Interview #70, with “compelled misfit” and horror/dark fantasy writer, Charles Muir!
Describe yourself in 5 words:
Compelled. Hungry. Misfit. Persistent. Transmuting.
Share a short excerpt and blurb of your work (10-100 words):
From my story in Hell Comes to Hollywood, “Alone and Palely Loitering”:
Knight had a friend, a writer, who soared to dazzling descriptive heights when it came to women’s breasts. Ample ones, especially. On paper, they quivered and beckoned as a succulent feast of edibles, their “creamy mounds” and “Hershey’s kisses” in contrast to Knight’s lens-like assessment, all dimensions appreciable in his worldview. The woman before him was more than a feast, she was a gateway to gluttony, her breasts densely spheroid with long, shadowed cleavage lines, mounted over the proud breastbone of a Valkyrie. And hips, high-velocity curves like a wildfire along twin hummocks, hips that blazed their own sexual lights against the bosom’s fearful symmetry. A tigress, Knight thought, like that Amazonian knockout in those cannibal horror films he watched with the sound down when his wife wasn’t around, he forgot the actress’s name just now.
“Um,” was all he said…
Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):
A bright light, like a hot, flickering, yellow star, burned through the ghostly mesh of his death dreams. He looked over and she was standing sideward to the fireplace, holding a burning brand outthrust toward it in her hand. Yet not a stick or twig; it was a scroll of tightly furled paper. And as the flame slowly slanted upward toward her hand, she deftly reversed it, taking it now by the charred end that had already been consumed and allowing the other to burn.
— Cornell Woolrich
Comment on the writing versus publication process, in your experience:
It took me five years to relearn how to write. I don’t mean writing as a craft, but as an act of putting words on paper without college-grafted perfectionism killing your first thoughts. With my stories I now try to emulate Ray Bradbury’s “seven drafts in seven days” approach (or seven sessions at the computer in my case) allowing my conscious thoughts to take over gradually in the last two or three drafts in a more natural arc. It’s fun and healthy for me, seeing as I’m a solitary doer and prefer to keep my studio closed off until I send out the end-product.
As for publishing, all my work has been in short fiction, which out of long habit I continue to submit individually to the small presses, hoping to find an indie publisher who will be interested in anthologizing my stories someday. This means the usual confetti of rejection letters and the sense of climbing a ladder with only two rungs. But I absolutely see the value of self-publishing these days. The technology is in place, the stigma is (rightly) going away, and emerging writers are becoming increasingly aware of the need to self-promote in a dismal marketplace.
As a side note, the Internet can be terrible for a neurotic person like me. There is a metrical side to seeing your work in print in the form of online feedback and statistics that didn’t exist when all you got was a check and contributor’s copy. Still, the Internet has given me relationships and opportunities I never would have dreamed of otherwise, and is giving artists a chance to get their work out there despite the stagnant commercialism and elitism of big publishing.
What is your definition of “good writing”?
I personally prefer narration that transforms the mundane into the strange, even nightmarish. It wakes you up for a moment. I remember very little about even crucial plot points, but I’ll recall a certain shadow, or a flight of stairs, or the way a character resembles a puppet for just an instant. That transformative vision is what gets me as close to the writer’s mind as I will ever get.
Please share your #1 tip for writers:
You will get better if you love what you do, because you will do it a lot and for as long as it takes to achieve the desired effect.
My personal website: www.charlesaustinmuir.com
My article on “How to Submit Short Fiction for Publication”: http://tinyurl.com/submittingshortfiction
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Much thanks to Charles Muir for stopping by — do visit Charle’s Website for more info on him and his projects!
CHARLE’S BIO (in his own words):
I’m a writer, primarily in the horror genre. I’ve appeared most recently in the U.K. magazine, Morpheus Tales, and the Stoker-nominated horror anthology, Hell Comes to Hollywood.
I was born on the Oregon Coast but have lived all my life in Portland.
I’ve written psychological horror, splatterpunk, dark fantasy, flash fiction, slipstream, squishy-soft sf, and experimental. Some of my favorite themes include alienation, disease, hunger and metamorphosis.
My aim is to bend reality, skew the mundane, and broadcast my personal horrors. At the same time I don’t take myself too seriously.
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