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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Interview: Christopher Barzak on the Appeal of the Surreal

Aqueduct Press
ISBN: 978-1-61976-014-1 (13 digit)
Publication Date: 8/1/2012
(paperback) 96 pages

Q: From the first story, your vision immediately enthralled me: a woman who makes birds, a man who catches stars, a girl with a mission to protect an egg and a tree growing out of her head. What attracts you to such visions?

Barzak: I'm interested in dream imagery and visions from the subconscious mind. I always have been. There's something about surreal imagery and visions that is fresh compared to so much of fantasy iconography that has become encoded by the fantasy writing and art industry's iconography. I'm not excited to see paintings or stories about elves or dragons very much, unless they've been incredibly rendered in some way that I may not even recognize them as such. Likewise with the tradition epic fantasy worlds that are lush and green and heavily mountained and rivered, etc. They're pastoral and that's fine, but they're sort of nostalgic in a way that bores me. I find the freshest fantasy I read or see is non-conventional, non-traditional, because they haven't been assimilated into popular culture yet, defined and made easily accessible in regard to what they mean. As a writer, when I originate or work with someone else's personal fantasy iconography, it's a way for me to explore that imagery rather than to employ it in the conventional way that the fantasy genre tends to take pre-fab settings and situations and characters and employ them to do what they've unfortunately been used to do over and over already, like windup toys.

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