Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Greetings from Toronto on a cold, rainy first day back at school. Last week--along with such luminaries as Caitlin R. Kiernan and Garth Nix--I talked about my story "This Is Not For You" at SF Signal, as part of a series examining the stories behind the stories in Ellen Datlow's Best Horror of the Year Vol. 7 (http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2015/09/behind-the-stories-of-the-best-horror-of-the-year-vol-7-edited-by-ellen-datlow-part-1/). Said series continues today with instalment #2, featuring Orrin Grey and Livia Llewellyn, amongst others (http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2015/09/guest-post-stories-best-horror-year-vol-7-edited-ellen-datlow-2/). I always love to write these pieces as well as to read them, and this particular anthology is usually amazing, particularly so this year; both instalments are therefore well worth your time, even if you remember some of what I said from the original Nightmare magazine author spotlight interview.

Interestingly, today's nonfiction work will also be about explaining my process--Nightmare is reprinting my story "The Emperor's Old Bones," which I haven't written about in years, and a fellow writer is assigning "Imaginary Beauties" to her lucky short fiction writing class, so she wants to be able to contextualize it. The prospect of re-examining both these tales therefore serves to remind me how often things begin with me watching a movie, occasionally two, and thinking either "you know, these would go well together" or "hmmm, I think I could do better"; a bit like I was writing fanfic a long time before I actually started writing fanfic, in other words. With "The Emperor's...", it was all about Steven Spielberg's adaptation of J.G. Ballard's Empire of the Sun, in which Christian Bale plays the young "Jim" and John Malkovich plays an American deserter/smuggler who acts as his anti-mentor. I flipped the Malkovich character's gender, conjured a formative crush between our sociopathic young protagonist and her, then added a sympathetic magic ritual inspired by a very cruel traditional Chinese dish that involves adding years to one's life through cannibalism, and hey presto! Something different was born. Similarly, above and beyond the Murder By Numbers connection discussed last time, "Imaginary Beauties" also owes a debt to my continuing obsession with Lovecraft's "Herbert West, Re-Animator" by way of the Stuart Gordon movie, as well as the character Ben Foster plays in Alpha Dog. My mind is a garburator, etc.

In true tales of accountability, meanwhile, now that my son Cal's ostensibly out of my hair, this week I need to break into my next story for real, because the deadline is October 1. So I will bid you all (ha ha) adieu.

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