Blog Hop Interview – Tag, You’re It

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Last week Charming Man answered these questions, that can be found here
He went on to nominate three more writers to take the baton. So here’s my go.

1) What are you working on right now?

I’m just starting the third installment of a series that started with Raw Food. Each book is very different, they roughly correspond to Dante’s Divine Comedy: Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise. In turn, they take the themes of Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’roll. These patterns were not consciously planned, I only noticed them while writing the second episode, Magic By Button.
The series is a personal attempt at healing and recovery from childhood sex abuse. They rewrite my mythology. The first tried to capture the hell of abuse, selfish greed and lust without love. I was trying to put the reader in the zone of a certain type of victim where one is excited and repulsed at the same time. But, to my surprise, I found my “inner child”, a rent boy called Button, incarcerated in this hell. He was a minor character, but soon became essential to the plot.
The next two volumes describe his liberation and each one dramatically changes genre, albeit they are all romances. Magic by Button is a modern day Arthurian romance, a druggy road trip, that leads Button to reboot his life and set himself on the path of healing. Although it plays with perspective, being a story about a film about a story, it uses magical and mythological symbolism to effect and describe the transformation.
The current volume, Push the Button, moves the story into a sci-fi universe. Button becomes a Messianic rock star, on his way back to the stars. It has echoes of Ziggy Stardust and gently teases Justin Bieber, but is also an exercise in wish fulfilment and escapism. The magic of the previous episode is explained with more a rational sounding scientific technobabble. But in this volume, he literally becomes the fantasy hero who has starred in my daydreams all my life. Many of my obsessions from Doctor Who to Star Wars are reworked. But it is also a meditation on the nature of evil. Where it comes from, it’s objectives and how it may be resisted and sublimated, without creating a greater evil.

2) How does it differ from other work in its genre?

This is a tricky one for me as I tend to work against the genre I’m officially in. Raw Food especially, satirized the m/m romance genre. It lifted phrases from other works but placed them in an ironic context.
Magic By Button could be seen as a deconstruction of the traditional Arthurian Romances, but reads more like a modern Road Trip.
I suppose the answer is, I like to experiment. For me a sentence that moves from existential angst to gross comedy is a success. I like surprises and to defy expectations. I like the feel of gears changing and sudden acceleration.
It is a very risky strategy, apt to alienate readers. But I trust that my tastes are not unique.
The closest I have to a literary guru is the Beat writer William S Burroughs. He gives me almost too much license and I often have to abandon my crazier ideas. For example, it may have been a great sentence, but it would have scared off all but the most diligent of readers.

3)Why do you write what you do?

Because it’s all I can write. I can ape styles, take on formulas, but the process only works if my unconscious is engaged.
I suppose I’m no different to an artist with a sketch pad. Trying to bare witness to what is happening around me. Trying to make sense out of what would otherwise seem random and chaotic.
A psychologist might say it’s to do with control, but I prefer to think of it as sub creation. In this context, I accept the poet Coleridge’s Neo-Platonic view of the Imagination.
To me this is real magic. It resonates with the events of my life. It resolves issues, it heals and transforms. It seems to be outside sequential time and have a purpose that can only be deciphered in retrospect.
I also believe that writing is a socially acceptable way of communicating what can be unpalatable. I’ve always been an observer. It is possible that my unique perspective sees things that the other unique perspectives may have missed. Writing is my medium for sharing.
It sounds trite, but I hope it helps to repair the evils in our world. But first and foremost, it should raise a smile and entertain.

4) How does your writing process work?

I’m a poorly disciplined writer and have no set time or place to write. Sometimes I stay up all night writing or I may go several days without doing anything.
When the process works, I do not feel like the author. Instead I hear the words in an internal improvisation. The less I consciously know, the easier the process is. I feel like the audience and am often genuinely surprised by what is said and what happens. It is as if I am taking dictation.
The process requires faith that the words will come and that they will be good. Sometimes they go off on what appear to be tangents, or a theme asserts itself in defiance to my understanding of the story. But generally these prove to have purpose, even if it takes a while to understand what it is.
On a good days, the words that appear on the page are good enough to use as they are. But generally I have to prune out unnecessary adjectives and tidy up poorly written sentences. Often it all happens too fast for me to make sense of. Recently for example I appeared to have written a page of utter nonsense, only to discover that two separate paragraphs had become mangled together. After they were surgically separated, they both made perfect sense.
Being lazy, I wish I could delegate the editing task to an app or editor. Just say, “You know what I want, make it sparkle.”

So now I get to pass the baton on to these fine writers.

Christopher Koehler
Erastes
William Stafford
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3 thoughts on “Blog Hop Interview – Tag, You’re It

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