Fun with Fiction 27: Literary vs. Popular (Genre) Fiction

What is “literary” fiction?

Per Wikipedia, “Literary fiction is a term principally used for certain fictional works that hold literary merit. In other words, they are works that offer deliberate social commentary, political criticism, or focus on the individual to explore some part of the human condition. Literary fiction is deliberately written in dialogue with existing works created with the above aims in mind. Literary fiction is focused more on themes than on plot.”

What is “popular” fiction?

Also per Wiki, “Genre fiction, also known as popular fiction, is plot-driven fictional works written with the intent of fitting into a specific literary genre, in order to appeal to readers and fans already familiar with that genre.[“

Per Harvey Chapman at Novel Writing Help,

“Literary fiction is more character-driven and less concerned with a fast-paced plot than genre fiction… [but…] Just as the best genre novels are populated by well-crafted fictional characters, so the best literary novels have page-turning plots.”

Exactly. I find this whole distinction suspect. Read Faulkner, then Dunsany. What makes the first “literary” and the latter “genre” fiction? Who’s to say the Faulkner is better?

            

On my bookshelf, Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf sits next to Tim Powers’s The Anubis Gates. Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground butts against Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Identity, Dickens’s Great Expectations shares shelf space with Stevenson’s Kidnapped, Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice kisses up to Ian Fleming’s Dr. No, and the shadow of Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land falls upon Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

     

Here’s the thing: I don’t think any one of these tomes is necessarily, objectively better than any other. I enjoy some more than others, and some I appreciate more at certain times than others (depending on my mental state and emotional mood), but none of that shows that Dickens is somehow more “literary” – that is, of higher quality – than Heinlein. They were both popular authors of their day. They both have something to say, a worthwhile message to pass along. They both use the tools of language and story to convey it. Why do snooty English majors turn up their noses at one, but not the other?

           

Case made. Do you disagree? If so, email me at luke@funwithfiction.com! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

FwF 25: Hemingway’s Cheerful Thoughts About Nothing (and FREE BOOKS!)

Welcome back, Fictioneer!

Today I read and discuss one of my favorite short stories: Ernest Hemingway‘s “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place“.  This tale poses the Existentialist question: What is Nothing, and what can we do about it?

                  

 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 luke@funwithfiction.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.

Once again, don’t forget to:

‘Like’ Fun with Fiction on Facebook.

Follow me on Twitter.

Pick up your free and discounted books, and…

Sign up for the newsletter!

Thanks again, Fictioneer.  Keep reading, keep believing, keep on rockin’.

Luke

FwF 19 – Fighting and Fantasy: An Interview with Orlando Sanchez (part 2)

 

Hola, Fictioneers!  Here is part deux of my fantastic interview with fantasy author and all-around badass Orlando Sanchez.

In case you missed it last time, these are Orlando’s books:

       

And his magnum opus, The Spiritual Warriors (Book 1 of The Warriors of the Way), is being re-edited and re-released in January, with the next two books in the series to follow shortly thereafter.  Can’t wait for that!

As you can probably tell, Orlando likes to incorporate martial arts philosophy into his fiction (whereas I tend to keep them separate).  We discuss how he accomplishes this, making his books read like mystical kung fu films for the modern age.  (Think Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon meets The Matrix.)

We also praise some of our favorite fiction and talk about how it inspires us.  Names like Douglas Adams, Jim Butcher, and Bob Kane get dropped shamelessly.

             

Returning to the writer’s perspective, we talk about how horrible it is to get a great story idea while you’re in the middle of writing another story (I’m sure our fellow writers can relate).  What can you do?  Keep on pushing through, no matter how much your ADHD and self-doubt scream at you to change course.  Remember, though it is art, you must treat it like a job.  And sometimes, jobs just suck.

And the rough draft (a la NaNoWriMo) is just the beginning.

Then comes the editing, and the wretched pain of murdering your darlings (meaning your words, not your children).  As Bruce Lee put it: hack away the inessentials, and let the beautiful tree within flourish.  And in a rough draft, there are a lot of inessentials.  Only once a book has been thoroughly edited and revised is it ready to show to the world.

But you also can’t show it to the world without a great cover.  Sure people say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover… but everyone still does it.  Since the great book cover designer and book publishing/marketing master Derek Murphy introduced us, it’s only fair to give him a shout-out here, as well.  (Derek designed the new cover for The Spiritual Warriors.  Take a look at it in this post’s featured image!)

Yes, all of this is a lot of work.  But hey – no one said writing was easy.  (Well, actually, a lot of people say that – but they’re not writers.)

As stated in the last episode, don’t forget to…

Read Orlando’s blog.

Follow him on Twitter.

Like him on Facebook.

Fan him on Goodreads.

Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Do it.  Do it now.  …  What are you waiting for?  🙂

 Thanks again for listening!  Please email me at luke@funwithfiction.com if you’d like to be on the Fun with Fiction podcast.  If you’re an author, an avid reader, or just someone with an interesting take on storytelling, I’d love to talk to you.

Peace out and read on,

– Luke

[P.S. – I know I say this EVERY time, but I’m going to keep doing it ’til everyone signs up:  If you want some great FREE books, other give-aways, and to hear all the latest stuff going on in the Fun with Fiction world, CLICK HERE.  Thanks!]

FwF 18 – Fighting and Fantasy: An Interview with Orlando Sanchez (part 1)

 

Today I had the great pleasure of talking to Sensei Orlando Sanchez – a fellow independent fantasy author and martial artist with a lot of insight on what makes fiction fun.

Orlando Sanchez

Seriously, we talked for over two hours, and I (devout professional that I am) decided to simply hit the record button in the middle of our conversation – so the “interview” begins with Sensei Orlando in the middle of a sentence about the need for an editor.  Our talk moves on to a whole range of topics, from our favorite authors (including J.R.R. Tolkien and Jim Butcher) to the horrific despair we writers feel when we’re 30,000 words into a manuscript and we positively HATE our novel.  (I blogged about that just yesterday here.)

I’ve had to split this interview into two pieces due to system constraints – but both halves are well worth the listen!  Entertaining and useful information for readers and writers alike.

If you want to try Orlando’s writing out, click on the pics below to pick up these short stories for $0.99 each.  They’re tons of fun.

                       

If you’re ready to dive into the novels (I know I am!), grab these:

                      

And keep an eye out for the newly-edited 2nd addition of The Spiritual Warriors – coming in early January 2015.  (See his Facebook post about it below)

Read Orlando’s blog.

Follow him on Twitter.

Like him on Facebook.

Fan him on Goodreads.

Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Hope you enjoyed this interview!  Don’t forget to tune in tomorrow for part 2, where we dig deeper into Orlando’s own work.

– Luke

[P.S. – If you want some great free books, other give-aways, and to hear all the latest stuff going on in the Fun with Fiction world, CLICK HERE.]

FwF ep 13 – Gods & Monsters with Mo Simpson

Welcome back, Fictioneers!

In this episode of the Fun with Fiction podcast, Cthulhu 4 Kids illustrator and Eyeteeth Podcast host Mo Simpson returns to give us his thoughts on some of the best fiction for Halloween.

Yes, a lot of it appears on Fox News.

But beyond that, Mo has radical recommendations for October entertainment.  (Click on any of the links or pictures in this post to find out more about the item and pick it up from Amazon.)

Mo’s top picks for scary stories include Chuck Palahniuk, Neil Gaiman, and The Walking Dead.

Of course no discussion of Halloween would be complete without recommendations for great horror movies.  Mo and I both highly recommend Cabin in the WoodsJoss 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.

Mo and I each have viewing recommendations for this best month of the year.  His main squeeze is the Walking Dead TV show.  One of mine is John Carpenter’s Halloween – the only ‘slasher’ flick I’ve ever found worth watching.

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.

‘Til next time,

Luke J. Morris

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!

FwF Ep 12 – Top 5 Fiction Authors EVER

 

Hello Fictioneers!

I had lots of fun putting this week’s show together for you.  That’s because this time I lay it all on the line and tell you my top 5 favorite fiction authors ever.

Okay, to be fair, the list is always adjusting, and picking an all-time top 5 is actually an impossible task… but I did it anyway!  Check it out below, and click on the pictures if you’d like to buy the books at Amazon and find out what all the fuss is about.

Also, let me know: do you agree with my picks?  Disagree?  Want to murder me with a hatchet for having such horrible taste?  Who are your top 5???  Comment below, review me on iTunes, and email me at luke@funwithfiction.com to tell me off.

Before I get to the list, though, one quick announcement: I will have a booth at Mighty Con Comic Show at the DuPage County Fairgrounds in Wheaton, IL this Saturday, 10 AM – 5 PM.  If you’re anywhere near the Chicago area, come on out and say hi!

Okay then.  On with the show.

  • I ordered my top 5 mostly arbitrarily, but I can say with near-certainty that my favorite fiction pharoah is and always has been J.R.R. Tolkien.  Author of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and other masterworks, he is the father of fantasy and one of the greatest minds to ever put pen to paper.
  • Next on my randomly-ordered list makes the giant leap from fantasy to sci-fi: Robert Heinlein.  The founder of future history is one of the primary reasons science fiction became a major force in contemporary literature.
    • The greatest American author: Mark Twain.  (‘Nuff said.)

That’s my list!  I call out a dozen runner-ups in the show, and have another hundred that I could add (since truly picking a top 5 is, as I said, impossible), but I’m sticking to my story.   If you haven’t read any of these authors, click one of the pics above and grab it on Amazon (for cheaper than you’d get it in most brick-&-mortar bookstores).  This helps the Fun with Fiction podcast out, and doesn’t cost you a penny more.  🙂

What, you want to challenge my palette?  Bring it!  I’d love to hear from you.  (Also don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter for free books and stuff!)

Thanks again for listening, my friends.  Read on!

Luke J. Morris

 


FwF ep 11: Guardians of the Galaxy, Comic-Con, & Other Awesome Stuff

Hey Fictioneers, guess what?

That’s right – Fun with Fiction is BACK!!!

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 luke@funwithfiction.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!

Thanks all!

‘Til next time… read on.

Luke J. Morris

FwF Podcast 9 with Mo Simpson: The World is the Best Fiction (part 2)

Welcome back, Fictioneers!

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 are ancient 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?

For more such enlightening and lively conversations, catch Mo on the Eyeteeth podcast.  And don’t forget to check out our books Cthulhu 4 Kids and Tales from the Teeth.

[Yes, Cthulhu 4 Kids II is still in progress.  It’s coming, we swear!  Please be patient.  In the meantime, give us reviews for the current books on Amazon, and for our podcasts (Fun with Fiction and Eyeteeth) on iTunes!  We’ll love you forever.]

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 luke@funwithfiction.com, 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.

Until next time – happy reading, my friends.

FwF Podcast 8 with Mo Simpson: The World is the Best Fiction (part 1)

Guess what, Fictioneers???

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!

Fun with Fiction Podcast ep 7 – Divergent: A Dystopia Done Wrong

 

Well, Fictioneers, I confess: I did it.  I read Veronica Roth’s Divergent.  And its sequels.

What can I say?  I love a quasi-dystopian adventure-romance told in the first-person present-tense point of view of a repressed and sexually confused teenage girl.

Wait – no I don’t.  (But if that’s your thing, have I got a story review for you!)

Please, the next time I get such a notion – slap some sense into me.  Before I do something I’ll regret.

I didn’t bother to rewrite my review in pretty prose.    Here you can read my notes for this episode in all their raw glory:

  • My review of the Divergent series (with spoilers!)

o   Why the hell did I read this whole thing? It starts out okay, with an interesting (albeit ludicrous) premise – then goes rapidly downhill. It’s like doing a bad drug, getting hooked, and riding it out even after the high isn’t that fun anymore.

o   Starts out with the “factions” – Abnegation, Dauntless, Erudite, Candor, Amity – a division of society by virtues they seek to cultivate

o   The city is closed. We don’t find out why until book 3. We don’t even know they’re in Chicago until they zipline dive off the Hancock building halfway through book 1. (How do they know the names of buildings & streets in a post-apocalyptic world? How’d all those signs survive?)

o   Turns out they’re all part of some grand eugenics experiment by the government – to correct eugenics experiments they’d done generations before.

o   The U.S. still exists, but we only ever get a vague idea of what the world is like. Apparently, every place is unsafe, and all violence & misbehavior is blamed on “genetic damage”

o   Dystopia done wrong – sending a million & one mixed messages.

  • “We are all individuals.”
  • “Those in power distrust those with ‘flexible’ minds.” (What.)
  • “The truth is dangerous, & some people fear it.”
  • “Revolutionaries can be just as bad as the system they rebel against.”
  • “Life is worth living, & some things are worth dying for.”
  • “In the end, we all have to rely on each other.” (WHAT?!)

o   In short, this is a moral parable that doesn’t know what its moral is. At the climax of the final book it seems to justify essentially lobotomizing a whole city of people because many of them hold a wrong-headed belief. “The ends justify the means,” as it were. Huh?

o   At least it’s not afraid to kill off major characters – but their loss is more irritating than sad. It tries to strike emotional chords, but its whole tone is superficial.

o   Another dystopian YA adventure-romance told in the first-person present tense POV of a teenage girl

o   Difference is, this one has a well-built world – though there are conspiracies behind the scenes that are revealed as the books progress, we know from the outset the general structure of the world of the day, & partially how it got that way. Morals aren’t black & white, but it’s very clear that a despotic regime is to blame for the people’s hardship (this is entirely muddled in Divergent). It’s also clear that a rebellion could result in an equally despotic regime – but this may be abated (for a time) if the people are vigilant

o   The moral parable isn’t black-and-white, and doesn’t attempt to be – but it’s not nearly as muddled.

  • Sometimes you have to kill to survive. Still, you should try to do the right thing, to help people as best you can, even in the midst of a brutal reality (the arena of the Games).
  • There are human beings on both sides of a conflict. The heroine of the Hunger Games series wouldn’t try to justify mind-wiping everyone in the Capital just because she didn’t like their beliefs.
  • Heroism is about doing the best you can in hard situations.

o   It’s not a deep moral tale, though people tend to treat it as one. Still, it doesn’t preach too much, and it knows the story it’s telling – doesn’t get all muddled trying to send a million moral messages.

  • If you want great dystopian lit that passes its moral along beautifully, try:

o   We, by Soviet dissident Yevgeny Zamyatin – the prime inspiration for all anti-utopias to come.

o   George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984 – if you haven’t read these yet, you must

o   Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley – Long before Prozac, there was Soma…

o   To a lesser extent, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale

A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter Miller – not a dystopia exactly, but a good cautionary tale

o   For a more uplifting vision of the future, try Robert Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

  • Now, try writing your own dystopia! It’s fun and easy. Make it 500 words or less, and send it to luke@funwithfiction.com. If I like it, I’ll read it on a future episode of Fun with Fiction, to spread the fame of your name far and wide.

 

FwF Podcast, Ep 5: Interview with Mo Simpson – Storytelling through Art

 

Question for you, Fictioneers:  What are your feelings on art?

You don’t know?

Well, lucky for you, this week’s Fun with Fiction podcast guest is an expert on the subject!

Mo Simpson – host (with yours truly) of the Eyeteeth Podcast, illustrator of Cthulhu 4 Kids and Tales from the Teeth, cover illustrator of 188: Micro-Stories For Your Macro-Brain and Clapping, and designer of the Fun with Fiction graphic you see here all the time – lays out what it’s like to tell stories through pictures.

Eyeteeth Podcast Eyeteethulhu

 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 luke@funwithfiction.com.  Maybe you’ll win a prize if you guess right!)

Check out Mo’s work on his old art blog, Mozarknation.  Also be sure to follow him on Twitter (@michaelosimpson), ‘like’ the Eyeteeth Facebook page, and give the Eyeteeth Podcast a listen (and subscribe on iTunes!).

Morning Jitters 1

And as long as we’re talking about Mo’s work, here’s a teaser for our upcoming collaboration, Cthulhu 4 Kids II: A Day in R’lyeh

c4k2.01add

 Awesome, right???

So go pick up Cthulhu 4 Kids: Old Ones at the Beach, and whet your appetite for more awesome stuff to come!

 And please don’t forget to subscribe to Fun with Fiction on iTunes, ‘like’ our page on Facebook, and follow me (@jeetkuneluke) on Twitter!

Thank you, Fictioneers.  You make this whole game worthwhile.  Enjoy the podcast!

Fun with Fiction Podcast, Episode 4: Interview with Andrew Flynn – Sleepless in Authorville

Hola Fictioneers!  Been reading/watching/listening to some great stories, I hope?

My guest this week is Andrew Flynn, author of  188: Micro-Stories For Your Macro-Brain and the ongoing serialized novel Clapping: Lose An Arm, Break A Leg.  Drew and I discuss those projects, what they’re about, and what the hell made him want to write the dang things in the first place.

No, it’s not drugs.

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 Odyssey and The Iliad are 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 Kerouac and 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’.

We digress briefly to our recent Las Vegas excursion (which Mo & I discuss in more detail in the most recent episode of the Eyeteeth Podcast), and return to topic with the best book to read in the bathroom: The Signet Book of American Humor.

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 before The Hunger Games came 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 Genesis and 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.

Andrew Flynn can be found at www.drewisawriter.comHe loves to engage with his readers and with other authors, so follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/drewisawriter and ‘like’ his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/drewisawriterAnd don’t forget to check out Clapping and 188!

If you enjoyed this interview, and would like to hear more crazy talk about made-up things, please support the effort by buying and reviewing my books at www.amazon.com/author/lukemorrisAlso review this podcast on iTunes, and email me at luke@funwithfiction.com to let me know what you like about what I’m doing here, what you hate about it, who you’d like me to interview, and what else you’d like to hear me rant and rave about in the world of fiction.  (You can also hit me up in the Twitterverse or on the Facebook at www.twitter.com/jeetkuneluke, www.facebook.com/funwithfiction, and www.facebook.com/jeetkuneluke.)

Thanks for listening, my friends.  Happy reading!