Raymond St. Elmo “In storytelling, I the storyteller am telling you the reader what happened..”
Earlier this year, you finished your five book series, Quest of the Five Clans. Every other book you’ve done has been a stand-alone, so why change it up so drastically for this series? What appealed to you about following Rayne Gray for five books?
Every book you’ve written so far has been in first person. What’s the appeal of first person to you?
In storytelling, I the storyteller am telling you the reader what happened. First person is mere elimination of a ghostly artificial omniscient middleman floating between the story and the reader. We know what someone thinks, in life or story… when they tell us. And they don’t use 3rd person excepting royalty or psychotics. Ultimately, third person narrative is framing as unnatural as kabuki theatre. Storytelling is always: me telling you. And in writing there is only telling; never showing. Ah, but tell the tale well, and the reader shall see it shadow-cast on the platonic cave wall of their imagination. I so say (he so said).
Letters from a Shipwreck in the Sea of Suns and Moons has a fascinating structure. A council is asking questions of an old sailor’s time on an island after a shipwreck many years ago, and we witness many of those events, but the sailor has a few tricks of his own. Where did the structure for this one come from?
The Origin of Birds in the Footprints of Writing feels like a book designed to remind readers that books are amazing, chock-full of references and allusions. Walk us through the inspiration for that book.
It began with Italo Calvino. I was blown away by his “Invisible Cities”, and wanted to write a novel composed of two-page zen-like stories, conversations, vignettes that fit into a few declared themes. Borges ‘Book of Sand’ and ‘Imaginary Beasts’ defied me to rival them. It became a kind of war in my head at the kitchen table. Eventually I had two books. One was a collection of weird little stories, the other was a story about dead writers fighting with me over the meaning of the stories.
Are there themes you find yourself mining again and again, whether intentionally or not?
Letters from a Shipwreck in the Sea of Suns and Moons features Clarence St. Elmo, and The Origin of Birds in the Footprints of Writing features a Clarence St. Claire. (What’s more, St. Claire has the same background as you!) Why do these two books have these winking metatextual nudges? Why create protagonists who very obviously share similarities with you?
Other than the typical ‘read a lot and write a lot’ what is your best writing advice?
I am so outside the usual lines of a writer, that I doubt I have valid advice for anyone but my mirror. I could say ‘write what you want to read’. Certainly things grew easier for me when I followed that path. But for other folk, it’d probably lead to disaster. ‘Find a muse’… how key that advice is, and how cruel if you can’t.
What are you working on currently?
Check Out Reviews and Interviews by Ryan Howse
I’m funnier without context.
Okay, you want context.
I’m a mid-30s nerd, married, with two kids. Also two cats–Cathulhu and Necronomicat.
I like, in no particular order, tabletop gaming, board games, arguing over books, ancient history and religion, and puns.
I’m unconundrum on reddit.