TOD 066 Helen Marshall: Migrating Towards a Weird Future

In this podcast Anya Martin interviews Helen Marshall about her novel The Migration, plus Archival Episode A26 Helen Marshall: Lessons in the Raising of the Monsters in the Basement, Gwendolyn Kiste on Women in Horror Month, and The Outer Dark Symposium 2020 Update. The new interview was recorded on February 12, 2020,  A26 first aired on January 5, 2016, and the segment with Gwendolyn Kiste was recorded on February 19, 2020.

Show Notes

In this podcast, Gwendolyn Kiste joins Anya to talk about Women in Horror Month, including her annual WIHM Roundtable author discussion, plus an update on The Outer Symposium on the Greater Weird 2020.

(0:28:01) Anya welcomes back Helen Marshall to discuss her debut novel The Migration and the state of Weird fiction in a Weird world. Helen chronicles her own migration from Oxford to Cambridge to Brisbane where she teaches creative writing and spec-lit at the University of Queensland, followed by a reading of the opening of The Migration (0:30;45).  Conversation then explores the process she underwent to purposefully craft a genuinely Weird novel, a mode that many have found challenging to take to the long form, including transitioning from a short story writer, exploring and reconfiguring ways to think about death and forms of continuation beyond the overused zombie trope, cosmic horror as a mode to confront anxiety, insect metamorphosis, “Medieval dream vision,” worldbuilding, differences between US and UK Weird, reality becoming Weirder than Weird fiction, climate change, the possibility of hopeful alternatives in horror, writing a book centered around two pairs of sisters, women’s bodies as sites of violence and pain in traditional horror novels, Weird fiction’s tendency towards accommodation versus fixing problems, adolescence and the end of the world, how teaching science fiction has influenced her own approach to creative writing, what she’s working on now (her next TWO novels!), and her recommended authors including Juli Zeh (Empty Hearts) and Christopher Priest (An American Story).

(1:32:50) The episode also features Archival Episode A26 Helen Marshall: Lessons in the Raising of the Monsters in the Basement, which originally aired on January 5, 2016. In this episode, Scott Nicolay interviewed Helen about about her first two collections, Hair Side, Flesh Side, and the World Fantasy and Shirley Jackson Award-winning Gifts for the One Who Comes After, as well as editing the fourth Year’s Best Weird Fiction (Undertow Publications, 2016). Highlights include a certain unencumbered freedom in current Canadian spec-lit, Helen’s unexpected fondness for Robert Aickman‘s “The Swords” and a shared philosophy of endings, as well as Clive Barker, Stephen King, Etgar Keret, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Nathan Balingrud. Helen takes us on a wild ride, peeling back the skin of her imagination including playing with the “rules” of genre, the capaciousness of the Weird, the strange economy of medieval relics, and how personal transitions provoked her to engage the “monster in the basement.” She delves deeply into the archaeology of specific stories and recommends Indian author Indra Das (The Devourers), Gemma Files (Experimental Film), and Nina Allan (The Race).

The Outer Dark Symposium on the Greater Weird is the only annual conference centered around contemporary Weird fiction. Our mission is to foster conversation and connect communities among the diverse slate of creators and audience members under the umbrella of speculative fiction—inclusive, safe and welcoming to women, LBGTQ+, and writers of color. The fourth annual symposium will be held March 26-27, 2020 at Silver Scream FX Lab and Hotel Indigo-College Park. Find out more, including links to purchase tickets, apply for a scholarship that covers the ticket price, volunteer, sponsor, and/or support our Indiegogo campaign, at TheOuterDark.org.

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Additional Links

TOD 028 Gwendolyn Kiste: Quaffing Your Fear Like Fine Wine

The Invention of Ghosts by Gwendolyn Kiste (Nightscape)

Weird Whispers magazine online

“The State of Weird: An Introduction to Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Volume 4” by Helen Marshall (Weird Fiction Review, 2017)

TOD 030 The State of the Weird 2018, A Roundtable Discussion featuring David Davis, Helen Marshall, Stephen Graham Jones, and Sonya Taaffe

TOD 020 Two Weird Panels: ‘Rise of Weird Fiction’ at WorldCon 75 and ‘The Weird in Weird Fiction’ at Fantasycon 2017 (both featuring Helen Marshall)

Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Steven Volk (This Is Horror: Meet the Writer Interview)

M. John Harrison Wiki

China Mieville Wiki

Hyperobjects by Timothy Morton 

Paperback Q&A: Jane Rogers on The Testament of Jessie Lamb (The Guardian, 2012)

Anglia Ruskin Centre for Science Fiction and Fantasy(Oxford University)

An Invite to Eternity: Tales of Nature Disrupted, edited by Gary Budden and Marian Womack (Calque Press)

Malcolm Devlin

Show Credits

Hosts/Producers: Scott Nicolay and Anya Martin

Co-Host, News from The Weird: Justin Steele

Co-Host, Reviews from The Weird: Gordon B. White

Logo Design: Nick “The Hat” Gucker

Music: Michael Griffin


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