Influence, genre and axe murderer housemates: The 7Q Interview with Brian Fatah Steele
Brian has seven questions and I have seven answers!
The 7Q Interview: BP Gregory
January 16, 2019
#1. Looking back, what’s one fiction book that you feel truly made an impact on your writing? Do you still gravitate towards that author?
Oh wow. That'll involve casting my mind all the way back to my share housing days. I'd just moved in with Dave18 and we were negotiating that tender honeymoon period where the booze flows freely, and at two in the morning you're trying real hard to decide if the housemate on the other side of the wall is an axe murderer.
Well one night over gin and candlelight, no less, he goes to his room and reverently retrieves his tattered barely-held-together copy of Mark Z Danielewski's House of Leaves. This thing came into my hands having done hard yards: Dave18 received it via some kind of underground network. You had to turn the pages gingerly lest they escape, and they exhaled booze, sweat, anxiety.
I already had an interest in how psychology impacts environment ever since the fabulously crashing weather of Wuthering Heights. House of Leaves really took it to the next level, turning the psyche of environment around to warp the user. I realized I’d never understood the gravity of inhabit before.
Later an architect nodded wisely as I explained this all to him, and told me he’d had clients design houses that, once built, resisted habitation. No matter how luxurious the proud new homeowner always fled within a year.
I do still gravitate toward Danielewski and read each of his new releases, but I haven’t connected with many of his other works in the same way. I suspect he’s evolving along a different path to where I’m heading, and his novels will ensnare people very different to me.
#2. How do you feel about the use of sub-genres in the industry? How do you describe your work overall?
I guess it really comes down to whether they’re being used for good or evil. Sub-genre can be an invaluable tool for connecting a reader with the right book.
For example I love horror, and sci-fi, Lovecraftian lore, eerie mysteries, and haunted houses. At each of the stops along the way I can find a novel to read, but if we drill right down to a creepy old building with mysterious technology and cultists, bam!, you’ve got Peter Clines’ 14 and it’s going to knock my socks off.
What I don’t like to see is genre used to pigeonhole and belittle somebody’s work. Oh, so-and-so writes bizarro body horror, like that somehow reflects on the author instead of the critic for being an elitist jerk. Most fiction invariably transgresses boundaries anyhow, and we only really pin down one primary genre for marketing purposes.
Overall I describe my work as scifi and horror because that’s the easiest; but a lot of people looking for traditional scifi or traditional horror go away disappointed. What I really do is dissect characters, peeling them apart under extreme conditions to see what makes them tick.
There’s rarely a happy ending that sends the reader off pumped. Instead I use the ending the story was always leading to, the ending that was inevitable ...
Five more insightful questions to go! Read the full interview at Brian's Blog