Greetings from the Ether,
With Hinnom 008 releasing tomorrow, we thought we’d interview some of the authors involved to help get the word out about their pieces. Join us as we interview S. L. Edwards for the second time, and as we dive into the making of his mammoth poem “The Star Fields.”
CP: For those who may not have read your previous spotlight with G&H, can you tell us a little about yourself? How you came to write weird fiction and poetry?
SL: So, for the fiction the blame rests squarely with my mother. She was the first person to show me that reading could be a luxury activity, and she was a huge fan of Stephen King. I think I knew the summaries of these books before I could read properly. She’s still a big horror fan, and gets a big kick out of my writing.
The poetry . . . that was a bit of an uphill fight. My senior year of high school I had a teacher, Mr. Yarborough, and the two of us just had fights about poetry. I couldn’t stand it! The metaphors, the idea that you could say one thing and mean another. It really frustrated me as someone who enjoyed their fiction based on character and plot. Metaphors were lost on me as a kid.
In college I moved more towards the classics, and really enjoyed Edgar Allan Poe. “The Raven,” “The Conqueror Worm,” and “Annabel Lee” were revelations for me. My favorite poem remains “If,” by Rudyard Kipling.
It really started with “The Raven” I suppose. I also used to write poetry as an exercise in waking up. I’d have my coffee and start rhyming words.
CP: “The Star Fields” is a mountain of a poem with exquisite prose and a story that expands a wide variety of settings and themes. Can you tell us how it came to fruition? What inspired the piece?
SL: All of my best poetry comes from a time in my life where I mostly lived outdoors. I was working in Northern New Mexico, and was just constantly surrounded by these beautiful mountains and skies. I had a lot more time to read fiction, and I wanted to tell a story that would span several different genres. And I wanted a journey that was easy to resonate with, something profound and mundane all at once.
I was in the process of getting my heart broken, though I didn’t quite realize it at the time. And I think a bit of that shows in the poem.
But most of it was inspired by the environment I was in. Those mountains. Those pine trees. There was a certain self-awareness too. I had planned on making a big change, in terms of my career. I knew I wouldn’t be able to live the way I was living much longer. So the personal journey you see in the poem comes from that too, I suppose.
CP: This has been a very productive year for you thus far. What’s the next objective for you as an author? Any new goals you’re trying to reach?
SL: I’ve been peer pressured into considering a novel. I’ve got an idea about it, but I’m keeping my cards close to the chest. Unless you message me on facebook. Then I might tell you everything.
I’ve also got enough stories for a second collection, one based mostly on pulp and classic monsters. Trying to find a home for that one. There’s all sorts of new publishers I’d love a chance to work with.
But my big, life long dream was the collection. And that’ll be something. I couldn’t be happier and more thankful to the people who lifted me up.
CP: Can you delve a little into your forthcoming collection? Anything our readers may not know?
SL: I don’t know? Can I? So that’ll be out next year. It’s got a few stories which I consider my best and my favorites. The title Whiskey and Other Unusual Ghosts, wasn’t a pun like a lot of people assumed.
It was a mission statement.
The best stories haunt us. There are real things out there: moments, feelings. Violence. Especially violence. All of these things haunt us. And they can be more deadly, more destructive than any ghost or demon ever could. Every protagonist in Whiskey is haunted. But you’ll never see a ghost.
CP: Do you prefer writing poetry or fiction more? Why?
SL: Fiction comes a bit more naturally. There’s a process with fiction, a road map and a drive to understand the character you’re writing. When I get in a poetic mood, I’m usually quite manic. I’m running around the place, ridiculous smile on my face, trying to find pencil and paper. I’d have to say fiction, because it’s something I can sit down and control. I’m not sure I can say the same about poetry.
CP: Are there any current authors you really enjoy or find inspiring? Why?
SL: There’s a laundry list.
I’ll start with a friend who I find inspiring: Jordan Kurella. Jordan and I were both part of a cohort of authors from the magazine Turn to Ash. Jordan has been working, she’s been working hard. And it’s paid off in spades. She’s writing weird westerns, she’s publishing in pro markets. And never once has that changed her personality. She is just as kind and open as she’s always been.
I not only admire, but also envy John Linwood Grant. He’s got a control of character and tone that’s damn near unrivaled in modern weird. He’ll be quick to tell you that he has trouble classifying his fiction, but it’s GOOD is what it is! He’s also assembled a few reoccurring writers over at Occult Detective Quarterly who I think are doing great work. Amanda DeWees and Ed Edrelac contribute some great characters to that magazine, and I haven’t read a bad Aaron Vlek story over there either.
Then there’s Christopher Ropes. Chris’ story isn’t mine to tell, but I admire the hell out of him. Not only is his output just astounding, but he is one of the single most friendly people on this planet. Folks who don’t know what Chris is about should read “The Song of my Unmaking” in the first issue of Vastarien. Chris doesn’t always write a lot, but when he does it’s worth sitting down and paying attention.
Current writers who I enjoy. (Takes deep breath). Sean M. Thompson and Jonathan Raab both have this gonzo-horror that I absolutely love. Raab’s Kotto is one of my favorite characters and Sean M. Thompson’s forthcoming Farmington Correctional is an absolutely devastating story that I am honored to have gotten to blurb. Raab’s “Ghoul Mountain” is coming out from Benjamin Holesapple’s Turn to Ash press and (get this) the bastard had nerve to kill me in the novel! As if you could do that to a Texan. Mer Whinery’s close to a Texan. He’s from Oklahoma, and his Trade Your Coffin For A Gun also recently came out, and it is an outstanding demonstration of his talents. A bit more humor than his earlier collections, which I still think are some of the best and criminally under-read collections in modern horror.
I also just read Lynda E. Rucker’s The Moon Will Look Strange. “In Death’s Other Domain” and “The Burned House” are master classes in what a haunted house story can do. “Death’s Other Domain” in particular has become one of my favorite short stories of all time. Up there with “Usher.”
I also had an opportunity to read Orrin Grey’s fiction over the summer. Phenomenal stuff! His new collection Guignol and Other Sardonic Tales is coming out this year, and you can be sure that I’m buying it.
Every time I see Betty Rocksteady’s name in a table of contents I get really excited. I’ve never read anything bad from Betty, all of it’s just great. Same with Matthew M. Bartlett, who’s really just letting us all ride his coattails when you stop and think about it.
Jon Padgett has really struck out on his own. We all talk about his relationship with Ligotti, but he’s really becoming something greater. His collection has been recognized as an instant classic, and every time he comes out with something new I try to buy it. The same with S.P. Miskowski. Every time S.P. talks about a project she’s working on, I want it in my hands immediately. That goes for Gwendolyn Kiste. Her novel The Rust Maidens is coming out and I gotta find a way to get my bank account ready. Gwendolyn has this sort of Neil Gaiman fantasy approach to her fiction. Not to diminish Gwendolyn, Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite writers and I know I’m not the only one who has compared the two of them. It’s one of the highest compliments I can give.
Other than this one:
Nadia Bulkin was a revelation! I simply wasn’t aware you could do that! I read the stories in She Said Destroy with a hand over my mouth, muttering “Oh no oh no oh no” beneath my breath. Her fiction is just such a demonstration of force. I can only compare it to my experience reading John Langan’s Wide, Carnivorous Sky. Those two books are my favorite collections out there right now. Just unparalleled work, stories I go back to as both a reader and a writer.
Finally, there are a few writers who I think are criminally under-read and under-published. John Paul Fitch is a good friend, and I am usually fortunate enough to read his stuff before it goes out to editors. When I first got into Ravenwood Quarterly I thought he was leading the pack of that cohort.
Russell Smeaton’s “The Street” was an instant classic too. As of now the only spot where the story appeared is out of print, but I hope that’s not the case much longer. Russell has a way of balancing humor and horror that speaks to my deep love for the works of Robert Bloch.
William Tea’s another one. He was on “Ten Weird Writer’s to Save Us All” on Silent Motorist Media, and deservedly so. Douglas Draa has done a great job attracting all sorts of talent to Weirdbook (he published my first poem) but William has been a clear standout. Every time we share a table of contents, I’m glad I don’t have to pay to read his stuff. He’ll have a collection out one day, and if he doesn’t let me blurb it I’m going to karate chop him into oblivion.
And then there’s Rob F. Martin. His novella The Dollkeeper was one of the single most devastating stories I have ever read. And credit to Travis Neisler for publishing it.
And of course, my poet parents KA Opperman and Ashley Dioses. They’re kind to me.
CP: We always like to end our interviews with a little tidbit of advice for the many readers who are writers themselves. What’s the best advice you could give to a new author?
SL: Drink plenty of water. Dehydration kills, and the single healthiest thing you can do for yourself is to drink water. 8 cups a day. Be kind, be good and read your fellow writers. They’re your peers. You lift them up every chance you get. It’s the right thing to do.
S. L. Edwards is an author specializing in Weird Fiction and poetry. His works have appeared in Weirdbook, Ravenwood Quarterly, Turn to Ash and other Magazines. He has stories forthcoming in anthologies from Martian Migraine Press, Broken Eye Books and others. With artist Yves Tourigny he is the co-creator of the webcoming “Borkchito: Occult Doggo Detective.”
Find his blog and Amazon author page below:
Thank you so much for stopping by as always. Make sure to check out our new subscription services on Patreon!