Copyright © Forrest Aguirre
Forrest Aguirre received a BA in Humanities from Brigham Young University and an MA in African History from the University of Wisconsin.
The uselessness of his education is shown in his employment: he is the inventory manager at Rutabaga, the
world's largest canoe and kayak shop.
His work has appeared or will appear online and in print in
DeathGrip, Demensions, SteelCaves, Pegasus Online,
Twilight Showcase, Flesh & Blood, Indigenous Fiction,
The Earwig Flesh Factory, Redsine, Dark Planet,
The Regurgitated Spork, Roadworks and Eraserhead Press's Strangewood Tales anthology.
He lives in Madison, Wisconsin with his wife and four children.
SF Site Review: Forrest Aguirre: Experimental Fiction
SF Site Review: Leviathan Three
You seem to write, to borrow a word from one of your titles, fugues: works
that develop off not one path but several, sometimes settling back on the
beginning like the snake consuming itself, sometimes picking up and
discarding points of view like iridescent seashells on a beach, and
sometimes all the viewpoints, shells, and themes are entirely different
throughout, as one might expect from a fugue. Are you fond of listening to
fugues? Is it the form your mind most finds comfortable or are you
consciously trying to stretch the forms of what people call narratives?
One word that seems to have fallen into disuse among writers is
"composition". I like to view my act of writing as something akin to musical
composition. Sometimes the composition simply flows from beginning to end,
like Beethoven's acts of automatic musical writing; sometimes the work is
carefully timed and constructed for effect (think of Ravel's Bolero); and
sometimes I intentionally interject dissonance into an otherwise
smooth-flowing piece, àla early Arvo Pärt. As you have pointed out, some of
my works have the quality of fugues. Perhaps my brain is attuned to "fugal"
writing, but these stories are ofttimes the most painstaking for me to
write. The trick is to add depth as you go along without entirely breaking
from the threads of plot, characterization, and oeuvre by which the
composition is defined. This is only possible with a strong idea of these
elements. So, at times, I need to write an abstract (I'm thinking of the
academic abstract here) defining characters, plot, and atmosphere. After
that, I can effectively write a first draft (I always write first drafts by
hand), then revisit the piece with a second draft (on the computer) and a
third (making corrections and marginal notes with a pen on the printed
second draft). Usually, by the fourth draft, when I'm entering the
handwritten modifications to the third draft into the computer, I'm done -- but not always. If things don't seem quite right by this point, I will
sometimes rearrange paragraphs in order to find the weak links in the text
(usually bad transitions between paragraphs at this point, but I have been
known to completely rearrange the structure of a story and effectively do
another rewrite at this point). Through all this, I'm constantly referring
back to the initial abstract, sometimes modifying it also as I go, but
always revisiting the initial emotional impetus, whether plot or character
driven. It is, ultimately, the emotional impetus of an idea or some outside
stimulus (oftentimes felt when I am outdoors, listening to music, or viewing
art) that drives the tale -- so, perhaps my soul is full of fugues.
What do you generally start with when writing a story: dialogue, scene,
image, idea, metaphor, character, theme, plot? Where does it go from there?
If "Reverie Styx" and "Kaleidoscope in Africa" are typical, please
demonstrate on them.
I almost always start with an idea and an image. "Reverie Styx" started with
the image of a man in a diving suit (the really old kind, with the on-deck
bellows pump and all) descending into murky water. I had read Dante's
Inferno to my children a few months before, so the association was rather
quick. I then tried to get into the diver's head, but soon found myself
abandoning him for the people supplying him with air. I didn't care for him
anymore. In fact, I hated him and wanted him to die. I needed ruthless
characters to kill him off -- devils on earth, as it were. Thus developed the
split "plot" line on earth and in hell.
"Kaleidoscopes of Africa" started with a little fancy for fancy
kaleidoscopes. I thought of the many forms that a kaleidoscope could take in
and out of the tube and glass paradigm. Then I thought about those who would
own such instruments (or, in some cases, be trapped in such instruments), so
I suppose character came second, though the characters in the story are
mostly just alluded to, not represented directly. More than anything I was
looking for a juxtaposition of feeling in the piece: the kaleidoscopes are
presented as if they are part of an art-show catalog, rather clinically,
detached. But, I hope that the situations to which I allude behind the
scopes and their "owners" might generate some type of emotional response
that contradicts the un-emotive presentation of the items themselves.
That said, I don't know that I have a "typical" way of beginning a story.
But imagery is critical -- if I don't have some kind of concrete image in my
mind (even if it's wildly surreal), I can't write.
What excites me about your writing is that, from the Fantastic Metropolis
interview and our discussions, it sounds like you actually think about it,
are willing to and enjoy taking chances. Why? Why don't you stick to the
story treadmill like a proper writer?
The questions you are posing speak, I think, to the issue of authorial
responsibility (as implied by your term "proper writing" -- used, I can tell,
with a good dose of sarcasm). Writers are afraid to admit this in good
company, but let's face it -- the author of fiction is beholden to one person -- him or herself. Thomas Ligotti once remarked that writing, for him, took
the place of the recreational drugs that he took as a youth. I'm in much the
same situation: writing is my drug of choice. It's my opportunity to behave
irresponsibly without (hopefully) causing harm to anything or anyone, save
my reputation. I don't have an agenda when I write, though my personal
biases must show through to some degree. I'm an authorial hedonist, I
suppose -- a bacchanalian scribe.
That's not to say that I flout grammatical rules entirely. I might bend them
to my own purposes, but I only do so in order to accentuate the flow of the
story. Pacing is rather important to me, for example, so I have been known
to switch a third person past tense story to present tense in media res in
order to accelerate the action, to give a sense of immediacy to the text
that would otherwise have been lost, had I played "by the rules". Back to
the composer analogy -- all the great composers, whether you like them
or not, took chances, tried something new and innovative. Sometimes they
succeeded, sometimes they failed. When they failed, their work was utter
dross, but when they took a chance and "won," they changed the face of
music. But more importantly, they fed their internal need to satisfy their
curiosity: they took their drug and enjoyed the trip, as it were. I'm
willing to take the same chance. Sometimes I fail, sometimes I succeed.
How do you come to speak Swahili, study Africa in graduate school, write so
much about Africa?
I was raised in the military. My father was a sergeant in the Air Force, so
I was lucky enough to live in a lot of places -- Germany, the Philippines,
Italy, England. Even Nebraska. But I neither lived in nor had a chance to
visit Africa. This was the vacuum in which my interest in Africa was
sparked. As an undergraduate, I studied humanities with an emphasis in
history. It was through my studies of European history that I became
acquainted with the texts on colonialism, particularly the machinations and
maneuverings known collectively as the "scramble for Africa" of the late
19th Century. The rest, to use a horrid pun, is history.
The continent of Africa has an amazingly rich and complex history that is
largely unappreciated or unknown by westerners. I view Africa as one of the
most diverse continents -- probably a result of the many trade and shipping
routes that intercept its huge landmass. For instance, the Bantu language
group, of which Swahili is a member, contains around 600 distinct languages.
Most Africans I know speak around four or five languages. Swahili is a trade
language mixing an east African Bantu dialect, Arabic, Farsi, Chinese,
Hindi, Portuguese, German, and English. It doesn't get more cosmopolitan
than that! The African story tradition is rich as well, one of the richest
of any continent. Written historical records were largely an Arabic
introduction in most areas, with the Europeans coming along significantly
later. So before Mohammed, African stories were passed along in oral form
for thousands of years, changing, becoming corrupted, mutating over
generations. Pile on top of all this the massive sociological and political
changes that have taken place in Africa, first internally, then from
external pressures, over the last several hundred years, and you have a lot
of grist for writing.
What is the magic of Africa to you that you wish to return to it again and
I don't know if there is a magic to Africa, just an intrigue. I have several
African friends here. In fact, I haven't met an African on American soil
with whom I haven't felt an immediate and positive connection. So why is it
that so many bad things happen there? You can blame colonialism, and much of
the problems in Africa were directly caused by European colonialism, but why
do they persist? Is it poverty? But poverty exists in Asia and South America
on close to the same scale, and you don't see as many widespread problems. I
suppose that it's these little questions that keep bothering me that cause
me to reflect on Africa so much. Part of it too, I think, is a sense of
ancient-ness so chronologically close to our time. Yes, most African
countries are now thoroughly modern, but the traditions seem steeped in what
I call "deep time" -- whether they are or not is up to debate, but there is
an aura of "Ur" that seems to be woven into the fabric of Africa. Also,
let's not rule out my academic training. I have a Master's Degree in African
History, so, of course I'm going to have some Africana present in my own
work. It's something about which I can speak halfway authoritatively!
Did collecting the stories in The Butterfly Artist give you an insight or
insights into your work -- good, bad or indifferent -- that you can share?
It is clear to me now that I am insane. Seriously, collecting the stories
for my collection allowed me to assess where I had been at the beginning of
my writing career and where I was at the time the stories were collected.
"The Nut Lady's Cabin" is the earliest story in the collection. I think it
shows in that this tale is, perhaps, the most "stock" story of the
collection -- nothing fancy about it. "Precognitive Myopia" is also an early
one, but even by this point I was playing on the edges of experimentation.
The latest of the bunch is "Tea Time," which I actually wrote as the
collection progressed. It's really a character-exploration piece using what
might be thought of as pop-Jungian archetypes from the modern world. "The
Butterfly Artist," which is the longest piece of the collection, began as
two separate stories, both of which failed miserably (and will never see
publication). But when I set the ugly corpses of the two tales beside one
another, they fell in love, had passionate sex right beneath my pen, and
eventually gave birth to the title story of the collection. I'm rather proud
of that story, and am glad that it was published in the collection, because
no editor in his right mind would take such a story. It just doesn't fit
neatly into any one category. Is it post-apocalyptic science fiction?
Surrealism? Horror? Romance? Heck, I don't even know.
Wow. You melded two stories together. It isn't noticeable, either. Can
you explain the process?
"The Butterfly Artist" began with two stories, one about the Papilio Odius
butterfly and another about a masquerade. The butterfly story was, at first,
a trite little piece on a butterfly-collector's relationship with Africa and
Africans. I had hit a real wall with the masquerade story, so I went online
to do some research on Venetian masks and masquerades (a fascinating
subject, by the way). One day I stumbled on the website for a Venetian mask
maker who did a leather (!) mask in the shape of a butterfly, as well as
several in the form of skulls. Since the Papilio Odius' distinguishing mark
was a skull marking on the back, one story simply segued into the other.
How does your interest in the outdoors impact your writing? You even have a
penchant for Latin species names in "Waiting for Felicity" over at The
Journal of Experimental Fiction. Are you a zoological philologist in
Whenever possible, I like to make my readers aware of all five senses as
they read my stories. Writers generally do a decent job of evoking sight and
sound, but often fail to engage the reader's nose, tongue, and skin. I think
that the body-awareness that comes from sleeping on hard ground, exposing
oneself to the sun and rain, getting grit in the teeth, and drawing through
thorny brambles for days on end -- that sort of body-awareness can be related
through writing, thus immersing the reader in the sensations of the story's
characters and narrators. One must be careful, though, of two things. 1) Too
much detail, where the reader is bored to tears as you describe every two
degree temperature change, for example and, 2) the use of similes or
metaphors that make little sense or come across as trite and over-used.
Despite these two potential pitfalls, the writer can engage the reader in
such a way that he or she is truly enveloped in the story as a sort of
The use of Latin names in "Waiting for Felicity" is a bit of a fancy, I must
admit. It was meant to raise the "class tenor," we shall call it, of the
story by referring to the birds by their scientific names. The main narrator
(there are a couple of narrators working simultaneously in the story) is
unashamedly upper-class, so I surrounded him with the "official,"
"scientific" names of the birds to lend him some academic legitimacy. I
spent a great deal of time thinking about and choosing the perfect birds (I
hope) for the various sections of the story. Plumage, habitat, and the
temperament of each bird were carefully chosen to reflect the text (actually
the main narrator's memories) that appeared beside them. I'm extremely
happy, by the way, to have had the story appear in The
Journal of Experimental Fiction -- Eckhard Gerdes, the editor, has created a wonderful
You hike, canoe, work with canoes, edit, write, and father four children.
Where do you fit in eating, sleeping, breathing?
Well, I don't watch a whole lot of TV. I go to the movies maybe three times
a year, tops. I don't hang out at the mall and rarely go out to eat. Sundays
are my family day, where I spend as much time as possible with my wife and
children. I do have a lot of demands on my time, yes, but I know when to
quit. There comes a point where your brain just says "break time," and I
have to se the manuscripts down aside, put the novel notebook away, and go
lie in the hammock and flush my thoughts. Canoeing is therapeutic that way
as well: just me, my thoughts, and the water. There's something about the
lulling motion of being afloat on the lake that clears my head and lets
stress melt away into the waves. Another thing I do is write and edit late
at night, when the children are all asleep, and do the same while walking to
and from work on the days I don't canoe into work. I'll take manuscripts
wherever I know I will have a five minute or more delay -- waiting for my
daughter's play to start, standing in line at the post office, walking
across a parking lot from my car to the grocery store -- I greedily snatch up
any spare moment for editing and writing.
How has editing affected what you write? Does the following still hold sway
or have you another path now on the fugue of your writing career: "I have
slowed my writing significantly since then and am routinely writing longer
stories, more fleshed out stories, more subtle stories. When The Butterfly Artist
comes out in early September, you'll note that my early writing tends
to be rather thickly layered, very short and strange. Someone once called me
'Poe on acid.' Since then, I've become a little more subtle in my writing --
more subdued, in ways. I think this change came about because I read so many
stories that tried too hard to be 'cool' or 'extreme' or, heaven forbid,
'intellectual'." But, looking at the popular new novels on the bookshelves,
isn't this what catches readers' and publishers' eyes? Or do you mean a
parody of this phenomenon?
Editing the work of others has been the best writing workshop I never
attended. The hundreds of stories I read for Leviathan 3 broadened my view
of good and not-so-good writing a great deal. After having so closely read
others' work, I developed a much more critical eye towards my own writing.
The lessons took a little time to learn, but, I feel that by the end of the
third or fourth story after I had finished editing, I really started to "hit
my pace" as a writer. As you've pointed out with the quote from my previous
interview, I have slowed down and assumed more control over my words (i.e.,
taking pains to make sure I have the right word in any given sentence) and
now give my sentences a little more breathing room. My stories have gained
more subtlety and nuance, I think, as I've learned to not simply write, but
to craft my writing. My immersion into editing Leviathan 3 gave me the
experience to quickly identify sloppiness in writing. When I see it in my
own initial drafts, I strike and rewrite until I get it right. You see,
there is an adequate way to communicate something, then there is the best
Regarding popularity -- I am not so delusional as to believe that any of my
work will go down in literary history as anything more than a tiny blip on
the radar. I honestly don't care what's popular and on the shelves. If
enough other people like my work so much that they buy it, that's an added
bonus, and I appreciate that quite a bit, but I'm not going to make the NY
Times best-seller list any time soon! As I said, writing is my drug -- I
don't expect to get rich from it, but my life is richer because I write.
Hopefully it's made someone else's life richer somewhere as well. If
anything, I stand to see poorer and poorer monetary returns on my short
fiction as time goes on. I've been marketing more of my work to "literary
mainstream" markets that are surreal- or experimental-friendly, with work
forthcoming in 3rd Bed and Exquisite Corpse, for example. These are
excellent venues, but they don't pay nearly as well as some of the more
well-known speculative fiction magazines. On the other hand, these magazines
are the right places for the works they've taken from me, and I'm ecstatic
to see them there.
What are the good experimental venues for writers right now as you see them?
3rd Bed has to go to the top of the list. Fence, The Journal of Experimental
Fiction, Jacob's Ladder, Conjunctions, Denver Quarterly, and Hunger Magazine
are all top-notch print venues for experimental work. There's almost too
much online to go over all the great experimental literary websites, but a
few deserve mention. The Dream People has a bit more of a pulp feel to it
than most "literary" experimental mags, but it is a great one, nonetheless.
I have been impressed over and over again by The Absinthe Literary Review,
which may well be the best online magazine for experimental/decadent/cutting
edge literature. I've solicited several ALR authors for Leviathan and will
likely continue to do so. Others that stick out in my mind are Exquisite
Corpse, Diagram, and Bathhouse.
Speaking of Poe, you list him among your influences. Who else? Have you
discarded certain influences as you've grown as a writer? Is or are there a
line(s) demarcating a changing of the guard in your influences? How have
they influenced you?
Poe, along with writers such as Laurence Stern, Ray Bradbury, Borges, Peake
and Calvino, were influential long before I first put authorial pen to
paper. When I began writing in earnest, I was heavily under the influence of
Jonathan Carroll, Stepan Chapman, Jeff VanderMeer, Brian Evenson, Steven
Millhauser, Rikki Ducornet, and Thomas Ligotti. I was thrilled to learn
recently that my work will be appearing beside Tom's in an upcoming
anthology. His sense of atmosphere has had a strong influence on my work.
Ligotti's stories have a certain "weight" that I find difficult to describe.
His use of words is palpable, one can feel them on the soul. Millhauser is
completely different -- there is a lightness to his work, an almost ephemeral
wispiness that some readers lose hold of. In some ways his work is elusive,
but when you really take the time to enjoy the languid pleasure of reading
his work, he can transport you so clearly to another place that you question
reality against his fiction. Rikki Ducornet, who is, incidentally, one of
the nicest people on this planet, is simply amazing. She has the amazing
ability to write so that the innermost psychological battlefields, those
within her characters minds and hears, are clearly brought to the surface -- the reader's mind and the character's mind interface quite easily, in fact.
Ducornet really is the inheritor of Angela Carter's legacy and is, I think,
the penultimate American Surrealist. She is, quite possibly, the best writer
Despite all these great influences, I am continually inspired by new and
under-published writers -- writers taking chances and pushing the boundaries
of literature. Go scour the literary journals and you will find many of the
best fantasists you've never heard of. Granted, some of these writers aren't
necessarily new to writing, but they're new to me. I'd be willing to bet
that most readers of speculative fiction have never before read their work
either. But I really do believe that much of the best fantasy and
speculative fiction is to be found between the covers of the literary
reviews and journals.
You're going it alone this time for Leviathan 4. In what ways is that
liberating or constricting? Regarding Leviathan 3, you said, "we tried very
hard to avoid having to take unsolicited subs." Why? Has this changed as
you seek for submissions for the fourth volume?
I suppose I ought to be fearful, being "cut loose" to edit Leviathan 4 on my
own. But Jeff did a wonderful job of mentoring me with Leviathan 3. While I
do miss having Jeff around as my devil's advocate, I feel confident that
I've been able to pick up his critical eye.
We tried to avoid unsolicited submissions for Leviathan 3 simply because the
undesireable-to-desireable ratio on unsolicited submissions is quite high.
In my experience, authors tend to read and pay attention to guidelines more
fully when they know that the editor has picked them, out of thousands of
other writers, to send a story for consideration. Now, that said, I need to
add two caveats. First, we allowed for a period of unsolicited submissions
with Leviathan 3, and I am currently reading unsolicited submissions for
Leviathan 4 (see the Ministry website for details:
http://www.ministryofwhimsy.com -- open submissions will only be taken until
July 1st, 2003). Both times I have been quite pleased to discover wonderful
work by authors previously unknown to me. Many of the unsolicited authors
for Leviathan 3 did not make it into the anthology -- of hundreds of such
submissions, we took two -- but many whose work struck me as excellent were
invited to submit to Leviathan 4. That is, I solicited their work before
opening to unsolicited submissions. You see, we rejected some wonderful
pieces that didn't fit our needs at the time, but have found a home in some
great publications, just as we expected they would. I really wanted to see
more work from these authors, as I was genuinely impressed by some aspect of
their work. The second caveat is this: Before opening Leviathan 4 to
unsolicited submissions, I spent hours and hours scouring short fiction
magazines in the speculative fiction fields, in the literary mainstream, in
print, and online, looking for authors to solicit for submissions. I looked
all over the place for new work and found some gems. Great authors in the
mainstream, for instance, to whom I extended the invitation to send me work
containing fantastical elements, or surrealist poets whom I asked to send me
surreal pieces of prose, and authors of speculative fiction whose work I had
not read previously, but had been impressed with. It was difficult work. I
spent hours and days on this search. But, ultimately, I think it is proving
to be worth it. I would be an ingrate if I didn't give a great deal of
credit to the Ministry's Assistant Editor, Mike Simanoff, for tracking down
contract information on these authors with only the slimmest bit of a lead.
What were the story issues (I promise not to ask which stories) "where Jeff
and I spent much time and energy going around and around in circles,
debating the merits or faults of the story in question?" Has your view of
fiction and/or editing changed as a result? You write that your reading
tastes have changed since Leviathan 3. Does that still hold true? Any
recent reads that stick out in your mind? Any reads that have altered the
way you write fiction?
While reading for Leviathan 3, I noted that many of the best surreal and
decadent pieces were appearing in the literary mainstream. I had suspected
this for some time, but editing the anthology hastened me along the path to
that conclusion. While I still read speculative fiction, I now find more of
my "for pleasure" reading time being spent on works pulled from the
"literature" section of the bookstores.
Of course, my writing has been affected as a result. All of my current
writing effort is being put into my as-yet-untitled novel. The structure of
the work is very loosely based on Jonathan Carroll's Bones of the Moon,
wherein two plot lines, one in the "real" world and one in a clearly
fantastical world, bleed together by the resolution. The similarities end
there. The most obvious influences on the work are Shakespeare (on the
fantastical half of the plot line), A.S. Byatt (in terms of social
observation -- the "real" world plot line takes place in Victorian England),
and Rikki Ducornet (for the psychological atmosphere). Or perhaps you'll see
none of that -- my own prose might well bury all trace of influence. But
these are the influences I've felt as I write. Of course, your seeing the
book depends on me finishing several rewrites and finding a publisher crazy
enough to see the work to print!
Recent reads of short fiction that have really stuck out to me are the two
most recent issues of Black Warrior Review, 3rd Bed #7, and the online
publications Drunken Boat and the always-outstanding Absinthe Literary
Review. In the longer forms I've recently enjoyed Tony Millionaire's The
Adventures of Tony Millionaire'S Sock Monkey (a graphic novel), Rikki
Ducornet's The Jade Cabinet, and one of the best books written in many, many
years, Edward Carey's Observatory Mansions.
In terms of outstanding unpublished literature, I've read... well, now -- I can't tell you that just yet. You'll just have to see what's on tap for
the Ministry over the next couple of years. I can say that we will be
publishing Steve Tomasula's In&Oz this year and Zoran Zivkovic's The Fourth
Circle in 2004, both of which are outstanding, if entirely different from
one another. But there are several other projects (besides the ongoing
Leviathan and Album Zutique series) that are in the works
Any new progress on the novel? Can you tell us any more about it?
The novel is progressing slowly, but I'm satisfied with the direction its
taking. I hit a bit of a speed bump in trying to figure out my main
character's childhood (which is a bit important in figuring out a
character's later motives, I think), then began reading a marvelous
biography of John Ruskin that prompted me to assume a biographical stance
towards my main character. This helped a great deal, dissociating myself
from the story for a moment, then taking a more indirect approach to the
character's early years. I had to have the early years there, but didn't
want to rely on dialogue (too tedious) or direct narrative (too preachy -- show, don't tell!) to get the points across.
Things have picked up in momentum again, though I am on a temporary side
road -- a short story about an Edwardian English woman who follows a mystic
cultist àla Aleister Crowley. Though she's never directly a part of the
action, all the documents and narratives point to a hole where she should
be. I wanted to mirror the Victorian/Edwardian notion that some things
should not be talked about -- but those same things cannot be entirely
ignored, as the absence of those things in conversation, documents, etc,
leaves a hole, and in that hole is a very real person, ignored, but not
forgotten entirely, by the rest of society. This is rather difficult to
explain, but the main character's absence and silence imply the main
character's presence and power.
Are you still seeking "darkly beautiful surreal stories?" Is the purpose of
Leviathan still to prove "there is no such thing as 'genre' and 'literary'
boundaries." Is this purpose present in your own work?
Well, perhaps I mis-spoke earlier. Leviathan cannot prove that a line does
not exist between "genre" and "literary" works, because that line is present
in the heads of those that believe such a line exists -- and I'm not very
good at brainwashing. But at least part of the purpose of Leviathan is to
erase that mental line that exists in reader's heads. Good writing is good
writing, no matter who is doing it or where it appears. If I had my wish,
bookstores would be arranged so that "genre" and "literary" works were side
by side, mixed up in a new section called "fiction". That way readers of
science fiction, for example, would stumble on works that might have been
hidden from their view in the old "literature" section, but which contained
science fictional elements. Likewise, readers of more heady academic work
might accidentally pick up a work that is primarily "fantasy" and find that
they enjoy it a great deal.
Some labels are helpful, though, I suppose. Unfortunately there is no handy
label for the type of works that appear in Leviathan, so "darkly beautiful
surreal stories" was the shortest, most encompassing description I could
find when thinking about how one would describe Leviathan stories. I'm open
to other suggestions. The best bet for those submitting to the market is to
read its past incarnations. That's not to say that we take work that is
wholly mimetic of our previously-published stories -- we're constantly
looking to push the envelope -- but there is a history that informs the
styles and tone of work in which we are primarily interested.
In regards to my own work, yes, I do intentionally try to erase boundaries
as well. While I have works that are clearly in the speculative genre (as
some people would label it), and others that are clearly "mainstream," I
most enjoy writing those works that confuse reviewers and editors by not
allowing them to quickly label the work as anything but (hopefully) good
writing that takes chances.
Copyright © 2003 Trent Walters
Trent Walters' work has appeared or will appear in
Full Unit Hookup,
The Pittsburgh Quarterly,
and blah blah blah. He has interviewed for SFsite.com, Speculon and the
Nebraska Center for Writers. More of his reviews
can be found here. When he's not studying medicine, he can be seen
coaching Notre Dame (formerly with the Minnesota Vikings as an assistant coach),
or writing masterpieces of journalistic advertising, or
making guest appearances in a novel
by E. Lynn Harris. All other rumored Web appearances are lies.