a dark & tasty blog by kl pereira

Monday, July 26, 2010

Where do you find your inspiration?

This weekend I took part in a wonderful poetry retreat with my good friend and fellow poet, Kat Good-Schiff. We'd been planning this for months--two days of focusing on and nurturing our poetic processes in and around the Boston Metro area. We visited many places in hopes of coaxing couplets out of the dark recesses of our brains but the place that proved to be a goldmine for us, in terms of both inspiration and just plain beauty was the Ware Glass Flower Exhibit at the Harvard Natural History Museum.

Caught in a bygone age of Victorian taxonomy, these specimens are anything but boring or stuffy. The life-sized flowers and their magnified stamens, pistils, ovaries, flowers and fruit are so delicate yet strongly sensual and evoke all sorts of responses in nearly every person who passes by their glass casings. I left with two near-complete poems (and a whole lot of ideas).

Don't believe me? Check it out for yourself: The Glass Flowers. While you're there, read Mark Doty's amazing homage to the exhibit. You can find it in his collection My Alexandria.

Where do you find your inspiration? Leave a comment!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

And the call was coming from the basement....

 If you wanted the market on scary, you should have come to my spooky story salon! I hosted a fabulous evening of creeptastic readings at my old Victorian Brothel (it actually used to be a boarding house in the late 1800s) where some of my favorite writers (and a few awesome new friends) shared their favorite scary tales.

The sultry evening kicked off with sexy Sue Williams reading an excerpt from Angela Carter's short story, "The Bloody Chamber". As many of you know, Carter is one of my very favorite writers, and I'm not exaggerating when I say the whole salon was titillated by Sue's masterful reading of this erotically charged reimagining of Bluebeard. (It's always a great treat to hear Sue read anything with that lovely British accent of hers!)

Next we heard from creepy Cam Terwilliger, who read from another classic, Lord of the Flies. I don't know about you, but this book of survival and the deepest, darkest recesses of humanity never fails to give me the shivers, and it was even more disturbing when Cam read it in his tremulous baritone (if you were at the Fantasy salon in April, you know what I mean). We were rapt.

The ghostess with the mostess (a.k.a. me) shared a fun little story, one of the best to come out of one of my favorite mags (Weird Tales) in the past few years.  It's entitled, "Working for our Salvation" and it's written by Trent Hergenrader (check him out if you haven't, he spins a pretty nasty yarn, particularly when it comes to zombies).

Strange Stephen Dorneman (see my blog favorites for more from this awesome guy) treated us to a tale by Saki, the short, yet brilliantly paced and deliciously gruesome "Sredni Vashtar". Stephen also shared a wonderfully funny and disturbing anecdote about a house fire and pants (but I'll let him tell you, since he's so good at it). 

My new friend and fellow Grub instructor, the chilling John Cotter (my apologies, John, I couldn't think of an appropriate alliterative adjective that started with "J") shared what was pretty unanimously voted to be the spookiest tale of the night, Ramsey Campbell's  "The Hands". Word to the wise, kids. Do NOT seek refuge in a British church. Ever. 

Chainsaw-wielding Chip Cheek (in spirit if not in practice, folks) preached on the horrors of hell as he gave a very dramatic reading of the hellfire-and-brimstone sermon in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. We were all roaring with laughter (sinners and heathens that we are).

The night closed with a round-the-room share of our scariest encounters with forces both human and inhuman and all left sated (if not a bit scared). 

A huge thanks to all who read and all who came. We'll be having another salon soon on sexy sci-fi tales (by request). 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Readercon 21: The conference on imaginative literature, twenty-first edition.

 [Readercon gif]
Greetings, dear readers:

I just got back from Readercon 21, the con where speculative fiction writers from the globe over get together and geek out, sharing the best (and the worst, look up the Kirk Poland Bad Prose Competition) of what's out there.

I went with a pretty chill frame of mind; no pushing to meet the greats and spread my card around, just hanging with friends and going to some pretty amazing panels and readings. I find cons (as in both conferences and conventions) can be stressful for the emerging writer. You're told you MUST make as many contacts as possible and do all that you can to get people interested in your work. I've found that this SERIOUSLY takes the fun out of things. And honestly, unless you have a collection or book to publicize, it makes more sense (from my point of view) just to chill out a bit and take in the sights.

So that's what I did. Here are *my* highlights of Readercon 21:

Friday, July 9:

Writing Realistic Speech (with Yves Meynard, Nalo Hopkinson, Barbara Krasnoff, Anil Menon, and Greer Gilman)

This session focused on representing diverse voices realistically in spec fic or as one panelist put it: "word building not world building". For example, representing dialect without falling into stereotype is crucial. Ways to do this? Here are just a few suggestions from the panel that I really liked:
1) The essence of the language must be upheld. To do this, try using expressions but not exact pronunciations.
2) Grammar and cadence MUST BE CORRECT (this is one I come across again and again in poetry)
3) Be very careful of idiom and metaphor (Anil Menon told a wonderful anecdote about a piece comparing the Hindu god Shiva to the sun, which while beautiful, would never happen in Hindi. The metaphors are completely different in this culture and to accurately represent that, we must be aware of these issues).
4) Really pay attention to how people ACTUALLY speak.
5) Figure out the motion of the character to figure out the motion of the language.

The great Nalo Hopkinson (who was also a guest of honor) left us with this wonderful gem:
"Fiction makes more sense than real life...know that you're gonna get things wrong and it probably won't kill you.

Next I sidled on over to The Year in Short Fiction (with Ellen Datlow, David G. Hartwell, Shira Lipkin, and Konrad Walewski) where I not only got great reading rec's (which I will share in another post) but I also found out where these folks are culling pieces for their anthologies, and what they look for when they go through the slush pile.

The New YA Golden Age  (with Paolo Bacigalupi, Judith Berman, Victoria Janssen, Alaya Dawn Johnson, and Konrad Walewski) was interesting and filled me in on some interesting tidbits, like the fact that the YA market has grown 20-25% since Twilight. I'm writing my own YA novel, so some of the questions they posed, hit me right in the frontal lobe (but in a good way). And yes, this will get another, longer post where it can be hashed out nicely (and no I will NOT talk about the reviled Twilight).

The night was capped off by an ASTOUNDING reading by Elizabeth Hand (one of my favorite short story writers), who shared a lively section of her forthcoming book Darkness Awaits (a sequel to her amazing and dark, Generation Loss).

Saturday, July 10:

Fanfic As Criticism (Only More Fun) (with Cecilia Tan, Erin Kissane, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Victoria Janssen, and Ken Schneyer) was wonderfully engaging. I LOVE that these folks are taking this phenomenon seriously while looking at it critically. Some of the panelists are fic authors and they were able to connect the role of fic to the burgeoning writer, namely that fic allows you to write in community, experiment with form, and offer your own critical ideas to a text. I'm not a fic writer (though I've read a whole lot of it) but they had me hooked, particularly when they discusses Joyce's Ulysses being a fanfic of Homer's Odyssey and Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway being a fic of Ulysses.

The other highlight of the day was the 24th Kirk Poland Memorial Bad Prose Competition. I can't rightly do it justice here. All I can say is: "It was a collection of dessicated eyeballs; in it's hands was a terrible battle axe, the likes of which she had never seen."

Monday, July 5, 2010

Lover as Liberator

A recent post by my good friend and fellow poet, Kat Good-Schiff, discussed a Mark Doty reading that she recently attended.

Mark Doty is my second-favorite poet (right behind Ai) and I've had the wonderful fortune to have heard him read his emotionally brutal and beautiful work in person (for more on the reading, check out Kat's post here.) I've also been gifted with the opportunity to take a writing workshop with him (one of the most inspiring and rich workshops I've yet to participate in).

In Doty's recent talk, he ended with the following line:

"His body was one of the doors through which I entered my actual life."

I find the idea of "lover as liberator" a fascinating one.

It intimates (if you'll pardon the pun) all sorts of interesting and compelling ideas on the nature of both the body and emotional intimacy. What happens when you share yourself with someone on a much more than surface level? How are you changed? Is the body of another able to liberate us in ways that we are unable to access on our own, in ways in which we're unable to liberate ourselves?

What is that power that we give another person (or persons) when we give them access to us, emotionally, physically, spiritually? What is its magic?

New Work!

I am delighted to announce that my poem, "Letting Him Slither" will be published in the next issue of Jabberwocky!

I'm tickled pink that such a fine publication (featuring fabulous fantasy writers such as Jane Yolen!) will be featuring my work.

DD readers will note that this is the Medusa poem of earlier post notoriety. See what happens when you persevere over the poem?