Sometimes I'm the Asshole, with Damien Seaman (Part One)
Damien Seaman has been busy constructing the ultimate blog on the hows, whys and wheres of writing, and he invited me in to discuss complicity, privilege, wild dynamic pantsing, and small moments of joy.
"Ponder your own complicity," says scifi author BP Gregory
3 April 2019
Author Interview/Indie Publishing/self-publishing, Marketing/promotion, productivity, writing tips
"Sometimes I'm the asshole," she admits. Suggesting this could be why she has such a thing for writing unreliable narrators...
This B P Gregory writes disturbing fiction.
Hard to pin down?
But that’s pretty much her ethos. Genre-defying. Creepy, horrorish sci-fi with an Australian twist.
This B P Gregory is from Australia, you see.
Which explains that latter point.
Her work is often about the evil inside of us.
All of us.
Yes, even you, madam.
No, you don’t have to read between the lines. Not at all. Ms Gregory is quite happy for you to take her entertaining work at face value if you prefer…
No, please don’t mention it.
This is part one of our sprawling interview, which covers why BP writes, what she writers, how she writes, and with whom she writes…
OK, spoiler alert, she writes with her husband.
As in, they don’t write stuff together. But while she writes he’s often in the same room working on something of his own.
Support is important – emotionally and financially.
Indeed, B P points to this as a huge advantage for her.
This is a good interview if you’re looking for tips on how to write when you have to work a day job.
When to write… how to keep motivated… and more besides.
You’ve been self-publishing your fiction since 2012. How would you describe your work? What makes you stand out?
I’m aiming for the perfect storm of skin-crawling horror, wide-eyed science fiction, and fart jokes. I hope it’s the last that helps me stand out. Not irreverence for its own sake, but because it’s so human and relatable to giggle nervously when terrified.
Flora & Jim is one of your most recent novels. It’s quite the nightmarish vision of the future, very vivid. What inspired the story?
Studying archaeology leaves you with a tendency to view any city you’re standing in as transitory. What will it be like, you ask, when this is all over? And I’ve always wanted to write a post-apocalyptic story with the point of view flipped from hero to villain.
I love Cormac McCarthy’s The Road so much; but even when doing terrible things, the heart of McCarthy’s father is so unrelentingly good. Poor, struggling Jim grew from me turning that over in my mind. I didn’t feel such an unforgiving world would allow good people to exist.
You’ve said it’s the book you’ve always wanted to write. But for God’s sake, why? Its vision is so hideously depressing …
That’s the challenge, isn’t it? Asking a question like that opens up a whole can of worms: does a story need to be uplifting? What constitutes a story people would want to read? Who is this audience we’re imagining, when we write?
Personally I find that tragedy adds poignancy to my characters’ brief flashes of happiness. A sad ending doesn’t erase those moments: they existed, in a small protest against despair.
I hope that the comparison encourages readers to reflect on and treasure their own small moments of joy.
Who are your ideal readers?
I’d say people who don’t mind a bit of fun, but are also willing to stretch themselves. Not that there’s anything wrong with light reading!
In 2016 Laura Miller had this great article in Slate called In Praise of Reader Reviews on the equal validity of light and heavy readers (for convenience we’ll ignore that readers often move between the two states).
She warns against trying to sell the reader “… something he has no use for at a price he does not wish to pay.”
Who should steer clear of your work, and why?
I’d be the last person to gatekeep others’ access to content. That said, a co-worker once asked me if it’d be ok for their child to read Outermen and my immediate instinct was, “Oh my, no!”
In hindsight it’d probably be fine if you were willing to answer questions and discuss any content that made your kid uncomfortable. After all, I grew up on a steady diet of James Herbert and Jean M Auel and I turned out fine.
You seem to focus very much on character and on atmosphere in your work. Are these deliberate choices for you? How do you write scenes so that they become suspenseful and intriguing?
Very deliberate choices. I read Bronte a lot in school, and loved the way a character’s psychology would be imprinted on the landscape. I also enjoy Lynch’s ability to induce the protagonist’s distress in the viewer (as opposed to telling a traditionally linear story).
When putting a scene together I try to select language whose etymology contributes to the overall feel … when not busting out the puns, that is.
Enjoy the full interview at damienseaman.com - part 2 of the interview is available here.