17 Jan 2020

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: #Interview with Chana Porter, #author of THE SEEP

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays

introduces readers who are unfamiliar with the Adult SF/F genre to books, authors, and discussions all about the vast expanse of the world of Adult SF/F!
A while ago, I posted a round up of the Queer SFF releases you could expect in 2020! You can read that post to learn more about all the releases upcoming. But today I have something very special for you - an interview with Chana Porter about her novel THE SEEP!

But first, let's learn more about the book!

THE SEEP

The Seep by Chana Porter cover
Author: Chana Porter
Series: N/A
Source: eARC via Publisher
Publisher: Soho Press
Publication Date: January 21, 2020

Summary:
A blend of searing social commentary and speculative fiction, Chana Porter’s fresh, pointed debut is perfect for fans of Jeff VanderMeer and Carmen Maria Machado.

Trina Goldberg-Oneka is a fifty-year-old trans woman whose life is irreversibly altered in the wake of a gentle—but nonetheless world-changing—invasion by an alien entity called The Seep. Through The Seep, everything is connected. Capitalism falls, hierarchies and barriers are broken down; if something can be imagined, it is possible.

Trina and her wife, Deeba, live blissfully under The Seep’s utopian influence—until Deeba begins to imagine what it might be like to be reborn as a baby, which will give her the chance at an even better life. Using Seeptech to make this dream a reality, Deeba moves on to a new existence, leaving Trina devastated.

Heartbroken and deep into an alcoholic binge, Trina follows a lost boy she encounters, embarking on an unexpected quest. In her attempt to save him from The Seep, she will confront not only one of its most avid devotees, but the terrifying void that Deeba has left behind. A strange new elegy of love and loss, The Seep explores grief, alienation, and the ache of moving on.
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Describe THE SEEP in 10 words or less.

Chana PorterBenevolent alien invasion. Divorce sucks! Expect the unexpected. 


What was your favourite scene to write in THE SEEP?


Chana Porter: Oof, too many to name! I had so much fun writing this book. Highlights for me are the church service for people worshiping the past on the high speed train, and the restaurant that gives you what your body needs (rather than what you want to eat!) The infamous fish eating scene. Likewise, I loved describing Instructions, the commune of people wishing to dissolve all barriers by having no personal space. There, I’m poking loving fun at my time spent in different group houses and collectives. 

What do you anticipate being the most exciting part of your debut year?



Chana PorterWhat a sweet question. It’s been a long process, about seven years, so I’m very excited for The Seep to make its way through the world. I’m very much looking forward to going to bookstores and reading, meeting people who are enjoying it. It’s absolutely a dream come true. 


How is writing a novel different than writing a play? Which do you enjoy more?



Chana PorterI love them both, and they are very different. I like saying that plays are a blueprint for a larger experience, meant to be collaborated with designers, director, actors. So I try to write plays that leave room for other artists to play in. Writing a book is a more complete experience. Sometimes it feels like reading a book I’ve always wanted to read, very, very slowly. I love spending years writing a book, taking some months away, going back into it with fresh eyes. I’m one of those freaky people who enjoys each step of the process-- I love editing, I love rewriting, I love first drafts. I love getting notes. Each part is a pleasure. I feel very lucky. 


What do you enjoy most about writing speculative fiction? How is this incorporated into THE SEEP?

Chana PorterI think imagination is one of the most important forces in the world. Speculative fiction, in particular, gives us a lens to look critically at our own reality while expanding possibilities for the future. Often, when we feel so mired in problems, it’s easy to slip into thinking that things have always been this way, or will always be this way.

But our current reality is a set of agreements that have been made, both historically and contemporary, individually and collectively. Our civilization did not grow up around us, like mushrooms. Decisions were made, structures enabled. Libraries are my favorite example of this. They seem so ubiquitous, but a public library, especially one paid for by taxes, is a relatively recent widespread development in America. In many ways, our world is raw clay, waiting to be molded. It’s dangerous when we think our world is rigid.

For example, the Star Trek Universe posits a united federation of planets without scarcity. Through technology, everyone has more than enough and there is no more money-- you don’t have to work in order to survive in Star Trek. Sounds futuristic, yet we could be living like this right now. We could engage in Universal Basic Income— it would save us money to do so. We could give everyone free healthcare, free college, the way we decided at one point to make primary education a citizen’s right. We used to throw the contents of our chamber pots out of windows!

Real progress is possible-- we have to dream it, and then we have to remember we deserve it. And then we have to demand it and create it. 


Trina's relationship with the Seep appears to be a love-hate one - how does this change throughout the novel as she grows?

Chana PorterThe Seep tries to be a benevolent force, but there is something quite malevolent about wanting to take away all pain-- to fix everything and everyone, whether they like it or not. Trina does appreciate how The Seep has made the world better, but she’s understandably wary of something that might numb or bypass less pleasant emotions or sensations. And while she does change quite a bit over the course of the story, I think she maintains an intelligent level of awareness throughout. 


What can we expect from you next?

Chana PorterI’m hard at work on my next novel! The next one is also speculative fiction, a big meaty novel with multiple shifting points of view set on another planet. I’d love to eventually write a children’s book and a YA novel. In my theater life, I’m writing an opera based on a short story of mine with the composer Ted Hearne, and several plays of mine are in development in theaters around the country. I’m very excited for what the future holds. 
Chana Porter, writes the NY Times, “uses incongruity and
exaggeration to suggest some midnight-dark truths about human life and endeavor.” She is an emerging playwright, speculative novelist, and education activist. Her plays have been developed or produced at The Flea Theater, Playwrights Horizons, The Catastrophic Theatre, La MaMa, Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, Cherry Lane, The Invisible Dog,  & Movement Research. Houston Press writes “Porter’s type of risky storytelling is, well…. like a lion’s roar in an all too often timid jungle.” She is a MacDowell Fellow, a New Georges Audrey Resident, a Target Margin Artist-in-Residence, and the recipient of Honorable Mention for the Relentless Prize. She is currently writer-in-residence at The Catastrophic Theatre in Houston. Chana is the co-founder of the Octavia Project, a free summer writing and STEM program for Brooklyn teenage girls and non-binary youth. She has taught her embodied creativity course Writing from the Body at University of Houston, Fordham University, Hampshire College, Goddard College, Weber State, and with Sarah Lawrence’s Global Classroom. She is currently at work on her next novel. 

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What are some of your favourite Adult SFF books?

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