Saturday, April 18, 2015

Quick Thoughts - Apparently I Write Horror?

Well, it's happened. My story, "Spring Thaw," is up now at Nightmare Magazine. It's…well, I guess it's horror, as Nightmare is a horror publication. Or maybe it's a dark fantasy or dark science fiction. But then, I'm weird about genre so it is whatever people want to claim it is.

This story has a fairly solid origin story, too, which I get into in the author interview for Nightmare only briefly. Basically, I was out on a bike ride with my partner after the worst winter in a long time. And for Wisconsin, that's a bad winter. Nearly record-setting cold. It didn't get above zero for weeks at a time. There was over a foot and a half of snow on the ground for something like three months, which is crazy. It was just so cold that it never melted. And when it did, that's when everyone rushed out to enjoy the warmer weather, and we were out biking. And we saw them.

So many bodies. I think we passed four on the way to the bookstore. And of course my partner had to snag one of the skulls on the way home and ride with it on their handlebars. I could not do that. I am squeamish. But they are not, and so we have a deer skull for…reasons, I am assured. But anyway, the story. I wrote it because I know the cold. Wisconsin winters are no joke and I have this love/hate relationship with winter. It's not the cheeriest of times. So we were out when it was finally warm and I was thinking about spring. About how it's not really about rebirth. I think that's in the story (I don't want to go back and look because fear that I'll see something wrong). But it's about the revealing of what winter has erased.

Apparently this is also a response story to my story that appeared at Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, "Handful of Spring," which also deals with the seasons but in a much different way. I wasn't satisfied with how I had defined spring and winter in that story, so here is this one. Only damned if I could figure out where it belonged. When I was writing I was thinking that what they find in the snow is this creature. This Cthulhu-monster thing that could be alien or could be terrestrial but passed out of memory and geological history. And that, in a way, what they're fining are themselves, for in that frozen intelligence I wanted them to see that maybe it was like them, from some race that had ruined the Earth so long ago that this was the only trace left.

So yeah, this story is something of a global warming story, because that too is nearly seasonal to my mind. The melting polar ice is a sort of spring, further troubling the idea that spring is positive, that spring is beautiful. The spring that melts the polar ice is dangerous. Is serious. And shows that we are losing our respect for the world, for ourselves. That idea that if we respect the world it won't let us down. But we obviously don't respect it if we're just pushing and pushing it. Which is what I wanted that last line to capture, that idea that we have lost our respect for the world, which means we're likely to break through and die, and sometime later all that will remain will be our bodies, our bodies in the melting snow to act as a warning to whatever finds us.

Or something like that. Anyway, that's what I tried to do. Probably I shouldn't try to explain it, because it shows what a crappy job I probably did. And, of course, that it's what I was trying to do does not mean that's what I succeeded in doing. But maybe that will add an extra wrinkle to any analysis of the story. Anyway, thanks for reading!

All the best,

Charles Payseur

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