I have been reading short stories by Gemma Files in various Canadian SF volumes for a few years and was excited to pick up her novel A Book of Tongues a few weeks ago. After reading it and seeing the poetry of her language and engagement with the mythical, I knew that she would be fascinating to interview. I hope you enjoy our interview on Thursday December 13th and, if you haven’t had a chance to read her work yet, you can find out more about Gemma Files at her websites https://sites.google.com/site/thegemmafiles/ and http://musicatmidnight-gfiles.blogspot.ca/ .
In addition to writing, Gemma Files has an incredible amount of life experience from working in a diverse number of jobs including the Canadian film industry, working as a security guard, and as a film critic. This life experience is probably part of the fascinating alchemy that allows Gemma to create such fantastic works of SF. Anyone who describes horror as “comfort food” is definitely someone who I couldn’t help but be fascinated to talk to.
If you haven’t read A Book of Tongues yet, you can check out my review that will be appearing tomorrow.
Here are some highlights from my upcoming interview with Gemma Files:
Gemma Files: “My earliest memories are of telling myself stories about characters I particularly loved from the books I read”
Gemma Files: “While my content may indeed graze some pretty gross stuff, what I’m after overall is a sort of poetry and high drama, a creeping dread and emotional punch, a love of language rooted in the appreciation of the odd.”
Gemma Files: “The idea often seems to be that by consuming horror, you’re damaging yourself somehow, stamping out your softer feelings, making it impossible to get the same charge out of milder stuff. I don’t believe that, however, any more than I believe consuming romance either develops or retards a reader’s understanding of love—entertainment and experience are two completely different things.”
Gemma Files: “Horror makes us think about things we’d often prefer not to, like mortality, impermanence, responsibility, randomness, the darker emotions we all share—to look at these things head-on, consider them and then realize they’re neither the be-all nor the end-all of human existence.”
Gemma Files: “We all hope we’re not monsters, while simultaneously wishing we were.”
Gemma Files: “I’ve always liked Westerns, and I love the idea of adding magic to them, because it doesn’t seem so out of place. I think it has to do with the general feeling of infinite expansion and preordained diminution that comes along with the whole Western package—these stories take place in an indefinite space, where the outside is mammoth and the inside cramped, and nothing is (as yet) fully fixed. So why not posit that you’re just as likely to meet zombies around the next mesa, or werewolves, witches, vampires, mad scientists, anaye, Mayan-Mexica gods?”
Gemma Files: “I’m tired of a world of media which concentrates exclusively on the concerns and interactions of white heterosexual males.”
Gemma Files: “I was also somewhat inspired by proudly gay SFF author Hal Duncan’s remarks about Brokeback Mountain, in which he essentially said he just wanted to see a story about two bad-ass gay people being bad-ass together, having lots of sex and not dying for it.”
Gemma Files: “Even going by the classic “7% of everyone you encounter is probably gay” rule, that means that any one of the characters you may have loved and wanted to emulate might have been the sort of person mainstream media teaches us is weird, unnatural and unlikely.”
Gemma Files: “When you get down to it, our national self-image is entirely imposed from the outside, a generalization cobbled together from dreams and guilt, then historically distributed through a Film Board put together by a socialist Scots expatriate who hated Hollywood and a Broadcast Corporation run from Ottawa. No wonder we’re so unable to explain what sets us apart.”
Gemma Files: “Our fantasy tends to be rooted in the uncomfortable, the self-reflective, the place where power and freedom come with a price, one that must be paid knowingly, and in blood. We accept coincidence and synchronicity, but also understand hubris, and karma. We expect doom at best, failure at worst. It’s bleak, but it’s familiar, especially to somebody who likes horror.”
Stay tuned next Thursday for Gemma Files to reveal some of the literary alchemy that goes into producing good Weird fiction.