One of the things I really enjoyed about editing Impossible Spaces was the chance to work with both established and emerging writers. While some of the contributors have lengthy publications CVs to their name, for some of the writers, Impossible Spaces was their first (or one of their first) publications. It’s a real pleasure to feel like you’ve ‘discovered’ someone new, that you’re working with someone who’s about to start out on their journey to success.
When I first read Laura Brown’s short story, ‘Skin’, I was intrigued. I loved its slipstream quality – the story falls between sci-fi and fantasy in an interesting way – and I loved the story’s premise. The world Laura has created is compelling. It is at once familiar and unfamiliar (as the best fantasy should be), as are her characters. I knew that it would make a strong addition to the collection.
Working with Laura was also a pleasure. Although she told me that ‘Skin’ was her first story to appear in print, she was an editor’s dream! She listened to my comments (even thanked me for them!), discussed them with me where she disagreed, and stayed positive and enthusiastic throughout. Laura’s passion for writing, and the enjoyment she takes in it, comes through so strongly in her story – and today I’ve invited her to share a little of that passion in a guest blog post.
Everyday I’m creating a new story. Even if I’m not writing it down, scribbling a note, typing it up or even sketching its image, my imagination seems to be the driving force behind me. Sometimes I suspect I exist just so it may run rampant. Creativity, be it writing or artwork, is no mere pastime for me, not just a hobby. It is my air. I spend most of my time in a dream, even if I’m just walking down the street.
There are myriad influences and inspirations in this world around me, and I like to sample from any and all that take my fancy. The most obvious are the media that I enjoy – movies, books, comics, music and even videogames. They all have a story and many also strongly appeal to my very visually stimulated mind. The stories of others will always inspire more story-makers.
The next are my extremely vivid dreams. I used to write a dream diary, although it fell by the wayside in recent months. I’m trying to get back into it, as more meaningful and beautiful dreams creep back to me. Some of my dreams are frightening, many are exciting – a lot are exhilarating. I find them all beautiful. I often recount them to others and people find them profoundly strange, but they all seem just right to me! My fiancé once said that inside my brain naturally occurs a rare, potent and natural form of crack and that’s why my dreams are so damn crazy! So many of them have influenced my creative works, and I feel sad when I go through a period where I don’t have memorable dreams.
One of the other things that sparks off an idea for me is kind of odd. It can be an image; it can be a glimpse of something. It usually has a specific colour. It’s often an aesthetic from another media or something like that, which I then try to recapture and re-imagine. Interestingly, this rarely results in a ‘copycat’, but in something rather different. The story that follows is my interpretation of that colour.
Here are a couple of examples. Once, I saw a trailer for a musical show/DVD, which involved a demonic carnival. It set the ideas spinning in my head, and now I’m working through a plot for a novel that involves a circus of lost souls. However, it barely resembles the plot of the original media (and mine has a particularly clever elephant too!).
‘Skin’, my contribution to Impossible Spaces, began life in a very similar fashion. Last summer, I was shopping in Camden, London, and I happened upon a shop called Psylo clothing. Psylo’s style is very earthy tribal-urban-punk, with a lot of ethnic influences. It contrasts quite sharply with the cyberpunk style that you often also find in Camden, which of course, favours a more synthetic, futuristic look. I started to imagine a science-fiction world in which some people were more organic, and dressed in clothes like the ones Psylo sells, and the others dressed in a more synthetic manner. I had also recently been very intrigued by that summer’s blockbuster Prometheus, and aesthetically was also reminded of the artwork of Michael Turner, particularly in his works Witchblade (which involved a living armour) and Fathom. The Ganyx and the Fetyx began to emerge – the Ganyx were earthy ‘organic’ people who dressed in that tribal-punk look I liked, whereas the Fetyx were pale creatures born into protective but restrictive biomechanical suits. From what started as liking certain fashions, a movie, and some pretty pictures in some graphic novels, emerged ‘Skin’.
Creating these worlds is just something so natural for me. I love the fantasy genre, but I frequently branch out into sci-fi and horror as well – I like my fantasy to have a dark tone to it, rather like the real world in that respect. The stories I end up enjoying the most are the ones I have an emotional attachment to, and I always try to inject something that I know, emotionally, into the story. I feel not only does it breathe a life of its own, but then people are more likely to connect with it also, when there is a small beating heart at its centre. I’m willing to bet some of my work is a little outlandish and crazy, but I’d also like to think that it has some real feeling. Writing is just so important to me that it would be somewhat pointless to write without giving the piece a little love and soul. It can sometimes be hard to share that with others (especially if something you loved then takes a rejection), but, ultimately, finding someone who reads your story or admires your art because they get that emotional essence or connection… that really makes it all worth it.
For more information about Impossible Spaces, or to buy a copy, please visit the publisher’s website.