Welp, so it’s May, huh? I haven’t posted much here, other than maybe to don a mustache for a bit of fun tribute. So, that can mean one thing, and one thing only: MASSIVE UPDATES!
Ah, but updates on what? For the most part, existence at the Bas Bleu Zombie headquarters has been like this:
Despite 2016 trying to be more of a royal fucker than 2015, or 2013, I have been writing like a fiend. A lot of it has been freelance stuff to supplement my Lush Bath Bomb habit, most of it has been for STEAMPUNK PARIS, and the rest of it is miscellany slowly trickling into the world.
In March, I did a guest blog for Astrohaus, the makers of the Freewrite about the need to unplug, and my Dunhams Manor Press chapbook, THE LAST SESSION dropped to some pretty great murmurs and mentions on Facebook and Goodreads.
And speaking of shouts and murmurs, I was very surprised and pleased that Laird Barron discussed my short story “The Neurastheniac,” in his review of Joe Pulver‘s all-femme-KIY anthology, CASSILDA’S SONG (Chaosium) in LOCUS. He had glowing things to say about the collection overall, calling it “top shelf stuff” and that: “The table of contents is exceptional not for the fact that it’s composed entirely of women, but rather for the high level of quality: Maura McHugh, Molly Tanzer, Helen Marshall, and Allyson Bird, to highlight a handful of the 18.”
Of my weird prose-poem suicide note, he wrote:
“Selena Chambers weighs in with ‘Neurastheniac’. The title refers to a medical condition characterized by headaches and nervous disorders. We already knew poets are a melancholic lot, what with their preoccupation with misery and suicidal ideation; Chambers gives that shopworn conceit jet packs and points it toward an abyss. ‘‘Neurastheniac’’ is a poetic bit of prose that disintegrates into outright poetry. Gorgeous, intricately layered, and extremely strange, this piece may be the blue ribbon exhibit in an exemplary batch.” (Locus, Feb 2016).
I am humbled and grateful!
Do you like FREE FICTION? Well, step right up, as my anti-Orientalist Steampunk story, “The Şehrazatın Diyoraması Tour,” is live and gratis at Hex Publishing’s online magazine WORDS. This story originally appeared in Sarah Hans’ STEAMPUNK WORLD (Alliteration Ink) anthology from 2014, and I hope if you like my story, you’ll check out the anthology as the stories there are phenomenal.
And that’s about all of the madness I can spout without getting a visit from the “Ya-Spoke-To-Soon” Goon Squad.
In the Reading and Growing department, I have managed to squeeze a book or two unrelated to STEAMPUNK PARIS here and there. Perhaps what has most stuck with me this year is Nick Mamatas’ anti-zombie novel THE LAST WEEKEND. I am a sucker for künstlerromans, and this is one of the best out in a while.
Künstlerromans, novels about artistic growth, are one of my favorite genres, and because Stephen King loves them too and has flooded bookshelves and cinema screens with them, there has always been a stigma (in genre, at least) to exploring the creative life within the fantasies. Künstlerromans are not necessarily autobiographical in the sense of memoir, but in the sense of philosophy and poetics. Within THE LAST WEEKEND, in between drilling zombies, are valuable discussions about the state of literature, publishing, and craft all garnered from Nick’s long, awesome career. If you follow his blog, or have read STARVE BETTER, or taken a class with him (see below), you will see extracted from those various avenues’ discourse on the basic tenants of…not necessarily Nick’s view of things…but larger than that…the basic tenants of impulse. Nick has taken his opinions and turned them into a record of not only the decline of modern life but the decline of modern literature and publishing. At the end of it, the question begs, why during a zombie apocalypse, would one isolate one’s self further from society with booze and ink and write something no one may ever read?
For history, duh. For the record. For the individual voice to not die in the rubble, even after its cranium has a peephole. That’s what writing has always been about, the recording of the individual voice for the sake of joining others and forming a unified document of “how it might have been.” Obviously, we know from our swiss-cheese history, the individual voices don’t often make it to the whole, but because they’ve been written, they’re there somewhere under the rubble, just waiting for someone to find it.
That’s what I got out of it anyway. Screw zombies, Nick Mamatas’ THE LAST WEEKEND is a Künstlerroman FTW!
I haven’t really seen an interpretation like this anywhere in regards to TLW, and I have to admit my head may be more craft-oriented with the book because while I was reading it, I was also enrolled in Nick’s ARCHITECTURE OF FICTION course for LitReactor. At the turn of the year, I was feeling a little stagnant in my writing and needed to get back to the basics. Nick’s class was an awesome bootcamp of workshopping, reading, and LESSONS that I highly recommend to beginners and intermediates alike. Despite it being a jam-packed four-week course, Nick was always present and attentive to all the students, and there was never any of this:
Right on. Okay, well, we are now well way into the second quarter and I have a book to write. Allons-y, yeah?