An Interview with Pulp Meister Alec Cizak by Stephen J. Golds

Punk Noir Magazine

If you’ve been on the indie writing scene for more than a minute, you’ve undoubtedly come across Pulp Modern. It is what it says it is and it does it very well. Modern Pulp. I’m proud to say I’ve had my work featured twice in this magazine. Partly because it’s so damn hard to get into and partly because the overall finish of the end product is so professional.

You also may be familiar with PM’s founding Editor Alec Cizak. An extremely talented editor, writer and supporter of the indie pulp and crime scenes. Alec kindly gave us some time to answer some of our questions for the interview series I’m doing of my favorite authors on the indie lit scene.

Hi Alec, thanks a lot for agreeing to the interview. To start off, can you tell our readers a little bit about how you got started in the Literature scene?

Well, I’ve been writing my whole life. It’s not a choice. It’s who I am. I don’t know when it started getting called a “scene.” When I started sending stories to journals in the 1990s, I had to send them snail mail and wait for a SASEwith a yay or nay in it. There were few journals then and not everyone and their mother thought they were a writer, so I usually got very nice, personalized rejection letters with very useful advice on how to improve my work. My first novella, Manifesto Destination, was published by Pale House Press in 2005. I started publishing online in the crime fiction “scene”in 2008. That’s when the major venues were places like Beat to a Pulp, Pulp Metal, Twist of Noir, Crime Factory, and Powder Burn Flash. I eventually decided there needed to be a super-duper hardcore crime fiction venue, so I started All Due Respect with the goal of publishing stories too outrageous for other places. Because I’m fickle and have a short attention span, I quickly moved on from there to publishing a print journal, Pulp Modern.

You’re best known for your creepy short story collection Lake County Incidents. How did that collection come into fruition and what were your overall inspirations for those stories?

I’m actually better known for my crime fiction. I’d like to write only horror, but for whatever reason, crime fiction comes easy to me (couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the fact that I spent a lot of time breaking the law throughout the 1990s). The LCI stories came about when I had an ah-ha moment about five years ago in Florida. I’d been hesitant to write horror for a long time because I wanted to make sure the stories were actually scary. I can’t explain the epiphany I had, but I just suddenly understood what I needed to do. Most people do not know about LCI and it’s too bad. I wanted to make an elegant collection of stories, similar to Ramsey Campbell’s Alone with the Horrors. People looking for gobs of gore will be disappointed. LCI is primarily psychological horror. The stories are about normal, working class people suddenly confronted by very abnormal circumstances.

What advice would you give to up and coming indie authors?

I would say do what you need to do to hone your craft—read and write religiously. I would also say this: Stay away from social media. If you’re going the indie route, you don’t need social media at all. Also, when writing your bio for a cover letter, save the cutesy shit and just tell the editor(s) who you are and what you’ve done so far.

You’re also the editor of the exceedingly cool Pulp Modern. Would you tell us about that?

I started Pulp Modern shortly after I started the website All Due Respect. I wanted to produce a print journal where everyone involved got an equal share of the profits (that system didn’t work for long as I soon discovered there isn’t much by way of profit when publishing an independentdigest). It’s evolved over the years and the best way to learn the true history of the journal is to read my editor’s note in the upcoming tenth anniversary issue.

What are your plans for the future?

My book Cool It Down, which is the third part of anunofficial trilogy that started with Down on the Street and Breaking Glass, should be published any day now. It was supposed to be published in 2020, but the publisher wanted to wait because of COVID. Were I pitching the book to Hollywood, I would say, “It’s Ian Fleming meets Gabriel Garcia Marquez.” I’m also putting together a collection of crime fiction short stories that take place in Lake County. In January, a novella of mine will be included in a collection of three novellas about sleazy Hollywood in 1979. That’s probably the most unique story I’ve ever written, so I’m looking forward to hearing people’s reaction to it. The collection is called L.A. Stories, and I encourage everyone who can stomach grindhouse-like fiction to read it.

What is an issue you care about deeply?

Well, I guess freedom of speech. The corporations and Big Tech have convinced an alarming number of useful idiots that freedom of speech is some sort of “right wing”conspiracy. It’s not. How any writer can side with a private business over the rights of an individual is beyond comprehension.

What novel are you reading now?

I read multiple novels at the same time. I’m currently reading books by Donald Goines, Chester Himes, and Ramsey Campbell.

What music are you listening to now?

I listen to a lot of doom metal because I host a radio show that features that kind of music. For writing, however, I generally listen to Debussy or jazz.

What did you last eat?

Fermented vegetables and pork dumplings.

If you could go on a drinking binge with 5 writers alive or dead who would you choose?

Hunter S. Thompson, Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Dorothy Parker, and, of course, Charles Bukowski.

What would you like written on your gravestone?

What a fucking ride!

Alec Cizak

Alec Cizak is a writer and filmmaker from Indiana. His work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. His books Down on the Street, Breaking Glass, and Lake County incidents are available from ABC Group Documentation. He is also the editor of the renowned fiction digest, Pulp Modern.

Stephen J. Golds

Stephen J. Golds was born in North London, U.K, but has lived in Japan for most of his adult life.

He writes primarily in the noir and dirty realism genres and is the co-editor of Punk Noir Magazine.

He enjoys spending time with his daughters, reading books, traveling the world, boxing and listening to old Soul LPs. His books are Say Goodbye When I’m Gone, I’ll Pray When I’m Dying, Always the Dead, Poems for Ghosts in Empty Tenement Windows I Thought I Saw Once, Cut-throat & Tongue-tied, Bullet Riddled & Gun Shy and the story and poetry collection Love Like Bleeding Out With an Empty Gun in Your Hand.