Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I Write Weird Fiction

I'm happy to have Canadian author Claude Lalumière. He's the author of Objects of Worship and The Door to Lost Pages. Also, he's the co-creator of Lost Myths. On a personal note, Claude has a glorious sense of humour. I once reviewed his story in Evolve: Vampire Stories of the New Undead and commented that it was a mistake reading it before supper. He laughed, which was exactly the response I had hoped for. 

I write weird fiction.

What does that mean?

Do I write within the genre sometimes called "weird fiction"? What is that, anyway? Trying to define a genre is the stuff of bar fights. I don't want to get into fisticuffs here, so let's just say that my publisher, ChiZine Publications, where my work certainly feels very much at home, describes its books as "weird, surreal, subtle, and disturbing." That could also describe my love life, but let's stick with the writing. Much less messy.

Or does it mean that my fiction is strange? A Goodreads review of my first book said, "Objects of Worship is a collection of 12 short stories. Describing them as strange would be an understatement ... Oddly, the strangeness is somewhat intensified by not being strange to the characters." That last comment ("not being strange to the characters") is important.

What most people consider normal is, to me, profoundly strange, alienating, and disturbing.

Normal is suffering some of kind of bizarre neurosis that causes a belief in a god or gods and, worse, a willingness to kill and/or die in the name of that neurosis. Normal is sexually mutilating children and celebrating it. Normal is ignoring and being complicit in the suffering of animals in factory farms. Normal is continuing to love one's blood kin, regardless of psychological or physical abuse. Normal is limiting someone's rights, even maybe hating them, because of their sexual preferences, gender, language, or ethnicity. Normal is ignoring the systematic destruction of the planet that gives us life in order to perpetuate the obsolete dreams of capitalism. I could go on for pages and pages about what normal is.

All those things that are considered normal? For me, that's the stuff of nightmares. Waking up in the middle of the night and screaming your head off -- those kinds of nightmares.

People often remark that my fiction can be dark and macabre, but I don't see it that way. The way I see it, I'm striving for utopia. I'm shining a beacon that there's hope. That beyond all that numbing, nightmarish normality, there's a potential world of beautiful strangeness where even the most oddball weirdo can feel at home.

But the journey ... yeah, the journey can be dark. The obstacles are macabre and merciless, cruel and relentless. And I don't shy away from portraying the obstacles.

One of the ways I counter the hegemonic oppression of normative society is by presenting strangeness -- the strangeness of my characters, of their worldview, of their environment, of their emotions -- as commonplace, by presenting that strangeness without acknowledging that the way my characters behave, who they are, how they live in the world are anything but normal -- just not the normal most people are used to. Other normals. Different normals. Weirder normals. Non-normative normals.

I fear that, for me, consensus normal will never cease being strange, estranging, and even terrifying. So I make up my own normals.

I write weird fiction, because the various subgenres of the fantastic encourage taking a step back from consensus reality, allow me, as a writer, more so than any other genre, to question every aspect of what is considered normal.

I write weird fiction because I'm trying to reconcile the world with my utopian dreams, and the disconnect between those perspectives is where the weirdness happens.

I write weird fiction because it beats waking up in the middle of the night screaming my head off.

Also, and this is not to be undervalued, I write weird fiction because it's fun.


  1. Hmm, I just might like stopping by once in a while :)

    Weird is my favorite passtime . .


  2. ChiZine, Claude's publisher, is all about the weird!

    We silly Canadians. Always doing what we're not supposed to!

  3. I'm freaked out now. How weird is that!! Very interesting. And so true that it has to be fun, otehrwise why write?