Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Fantastical Fictions Bookclub: The Door to Lost Pages by Claude Lalumière

It seems fitting that we’ll be meeting at one of Austin’s most unusual bookshops, Malvern Books, to discuss lovely mosaic novella centered around an idiosyncratic bookstore. Although, Malvern has 100% less dogs than the bookstore featured in Claude Lalumière’s The Door to Lost Pages, it has some of the magic.

But don’t take my word for it, swing by the store to pick up a copy of this lovely little book, and then come back on Wednesday, July 12 at 7:00 p.m. to discuss The Door toLost Pages.
"Lost Pages wasn’t the only bookshop I frequented, but the books I found on its shelves were… unique. I never saw any of these books anywhere else. Bizarre Bestiaries. Dictionaries of dead, obscure languages. Maps to lands that may never have been. Essays on religions with unfamiliar names. Obscure mythologies. Accounts of wars no history teacher had ever mentioned. Such were the wares of the bookshop that fed my teenage dreams."
More magical realism than straight up fantasy, this book combines elements of urban fantasy with lonely childhoods and difficult family relationships that are rendered with gritty realism. There are also winged skeleton creatures, dark gods, tentacles  and a shifting pack of friendly dogs. It’s a homey multiverse of myth, folktale, dreams and nightmares. Be warned, the erotic and sexual elements that are often latent in fairy tales are more overt here as the characters wrestle with desires and both visceral and ethereal.

In the true Austin tradition, this is an author that knows how to keep it weird. If you enjoy The Door to Lost Pages, Claude Lalumière will be in Austin for the ArmadilloConConvention on August 4 – 6, and back at Malvern Books to read from his latest book Venera Dreams on August 9 at 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

ArmadilloCon Writing Workshop T-Minus 36 Hours: Letting Go

The aphorism, “A good conversation never ends, it’s only interrupted” comes to mind. I feel the same about the stories I write. Creators, artists, and writers are always striving to improve their craft. Reaching for perfection, always falling a few inches short. This is why it can be hard to determine when to call a piece you’ve struggled over finished. For me, it’s more about knowing when to let it go.

Creating something is its own reward and its own punishment. Every story starts with some nugget of inspiration, a character, a mood I want to capture, a moment I want to bring to life. It’s this vision that compels me to create the first draft. Invariably, after writing it out, and working through however many revisions, what I end up with is NEVER what I originally imagined. I won’t say it’s better or worse, but it is different. Even when I am happy with the final result, there is always a tiny nagging feeling of missing the mark.  

If you keep writing and working to improve, you will look back at old stories, even the ones that are published and see ways that they might be improved. I remind myself that that was the best story I could produce last week or last year or three years ago. M. Rickert says her old stories are like snapshots of the writer she was at the time she wrote them.

It’s important to strive for excellence, at the same time once you feel you’ve made a story the best you can – let it go. It may be flawed, have some element that you wish you could manage more astutely, but if it’s viable (i.e. has a plot with a beginning middle and end, a character who changes or comes to a realization, etc.), then it’s time to let it go (today, that might mean sending it to the ArmadilloCon Writing Workshop). Submit somewhere for publication and move on to the next story with the goal to make that one better.

Whether I see you at the ArmadilloCon Writers Workshop or not – I hope you go forth and write story after story. I look forward to reading all of them out in the wild!