Jim Freund: Welcome to another edition of OMNI Visions. Tonight's guest is Elizabeth Hand, author of Glimmering. Howdy, Liz!
Liz Hand: Well, a big Liz's Room Howdy back to *you*, Jim.
JF: *slow blush and broad grin* Great! So while I've now read Glimmering, is there a brief way you can describe to our teeming masses? (Yes, my interview style is needfully different here than when you were on my radio show.)
LH: Oh, yes: describe the book in five words or less. Well, how about as a sort of pre-game show for the Apocalypse? It's 1999, everything that's already going wrong Right Now, in Real Life, is *still* going wrong, only Much Worse. The ozone layer has disintegrated, knocking out global communications. Terrorism is rampant. Ditto wacky killer viruses et al.
All this is filtered through 2 POV's: those of Jack Finnegan, a 40-something gay man with AIDS, and Trip Marlowe, a Christian alternative rock star (yes, there is such a thing).
Anyway, Jack & Trip's paths cross, the world ends (or doesn't). Pulling the strings for Jack & Trip & the other characters is Leonard Throp, a "sociocultural pathologist" whose been described by eviewers as "Warholian," but who was actually inspired by Robert Mapplethorpe, a character who really intrigued me.
In short, GLIMMERING is basically a It's The End Of The World As We Know It, And I Don't Feel So Hot sort of book. It gave me the chance to toss all of my latent and not-so-latent paranoia about the way things are screwed up, into a single novel. Mmm mm, good.JF: Living here in New York City, it didn't seem paranoid at all. :-) I suppose from the point of view in Maine, though...
Have you been pleased so far with the notices for the book? It's certainly being displayed prominently in the NYC stores I haunt.LH: I'm glad it's taking up a lot of bookstore space in NYC. SO far the reviews have been very good, except for Kirkus, which seemed to regard it is a sort of depressing romp. And it appears to be doing well in urban centers -- NYC, San Francisco, Boston -- where it's probably filed under Current Events and not Science Fiction.
JF: Hmm... I wonder if there's a correlation between writers who frighten us and Maine? At any rate, it's clear that this book is not written solely from a rural point of view. Have you lived in places that helped spawn this vision?
*tap* *tap* Is this mic on? Testing.
Well, it's my guess that we have lost Liz for the moment, and this being a *long* distance connection, problems can happen... But I hear a knock at the virtual door--it's our producer!
LH: Well, Jim, JUST LIKE IN MY BOOK something went terribly wrong there, and I got bounced of avec a Server Error message. Now I think I'm back. Sorry. So no, the mike wasn't working.
Ellen Datlow: Yo. Hi. I suspect Liz got knocked offline temporarily.
JF: AgreeMsg. Hopefully if we shoot the breeze for a bit, she'll re-emerge. You game to be interviewed?
Ellen Datlow: Liz, you can't type more than about 8 lines at a time or that will give you a "server error" message--that may be what happened.
LH: You wondered about rural life: one thing's for sure, there is a dearth of local internet access. Our local telephone company (Lincolnville Telephone, a teeny weeny Baby Bell) is still staffed by the same little old ladies who used to stick the wires into the holes in old movies. Only now they presumably stick computer lines into the grid.
JF: It boggles the mind to think of trying to get online and having your Service provider say "Number Puh-Lease"
JF: Perhaps we should change tack?
LH: The up side to all this is that they're very nice down at Lincolnville Telephone when you're late with the bill. I can't imagine ATT calling and reminding me, in a sweet Maine Ayuh accent, that $$$ is due.LH: You're the boss, kemo sabe. I'm not used to these late hours.
JF: I know you're working on another novel right now, but I'm wondering if you have any short stories in you begging to be written?
JF: Late night? But you were fine the other week at 5:00 AM. (Hey folks, that's when my radio show starts.) (BTW, Liz, let us know if/when the time of day is getting to you.)
LH: I do actually have several story ideas that I'd like to work on. The problem is that I write very, very slowly, and I don't really write short stories; I write novellas, or novelettes, or noveleenies. So between novels and the usual spate of reviews (and the occasional media tie-in, because Baby Needs Shoes), I don't get stories written, certainly not as many or as quickly as I'd like.
Ellen Datlow: Liz, I have a question. What made you move from the very futuristic worlds of your first three novels to the more contemporary worlds of *Waking the Moon* and now *Glimmering?*
JF: That seems to be a concensus among many writers, and from the reader point of view it's too bad, since I enjoy shorter works as well as novels and epics. You mentioned tie-ins--Have you done any besides Twelve Monkeys? (BTW, if one writes tie-ins, it must be nice to get a property like that as opposed to Independence Day VI or something.)
LH: I just completed the novelization for the pilot of MILLENNIUM, the Chris Carter show. And am contracted to do a second book for the second season. Yeah, definitely better than doing ACE VENTURA:NATURE CALLS II.
JF: I'll sit back for a mo' so you can respond to Ellen.
LH: And of course, there are so few fiction magazines left now Ñ if one is a full-time writer, you can't begin to dream of supporting yourself by writing short stories. Once upon a time, if you were prolific enough, you could at least augment your income that way. Not anymore.
JF: It's really a shame. Seems like there should be a way to subsidize short stories. (and keep the digests alive)
JF: (Message to all: We have now opened up the forum for audience participation. If you would like to join in, exit the forum and reenter so you'll have a dialog box which lets you enter questions. Please don't forget to sign your messages so we know who you are.)
MarkW: Elizabeth, I've been a fan and a vocal advocate of your work since I read WINTERLONG, which affected me with the intensity of a lucid fever dream. I've since read AESTIVAL TIDE, ICARUS DESCENDING and WAKING THE MOON. In the WINTERLONG cycle you handle a number of literature's Grand Themes (madness, desolation, despair) very deftly, but after finishing ICARUS DESCENDING, I was left with several burning questions, chief amongst which was: Was Araboth actually Houston? LOL..actually, I wondered if the figure of Death in WINTERLONG was at all influenced by Delany's ambulatory archetype in THE EINSTEIN INTERSECTION.
JF: Mark, funny you should mention Delany, cause I got sort of a Dhalgrennish feeling through some parts of Glimmering. Something about the landscaping, I think.
LH: Araboth was actually a little south of Houston Ñ Indianola, to be precise, a Texas city that was actually destroyed twice my hurricanes (and subsequently rebuilt). A haunting place. One reason I switched from more traditional sf to a contemporary setting is that I find it exhausting, sometimes, to write "real" science fiction...
MarkW: I salute you for not succumbing to the call of science fiction's Pollyanna siren. IMO the genre has traditionally been a bit too naively optimistic. I think that the skeptical pessimism of the Romantics should be acknowledged frequently in speculative literature. BTW, I eyed women skeptically *and* pessimistically for months after reading WAKING THE MOON.
LH: ... the importance of plotting & technical stuff detracts from what, to me, is the most important part of writing, which is character. Yes to Mark W & Jim: there's definitely a nod or 2 to Delany in my work. I wasn't conscious of the Einstein Intersection construct, but only because I read that so long ago. Dhalgren: absolutely
MarkW: I've yet to read GLIMMERING, but I'm looking forward to it.
I'm a native of the D.C. area and I think that has something to do with the reason I find your imagery in WINTERLONG and WAKING THE MOON so effective. You seem to have a love/hate relationship with D.C. Is that specific to D.C or cities in general?
JF: Liz, what other writers would you consider (or did you consciously nod to) your antecedents?
Guest: Liz Can you give us a hint of what your next novel is about?
JF: I suspect the operator at Lincolnville Baby Bell may be asleep at the switchboard again--hang in there.
JF: (We are nearing the end of the chat, but given the technical difficulties, I want to hang out long enough for Liz to answer your questions.)
Ellen Datlow: I'm afraid I just heard from Liz and it turns out her com- puter doesn't have enough memory and Netscape crashed her computer--twice since she's afraid of destroying her computer she logged off. What she can do, is e-mail her answers to your questions to me and I'll post them in the archive during the next day or two.
JF: I guess that will have to call it a night. Thank you all (and of course, Liz) for coming by, and don't forget to check back to see the answers to your questions. Good Night.