Tag Archives: Proust Questionnaire

Interview with a Thief

Issue 5 feature author Eileen Kernaghan interviewed the lead character from ‘The Robber Maiden’s Story’.  Said Eileen, “She is not an easy subject, but this is what she had to say”:

  1. What is your greatest fear?   If I was afraid of anything, do you think I would admit it?
  2. On what occasion do you lie? Whenever it seems useful.
  3. What do you most dislike about your appearance?  There is nothing to dislike in my appearance. Say there is, and you’ll feel my knife at your throat.Robber Maiden
  4. When and where were you happiest?  When  Gerda, my  little yellow-haired  rabbit,  was here with me in the camp.
  5. What is your most treasured possession?  My reindeer Ba.  Also the dagger my father stole from a prince (and I stole from my father).
  6. Who are your favourite writers?  I’m sorry, I don’t understand that question.
  7. How would you like to die? In a blaze of glory, when all my enemies are dead. 

Eileen Kernaghan lives in New Westminster, B.C. She is the author of nine historical fantasy novels and a three-time winner of the Aurora Award for Canadian speculative fiction. Her latest novel, Sophie, in Shadow (Thistledown Press, 2014) is set in 1914 India.  An associated novel, Wild Talent: a Novel of the Supernatural (2008) was shortlisted for the 2009 Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic, while The Alchemist’s Daughter (2004) was shortlisted for the Sheila Egoff Award for Children’s Literature. As well, her short stories and poems have appeared in many North American literary and speculative publications.

The ‘Robber Maiden’s Story’ will appear in Pulp Literature Issue 5, due out in early December.  You can purchase individual print or ebook copies as well as subscriptions on our Kickstarter page.

Interview with an Aunty

Today we reach into the cosmic handbag and pull out an interview with Deborah Walker’s ‘Aunty Merkel’ from Issue 3.

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?  When you get to my age, my dear, the greatest happiness is in watching your family do well.
  2. On what occasion do you lie?  I never lie. Sometimes the world lies, but there are ways of getting around that.
  3. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?  I wouldn’t say I overused any expression.  But  ‘least said, soonest mended’ is a phrase I might mention, from time to time.
  4. What is your most treasured possession?  Mr Tegmark, my darling Sphynx cat. I’ve had him forever.
  5. What is your most marked characteristic?  Fortitude in the face of entropy.
  6. How would you like to die?  I don’t really think that question’s applicable to me, my dear.
  7. What is your motto?  To know the future is to change it.finalmerkelpurse

Deborah Walker grew up in the most English town in the country, but she soon high-tailed it down to London, where she now lives with her partner, Chris, and her two young children. Find Deborah in the British Museum trawling the past for future inspiration or on her blog. Her stories have appeared in Nature Magazine’s Futures, Cosmos, Daily Science Fiction and The Year’s Best SF 18.

‘Aunty Merkel’ can be found in Pulp Literature Issue 3, Summer 2014, available on our Kickstarter page.

Interview with a Saint

Next up in Proust Questionnaire lineup is St Polycarp, of Stephen Case‘s ‘Polycarp on the Sea’.  This surreal mash-up of the life of St Polycarp and an episode from the Aenied will be out in Issue 5 of Pulp Literature.  In the meantime St Polycarp’s strange and haunting responses will whet your appetite for the full story.polycarp

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?  A fair sea with a brisk wind at my back. Being alone in the sail’s shadow, watching the slow swing of the stars.
  2. What is your greatest fear?  To be lost on that same sea. The waves that roll up like mountains, the water grey as stone.
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?  The selfishness that sits in the bottom of my soul like a weight.
  4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?  I grind the palm of my hand against my eye, trying to dislodge the plank.  Through the pain, I can see nothing.
  5. What do you most dislike about your appearance?  Once I was vain about the angles of my face.
  6. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?  The liturgy is still rough and new. I stumble on many of the words.
  7. What do you consider your greatest achievement?  We pushed the boats into the surf, and I heard the scratch of the sand on the wooden planks.  We left the land.
  8. What is your greatest regret?  To see the sea only once, for all the lifetime I have sailed upon it.
  9. How would you like to die?  I have answered this once before. I told them that my body was wheat to be ground on the teeth of the beasts or the breakers of the sea so that I might become true bread.
  10. What is your motto?  Soli Deo gloria.
  11. What is something we’d never glean about you from ‘Polycarp on the Sea?’ I never existed.

Stephen CaseStephen Case gets paid for teaching people about space, which is pretty much the coolest thing ever. He also occasionally gets paid for writing stories about space (and other things), which have appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Daily Science Fiction, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show and several other publications. His first anthology, Trees and Other Wonders, is available on Kindle. His novel, First Fleet, is being serialized by Retrofit Publishing. Stephen holds a PhD in the history and philosophy of science from the University of Notre Dame and will talk for inordinate amounts of time about nineteenth-century British astronomy.  He lives with his wife, four children, and three chickens in an undisclosed suburb of Chicago that has not yet legalized backyard chickens.

Pulp Literature Issue 5, Wintere 2015 will be out in December.  You can pre-order it through our Kickstarter campaign.

Interview with an Agent of DIRE

Our next Proust Questionnaire is with the loquacious Jonathan Blackthorne, Esquire, Member in good standing of the Damocles Institute of Research and Exploration, Celebrated Illusionist, Master of Legerdemain and Sleight-of-Hand, and narrator of KG McAbee’s novella ‘Blackthorne & Rose: Agent’s of DIRE’, currently appearing in Pulp Literature Issue 4.

What is my greatest fear? As a not-unknown magician and illusionist — appearing nightly at the Egyptian Palace, with a matinee on Saturdays — I could perhaps suggest that failing in front of an audience would be the answer to this.  However, I am forced to admit it:  I have failed in front of more audiences than Her Majesty has had hot dinners.  No, the vast and faceless crowd spread before me — I did mention my nightly appearances, did I not? — is far from my worst fear.  Recall, pray, that I am also a member in good standing — well, relatively good — of the Damocles Institute of Research and Exploration.  The things I have seen would boggle the most un-boggleable mind, I do assure you.  DIRE members, other than my humble self, tend towards the adventurous, the investigative, the shall-we-poke-it-with-something-sharp-and-see-what-happens type.  I am not this type.  I prefer a  well-attended performance, followed by a cold bottle and a hot meal, ending with a long, restful sleep in my own bed.  Sadly, these things — other than the first, six evenings a week, in case I neglected to mention — seldom come my way. Blackthorne&Dire

The trait I most deplore in others is, without doubt, conceit.  After all, a fellow should be modest, unassuming, humble, even if he is lucky enough to possess rather impressive talents and abilities, don’t you think?  But some gentlemen tend to boast and brag a bit, simply because they’ve been off to other lands, done the odd bit of exploring, visited
forbidden cities at risk of imminent impalement, speak a dozen languages or so
and dealt with the odd wound and bouts with raging fever.  I mean to say, one
should not continually mention such things, should one?  It’s just not done,
even if your name is Captain R F Burton.  And pray, let us not bring up Mr Poe
or Monsieur Verne!  Poseurs, the pair of them!  Oh, certainly, they come up with
the odd notion or two, but really, some of the drivel they turn out is quite
out of bounds.

I have, upon occasion, been forced to lie. There; I have admitted it.  Can lying ever be the correct, the gentlemanly, the British thing to do?  Never!  However, sometimes it is the kind, the thoughtful and, in many ways and the merest physical sense, the safest thing to do.  For one example, one should never, at any time, point out to Lady Rose Blakeney-Barrington, my darling and frighteningly intelligent beloved, that perhaps she might be safer if she did not leap into the middle of anything and everything which interests her. And for Rose, that is, quite literally:  everything.  I recall with a shudder that she once threw herself, with every sign of delight and enjoyment, into the very center of a pile of pulsing, heaving matter only recently ejected by a many-tentacled creature.  Not to mention, we had only just run the thing to ground after an exhausting chase through the sewers of London. I mean, what can one do in such a situation, other than a series of hot baths and the burning of one’s attire, including boots and a favorite waistcoat? Rose, sadly, had other
ideas.  It is a constant burden to me to keep quiet in such situations, I do assure you.  But keep silent I do, in self-defense.

My greatest achievement is, without any shadow of a doubt, landing Rose as my fiancée.  Dear me, that does sound a bit, well, as if I caught her while salmon fishing in the Highlands, does it not?  Let me rephrase that at once, on the off chance that Rose herself might one day read these words.  My Rose, let me assure you, while the dearest girl in so many ways, is not one who suffers fools gladly.  Or, indeed, at all.  That is why I am
still quite astonishingly amazed that she has accepted my proposal of marriage.  I am not a fool, other opinions to the contrary.  But I would be the first to admit that I am as far below Rose in knowledge of such things as chemistry, biology and astronomy as it is possible to be, even were I at the bottom of a deep hole while she stood atop the Matterhorn.  And yet she has promised to be mine!  Though setting a date still appears to be quite beyond her ability … but hope springs eternal! KG McAbee

KG McAbee has had several quite readable books and short stories published. She writes  steampunk, fantasy, science fiction, pulp and such. She belongs to Horror Writers Association, International Thriller Writers and recently got honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. 

You can read the adventures of Jonathan and his fiancée Rose in ‘Blackthorne and Rose: Agents of Dire’, in the Autumn issue of Pulp Literature, available in ebook or print through our Kickstarter campaign.

Interview with a Daughter

The protagonist from KM Vaghela’s beautifully haunting ‘Poor Thing’ in issue 2 doesn’t have a name.  We know her only as ‘girl’.  But that doesn’t mean we don’t live, breath, and feel with her long after the story is finished.poorthingnogrey

  1. What is your greatest fear?   My mother’s stare.
  2. On what occasion do you lie?  When my mother has the stare in her eyes.
  3. Which talent would you most like to have?   Rock climbing, or better yet, tree climbing.
  4. What is your greatest regret?  Never telling Nirav that he’s my one and only crush.
  5. How would you like to die?  Old age, in my sleep.

KM Vaghela, who holds a MFA in Fiction, and teaches writing at the university of Maryland, tells us this about the story:  ‘Poor Thing’ originated from a phone call. I was thirteen and my mother was habitually twirling the curly, long cord connected to the head piece while watching something on the stove. It was her voice that made me lift my head from my work and listen. There were too many exclamation marks in her breath. When she hung up, we children gathered around curiously. The story she told clung to us for weeks. It was a story we could not understand, living in America where 911 was the answer for all trouble. How could there be no 911 solution in our mother country of India? I wrote the first draft at fifteen, and it has evolved slowly into a piece which I hope will touch any who read it.

You can find ‘Poor Thing’ in the Spring 2014 issue of Pulp Literature, available as ebook or in print on our Kickstarter page:


 

Interview with a Father

This next Proust Questionnaire is a bit of a teaser, since Rob Taylor’s Hummingbird Prize-winning story “Here I Lay Down my Heart” will not be published until Issue 5.   We’re sorry to leave you in anticipation, but believe us, it’s worth the wait!

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? The past.
  2. What is your greatest fear? He pulled Mima tight and brought in only air. He reached and reached.”
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? “My child, he wanted to say, but the word wouldn’t come.”
  4. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Cruelty.
  5. On what occasion do you lie? Whenever necessary. Too often.
  6. What do you most dislike about your appearance? How little I can change it.
  7. Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Bo’ee elay.
  8. When and where were you happiest? Those few weeks when Mima had gone to preschool and life had felt normal and the word normal had plumped with meaning.”
  9. Which talent would you most like to have? Invisibility.
  10. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Getting here.
  11. What is your most treasured possession? My dove.
  12. What is your most marked characteristic? Fear.
  13. Who are your favourite writers? Italo Calvino. Yehuda Amichai. Michael Chabon. Ernest Hemingway. Ngugi wa Thiong’o.
  14. What is your greatest regret? Oh to choose only one!
  15. How would you like to die? How matters less than that it is a long time from now.
  16. What is your motto? “Samaki, kuku, mbuzi!”
  17. What is something we’d never glean about you from Here I Lay Down My Heart? Almost everything.Rob Taylor

Rob Taylor’s  first book of poetry, The Other Side of Ourselves, won the 2010 Alfred G. Bailey Prize.  He has also published four chapbooks of poems: splattered earth (2006), Child of Saturday (2008), Lyric (2010)and Smoothing the Holy Surfaces (2012).

“Here I Lay down my Heart was the first place winner in our inaugural Hummingbird Prize for Flash Fiction, and the story will appear in Pulp Literature Issue 5, Winter 2015.  You can purchase a copy or subscribe on our Kickstarter page:

Interview with a Troll Hunter

Tatterhood by Kris Sayer
Tatterhood by Kris Sayer

Next up in the Proust Questionnaire lineup is Kris Sayer’s Tatterhood, the goat riding, spoon wielding, exterminator-for-hire first seen in Pulp Literature Issue 2, and more recently in her own eponymous graphic novel.

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?  Meat on the table, mead in my mug, a ship on the waters and an unexplored land, ya?
  2. What is your greatest fear?  I am terrified over the thought of somethin’ bad happening to my sister.
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?   Alright, sometimes my temper may get the better of me and I may overreact to situations…so I guess I don’t like how I’m a little too brash at times. 
  4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?  I hate how people can be so rude, and assumptive. 
  5. On what occasion do you lie?  Whenever I find myself in a tight situation.  Or if I’m in a negotiating situation.  Or sometimes a personal situation. But it’s not really lying. I only tell what needs to be told.unwanted visitors p 9
  6. What do you most dislike about your appearance?  What’s not to love? 
  7. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?  “Ya”. And I probably grunt more than I’d like – that’ll be the trolls influencin’ me. 
  8. When and where were you happiest?  Everyone keeps saying how I was just so happy when I was born. Then again, everyone says I was just so ugly too.
  9. Which talent would you most like to have?  Aw, I’d give anything to know how to use a sword! 
  10. What do you consider your greatest achievement?   I took down a Hrímþursar once by myself when I was in Ísland.  Barely survived.
  11. What is your most treasured possession?  He’s going to hate me for saying this, but it’s Bokki. He may protest and proclaim his independence, but hey, he’s my goat.
  12. What is your most marked characteristic?  My loud, undaunted spirit that craves adventure!
  13. Who are your favourite writers?  Writers? No idea. But I’m a big fan of Gunnlaugr Ormstunga.  
  14. What is your greatest regret?  I really don’t want to talk about it. It got me banished from Nóregr for a while, let’s leave it at that.
  15. How would you like to die?  With blood on my hands and my weapon in the heart of the beast that slayed me. Ya.
  16. What is your motto?  Don’t trust trolls. Don’t trust men.
  17. What is something we’d never glean about you from Tatterhood?   Tatterhood, Totra, Bergljót, Kona, Raggi, Sponhild – these titles and many more I am known and called by … but no-one knows my real name!Kris portrait

You can read more of Tatterhood in Kris Sayer’s graphic novels, available from Weald Comics.  The 5-page horror comic ‘Bait’ by Kris will be appearing in Issue 5 of Pulp Literature, followed by ‘Bite’ in issue 6.

If you fancy your portrait drawn by this talented costumer, artist and swordfighter, check out the reward on our Kickstarter page.  Hurry, only 6 of these colour portraits are available!

 

Interview Behind the Barn

Our second Proust Questionnaire response comes from Uncle Sid, whom we met in Ace Baker’s Magpie Award Winning Poem, ‘Big Red Schoolhouse’.  You can find the poem in Pulp Literature Issue 4, Autumn 2014.

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? A little red tractor comin’ home at sunset.
  2. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Callin’ a spade a spade.  
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Not callin’ a spade a spade.
  4. What do you most dislike about your appearance? Mah missin’ digit—can’t give people the finger with that hand!
  5. What is your most treasured possession? A loop of rope.
  6. How would you like to die? With mah cowboy boots on.Baker
  7. What is your motto? “Early to bed, early to rise; men in the fields and wimmin makin’ pies.”

ACE BAKER has won the Magpie Poetry Award, the PNWA Poetry Prize, the SIWC Poetry Contest, and the Storyteller Award for Short Fiction. He maintains a website at www.fighttowrite.com and may be followed @writeracebaker

You can order Issue 4 containing ‘Big Red Schoolhouse’  as well as Ace’s award-winning short story ‘Victory Girl’ for $5 as an ebook or $15 in print (quantities limited) as well as full subscriptions and other backer rewards on our Kickstarter page:

Interview with a Ghost

Have you ever finished a story and thought “I want to hear more from that character” or wondered who the subject of a painting really was?  We do.  All the time.  So we’ve asked our Pulp Literature authors and artists to give their main characters our version of the Proust Questionnaire.

Over the next several weeks we’ll be posting the results.  We hope you find them as amusing and intriguing as we do.  And if it makes you want to read the story go to our Kickstarter page where you can acquire back issues in as little as $5 for an ebook.

First up we have an interview with the title character of ‘Mercer’s Ghost’ by Milo James Fowler from Issue 2, Spring 2014.  If this doesn’t make you want to go an pick up that story right now, I don’t know what will.

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?  A fresh bottle of Eurasian whiskey.
  2. What is your greatest fear?  Living forever.
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?  Greed.
  4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?  Selfishness.
  5. On what occasion do you lie?  Whenever I have to.
  6. What do you most dislike about your appearance?  It varies from corpse to corpse.
  7. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?  Fleshbag.
  8. When and where were you happiest?  A couple millennia ago, before I was cursed.
  9. Which talent would you most like to have?  Dying.
  10. What do you consider your greatest achievement?  Staying on Saint Peter’s good side — somewhat.
  11. What is your most treasured possession?  Bottle of Eurasian whiskey.
  12. What is your most marked characteristic?  Ability to body-swap.
  13. Who are your favourite writers?  Don’t read.
  14. What is your greatest regret?  Denying Christ.
  15. How would you like to die?  Yes, please. Beggars can’t be choosers.
  16. What is your motto?  Live today like it could be your last. I should be so lucky.  
  17. What is something we’d never glean about you from Mr Fowler’s tale?  I’m a big baseball fan. Played with Babe Ruth for a while, back in the day.Longriderhills2fowlerMilo James Fowler is a teacher by day, writer by night, and an active SFWA member. When he’s not grading papers, he’s imagining what the world might be like in a dozen alternate realities. His work has appeared in AE SciFi, Cosmos, Daily Science Fiction, Nature, and Shimmer. www.milojamesfowler.com

 

You can order Issue 2 containing ‘Mercer’s Ghost’, as well as other fabulous backer rewards on our Kickstarter page: