New Release Radar: Assistant to a Judge of Hell and Other Stories
Shannon Rampe is joining us today to talk about his new story collection, Assistant to a Judge of Hell and Other Stories. Here’s the description of the book:
- In Assistant to a Judge of Hell, San Guan finally has a crack at reincarnation after a thousand years as a bureaucrat in hell, but only if he can convince a slanderous, insubordinate, and recently-deceased Pan Xiaojian to take the job.
- In Babies, Bradley notices that his wife Anne is acting strangely after he finds a litter of babies in the street.
- In Warniks, Nimit Okeke, the Speaker of the Solar System, is facing the worst crisis of his administration, and it isn’t the teddy bear-shaped aliens who just gravity-bombed Jupiter.
- In Bad Soul, Jade Blossom laments how nothing ever changes, but when he enlists a crude and charismatic poet to push his radical ideas, he unwittingly unleashes a force of nature along with some questionable poetry!
These four stories from the warped brain of Shannon Rampe are darkly twisted, using unexpected violence, vicious snarkiness, and wanton chaos to wildly comedic effect. Terrible, nasty people get their comeuppance and good people—okay, slightly superficial and moderately selfish people—come out on top.
But what does Shannon love most about the book? Let’s find out:
This collection contains some of my favorite stories that I have written, and certainly the most fun. The jokes always crack me up. (I know, what’s worse than laughing at your own jokes? But these stories are populated with exactly the sort of people who laugh at their own jokes… and worse!)
Really, these stories are about bad people getting their just desserts and slightly less bad people putting those bad people in their place, and those are the most satisfying moments in the stories. But I really love the stories behind the stories.
For example, the title story was written while I was living in London, working 80+ hour weeks as a contractor for a global banking megacorp while my soul was slowly ground to dust. One day, I took an actual lunch break and walked to the British Museum, where I encountered a Ming Dynasty-era sculpture of a green-faced porcelain bureaucrat, the Assistant to the Judge of Hell, and this story sprang to life in my head. At the time, being trapped in the gears of a nightmarish bureaucracy that felt like it was stretching out before me for a thousand years gave me a very personal insight into the sense of desperate insanity in the story.
Babies was written at Viable Paradise in a single, frenzied five-hour rush. This story gets laughs and cringes in equal parts whenever people read it. I love the fact that everyone who reads this story has a strong reaction to it—usually laughter and disgust! I’ve written four full-length novels but this story remains one of the pieces of writing that I am most proud of because the imagery and descriptions are so shocking and visceral.
Finally, one of the things that happens when you put together a project like this are the happy accidents. You only discover them later when reading through the text. For example, in Warniks, Nimit Okeke accuses his political opponent of eating babies. In the next story, we encounter babies who eat people.
I think anyone who has a twisted sense of humor will really enjoy these stories!
Assistant to a Judge of Hell and Other Stories on Amazon.com
Shannon Rampe is a writer and project manager living in southern California. He has attended the Viable Paradise Writing Workshop, the Taos Toolbox Writing Workshop, and Paradise Lost, amongst other programs.
His works have appeared in Speculative City, Abyss & Apex, and The Gallery of Curiosities podcast, amongst others. His first book, When Stars Move and Other Stories is also available on Amazon. His hobbies include yoga and craft cocktail-making, though not usually at the same time.
Shannon is represented by Susan Velazquez Colmant at JABberwocky Literary Agency.