Monday, June 12, 2023

Q&A with Craig Clevenger

From my Q&A with Craig Clevenger, author of Mother Howl:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

When I first began work on the novel, Stephen Graham Jones, Will Christopher Baer and I were a virtual trio of sorts; we had separate web sites that we linked to a shared readers’ forum (this was before social media as we know it today). Stephen had just released Demon Theory and Chris was neck-deep in Godspeed; I wanted a title that bridged the two, and came up with Saint Heretic. But the story was still forming in my mind, and forcing a title to create some sort of verbal triptych felt misguided in the end, so I abandoned it.

But my usual obsession with names, identity and memory kept bleeding through as the story took form. While I’m not religious, there are elements to the old and new testaments that I find quite poetic: creation as a product of god not only calling things into existence, but naming them (yes, I’m aware there are different translations and even more interpretations)… “…he called the light day and he called the darkness night.” Then we go to John in the new testament, where ‘god’ and ‘word’ are one and the same. So this notion of naming and the power of naming took hold, and gave me a way to present the two main characters.

When Icarus first appears, his name is the first word in that chapter, and the first word he speaks. And in imagining how a newly incarnate celestial being such as Icarus might view the world (and everything else), my crude knowledge of physics crept in. Icarus sees all of creation as variants of a wavelength, so references to sound and light occur throughout the story, particularly sound. This underscores the idea that these two characters are each creations of their own doing, such as when Icarus speaks his own name as he takes form during his freefall… not a messiah, but still “word made flesh.”

Lyle is at the story’s center and appears first, but his arc—his self-creation—is gradual. Unlike Icarus, Lyle...[read on]
Visit Craig Clevenger's website.

Q&A with Craig Clevenger.

--Marshal Zeringue