What is it about ghost stories that makes them so timeless, do you think?
I suppose it’s because death is so final and terrifying. Beyond death lies the great unknown (and likely nothing at all), so it’s exciting and scary to imagine what might linger on the other side. And we always love to imagine (and dread) what lurks in unknown spaces.
In “Will You Meet Me There, Out Beyond the Bend?” the Neverman seems to represent hopelessness or nihilism. Depression, perhaps. The characters struggle to cope, to resist surrendering to him and to the notion that the world is a “. . . a vicious, brutal mess . . .” Was this your intention? Is this a theme that interests you?
I started this story with the premise, “What would a ghost be afraid of?” The Neverman came right out of that. Incomprehensible forces are always scarier than ones we can define, so I’d rather let the reader decide for herself what the Neverman might represent. But I will say that a lot of what the Neverman is came from my subconscious fears, and so there may be something to your theory of nihilism. As a general life philosophy, I find nihilism lazy and myopic. To me, it reflects a failure of imagination. However, there is much more to the Neverman than simple nihilism.
You indicate on your website that you’re obsessed with Blade Runner. Were you first in line to see the sequel? If so, what were your thoughts?
I saw a midnight screening of the film on opening night. I went in skeptical, because the first Blade Runner holds a revered and holy status in my mind. Thankfully, I came out happy. The sequel doesn’t just mirror the original, but expands on it in ways that greatly enhance it. The visuals, the acting, the script, the music—it’s all astounding. I haven’t seen anything quite like it. Honestly, it’s one of the best science fiction films—and perhaps one of the best films—I’ve seen in a while.
Your work spans many genres, including science fiction, horror, and fantasy. Do you have a favorite?
These days, I tend to write a lot of science fiction. I’m interested in probing the intersection of humanity and technology. And while I’m generally an optimist, I do have a lot of fears about where our rapid technological advances might lead us. For example, my recent story “Love Engine Optimization” in Lightspeed is really a horror story couched in a science fiction shell. It’s about how we freely give up large chunks of our privacy for the convenience that technology brings, to dire results.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on several short stories and a young-adult novel about emergent artificial intelligence, cults, and high school. I’m about halfway done.
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