"They were found in the graveyard, springing from the decaying bodies of the women deep in the ground, and they were found in the woods, spreading themselves like a rug over the wet earth. The Beauty were small at first but they grew and took the best qualities of the dead. They sucked up through the soil all the softness, serenity, hope, and happiness of womankind. They made themselves into a new form, a new north, shaped from the clay of the world and designed only to bring pleasure to man.
But the Beauty knew form the many experiences of the women that had gone before, that men did not always love what was good for them. Men could attack, hurt, main and murder the things that came too fast, too suddenly, like love..." -- excerpt from ‘The Beauty’
- SEL: You were born in and raised in southern England. Are there fungal horrors in the sea-side town of Ilfracombe that haunt you? Perhaps, you have a different muse from the area.
- SEL: Early weird fiction masters like Edgar Allen Poe, Clark Ashton Smith, and Howard Phillips Lovecraft wrote letters and essays on “Beauty,” and they all generally espouse that beauty is not necessarily within art (i.e., a book or poem), but it is the conveyance of a feeling. Is there beauty in horror/weird fiction? Is there beauty in the repulsive?
- SEL: Do you find “The Beauty” repulsive, beautiful, or both?
- SEL: Do you eat mushrooms?
"When [William] told me of his journey, that was how he finished it--he fitted there. I find this to the strangest of expressions--how does one fit in with other people, all edges erased, making a seamless life from the sharp corners of discontent? I don't find anything that fits in such a way. Certainly not in nature. Nothing real is meant to tessellate like a triangle, top-bottom bottom-top. The sheep will never munch the grass in straight lines." -- character Nathan speaks in 'The Beauty'
- SEL: Your body of work is eclectic, so you seem to defy the limitations of a single genre. What are our muses then? Where do you “fit”?
- SEL: Voronoi / Rorschach test: What do you see? Ok, bear with me since this is question a game/gimmick of sorts, but it may be fun. I wanted to reinforce your “fitting-in” tessellation-metaphor in a fun way. As a scientist who performs image analysis on data, I apply tessellations on photos to quantify things like particle size, or effective densities of microstructures. I took the liberty of using some Voronoi methods (typically applied on images of dispersed points) on an image you should be familiar with (I grabbed it online). Figured it would be interesting if you commented or interpreted this abstract version, and described what you see. There is no intention for any real psychological test, but this exercise may also reinforce your feelings on different perspectives.
**** SIDEBAR: See follow up and image reveal at end. ****
“My name is Nathan, just twenty-three and given to the curation of stories. I listen, retain, then polish and release them over the fire at night, when the others hush and lean forward in their desire to hear of the past. They crave romance, particularly when autumn sets in and cold nights await them, and so I speak of Alice, and Bethany, and Sarah, and Val, and other dead women who all once had lustrous hair and never a bad word on their plump limps...Language is changing, like the earth, like the sea. We live in a lonely, fateful flux, outnumbered and outgrown." -- From 'The Beauty'
- SEL: Love of Language: “The Beauty” and “Peace, Pipe” (provided as a pair in the 2018 edition) both had protagonists with storytelling/journalistic roles which affected greater society. Given your degrees in Theatre, Film and Television Studies. any other media Other Arts, you clearly like the subject matter. Your prose is rhythmic and begs to be read aloud like poetry. Explicitly having your characters take on your persona seems telling. What about language and storytelling compels you so?
- SEL: Beauty and attraction need not be about gender roles, but sexual attraction certainly involves beauty. There are no women in The Beauty, so you literally switched gender-perspective to write on behalf of your characters. You could have reversed the situation and had all the men die instead. Please discuss the creative process while switching gender voices, and the role of beauty in relationships.
- SEL: Can you recommend past and/or future works of yours that would appeal to the weird-fiction crowd?
- SEL: Thank you for writing intellectual fantasy and sharing your creative process! Readers can learn more about her Wordpress.