Saturday, January 23, 2016

Quick Thoughts - Send in the Clowns (part 2)

So Clowns: An Unlikely Coulrophobia Remix is officially available to buy (will be available in print soon I hear) and it features, among a great list of other stories and writers, a piece by me titled "Pushpin and Pullpin." Definitely go and check that out. My infinite thanks go to my partner, who helped me from making a couple of huge mistakes with the story and is just generally an amazing person. 

What follows are some notes on the story, and may be a bit spoilery, but I will try to keep things moderate because I know few people will have gotten their copies so soon. But yeah, "Pushpin and Pullpin" grew basically out of the reaction I had to reading the first Coulrophobia stories and seeing just how much they differed from my first attempt to write a clown flash fiction. As you all have seen the…uh…glory that was "The Thirteenth Sect" (posted on this blog yesterday ago), you know that attempt 1 was…well, a bit more of a humor. Humor action science fiction (because the original call asked for genre mash-ups) and I was channeling my inner April Fool's Day when thinking up that story. 

So yeah, "Pushpin and Pullpin" went in a very different direction, imagining a pair of clowns linked in some disturbing ways. It really started with the names, with the idea that one always acted and one always suffered. Obviously Pullpin was named after the action of arming a grenade, something quite easy, then sort of tossing it to Pushpin and well, it's much more difficult to get the pin back in, so… Once the names were done the rest flowed pretty well (save for a few glaring things that were worked out in revision). In case anyone was wondering, I had like an entire clown lineage for them, from their clown "father" Pinhead to their "grandfather" Pinhole and beyond. It never quite worked to include it in the story though so it got cut. I loved the names, though, because there's so much there, the metaphors quite thick because Pinhead can be evoking the idiocy and slapstick of clowning but also the divine in the angelic head of a pin reference. 

And I guess more than just playing with names, I wanted to get at the cathartic side of clowning. The tragic side. Because that is a tradition that's quite old, that the clown suffers for the amusement of others, that they provide that outlet, that target. That the clown dresses the way they do in some ways to make them different so that they can suffer and people can be comfortable with it, so that people won't see the person but the representation. Sort of how the whole cartoon/Bugs Bunny thing tends to work, that Bugs' opponent is the stooge that we want to see suffer. The stand in for the people we all hate (your Elmer Fudds and Yosemite Sams of the world). So yeah, I wanted to play with that and maybe a little bit with choice as well. 

In truth, clowns do kind of freak me out. I grew up on the Bozo Show (was even in the audience when an infant, though obviously I have no memory of this), but I do find the idea of clowning kind of unsettling. So hurrah, at least these calls gave me ample opportunity to explore that side of me. Hurrah I say! But if you have the time/money, do consider buying the book. Unlikely story does amazing work and the original Coulrophobia issue was great and reprinted in its entirety here with so many more stories! So many more! And one by me! Thanks for reading! 

All the best, 

Charles Payseur

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