The picture above is of the four volumes of Andrew Lang’s famous Fairy Tales series, in a new edition from The Folio Society, very kindly sent to me by the Publishing Director David. Gorgeous books aren’t they? I haven’t had time to unwrap them and dig in – but they feel very appropriate for leading up to my fairy-tale influenced story, Boy Cyclops:
I met my friend the cyclops for a drink at a downbeat cocktail bar with damp green walls and mismatched furniture. We went all sorts of places together. Today, he was buying. He’d recently come into some suspect fortune. He was playing tarot on the table nearest the aquarium. It was still light outside, though nearing 11 p.m. In summers in this country, we have extra hours for daylight, which we steal every year from the winter months, like hapless teenagers who think they know what’ll work, what’ll hide the stolen measure of booze this time.
You may have read this when it was first published in August. Now there’s also an interview with me to read, led by Casey Hannan, and featuring what I like to pretend is a parallel universe picture of me. Well, maybe.
I read submissions blind, so it was a nice surprise to find you’d written “Boy Cyclops.” I’m familiar with both your blog and your book reviews over at PANK, but I’d never read any of your fiction.
The fantastic elements in this story are given such vivid and specific imagery that they could be real. A lot of your blog entries depict your very real surroundings. What was it like writing a mythological character so that he could believably exist in similar surroundings?
It’s interesting that you bring up my blog and book reviews here, as it forces me to think how they relate to the fiction writing. I believe that I’m always trying to gather a sense of place together. I move around a lot, and feel the need to ground myself. When I’m reading a book, that’s what I look for—in what ways the author has brought out the textures of their world. The sensual details of place, the richness of the particular. I have the urge to copy that.
My blog contains a lot of pictures, and right now because I’m based in Edinburgh, they’re pictures of the city. In the centre of the city there’s a cliff called Salisbury Crags, which I love for their constant changing with the differences of light. The crags are said to have influenced Arthur Conan Doyle when he wrote The Lost World, his novel about a journey to an isolated plateau populated by dinosaurs and other prehistoric beasts. The hill above the crags, Arthur’s Seat, is named for the mythical King Arthur. In fact, the city itself has been the background for all kinds of historical weirdness, inflecting an oddness to much of the fiction here. The story of “Jeckyll and Hyde” would be another example—based on a real person, Deacon Brodie, who was respectable by day and a violent thug by night. Edinburgh is a city that’s both aesthetically pleasing and a place where the real and unbelievable closely overlap. So in that way, it seems to me that a cyclops could quite easily make his home here.