“Where do your ideas come from?” I am sometimes asked.
“Other worlds,” I say, and smile.
I have found, as I write, as I sink into “the zone” of my work and lose myself to all else that may be happening around me, the things I produce are strange. I sit back and read over what I have written and wonder how I could have come up with such things. They seem unusual, surreal, fantastic. They seem sometimes as if they’ve come from someone else, or somewhere else. I’m a normal guy, nothing special, not that interesting to talk to. So how can a guy like me come up with such things? Where do they come from?
I don’t have a definitive answer. But I can speculate.
There is a concept, revolving around David Lewis’s ideas of Modal Realism, called Fictional Realism, which theorizes that when creative people in our world create things, they aren’t really creating them so much as discovering them, that all things we consider fictitious exist in some world, on some plane of existence, somewhere in the multiverse. This would mean that creative people are those with the ability to see into other universes.
Perhaps this is what I’m doing as I write.
A little over a year ago, I became acquainted with someone who reminded me, in a lot of ways, of my younger self. His name is Colin Thorne. He shared with me the details of the summer he spent with a wealthy man in a dilapidated yet historical house. He was commissioned to paint an unusual mural in the man’s basement. In the basement, when he wasn’t painting, he found many old and fascinating things scattered about in boxes piled high that had clearly been undisturbed for some time, bits of history, letters and journals, clues left behind by people who had lived but are now forgotten. After some persuading on my part, he agreed to share with me a few of the things he’d found, and gave me a tattered suitcase filled with notes he’d collected.
Inside the suitcase, one of the things I found was a notebook filled with accounts of fantastic other realms, strange beasts, peoples, and cultures. It contains many stories written by a man who signs his name only as ‘Marrow.’ Many of the things he discusses are clearly within the realm of the fantastique, yet Marrow’s writings are filled with such detail, it is difficult to imagine them to be entirely fabricated.
Shadow Animals, in its original translation, was found this way. Arranging the moldering papers until I could find some semblance of order, wiping the dust away, I discovered a story, and was immediately enthralled. It was written in an entirely different style from what I have written above, of course, in a language that does not yet belong to any cultural group in existence in this world, but I hope I have done it justice. I can only urge readers to be understanding and cognizant of the translation and interpretation I have provided.
And this is only the beginning. Much of Marrow’s accounts take place in a world he calls Meridian. It is a world vastly different from our own in many ways, yet similar in others, and they are inexplicably linked. It is Meridian, I believe, where Saul and Ezzy find themselves in Shadow Animals.
My plan is to produce more stories set in this world—in translation, of course. Collected, these stories—linked by a common mythology, if not by narrative—will comprise the Meridian Codex. Shadow Animals is a Meridian Codex story, as is Marrow’s Pit. Expect others to follow, including a larger novel, as I am hard at work.
June 20th, 2014