Do Cowbots Get Blue Balls? An interview with S. Park
S. Park’s new short story collection, Even Cowbots Get Blue Balls, is part of our Queering Consent erotica series. He’s as prolific in turning in polished copy as any editor could dream of, and we’ve also published a series of short-story zines by him, with more books and zines in the works. We spoke with him for our latest episode of the People’s Guide to Publishing podcast, and he was kind enough to answer some written interview questions below.
What inspired you to write your book?
As it’s a collection of five stories, there were five different inspirations! Overall, though, given the book’s theme of loving the “other” my own thoughts and feelings about queer identities had a large impact. The mainstream likes to make their villains and their monsters queer for a reason, and while I think fighting back against that is a valid response, embracing it is as well. If you tell me that a man loving another man is monstrous, then how about a man loving a demon? A robot? A vampire? If you are going to be horrified by how strange and alien my love is, then I might as well go all the way and be as strange, monstrous, and horrifying as possible! And yet in this collection especially once you read the stories, they’re not horrifying at all. They’re consenting people who care about each other finding ways to bridge divides that vary from two princes, one of whom merely happens to be a fairy, to a human being who’s meant to slay demons instead finding pleasure with one.
What was it like to publish with Microcosm?
It’s been pretty smooth sailing so far. I’ve been lucky to work with an editor whose style and approach suits me pretty perfectly, and my prior experience with other small presses meant that nothing in the process was a shock, though I was mildly surprised when I found out there was a “marketing team” (Microcosm is by far the largest publisher I have worked with, several have been single individuals running “basement” passion projects!) and that said team wanted to change my book’s title to be more provocative. I can’t help my continuing urge to point out that the cowboy is the human and the robot is the city-slicker in the story in question, but I will admit that Even Cowbots Get Blue Balls is both more memorable, and gives more of a clue to the steamy nature of the contents than The Only Chance Inn does!
What was the submission/query process like for you?
I was incredibly lucky to be able to compress that process, due to knowing my editor Lydia personally before submitting to Microcosm. They had read a number of my fanfiction stories, so when their work on the Queering Consent series came up in conversation, they already knew that I wrote the sorts of things that would fit well under that label.
What else have you written?
I write a lot! I’ve written millions of words of fanfiction across fandoms from the silly to the obscure to the incredibly horny. (My Little Pony, The Chronicles of Amber, and Hades the video game, to name one in each category!) I’ve also published a few previous books, ranging from erotic romance (The Sacrifice, published by JMS Books under my previous pen name of Stephanie Park is probably the best of those) to post-apocalyptic fantasy adventure featuring vampires (Blood Choice, a book originally published by the Austrialian Jaffa Books, alas now defunct, but that was picked up by Thurston Howl Press, and is still available through them.) I’ve also had quite a few short stories in assorted anthologies, and I even self-publish some zines on my own. I am constantly full of thoughts and ideas, and I can’t help but have some of them come out as stories!
What are you currently reading?
I have a stack by my bed that includes Flipping by R. Lee Fryar, which I’m only about a third of the way through but which is an interesting world where ghosts depend on their haunted houses to continue to exist as ghosts, so of course a flipper messing with this ghost’s house isn’t going to go over well! I’m also slowly working my way through Antifa Splatterpunk, an anthology from Cursed Morsels which is fascinating reading but which I find I have to take a small chunk at a time, as it’s intense, and Your Body is Not Your Body, a trans-themed horror collection from Tenebrous Press with much the same problem. And I just started—as a pleasant break from those—Trans-Galactic Bike Ride, from a publisher called Microcosm, you might have heard of them! In non-fiction I am reading War Before Civilization by Lawrence H. Keely which is a stellar book and an amazing look into the fundamentals of human nature as relates to violent conflict, “civilized” or not.
What’s the best book you read in the last year?
I write more than I read these days, which is probably a failing of some kind or other. I would probably have to say Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher, which falls short of being perfect by about one millimeter. Said millimeter being that I think the male “hero” character was actually unnecessary and could have been written out entirely, though I understand why he got put in and why he wasn’t written out. Sometimes “good enough” is good enough, and oh WOW is this a “good enough” book! More than good enough, it has everything I could ever want in a dark fairy tale world, including perhaps my favorite fairy godmother of all time.
What’s next for you?
More of whatever inspires me, which could be anything, but also definitely more of the same. I adore writing queer relationships, happy sex, and strange, inhuman beings who maybe turn out to be awfully human after all, and I’ve already pitched and had accepted another collection of similar stories to Microcosm, not to mention the direct sequels to several stories in the Cowbots book that are in the works as well! So there are many steamy, consensual, kinky, queer, and monster-loving tales to come. I’m also enjoying self-publishing a zine series of queer horror stories, in which queer people aren’t the real monsters, bigots are, and the queer “monsters” get bloodily satisfying revenge. So if, for example, a trans man being able to summon a demon to send after the cis transphobe who assaulted him sounds like a fun time, those might be up your alley.
Where can people find you online?
On rare occasion when I have coherent thoughts, I blog on Dreamwidth at bladespark.dreamwidth.org but I’m most active on twitter @bladespark, where you can see my every little hummingbird notion, and also quite a lot of NSFW artwork, craft projects, and so on. I also have my self-published zines on Etsy (sparkcreatures) and in digital format on itch.io (bladespark).
Any in-person events coming up soon?
No dates yet, but I will eventually have a book signing at As You Like it in Eugene, Oregon. Their event room is unfortunately out of order, but I’m promised I’ll be booked in after they have it repaired, and I’m quite looking forward to it.