to a section in the story about golden showers when some 10-year-old kid came wandering through, so I stopped and we all waited until his father caught up to him and ushered him out.

The most special one was reading at City Lights on Halloween years ago with Cara Bruce and Pleasant Gehman. We all wore devil horn headbands for the holiday and afterward the manager took us to the basement where there was sort of a dresser-shrine that had Allen Ginsberg’s Buddhist beads and a matchbook from William Burroughs on it and stuff from all of these greats. He said we could each leave something too, so we left our horns. I felt like I could just die a happy writer right there.

Shawna Kenney is the author of the award-winning memoir I Was a Teenage Dominatrix (Last Gasp), co-author of Imposters (Mark Batty Publisher), and editor of the anthology Book Lovers (Seal Press). Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Playboy, Ms., Creative Nonfiction, Vice, The LA Weekly, Narratively and more. She teaches creative writing in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and gets around LA mostly by bike.

Come see Shawna read at 3rdSpace in San Diego on Saturday, August 20 at 7pm. 

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Look Who’s Coming to Vermin SD: Lisa Brackmann

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

BRACKMANN: Recently I was Cara Black’s human Spotify list at an event we did together — she had asked me if I knew how to use Spotify, and I had to confess that I was sadly ignorant (nope, I don’t stream music). She was trying to put together a playlist for her latest Aime LeDuc detective novel set in Paris. This one is a prequel set in the late 80s, so she wanted to have a list of big hits from the period. Since there was no actual Spotify list, during our talk, I, er, sung them. Only a line or two from each tune, as she brought them up, but it was one of the funniest things ever. You probably had to be there…

Lisa Brackmann is the critically acclaimed, New York Times best-selling author of the Ellie McEnroe novels set in China (Rock Paper Tiger, Hour of the Rat, Dragon Day), and the thrillers Getaway and Go-Between. Her work has also appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Review of Books and CNET. She lives in San Diego with several cats, far too many books and a bass ukulele.

Come see Lisa read at 3rdSpace in San Diego on Saturday, August 20 at 7pm. 

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Look Who’s Coming to Vermin LA: Peter Holslin

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

HOLSLIN: Someone thought I was a friend of one of their friends, and when I told them I wasn’t, they got a suspicious look in their eye and acted weird around me for the rest of the night.

Peter Holslin is a freelance journalist who grew up in San Diego and now lives in LA. He writes about music, sex and other things. He used to play in a noise-punk band called Bruisecaster and eats goat meat on the regular.

Come see Peter perform at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, August 19 at 7:30pm

16 Aug VOTM LA Fowler

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin LA: Heather Fowler

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

FOWLER: Filming for the short film adaptation/trailer shoot for Beautiful Ape Girl Baby had paused due to torrential downpour and the cast and crew came together in a single room. As the book author, I was invited to watch the entire process. While we waited, the actors practiced their lines in the round. It was great to be seated there, watching my characters come to life and listening to director Lauren Rachel Berman advise on the scene. The best moment for me, because it was so privately amusing, was when the actors made slight adjustments to a line here or there and Lauren said, “Try that again. In the book and adapted script, it reads…” 

I’m a constant reviser–to the extent that sometimes, if reading unpublished work, I’ll even revise right as I read, so it was really fun to have the script kept so sacrosanct even when I myself was amenable to more fluid adjustments. Being an author often open to other people’s creative adjustments but having my exact terms kept precise–definitely memorable. I had to remind myself that the novel had yet to drop (but the edits were done), so Lauren was right. Now I’m writing plays and screenplays, so such things may not happen again in this way any time soon–a play/movie in development can be changed at every turn. 

I welcome the organized chaos to come. Here’s the trailer. These actors are great!

Heather Fowler is a novelist, a poet, a fiction writer, a librettist, and a playwright. She is the author of the novel Beautiful Ape Girl Baby (2016) and the story collections Suspended Heart (2010), People with Holes (2012), This Time, While We’re Awake (2013), and Elegantly Naked In My Sexy Mental Illness (2014). She is also co-author of a collaborative book of poems called Bare Bulbs Swinging with Meg Tuite and Michelle Reale. Her work has appeared in such venues as PANK, Night Train, storyglossia, Necessary Fiction, Feminist Studies, and more.

Come see Heather read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, August 19 at 7:30pm

Scot Sothern

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin SD: Scot Sothern

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

SOTHERN: I collected signed first-edition contemporary fiction for many years and so went to a lot of readings before I ever had one of my own. A lot of book collectors would come to events with bags of books to be signed and I always thought they were kind of nerdy. There was this one guy who kind of became a friend who I didn’t really like. He was in his late seventies and wore a bad toupee and always sat next to me. In a conversation about NYC, where we had both lived in past years, I mentioned a time I’d been mugged and he said he had been mugged as well. He asked if my mugger had a weapon and I said no but there were two of them and I gave them my money and told them to have a nice day. I asked did his mugger have a weapon and he said yeah, a knife. I asked did he give the guy his money and he said no, I took his knife away from him and then killed the son of a bitch. He said it was no big deal, he’d been in the Korean War and killed a bunch of commie bastards. I still think of book collectors as kind of nerdy but with the knowledge that some are killer nerds.

Writer-photographer Scot Sothern spent 40 years hustling photography and drifting from job to job. His first exhibit, “LOWLIFE,” was held at the notorious Drkrm Gallery in Los Angeles in 2010. His first book, LOWLIFE, was published in the U.K. by Stanley Barker in 2011. Sothern has since had solo shows on both coasts of the U.S. as well as in Ottawa, Paris, Basel, and London. The British Journal of Photography called LOWLIFE, “The year’s most controversial photobook.” From 2013 to 2015, Scot wrote more than fifty photo-illustrated twice-monthly columns, “Nocturnal Submissions” and “Sothern Exposure,” for Vice. In 2013, CURB SERVICE: A Memoir was published by Soft Skull Press. PowerHouse Books published STREETWALKERS, thirty years of stories and photographs in February of 2016.

Come see Scot read at 3rdSpace in San Diego on Saturday, August 20 at 7pm. 

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Look Who’s Coming to Vermin LA: Yennie Cheung

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

CHEUNG: This was not quite at a reading—more like reading adjacent—but one year at the Festival of Books I was drying my hands in the green room restroom when a big-time, famous author approached me, smiling. I was startled because we’d been introduced briefly by a mutual friend once, but I didn’t expect her to remember me.

“I just want you to know,” she said, “I loved your reading at your panel yesterday.”

“I wasn’t on a panel yesterday,” I said.

“Of course you were,” she said. “I was there.”

“I assure you, it wasn’t me.”

“But I saw you!”

We were still standing awkwardly in front of the paper towels, so I excused myself and walked away. Later, when I thought about all the panels that weekend, I finally understood the confusion. She thought I was Yiyun Li.

Yennie Cheung holds an MFA in Creative Writing from UC Riverside-Palm Desert. Her work has been published in such places as The Los Angeles Times, Word Riot, decomP magazinE, and The Best Small Fictions 2015. An LA native, she’s currently working on a nonfiction book about Downtown Los Angeles.

Come see Yennie read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, August 19 at 7:30pm

16 Aug VOTM LA Barranga

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin LA: Bianca Barragan

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

BARRAGAN: The most unusual thing that ever happened to me at a reading was at Book Show. I tried to make an entrance through that big cutout she used to have in the middle of the store, but the sparkly fringe that decorated the opening of the cutout obscured my view of what was on the other side. I ended up coming through the fringe, whacking the mic and the book stand that had been left for me to use, and nearly knocking both over. (I only succeeded in toppling the book stand.)

Bianca Barragan has been writing weird zines since 2010, though less frequently now. The last thing she wrote was about taking edibles at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire. She’s an organizer of the L.A. Zine Fest.

Come see Bianca read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, August 19 at 7:30pm

16 Aug VOTM SD Alulis

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin SD: Jeff Alulis

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

ALULIS: Vermin on the Mount will only be my second public reading ever as a published author…fingers crossed for some streakers!

Jeff Alulis is the New York Times best-selling co-author of NOFX: The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories, as well as an award-winning documentary filmmaker and former lead singer for the legendary punk band Dead Kennedys.

Come see Jeff read at 3rdSpace in San Diego on Saturday, August 20 at 7pm. 

16 Aug VOTM LA Pochoda

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin LA: Ivy Pochoda

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

POCHODA: The strangest thing that ever happened to me at a reading was when someone asked me in all seriousness if I’d ever met a actual magician who could make things disappear for real.

Ivy Pochoda is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Visitation Street published by Ecco / Dennis Lehane Books. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Huffington Post, Self, and House & Garden. She teaches creative writing at the Writing Workshops Los Angeles and works as a freelance editor. Ivy grew up in Brooklyn, NY and currently lives in West Adams, Los Angeles with her daughter, dogs, rabbits and husband.

Come see Ivy read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, August 19 at 7:30pm

16 Aug VOTM LA Cheshire

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin LA: Scott Cheshire

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

CHESHIRE: I was compelled to give a man I don’t know a big kiss on the cheek because he’d attended every reading I’d given.

Scott Cheshire is the author of the novel High as the Horses’ Bridles, a Washington Post Best Book of 2014. His work has been published in AGNI, Electric Literature, Guernica, Harper’s, One Story, and the Picador Book of Men. He is a managing editor at The Scofield and lives in Los Angeles.

Come see Scott read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, August 19 at 7:30pm

16 Aug VOTM SD Gubba

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin SD: Shelby Gubba

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

GUBBA: The most unusual experience was when Jim Ruland was raffling off Vermin shirts one time and before he called the next ticket number, I turned to Ryan and Jessica Bradford and said “I’m going to win this next one” and then Jim read my number and I won, like within the same 30 seconds. It was super eerie/rad!

Shelby Gubba is an artist and musician currently living in Southern California. She primarily works with pen/ink and paper, occasionally using a Wacom tablet. Her focuses include cartooning, illustration, and photography (film and digital). In January 2015, she released the first issue of her quarterly online arts and culture magazine Goblin Reservation, featuring artists from around the globe. She currently plays bass and sings in The Dabbers along with Zack Wentz. The Dabbers released their full length album “I Am Alien Now” in June 2016.

Come see Shelby read at 3rdSpace in San Diego on Saturday, August 20 at 7pm. 

16 Aug VOTM LASD Fromm

Look Who’s Coming to Vermin LA & SD: David Fromm

VOTM: What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had at a reading?

FROMM: I once did a reading at a neighborhood bar in a small town in northwestern Massachusetts on a Monday night in early April, and I was the only reader and nobody knew why they were even having a literary thing, since it was the night of the NCAA basketball finals but I’d suggested that I could be a sort of opening act for that since I was reading about basketball, and anyway a couple of guys at the bar had a loud drunk running commentary going throughout my reading, wondering, like, who is this guy and what is he saying and why, and they were actually being relatively complimentary, but it was throwing me off because it was so loud, and I was gonna say something to them even though they were hammered and only about six feet away and it was a bar, not, you know, a salon or something, but then they stood up and squared off with each other for no discernible reason and were quickly escorted off the premises just before they came to blows. And then the game started.

Dave Fromm is the author of EXPATRIATE GAMES (Skyhorse Publishing 2008) and THE DURATION (Tyrus Books 2016). He lives with his wife and kids in the wilds of western Massachusetts.

Come see David read at Book Show in Highland Park on Friday, August 19 at 7:30pm and at 3rdSpace in San Diego on Saturday, August 20 at 7pm. 

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Vermin in Los Angeles 8/19: 12th Anniversary Show

Join us for a night of irreverent readings with Bianca Barragan, Scott Cheshire, Yennie Cheung, Heather Fowler, David Fromm,Peter Holslin, Ivy Pochoda and your host, Jim Ruland, on Friday August 19, 2016 at 7:30pm at Book Show in Highland Park. 5503 N. Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA. Poster art by Shelby Gubba. Books and brand new t-shirts by Art Fuentes for sale. World-famous Vermin raffle and admission are always FREE!

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Vermin in San Diego 8/20: 12th Anniversary Show

Join us for a night of irreverent readings with Jeff Alulis, Lisa Brackmann, David Fromm, Rebecca Gonzales, Shelby Gubba, Shawna Kenney, Scot Sothern and your host, Jim Ruland, on Saturday August 20, 2016 at 7pm at 3rdSpace 4610 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA. Poster art by Shelby Gubba. Books and brand new t-shirts by Art Fuentes for sale. World-famous Vermin raffle and admission are always FREE!