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Pride, Prejudice, & Paul Jessup

Amazing how much can happen in a week, isn't it? What's on my mind? Well, the title is pretty indicative of what's been capturing my neurons. Pride is important to me, and I don't just mean in that Jane Austen way, I primarily mean that most essential of pride. I'm founder of the Outer Alliance, which is quickly heading toward its 10 year anniversary. For those who don't know, the OA is a network of QUILTBAG SFF writers and allies started to simply be a safe space. It stemmed from issues occurring in 2009, I believe, and it's hard to see that we're living in a world where we're once again engaging in arguments about who are people and who aren't.

That said, I am very tired of asterisks. I'm tired of asterisks when it comes to the Bible, this cherry picking about what "neighbor" and "love" mean (I had an argument with a person on Facebook -- I know, I know, I know -- because they believed "neighbor" meant only Christian brothers and sisters and I about lost my damn mind). I'm tired of asterisks when it comes to the Declaration of Independence:
  • We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.*
* Unless, of course, you're queer. Or foreign. Or a woman. Or a person of color. Or not Christian.

I'm done with asterisks. No one gets to decide who is or isn't considered a human being. 
Three Questions with Paul Jessup

About ten years ago, I stumbled on some really amazing people on Twitter. This was in the time before presidential rants and doxxing, when Twitter was mostly a group of misanthropes looking for community. And lots of bots. So I guess things don't change that much, after all.

That said, Paul Jessup was one of the first people I met, and we became fast friends (at the time, I think, because we were both really into the Legend of the Seeker TV show...). I scooped up his first novella, Open Your Eyes, and have followed his writing and career ever since. He's a truly visionary writer who puts everything out there. His work is just shy of poetry, each sentence crafted together -- hacked, pushed, pulled, molded -- and the result is a voice that is like no other. He's unbelievably prolific, and just an all-around fantastic guy.

He was also kind enough to be my first victim of three questions! 

What’s the title of your biography?
Writing the Weird? Maybe. I like the alliteration, and it's true. I am not a "writing the normal" kind of guy. Then again, normal is boring, plain, and tastes like paste. Not the good kind that has a kind of minty flavor, the bad kind that smells like kerosene and will probably require a stomach pump and an ER. Sad, boring paste. It will be the death of you every time.

If you were a monster, which one would it be?
I would probably be the language virus in my book, Close Your Eyes. It's the perfect kind of monster for me. People would read my books and become infected with my consciousness, and I would control them like a good monster virus until the body falls apart and milk leaks out their ears. Because all good monsters are secretly out to make you dance and then watch you collapse. It's a rock fact!

What are you working on right now?
A haunted house story! I've always wanted to write one. In some ways, Close Your Eyes is a haunted house story in space. But this next book will be a pure and true haunted house. Grounded on earth, filled with unseen things. Think Hell House, the Haunting of Hill House, Twilight Pariah, etc, etc, etc. But with deep in the blood and bone character development of Virginia Woolf and Faulkner. Where the fear is rooted in the characters themselves, ramping it all up with their little dramas.

Thanks, Paul! 
On the Record
Just watch. And don't forget to listen. And maybe bring tissues.
The Reading Situation

I am still reading An Unkindness of Ghosts, which keeps getting better and better. I'm particular enamored of the semi-episodic fashion in the telling. I'm a bit of a linear girl myself, because hey, it's easier. But seeing how Solomon weaves and winds the backstories of these brilliant characters in with the history of the ship, inclusive of its politics, religion, and society, is really rather breathtaking. 

Here's a particularly beautiful passage concerning one of my favorite characters, Giselle.
"Aster didn't mean it. As much as it frustrated her, she understood the logic of Giselle's psychosis. Everything dies, so exert control by burning it away yourself. Everything will be born again anyway. There's no such thing as creation, merely a shuffling of parts. All birth is rebirth in disguise." 

What I'm Writing This Week

Writing has not been easy these last few months, but I can't say I'm not prolific. My response to stress is usually to write. Which is not to say that the process is easy. 

I am taking a much more humorous approach in choosing Time & Temper. It's a book that doesn't take itself too seriously. New introductions have included manticores, who are apparently pretty universally jerks, and a physician that's a plover. As in the bird. And, of course, he dresses immaculately. Not every supernatural creature needs a glamour, nor do they want one.

Currently I'm getting close to some spoilers BIG STUFF. So this week's snippet is just a bit to make you laugh. Hopefully. Unless birds terrify you. In that case, I'm sorry and I can't help you. You will find my fiction unsatisfying. (And forget it if you don't like squid.)

... She had not anticipated that the bird would be wearing human clothing. When they open the door, the white bird flies to a ready-made perch roughly the size of an average humanoid. This close, Kit can see the impeccable details about the creature: all the patterns on his tiny suit — arabesque if she’s not mistaken — are done in miniature, all the way down to a tiny pocket watch chain coming out of a tiny pocket.

“That is the smallest pocket watch I have ever seen,” Kit says, leaning forward and forgetting all appropriate decorum. 

“My proportions are somewhat smaller than the average clockmaker might be used to,” says Mr. Plover, tilting his head to the side with a gauging glance from his bead black eyes. “But it is functional, I assure you.”

The bird, a literal plover, has a white and black pattern across what plumage is visible so it looks as if he’s wearing a little wig. Kit finds him incredibly amusing, but knows that she’s already been impolite. It’s ever difficult to keep her mouth shut in such situations.
My aesthetic is apparently "neural network makes dinosaurs with book of flowers" right now. This article is just fascinating, and is far better than the horrific images we've seen from neural networks before.

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Natania Barron · PO Box 16293 · Chapel Hill, NC 27516-6293 · USA