Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Bizarro Blog Take Over: Day Two: Betty Rocksteady

To help celebrate Eraserhead Press's seventh annual New Bizarro Author Series, we decided to let the authors take control of our blog. Publisher Rose O'Keefe created this series as a gateway of sorts, to introduce hesitant readers to the wonderful world of bizarro! Garret Cook curated the series and they released a record breaking NINE titles last week for the 2015 set. 

You'll be treated to strange and fabulous original guest posts from a handful of the NBA authors all week long. Today, Betty Rocksteady dishes on the one thing that creeps me right the fuck out... SPIDERS: 


I'm not the sort of person who's bothered by creepy crawlies. I always liked snakes and frogs when I was a kid. Crickets and ants and centipedes and caterpillars? No big deal. Wasps and bees? Ignore 'em and they ignore you. Snails and slugs? Love 'em.


Spiders are different. I know they can't hurt me. Everytime you confess they ook you out, someone is bound to tell you how helpful and harmless they are. Sure, I know that. Most people know that. Arachnophobia is seldom related to an actual fear of what spiders can do. I know I'm way bigger than them. I know in the country I live in (sorry Australia) my chance of coming across a spider who can hurt me is slim to none.

But. Even looking at pictures of them or thinking about them too long makes me feel antsy, like their awful little legs are skittering all over me. I once read about this common phenomenon some people experience as they are drifting off to sleep, where they will suddenly feel the sensation of a spider dropping on their face from the ceiling, leading them to wake up and scramble around looking for this non-existent intruder in their bed. Even the idea of that happening gives me the creeps and keeps me awake sometimes.

There is a certain size of spider that is the worst for me. Tiny ones are fine. Those ones that hang out on your ceiling and don’t make webs and their legs are short and close to their body and they kinda hop? Fine. Huge spiders are okay too, they almost seem like a different kind of animal when they're big and furry like tarantulas. It’s the medium ones that are the worst. Fat black bellies and long spindly legs. Ugh.

I'm not alone. A ton of people are creeped out, afraid of, or disgusted by spiders. Usually the disgust response humans that get is related to animals or things that actually can hurt us. Disgust response is an important evolutionary trait - we are disgusted by things like feces, mucous, vomit, blood, or animals that carry disease. People who are afraid of spiders know they can't hurt us. The problem is more a feeling of intrinsic wrongness. They are too inhuman. Alien. They have too many legs and they skitter too fast and really, it's not something you can put into words, but there is something about them that screams at a large segment of the population to CRUSH KILL DESTROY.

The most common way of treating phobias is aversion response techniques. The idea is if you learn enough about them, you won't be as afraid of them. It makes sense. Humans are known to fear what they don’t understand, and spiders are so different from us that it could trigger that. But why don’t I feel it about other bugs and creeps that are different from me?

I accidentally experienced the effects of aversion response when I was writing Arachnophile. I read up a bit on spiders and watched a few short documentaries, just to get myself in the right squeamish mood. My fear of spiders used to lead me to avoid them or kill them when I could. The outside of my window at work often has fat black spiders hanging out, in an area where there was not much I could do about them. I used to try not to look at them, but now I find myself staring at them. They're still gross to me, but I'm almost fascinated about how gross I find them. Spiders in my house don't always get squashed anymore, I let them run along to whatever crevice they may find. If my cats happen to catch them first, well, so be it.

That morbid fascination is really interesting to me. It's almost like a guilty pleasure to be disgusted or horrified by something and then indulge yourself in learning about it. The line between love and fear blurs and one leaks into the other. I've heard that love and fear are the only two true emotions that humans are able to express, and everything else is just a subcategory of the two. The philosophy is that the two cannot coexist, and if you choose love you leave fear behind, but I don't think that is always true. The two can blend in completely unexpected ways, and I find a strange inspiration in that potion.  


Betty Rocksteady is an eclectic author and illustrator from Canada. Her early exposure to Stephen King, The Weekly World News, and EC horror comics shaped her into the woman she is today. With art and fiction, she explores personal fears and resonances. She is not as creeped out by spiders as she used to be. Her short fiction has been published by Halloween Forevermore, Grievous Angel, and Another Realm. Learn more, and check out her macabre pen and ink art at www.bettyrocksteady.com. Keep in touch and keep up to date at www.facebook.com/bettyrocksteadyart.


Check out Betty's debut bizarro book, 

part of the New Bizarro Author series from Erasrehead Press. 


Hatred and desire collide when the girl next door is a giant spider
Alex’s arachnophobia may be old fashioned, but he’s able to live a life of relative peace despite it. That all changes when a spider moves in next door. His girlfriend is sick of his attitude and begs him to give the new neighbor a chance. He overcomes his fear, but finds a twisted sexuality in its place. His attraction to the spider affects all areas of his life, and changes everything he thought he knew. 

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