In co-ordination with the good folks over at EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing—and as a small part of their online event 18 Days of Tesseracts (September 18 to October 7, more information here)—I hereby present Part Seven of the interview series Writing Gods, featuring email chats with a number of the many authors who’ve contributed to EDGE’s newest (and eighteenth[!]) Tesseracts anthology Wrestling with Gods.
Today’s interviewee: David Jón Fuller
David Jón Fuller is a copy editor by day and a freelance writer and editor anytime outside of that. Born and raised in Winnipeg, MB (except for stints in Edmonton, AB and Reykjavík and Snæfellsnes, Iceland), David recently finished working on a retro-’80s hair-metal werewolf novel called Bark at the Moon.
His stories may be found in such anthologies as Guns and Romances, Kneeling in the Silver Light: Stories From The Great War , and Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction From the Margins of History, among others.
How did your story “The Harsh Light of Morning” come about?
It was written as a prequel to my story “Sin A Squay” which was in Tesseracts 17, and as a sequel to “No More Good Indian” which was published in In Places Between 2013. That, and also as a meditation on a quote from the movie Fright Night —the scene in which the lead character holds up a cross and the vampire says: “That only works if you believe.” I wondered about that, since even in past ages a cross or crucifix could mean very different things to different people. I started thinking about the power of belief and how humans take it for granted, and the way we attach meaning to symbols affects our thinking.
What is it about so-called “genre” writing that makes it such an effective avenue for theological discussions?
I think genre stories can tap into what we now call myth. Modern audiences maybe need that little lever to get us out of literalist thinking—as if any fiction, genre or otherwise, is absolutely realistic. I don’t think people treated stories in such a fragmented way in the past; we didn’t have to distinguish between the historical or factual or fantastic to get enjoyment and value out of a story. But since religion and faith necessarily deal with questions of meaning, as I think the really old stories do, and aren’t bounded by what we conceive of as the natural world, I think speculative fiction is aptly suited to tackle similar questions.
Who’s your favourite god?
My favourite is Thor, but I think the best stories in the Norse tales we still have access to are about Loki. If you take them as a whole, you see how problematic but also necessary the Trickster figure is. Loki is at times helpful, indispensable, foolish, spiteful or disastrous. We’re much poorer for all the Norse myths that went unrecorded and were lost.
If you were a god for one day, what would you do?
I’d visit the bottom of the ocean and wrestle with krakens.
When writing about theological subjects, do you ever worry about upsetting someone?
Yes; but not because I want anyone to be hurt or avoid being hurt. I want to make a point or explore something that would prod the reader to consider something about their faith in a new way. If someone reads what you’ve written and is upset, you may have lost the reader and they won’t come with you on the exploration. And really, the best exploration from a story comes in the reader’s mind after they have finished it.
What’s your favourite story with theological over/undertones?
“The Star” by Arthur C. Clarke. I love the way the main character realized that the revelation that strengthened his comrades’ faith was destroying his own.
What’s the best thing about religion?
It can provide incredible strength to people undergoing hardship. That’s hard to overstate, given the horrors people endure. It also forces the human mind to acknowledge that there is more to the universe than we know and perhaps than we can know. It’s not the only way to acknowledge that; but accepting mystery is a big part of religion.
What’s the worst?
When it becomes a hard-edged ideology that encourages people to treat anyone else as less than human. Then it’s a monstrosity.
If it turns out there is one god ruling over all (be it Odin, Dievas, Rainbow-Snake…you get the idea), what’s the one question you’d ask?
“Where did you come from?”