Sunday, April 29, 2012

Me, Neil and Steve

Over on his blog, Neil Gaiman has just posted an interview of Stephen King that Gaiman wrote for the Sunday Times Magazine. Now, I've been a King fan for almost three times as long as I've been a Gaiman fan, so I was fascinated to see how they'd interact with one another. It turned out that my favorite part was the "two writers talking about their craft" section, and my favorite part of that section was the bit I'm quoting below.

Now, I don't for a second think I'm as talented as either of these writers (well, except in my fantasies), but I can relate to the experience they talk about here, of finding what you need for a story just at your fingertips, just at the right time. It happened to me last night as I was working out the next scene of my upcoming story. Completely out of the blue (I'm giggling as I write that, but you don't know why...yet) I realized that something I'd already written fit perfectly with something I was about to write. I hadn't even planed on connecting those two bits, but they clicked together as neatly as a couple of puzzle pieces. I love it when that happens.

So anyway, the quote below is as much of a tease for my next story as it is an advertisement for the Gaiman/King interview. But the interview is a treat either way.
I told him about the peculiarity of researching the story I was working on, that everything I needed, fictionally, was waiting for me when I went looking for it. He nods in agreement.

“Absolutely – you reach out and it's there. The time that it happened the clearest was when Ralph, my agent then, said to me 'This is a bit crazy, but do you have any kind of idea for something that could be a serialised novel like Dickens used to do?', and I had a story that was sort of struggling for air. That was The Green Mile.And I knew if I did this I had to lock myself into it. I started writing it and I stayed ahead of the publication schedule pretty comfortably. Because...” he hesitates, tries to explain in a way that doesn't sound foolish, “...every time I needed something that something was right there to hand.

“When John Coffey goes to jail – he was going to be executed for murdering the two girls. I knew that he didn’t do it , but I didn’t know that the guy who did do it was going to be there, didn’t know anything about how it happened, but when I wrote it, it was all just there for me. You just take it. Everything just fits together like it existed before.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sweet remembrance

I've blogged about trilby else so many times, how much I appreciate his talent and how closely his kinks dovetail with my own. This afternoon I decided to reread one of my favorite trilby stories, Pawn. I won't try to convince you it's one of his best, and it's probably not one of his most popular. But it draws me in more deeply than just about anything else he's written, even after all these years. The heat and the pathos are more palpable than just about anything else I've read.

If you choose to read "Pawn" for yourself, you should know a few things going in. This isn't just a wank piece - as if trilby ever wrote such a thing in the first place! There's prologue and epilogue, quite a bit of it - and in between is a steadily deepening gulf of mindless eroticism. If you like fantasy in general, you'll appreciate the work trilby put into his world building and the care he took with the finale of "Pawn." If, on the other hand, you're just there for the MC, I advise you to focus on the three Witch Queens and Eshwe without working too hard to keep track of everything else.

Eshwe is the heart of the story: an ordinary soldier who volunteers for a suicide mission that just might save her country. The Witch Queen Lirytas has already enthralled one of the other two Queens in her neighborhood (to incredible effect - everything to do with Shilwan is deliciously squirm-inducing) and now she's angling for the third. But Queen Keris has a secret with the potential to save herself and her people. All she needs is an envoy willing to sacrifice herself in revealing that secret to Lyritas. You see, no one who comes near Lirytas can ever be trusted again. They might seem free when they return, and they might even think they're free, but Lyritas's power is too great to take for granted. Keris can't gamble on her envoy's safe return; she can't even gamble on her envoy returning at all. And perhaps, from the envoy's point of view, that would be for the best. At least that way she'd still be alive.

Eshwe, as I said, volunteers for the suicide mission. And it's her personality that makes this story as special as it is. From the very first scene, we know she's less resistant to mind control than some of her comrades; and we quickly come to suspect that she's attracted to the idea of surrender. But she does have one thing going for her in the coming battle: she is deeply, deeply loyal to Queen Keris.

And oh, how that loyalty is tested. Lyritas' methods are so seductive, and Eshwe is so clearly tempted to succumb. Besides, what's the point of resisting when she can't go home anyway and Lirytas could just as easily strip Keris' message from a will-less mind as well as a free one? Yet Eshwe still fights on, sometimes gaining ground, sometimes losing it, sometimes falling so far she even fantasizes about Keris herself falling into slavery. That's how deep Lyritas takes her, just in toying with her.

What do you do when you're fighting a battle you don't entirely want to win? What do you do when your only possibility of survival lies in surrender? trilby is too skillful a writer to spell it out so bluntly, but it's there for the pondering if you want to ponder. And if you don't, there's always Shilwan to shiver over. I've been doing that myself, for years.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Negative red

Last night I had a dream so weird (and wonderfully MC-tinged) that I just had to blog about it.

It started at some kind of convention/festival thing with my mother dragging me off to a side room to chew me out for not being polite enough. But then I noticed what looked like a paper-mache sculpture in the floor. It was human-shaped, done up in a variety of colors (mostly purple), and mostly submerged in water that was full of more paper scraps. I got the idea that maybe it was a real person under a spell, and I quickly forgot all about my mother.

I went around a corner and found more human sculptures, including one slumped against a wall with its leg sticking up in a very inviting position. I wondered what would happen if I touched it. So I clasped my hand loosely around the sculpture's ankle and slid slowly down, enjoying the perfect lines of the calf.

The "sculpture" reacted.

I wasn't completely sure of its gender because although its basic shape was male, its calf had a feminine curve. But let's go with male. He leaned toward me until our faces touched and ground his leg up between mine until I had a lovely little orgasm.

At that point I realized I was dreaming and, as I'm prone to do, started brainstorming EMC story ideas based on what I'd just experienced. I imagined a traveling carnival something like the one from Something Wicked This Way Comes, that would lure people in with sex and then transform them into mindless paper-mache sex dolls who'd lure more people in. But of course, the carnival couldn't just abduct people right and left; that would arouse suspicions. No, they'd have to use their toys for a little while and then return them to their homes with post-hypnotic suggestions. Then, when the carnival came back to the area the next year, their victims would be activated, take a few vacation days from work, and travel to a nearby town to serve as sex sculptures. No one would recognize them there, no one would be the wiser, and eventually the whole area would fall under the carnival's spell.

Of course, me being me, I then imagined what it would feel like to be one of those mindless sex sculptures: sitting still and mute as the paper-mache was slathered across my face, blocking my sight, blocking my features, erasing my identity. Making me an it.

Then it was on to one of those notorious school dreams where you find yourself in a classroom but you don't have any books and you don't have any idea what's going on. Normally this dream produces a lot of anxiety for me, but this time the teacher was giving a vocabulary lesson, and I'm confident enough of my own vocabulary that I didn't feel worried about keeping up. So instead I focused on my classmates. At the table in front of me was a group of Japanese kids joking about things no one else understood. For some reason they found the phrase "negative red" to be really, really funny. Behind me was a trio of boys dressed like Walter from The Big Lebowski. Now I realized it was dress-up day at school and I should have worn a costume myself, which made me more embarrassed than not having a vocabulary book. But then a student tagged me in some sort of game and I tagged a Japanese boy...and my alarm went off.

I realize the most interesting part of these dreams, from my readers' point of view, is the MC section - and if anyone feels inclined to write a story based on that bit, go right ahead. Just give me credit for the idea. And be sure to let me read it. ;-P But the thing that struck me most, on waking, was the whole idea of negative red. It's easy to say negative red is just green, but that's not necessarily true, is it? The opposite of red is green, but what's the negative of red? When you think about it, we're almost into Lovecraft territory here. And maybe there's a story in that idea, as well.