S.J. Christmass Interview

Shane Jesse Christmass has work featured in Reality Hands 9. You can read it here. You can also follow them on twitter and find more content here.

RH: What was your approach to structuring the work?

SJC: When writing my recent novel I noted that my sentences clipped. A distinct absence of description, in which I heavily relied on nouns to move the narrative along.

I decided my next novel would be in this style, a story that relied on nouns. I’m also keen to dispense with a formed narrative before commencing the writing. I want to get the narrative upon completion of the story.

Textually, Guyotat may be a febrile inspiration. I’m aware of class restrictions that the current form of the novel places on an author, Robbe-Grillet already covered this immensely.

I’m interested in the dissolution of the definition of dialogue. Nouns will provide intonation. This intoning states: “There is no authorial weakness. There is no authorial weakness.”

It’s essential to me that there is a complete rejection of introduction/middle/end. The idea that synopsis and narrative has to be reduced to goal, motivation and conflict should be denounced.

I’m attempting to take pleasure in, and promote, the instability of meaning. Understand this: use no norms of the past to reflect life in 21st Century, renew and constantly evolve.

RH: What effect do you want the text to have on the reader?

SJC: Dislodgement. Dislocation. Repetition. Bombast. Intensity. Worlds within worlds, stories between and inside other stories to make no distinction between reality and illusion. A repetition of sentences, tweaks of images causing dislocation and jump-cut in narrative. Death of characters only for characters to reappear later.  Interchangeable sexes of characters. A somnambulist drift between tenses. A relentless overload of information. A full dismissal of turning points, moral compass, and character arc?

RH: How does your text reflect or reference the world outside the text?

SJC: It does it this way: the story can be started at any point in the manuscript. This aligns with the spasmodic and aleatory experience of modern time. The universe as I see it has a preferment to drastic dislocations of space and time. Shifts of attention to something irrelevant or disconnected – the clinamen – which is the erratic way atoms can turn sharply. Make stories that have an intensified sense of vagueness concerning the author’s POV, or intent. 

RH: The nouns you've chosen for this bombastic text are sometimes heavy and gritty, kill and war and sex. Sometimes they are everyday things, hot dog and library door. Is there source material for the text?

SJC: For this particular story, the source text was previous writing I have written. But it’s all mixed, jumbled and constructed quite studiously, perhaps laboriously.  It also wasn’t one particular text.  For my novel MS, there is still my writing, but also texts that are out of copyright. It’s all smoke and mirrors. I quite like the heaviness of science fiction, both in language and ideas.

RH: You mentioned Guyotat and Robbe-Grillet as writers inspired your style or cover similar themes. Who or what brought you to this space where you feel like eschewing meaning is an accurate portrayal of the 21st century? How does this worldview play out in your day-to-day life?

SJC: I feel most things are absurd, or as mentioned meaningless. Not that they don’t have meaning, but that the meaning is weightless to an extent. It plays out in life, in that one has to go along with the constructs we’ve created. This is also not to say some things have no importance, various political issues have huge importance, perhaps the absurdity that someone has to fight for something that is granted to everyone else, that’s the absurdity of it though. 

RH: I would consider your text difficult in that you're redefining fiction and eschewing lucidity. Do you have any feelings when a reader expecting characters-acting-in-a-world-type fiction are repelled by the experimentation or don't get it? Is your work not for someone who thinks of fiction in a traditional way? Are you hoping to convert some people?

SJC: There is a certain amount of work involved by an audience, but it’s not really expermimentation. To me it’s just normality, trying to find a way to write that gives expression to me. I don’t think in experiments. In the novel-length MS, I’m working on though, I am including a character. Everything gets revealed once it is completed.

I’m not keen on putting restrictions on the audience, or who may or may not get it. I totally understand that reading is something that people like to do without thinking. But there’s plenty of those novels, and plenty of time for us all to exist.

At this stage, I’d be happy if five people read one story of mine, so in that sense, that could be a conversion.

RH: What are you working on that readers should be looking out for?

This new novel. I had a burst of stuff published quite recently.

A novel

a couple of chapbooks: bottlecap  and be about it

This also happened: this.