I start off this episode with a shout-out to some awesome author friends of mine who have been doing dynamite work recently: children’s author (and my illustrator for Hello, Halloween) Donovan Scherer; award-winning horror author Matthew Harrill; and hilarious master parodist Paul Erickson. Pick up their books for your loved ones this Christmas!
Now, on to the meat of the show, where I read you the first story from my book Christmas Calamities. ‘The Lost Helper’ tells the tale of a poor elf left behind in a family fireplace on Christmas Eve. Things only get worse when the household children discover him. Will he be able to get back to Santa in time?
Listen in to find out!
And while you’re at it, pick up the book! ‘The Lost Helper’ is only one of several fun holiday yarns therein. It’s inexpensive, easily transportable, and makes a great stocking stuffer. Enjoy!
Enjoy my lecturings! I gave this talk to a group of 9th graders a few weeks ago, and they got a kick out of it (though I think I kind of terrified them). Now it’s your turn to listen in, read along, and enjoy the fun.
And an announcement:
This weekend – Friday, February 27th through Sunday, March 1st – the books below are available for FREE on Amazon. Pick them up!
And for the next five days (through March 4th), the books below are ONLY $0.99!! Grab them as well.
Enjoy the reads, and thanks for listening!
If you do like my books, please review them on Amazon! And if you like the podcast, please rate and review it on iTunes, comment below with what you’d like to hear me talk about, email me at email@example.com, and most importantly, subscribe to the Fun with Fiction newsletter! I’ll send you all kinds of free stuff and good news (but no more than once a week), 100% spam-free.
First off, an announcement: I (your host, Luke J. Morris) will be at Mighty-Con Comic Show in Wheaton, IL this Saturday (12/13/14). The show takes place at the Dupage County Fairgrounds, building 1, from 10 AM to 5 PM. I’ll be selling and signing copies of five of my best books, as well as posing for photo ops, networking with other creatives, and generally nerding it out with all the great fans who drop by my table. So come on out and say hi! I’d love to see you.
Now, on to the podcast.
Happy am I to welcome my best friend and illustrator Mo Simpson back to the show!
This episode is similar to an Eyeteeth outing, in that we talk about everything. Well, almost everything. I think my initially-planned topic was going to be “favorite Christmas movies”, but we never touch on that at all.
We do discuss reality television, the nature of fame, the idea of branding yourself (no, not like a horse), and the benefits and hazards of building that brand. Steven Pressfield‘s The War of Art comes up repeatedly. I point out the similarities between the Kardashians, Honey Boo Boo, and Madonna – using Pressfield’s idea of employing yourself – and your image – as a brand (separate from your true identity as a person).
Mo laments Tim Burton‘s lack of fulfillment on his early, Batman-era promise. Is Johnny Depp to blame for his recent string of less stellar movies?
Mo and I both hates us a poorly-written book. (On an entirely unrelated note, Dan Brown will probably never come on my show.) But we often love bad movies, and we tend to appreciate things that are over-the-top, a la Meat Loaf. See the great Mr. Loaf team up with Michael Bay (and a young Angelina Jolie!) here:
We talk about a lot more stuff in our compact hour, but I’m tired of writing about it. Listen to the podcast!
And once you’ve done that, rate it on iTunes. Please tell your friends about us. Spread the word that Fun with Fiction rocks! (If, y’know, you think it rocks. If you think it sucks, just keep your big mouth shut. Thanks luv!)
As long as you’re here, sign up for the Fun with Fiction newsletter, why don’tcha? You’ll get some great free fiction, and news about upcoming events and things that be going on with the podcast. Don’t you owe it to yourself to know all that?
I met Paul at the Chicago Wizard World Comic-Con last year, where he hosted a panel on “Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing”. We immediately hit it off – both of us being indie authors, native Oak Parkers, and Tolkien geeks. We’ve had several hilarious discussions on Middle Earth and George Lucas, so I was thrilled to finally get one of those talks on the record for you, my lovely Fictioneer. Enjoy it well!
And if you want to pour yourself a tasty adult beverage while sampling this geeky aural debauchery – go right ahead. Paul and I were each indulging in a drink, and I believe it gave our talk a touch of the savoir faire that all discourses of great pith and moment need.
And if you’re in the Chicago area in April, come see Paul (and hopefully me) at C2E2! It’s a blast, guaranteed.
Speaking of blasts, drop by Mighty Con in Wheaton this coming Saturday! I’ll be there selling and signing paperbacks of some of my best books (including the ones below). The whole Parable Comics crew will be there, as well. Come check it out!
Thanks for listening, my friend. Don’t forget to sign up for the Fun with Fiction newsletter to receive some fun free fiction, along with breaking news and updates. And email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or suggestions (including requests to be on the show!).
Of course no discussion of Halloween would be complete without recommendations for great horror movies. Mo and I both highly recommend Cabin in the Woods – Joss Whedon‘s twisted meta-horror take on the entire ‘cabin in the woods’ horror genre. Seriously, even if you’re not a horror fan, watch this movie. It’s so much more than you expect!
Back to books! Mo delves into the mystical creepiness of Aleister Crowley, occultist and contemporary of the great H.P. Lovecraft. Seriously – if you think Lovecraft and his creations (like Cthulhu) are weird, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Crowley is the godfather of magick and the occult movement. Wonderfully whacked out, and frighteningly fascinating.
Our conversation turns well beyond fiction and delves into the realms of religious tradition, philosophy, and the argument of free will vs. determinism. We draw the connection between superheroes and gods, gods and monsters. Examples range from the adolescent wish-fulfillment of Superman to the superhero deconstruction of Watchmen.
Oh – regarding Mo’s top obscure suggestion of the day – click the pic below to get an illustrated collection of some of Aleister Crowley‘s best works – including the Book of Lies, which Mo most highly recommends – for only $0.99!
For this Halloween season Mo and I also recommend our own book, Cthulhu 4 Kids: Old Ones at the Beach! (Totally unbiased recommendation, we swear.) Cthulhu 4 Kids II: A Day in R’lyeh is coming out later this month, so grab the first one today. We think Lovecraft would approve.
And lastly… this conversation isn’t over! We continue our discussion into the Eyeteeth Podcast. Mo and I start that episode with a discussion of troubles going on in the world today, but quickly transition into the much more fun topic of superhero movies. If you like Fun with Fiction, you’ll love this! Give it a listen below, and subscribe to the Eyeteeth Podcast on iTunes. (And while you’re there, don’t forget to rate and review Fun with Fiction. This helps me keep this podcast alive. Thanks!)
Thanks for listening, Fictioneer! Keep on reading, keep believing.
P.S. If you want to meet me, and get gorgeous prints and signed paperbacks of mine and Mo’s books Cthulhu 4 Kids and Tales from the Teeth, come out to Ultimate Con tomorrow! The comic-con takes place at 3601 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL, on Saturday, October 11, 2014 from 10 AM to 5 PM. I’ll be at the Parable Comics booth with some fantastic artists. Hope to see you there!
I apologize for my summer-long hiatus, and I hope you returning listeners will forgive me and stick around for some of the great stuff I have planned. And for you new listeners – welcome! I shall strive to keep you informed and entertained beyond your wildest imaginings. Or somethin’ like that.
To begin with – in order to make up for my fair-but-harsh treatment of Divergent a few months back, I here offer a far more positive, uplifting review of Guardians of the Galaxy – both the movie, and the comic books. They are excellent. Read them. And watch the film (still in theatres, I believe). It’s totally worth it. The combination of humor, action, and pathos is on a par with Casablanca.
Except in space. With a talking tree.
You’ll love it, I swear.
Let me know what you think about this episode! Comment below, email me at email@example.com, and sign up for my mailing list to get the latest news and cool free stuff.
Also, just so you all know, I will be at Mighty Con Comic Show in Wheaton, IL on September 27th (less than two weeks away!), signing books and meeting fans and fellow creatives/enthusiasts of awesome. If you’re in the Chicago area, I’d love to see you there. Stop by my booth and say hi!
Part 2 of my conversation with Mo Simpson starts off on a brilliantly blasphemous note, introducing a neo-pagan interpretation of Biblical scripture and an insane but believable etymology of the word “Hollywood”. Did you know Hollywood, the right arm of the government, was founded by Druids?
You do now. Consider yourself edumacated.
Speaking of Hollywood, we can’t resist discussing the tenuous relationship between comic books and the movies. Just how unfaithful is Hollywood’s recreation of Watchmen? Is Alan Moore right to condemn the medium of film for corrupting the art of the comic?
From there we transition to a discussion of the various film incarnations of a certain nocturnal superhero (I’ll give you three guesses). Who was the best Batman? The best Joker? The best supervillain in general? And the controversial topic of the day – Ben Affleck as the Dark Knight: horrible mistake, or spitting in the face of God?
While we’re on the subject of gods, does anyone else think that superheroes are our modern versions of the ancient Greek deities? (I mean, heck, some of them areancient Greek deities!) I do, and I make my case fantastically, if I do say so myself.
This leads to a discussion of mythology and the necessity of myth in providing meaning to culture. No one recognized this better than J.R.R. Tolkien, who created his Middle Earth to provide a new mythopic structure that Britain was sorely lacking. Granted, he did this in a very Catholic way (see my friend Brad Birzer‘s book J. R. R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-earth for a better understanding of that), but it’s hard to deny the brilliance of his symbolism, no matter what your beliefs are.
We talk about varieties of myth throughout the ages, the benefits of reading The Bible and other spiritual texts as literature (whether or not you believe they are literally true), and what makes myth still essential to the modern man. Calling something a myth, in the traditional sense, is not saying that it is untrue. Myth was rather a way of stating the truth – that is, telling the truth through a story that people could relate to and understand.
People need myths. This is why Nietzsche, anti-Christian that he was, lamented the “death” of God. While Newton’s mechanistic view of the universe might have had the positive result of turning many people away from irrational superstitions, it left a void; it left people with nothing to believe in. Those of us who no longer hold to religion – or no longer hold it as a dominant force in our lives, whether or not we nominally believe in it – must find a new locus of meaning.
Throughout this discussion, Mo peppers us with historical etymologies of numerous terms, including “Lord of the Rings” (Saturn?), “Luke Skywalker” (Horus, Loki, or Lucifer?), and “The Holy Trinity” (um… you just gotta listen to this one). I point out the difference between symbolism and allegory, and Mo adds that his favorite fiction is the real world that we face every day.
That last happens to be my least favorite fiction, as media-fed B.S. is more depressing than enlightening. This is why I read (well, one reason of many).
What do you think? Does myth have a function in the modern world? If so, what kind of mythology do you turn to – religion, superheroes, esoteric theories, or some other collection of weird and wonderful concepts?
Speaking of books, I have a new one out! It’s Captain Napalm vs. the Grungious Gundabad, based on disturbingly hilarious superhero stories I’ve been telling my son at bedtime. The Kindle version is available on Amazon for only $0.99, so if you want to support the Fun with Fiction podcast, pick it up today!
Or here’s an even better option: if you’re into superheroes and sophomoric humor, you’re interested in reading Captain Napalm, and you’re willing to write it an honest review on Amazon within the next month (it’s not a long book), send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll send you a free review copy! (In the interest of sanity I have to limit this offer to the first 25 people who email me, though – so shoot me a message today.)
Thank you all, Fictioneers! I hope you’re enjoying my ramblings. If you have anything to say – what you like, what you hate, what you want more of – let me know. Comment below, review me on iTunes, or just shoot me an email. I’d love to hear from you.
That’s right – Mo Simpson is back on the Fun with Fiction podcast, talking to Luke J. Morris (yours truly) about the struggles of artists, the connection between religious texts and ancient mythologies, the shortcomings of the classical “hero’s quest” version of story, the tenuous relationship between books and the movies (or TV shows) they spawn, and the great weirdness that is Chuck Palahniuk.
This is a two-parter, folks, so don’t forget to tune in next time, when things get even crazier!
After a fun and edifying discussion with Mo and his son Miles, we dig into the heart of it – fun with new art tools, what the Cthulhu 4 Kids project is all about, how to do creative work with a baby around…
And then the fun starts.
Mo goes on a rant – and I mean a passionate, no-holds-barred tear-down (with only occasional edifications from me) – on what’s great about weirdness in art, what sucks about “Modern Art”, and the many ways illustration can be used to enhance a story (or tell a story of its own).
Somehow, we never do get around to talking about our favorite works of fiction. But who cares! The convo is as lively, hilarious, and insightful as ever (as Eyeteeth Podcast listeners would expect). And we have plenty to talk about next time!
Like: What is Mo’s favorite book??? (Email your guesses to email@example.com. Maybe you’ll win a prize if you guess right!)
In this special edition of the Fun with Fiction blog, I, Luke J. Morris, am giving you an episode of my other podcast: Mo Simpson‘s Eyeteeth Podcast, which I co-host. We don’t always talk fiction over there, but when we do – well, we don’t bother talking about it. We make like Nike and just f*ing DO IT.
If you like your fiction in the form of a multi-cast dramatic reading – be that plays, movies, TV, or audiodramas – you will love this.
Unless you hate comedy and Greek mythology. Then you won’t.
Turns out he wrote Clapping because he really likes comedy, and he noticed a dearth of fiction works dealing with the lives of improv comedians. He’d also never written a children’s/young adult book before, and he wanted to try his hand at that. So naturally he penned a 4-part novel about a boy who loses an arm in a horrific accident. The best of both worlds!
(And honestly – if you don’t want to read the book after a pitch like that, why the hell are you listening to my podcast?)
As for 188 – that’s just Drew trying to mess with our heads. He tells 188 stories of 188 words each, but they’re actually the disconnected pieces of 47 stories, which all fit crazily together into one larger narrative. I think he just hates the concept of linear time. But so did Homer, and The Odysseyand The Iliadare still pretty popular.
Drew’s favorite author is Wilson Rawls, author of Where the Red Fern Grows, one of the most painful children’s novels ever written. (Seriously. I still get teary-eyed when I think of it, and I don’t think I’ve read the book in two decades.) It’s beautiful storytelling – with a beginning, a meaty middle, and an end that punches you in the gut hard enough to knock your spine out your back.
In a work of fiction, Drew says, “I want to be transported to a place I’ve never been before; and if I have been there before, I want to learn something about it that I didn’t know before – something that may or may not even be true.” I think a lot of us can relate. Otherwise, why read fiction?
What would you like to see more of in the fiction world? For Drew, “People need to get a lot more weird. And they need to be comfortable with being weird.”
Amen, my brother.
To that end, we discuss authors as diverse as Jack Kerouacand H.P. Lovecraft, with a nice plug for my book Cthulhu 4 Kids – my Batman Begins, as it were. And he raises a few good questions, like: How do you pronounce ‘Cthulhu’? Are there boat tours to the sunken city of R’lyeh? What’s the connection between Lovecraft and Gene Roddenberry? We also discuss Metallica‘s brilliant Lovecraftian tribute songs ‘The Call of Ktulu’ and ‘The Thing that Should Not Be’.
So if weirdness and transport to a new place or new perspective are what’s good, what sucks in fiction today? Drew’s answer: derivative work. Veronica Roth‘s Divergent, for instance, is the latest instance of a formula that was already overdone beforeThe Hunger Gamescame out.
This leads, of course, to talk of Hollywood, and how almost every film released is either a sequel or a remake of some previous work. The upside of this is Quentin Tarantino– one of the greatest storytellers in the medium of cinema today.
Tarantino knows how to tell a story – from quirky badass characters to mucking around with time to leaving the right things out to entice the viewer’s interest – that sucks you in and won’t let you leave till the credits are done. (I use the word “brilliant” about 15 times in about two minutes, but that’s okay, since the subject deserves it.)
But back to the written word…
Drew’s plans for the year – once Clapping is complete – include delving into the Book of Genesisand rewriting the story from an altered perspective. He doesn’t mean to insult religion outright, but he does want to challenge readers to think about deeply held beliefs and ideas in a new way. (And really, look at the source: talking snakes and massive floods and 600-year-old men. What’s all that about, huh?)
Like any dedicated writer, Mr. Flynn is constantly working to improve his craft. To that end, his (and my) advice to fellow authors is to…
Keep writing. Write as much as you can, as often as you can. (Every day if possible.)
Keep reading. Fill your brain with good stuff – the quality of work you’d like to produce.
Get feedback. Have editors and beta readers that you trust read your work and give you their honest reactions to it. What’s good about what you’ve written? Where could it be better?
Use proper grammar, dammit! If you are going to break the rules, make sure you do it consciously, in the right way and for the right reasons.