Selena Chambers

Writer. Editor. Throwback Surrealist.


March 18, 2014

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So my iPad flips things….

I read Nick Mamatas’ LOVE IS THE LAW in one sitting, and have been mulling over what to say about it for months. This book– just like Mamatas’ other books BULLETTIME, MOVE UNDER GROUND, and all of his short stories–stick with you. I don’t think it is because of off-beat characters or novel mash-up concepts, all of which are very good, but it is the authenticity of the voice he uses.

Dawn (the LITL protag)’s voice is so authentic that what I have been preoccupied with since reading it is whether to believe her or not. Obviously, the unreliable narrator is a trope of confessional stories, but what makes Dawn interesting is her voice reminds me of a certain kind of conviction found in sociopaths, schizophrenics, and religious zealots. They believe what they perceive, and don’t even consider convincing anyone of the truth (usually) because they see it before them–the truth is already there. You don’t see it, but they sure do, and they develop a genius for describing and understanding it.

Have you ever spoken to someone convinced of their beliefs?  For example, someone who says they talk to God, and further more God responds.  When I ask people what this is actually like—do they really have JC or Yahweh on speed dial?–the explanations are always different, and are always found in the reading of the mundane. A sign can be two missionaries approaching a farmer on his land just as he prayed to God for some extra hands, or words that unfolded from the unconscious brain lobes like a fortune cookie. One woman I’ve met who claimed herself a medium told me you could invoke spirits of loved ones (even living ones) by imitating their mannerism until the mannerism became natural….

And I believe all of them. I don’t believe that circumstances are what they think they are, but I believe they believe it is so.

I don’t get this conviction from other dubious narrators I’ve read in the past. With characters like Bateman and Humbert, I feel like they are just screwing with the reader. I feel like Dawn sincerely wants you to know her tale, as delusional as it may seem to us on the outside.

And whether we recognize it or not, we all talk a little crazy. We all read the world formed by our own language. For example, Freedom is a concept like Magick—who is to say either or both exists or don’t—we make them exist by transmuting the abstract into the concrete—we believe.

So, the book made me think about that, and I thought that was pretty cool.

I also really liked the juxtaposition of socialism, punk, and Alistair Crowley not because it is novel, but because I think that is another truth to the character and about any individual belief system. We’re all mash-up characters. A person is composed of her own private belief system comprised of myriad ideas.  Having a complex and polyamorous marriage of ideas and beliefs is what makes us complex and hard-to-pin down creatures.  For some reason, it is almost impossible to write characters true to life because of this–it is believed readers want it short and simple. But Dawn has a very developed conviction and it makes her background and psychology quite complex among fast-paced plotting.

So, I have done something that I have been avoiding for a long time: I am giving writer advice. I have (mostly) operated under a Scarlett O’Hara-like edict that I’d rather let my blog die (which many of my blogs have) than add more white noise to the writing advice/writing life feed.  Mainly because most of my experience has been trial and error–a …

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io9 reviews THE NEW GOTHIC

io9 ran a great review of Stone Skin Press’ THE NEW GOTHIC, edited by Beth Lewis, and features a grunge-nightmare by Jesse Bullington and me called “Dive In Me.”  The reviewer Ed Grabianowski said this about our tale:

“Things get off to a terrifying start with Jesse Bullington and S.J. Chambers’ “Dive in Me.” It pushes so many horror buttons, from the crushing insecurity of youth to the simple fear of drowning, and it builds to a stunning climax, the kind where you’re sort of breathlessly turning each page as your eyes gradually get wider and wider. This one will stick in my head for a long time.

It’s no insult to say that no other story in the book quite reaches the heights of “Dive in Me,” because it’s that good.”

 

February 19, 2014

Sleepy Selena wants to share a thing before she slips off to miscount sheep. Stone Skin Press is excerpting “Dive In Me,” a story Jesse Bullington and I wrote about growing up SO(thern) GOTH and grunge in the 90s. It is the opener to THE NEW GOTHIC, edited by the awesome Beth Lewis, and is on …

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Some months are quiet, and others are very loud with announcements and such.  In the later case, those are often broadcasted reactively as they happen, and get lost in the shuffle of all the other news-bytes out there.  So, I thought an end of the month summation would be a nice way to compromise the …

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Let’s face it. It’s Friday and your mind just isn’t on your work. Let me offer you some time-passing and hopefully enlightening distractions via F. O. Friday. Seriously, browse all you can, because days of Internet goofing-off at the office may be over.  That’s right, the FCC executed net neutrality last Tuesday, and there have …

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