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Friday, June 15, 2012

GUEST POST: C. A. Lang

Today, I have a guest post from C. A. Lang!

When I wrote Blightcross, it was the culmination of an array of disjointed influences. Dieselpunk isn't a huge genre yet--obviously I'm not going to be able to say Tolkien made me do this and be able to give the standard fantasy author answer. While I could still write a list of fantasy novels that contributed to my novels, it would be more interesting to write about all the things that were distracting me from reality at the time.

The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock:

The story is thrilling but the technique he used fascinates me. I can't even describe it adequately. It has textures. In a musical sense, I mean. But as applied to a story. And these textures are so big and intricate that they reach into other stories. If it seems like I'm trying to avoid using the term "multidimensional," you're right. It would be too easy to just say "the Multiverse is really neat because there are a lot of stories with the same characters and plots." Let's scale back a bit and forget details--Moorcock's writing stretched the boundaries of fantasy while at the same time using the terribly clichéd idiom of heroic fantasy. He played outside with that idiom in such a huge way that that I was never able to look at fantasy, and even literature and art in general, the same. This was my first exposure to experimental ideas. Good thing too, because it's highly accessible.

Beautiful Losers, by Leonard Cohen:

After the above, I sought out books that offered a challenge. Every word of this novel is genius and has function. Sometimes we're not sure what that function may be, but the again this novel as a whole is an amazing example of pushing the boundaries.

Wings of Honneamise:

I'm not into anime and never was all that much. But this film was an art-nouveau/deco smack upside my 13-year-old head. I was up way too late one night smoking stolen cigarettes and this film was all I could find to watch on TV. The whole time I thought, why does everything look like this? Why is the music like this? Only a decade later did I get into modernism and realize that I loved that film because it was exactly what I'd been wanting to write. This film is intricate and aesthetically intense. I still haven't watched it since that night. That's because I have this thing about not ruining my first impression of things that hit me that hard. To me it doesn't get much better than a secondary world fantasy story set during a society's first attempts at space travel--especially when it's not bogged down by science and is more about vibe.

Ulysses, by James Joyce:

It's unfortunate that nowadays so many people roll their eyes and cry "pretentious and pointless" at the mention of Joyce. Nowhere is that more of a problem than among genre fiction writers. But this is a novel about which entire books have been written. To me the way this novel makes us uncomfortable with the symbolic order is its genius. Lacan says that the subconscious has structure, and that it is structured like a language. James Joyce gives us the perfect opportunity to study this concept. So maybe it's only interesting to people who are also interested in psychoanalysis and look at it through that lens? Who knows. At any rate, once again it pushed boundaries and that is why it affected my thoughts and writing. Not always in a good way either. For a while most of the cutting I did involved stupid Joyce imitations.

There are more, but you get the idea. I like to entertain and that's why I still let story rule my writing. But at the same time, I can't write without trying to push either myself or some boundary. It's . . . complicated.




C. A. Lang is a product of Nelson, British Columbia, and it shows. Growing up around Victorian architecture likely had something to do with his appreciation of steampunk, although we’re not quite sure why he felt the need to ditch the steam engines and go all internal-combustion on the genre. He has settled in Kelowna, B.C., where sometimes he can be found abusing a gigantic jazz guitar in public, hanging around certain wineries, and running obscene distances. (http://petropunk.wordpress.com)

Thanks for the awesome guest post! It was great having you on the blog :)