Writer Wednesday: 10 Questions with Claude Lalumière

1. In Door To Lost Pages you play with the idea of stories and books that are lost, no longer accessible to the average reader. If you were going to write a definitive tome on a strange subject, one that would be removed from the world but still talked about in myth and legend, what would it be about? I would write a secret history of religions that never existed, including detailed descriptions of sacred rituals, exhaustive listings of every pantheon, and synopses of sacred texts. And not just of human religions. Those of dogs, birds, alligators, lions, dinosaurs, trees, amoeba — everyone’s. From the beginning of life on Earth to the present day, and maybe beyond.

2. You’ve edited several anthologies and you’ve also written for collections of short fiction. How does editing help you as a writer, and how has writing for anthologies helped you when putting one together yourself? Thinking about and discussing fiction and the mechanics of fiction helps my mind get to and stay in story-generating mode, so editing, which involves a significant amount of back-and-forth with writers about craft and mechanics, is a good way for me to maintain that sometimes too-elusive story-generating state. But I don’t think having had stories of mine appear in anthologies affects in any way how I go about editing anthologies. However, having read a great many anthologies over several decades has given me definite ideas and opinions about the flow and composition of an anthology.

3. Your Lost Myths show takes the act of reading stories to an audience, which authors often do, and elevates it to a performance with sound, light, and art. What have you learned from that experience and what advice would you give to authors who are reading their own work in public? The most important thing I’ve learned with my Lost Myths shows is that, as wince-inducing an experience as it might be sometimes, it’s very useful to listen to a good recording, or better yet to watch a video recording, of your performance. It’s the best way to keep making small adjustments that enable you to hone and perfect your delivery. I’ve given a lot of thought to how to best present my readings, even my regular, non-enhanced, non-Lost Myths readings. Readings have something of a bad rep, when they could and should be fun for both the audience and the performer.

Here are some of my thoughts:
Continue reading

You Should Read: THE DOOR TO LOST PAGES, Claude Lalumière

I’ve previously read/recommended Claude Lalumière’s OBJECTS OF WORSHIP, which was a short story collection pulling together work he’d had published in various anthologies and magazines. You can read my review here. While I disliked a few stories, I absolutely adored some others, and looked forward to reading more of Lalumière’s work. I bought the epub of THE DOOR TO LOST PAGES from the ChiZine site, and then did what ebooks are designed to get us to do: I bought the print version at Readercon a few weeks ago. Yes, I now own two different versions of this book, and ChiZine Publications has gotten my money twice. Why?

THE DOOR TO LOST PAGES is described as a collection of short stories, and it is. However, it’s more like a mosaic novel than a collection of disjointed work. Each tale moves forward chronologically, revealing the future history of a young girl and a magic bookshop that is only sometimes there. With each new story, she grows older, learns more, shows us more about her world, and we are pulled into it a little farther. This is a collection which I liked more and more as I read, which I have to say is a nice feeling, because too often collections put their best pieces at the beginning and end and then the middle drags. LOST PAGES gets progressively better and better, with no drag or drop. My favorite story is the last one, where we see the bookstore from a vastly different perspective: the author’s. It’s a weird and quick-moving tale about the choices we make, to stay happy or to be writers, and I found it completely engrossing. I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in mosaic novels done right, or weird tales about bookstores, books, and monsters.

Also, it helps if you like dogs.

THE DOOR TO LOST PAGES, Claude Lalumière. 224 pages, ChiZine Publications, 2011. ISBN-13: 978-1926851129

Readercon 2011 Recap: Thursday / Friday

The drive up to Boston was easy and uneventful save for the sudden realization that I was actually driving through the Bronx. That wasn’t clear from the directions, which essentially said take 95N from NJ to Connecticut, so you can understand why the first time I drove over the George Washington bridge and into the Bronx I was a little surprised. I stopped in Orange, CT, for breakfast at a place called Chip’s Diner, home to some pretty good buttermilk pancakes. That was my halfway point, and the rest of the drive was pretty but boring. I found the hotel with little trouble, got checked into my room, unpacked my suitcase, fell onto the big, fluffy bed, relaxed in the air conditioning, and very nearly fell asleep.

That would have been bad because I was due to pick Don Pizarro up from the airport an hour later. Logan Airport was only 12 miles from the hotel, but I wanted to be early if possible so he didn’t have to wait. Plus, Bart Lieb needed Don to read at the Broken Slate/Crossed Genres reading Friday night, so he insisted that I get up. I shared the elevator back down to the lobby with another woman – we looked at each other, said, “Readercon?” and both nodded. “I’m going to the gym to try to bike off this headache,” she said. “You?” I told her I was off to the airport. “Oh, at this time? I’m sorry,” she said, as the doors opened, and we waved our goodbyes. I wondered at that, got into my car, and for the first few miles I made good time. Switching onto 93 for the other 9 miles of the trip left me in dead-stop traffic. It ultimately took me 50 minutes to travel those 9 miles, by which time, Don’s plane was due to have landed. I finally pulled in, and called – no answer. I got into the terminal, since I had his flight info I knew where I was supposed to be, called again and … no answer. I checked the Starbucks (we’re writers, of course we gravitate toward coffee and wifi) but no luck. Called again and found his plane had arrived late; he was just getting off it now. Perfect! I wasn’t late after all. We found each other easily after that, got back to the hotel faster than I’d made it out to the airport, and after dropping his stuff off, made our way to the hotel bar.

My room was near the Con Suite, which was not, as directions would suggest, out the 6th floor window.

I did mention that we were writers, right?

Continue reading

Readercon, The Loot Edition

While I let the rest of the weekend tumble around in my head until a reasonable con recap post can be put into words, I’ll start you off with the small pile of wonderful things I brought home with me:

  • John Kessel’s THE BAUM PLAN FOR FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE AND OTHER STORIES – I first read this collection last year, checked out from my local library, and adored it. I was pleased to find a reasonably priced SIGNED paperback in the dealer’s room; was more than pleased to meet the man himself at the Pros(e) party too.
  • RIGOR AMORTIS – You might remember that I have a story in this little anthology of zombie erotica. I’d forgotten my copy but got one from the thoughtful Kay Holt, who’s also in the book. This meant I got to have her, Lucia Starkey and Don Pizarro sign it for me.
  • Postcards and flyers for various cons I want to attend and books I want to buy.
  • THE HOMELESS MOON 4 – A free zine being passed out at the con
  • OBJECTS OF WORSHIP – Claude LaLumière’s great collection, which I’ve already read and reviewed. I got this copy for a friend who (at the last minute) couldn’t make the con, and he was gracious enough to inscribe it for her.
  • Elizabeth Hand’s ILLYRIA – I am not too familiar with her work, but it’s been recommended to me, and I was at a few panels she was on, so I wanted a place to start. I found this lovely little hardcover in the dealer’s room.
  • Harold Waldrop’s novella collection OTHER WORLDS, BETTER LIVES – I saw him read two stories of his on Saturday night, and got to have a great conversation with his publisher about this book and the state of Waldrop’s sales in general. Bonus: this book is SIGNED too.
  • Claude’s DOOR TO LOST PAGES – I’d bought the epub, read it (review to go up soon) and wanted the paperback. He signed this one too, and it’s all mine!
  • Crossed Genre’s Issue 19: Gadgets and Artifacts – Bought because Don Pizarro’s got a story in this issue that I love, and that I got to hear him read aloud during the CG reading on Friday night. This brings up an interesting point about writers you get close enough to that you’ve mutually become part of each other’s lives: what happens is, we become slackers. I bought it with the intention of getting Don to sign it, and since we spent the whole weekend together, I didn’t think this would be a problem. I knew where to find him. Presenting him with it, and a pen, he opened it to his story, poised the pen over the page and  … stopped. “I need to think of the right thing to say,” he said, and handed it back. Yes, I understand, the pressure of not wanting to sign something dumb to people you’ll see over and over again. But … did I ever get it signed? No, no I did not. My advice here kids is: smile, be patient, but don’t let them leave til it’s signed.
  • Readercon 22 program booklet – lots of cool info I didn’t have time to read at the actual con (given out free with my badge).
  • Dec 2002 Locus – there was a stack of free, older, issues of this magazine and I grabbed the China Mièville issue. I love his writing and even though it’s an older interview, I’m sure there are things to be learned.
So much to read. And I have to tell you about the panels I went to, the people I hung out with (which, in my opinion, made the con as amazing as it was), the readings, the food, the … Readercon-ness of it all. Soon, I promise.

Readercon: And so it begins …

I am at Readercon, having arrived yesterday, in a blur of driving and more driving and being stuck in traffic and short on sleep and I ended up passing out at 9 pm. This morning I’ve had a lovely breakfast and am now sitting in the first panel of the day. There will be con recaps throughout the weekend, as often as I feel like paying the exorbitant fee for daily Internet usage, but for now – I am having such a lovely time.

And the con is just getting started.