Can you tell me a little bit about the genesis of “The Ash of Memory, the Dust of Desire”?
I wrote it for an anthology of “city horror,” so there was a lot of my fascination with cities and ruined industrial spaces in there, along with a great deal of dream imagery. I don’t usually use a lot of dream material in fiction, but I recall putting some in that story.
When I read the story, I found myself returning several times to the final paragraphs, and wondering what happened next, and whether Jonny was hinting that he was the cause of what happened to Leah. Do Jonny and Cleve’s stories continue, for you, or does the story end there?
I do like ongoing characters, but I don’t recall ever thinking much about those guys again. I remember being pleased with how the story turned out, but it was not a fun story to write. I didn’t honestly want to spend any more time in its world.
Jonny draws a sharp contrast in the story between the realms of the biological and vital, which seem to exist only elsewhere or in the past, and the mechanical, inanimate, and sterile settings of his present, which highlight the collapse of his relationship with Leah. Do you find that setting drives story in your writing, or is it more the other way around?
Character always drove everything for me. A good setting becomes a kind of character, I think.
You’ve recently begun selling some of your work in visual media. How does your creative process for paintings or other visual art compare to writing fiction?
Doing visual art feels a lot more like playing. I’d lost that element in writing, so the painting and collage work have been a lot of fun. I love that nothing in a picture has to make sense or be explained; it’s just an image for the viewer to make what they will of. It may tell a story, but it doesn’t have to.
What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read?
The Shining. Room 217 gets me every time.