CLOTHO’S LOOM is the story of a man and woman who met and married before they were ready. They are torn apart just at the moment when they should most be together, her mid-life pregnancy. The next year is devoted to adventures that mature them, while they seek reunion. While all events, like Will’s military reactivation, appear to conspire against them, StJean questions whether the forces of chance and Fate, as well as ignorant human will, are not actually working together for ultimate good.
Glas Daggre Publishing, 2012
Kindle | Goodreads
Tell us about a favorite character from a book.
I greatly admire Phaedrus (the narrator) of Pirsig's Zen and the Art
of Motorcycle Maintenance. He once had a psychotic break, and spends
the bulk of the novel distancing himself from who he “used to be”--at
great personal cost, since his adolecent son, of course, likes that
guy better than his current spoilsport Dad. In the end, Phaedrus must
accept who he is in his entirety, chaotic past and all. Change is
probably the scariest aspect of real human life (the one outside of
literature and films.) Take the guy who loses his job at 55, or the
woman whose kids are grown and move out in her mid-life. Who will she
be, now? When we can adapt to altered circumstances, we really have
become the heroes that we read about and marvel at on the screen, in
How do you react to a bad review of your book?
I imitate the Terminator—systematically hunt down anyone foolish
enough to use their “real name” on Amazon.
Seriously, though, it's a good question. I got one recently. It just
reminds me of who I am, and that I'm not writing for everyone. I
deliberately wrote a big book with several experiments in it. There's
nothing “safe,” about it—
from the chapter structure, which alternates between male and female
protagonists, and creates gender parallels, to the morally
questionable choices they sometimes make, which risks alienating
readers, to the unconventional ending. I honestly felt there were
enough vampire books on the shelves.
So tell us about your current release.
Clotho's Loom chronicles the story of a man and woman who met and
married before they were ready. They are torn apart just at the moment
when they should most be together, her mid-life pregnancy. The next
year is devoted to adventures that mature them, while they seek
reunion. While all events, like Will's military reactivation, appear
to conspire against them, I question whether the forces of chance and
so-called Fate, as well as ignorant human will, are not actually
working together for ultimate good.
Does travel play in the writing of your books?
I was not able to take a sojourn to the
Middle East (where my
protagonist fights in a new war,) but I did go on a roadtrip to
, where the second half of the novel is set. I Salt Lake City
swam in the
Great Salt Lake, and climbed some lesser mountains, hiked
in the desert. As far as was possible, I wanted to import the American
landscape into some very old myths I was drawing from, that predate
the settling of this continent by Europeans.
Are the names of the characters in your novels important? How and why?
Yes, although I tried not to make them all jump out, the way the two
protagonists do: William Wyrd, and his wife, Nexus. But I pretty much
adhered to Poe's principle of organic unity, which states that nothing
in the fiction doesn't do some work. “Wyrd” is old English for Fate or
Destiny (also referred to in my title,) but his first name is “Will,”
so we have a paradox or tension between choice and destiny—as with
Oedipus, Hamlet, Ahab and a number of other literary characters I
admire. Some of the other resonant names I used were Mr. Domino,
Thomas Wright, and Dr. M--.
What books have most influenced your life?
The short stories of Hawthorne (Romantic) and Joyce (Realism) are what
I hope are evident as influences in my own fiction. Hemingway and
Stephen Crane for dialogue and naturalism. Flannery O'Connor was a
master of blending the surreal and grotesque with everyday life.
Since short stories are harder to write than novels, are I try to
learn craft from those best at them, and steal it for longer fiction.
So many novels today seem like a plot frame hanging on huge blocks of
dialogue, expositional, quirky, and otherwise. It's like un-producable
drama. You can't get away with that in a short story. Clotho's Loom,
whatever other faults one may find with it, is more than characters
talking at each other, I hope.
What book are you reading now?
As an English Professor, I read almost nothing but classics, so I'm
probably out of touch with what's popular at the moment. I'm
revisiting The Once and Future King, by T.H. White, after 30 years.
It's pretty timeless—explaining how the personal frailties of nations'
leaders overcome their good intentions, and spawn wars. O course, as a
kid I just enjoyed the stories about how Arthur was transformed into
different animals by Merlyn.
What are your favorite TV shows?
TV has always had so much unused potential, and is, at odds, so
saturated with advertising and diluted by bean-counter, fear-driven
decisions that I've pretty much given up on it. But Joss Whedon is out
there carrying on the Star Trek tradition of thoughtful content.
Fringe, too. And for comedy, I like no-holds-barred stuff that
embraces its true job, which is to waste people's time with adolescent
scatology, like The In-Betweeners (US and
). Opposite ends of the UK
Do you have a Website or Blog?
'Natch, it's http://clothosloom.wordpress.com/ . I do about 1/3 promo,
1/3 “puff” (fun, light, short posts that are the bread and butter of
most bloggers,) and 1/3 thoughtful content about literary
fiction—using my own book as occasion, mostly. It's tied to Pinterest
boards, a Tumblr micro-blog, Youtube trailers, you name it. I have
started doing reviews of Indie literary fiction, too. I think it's
enormously important that self-publishers support one another—so I'd
like to thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to speak about
Rather than try to describe who I am through a series of historical events or by listing my accomplishments while concealing my failures, I thought I would name several writers/books that I can honestly say have changed my life in a material way. I have also included a few remarkable films. These influences may not always be done justice to in my own writing, but they are definitely owed a substantial debt. In no particular order:
-Stan Lee, author of hundreds of Marvel Comics. Some have called him heavy-handed or naive, but to me, from an age even before I learned to read, really, Stan’s plots, characters, and dialogue epitomize soul. Considering the increasingly cynical environment in which his work appeared, it’s truly inspiring to see the spirit of the Romancer carried on with unwavering trust that young people still get it.
-Carl Sagan, author of Cosmos. This book showed me the interconnectedness of all things, and buckled my world-view at a period of my life when I defined myself against others. This caused me infinite trouble, but I would not trade away the experience for any amount of inner or outer peace.
-Henry David Thoreau, author of Walden and various political lecture-essays. Could anyone actually read these works and not walk away dissatisfied with the status quo, even as regards one’s own heart?
-Stephen Crane, the too-briefly-with-us author of more great fiction than many who lived three times longer. Those who have oversimplified naturalism, the most stark version of literary realism, have had to willfully ignore his works to do it.
-Oliver Stone, director of JFK. This film was for me what The Matrix was for the next generation: a dramatic reinterpretation of Plato. Valid or not, his presentation raises the spirit of inquiry to such a height that one must question every “reality” from then on.
-Stephen Speilberg, director of the quintessential monster movie Jaws, showed us that there is no outworn plot, archetype, or device, creative writing teachers be damned. By every professional standard, this film should be an obscure failure, and yet it’s one of the best and most well-known ever made in any genre.
-James Cameron. The Terminator proves, in its retelling of the Oedipus myth, that a solid premise can overcome any budget deficit: time, money, materials, personnel.
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