Art & Beauty in Weird Fantasy
Erotic Allure of Death (EAD) in which sexual taboos and an attraction with death itself is a focus, and...
Erotic Desire for the Other (EDO) which regards “the desire for that which is exotic, which is foreign or alien to one’s own identity and experiences…it disorients readers; it dissociates them from every other sense of order and brings them back to the level of flesh, the messy flesh” – CAG.
Summary quotation: “Many of the most memorable writers in Weird Tales—Lovecraft, Howard, Smith, Dyalhis, Moore—were master at the art of combining attractive and repulsive elements together in the same scene. They blended beauty with horror, turning the deadly and the alien into erotic.” - CAG
(1) SEL: WF#7 issue is sold out via Centipede press, so I’d like to echo some of your perspective here. Can you paraphrase how some of the masters applied EAD and EOD? Black God’s Kiss and the use of blood were great examples.
(2) SEL; Approach Avoidance is a psychology term mentioned in your essay. Can you explain that convey how writers could use such tension for their own character’s dilemmas?
CAG:Typically, tension in a story is produced by the protagonist wanting something and the antagonist opposing them. For example, a police officer wants to solve a crime and save a victim from impending death while the antagonist/criminal fights the officer every step of the way. The Approach-Avoidance concept adds a deeper layer to this tension. It puts the protagonist into a position where he, or she, is simultaneously attracted to and repelled by the same goal. For example, imagine that the police officer wants to save a kidnap victim, but, at the same time, knows that saving the victim will destroy the officer’s career because of some secret the victim knows. Now, the protagonist faces two obstacles, an outer and an inner one.
(3) SEL: On writing poetic weirdness: You also note that the memorable writers “… expressed it all in poetic prose without becoming either maudlin or prurient.” Writing accessible, poetic fiction is what drew me to you in the first place (see review snippets below). Writing poetically often implies writing abstractly; combined with weird content, this approach risks alienating the reader. Any tips on how to balance poeticism with accessibility?
“Across a snowfield that lies red with dawn, the Orc charge comes. And is met. Axes shriek on shields. Swords work against armor into flesh. The tips of spears are wetted. Gore dapples the snow...” - CAG, Harvest of War
“In the bitter twilight of frost-rimmed peaks, Thal dreamed, the visions crimson with gore. War-horses frothed at their bits, eyes rolling like bloody pearls. Men in bruised armor and torn silks of umber and white hacked each other into ragged scarecrows. Arrows sleeted the sky like sharpened flakes of ice. When it was over the ravens gathered, scarcely moving as Thal rode among them searching. He found [spoiler]’s head on a stake.” -CAG, Bitter Steel,Sword and Sorcery
“By the time gray dawn came creeping like a fog he had mastered himself. He lived in the place that all warriors sought, where death and life and sex and hunger were one. Where you created your own reality and no one else's could intrude. Where you became a god, or a demon. And you didn't care which.”
(4) SEL: Have you ever employed any EAD or EDO in your own writing?
(5) SEL: Is there something you find repellent and beautiful that others may not appreciate?
(6) SEL: Any tips on how to create art that is “dark” yet “attractive”?
(7) SEL: Fine Arts: CAS was a poet, illustrator, and sculptor; many others interviewed by S.E. have other artistic talents beyond writing. Do you practice other arts (Voodoo counts)? If so can we share them (i.e., images of fine or graphic art) or mp3s (of music). If not, which artists/pieces inspire you to write?
(8) SEL: Your wife is a fine landscape photographer, I wonder if you ever wrote about any of her photograph’s subjects/locations? Can we share a photo if so?
|Lana Gramlich Photography|
(9) SEL: You have a personal goal to publish in a variety of genre markets, and have already tackled many (westerns like Killing Trail, Sword & Planet with Talera, Sword & Sorcery and Weird Fiction in Skelos magazine). What is next in queue? And what motivation drives this?
(10) SEL: If you were more juvenile and dressed up on Halloween, which one of your characters would you be? (Thal Kyrin , Bryle, Ruenn Maclang, Krieg?)
(11) SEL: Any new works you can discuss?
Links to SE Reviews/Posts about Charles A. Gramlich:
- Charles Allen Gramlich & SE Lindberg - The Beautiful and Repellent
- Harvest of War - Short Story Review
- Bitter Steel, Sword and Sorcery by Gramlich - Review by S.E.
- Gramlich's Swords of Talera - Review by SE
- Mage Maze Demon - short, pulpy, sword and sorcery
- Skelos Delivers Weird Fiction & Dark Fantasy - Fiction, Essays, Art, and Reviews