Interviews

Emerging Canadian Artist Feature: Aramika Kliavin

ECAF Aramika Kliavin Bronze Sculpture

Aramika Kliavin is a twenty-six year old visual artist. She has completed training in Europe and Canada, and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from OCAD University in 2012. She lives and works in Toronto.


Who are the artists/writers that inspire and/or influence your work?

Creative inspiration is magical when you have it and sometimes quite frustrating when you don't. I often find my muse in music or literature. The tune and stories depend on my mood and change with time, but always inspire me in new ways. Auguste Rodin, a French sculptor, has always impressed me and been a role model. Sculpturally, Rodin possessed a unique ability to model the complexity of the human figure. To me his sculptures possess a turbulent and deeply meaningful quality.

What is your artistic process from inspiration to a finished piece? What are your artistic habits?

Usually everything begins with an idea. Only those ideas that stick with me for a while get to see the light of day. In the process of realizing the idea, whether it is a painting or a sculpture, it starts to change and transform into something different. I don't fight this. I allow my creativity full freedom. Very rarely do the initial idea and the final artwork match. As Pablo Picasso once said, “I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else.” In many cases I attempt one idea many times, and sometimes I abandon it if I see that it really switched directions.

What kind of impact do you hope to achieve with your work, and how do you hope to affect your audience?

I believe that the goal of every artist is to communicate through his or her art, whether it is to pass a message, or to share a certain...

Deborah Mills, Woodcarver

Mizrah

An interview with Deborah Mills, woodcarver, whose images grace the covers of The Choir Boats and The Indigo Pheasant

My "Here There Be" series of sea monsters were inspired by Medieval and Renaissance maps. In fact, that project traced a full circle: I started looking at old maps to get ideas for illustrating my husband Daniel Rabuzzi's first novel, The Choir Boats, and I just couldn't get enough of the wonderful monsters roaming them. As I had an upcoming exhibition, I decided to play with the imagery for my own series of sea beasts. Then a couple of years later, ChiZine asked to incorporate one of my carvings into the cover design of Daniel's fantasy novel. So what began as research for Daniel's novel took on a life of its own and then, transformed by the magic of Eric Mohr, became part of the gorgeous covers of the novel and its sequel, The Indigo Pheasant (which ChiZine Publications will publish in September 2012).

Q: How much of your work is commissioned by private individuals and how much by institutions?

A: My commissions are mostly from individuals. Often architects or designers call me to add custom...

Martin Springett

Pattern Scars Illustration - Colour

Our new Art Director, Sarah Ennals, caught up with Martin Springett and discussed his collaboration with ChiZine Publications on the 2011 titles, The Pattern Scars and Napier's Bones.

ENNALS:  . . . You were saying that you did get to read [The Pattern Scars] first?

SPRINGETT: Oh yes, yeah, [Caitlin Sweet] gave me not necessarily an unedited manuscript, because she’d been through it first, and Sandra obviously went and did her thing. So this is what I worked off of. It certainly barrelled along, I loved reading it; and at the end—of course my work day is very flexible—I work when I want, as long as I get the work done it can be at any time of day. So I finished it and sat down on the couch and picked up my sketchbook, and I had, lately, wanted to get into the whole thing of improvising: directly, with a pen, not sketching.

ENNALS: Not using a pencil first, but as they say, “Taking the line for a walk?”

SPRINGETT: Yeah, yeah, “Taking the line for a walk,” and of course, you know, I’ve been scribbling ever since I was a kid so I felt fairly confident, but in this case it was just a matter of “I’ll set down my initial thoughts, my initial little emotive thoughts,” and just strangely enough as I continued doing it, the imagery started to build and build, until everything I did for that book was drawn in an improvisatory way, and with no preparation at all. It was great to do, and at first what I handed to everyone was me saying “These are...

A Devil’s Dozen for Livia Llewellyn

SS: How did you become like this, were you born perversely imaginative or have you evolved that way?

LL: I don’t consider my imagination to be perverse in any way – it is what it is, much like the imagination of most artists. I think many, if not all, artists and creative types are – to steal from Lady Gaga – born this way. But imagination also evolves, depending on upbringing and circumstance. So it’s a little of both.

SS: Actually, I meant ‘perversely’ as in the sense of departing from the expected and accepted norms of what is required.

I have recently become interested in Steampunk. It seems to me to be grounded in very solid, quality ideals of workmanship – somewhat like the multitude of artefacts that clutter and inspire its culture. What is central to your interest in it?

LL: Although I love the costumes and designs that are coming out of the steampunk movement, my main interest is novels and short fiction written with elements of steampunk set in fantastical, non-Victorian (and often non-white dominant) cultures and worlds, or steampunk mashups with other genres – such as Caitlin Kittredge’s ‘The Iron Thorn’, which is an excellent Lovecraftian steampunk dark fantasy set in an alternate, industrialized 1950s.

SS: Do you have a favourite story by H.P. Lovecraft, if so, what is it and why?

LL: I don’t have an all-time favourite Lovecraft story – it depends on what I’m writing. Currently my fiction is very Manhattan-based, so I’ve been reading his NYC stories, such as ‘Cool Air’, ‘The Horror at Red Hook’, and ‘He’.

SS: Some of your writing calls Clark Ashton Smith to mind. I imagine you’ve read him, how did his stories strike you?

LL: I must confess that I haven’t read as much of Smith as I...

A Devil’s Dozen for Richard Farnsworth

SS: In the Geoffrey Household story ‘Taboo’ one of the characters says “I don’t say a man can turn himself into a wolf—the Blessed Virgin protect us!—but I know why he’d want to.” Can you relate to that statement?

RF: My first werewolf was experienced huddled under a blanket watching Lon Chaney Junior’s black and white Wolf Man at the tender age of six. I thought how much better it would be if he could actually be a wolf instead of some hairy guy in need of orthodontic assistance. So yes, the fluid animal movement, the focus on primal issues (as well as the release from ‘modern’ concerns) have always appealed to me.

SS: Hyenas are fascinating creatures. Can you put into words why you are drawn to them?

RF: My first close up encounter with a hyena was less than a foot away through a chain link fence at the research colony housed on UC Berkely grounds. In person they were much more noble than the caricatures that play them. Watching them snap bovine femurs like crackers was also rather impressive. From a natural history perspective they are rather interesting. For my book the hyena also fit so well; a non-Western lycanthrope (Bouda), and the general ‘bad rap’ they get in Western media as skulking scavengers reinforced both the ‘otherness’ and alienation soldiers returning from combat tours experience.

SS: Your Algernon Silence character indicates a nod and a smile to Blackwood, who was an adept writer of the naturalist and Pantheistic spirit story. What appeals to you about Algernon Blackwood’s works?

RF: Oh—I am busted as a reader of the obscure, aren’t I? In general I have only read a few of the John Silence, (psychic doctor) stories, so I don’t feel qualified to really deconstruct Blackwood’s literary contributions. In...

Tom Piccirilli

You've probably heard of showbiz types who were considered a triple threat because they could act, write and direct.

Writer Tom Piccirilli makes those folks look like sad, lazy underachievers. He is what you'd call a Septuple Champion. The title is usually applied to an athlete who has won seven crowns, belts or titles - but in this case, I use it to highlight Tom's seven astounding talents. Over the years, Tom has been or currently is:

  1. A short-story writer.
  2. A novelist.
  3. A poet.
  4. A magazine editor.
  5. An anthology editor.
  6. A blogger.
  7. A social networking pro, with more than 3,700 Facebook friends at www.facebook.com/tompiccirilli.

Tom is the author of twenty novels including SHADOW SEASON, THE COLD SPOT, THE COLDEST MILE, and A CHOIR OF ILL CHILDREN. He has won two International Thriller Awards and four Bram Stoker Awards, as well as having been nominated for the Edgar, the World Fantasy Award, the Macavity, and Le Grand Prix de L'imagination. You can find out more at www.thecoldspot.blogspot.com.

I caught up with Tom in the middle of one of his typically busy weeks, and this is what he had to say...

MM: Let's go back a ways ... What was the first horror movie or TV show that scared you?

TP: Oh, there's plenty of stuff from the early '70s that terrified me. When my father was dying of cancer and knew he wasn't going to be around much longer, he went out of his way to spend as much time with my seven-year-old self as he possibly could. As we both shared a love of the macabre by then, or more rightly, since his love of...

That’s Somebody’s Mother

These days, zombies are popping up in books and movies like wild mushrooms in a forest after a thunderstorm.

Authors are even retrofitting zombies into literary classics – the most popular example being the novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Can Gone with the Zombie Wind and Zombie Quixote be far behind?

Authors are also letting us know that zombies have their sensitive side. In 2009, author Michele Lee's short novel Rot, from Skullvines Press, portrayed zombies as dead persons whose loved ones don't want to see them go. And this year, Dust, a new novel by Joan Frances Turner, forthcoming from Penguin Books, will feature another new take on zombies that shows that they are more than just moaning, shambling brain-eaters.

Like Michele, Joan isn't jumping on the zombie bandwagon. She is creating a more personal vehicle for zombies to drive into the blood-red sunset.

Joan took the time to talk with us about her new breed of zombies...

MM: In a pop culture currently inundated with all-things-zombie, your debut novel is being promoted as a new take on the whole zombie concept. What is your new spin on the ambulatory dead?

JFT: Dust approaches the undead using the three magic words: "That's somebody's mother." Zombies are the monstrous reanimated but they're also our friends, our family, our loved ones, our children, they're not just living dead but our once-living dead and in this story, that matters. The undead have minds and memories, they have a "life cycle" of their own (rot to dust), there are emotional ties between humans and the undead though both sides are also consistently murderous toward one another, and zombies aren't a walking contagion – they've always existed, humanity has always existed in an uneasy...

Interview with Poppy Z. Brite

Q: What is the best part of being a writer?

A: Getting to make a living from spending time with your imaginary friends.

Q: Is it true that you said that the Bram Stoker Awards of the HWA are an "embarrassment." If so, why do you feel that way?

A: I probably said it at some point, but I don't wish to dig up old nastiness. The Stokers don't really mean anything to me one way or the other these days.

Q: Is it true that Courtney Love dropped by at odd hours during the writing of the unauthorized biography and stole a certain blue pill?

A: No, thank God.

Q: Is it true that you keep your pens in a smiley-face mug on your desk?

A: Yes indeed. It was a gift from David Niall Wilson, and I don't know why he sent it to me, but something about it caught my fancy.

Q: Can you tell us a little about the research you did for your new novel Liquor?

A: I already knew the New Orleans restaurant scene well enough that I didn't have to do a lot of research, except about small, technical things like licensing. Of course, I did have a great many restaurant meals that were called "research" for tax purposes!

Q: Your latest book, Liquor, takes place deep inside the restaurant industry. What drew you to this particular world? Did you ever want to become a restaurateur yourself?

A: I've been married to a chef for fifteen years, and had long hoped to write a funny novel set in the New Orleans restaurant world. I remember first thinking about it in 1993 and realizing I didn't know enough about it yet. After several years of hearing stories, meeting characters, and eating meals, I finally felt ready to do it. As for being a restaurateur, no—Chris co-owned a restaurant in Athens, GA several years ago, and I don't...

Stephen Graham Jones: A Cornucopia of Dark Wonders

I first learned of the work of Stephen Graham Jones when my friend and frequent collaborator Michael McCarty told me, "You'd love this great book I'm reading - it's a novel called Demon Theory. It has tons of great footnotes."

I was immediately intrigued: a novel with tons of great footnotes? Wouldn't all those footnotes be distracting? I read the book and Michael was right - it was filled with footnotes that were just as entertaining as the body of the novel.

I starting reading more works by Stephen Graham Jones and soon realized: Here was a man of amazing wit and innovation. Each of his stories and novels are unique and inventive, filled with bright insights and midnight terrors. Truly, he is a cornucopia of dark wonders.

Stephen Graham Jones has a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from Florida State University and is the winner of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, as well as the Independent Publisher Book Award for Multicultural Fiction. He has served as an associate professor of English at Texas Tech University, and is now a full professor of English at University of Colorado at Boulder.

I recently had the pleasure of talking with him, and here is what he had to say.

MM: Your writing is firmly rooted in both literary circles and the speculative genres. And though you have written horror, you are considered a literary author because of the quality of your work and your strong academic background.

SGJ: I'm considered literary still? Kind of sucks. But I understand, I guess. Only one, maybe two of my books are horror, so the scales tip towards that default 'literary' setting. I hope to remedy this soon, though. Oh, and being a professor, teaching in an MFA program, all that, it doesn't help me slouch out from under...

Interview with Stewart O’Nan

Q:Your first book, In the Walled City, was a short story collection. Have you considered doing more short fiction collections?

A: Yeah, I still write stories whenever they come up. I'll even pop one out when I'm working on a novel, and of course Everyday People is a novel-in-stories. I've got another collection's worth of published ones together, but it will probably wait till I don't have a novel ready to go.

Q: Aside from the obvious literary merits, why do we keep coming back to the ghost story? What keeps it viable? Why do we still embrace its hoary old tenets?

A: The ghost story is about loss and desire, and the desire for immortality as well. We all die, we all fear being lost and forgotten, and we all hope, in some way, in some form, to remain here.

Q: How did the Red Sox project with Stephen King come about?

A: We've been going to games together for a while, and last year when they made their charge we were e-mailing back and forth regularly after every game, breaking down the action. Some editors in New York had been after me for a couple years to do a Sox book, and because hopes were so high for the team this spring (and because I'd finished my novel), my agent asked if I'd be interested in finally writing it. I said I'd only do it if I could do it with Steve. Steve was busy (he's always busy—the guy's got more of a drive to write than anyone I've ever met) but said he'd see what he could contribute as the season went along. And it's worked out nicely—been an eventful, winning summer. But, man, have I got a lot more respect for the team's beat writers.

Q: You blurbed the upcoming anthology The Last Pentacle of the Sun: Writings in Support of the West Memphis Three. What attracted you to this case and its...

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