Simon Strantzas: “There are no boundaries in horror”
Weird Fiction Review has just published an interview with Simon Strantzas that anybody interested in supernatural horror will surely find worthwhile. Here’s a taste:
WFR: In his introduction to your collection Nightingale Songs, John Langan mentions your shared affection for Ramsey Campbell and Robert Aickman. What in particular do you think draws you to their work? What in their writing do you think most affects your own?
Strantzas: Aickman’s work arguably has had the greatest influence on me, both as a reader and as a writer. His exploration of the unconscious, of the subconscious, is unlike anything else I’ve read. His work is opaque, metaphorical, and begs an understanding of event that moves beyond plot into something more. And yet, despite how cerebral a writer he appears, his fiction is basically of emotion, of bitterness and fear and love and lust.
… There is a rhythm to Campbell’s writing, a sort of lullaby that lulls you not into a dream but into a nightmare. His control of words and their suggestive power is incredible … Perhaps, though, what I like best of Ramsey Campbell isn’t his fiction, but his attitude about the horror genre. He is unabashedly unashamed to be a horror writer, and sees the same endless landscape in the genre that I do. There are no boundaries in horror.
… The writer Richard Gavin once expressed the notion to me that an author of the weird ought to give his life over to it, learn to live every moment of every day as though inside a horror story. Walk down a tree-lined street, and learn to see the menace behind the trunks. See an unoccupied ladder up against a house, and feel the ominous quiet that surrounds it. Leave yourself open to the strange, and soon you will see it everywhere. I feel much the same about the power of weird fiction. Horror fiction informs my life in countless ways, has shaped how I view my very existence. Every weird book or story I’ve read serves only to further bend or twist my outlook on this world and how I experience it. I like to think this isn’t something unique only to me, but instead happens to all readers of weird fiction. We are all simultaneously blessed and cursed by our love for it, and once it has its hooks in us we have no hope of struggling free, even if we wanted. Thankfully, I don’t.
— Adam Mills, “Interview: Simon Strantzas and the Weird,” Weird Fiction Review, August 6, 2012
Simon’s a friend — after a long online acquaintance, I ended rooming with him (and Richard Gavin) at last year’s MythosCon in Arizona, and then had the pleasure of reconnecting with him at last year’s World Horror Convention — and I’ve been very pleased to see his star keep rising. This year, for example, sees the publication of a new collection by him titled Nightingale Songs. At Weird Fiction Review you can read the full text of one of his stories, “Mr. Kneale,” in which he hashes out some of the finer philosophical points in the debate over horror-as-art versus horror-as-entertainment by fictionalizing his experiences at horror and publishing conventions. Do yourself a favor and check it out along with the interview. Both will repay your time.