Today's guest contributor, Stephen Graham Jones, is an author whose most recent novel is the thriller Seven Spanish Angels. Before that, it was the bunnyheaded novel It Came from Del Rio and the Stoker finalist The Ones That Got Away. Next up is Zombie Bake-Off, a not-announced-yet one, then Once Upon a Time in Texas, Flushboy, Not For Nothing, and a couple he can’t talk about yet. Stephen’s been an NEA fellow, is an FSU grad, and teaches now at CU Boulder. He’s also kind of into horror.
In this article, he talks about the relationship between genre fiction and the academy, and why fantasy, horror, and science fiction are good things to bring to dinner parties.
Lev Grossman talks about those dinner parties where people find out you write fantasy. And, of course, ‘dinner party,’ that’s the world, isn’t it? It’s family reunions where your great aunt should get a gold medal for holding that smile on her face when you tell her the title of one of your books. It’s standing around in the hug ’n go lane at your kids’ elementary, whoever you just dropped that genre bomb on still trying to absorb the recoil. It’s your job, where everybody else is at least topically involved with ‘legitimate’ pursuits like buying, or selling, or making, things that, as they see it, interface with the real world, don’t escape it.
I should say too that for ‘fantasy,’ here, I’m subbing in ‘genre fiction,’ specifically horror, as that’s what I do the most of. I mean, I’ve done science fiction—do giant time-traveling caterpillars count as sci-fi?—I’ve done thrillers with bodycounts you’d need three pairs of hands to keep track of, I’ve had giant coyotes gulping people down and I’ve done heavily footnoted novelizations of horror movies that never existed. One of my last books has a bunny-headed zombie who shepherds chupacabras around Texas, and the sequel to it’s up soon, Aunt Nell.