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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Interview: Richard Gavin



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Today it is my pleasure to have Richard Gavin stop by for an interview for The Plutonian! He has been writing some of the best Weird Horror in the field for years now. His newest collection is called Sylvan Dread: Tales of Pastoral Darkness, and he has also recently released a book on Dark Mysticism called The Benighted Path. I highly recommend this always interesting writer to all readers of The Plutonian.


Hello, Richard Gavin! And thanks for stopping by to chat a little bit here on The Plutonian!




It’s my pleasure, Scott. Thank you for the opportunity.


Congrats on your new collection Sylvan Dread! I really enjoyed it. Could you talk a little about how the concept of the collection came about?


Sylvan Dread was informed by two streams. The first was a subconscious inclination that led to my producing a number of Nature-based stories in a row. The second was recognizing that while certain motifs and concepts unified aspects of my previous books, I had never created a collection with an established theme. I worked closely with my editor Daniel A. Schulke to fashion a book that consisted of what I term Tales of Pastoral Darkness.


In most horror fiction there is an underlying masochistic thread in the narrative. A lot of Lovecraft’s or Ligotti’s characters seem to be searching for the dark doom or ruinous knowledge that befalls them. But in your work, it seems to me, that for the most part, the main characters are just going about their lives and inadvertently stumble into a revelation that reality is nowhere near what they thought it was. And now, to try to make sense of things, they have to look for an answer that they may not find or in fact does not exist. There is a sense of riddle and play in your stories. What is your take on this?


Ambiguity and an oneiric atmosphere are absolutely crucial elements to my fiction. While I’ve also written my share of stories involving doom-seeking protagonists, the reason why the lion’s share of my characters find themselves facing a deeper reality they did not necessarily seek has less to do with an artistic decision and more to do with my own cosmology. I believe that our planet is teeming with presences, both physical and non-corporeal. Spirits abound. There is a superb quote from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Marble Faun where he describes the abyss potentially being opened at any place by anyone (“A footstep, a little heavier than ordinary, will serve.”) Any of my tales that are worth anything are so because they carry with them a glimpse of this Underworld.


It is my hope that the trance-like state I experienced during the creation of a given tale can be transmitted, even slightly, to the reader. This is a form of the “Third Mind” phenomenon explored by William S. Burroughs and Bryon Gysin; that liminal sacred space that opens whenever a writer’s words and a reader’s imagination touch. I believe in the vitality of this liminal space. But in order to reach it, one must be perplexed, unnerved. Thus, the nightmarish imagery is prevalent in my work not simply to frighten a reader, but because it is indigenous to this liminal space. My aim is not to entertain you but to awaken you.


I have also been a big fan of your nonfiction work. Do you prefer to write fiction or nonfiction?
Is there a possibility of your nonfiction being collected at some point?


Fiction and non-fiction each have their own merits. I enjoy doing both equally, though their processes are quite distinct. In terms of a non-fiction collection, yes, I would like to compile my individual essays of esotericism along with some of my essays on the philosophical underpinnings of Horror for a future book. But when this might materialize is anyone’s guess at this point.


One of the things I have noticed being a horror fan is the difference between the casual and the obsessive fan. The casual fan seems to find outrageous gore and roller coaster thrills to be the pleasure of horror. While the obsessive horror fan seems to seek both a dark beauty and a deeper insight into reality. What pleasures do you find in horror? Why is horror important to you?


I agree with your assessment. As an admitted obsessive, Horror is important to me because it is almost combative toward our preconceptions about life, death, and the universe. Transgression is art’s raison d'être. Art exists as a means by which we can violate our own perceptions of reality, can shock ourselves into a new way of perceiving. Art presents something --- an idea, an image --- that terrifies and liberates us with its Otherness, its stubborn refusal to slip neatly into our preconceptions of how the world is. We are changed.


Therein lies Horror’s pleasure; its agitation infuses us with an awareness of being alive. This awareness permeates Horror’s aesthetics, its tropes, and its motifs. Because of this, Horror, for me at least, is an ever-replenishing well of worthy experiences.


Which stories would you pick as touchstones for influence and inspiration in the weird horror fiction field?


Well, I would never presume to create anything like a canonical list for the field entire, but some Horror stories that have long served as personal touchstones would be:


“The Spider” by Hanns Heinz Ewers
“All Hallows” by Walter de la Mare
“The Dissection” by Georg Heym
“The White People” by Arthur Machen
“The Man Whom the Trees Loved” by Algernon Blackwood
“The Human Chair” by Edogawa Rampo
“The Hound” by H.P. Lovecraft
“Apparition” by Guy de Maupassant
Any of M.R. James’s ghost stories

In my youth, I readily mixed both visionary horror and mind altering drugs in a search to dig deep into this strange thing called existence. Dropping acid while watching the film Begotten. Smoking weed and reading some Lovecraft. What do you feel about the relationship between mind altering hallucinogens and weird horror?


I think hallucinogens can certainly broaden one’s vistas, can, to borrow Huxley’s phrasing, open doors of perception. However, I also believe that their effect is limited. Once those doors have been opened, I would encourage people to seek other modes of consciousness expansion and exploration, such as art, meditation, trance states, or dance. This prevents the hallucinogen from becoming a crutch.


A number of critics and readers have described my work as “hallucinatory,” which really pleases me. While I do not use any drugs (including alcohol) myself, I have always been a prodigious dreamer and I frequently engage in praxis to induce visionary trance states and exploration of Spirit realms. The fruits of these endeavors have made their way into a number of my stories.


In their interest and exploration of our secret inner lives and the taboo, horror and transgressive erotica have similar goals. But sex and the erotically perverse seem to rarely interact with horror. And the mind reels at the possibility of such a weaving of genres. What if Thomas Ligotti tried his hand at some fetish stories? What if de Sade wrote an alien invasion story? What are your views on horror and the perverse?


You’ve made some really insightful comments here, Scott. I suspect that the seeming reluctance of many Horror authors to explore the erotic is connected to Horror’s priggish disdain for the body, particularly the female body. We see the opposite side of this coin in Horror’s gleeful willingness to maim, mutilate and destroy the body (again, particularly the female body). Horror, for all its grue and supernaturalism, can be stiflingly conservative. There are a number of writers and readers who squirm at scenes of frank carnality and yet seem to have no issue whatever with torture and mayhem. The reason for this is simply that for many people the flesh is negative. The sanctimonious view it as unclean (again, particularly in relation to the female body), the transcendentalist/nihilists perceive it as a trap or a punishment, et cetera.


My own work stands in stark contrast to this view. As one who resounds with the Biocentric worldview, I regard all physicality as the expression of the soul of Pandaemonic Reality, just as the soul is the esoteric meaning of the body.


Transgressive and erotic writers are of tremendous importance to me. Bataille, Sade, Von Sacher-Masoch, Mirbeau, Nin; these authors are as influential on my work as any Horror author one might name.


As far as the weaving of genres goes, I tend to favour writers who channel an obsessive personal vision, something that is uniquely their interpretation of the universe, rather than skillful raconteurs who skim across categorical fiction.


If you could pick one film director throughout history to adapt one of your stories to film, who would your pick be and why?


A very interesting question! Truthfully, I’d never given much thought as to how my tales would translate into film simply because my interests as an artist are focused on how text can be utilized to transmit depth experiences. For me, prose has never been a substitute for filmmaking, it has always been my chosen medium. I write books to be books. That being said, I am also a lifelong fan of horror movies and avant-garde cinema.


Fittingly enough, next year there will be a short film of my story “The Hag Stone” released by a new filmmaker named Malachi Cull. I’ve seen the trailer and some production stills and it is a thrill to see my words translated visually.


In terms of directors, I think E. Elias Merhige (Begotten, Shadow of the Vampire) would be the ideal candidate. I say this not only because of his incredible work, but also because of his deep comprehension of the mystical underpinnings of genuine art. I’ve been fortunate enough to become acquainted with Elias over the last year or so and have enjoyed some lively exchanges with him. He is a wellspring of ideas and numinous energy.


It seems of late the world could be taking a darker turn with the recent controversial elections in the US and Europe and a troubling rise in hate crimes. What is a horror writer's role in a world that may be going wrong?


I shall only speak for myself here…


If there are any laudable qualities present in my stories I believe those qualities are rooted in a startling realization that everything is alive here on this beautiful, deranged and haunted planet. Our everyday lives tend to fog this principle, to place a damper over that pyre, and this is where art can be useful. It stokes those primordial flames and enables us to see and be outside of ourselves, outside of our ego. That alone is the path to Real. Artists and audiences should bear this in mind as we proceed deeper into this, the Iron Age of the Kali Yuga.


Do you have any new projects coming up? What is next in your writing career?


It will likely be some time before I have another fiction book published, simply because I strive to make each new book better and unlike anything I’ve published previously. I want to explore new themes and sharpen my prose as much as I possibly can. That takes time, especially at this phase of my career, where I’ve already written a lot of the stories I wanted to write.



Much of 2017 will likely be dedicated to exploring, researching and writing my next book of esotericism.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Review: Sylvan Dread by Richard Gavin



I have just finished Richard Gavin’s latest short story collection, Sylvan Dread, and must say I think it is his most inspired and accomplished collection yet. This is a themed selection, with stories based on Nature and our interactions with it. But Gavin’s takes on the theme are so brilliant and various, if you did not know there was that connection between the stories, you may not get there was supposed to be one on your first read through of this book. When Gavin writes about Nature, he is writing about the Earth that does not necessarily include or care about the human race. A Nature that has existed long before Man and will endure beyond Man. We are but one mutation in an epic history of blind mutation, Nature being almost a factory of evolving flesh. He writes about its secrets and our inability to truly grasp this world we call home. His stories in this, to me, relate to the ancient myths of Chimeras, these unknowable secrets symbolized in collages of flesh and riddle, one could say the stories in Sylvan Dread are in fact, literary Chimeras. Each story presents a metaphysical mystery that gets deeper upon each reread. In these stories, I can see the influence and kinship with authors like Clive Barker and Arthur Machen in their belief that this world we inhabit in fact contains many worlds, both banal and sublime. Also he shares with them an interest in the philosophy of flesh, the unknowability of our own bodies and desires. In Gavin’s literary world, Eros and Thanatos both wear masks, and it’s really never clear with one is standing before you, and what their touch will bring.


One of the things I most love about Gavin’s fiction is his obvious love for the horror genre. He strives to show what the horror genre is capable of. In it’s best examples, the genre can show us a tenebrous and heart breaking transcendence, like in his story Mare’s Nest. Or it can make us question what we always thought we knew, in a sublimely creepy manner, like in his story The Old Pageant. It can also talk about repression and what we secretly wish for, like in his story Fume. And in his story Thistle Latch, it can show us salvation in disease and rot. Horror is one of the oldest forms of literature. And its different manifestations are legion. Horror truly is a many headed Hydra.

Richard Gavin is one of the most talented authors working in the field of Weird Horror today. I highly recommend Sylvan Dread. In a year of many standout collections, it certainly holds its own. Sylvan Dread is a new classic and I certainly will be returning to it again and again. It certainly left me with a lot to think about. Gavin extols his midnight philosophy in every tale: Everything begins and ends in Mystery.


Monday, October 24, 2016

Strange Flowers/Strange Films 2: The Halloween Edition.




The Halloween season is upon us. Cold winds blow through gold and crimson leaves. The nights grow longer and sunlight is a dim memory. It is the season for horror films. Here are some autumnal delights I obsessively watch every October.



Halloween 3: Season of the Witch - A pretty much perfect blending of creepy television signals and ancient pagan occultism. It stands up with any John Carpenter film, and really, I find it hard to believe it's not a John Carpenter film. It really captures his artistry of dread pitch perfect. I will warn you of one thing. The famous television jingle from this film is contagious and will infect your mind, playing over and over in your head for the rest of your days.




Night of the Living Dead - The most bleak film ever made. A case may be made this is the greatest horror film of all time. It really goes for the throat. It confirms what you don’t want to realize. The worst things will happen. Everything will fall apart into ruin and chaos. Everyone will fail you. Death is everywhere and is in fact coming for you. And there is nothing you can do about it.





Onibaba - A feverish Japanese fable. A tale of scavengers and a demon mask. The film follows the logic of nightmare. Meanings float in and out, nebulous and hazy. One of the scariest films I have ever seen, and I can not give an exact reason why. Maybe the reason could be found in the dark pit contained in the center of this delirious film.




Suspiria - The horror film as hex. From the first scene on, Suspiria traps you into its witch haunted world and never lets up. This is a film that seduces you and brings you willingly into its labyrinthine corridors, where something worse than death awaits. A poisoned apple for those looking to be lead astray into delirium.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Interview: Jon Padgett

   

First off, congratulations on the new collection! How does it feel having your own book to be able to put on the bookshelf?




Thanks, Scott. It’s still a bit hard to believe, frankly. Mostly, right now, I’m feeling grateful—especially to Dunhams Manor Press and my supportive and perceptive readers.




It seems that most of the stories in The Secret of Ventriloquism take place in the same smog filled old mill town. Was it intentional to have the stories take place in a shared world? Or was that a decision to link these stories later on? Do you plan on writing more stories in the old mill town setting?




The shared world of the collection took some time to develop and was an organic, rather than a planned, process.




Back in 2002, I heard a piece on NPR called “The Killer Fog of ’52” about London’s horrific environmental disaster, which likely took the lives of some 12,000 people in the course of a few days. "Roads were littered with abandoned cars. Midday concerts were canceled due to total darkness. Archivists at the British Museum found smog lurking in the book stacks. Cattle in the city's Smithfield market were killed and thrown away before they could be slaughtered and sold — their lungs were black." That story and its horrific impact came to haunt “20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism” and “The Secret of Ventriloquism” as I was writing them. My research deepened and focused on temperature inversion—a meteorological condition described in the aforementioned NPR piece and a 1950 New Yorker article called “The Fog,” which describes another environmental catastrophe, this time in a Pennsylvania mill town called Donora. What’s the connection with the stories in my collection? Well, my research into the gastromantic forbears of ventriloquists kept leading me back to the Oracle at Delphi, which was guarded by a monster called The Python. The Oracle herself was high off toxic fumes from a geologic fault line under the temple. Maybe those fumes and this Python were one and the same, I mused. And perhaps this Python was the motivating power that spoke through the Delphic animal-dummies down through the ages. Thus the Black Fog was born into my work. The idea of smoggy Dunnstown (aka Foyle) itself came to me while writing “The Infusorium,” which was conceived as a kind of sequel to “20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism.” I grew up in just such a mill town, which was plagued with smelly “paper mill days.” In fact, I have often visited that surreal south Alabama cityscape in my own dreams and nightmares, complete with awful ranch-style houses and paper mill stench. After I wrote about half of the pieces in the collection, I began strengthening the common elements of setting and character between them, though most of that process was an automatic one and existed almost immediately in my first story drafts.




I honestly don’t know if Dunnstown and its environs will continue to haunt my work in the future. I wouldn’t be surprised if it did.




Some of your most effective stories, such as The Mindfulness of Horror Practice and 20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism utilize a meta-technique of presenting fiction as if it were nonfiction, to extremely disturbing effect. It reminds me of Ligotti’s Notes on the Writing of Horror and some of Jorge Luis Borges’s writing. Is Borges an influence on your writing? What inspired the meta approach?




Thanks, Scott. That’s good to hear.




“20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism” took me almost twenty years to write. Originally, I meant it as an ode to Ligotti’s work, and the first draft of the story—“The Eyes of the Master”—was an embarrassingly terrible Poe/Ligotti hybrid pastiche. I rewrote that story from scratch close to a dozen times over the years, without success. Later drafts of the story were written in the form of a memoir, drawn from my past theater experiences, with the narrator reminiscing about his fear of dolls and dummies. When I was a child, my first ventriloquist dummy came with a pamphlet entitled “7 SIMPLE STEPS TO VENTRILOQUISM,” and this manual began making an appearance in my writing attempts. In 2004, I had an epiphany, scrapped my latest draft and rewrote the thing from scratch, using that pamphlet from my childhood as a template but expanding beyond it.




In the years that followed, the tale became the combination guidebook-confession of a character named Joseph Snavely. The “final” version of the tale (then entitled “The Secret of Ventriloquism”), was over 14,000 words long. In 2011, I was invited by Joe Pulver to submit my story to his Ligotti anthology, The Grimscribe’s Puppets. I sent him the long version, but he had a 5,000 word cut off. That’s when I reimagined the story, stripping out both character and plot—all extraneous to the manual itself. What was left? A 4,500 version of my story, which I entitled “20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism.” So it was out of sheer necessity that the “author” of the manual was removed, leaving the story lean and honed and even more purely metafictional in nature.




The Ligotti influence is probably mostly due to the fact that between 2005 and 2009 I read and made notes on upwards of a dozen drafts of Thomas Ligotti’s book long philosophical argument, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race. There’s no doubt that Ligotti’s masterful and profoundly disturbing treatise rubbed off on my humble story—the student unconsciously acting as dummy for the master-mentor ventriloquist. If I was influenced by Borges, it was an oblique influence. Consciously, the final version of “20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism” was inspired by Ligotti’s vignette, “10 Steps to Thin Mountain” and the philosophical writings of Eckhart Tolle. “The Mindfulness of Horror Practice” was inspired and informed by Bodhipaksa’s recorded Mindfulness of Breathing, my mindfulness practice of choice for the last ten years or so.




On a personal level, I love successful works of metafiction—either comprehensively or selectively produced by the author. I was one of those teenagers who half-believed, for instance, that Lovecraft’s Necronomicon and all the associated mythology were based on fact. Ligotti himself once called “20 Simple Steps” “a kind of Necronomicon for ventriloquists,” so perhaps things have come full circle for me.


The stories in “The Secret of Ventriloquism” seem to utilize a kind of Ligottian mythos in the same way Leiber and Campbell used a kind of Lovecraftian mythos. What does Ligotti’s writings mean to you as an author and reader?




Ligotti is my favorite prose writer, living or dead—the one fiction author, more than any other before or since, that speaks to and for me. His fiction nearly always transports my imagination and—paradoxically
considering the subject matter—produces a great sense of well-being, relief and calm in me. To quote Ligotti's “The Cocoons,” when I read Tom's stories I feel a “...great sense of escape from the poles of fear and madness ...as if I could exist serenely outside the grotesque ultimatums of creation, an entranced spectator casting a clinical gaze at the chaotic tumult both around and within him.” I invariably leave those tales feeling calm and aware and even ecstatic. Ligotti's stories are like Transcendental Meditation for me, which probably explains at least in part my obsession with the horror of compulsive thinking and its cure via a Ligottian shattering of identity.




In The Secret to Ventriloquism, I’ve concentrated on what Ligotti has called a “salvation by way of meticulous derangement.” I’m interested in the idea of redemption/epiphany through horror. In my collection, anyway, that’s the flavor of choice. I have no idea if this element will remain in my future work or if the writing of The Secret of Ventriloquism has exorcised it from my imagination.




Being the main entity behind Thomas Ligotti Online, you have been involved with the horror community for a long time, what are your views on where the horror fiction scene is right now?




It’s humbling and frankly hard to believe that we’re about to move into the nineteenth year of Thomas Ligotti Online’s existence. What began as a simple fan site I created in 1998 has transformed into a robust online community with thousands of members. That never would’ve happened without my co-conspirator and fellow administrator, Brian Poe.




In terms of the horror fiction scene… There are remarkable works of horror fiction being produced by authors such as the magnificently original Livia Llewellyn, the incredible prose craftsmen, Laird Barron and John Langan, the bizarre and wonderful Jordan Krall, and Ligottian standouts Nicole Cushing and Mark Samuels. There are, of course, many other exceptional horror authors, but these are some of the very best. My favorite of the exceptional new crop of horror authors is Christopher Slatsky, whose debut collection, Alectryomancer and Other Weird Tales, knocked me off my feet and who continues to write some of the most affecting and powerful weird tales in the business.




All that stated, I believe it’s all too easy (and inaccurate) to claim that we’re in any kind of creative Golden Age. Mainstream horror continues to be too generic, too easy, and—honestly—too lazy. The weird and speculative small press world is consistently outclassing most of the big bestselling publishers, but plenty of mediocre writing and cut corners are present there as well.




In a sense, though, it’s the same as it ever was. Exceptional, well-crafted writing is never the norm in the publishing world.




Reading your stories in The Secret of Ventriloquism, I must say most of them leave the reader with the same feeling as if they had just ingested some bad hallucinogens, what do you feel the role of delirium and unease are in horror?




I’d say that the production of unease is key to effective horror, and delirium is an effective (though optional) element in that production. The more authentic the distillation of unease, the more powerful the horror story. That’s why Lovecraft’s “The Music of Erich Zann” and Ligotti’s “The Red Tower” always rank high when assessing both writers’ oeuvre. Derangement of what we consider “the natural order of
things” awakens the reader to an alternate reality behind the compulsive day to day thought-creations that we call normal living. Unease and delirium in an effective horror story leads to lingering awareness—the more troubling, the better. For me, as a reader, it’s equivalent to our subconscious minds working out waking world troubles via surreal, dread-filled nightmares. Mindfully experienced, these can be transformative experiences.




The Halloween season is upon us, do you have any go to favorite horror films that you watch this time of year?




I honestly don’t watch horror films on a seasonal basis—I watch them all year round as the mood strikes me. I’ll dispense with the usual list of horror film favorites and speak only of a couple of less popular and more unusual ones. Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness is an unsung Lovecraftian classic that gets too little respect. And one of the best horror films I’ve ever seen (speaking of an atmosphere of unease) is the magnificently filmed and written Session 9.




What are some horror fiction collections that inspired you to try your hand at creating one?




Christopher Slatsky’s aforementioned collection, Alectryomancer and Other Weird Tales, was a tremendous inspiration. It gave me confidence that a newer writer on the scene could produce truly strange and memorable and distinctive work. Ligotti’s Grimscribe influenced me most. Specifically, those stories (and the characters within them) are closely linked to one another and seem to exist in the same dread-filled and oneiric world. The publisher wanted a novel from Ligotti, and these stories were Tom’s solution—the closest thing to a novel he was interested in writing at the time. Grimscribe gave me permission to write my collection my own way.




I was hoping to produce both the weird, fragment derangement of a horror collection along with some measure of novelistic world-immersion.




What’s next from Jon Padgett? Any new work coming you can talk about? And where do you want to go with your writing?




I wrote the final story for The Secret of Ventriloquism literally three weeks ago, so I’m still kind of lost in the collection.




I’m a professional voiceover artist as well as a writer (and ventriloquist), so the next step is to produce an audio version of the book. I hope to have it complete and ready for purchase alongside the hardcopy and digital versions by mid-November.




Where do I go from here as an author? I’m honestly leaving concerns about that to my future self. But I have no doubt that more stories will come. And this time they won’t take twenty years for me to write.














Review of The Secret of Ventriloquism






So about two weeks ago I found a strange object in my mailbox. At first sight, I thought it was a mold encrusted doll. Then on closer look, I thought it was a skeleton of a dead cat with lipstick smeared all over its teeth. When I brought it inside into the light it was revealed to be a book. Jon Padgett’s new collection in fact. It was titled The Secret of Ventriloquism. I put it to the side, not knowing what to make of it. But when I tried to sleep that night I kept hearing a soft voice whispering to me. I would wake up to find the book had found its way under my pillow. I figured there was only one way to stop all this madness. I read it. When I put the book down I realized it had seemingly infested my cerebral cortex. And now I must spread the disease Jon Padgett has unleashed upon this cold and dark Earth. The Secret of Ventriloquism is that rare collection of horror tales, these are tales that attack the reader. These tales want to destabilize. These tales want to corrupt your thoughts and dreams. These insidious fragments want to live inside of you. The dark whisperings never let up, in fact, they will override your own thoughts. Have you ever walked through a town filled with such a thick layer of smog that you could not make out where you were and what the dark shapes are that keep crawling around in the distance? Have you ever stopped and sat down in that smog and heard a voice, not your voice but a voice that is emanating from inside your head, telling you things that you know to be true but can not be accepted if you are to continue living your normal workaday life? Have you ever wondered if the nightmares has stopped, or do they continue, forever? Read The Secret of Ventriloquism, and maybe at least you can figure out where the nightmare ends and this book begins. That is.. if you still have a mind that you can still call your own.




Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Review: Children Of Lovecraft




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I picked up Ellen Datlow’s new anthology Children Of Lovecraft with high hopes of an amazing read. The table of contents reads like a who’s who of Weird Horror fiction. After reading it I must say I was a little disappointed. The Lovecraft homage anthology industry that sustains spots for new horror authors at Barnes and Noble seems to be running out of steam. A lot of the stories in this book were tired and read like stale rehashes of better stories. BUT. There were two stories in there that really caught my attention and are well worth the price of picking up a copy. Brian Evenson’s story Eyeglasses is hands down one of the creepiest stories I have ever read. There are images in his story that will haunt you at night when the lights are off. It’s right up there with Ligotti’s Our Temporary Supervisor and The Fifth Mask by Shamus Frazer for down the back chills. And then to end the collection is Livia Llewellyn’s Bright Crown of Joy, which I feel is Livia really bringing her A game and showing everyone why she may just be the best Weird Horror writer working in the genre right now. A mix of ‘the rise of the old ones’ panic and post humanity living on Earth, it is both breath taking in its ideas and trailblazing in its approach. Bright Crown of Joy is about finding wonder in transformation and hope beyond the human sphere. I can’t urge potential readers enough, Bright Crown of Joy is a classic. So all in all, Children Of Lovecraft isn’t the new classic I wanted it to be, but there are some stories in it that are must reads and I feel it’s worth a buy.
                                                                                                                                                      




Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A look back at Hellraiser.


                                      

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“ Angels to some, Demons to others. ”


I hear a lot of talk about how Hellraiser is ‘outdated’, how S&M has become mainstream. Um, excuse me? First off, sadism and masochism as a lifestyle I find hard to believe has become mainstream, second of all, when was Hellraiser about S&M at all? It seems to me to be about more dark and philosophical concepts, like the universe being centered around pain and sexual desire, about desire even beyond death, about the infinite mutations of the flesh, about the desire to transgress past the everyday, even if it means submitting to dark and unknowable gods. In a time where A Nightmare on Elm Street sequels where the norm for horror fans looking for a fix in their local theatre, along comes this deeply perverted and weirdly romantic film that against all reason, became a mainstream hit. Hellraiser is perverse in a way that most horror films try for, and miss by miles. Hellraiser proposes a universe that is based in “ flesh, hunger, and desire”. The angels are strange and bring a dark poetry of mutilation instead of a supposed spiritual salvation. Clive Barker really attacks the viewer with some beautiful imagery, combining the beautiful and the abject, like shambling corpses in the attic, blossoming flowers, dead rats, and bloodstained skin. The composition of shots in this film is stunning. Some frames could stand by themselves as photographic art. The film is filled with lustful whispers and doom foretelling bells. The corrupt romance between Julia and Frank is the true heart of the film. Her disappointment in her husband’s white bread demeanor and lack of passion eats away at her. Frank brings passion and lust. To some Hell’s damnation is preferable to the ennui of Heaven. Hellraiser is a true dirty epic. It’s sequel Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 is almost as good as the original, brings even more brilliant imagery and Doctor Channard is a classic creation straight out of a pervert’s nightmare. Too bad Clive’s subsequent films don’t live up to the first 2 Hellraiser films. Nightbreed was hampered by some horrible creature designs and really bad acting. Lord of Illusions was a decent film, but a film that played it mostly safe, no where near the taboo shredding standards of his early work. And now it seems he has walked away forever from the Horror genre.

“ You wanted to know. Now you know. “

  Of course Hellraiser is not a perfect film. It suffers from two glaring flaws. First the main character Kirsty is just a boring weak character. She just goes around being shocked and disgusted by all the happenings of the film. She has no real depth. Second the end is a bit weak where she sends the Cenobites back to Hell. I’m sure this ending was forced on Clive, because every horror film needs to end with the ‘bad guys’ being defeated right? It just seems out of place in the narrative. I think the film would have been better off if after the scene Uncle Frank gets ripped apart, instead of that horrible ending, it cuts to Kirsty 10 years from then, scarred, lonely, and haunted by the tragic events in her like, sitting by herself in her empty apartment with a glass of wine, looking at the Box that she kept hidden all these years, then she leans over and picks it up and begins to unlock it, scene end.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Weird Renaissance?

There has been a lot of talk in the Weird Horror community over the past couple years about if the Weird Horror genre has entered into a sort of ‘Weird Renaissance’; the implication being that we are seeing a high point in the quality of Weird Horror literature. To quote Scott Nicolay from his essay The Expanding Borders of Area X published on Weirdfictionreview.com, “ More and better Weird Fiction writers are working at all lengths right now than ever before. “. There certainly has been an explosion of small presses publishing all manner of material: Bizzaro, Weird Horror, Lovecraftian pastiches, Dark Surrealist Erotica, etc. Jeff Vandermeer’s The Southern Reach trilogy reached mainstream sales and attention, and Thomas Ligotti’s work has been reprinted as Penguin Press classics. But does this mainstream attention and proliferation of the small presses mean that this is a golden period for Weird Horror? I would argue no.

I am going to throw the gauntlet down and say we are in fact at a rather low point in Weird Horror as an art form. I would say the birth of Weird Horror was when Poe created the horror tale with his pitch-black, dread-inducing short stories. Weird Horror reached a high point in the beginning of the 20th century with writers like Lovecraft, Machen, and Wells. But for me, the true Weird Renaissance, I believe, happened around roughly 1955 to 1985, a twenty-year period of unprecedented work in both Weird Horror fiction and film. Films like Last Year in Marienbad, Hausu, Eraserhead, The Last Wave, Tetsuo: The Iron Man, Persona, Repulsion, and Night of the Living Dead come in like a nuclear bomb and destroyed all that came before, and in fiction works like The Atrocity Exhibition, with its fierce, perverse, and penetrating vision of a future psychology, getting its first run shredded and almost falling under the ban hammer most of its existence, Demons by Daylight, pushing a commitment to make its reader uneasy with its nebulous and creepy prose, I Am Legend, with its apocalyptic vision and razor-sharp social commentary, The Tenant, shredding the minds of its readers since its first printing, The Haunting of Hill House, and its deep explorations of the psyche of its characters, set the standard for writers to come. This was a time where Weird Horror had an urgency, a desire to mutate and corrupt accepted forms, to be willingly socially transgressive and artistically complex.

If anything, the Weird Horror literature community today seems content to just follow in the footsteps of Ramsey Campbell and T.E.D. Klein, kind of like how the Weird Horror film community just keeps remaking films from the 70’s grindhouse period and 80’s splatter comedy scene. Writers in 2016 seem to me to be more concerned about scene promotion and slapping oneself on the back then in doing what Weird Horror is meant to do, to be the art form that looks where no one else wants to look and say the things no one wants to say, to be purposefully subversive and not accepted by the powers that be. Where is the new John Carpenter, exposing the corrupt power systems with films like They Live and Escape from New York? Where is the new David Lynch, dissecting America like a surrealist surgeon? In a time where the United States is flirting with fascism, and the total abolition of social rights like privacy or speech seemingly welcomed, where the masses are more sheeplike and asleep than ever, where is Weird Horror to challenge and provide the voice for the outsider and the rebel? Now we get anthology after anthology with the same authors filling the table of contents, writers who are included more for their skills at social media than their skills at writing, with their stale rewrites of better works, Lovecraft tribute after stale Lovecraft tribute, and pseudo-edgy experimental fiction which tries to hide the absence of ideas or anything new or individual to say.

Regretfully in the film scene, the situation is even more dire. With the death of the independent theatre and even worse the demise of film stock as a medium, quickly made, oh so ironic horror comedies and 70’s independent horror ‘homages’ have flooded the market, and any true voice has no one to fund their film, nowhere to show their film, and no film to shoot their film on. Almost a complete crash of the Weird Horror in cinema has taken place. At most, there are maybe one or two films, mostly foreign, that demand consideration. Anti-Christ heralded the coming of the art-house horror film resurgence that has taken place recently, leading to such amazing works as Under the Skin and The Witch. Hopefully, this is the start of a new wave of Weird Horror in film.

With the coming of Thomas Ligotti and Clive Barker there was a resurgence in the genre, and following quickly after them were Caitlin Kiernan and Laird Barron. But Barker has rejected the Horror genre, Ligotti has fallen into a willful silence, Barron has almost completely left the genre to work at what I would call more of a Weird Adventure or a Pulp Weird type of fiction, and Kiernan has seemingly hit some kind of wall where passion and poetic drive have decreased noticeably in her writing, which I hope she springs back from.

I hope this not sound like all doom and gloom. I am not at all saying there is no great writing out there. Actually, there are many amazing authors toiling out there. For instance, Livia Llewellyn is maybe the most promising author in the field today, her complex and darkly erotic fever dreams are just amazing and she is sure to have a long and remarkable career. Jeff Vandermeer really set the bar high with his Weird Horror/Scifi hybrid The Southern Reach trilogy. Adam Golaski is a genius and every story he drops is a must-read. Matthew Bartlett has written an instant classic in his book Gateways to Abomination and he is definitely a writer to keep an evil eye on. Christopher Slatsky has one great collection under his belt, melding both deliriously weird horror and philosophy dense prose, and is sure to continue blowing our minds. And I think maybe the most interesting writer working in the field is Scott Nicolay, who is comfortable working in both the psychosexual drama and the socially transgressive modes of Weird Horror. What makes him such an interesting writer is he holds no allegiance to any scene and uses imagery and prose in always challenging and unexpected ways. Anytime I start a Nicolay story I have no idea what to expect and I quite enjoy that.

I guess the point of all this is that I worry that Weird Horror has kind of started getting lazy and too self-insulated, seemingly ignoring the need to react to and examine a culture in a downward spiral, and also its own birthright in being the literature of dread and delirium. I don’t think we are in a weird renaissance, but I do hope what we are seeing is the birth pains of one. Here is to Weird Horror that makes no friends and does not play safe, here is to the transgressors and poet philosophers, here is to Weird Horror that keeps blowing our minds.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Strange Flowers/Strange Films

Being a horror fan entails always searching for new strange thrills. Under the moon there are ghostly voices coming in from the static, certain fungi that only grow in shadow, and certain films that can only be appreciated in the post midnight hours. Here are some films I recommend for those looking for some good late night cinematic delirium.



Messiah of Evil - A tone poem of overlet gas stations at night and lovecraftian dread. A woman on a quest to find out what happened to her artist father in the remote town of Point Dune finds out the town hides a hideous past that can no longer be kept secret. A truly haunting film featuring a discordant synth score drifting through the hazy atmospherics of this classic.


Deathbed: The Bed that Eats - One of the most unique films you will ever see. Basically the history of a demon haunted bed, Deathbed is a fever dream that deserves to stand beside surreal classics like Eraserhead and El Topo. A bizarre mix of absurd camp and creepy fairy tale, the whole film seems to have been made in an alternate universe. A masterpiece of carnivorous beds, damned demons, and queer mood.




Goke: Bodysnatcher from Hell - If Cronenberg moved to Japan and directed an alien invasion film, it would end up something like this. A plane crashes on a remote island and the survivors have to figure out how to get help, until they realize there is an even greater danger facing them. Creeping blobs and vaginal face wounds are just some of the pleasures of this film.


Tombs of the Blind Dead - A psychosexual European drama about two former females lovers running into each other when one is going on holiday with her current boyfriend. And then in the middle of the film out of nowhere, the creepiest horse riding specters, dead set on hunting down the living, all in ghostly slow motion, invade the film. And the ending stands up with the bleakest endings of a Romero or a Carpenter.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Review: The Neon Demon



I have tried to get behind Nicolas Winding Fehn’s films, always being puzzled by them, but in the end, I find them a bit too fashionably abstract and recycled for my tastes. When I saw the first trailers for The Neon Demon I became excited, maybe he finally made a film that would fulfill the promise he seemed to have but was not able to fully convey ( Valhalla Rising was too comfortable with being vague with no real point behind it and Bronson was to exploitive and shallow). I have to say I was not disappointed. The most challenging film I have seen this year would without a doubt be The Neon Demon. A kind of abstracted postmodern horror film that doubles as a pervert’s guide to economics ( more on this later). No real characters. No suspense. No tragedy. Only cold, shiny surfaces devoid of emotion and blind hunger unfulfilled. There is a lot of talk about currency and the economic value of beauty, combined with the surrealist eyeball ending straight out of a Bataille novel and director Refn’s intentions become clear, The Neon Demon is a Sadean/Bataillean critique of the use of capital/human worth in this strange new era we seem to be lost in ( both de Sade and Bataille would use transgressive/perverse imagery to examine political/economic themes in their writing). Elle Fanning gives an amazing performance as a postmodern vampiric innocent turned virginal libertine. A flawed masterpiece, a little all over the place and a bit overlong, but visually stunning and bravely alienated and challenging, just the kind of film we need to counter the empty action porn of the summer blockbuster’s monopoly of our imaginations.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Review: Terror Tales of the Ocean




It’s rare that a themed anthology excites me, but Grey Friar Press’s Terror Tales of the Ocean just amazed me with the quality and variety of the stories contained. It has this genius layout where the stories are alternated by short articles about real life oceanic horrors like the Bermuda Triangle, Giant Squid, and other dangers of the mysterious depths. Anyone who grew up reading about stuff like ancient aliens or psychic powers will have a lot of fun with this. And the fiction within is first rate, all the stories are either truly disturbing tales representing the cutting edge of weird horror, or are classic takes on the subject manner that embrace their pulp roots and go all out with the genre tropes. The deeper you go into the book, the weirder and stranger this book gets, just like the unexplored depths in the sunless voids of the ocean. I give this collection my highest recommendation. The best themed anthology since Grimscribe’s Puppets.


Some of the standouts to me were:

Adam Nevil’s Hippocampus - An incredibly creepy story which pulls a trick I have never seen a author pull off, his story is devoid of any characters. You will have to read it to know what I mean.

Conrad Williams’s The Offing - A nebulous fever dream of loss and menace.

Simon Strantzas’s First Miranda - An attack on the reader with it’s freudian delving of the subconscious and the horrors you may find there.

Adam Golaski’s Hushed Will Be The Murmurs - Another brilliant nightmarescape from one of the most talented, and underappreciated, writers in the field of weird horror fiction.

Robert Sherman’s And This Is Where We Falter - A chimera of surrealism and high pulp action.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

2016 Coming Attractions

    2016 is looking to be a fantastic year for weird horror readers. And The Plutonian will be here to offer news and reviews of all these upcoming releases. Is the weird horror renaissance reaching critical mass? Or will it end up devouring itself? Well we have started 2016 with a future classic in Livia Llewellyn’s Furnace, a collection like a subterranean river of mutating forms and rotting perversions. I have made a list of upcoming books I am excited about and that The Plutonian will be reviewing.

    Joe Pulver is bringing some collections out this year that just look amazing. For my money Joe Pulver is the best editor out there.. His Grimscribe’s Puppets being maybe the best themed antho I have ever read. He has three collections announced for 2016: Leaves of a Necronomicon ( which I take is a history of the Necronomicon written by various authors ), The Madness of Dr. Caligari ( a tribute to the film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari ), and Darker Companions ( a tribute to the writings of Ramsey Campbell ).

    Matthew Bartlett blew the weird horror scene away with his first collection Gateways to Abominations in 2014, which was just a mind blowing assault on the scenes with gothic and body horror. He has a new collection coming out in 2016 called Creeping Waves, which is a kind of loose sequel to Gateways to Abomination.

    Richard Gavin has been quietly producing some of the best work in the field for years. He has recently announced a new collection coming out this year called Sylvan Dread: Tales of Pastoral Darkness. All readers of horror should keep an eye on that one.

    Scott R. Jones runs one of the best small presses out there called Martian Migraine Press. He has a new antho he has edited that just looks incredible called Cthulhusattva: Tales of the Black Gnosis. It just went up for preorder and should be a great platform for some up and coming writers to bring some new blood… or ichor…. to the scene.

    Christopher Slatsky has one collection under his belt, Alectryomancer and Other Weird Tales, which put his name on the map as a trail blazer in the weird horror scene. He has an as of yet unnamed collection coming out from Dunham Manors Press.

    It is looking to be a stellar year for weird horror fans and The Plutonian will be here with all the news and reviews of the weird horror scene that’s fit to print.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Review of Livia Llewllyn's Furnace.



Livia Llewellyn’s Furnace absolutely blew me away. I read the whole collection in maybe two days of feverish obsession, so gripped by her writing I slogged through the workday only to rush home to get back to these deliciously erotic and nightmarish stories. The highest compliment I can give to this book is that after reading a story, I immediately wanted to read this story to one of my lovers, in candlelight, whispered in the night, like a dark secret, or a perverse love letter. Livia’s writing always goes to the dark places not out of fear of them, but out of the excitement of what dark wonders and terrible beauty there is to find. With writing this powerful I have no hesitation in saying she is the premier writer of weird horror working today. I don’t see anyone writing like her, you would have to go to some obscure Eastern European or French writer to draw a comparison. Maybe the love child of Marguerite Duras and Stefan Grabinski? I urge you to rush out and grab a copy if you have not already, and maybe grab another copy for your lover….

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Witch




I would like to encourage Plutonian readers to go out and see The Witch while it is still in theaters. It is a gorgeous gothic film filled to the brim with atmosphere and dread. While watching it I thought.. it’s like if Kubrick had directed a remake of Haxan. I think it stands as a 21st-century masterpiece.. along with Anti-Christ, Inland Empire, and Under the Skin. As someone who wishes that there was more to life than crazy relatives, soul crushing everyday labor, and loneliness… this film really spoke to me. I wish that there were dark powers and temptations. The Witch is the blackest of invocations, a hymn for those who follow the left hand path. I left the theatre in a state of awe.. and that ending will stay with me for my entire life. Go see it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Interview with Livia Llewellyn.

                                            

Today we have a very special guest on The Plutonian… Livia Llewellyn! Livia is the author of two collections: Engines of Desire, and her just released new collection Furnace. Livia is a poet of bruised flesh, of transformations both dreaded and desired, of dark awakenings and blinding truths. Livia is a true trailblazer and on my list of must read authors. I love her writing, combining exquisite prose with a darkly sensuous viewpoint. It is a true honor having Livia on here to answer a few questions. I eagerly encourage my readers to check out Furnace, a review will be appearing here in the next couple weeks.

The Plutonian: What book/story/film inspired you to want to be a part of the weird horror genre? What horror writers did you look up to and maybe aspire to produce work at a equal level to in your early days of being a horror fiction fan?


Livia: I’ve been a horror fan ever since I was a toddler (I have the pictures of me dancing with skeletons to prove it), and so there are so many influences in my life, it’d be ridiculous to name them all. When I started writing seriously in 2003-2004, I considered myself a fantasy writer. I joined SFWA, I signed up for Clarion, I was very focused on fantasy, albeit dark fantasy. On the second day of Clarion, they were passing out free back issues of F&SF Magazine, and I nabbed a copy that had Laird Barron’s novella “The Imago Sequence” in it. I read it that evening, and before I was even a couple of paragraphs in, I knew that that was the kind of fiction I wanted to write. And just like that I was a horror writer.
The Plutonian: Do you feel that sexuality and horror are specifically interconnected and/or are you more responding to a lack of sexuality in horror?


Livia: Horror is by its nature transgressive, and so is erotica – it’s also a liminal form of art and state of being. Horror and erotica occupy the same dark edges of human existence. We (the majority of us) shove them both to the sides of daily routine, we confine them to moments of darkness or weakness or both. We tell ourselves that horror and erotica is unnatural, immoral, and shouldn’t be a part of the “normal” human experience. And yet we oscillate within horror and erotic states of being for so much of our lives that they define us as much as, if not more than, any other states of being, even through their suppression or absence. I combine them because they’re already combined. Like love and hate, and life and death, they’re not opposites but the same side of the coin, the opposite side being the unknowable void – I just happen to point this out in my fiction. And I think many horror writers do that as well, and are celebrated for it – Clive Barker and Anne Rice being the biggest names of course, but there are many others out there.
The Plutonian: Horror fans tend to always be seeking weird and obscure works. Have there been any obscure horror books or films you have discovered recently you would like to talk about?


Livia: I know there’s been a lot of buzz about E. Elias Merhige’s 1990 movie “Begotten”, which has been sort of rediscovered in the past couple of months. I watched it a few weeks ago, and it’s unbelievably disturbing – it was very difficult for me to sit through it, I had to keep stopping the movie (it’s currently on YouTube) and walk away from the computer. As far as fiction goes, I’ve been reading hundreds of things for the Shirley Jackson Awards for 2015, so I’m not going to talk about what I’ve found among the submissions that really grabbed me – I think it’s only fair to wait until after the nomination process is over before I name names.
The Plutonian: I would say that out of any current writer working, I find you the only one capable of truly shocking me as a reader… there are moments in "Horses" and "Omphalos" that are shocking and disturbing in a very primal way. Is it important for you to be able to disturb a reader and why is it important?


Livia: I don’t try to write anything with the intent to disturb – the images that I write are fascinating to me, and I think part of my writing them down is to try to discover why those images and themes are so attractive to me. I don’t have an answer, by the way – I don’t know why I write what I write, and perhaps that’s for the best. If I ever found out, I might no longer feel the need to write, and for the time being, I don’t want that to happen.
The Plutonian: Have you any favorite dark and erotic fictions? Do you ever read some de Sade or The Story of O under candlelight?


Livia: Well, I don’t read by candlelight, as I basically live in a tinderbox. Also, unless you have a lamp, it’s almost impossible to direct candlelight onto the page – believe me, I’ve tried, and I almost burned my face off. Anyway! I haven’t read any erotic fiction lately – I just don’t have the time. My favorite erotica writer is Anaïs Nin, and as far as contemporary writers go, Jacqueline Carey is probably my favorite – her fantasy novels are very erotic, very dark. But most of what I’ve read over the years was written during the late 1800’s to mid 1900’s – mostly erotica, but a lot of it fiction that isn’t always explicit but is extremely dark, atmospheric, and sexually charged. I’m not a big believer in the “kill your darlings” rule, and the writers I like the most are the ones who didn’t throw away their most beautiful sentences, but kept them and accommodated their presence.
The Plutonian: When you write what is the primary goal for your fiction? An enjoyable read? A political message? Some creepy atmosphere?


Livia: I have absolutely no goals when I write, except to finish whatever I’m writing. I know a lot of readers have picked out feminist themes and characters in my work, or Lovecraftian philosophies (whatever those are), but I honestly don’t have anything like that in mind when I’m writing. Creepy atmosphere is important for some of my stories more than others, but mainly I just want the plot to make some kind of sense, and for the ending not to fall apart, and to not blow past the deadline too much. My editors will confirm, however, that I fail that last one all the time…
The Plutonian: What is your perfect late night double feature horror film viewing?


Livia: I don’t like watching horror movies late at night, because I’m a total chicken-shit who will sleep with the lights on and a fork in my hand afterwards. Seriously, I can’t watch horror once the sun goes down (unless it’s something stupid and campy, like American Horror Story). But I tend to watch movies that have similar themes and styles, so my double features would be along the lines of watching “The Thing” along with “The Last Winter”, or “Here Comes the Devil” along with “We Are What We Are”, or “The Others” along with “Crimson Peak”.
The Plutonian: A lot of your work seems to deal with trauma and change. Do you think change is positive or a thing to be feared… or both?


Livia: Both. I mean, it’s great to be alive, but I really hate the fact that I’m getting older and my body is starting to fall apart and someday I’m going to die. I love discovering new things and exploring new places, but I mourn the loss of restaurants and stores that no longer exist, wild landscapes that have been irrevocably changed through urban sprawl, and I fear – I know – that the things I currently love will someday suffer the same fate. But that’s just the human condition. We want change and we want things to be the same, and we put ourselves through a kind of life-long exquisite torture wanting both and rejecting each for the other and never quite finding the balance we seek – hence the trauma, I think. I know my stories address that to horrific extremes, but it’s a condition, a physical and emotional journey that even in the most fantastical and grotesque circumstances I put my protagonists through, readers can understand and even empathize with. Because it’s a very human journey, as common to each of us as breathing.
The Plutonian: Do you believe there is an ultimate meaning to life? Or do you think that life is basically unknowable?  


Livia: Life is unknowable, and so is death. Everything we do and create is, I think, an attempt (consciously and subconsciously) to ascribe meaning to it. Some people feel they have the answers, others don’t. I’m still at the “I don’t know” stage.
The Plutonian:  When you write, do you write for an audience or do you write for yourself and hope others like it?


Livia: I do write for myself, but I also do think of my readers, because after ten years of publication and two collections out, I know I have readers and I can’t pretend that no one knows who I am or that no one’s going to read what I write. And I’m fairly confident that the reason people like my fiction is because of what I write about and the way I write it, so I don’t sit at the computer and worry that if I have protagonist X open door A instead of B, readers will freak out and throw the book across the room – I’m also my audience, and if I like what I write, then others will like it. Hopefully, that is.
          
The Plutonian: And finally do you have any new works or any new projects you would like to talk about after Furnace?

Livia: I’m working on a few stories for anthologies, I’m halfway through writing stories (which I’m posting on Patreon) for an erotica collection titled Tales of the Black Century, and after that I’m finishing up my novel.