Wednesday 4 May 2016

Interview with Claude Lalumière #FaeVisions

This month sees the release of Fae Visions of the Mediterranean, the latest Publishing anthology, featuring 24 stories and poems of horrors and wonders of the sea. Two of these stories are by Claude Lalumière, one a modern and playful mythography, the other dark, alien, inhuman love story. We asked Claude a few questions about his work.

Claude Lalumière ( is the author of Objects of Worship, The Door to Lost Pages, Nocturnes and Other Nocturnes, and (forthcoming in 2017) Venera Dreams. He has edited fifteen anthologies in various genres, including Super Stories of Heroes & Villains. Originally from Montreal, he's currently headquartered in British Columbia.

TFF: ”The Dance of the Hippacotora”/“El baile de la Hipacotora” is an irreverent and absurdist retelling of ancient myth in an Iberian setting. What does the story mean to you?
Claude Lalumière: For a time, I was writing an online serial of fake mythology called Lost Myths. A few of those texts wound up in my collection Nocturnes and Other Nocturnes, but the bulk of them, including "The Dance of the Hippacotora," is destined for what I hope will be my fifth book, whose current working title is Cryptomythologies.

The two main elements that fed into the creation of this particular Lost Myth are my lifelong passion for Greek legend and my love of Barcelona, whose vibrant La Rambla and its delightfully strange and playful living statues found their way into the story.

"The Dance of the Hippacotora" is not a retelling of myth but rather an exploration of a different type of narrative than contemporary fiction. It's an attempt at writing myth rather than fiction, which flexes different writing muscles entirely.

“Xandra's Brine” is a very different story, full of quiet menace and unsettling sensuality, tracking the shores of the Mediterranean before plunging triumphantly into the icy depths. Where did this story come from?
Venice (photograph © Claude Lalumière)
The details of the Nice sequences are culled from a brief stay there back in 2006. The setting of Venera is largely inspired by Venice (with hints of Rome and Barcelona)—I first conceived of Venera while on the vaporetto in Venice. Over the past decade, I gradually aggregated Venera stories until I had a full book of them: Venera Dreams, which is coming out in 2017.

Do you feel a connection with the Mediterranean Sea?
Ever since my first childhood encounter with the Atlantic Ocean—by far, my fondest childhood memory—I have been obsessed with the sights, sounds, and smells of saltwater. When I finally made it to Europe in 2006, there was no question that I would prioritize the Mediterranean. It never occurred to me not to. So my trip was mostly taken up by the Mediterranean Sea: Bari, crossing the Adriatic by boat (twice—from Italy to Greece and back again), Athens, Venice, Nice, and Barcelona. On that trip, I composed one story with my feet in seawater, on the shore at Bari ("The Sea, at Bari") and another at sunset staring at the sea from the Riviera in Nice ("She Watches Him Swim"). I return to the Mediterranean as often as I can, both in real life and in my imagination. It's the body of water that I am the most drawn to.

What sort of chimera would you choose to be, or to create?
I've created so many! The hippacotora is one of my favourites. Another favourite is the alien/werewolf hybrid in "Roman Predator's Chimeric Odyssey."

What would it take to make you leave everything and run, empty-handed, to the other end of the world?
The loss of my spouse, Alexandra Camille Renwick.

Would you rather be on a ship that is about to leave or that is bringing you home?
One that is about to leave. I'm always ready for a new adventure.

What attracted you to speculative fiction in the first place?
The potentiality of unlimited imagination. The fact that it is, at its best, the ideal genre for subversion and for challenging notions of consensus reality, dominant worldview, hegemonic culture, social conformity, identity… for not assuming or presuming that the norm is necessarily normal, good, or desirable.

Do you have any other stories immediately forthcoming?
New stories: "The Quantocorticoid Effect" in Albedo One #46 and "The Patchwork Procedure" at Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Also, "What to Do with the Dead" (which is, like "The Dance of the Hippacotora," a Lost Myth) will soon be republished at Tabulit.

Thank you, Claude!

Claude Lalumière’s “Dance of the Hippacotora” and “Xandra’s Brine” can both be found in Fae Visions of the Mediterranean.

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