Thursday, February 16, 2012

Interview with Caitlín R. Kiernan

Science fiction and dark fantasy author Caitlín R. Kiernan has a new comic available in April. Dark Horse is publishing Alabaster: Wolves based on the stories of monster hunter, Dancy Flammarion. We were fortunate to interview International Horror Guild Award winning author Caitlín R. Kiernan. Check it out below.

Variant Cover Art by Michael Avon Oeming

1) Who were some of your influences?  
CRK: Too many too mention, honestly. And it’s made more complicated by many of those who  have influenced my writing coming not only from prose fiction, but always film. But, quickly, off the top of my head – and sticking to prose – I’m going to name Peter Straub, Harlan Ellison, Angela Carter, H. P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, and William Faulkner. It’s a weird mix. 

2) What are some of your favorite books/comics? Do you have a favorite right now? Do you have a favorite character?  
CRK: Right now, my favorite book is David Petersen’s Mouse Guard. And I’m a longtime fan of Mignola’s Hellboy. And pretty much anything by Alan Moore. Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman was sort of my gateway drug into comics, way back in 1988 or so, and it’s still very dear to me. Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles. I’m a great enthusiast of Charles Burns’ work. Black Hole was truly, truly brilliant. Great stuff out of France, of course, especially Jacques Tardi’s Les Aventures extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-Sec. As for a favorite character, I don’t know.  I honestly don’t. I’m more apt to follow a series for it’s author than any one character. 

3) Has your work as a paleontologist influenced your writing at all?  
CRK: It has, yes. But that’s something you see more in my prose fiction – say my second novel, Threshold, and a lot of my short fiction – than in my comic’s work. Mostly, it’s given me a certain perspective on time, what geologists and paleontologists call “deep time.” Time that reaches back much farther than recorded history. I tend to think in tens, or even hundreds, of millions of years, not in decades or centuries. Too few people do this. 

4) You have written papers, books, and comics, is the writing process different for each and if so, how?  
CRK: Yes, obviously. A lot of the difference has to do with discipline and economy. I’m not sure the scientific papers are even relevant here. That’s all about methodology, format, highly structured arguments, etc. But in the novel or short story, I have the luxury of so using as many words as I need to communicate a story to my readers. And I may have very definite images in my mind that I’m trying to communicate, but, ultimately, it’s those readers who have to translate my words into images. Whereas in comics, I have to pare the prose down to the barest minimum. As I was working on The Dreaming for DC I learned this. I really learned it too late. But now, with Alabaster, Iknow it. And it’s not just that I’m writing for the reader, the dialogue and captions the readers will see. I’m also having to write all that behind-the-scenes stuff for the artists. I’m having to work with them to make concrete images that, in prose, I’d largely rely on readers to create for themselves. 

5) What is one of your favorite characters you have ever written and why?  
CRK: Well, in comics, that’s definitely going to be Dancy Flammarion, though, of course, I actually created her long ago in a novel and then in a series of short stories. Otherwise, my favorite character of my own creation, that’s the protagonist of my latest novel, India Morgan Phelps – or Imp – from The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, my latest novel. As to why,  I can’t say why. That would be almost as hard as explaining why I love a real, living breathing person. 

6) We love the teaser image of Alabaster: Wolves, can you tell us a little about the story?  
CRK:  In some ways, it’s a story that will be familiar to anyone who’s followed Dancy over the years. She’s driven by an angel – who may be real and may not be – to slay monsters. Alabaster: Wolves, it’s sort of a reboot, so this isn’t exactly the same Dancy from my prose stories. She’s older, for one thing. But there are allusions to the short stories, all the same. Anyway, here she’s come from rural Georgia to a ghost town in the bayous of South Carolina that’s been gripped by a plague of werewolves. Only, as we learn, the werewolves are only the tip of what’s wrong with the place. Here’s this old evil. This very old evil. And she has to face it. Also, for the first time, she finds herself with companions, which really shakes up the old dynamic of the Dancy short stories. 

Cover Art by Greg Ruth

7) What do you want the readers to know about Alabaster? 
CRK: Beyond what I said above, I don’t know. It’s a complex story, with complex characters. Much more so than it might appear from simple synopses. Oh, I hate synopses. Of anything. It’s a story about characters, as much as it is about events. It’s a story about strength and weakness, sanity and insanity. Ultimately, it’s a story about coming to terms with who and what you are and aren’t. It’s about decisions and consequences.

Thank you to Dark Horse Comics and Caitlín R. Kiernan for this opportunity. 
We look forward to reading Alabaster: Wolves in April!

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