TOD 074 Craig Laurance Gidney: Dreaming a Weird that Shimmers

In this podcast Anya Martin interviews Craig Laurance Gidney about his novels A Spectral Hue (Word Horde, 2019) and Hairsbreadth (Eyedolon/Broken Eye Books, 2020), plus Archival Episode A14 Craig Laurance Gidney: Writing the Beautiful Mess. The new interview was recorded on June 17, 2020, and  A14 first aired on October 6, 2015.

Show Notes

In this podcast Anya welcomes back Craig Laurance Gidney to discuss his novels A Spectral Hue (Word Horde, 2019) and Hairsbreadth (Eyedolon/Broken Eye Books, 2020; support their Patreon to read this serialized novel). The conversation begins with Craig’s experience living in Washington, D.C., in a time of pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests. Craig then reads the opening of A Spectral Hue (0:11;11) and delves deep into the creative process behind this groundbreaking Weird novel. Discussion includes the book’s roots in his fascination with Outsider Art, the transformative beauty of The Weird and creating art out of trauma, why traditional cosmic horror from the white cis male gaze doesn’t scare him, the muse as intrusion, his passion for writing and art that is ‘a beautiful mess’ and ‘dream logic’, a non-Western perspective on the trope of ‘possession’, threading memory and ‘tasting’ words, writing process as ‘mosaic’, leaning into The Weird as character, a new story featuring Emily Bronte, color and Tanith Lee, Leonora Carrington, and Mervyn Peake, as well as why it’s not necessary to have closure in endings. The dialogue then shifts to Hairsbreadth in which Rapunzel meets Black Girl Magic including incorporating African-American folklore such as the boo-hag, affinity with Victor LaValle’s The Changeling, finding a Weird community, and a recent abundance of Weird fiction journals including soon-to-be-launched queer flash fiction journal Baffling which Craig is co-editing. The interview closes with  news and  his recommended authors including Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown, Patricia McKillip’s Riddlemaster series, and Head to Toe by Joe Orton.

(1:15:39) The episode also features Archival Episode A14 Craig Laurance Gidney: Writing the Beautiful Mess, which originally aired on October 6, 2015. In this interview with Scott Nicolay, Craig reveals pivotal early experiences at Clarion West 1996 and studying under Samuel R. “Chip” Delany in college, as well as his passion for the work of literary titan Tanith Lee. The discussion then shifts to his anthology, Skin Deep Magic (Rebel Satori Press, 2014), including writing about Richard Bruce Nugent, a gay figure in the Harlem Renaissance, being inspired by Nina Simone, and the influence of Aimé Césaire, surrealism, and the Négritude movement in Francophone literature. Craig  explores lucid dreaming in The Nectar of Nightmares (Dim Shores, 2016; ebook here), writing in the ‘Beautiful Mess’, engaging with racist imagery and ideology, why he feels it’s okay to like problematic fiction—including HP Lovecraft—as long as you don’t deny the problem, and horror and The Weird as intrinsic to the experience of African Americans, women, and other liminal groups. Also covered are his thoughts on the rising boom of diverse writers in fantastic literature, the often overlooked gay Weird and why everybody should read Queers Destroy Horror!, and reading recommendations including Tom CardamoneChesya BurkeAmanda Downum’s Dreams of Shreds and Tattersand Tanith Lee’s posthumous collection Dancing Through the Fire, which has a theme of coming to peace with death, and A Different City, ‘classic top-notch over-the-top gothic goodness’ set in Marseilles.

The Outer Dark Symposium on the Greater Weird is the only annual conference centered around contemporary Weird fiction. Find out more at TheOuterDark.org.

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Additional Links

The Last King in Scotland (2006) trailer

Those Bones Are Not My Child by Toni Cade Bambara 

TOD 066 Helen Marshall: Migrating Towards a Weird Future

Roger Cardinal (Obituary, ArtNews.com)

Meet Henry Darger, the Most Famous of Outsider Artists, Who Died in Obscurity, Leaving Behind Hundreds of Unseen Fantasy Illustrations and a 15,000-Page Novel

Dahlgren by Samuel R. Delaney (review by David Soyka; SFSite)

Kelly Link

The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson (African American Literature Book Club)

The Painted Word by Tom Wolfe

Madge Gill (artist)

The Secret Books of Paradys by Tanith Lee (review, Black Gate)

Was by Geoff Ryman (review, LA Times)

Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson

The Great Dismal Swamp (Smithsonian magazine)

Misty of Chincoteague (true story, Smithsonian magazine)

TOD 057 Home Is Where the [Cosmic] Horror Is Panel at HPLFF 2019 (featuring interview with Brooke Warra)

The Naked Wytch (Brooke Warra soaps Etsy page)

teri.zin (Twitter)

Nino Cipri

Lovecraft eZine episode

Evil in Technicolor, ed. Joe M. McDermott (Vernacular Books, October 2020)

Sea, Swallow Me and Other Stories (Lethe Press)

Bereft (review, Lambda Literary)

Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia

Wandering Spirits: Traveling Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein by Selena Chambers

More THE OUTER DARK episodes featuring Craig Laurance Gidney:

TOD 054 Her Own Dark Mythos: Tanith Lee Panel at NecronomiCon 2019 (includes intro interview with Craig and review of A Spectral Hue by Gordon B. White)

TOD 063 Dark Matters: Weird Fiction from the African Diaspora and Chesya Burke Reading from NecronomiCon 2019

TOD 055 The Outer Dark Symposium, Part 4: No Man’s Tale Panel 

TOD 046 The Outer Dark Symposium 2019, Part 1: Friday Night Readings

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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