greygirlbeast: (Default)
Just want to get something down lest the wind take out the power. I've only got three days left to make my six months without missing a day blogging goal. This storm will not stop me.

Yesterday, I did 1,352 words on Chapter Eight (the last chapter) of Blood Oranges. I also added a sentence to The Drowning Girl.

We've got power lines downed a couple of houses over, the Providence Fire Department evacuating a house by the power lines, tons of leaves down, wind, a little rain, trees moving about alarmingly, and the air smells of the sap of freshly severed branches. But we seem to have come though the worse (which wasn't very bad).

More later...

Ruffled,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Okay, so even though I got up about an hour early, I'm running about an hour late, and I blame you, Johnathan Strahan, and you, Gary K. Wolfe. And this Coode Street Podcast, which will have me smiling for days to come. And, of course, now I'm dying to see Gary's Locus review of Two Worlds and In Between: The Best of Me (Volume One). I was especially pleased with their suspicion that Volume Two is going to be so much better than Volume One (because it will be).

Comments today, kittens! I need them.

---

Yesterday, after I attended to email (Michael Zulli and I seem to have become regular correspondents, which is just too cool), we left Providence, about 3 p.m.. And drove south to Exeter, in the southwestern quadrant of Rhode Island. Throughout Blood Oranges I've been doing something I never do with novels: I haven't spent much time scouting locales. To keep with the fast-pace of the book, I've relied on my memories. But the climactic scene occurs in Exeter, where I've spent very little time. Now, if you're into the weird of New England, or vampire lore, you know all about the Mercy Brown incident (and the related cases of New England "vampires"). I've read Michael E. Bell's superb book on the subject, Food for the Dead, and used the case in several stories. Yet, I'd never visited the grave. Nor had Spooky, which is even odder. So, yesterday we set out to remedy this.

It could hardly have been a less appropriate day, if you're the sort who wants some appropriately eldritch atmosphere for such an outing. The sun was blazing, and there's virtually no shade in the Chestnut Hill Cemetery. The temperature must have been in the mid-eighties Fahrenheit, with heat indexes close to ninety. But I think Spooky and I were both happy that we weren't making some cliché goth pilgrimage. We followed Ten Rod Road (Route 102) to Exeter and the Chestnut Hill Baptist Church (behind which the cemetery is located). Mercy's grave is a simple marble marker, unassuming, and unlike that of Nellie Vaughn – another tuberculosis victim that superstitious locals feared was an undead, life-draining revenant (oh look, LJ can't spell revenant) – there's no inscription that could be taken the wrong way. Vaughn's grave, in Greenwich (Gren-itch), reads: "I am waiting and watching you." Anyway, there is at least a large cedar that shades Mercy's stone. As with HPL's marker, people had left tokens on the headstone. I left a small black pebble. There are photos behind the cut.

After Exeter, and all the notes carefully recorded in my Moleskine, we headed over to Newbury Comics in Warwick (War-ick) to kill some time until it was cool enough to make the drive down to Moonstone Beach. And we were Bad Kids, and each bought two CDs. Not being utterly destitute after the long monetary drought, these things happen. And they were all used CDs. I got Death Cab For Cutie's Plans and Placebo's Once More With Feeling: Singles 1996-2004. Spooky got Einstürzende Neubauten's Strategies Against Architecture, Volume 4 and the Swans' Children of God. We were not utterly awful, though; we only looked at the amazing new Depeche Mode boxed set.

After Warwick, we headed south to Moonstone. And, of this beach's many moods, here was another one. One perched at the edge of a tremendous chaos. Already, the waves were dangerously high, at least 3-5' high, and a big yellow sign had been posted forbidding people from walking on even the lower part of the beach. Walking over the dunes, past Trustom Pond, where a few bird watchers were set up (the birds were all in a lather, as the storm approaches), we spotted a beautiful Green Heron (Butorides virescens), a new species for both of us. It was perfectly still at the edge of the pond, fishing. A tiny Piping Plover kept creeping near it, then dashing away again. But no cormorants anywhere, no gulls in the sky. Flocks of pigeons heading inland. A squawking catbird. A strange and ominous ornithology.

On the beach proper, well...I can't do it justice in words. A painter could have done it justice. I'll post photos over the next few days (assuming we don't lose power). There were a few people. We walked a long way (maybe .40 miles, so .80 altogether) as the sun was setting. The wind was chilly, very wet and misty, quite a change from Exeter. We saw all manner of flotsam and jetsam. We spotted the leathery remains of a skate (Family Rajidae, maybe a Thorny Skate), and another beachcomber told us that a Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) was stranded at Moonstone on the 9th of the month. Oh, the wonders I miss by not being nearer the shore! Fuck you, motor boats; the turtle likely died from gash in a front flipper, from a propeller. As the sun was giving way to night, beneath a Maxfield Parish sky, we reluctantly headed back to the van. I wanted to spend the night in the dunes, just feeling the storm coming on.

Back in Providence, we stopped by Eastside Market to grab a last minute pile of supplies, readying to sit out what Irene throws our way (I've heard we're getting 18 hours of continuous tropical storm conditions), and we remain under a Hurricane Warning. Anyway, there was a package from an incredibly kind anonymous individual – a first edition (!!!) of Shirley Jackson's The Sundial, sent from The Strand in Manhattan. Whoever did this, a million thanks.

---

Good RP in Insilico, and some of The Stand last night, as Trashcan reached Las Vegas.

---

So, we're watching little but the progress of Irene up the Eastern Seaboard. Terrifying, this storm, and, as I have said, I am honestly more worried about Manhattan than I am about Providence. Regardless, stay safe. Don't laugh this one off. Not since Katrina has America faced such a threat from a hurricane. We've got mandatory evacuations in coastal and low lying areas here in Rhode Island. But regardless of my fear (and I am afraid of this storm), gods, what a splendid expression of sky and sea, this child of Panthalassa. The sea stands up and walks across the land. This has been happening for billions of years, and we're the ones in the way. This doesn't mean I am without concern. It only means I see both sides.

Concerned and Awed,
Aunt Beast

Anyway, here are the Exeter photos:

26 August, Part 1 )


Addendum: This entry took over two and a half hours to compose.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
We're provisioned, high and dry, and watching the charts, the diagrams, the broadcasts. I'm not especially worried about Providence. And the storm will have spent most of its fury before it reaches Boston. We'll get heavy rain and bad wind. And hellacious swells and tides (Why am I not surprised that LJ can't spell "hellacious"?). But it's Manhattan and the other boroughs that worry me the most.

Regardless, it'll be a rough weekend on the Eastern Seaboard. I'd thought maybe I could get to Moonstone Beach late this evening and get in one last swim before the storm hits. But the surf report for the day is looking less than optimum. By the time I could reach the shore, late this afternoon, the surf will be 3+ feet (waist to stomach height), with swells at 2-3 feet. The swells really are not bad for swimming, given that the water should be semi-glassy/semi-bumpy. But my legs are still weak enough that getting in and out of that surf could be dangerous (I can still be knocked down by a 2-foot wave, if it catches me off guard). So, I imagine we'll drive down and watch the sea, but stay dry (I'll get photos and post them). The temptation is just so...strong. But the surfers are excited. They'll be out in force at Point Judith by tomorrow. Surfers know no fear (which, in this case, may equate to having little in the way of instincts for self-preservation*).

But things get scary on Sunday, when we'll have 10-15 foot waves, with 15-26+ ft. swells. And, of course, the new moon is bringing our highest tides of the month. Here in Providence, the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier will protect downtown (which is only 8-12 feet above mean sea level). I doubt there will even be an evacuation order for Conanicut, Aquidneck, and Block islands. But we shall see.

---

Yesterday, I wrote 1,125 words on Chapter Eight of Blood Oranges. I am so, so near the ending. But today, I need to go down to Exeter, about 15 miles from here, to do some last minute research for the final scene. We'll stop by the Chestnut Hill Cemetery and see the grave of Mercy Brown, which I've never done. Oddly.

They can no longer move.
I can no longer be still.
-- Throwing Muses

[livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy has begun a new LJ, [livejournal.com profile] evacanning, for the outtakes and progress with The Drowning Girl: Stills From a Movie That Never Existed and the book trailer (not sure why this isn't being done via Kickstarter, but there you go). Kyle and I will both be making upates. There are already some great stills (Sarah [Eva] and Kyle, and one of the plague doctors) up on the blog.

Oh, the deadlines I am facing in the next three weeks. Fuck me twice on Sunday. Wish me luck. If I survive them, well...maybe then I'll be able to survive the two months that follow those three weeks. The matter was discussed yesterday with my editor at Penguin.

Well, enough for now. If you're in Irene's path, do the smart thing. Be safe. But I cannot help but marvel (and herein lies conflict) at the beautiful ferocity of this beast, Panthalassa's rough, watery beast slouching towards Nova Scotia.

Awed,
Aunt Beast

* This isn't meant to be value-laden, loaded language. Frankly, I admire anyone who takes on that wild water. If I were younger and/or stronger, I would be out there.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
So, no Great Trailer & Photo Shoot for The Drowning Girl this weekend. Thank you, Hurricane Irene. Early last night, watching the grave weather forecasts, Kyle and I made the decision to postpone the whole affair. Which means postponing it until early October. Even if we could have reached Moonstone Beach (the area will likely be evacuated), I'd have never asked Sarah (who plays our Eva) to walk towards that surf, much less into it. So, there you go. But I do not argue with forces of Nature. They were here first, and will be here long afterwards. Forces of Nature have seniority.

But yeah, it's looking pretty bad here in Providence, and we'll spend part of the day laying in supplies for the impact. Fortunately, we have storm windows, and the walls of this old house were built with a crisscrossed lattice of steel to protect against this very thing (though it makes hanging pictures a bitch).

I got virtually nothing written yesterday. There was far too much commotion. Confusion. Calamity. All those good "c" words. Mostly, having to figure out, at the last fucking minute, what to do about the Great Trailer & Photo Shoot. Thus, I only managed to write a paltry 698 words on Chapter 8 of Blood Oranges. Nonetheless, I intend to have the book (plus epilogue) finished by the end of the day Tuesday (August 30).

I now have both of Vince Locke's illustrations for The Drowning Girl, and they're marvelous. Sirenia Digest subscribers have seen the first of the two, but no one (outside my publisher's offices) gets to see the second until the book is released next year.

Yesterday, my contributor's copy of The Book of Cthulhu arrived. As did the very beautiful edition of Shirley Jackson's The Sundial I'd ordered. Also, a care package from Madison Colvin in Savannah, Georgia, which included, among many other things, a copy of Angela Carter's Love (one of the few books by her I didn't own). So, thank you, Madison. Very, very sweet of you.

Last night, once the dust of difficult decisions had settled, there was some not exactly very good RP in Insilico, but it had a Season Five Dexter chaser, so everything worked out well. And I think the problem that caused the not exactly very good RP has been identified, so that it won't happen again. Then Spooky read The Stand, and I listened. We reached Chapter 38. And, for fuck's sake, I hate Harold Lauder. Sociopathic, maladjusted, plain ol' disgusting behavior aside, he makes me want to bathe. Oh, back to Dexter, Peter Weller is becoming William Burroughs. Has anyone else noticed that? Meanwhile, Deb Morgan is my latest profanity crush (I know most people don't get those, but I definitely have a profanity fetish; my last profanity crush was Al Swearengen). To wit:



And that was yesterday.

Battening Down the Hatches,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Barker)
Yes, we did feel the earthquake yesterday. I was sitting in my chair, at my desk, and the entire house began to move, very subtly at first, and then hard enough that all the shit stacked on my bookshelves was threatening to topple over. The legs of my desk creaked, and there was an ominous popping sound from one corner. Spooky was cleaning in the bathroom, and I shouted to her. By the time she got to the office, it was over, but the chandelier was still swaying.* Whole thing, maybe twenty seconds, give or take. First quake I've felt since in lived in Colorado in the eighties. We puzzled over it for a while, trying to figure out what had caused the house to move so. And then I thought, thought I, Earthquake? No. Not a fucking earthquake. But I googled "earthquake," and there it was, 5.9 in Virginia, felt as far north as Toronto. It was somewhat unnerving. I got "out of office" replies when I emailed people in Manhattan. And now I hear there's a crack in the top of the Washington Monument. Me, I just keep thinking about dinosaurs mounted in the Smithsonian and American Museum.

So, yes. This is what fault zones do, kittens. This is how energy is propagated through the earth's crust. The baby steps of plate tectonics.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,910 words on Chapter 8 of Blood Oranges. It baffles me, trying to imagine how this novel will be received. Part of me honestly doesn't give a shit. That's always true, but maybe even more true with Blood Oranges. I'm trying to concoct an antidote to the sticky-sweet ParaRom fungus that's threatened to claim "urban fantasy" for its own. It's bound to piss some people off (I hope); others will have the exact opposite reaction (I hope). There is no "romance," not even one little jot (okay, maybe one little jot, but it's a micro-jot). No sex. But it has a lot of profanity, which I expect some poor traumatized souls find "triggery," but fuck them if they can't take exquisitely filthy words like "cocksucker" and "televangelist."** True Blood and Anita Blake, this is my middle finger, condensed into eight chapters.***

So, as if earthquakes were not enough, we have Hurricane Irene screaming towards us. Which, at the very least, complicates our plans for the weekend. And there's no way we could have arranged a "rain date." So, we're going to start shooting late Friday night and finish up Sunday morning, and make the best of what we have. There may be far more interior shots than previously planned. By Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m., the swells off Moonstone Beach (one of our locations) are projected to be 6-9 feet high, coming in at 15-second intervals. Obviously, we'll not be asking Sarah (who plays Eva) to be walking into that. Sunday will be worse.

Could be I was wrong about this being the Citizen Kane of book trailers. It's starting to feel more like the Apocalypse Now of book trailers.

Please note that the NEW Sirenia Digest web pages are now anchored at my site, and are 100% fully functional (I'll leave you to judge whether or not they are also anatomically correct). Thank you, Jacob ([livejournal.com profile] jacobluest)!

Last night, RP in Insilico, and we read more of The Stand (about halfway finished), and then I finished Denise Gess and William Lutz' Firestorm at Peshtigo: A Town, It's People, and the Deadliest Fire in American History. And that was yesterday.

Mussed,
Aunt Beast

* Also, the water level in toilet bowl dropped dramatically.
** By the way, those people who use aphorisms like, "Good writers don't need to use foul language," that bunch can merrily go fuck themselves. Go ahead. Have a blast. It's on me.
*** This is not to say it's going to be some sort of "splatterpunk" absurdity (such as, and for example, Skipp and Spector's The Light at the End). In fact, it's hardly gory at all.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Um...what? Already? Oh, fuck. Okay.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,163 words on the final chapter of Blood Oranges. More bridge troll stuff – but Otis, not Aloysius. It's very, very weird writing a book of any sort this quickly.

One video, and then another, and now Spooky has me listening to Tom Waits this morning. Which is better than having "At the Hop" stuck in my head. Yeah, I just woke up, and there it was, in my head.

My thanks to Scott Pohlenz for sending me a copy of Subterranean Press' exquisite The Martian Chronicles: The Complete Edition. The slipcased and numbered edition! #49! And on Bradbury's birthday, even! Okay, that's enough goddamn exclamation points, but thanks all the same, Scott. You made my day. Originally, I wrote, "You made my day awesome." But then Spooky politely reminded me how we don't use that word around here, because all those AWESOME shit-wit hipsters and interweb dweebs have ruined it.

Here in la Case de Kiernan y Pollnac we're bracing for [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy and crew on Friday, and the possibility of Hurricane Irene on Monday. Boom.

Yesterday, I read "A fossil sperm whale (Cetacea, Physeteroidea) from the Pleistocene of Nauru, equatorial southwest Pacific." See, it's them little "hyperlinks" that make sense of the whole bloody world. Unless, like me, you've read too much obscure zoological, geological, and geographical literature.

Random comment: I hate having to be the sane, considerate, grown-up person. I'm ill-suited to the task. But not as much as I once was. Thank you, Mr. Lamictal and smart psychiatrist lady. You both rock.

Spent time last night thinking about the life and death of Robert E. Howard, and the sad mess that has been made of his literary estate over the decades since June 11, 1936. Somehow, it all culminates with a lawsuit filed by Stan Lee Media Inc. against the makers of Conan the Barbarian 3D (i.e., Another Sad Sack of Cinematic Shit Wherein Everything Jumps Out At You®). Trying to fathom the ins and outs of this legal circle jerk makes me want to do bad things to myself with a titanium spork. Also, it encourages me to be sure that my own "literary estate," whatever it may amount to, is in good hands when that time comes. I want it to be safe and out of the paws of weasels at least as long as the people I want to benefit from it are around. Then, whatever. Fuck it. The lawyers and con men always win. It's only a matter of time. Oh, the stories I could already tell. Except, I can't. Because that's the way it works. And, you know what? It works that way because of lawyers.

Hey! Mr. Stephen fucking King! You listening to me? Spooky and I were up until four ayem reading the original 1978 edition of your novel The Stand, and it's a damn swell book and all (oh, my godforsaken crush on Nadine), BUT WE WANT OUR SLEEP BACK.

Oh, and Patti Smith is writing a second memoir. Which makes me happy.

Probably, I should go now. Yeah, that's what I should do. Tomorrow, we'll talk again.
greygirlbeast: (goat girl)
And today, is Ray Bradbury's 91st birthday. Thank you, Mr. Bradbury, for Mars, Cooger and Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show, bottles of dandelion wine, that foghorn, the Elliot family, and a thousand other wonders.

Sunny and cool here in Providence, thanks to a low humidity and dew point. Very windy.

Turns out, as of yesterday, we're moving the entire shoot for The Drowning Girl book trailer and The Drowning Girl: Stills From a Movie That Never Existed from Boston the Rhode Island. This happens this coming weekend, so things here will grow increasingly chaotic. [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy and crew will arrive on Friday evening, and as we only really have about a day and a half to shoot, it's going to be intense. But, hopefully, fun intense, and hopefully many wonderful things will come of it. Oh, and yesterday Michael Zulli showed me the underpainting of his version of G.P.S.'s The Drowning Girl (1898), and, even at this unfinished stage, it's beautiful. A part of the novel is coming alive and will exist beyond the printed page, and I thank him so much for that.

As announced, yesterday was a "day off." I still spent about three or four hours working, but there was no writing. What we did do, though, is go to Swan Point Cemetery for the first time since the ugly fiasco of the 20th of August 2008. I do not know if it was my post, then Boing Boing picking up the story of the verbal assault against me and Spooky, and the story spreading across the interwebs that led to a major change in Swan Point security, or if it was that combined with other incidents, or if it didn't involve my experience at all. But it has changed, and wonderfully so. There are visitors again, and bicyclists, and the air of oppression has been lifted. For the first time in three years (!!!) we were able to visit Lovecraft's grave. Likely, things have been better there for a year or two, but I've just not been able to return, that incident in 2008 was so upsetting. There was a big gathering on Saturday to commemorate HPL's birth date, but I didn't want to be a part of the crowd, so I waited until yesterday (I don't think the Old Gent would have minded my tardiness). We walked around the beautiful cemetery, me making notes, recording names for future stories and novels, getting mosquito bites, and marveling at trees. We found a huge red oak (Swan Point is also an arboretum) , and I took a single leaf and pressed it in between the pages of my Molskine. The cemetery was so, so peaceful: bird songs, the wind through trees, insects, the Seekonk flowing past to the east, and very little else. It was at least part ways as grounding as the sea.

We saved HPL's grave for the last. There were many a wonderful offering carefully laid above the grave. I left a tiny button in the shape of a black cat; knowing his love of cats, it seemed very appropriate. Anyway, hopefully we are now all free to visit the grave whenever we like, and I can only hope that asshole security guard was fired. Yesterday, I felt like I'd gotten back something very grand and important to me. There are photos below, behind the cut.

Afterwards, we had an early dinner at Tortilla Flats.

And I have a long day ahead of me. Spooky's begun cleaning the apartment in anticipation of the arrival of photographers (and all their gear) and models/actresses on Friday. I have to begin Chapter 8, the final chapter of Blood Oranges, which I hope to make very significant progress on this week and finish early next week.

21 August 2011 )
greygirlbeast: (Bjorkdroid)
I'm almost awake.

Today, 121 years ago, August 20, 1890, 9:00 a.m., Howard Philips Lovecraft was born in his family home at 194 Angell Street here in Providence.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,206 words on Chapter Seven of Blood Oranges. It is remotely possible that I could finish the chapter today, if I can push to 2,500 or 3,000 words. Or unless there's a lot less remaining of the chapter than I think (this seems unlikely). But if I could do this, I would have written a chapter in a mere four days.

Someone commented, a couple of days back, that they thought Blood Oranges might be a "game changer" for me (I think it was [livejournal.com profile] opalblack ; if I'm wrong, please correct me). And I have to say no. No. It's a momentary diversion, something mostly fun to write, and a little bit of insurance. Truthfully, it's The Drowning Girl: A Memoir that we're all counting on to be the game changer. It's the novel that matters. Blood Oranges is just a bit of whimsy sparkling at the side of the road. Metaphors have been mixed here, I'm quite certain.

Email from Michael Zulli yesterday, which I need to answer before I begin writing today.

Last night was a bit saner than the night before, in terms of post-writing recreational activities. We played a couple of hours of Rift (mostly in the Droughtlands and Stillmoor), then watched Vincent Ward's adaptation of What Dreams May Come (1998; from the 1978 novel by Richard Matheson). For all its schmaltz and smarm, I gotta admit I have a very soft spot for the film, which I'd only seen once before, during its theatrical run. On the one hand there are the astounding visuals, and...on the other...well, sometimes, we don't have to explain ourselves. We just love a thing for what it is. Period. "It's a beautiful dream. But it's only a dream" Even as a pagan atheist, it gets me, on the level that any good fantasy hits me. Also, there's the Werner Herzog cameo. After the movie, we read more of The Stand, and I think I got to sleep about 4 ayem.

I'm going to go ahead and announce next month's book early (and I'm still trying to live down that business with Carrie Ryan; many hours of self-flagellation with a dead cat have been involved). Next month will be Shirley Jackson's The Sundial (1958), which I hope won't be too hard to find. But I wanted something I know is brilliantly written, and that a lot of readers here might be unfamiliar with.

And now...I should go. Many words to write before Insilico and Telara and Captain Trips.

Have a kindly thought for the Old Gent today. Tip your hat to a night gaunt.

Squamously,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Sunny today, Again, I should be in the sea. This is a thing that will not happen, though, because even if it weren't for the writing, I've got a doctor's appointment this evening. Actually, doctor's appointments can be fun, if you go about them the right way. I have found most doctors to be horrified and/or stupefied at the notion that everyone doesn't want every conceivable test for every conceivable symptom which might lead to any conceivable malady.

Doctor: "But you might have X?"

Me: "So what? If I do, I'd rather not know. It's not like I could ever afford the treatments, and, besides, I'm chronically suicidal."

This is not a fiction. I have actually had this exchange. It was lovely. I'm pretty sure it's not a patient response taught at medical schools.

Or! If any cavity probing is involved, only agree to them if the doctor first agrees to say "Good puppy," at regular intervals.

---

Yesterday, I wrote 1,957 words on Chapter Seven of Blood Oranges. The book is moving quickly towards its conclusion. I'm pretty sure an old school bus filled with Swamp Yankee werewolves is involved. Some idiot is going to proclaim this a great "horror" novel. Or say something like, "Finally, Caitlín R. Kiernan has figured out how to write great horror." And me, I'll just sit back and laugh. The hardest part about this book is that most of what is perceived as "horror" became self-parody and comedy long ago, but very few people have figured it out. It's hard to parody a parody. So says the world's only triggerpunk, and she ought to know.

Spooky (on the other paw) went to her parents' place, to visit with her sister, Steph, and nephew, Miles, who are up from Brooklyn. Miles is three and a half, and he likes pirates. And he proclaims, "Brothers are sisters. Sisters are brothers." I wish they taught this shit in school. Anyway, Spooky took photos of a cute kid and a frog (behind the cut, below). I cry foul.

---.

This morning, Bruce Sterling tweeted, "Social media does not exist for you. You are the PRODUCT in social media. That's why it's free." Fucking brilliant. I'm going to have a stencil of that quote made and start tagging everything in site.

---

As for whatever else there was of yesterday...nothing that warrants recording, but I'll record it anyway. A little Rift (I'm trying to get the achievement for killing 250 centaurs in the Droughtlands; see, and you thought I was all like smart and shit). We read more of The Stand (1978 text, accept no substitute). There was some Second Life RP. Oh, furries are annoyingly little shit (just in case you didn't know). "It's not a fetish! It's a lifestyle! Do you think I chose to want to have sex in a fursuit!? I'm a Loony Toon trapped in a human body!" Milk and Cheese! Milk and Cheese!

Sorry. That wasn't nice, was it? I'm channeling Siobahn Quinn.

As for Ridley Scott directing and producing a Blade Runner sequel or prequel...I'm not sure how to react to that.

Hesitantly,
Aunt Beast

17 August 2011 )
greygirlbeast: (Barker)
Thanks for yesterday's comments. Let's see if we can do that again. I like to see Frank the Goat all smiling and happy.

Sunny, and warm (high of 84˚F forecast) here in Providence, and I should go to the sea. Instead, I'll write.

So, after I propose a book as the month's selection, and after I discover it's a steaming pile of pink giraffe dung, then people step forward to tell me that it was a baffling choice. Better yet, that my choice of Ryan's book led them to doubt my sanity and the very fabric of time and space. Helpful lot, you are. Anyway, so I officially decry The Forest of Hands and Teeth as the waste of a wonderful title and a lot of paper, and move along. Yes, you heard me. I am breaking with my neurosis and not even finishing it. And there will be no other choice for the "book club" this month. Me, I'm reading The Stand (the original 1978 text) for the first time since the 1980s. And this be a lesson to you all. Even aliens fuck up sometimes.

Seriously, how does someone get to be an adult-type person and have such a dopey, sugary view of the world as Carrie Ryan? How is it that their ideas of human relationships remain so firmly rooted in the ninth grade?

---

Yesterday, I wrote 1,349 words on Chapter Seven of Blood Oranges. Yes, I finished Chapter Six on Monday without having realized that I'd done so. I am approaching the book's climax. It's a very, very peculiar book. It's me taking a vacation. But, regardless, I can assure you that – whatever it might be – it's at least 1,000% better written than The Forest of Hands and Teeth.

---

I was very pleased to see this bit in John Clute's review (at Strange Horizons) of Ellen Datlow's Naked City:

And Caitlin R Kiernan's "The Colliers' Venus (1893)" (in a steampunk Denver here called Cherry Creek) is an engrossingly indirect narrative at the climax of which the eponymous figure—who is Gaia in bondage—turns to holy ash, which is coal dust that fills the lungs, which is to say she imprints us with our fate.

But the entire review should be read, as it speaks to the sad mess that has been made of the once respectable and promising label "urban fantasy." Seriously, if you value my fiction, or my opinion of fiction in general (the Carrie Ryan gaffe notwithstanding), you should read this whole review. But I will quote two passages:

"If it's the same story wherever it happens to be set," I wrote, "it isn't Urban Fantasy."

– and –

The best stories in both anthologies, being about our world, do not pretend to tell us that all will be well, that all things will be well if we listen, down to the last sweet-tooth detail, to the child inside. Paranormal romances told by sweeties no longer feed us joy or terror, not any more. They are yesterday's newspaper. If it is our fate to breathe dust, then let it be the dust of the world we live in.

Yes. Yes. A thousand times, yes. Where have all our John Clute's gone?

---

So, as I was saying, casting about for something reliable to read last night, we settled on the original text of The Stand (1978). The 1990 revision/extension/updating, in my opinion, was mostly nonsensical and all but ruined the novel.* I'd actually wanted to read Shirley Jackson's The Sundial (1958), but couldn't find my copy anywhere (and fear it was lost on a move [dash] book purge). So, yes. The Stand. I was afraid we'd start, and this book I'd loved so much during my teens and early twenties that I read it pretty much once a year would have lost everything that made it dear to me. Kathryn and I re-read King's 'Salem's Lot back in 2004, and, frankly, I found it embarrassing. That is, I was embarrassed I'd ever admired that novel. Anyway...

Last night I was very pleasantly surprised to find that The Stand is still, to me, an enthralling, well-written book. Which means King's writing improved considerably between 'Salem's Lot and The Stand, between about 1973 and 1977 (approximate composition dates, not publication dates). I entirely stopped reading him after '89 and '90's supremely disappointing The Dark Half and the reworked edition of The Stand. For me, the high point had been Pet Sematary (1983), and I knew the party was ending when I read the atrociously bloated and silly It (1986). I've drifted off the point. So far, after the first five chapters and the first fifty pages, The Stand is what I remember it being. I'm just glad that I have a copy of the original text, and not the later, longer, and lesser edition.

And I should go. There's an impatient platypus.

An Old-School Urban Fantasy,
Aunt Beast

* Much like what Clute says about urban fantasy stories being about the places they're set in, and ceasing to be those stories if moved to a new place...a good novel is about its time, no matter how "timeless" the basic elements may be, and cannot simply be bumped ahead in time to make more money for publishers and authors. Just look at the mess that has been made of Lovecraft on film, because no one understands these are now period stories. Now, from here, The Stand is a story about the world thirty-one years ago (it's set in 1980).
greygirlbeast: (Ellen Ripley 2)
Rainy and overcast again today.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,749 words on Chapter Six of Blood Oranges, and either finished the chapter, or very nearly did.

After five years, almost the entire premise (not plot, just premise) of Dinosaurs of Mars has finally come together in my head, and I've told subpress I hope to be able to write it next autumn (2012). Yes, sometimes it happens this way. I will also likely be writing an SF novelette for subpress, to be released as a hardback – as with The Dry Salvages – later this year, time permitting, details TBA.

A lot of email yesterday and this morning, much of it pertaining to the Drowning Girl Kickstarter project. The last few months, the amount of email I have to make it through has sort of skyrocketed. Which is good, and bad. Good, because it means lots of work. Bad, because it means...lots of work.

By the way, if you're reading this, and you're the sort who likes to interview writers, please note that I do not do telephone interviews, and make no exceptions. Your noting this now saves me having to turn you down later. It is my job to be witty and articulate. I can be neither of these things on the phone.

---

Okay, so. Romance in fiction. "Romance" as genre publishing and low-brow culture defines it. I'm opposed. In my own books, there are relationships, in a very rough and tainted form. In that there are people who do have relationships (or who have had relationships). Sometimes, there are exceptions (Soldier comes to mind). Regardless, the relationships rarely end well.* Much of this stems from my fundamental disdain/lack of interest in romantic entanglements as a fictional theme. Hell, my favorite literary romance is probably Wuthering Heights. Or Lolita. Or maybe Hannibal. You see where I'm going with this. Just look at Sirenia Digest. Love songs for monsters** (Do not steal that fucking title or I will disembowel you).

So, we're reading The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. I even made it this month's selection of the book club thingy. And it started out well enough, at first (even though we really, at this point, need more imaginative end of the world scenarios than The Zombie Apocalypse). But it has, after a few chapters, nose-dived into some fairly excruciating romance. And the language used to describe...well...here's an example:

He nods. He understands. And then he takes my hand and presses his lips against my palm. It feels like fire entering my bloodstream and laying siege to my body. He kisses my wrist, and I am an inferno. He starts to move up my arm, his breath tantalizing, and I almost give in as he pulls me to him.

Okay. Enough. I don't care who blurbs this, or likes it, or buys it, or publishes it. This is overwrought dreck. Or smarm. Or both. It's pedestrian porn for bromidic teenagers. If this is the best Ryan has to offer, it's a pretty sad state of affairs. If it gets you wet, fine. I'd mourn for your libido, but I'm not that altruistic. I expect we'll finish the novel, but only because it's hard for me to leave books unfinished, even lousy ones.

There's some good stuff at the start of The Forest of Hands and Teeth! People who don't remember that the Earth has an ocean. That's good. Go with that. Besides, Ryan is trained as a lawyer. She has this other fucking way of making lots of money. She could keep her bad prose to herself, and no one would starve.

And in the future, I will try to do a better job of picking books. Spooky says we have to read at least fifty pages first. Good advice. What have I learned, kittens? Sometimes, I fuck up. But I knew that already.

Oh! Also good RP in Insilico last night. Thank you Joah, Sayer, and Fifth. Also, slowly wading back into Rift. I had to take a break, to avoid burn out.

Enough for now. The words, which I promise will not be dreck, await.

Dreckless,
Aunt Beast

* Note: I am in a very satisfactory, long-term relationship.
** Copyright © 2011 by Caitlín R. Kiernan
greygirlbeast: (Default)
A rainy day here in Providence. It's nice.

Kyle and I have been hammering out specifics on the still photography/book trailer project for The Drowning Girl, and it's a stressful affair. Well, if you're me. I can make stress out of thin air. Anyway, the Kickstarter is going extraordinarily well (166%)...and...Michael Zulli has just come on board to do the actual painting, The Drowning Girl, which, in the novel, was painted in 1898 by an artist named Phillip George Saltonstall. Zulli has become our Saltonstall, which is beyond amazing.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,480 words on Chapter Five of Blood Oranges, and talking through with Kathryn what remains of the story, blocking it (a term I use instead of "plotting," as blocking is much looser), I begin to see that it's not a ten-chapter book, or a nine-chapter book. Probably, it's an eight-chapter book. Otherwise, this becomes gratuitous. And I'll not have that. Regardless, the word count will be somewhere between 70,000 and 80,000 words.

Some news regarding Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart (Subterranean Press, 2012). The limited edition will include an extra volume (probably trade paperback), containing The Yellow Alphabet and 10,000 words of new fiction (likely in the form of two new stories). And I'll be working with Lee Moyer again on the cover.

---

A thought last night. Actually, a storm of thoughts whirling into a vortex. But, I'll play nice and call it a thought. Singular and calm. And it was just this: In today's subgenre-obsessed market, Harlan Ellison would be tagged a "horror writer." No, really. Go back and read the bulk of his fiction. Usually, he's writing "horrific sf" (as a disparaging Locus reviewer said of The Dry Salvages, "This is what happens when a horror writer tries to write SF"). Ellison's greatest achievements are almost all, at their roots, horrific. They're not about the sailing off into the stars, or the future, or the possibilities of technology, and finding a better world for mankind. Look at, for example, "The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World" (1967), or "Shattered Like a Glass Goblin" (1968), or "The Whimper of Whipped Dogs" (1973), or even "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" (1967). Though hailed as one of the most important SF writers of the 20th Century (I'd simply say one of the most important writers, period, and dispense with your fucking qualifying adjectives), if time were scrambled and he emerged into today's literary marketplace, a new writer, Harlan would be pegged a "horror writer." Probably, he would never receive all those Nebulas and Hugos. Being labeled "a horror writer" would define him in the eyes of NYC editors, and this would absolutely have a great influence on what he could and could not sell and see published. And this would be a crime of the first fucking order.

Stop thinking inside the genre paradigm, people. By doing so, you destroy art and opportunity. It's fiction, all of it. It's all literature. We need no other words to accurately define it. We need no reductionist baloney.

---

I don't feel right any longer saying, "Last night I watched television," when, in fact, I streamed video files across the internet from Netflix or Hulu. Anyway, last night Spooky and I gave AMC's Mad Men a try, beginning with the first two episodes. And were very impressed. Then we finished Season One of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and began Season Two. At some point I'll maybe be able to summarize my thoughts on all this L&O stuff. After hundreds more episodes. I also read "New unadorned hardrosaurine hadrosaurid (Dinosauria, Ornithopoda) from the Campanian of North America" (very cool beast, is Acristavus gagslarsoni) in JVP. And we read more of Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and I read more of Denise Gess and William Lutz' Firestorm at Peshtigo: A Town, It's People, and the Deadliest Fire in American History. We're trying to get our bedtimes back to something sane. Maybe 2:30 ayem, instead of 5 ayem. Last night, I was asleep by four, I think. Baby steps.

Giving Genre the Massachusetts State Bird,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Okay. I am awake. No, really. Just ask the platypus inserting bamboo splinters beneath my toenails.

First, stuff from Friday:

I wrote 1,308 words of Chapter Six of Blood Oranges, in which a new troll – Otis – makes an appearance. I really do not know what to make of this strange, strange book. It is what it is.

Also on Friday, there was a Telephone Conversation of Great Importance, which I am not free to discuss (and let me tell you, these things I can't talk about are driving me fucking nuts).

I received a package from Stephen Lubold containing, among many other wonderful things, two Penguin Classics collections – Algernon Blackwood's Ancient Sorceries and Other Weird Stories (and LJ can't spell the plural of sorcery) and Lord Dunsany's In the Land of Time and Other Fantasy Tales (both edited by S. T. Joshi) – and Denise Gess and William Lutz' Firestorm at Peshtigo: A Town, It's People, and the Deadliest Fire in American Hitsory (2002). I immediately began reading the latter, as the Peshtigo Firestorm (and associated fires on the night of October 8, 1871) have long been an obsession of mine, but I haven't read this book. So, thank you again, Stephen!

The package also included a copy of Huan Vu's (German, 2010) film Die Farbe, which I now know is the most faithful adaptation of HPL's "The Colour Out of Space" that anyone has made thus far. I did not even know of this film's existence. It moves the events of the story from New England to pre-WWII Germany – which works far better than it has a right to work – and the climax to WWII itself (which really doesn't work). That is, the narrator's story is cut in two, and framed by an American searching for his lost father. As strange as all this sounds, and despite what must have been an almost nonexistent budget, most of it works very well. The move to film in black and white was smart (I've always said I'd do "Colour" in b&w), with a very judicious use of a color effect, that was smart. The acting is decent, the casting good, the cinematography so-so, the SFX uneven, but sometimes very impressive. The sound was awful. I don't know if it was a bad transfer to the DVD, or trouble with sound editing. But...if you're a fan of HPL or the story, it should be seen. It is at least a one-hundred percent improvement over the two previous attempts at filming the story – the laughable Die, Monster, Die (1965) and the unspeakably laughable The Curse (1987).

Oh, I'm also adding a photograph of the "pregnant plesiosaur" to yesterday's entry, for posterity (because it's an amazing fossil, and sometimes links go poof). And thank you, [livejournal.com profile] corucia for sending me the full paper from Science.

---

And now...yesterday.

Whoa, David Bowie flashback. No, I'm better now.

More hookey. Inexcusable, I know. No, it truly is. But, and still, Spooky and I went to Moonstone, because how many more days of summer are left? Not many, that's how many. And it rained all June, and we didn't have a car in July, and...anyway, we went to Moonstone. The air temperature was around 80˚F and the water somewhere in the 60sF. I swam. A lot. I've regained so much strength so quickly that I'm sort of astounded. I floated and dove in deep green water. The sky above me was blue with the white brush stokes of cirrus clouds and contrails and with gulls. There is utter peace, only fifty yards offshore. There were virtually no swells, the water was so calm (except when some asshole in a motorboat roared past). The only slightly spooky moment was when I found myself in a riptide that moved me twenty or thirty feet south in just a few seconds. But I stayed calm, swam to the east, and was immediately out of the current. Back on shore, we saw another osprey fishing. Likely the same one we saw back on July 30th.

I so need an underwater camera.

As we were leaving, I spotted the blackened and sun-shriveled remains of a very young dolphin or porpoise – possibly a newborn calf. The dorsal fin had an orange plastic tag that had been attached by researchers from the Mystic Aquarium, and, oddly, what remained of the carcass was tied to a tiny raft made of driftwood. The aquarium's tag noted it had been dead when tagged...which could have been weeks ago, based on the degree of decomposition. The skull, flippers, and tail fluke were missing (not surprising, as these tend to be taken quickly by scavengers). I wanted to take the whole thing away with me for what was left of the skeleton (in excellent shape), but I took only a single anterior thoracic rib. Anyway, there are photographs from yesterday behind the cut:

13 August 2011 )


Also, some decent RP in Insilico last night, as Grendel enters the yakuza.
greygirlbeast: (white)
Thank you, those who helped [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy and me reach – and exceed – the $1,200 goal of our Drowning Girl Kickstarter in less than 24 hours! We're going to add a couple more copies of the book at new price points (by request), and maybe something that's so cool I'm going to hold off mentioning even the possibility of it. You guys truly rock. As will the fruits of this undertaking. We can all point at the results and say, "We did this." This makes us mighty (to paraphrase Mal Reynolds).

Yesterday, I wrote an extremely respectable 1,800 words, getting Chapter Six of Blood Oranges off to a good start. I discovered how to write an action scene without belaboring the affair with blow-by-blow choreography. Which, for me, destroys novels. Also, I think there may only be nine chapters, not the originally projected ten.

Belatedly, I'm announcing this month's selection for Aunt Beast's Book of the Month Club. Last night, Spooky and I read the first two chapters of Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and we're liking it a lot. Someone sent this copy to me, but I've forgotten who. Regardless, thank you (this is the audiobook cover, but you get the idea). Go forth, and be literate!



Spooky made a peach cobbler last night, with peaches from the farmer's market. So, I was a bad kid (again) and had a slice for breakfast.

I'm going to have to make it clear to editors, from here on (probably on a case-by-case basis), that I am simply too busy to write short fiction for anything less than 5-10¢/word, because I'm getting really tired of these 1¢/word offers. Last time I looked, pro rate was a measly 3¢ a word, and if you can't meet that, I'm not sure you should be publishing (a few good small press magazines excepted). By the way, the "pro rate" has stayed pretty constant for about a hundred years. Still want to be a writer?

Some good RP in Insilico the past two nights. Grendel is back from London. But, to my guildies in Rift, I have not forsaken thee, and should be back by Monday evening.

Cheap, But Not That Cheap,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Yeah, so. Somehow, we didn't wake up until almost one o'clock today. I swear to dog. This is what happens when I'm not broke and desperate. I get lazy. I relax. I let things slide. I oversleep. It's fucking stupid. There's an unspeakable amount of work to be done, and I'm suddenly going all juvenile delinquent on myself.

We even played hookey yesterday! Bad kids!

I've wolfed down breakfast, and am trying to, as they say, marshal my thoughts. Likely, that won't be possible until about two hours from now. I have this fantasy of being awake by 11 ayem every morning, but this is what's happening, instead.

FIRST! To quote [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy, "Sweet barking cheese, it's launched!" That is, the Kickstarter page for The Drowning Girl: Stills from a Film That Never Existed. The page is pretty much self-explanatory. This is going to be so cool. It already is cool. Thank you, Kyle!

On Tuesday I only wrote 608 words on Blood Oranges, but that's all that was required to reach the end of Chapter Five. And I might have gone straight into Chapter Six yesterday, but I didn't really know "what happens next" (in the parlance of the Idiot Gods of Plot) until about 2 ayem this morning. Today, I'll begin Chapter Six. Though there is a great deal of "action" in this novel, I am doing everything possible to sabotage every semblance of action. Yes, on purpose; it distracts.

I also need to send the proofread .rtf of The Yellow Alphabet to Subterranean Press (it will be the chapbook to accompany Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart). And...other stuff.

Yesterday evening, I previewed the new website for Sirenia Digest, which was created over the past several months by [livejournal.com profile] jacobluest. He has done a wonderful job. Anyway, eventually the pages will be relocated at my own website, but, technically, the site is live and functional as it stands. We're hoping for a few new subscribers. Certainly can't say we're not fishing with a pretty lure (and this does give people a clear indication of what the digest is about).

---

So, yeah. Yesterday there was hookey. Spooky's been wanting to see Rupert Wyatt's Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Personally, I've never had much interest in the "franchise" (*shudder...sorry, I loathe reducing films, books, whatever to "franchises"), though I was taken to see the original version of Planet of the Apes in April 1968. At a drive-in. I wasn't even four years old! Anyway...Wyatt's film is actually terrific, and cleans up after Tim Burton's 2001 fiasco. Hell, the film's worth ticket price for the scene on the Golden Gate Bridge alone. The one very notable flaw is the human actors. As in, they don't. Act. I'm seeing this a lot in live-action films wherein the most important characters are created via CGI motion capture. It's as though the director just can't be bothered to direct anyone else, he's so freaked at getting his paws on all this tech. Sure, Andy Serkis does marvelous things – as always – but James Franco is about as interesting as a bowl of cold oatmeal. John Lithgow is the only "human" actor who rises to the occasion (Tom Felton included). So, yes. I do recommend the film. Spooky cried a lot. It's that sort of film. It's triggery!

Oh, and after the movie we stopped at Target for a new tea kettle. And at Newbury Comics, where Spooky bought me the remastered special two-disc edition of R.E.M.'s Life's Rich Pageant (1986) as a belated birthday gift. Now, I have to find one for her.

Oh, and Tuesday, I read "New poraspids (Agnatha, Heterostraci) from the Devonian of the western United States" and "Evidence for sexual dimorphism in the stegosaurian dinosaur Kentrosaurus aethiopicus from the Upper Jurassic of Tanzania," both in the May JVP. Time for July.

And time to get to fucking work! Comment, kittens! I'll be here all damn day.

Belatedly,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Mary Sue)
Yesterday, I wrote 1,296 words on Chapter Five of Blood Oranges, which puts the word bank at 801 words. Today, with luck and determination, I'll find the chapter's end. But there need to be many fewer distractions today than there were yesterday.

The weather today is warm and damp, with more rain on the way.

[livejournal.com profile] readingthedark arrived early in the evening, and the three of us had dinner at Trinity Brew House. I had a very raw hamburger, a thing I was greatly desiring. Back home, there was an hour or so of conversation. Not nearly enough. But sex and tentacles, that came up, the octopoid bauplan as an eight-penised vagina, something of the sort. Prehensile penes, at that. But also cats, shaved heads, energy drinks, open sims, polygon mesh vertices, and book trailers.

I wasn't able to get to sleep until after five-fifteen ayem. The sky was going grey and lavender.

---

Back on the 7th, both [livejournal.com profile] hollyblack and [livejournal.com profile] matociquala wrote rather good entries on the "Mary Sue" problem. The misapplication of the term to fiction that isn't fanfic, and other deeper problems with a very problematic phrase and a concept fraught with problems. You can read Holly's post here, and Elizabeth's here. I found myself agreeing with most of what was said in both, which was hardly a surprise.

My only significant quibble would be with Holly's list of what is used to identify a "Mary Sue." Read it for yourself (don't be a lazy bastard), but it basically comes down to one word that repeatedly appears in her list: unrelatable. For example:

The reviewer believes that the female protagonist of the novel is so perfect as to be unrelatable.

The difficulty I have here may only be one of personal habit and preference. I don't see fiction as something I do expecting people to relate to any character. I only expect readers to read and consider and experience the story, to have individual reactions to the various characters, and to draw whatever conclusions they may. I'm most emphatically not doing something in order for people who don't write stories to project themselves onto. So, to me, whether or not a reader can relate is immaterial. I don't see the ability to relate to a character as a prerequisite for, say, sympathizing or empathizing with a character. Otherwise, yep. Brilliant posts, and thank you.

Oh, this bit from [livejournal.com profile] matociquala, which was basically a quick summation of Holly's quote for those too lazy to follow a link: "It's frankly misogynistic to identify a competent female protagonist as a 'Mary Sue' because she's at the center of her story. She's at the center of her story because she's the goddamn protagonist."

For my part, I continue to maintain the term will never have any authentic utility beyond fanfic, and even then...okay, not going to beat dead horses today. It only attracts flies.

A Bit Player,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Bjorkdroid)
It's comment day, Mouseketeers‎! Um...I mean...kittens.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,558 words on Chapter Five of Blood Oranges. I'm doing my best to go over the 1,150 word minimum for each day – word banking – because I know I'm going to miss three days this month. Three days writing, I mean. One to an appointment with my doctor and a couple more for the Drowning Girl shoot in and around Boston with [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy and crew. Right now, the word bank stands at 655 words.

Yesterday, my agent and I also mapped out my workload between now and January...and it's pretty daunting. I may post it tomorrow. Well, then again, maybe not. Regardless, it's a heavy load, even for me. What is this Outside of which you speak? Social life?

Gonna be pretty warm again today.

---

[livejournal.com profile] joshrupp emailed to ask (edited for space):


Anyway, I had a question, time and temperament permitting. Why is the term “horror writer” a stigma?...The people we call “horror writers” are telling scary stories, and the people who write about actual horror are called “dark fantasists” or some ambiguous bullshit like that. It’s such a good word ["horror"], and in that sense I’ve always thought of you as a horror writer. How to parse this as a question slightly eludes me, but: If you aren’t a horror writer, what are you? You’ve been talking about triggerpunk, and I’ve never known a trigger to evoke happy-bunnies-sparkly-rainbow-fuzzies. Is the term “horror writer” something you’d ever reclaim, because it’s getting frustrating not knowing how to group people who write about dark things.

Quick and dirty answer.

I'm not a horror writer because I say that I'm not, and this whole art thing is about, among other things, the right to self-determination. That said, "horror" is pretty much the kiss of death in the publishing industry these days. Try to get a good agent while calling yourself a horror writer, and see what I mean. The heyday of genre horror was the seventies and eighties, and by the early nineties it was dying a much-deserved death. Much deserved because it had, as a "genre," as a whole, whored itself raw.

That said, I don't set out to write stories that are intended to scare people. Honestly, never even once do I think I've done that. I write the stories I want to write. And yeah, they're dark. Sometimes, they're so dark you'd be better off calling them jet or ebony or whatever. But darkness does not always equate to the emotion "horror." It may equate to many other emotions (terror, despair, ennui, sorrow, regret, etc.), and often it is from those emotions that the darkness in my stories arises. I'm just spitting up words here, as I write this entry. It's not an essay, and I'm, at best, half awake. So cut me some slack on the rambling.

To define someone's fiction by recourse to a single emotion engages in a sort of literary reductionism that I find grating and, to be blunt, offensive. My writing has worn more labels than I could ever keep up with. Usually, I only find the labeling sort of odd. Usually, it doesn't annoy me. Or rather, it doesn't annoy me so long as it doesn't restrict me. Labels lead to expectation. I want a readership virtually free of expectation – beyond the expectation of well-written prose. I don't want people coming to one of my stories or novels and saying "Well, that didn't scare me." I'm not a thrill ride, and good fiction never sets out to evoke a single emotion. The triggerpunk thing, that was a joke, taking a jab at both the readers who whine about fiction being "triggery" and at those who insist literature must be put into neat boxes. It wasn't a serious proposal. It was satire. But triggerpunk (ugh) is a more accurate description of my writing.

And no, I have no interest in reclaiming horror. It was pretty much never mine (I belonged to the HWA for two years, realized what a nepotistic wankfest it was, and quit in '96), and I don't want it. I see others clinging to it for dear fucking life, and I have no idea why.

It is far more truthful to look at my writing, to look at each piece individually and at the totality of it, and – if you must label it – call it dark fantasy. That's not "ambiguous bullshit." With few exceptions, my fiction is fantasy (excepting some of the harder sf), and, with almost no exceptions, it's dark. But only sometimes is it horrific. Ergo, I refer to myself as a dark fantasist. It's accurate. There's no false advertising. No one out there – no reader, writer, or editor – should feel insulted because I don't call myself a horror writer and ask others not to use that term to describe me. I mean, really. What difference does it make, as long as I write stories worth reading? Fuck the labels.

But thank you for the question, [livejournal.com profile] joshrupp. I only sound cranky because I'm not awake, and I've been asked, and have felt compelled to answer, this question about five hundred times.

Also, it seems that Grendel's back, albeit rebooted and recast.

And now it's time for my Red Bull.

Unboxed,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Eli1)
Yesterday, I wrote 1,397 words on Chapter Five of Blood Oranges. I also reached page 200 of the manuscript. The revision of my revised schedule puts me finishing the novel sometime between August 31 and September 3, if I can write at least 1,150 words per day. Oh, and I'd love to hear thoughts on Chapter Two from those who've had time to read Sirenia Digest #68.

It's raining today. The rain began last night. It'll be a little warmer tomorrow, but the rain will become thunderstorms.

I'm running so very, very late. There were many things I was going to discuss in this entry that are going to have to wait, if I want to get anything written today. And I kinda, sorta have to get something written today.

Last night, we watched Christopher Smith's Black Death (2010), and wow, this is the film that Season of the Witch tried to be and pretty much failed utterly. And it's a surprisingly complex film. On the surface, Black Death seems to be only another entry in the recent resurgence of the fear-of-pagans genre of film. And it would be easy to walk away from this film with the impression that it's pro-Christian and anti-pagan. But...it's only easy to do that if you don't stop to think about what's actually being said. A lot of this stuff isn't even subtle. It's a film about how power is wielded through belief systems, about fear and obsession and love. About exploiting ignorance and superstition. About egotism. And in the end, the Church, the "witch" Langiva, the monk Osmund – none of these are portrayed as virtuous. All are victims, and all create victims of their own. All are hungry for one thing or another, and all, ultimately, are rapacious in their quest to have this thing, be it power or revenge or whatever. The film does present "good" men and women who mostly exist beyond the boundaries of this power struggle – Wolfstan, Averill, and so forth. But even they are not genuinely innocent. Because the film tries hard to be a true film, and this world is all but devoid of innocent human beings. Black Death is a film about people who try to do good – Ulrich and Langiva are both trying to protect "their" people from the plague, but both are deeply flawed. Anyway, yes. Good movie. See it. Right now it can be streamed from Netflix.

And I must go meet the Word Monster.

Jousting,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Better late than never. Well, that's always been a dubious adage, but whatever.

I begin to see a trend. When I was writing The Red Tree I became, in some sense, Sarah Crowe. When I was writing The Drowning Girl, I became India Morgan Phelps. And now that I'm writing Blood Oranges, I find myself becoming Siobahn Quinn. No, this didn't used to happen.

Yesterday, as predicted, was spent pulling the Digest together, writing the prolegomenon etc. Finding the cover image, and the ending for the back page. What the fuck is wrong with LiveJournal that is doesn't fucking know how to fucking spell "prolegomenon"? Anyway, I also took care of some last minute details regarding Two Worlds and In Between, which goes to the printer any day now.

Red Bull and benzodiazepines. Two great tastes that go great together. Oh, look! LiveJournal can't spell "benzodiazepines," either. Ah, the brilliant internet.

Hot Outside, here in Providence. Well, hot for Providence.

Good RP in Rift last night. Thank you, [livejournal.com profile] stsisyphus. You guys don't know what you're missing. If we're gonna let these computers ruin our lives, and change what it means to be human, we might as well have some fun with it, right?

---

Just back from a matinée of Jon Favreau's Cowboys and Aliens. And I loved it. Almost unconditionally. You know what I said about how we need B-movies? Well, it's true. But this film unexpectedly transcends a category I expected it to fall within. It's simply a good movie. Maybe not great cinema, but a good movie. And, right now, I'll settle for that. The cast is marvelous, top to bottom: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford (who actually does more than play Harrison Ford), Clancy Brown, Olivia Wilde, Keith Carradine, etc. Someone was mouthing off on IMDb about (Oh, it can spell "IMDb"!) this being the "worst idea for a film ever." It is nothing of the sort. Why assume alien invasions would always come in the present (or, perhaps, the future)? Anyway, as to the central premise, to quote Stephen Hawking:

If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans. We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet.

A point which is touched upon in the film. The Native American bit, I mean. Obviously, the subject of the film is an alien race seeking to exploit the Earth, and willing to commit genocide to do it. Wait. There has to be another word, one for wiping out an entire, particular species to get what you need. Sure, the end result is extinction, but there ought to be a word for the process. Ah. Extermination. That will do.

Anyway, yes. A very, very good, fun, and moving film, working both as a Western and an SF film. I recommend it unconditionally. Unless you're too jaded for the fundamental concept and go into the theatre needing to be convinced. Here we are now, entertain us. If that's your attitude, save the price of admission and stay home. But I give it a solid two thumbs up.

---

I think Frank the Goat is feeling better. Now if someone would just teach him how to spell.

Up to Here,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Pagan1)
Today is Lughnasadh. Unless, of course, you're in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case it's Imbolc. So, may the day be good to you.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,465 words, and finished "The Granting Cabinet," which will appear in Sirenia Digest #68. The story was sent away to Vince Locke to be illustrated. Today, I'll begin laying out the issue. As soon as I have Vince's illustration, I'll get the issue out to subscribers.

In the meanwhile, I'll get back to work on Chapter Five of Blood Oranges.

I have discovered that the ubiquitous "In a world..." has been replaced in the realm of movie synopses by "...begins to suspect that..." Well, at least so far as Netflix synopses are concerned.

And here's a story I found...interesting: "Married Lesbian Couple Rescued 40 Teens from Norway Massacre". What matters here is not that these two women are a married couple, but that their efforts have almost certainly been ignored by the press because they are a lesbian couple. Anyway, I especially liked this paragraph:

The mainstream U.S. media, which loves a hero story almost as much as a tragedy, has been uniformly silent about the lesbian superstars. Instead, you get a gay man, Bruce Bawer, in his self-serving WSJ piece saying how shocked he is to discover his extremist anti-Islam writings are quoted in the extremist anti-Islam writings of a killer.

Yesterday, I read another paper from the May Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, "New occurrences of dinosaur skin of two types (Sauropoda? and Dinosauria indet.) from the Late Jurassic of North America (Mygatt-Moore Quarry, Morrison Formation)."

Last night, we watched Dominic Sena's Season of the Witch. And...this would have been a perfectly enjoyable, fun B-movie if only someone hadn't convinced Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman that men in the 14th Century were incapable of emoting. Otherwise, the cast is fine. Claire Foy is quite good, in fact. Tippet Studio's climactic demon sequence is disappointing, but serviceable. Again, Season of the Witch is almost a fine little B-movie, and I think we need to acknowledge that there is a place for B movies. Anyway...later, I did two short RP scenes in Rift, one with [livejournal.com profile] stsisyphus and one with [livejournal.com profile] r_darkstorm, and also got our Guardian-side sister Guild, the Hidden Variable, up and running (as a prop, it plays an important roll in the story arc of Watchers of the Unseen, but also provides the advantages of a guild for our Guardian-side characters).

And that was yesterday. And here's the photographic beach porn I promised yesterday:

30 July 2011 )

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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