Prime Time Replay:

Roberta Lannes
on The Mirror of Night

MsgId: *omni_visions(22)
Date: Thu Jun 19 22:03:07 EDT 1997
From: ed_bryant_mod At:

Hello, and welcome to what I believe will be an illuminating and provocative two hours of Omni Visions. My guest tonight is Roberta Lannes, a writer of (mostly) exceedingly dark horror fiction whose career thus far has played in the arena of short fiction. *The Mirror of Night*, her first book, is a collection of ten stories, and is about to be published by Silver Salamander Press. Welcome, Roberta. Thanks for joining us.
MsgId: *omni_visions(24)
Date: Thu Jun 19 22:03:51 EDT 1997
From: RobertaLannes At:

Hi Ed, thanks for the welcome!
MsgId: *omni_visions(25)
Date: Thu Jun 19 22:06:23 EDT 1997
From: ed_bryant_mod At:

Anyone who's carving out a major career predominantly through short fiction is dear to my heart. I'm thinking of writers such as Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison, first-rate talents whose initial reputations have been based on short fiction. Is short fiction your chosen mode, or are there two or three dozen unpublished novels we're not seeing?
MsgId: *omni_visions(27)
Date: Thu Jun 19 22:08:23 EDT 1997
From: RobertaLannes At:

I do happen to have two unpublished novels gathering bytes in my computer, but my first love is the short story. I hope to do novels successfully, but as of yet, I lose steam before I reach the end on the new one I'm hacking at.
MsgId: *omni_visions(28)
Date: Thu Jun 19 22:09:56 EDT 1997
From: ed_bryant_mod At:

A decade and more ago, there was word of a "novel of obsession and murder" called *The Hallowed Bed*. Is that one of those books in the file?
MsgId: *omni_visions(29)
Date: Thu Jun 19 22:12:18 EDT 1997
From: RobertaLannes At:

The Hallowed Bed is complete and relegated to the darkest dungeon of my computer. It was my first. It ain't bad, but it sort of reeks of ambition, not talent. Glass Tomb is my second, and it is also not what I hope I can produce now. I'm at work on Perversion of Angels right now.
MsgId: *omni_visions(31)
Date: Thu Jun 19 22:14:58 EDT 1997
From: ed_bryant_mod At:

Good titles! Question: do you really lust to write novels? How much propaganda do you get from novelists and novel-groupies who think that longer narratives are somehow a nobler form?
MsgId: *omni_visions(33)
Date: Thu Jun 19 22:17:21 EDT 1997
From: RobertaLannes At:

Lust to write novels? Not quite the verb I'd use. Perhaps I have an inclination to write one. As for novel-groupies, I've heard mostly from editors in the field that they'd like to see a novel out of me, which is flattering as hell, I can tell you that! Some fans have suggested I do something they can sit with for a longer period of time. I wonder about them...
MsgId: *omni_visions(34)
Date: Thu Jun 19 22:20:48 EDT 1997
From: ed_bryant_mod At:

At least the horror field has a healthy diversity of markets right now for short fiction. I want to ask about that definitional thing--is horror defined by attitude or subject matter? The fiction of yours I think is the most effective is dark and extreme, but it's not supernatural. You do use the conventinal icons, but in unconventional ways. Where do your personal tastes enter into this, your personal esthetic?
MsgId: *omni_visions(35)
Date: Thu Jun 19 22:24:46 EDT 1997
From: RobertaLannes At:

Oh, boy, a chunk of questions. Let me see... Horror, as I see it, can be subject matter driven, like monsters and evil spirits, AND it can be attitudinal. I sort of stumbled into horror as a genre because the literary fiction world I'd published in very early on began rejecting me on the pretense that my work was "too dark" or "grim". Those adjectives descibe an attitude in horror.

I would also add that I write about what fascinates, disturbs, or alienates me. Happy-go-lucky shiny faced characters bore me a bit.

MsgId: *omni_visions(37)
Date: Thu Jun 19 22:29:19 EDT 1997
From: ed_bryant_mod At:

Then when you use the icons, the zombies, the daemon lovers and such, are you consciously looking for solid, horrific metaphors, or--? I guess I'm trying to find out, among other things, if you had any kind of ill-spent childhood or youth with literary of movie horrors.
MsgId: *omni_visions(38)
Date: Thu Jun 19 22:34:17 EDT 1997
From: RobertaLannes At:

Oh, yeah. I see where you're going. The truth is somewhat boring in that many of the icons I've used in my short stories were defined by the theme of an anthology. I have no interest in werewolves or one-eyed monsters as characters in the conventional sense. I suppose they are metaphors for the human condition, and it is humanity. or our lack of it that fascinates me. As for my childhood, I was scared early by movies like House on Haunted Hill, and The Beast with Five Fingers, and that spawned my initial interest in Famous Monsters Magazine. That which terrified me, fascinated me.

Let me ask you a question, Ed. What does "extreme" fiction mean?

MsgId: *omni_visions(41)
Date: Thu Jun 19 22:38:39 EDT 1997
From: ed_bryant_mod At:

Ah, you've mentioned Famous Monsters of Filmland, my solace in the back of the school bus all through junior high and into high school. Stereotypically, you know, it was boys who loved that magazine. And stereotypically these days, the plethora of fine newer writers is heavily female. You, Poppy Z. Brite, Kathe Koja, Lucy Taylor, Nancy Holder, so many others, deal in heavily relationship-based horror fiction. Are guys just lazy, do you think? Do you suspect we just don't get it? Maybe there's a genetic predisposition at work? Wrestle with that one, please.

Extreme fiction is short-hand, of course. Extreme, compared to what? Probably it relates to where each of us starts to react to the brilliance or volume as the rheostat cranks up... Poppy Z. Brite's *Exquisite Corpse* is, to me, extreme. A good working example in short fiction is your own "Goodbye, Dark Love." It's fiction that engenders very, very strong reactions in the reader.

MsgId: *omni_visions(43)
Date: Thu Jun 19 22:45:27 EDT 1997
From: RobertaLannes At:

Maybe I'll get some tag team help out of the other female horror writers out there later on this one. In the meantime, I would say that "heavily-relationship" based horror is primarily the domain of female writers because of the prehistoric imperatives. You guys went out there hunting and killing while we were cavebound with kids DEALING with relationships. All kinds. Between ourselves and our family, nature, the unknown. We may simply find it more interesting to view the world or horror from within a "relationship"-based point. In addition, the philosophy, psychology of man seems to be more the realm of the woman horror writer.
MsgId: *omni_visions(44)
Date: Thu Jun 19 22:48:38 EDT 1997
From: ed_bryant_mod At:

That's why I suspect women-written horror fiction is often so genuinely frightening. A lot of readers (and writers), both male and female, find relationships something both real and scary. Werewolf metaphors be damned.
MsgId: *omni_visions(45)
Date: Thu Jun 19 22:49:05 EDT 1997
From: RobertaLannes At:

I have been referred to as a "powerful" writer, and prefer that to being "extreme". I don't try to push a reader into feeling what I want them to feel. I invite. At least I hope that is the effect.

Relationships are probably the hardest things to navigate in this world, and the most rewarding when you finally "get it". But the fact that they are difficult doesn't make them so frightening. It's the potential for loss in them that makes us scared. The potential for exposure. Hurt. Self-discovery...and not always of the "nice" kind.

MsgId: *omni_visions(47)
Date: Thu Jun 19 22:53:10 EDT 1997
From: ed_bryant_mod At:

Well, I've no problem with thinking of you as a "powerful" writer at all. You are. I know that you're a high school teacher when you're not writing powerful fiction. Do your students know about your double identity? Will some of them get to use the new book as grist for term papers? And how do your colleagues view your work?
MsgId: *omni_visions(48)
Date: Thu Jun 19 22:57:10 EDT 1997
From: RobertaLannes At:

The double life is tough. I work in a suburban sprawl at the edge of Los Angeles County where there is a huge Christian and Morman community. I've already had problems of the legal sort when I introduced SPSomtow to my students along with his first movie (you know the one, you were in it!). We were focusing on the special effects, but the lead actor, writer Tim Sullivan explained the story. It was relayed back to a girl's parents, who just happened to be Fundamentalists. It's much more complex than I can go into here, but I had to get legal representation when they wanted me fired. Needless to say, I am still teaching, so they had no case, but I have to be careful who knows.

As for my colleagues, well, they've weathered many of my second careers over twenty-five years and supported me. Not all of them, some don't read (now won't that surprise some of you who think our educational system sucks!)

MsgId: *omni_visions(50)
Date: Thu Jun 19 23:00:32 EDT 1997
From: ed_bryant_mod At:

I'm glad that worked out. But I can imagine a hypothetical scene with you signing books in a mall or bookstore when a student and parents stroll by. Speaking of which, are there any scheduled events for *The Mirror of Night* so that West Coasters can get their copies personalized?
MsgId: *omni_visions(51)
Date: Thu Jun 19 23:03:54 EDT 1997
From: RobertaLannes At:

I've already had a signing at Dark Delicacies in Burbank, and I believe my publisher is working on another at Dangerous Visions. At least I hope he is (are you reading this John?) Quick comment on my students using The Mirror of Night for term papers...I actually had four students order paperbacks via the web and they came in for a personal autograph session. That was terrifying. I began to have visions of their parents finding the book, reading a page... well, you can imagine with the explicit nature of some of the stories!
MsgId: *omni_visions(52)
Date: Thu Jun 19 23:08:21 EDT 1997
From: ed_bryant_mod At:

Note to those of you of a mature reading nature with an adventurous bent. I know from experience that you can call up and go from there both to Silver Salamander's site and to Roberta's web site. The former will help you order--it's a specialty publisher, after all, and not every Barnes&Noble will carry the book. At the Lannes web site, you'll find a short biography by Roberta's Boswell, Lisa Morton; a bibliography; a sample or two of new fiction; and an art gallery. Have you always worked in graphic arts? And segue into what people will find when they look at the new book.
MsgId: *omni_visions(53)
Date: Thu Jun 19 23:14:35 EDT 1997
From: RobertaLannes At:

I was trained in college in commercial art, which we now call advertising design and graphic design. I even had a business called Live Ideas Inside for twelve years. I still do art for people, but more for fun than profit. As for what folks will find in The Mirror of Night...some heavy topical stuff when it was written. Goodbye, Dark Love, my first horror story, tells a tale that is now all too common. You don't need horror fiction to stun you anymore when it comes to child-abuse. Auntie, too. My reprinted work is largely from the mid-80's up until 1993. The newer things are stories that grew out of my curiosities, things that the Internet provided me insight into. A bit of animal love. The duality of gender. Philosophical stuff.
MsgId: *omni_visions(55)
Date: Thu Jun 19 23:17:18 EDT 1997
From: ed_bryant_mod At:

You seem to have incorporated the Internet into your life with alacrity. Were you never a technophobe?

Oh, and I should mention that I was hinting at the reality that folks can view some really nice Lannes artwork on the web site. And the cover illustration on the book is by the writer herself.

MsgId: *omni_visions(57)
Date: Thu Jun 19 23:19:28 EDT 1997
From: RobertaLannes At:

Technophobe? As late as 1988 I refused to use a calculator in case I might forget my times tables! I was a Luddite Princess! I have Charles Platt to thank for introducing me to technology. It's been the best gift!

And thanks for the plug about my web site. I wish I could scan the larger artwork I've done. It's really cool.

MsgId: *omni_visions(61)
Date: Thu Jun 19 23:23:34 EDT 1997
From: ed_bryant_mod At:

Speaking of powerful writers, your book has a (non)introduction by Harlan Ellison. That is definitely a cool ornament for the collection. After Harlan agreed to the enterprise, did you ever wonder what the heck he was going to do by way of his essay?
MsgId: *omni_visions(62)
Date: Thu Jun 19 23:23:53 EDT 1997
From: guest At:

Hey Roberta and Ed:

Two questions for Roberta: 1) I love your story "When Memory Fails" from LOVE IN VEIN II. Could you talk about how you created a whole new vampire mythology for that one, and what inspired it? And 2) How about a cat sequel to "Dark Horse"?


MsgId: *omni_visions(64)
Date: Thu Jun 19 23:30:16 EDT 1997
From: RobertaLannes At:

To Ed, Harlan surprised me by offering to do the intro because I'd merely asked him to help me choose someone to do an intro. He told me then what he thought of intros and would I mind if he had a go at it. Well, I could not say "No way, man.". So he penned his thoughts on intros in his Not-An-Intro!

Roxie--The mythos for the "other" vampire lot came from my curiosity about sexual addiction. I know a man who goes to an AA kind of thing for his addiction and went to a meeting with him. It seemed like another world. I felt as though everyone in the room was a kind of vampire. Hence my characters. And as for a kitty story, no way. Cats are the supreme beings and should only be loved with hugs and lots of scratching.

MsgId: *omni_visions(65)
Date: Thu Jun 19 23:32:08 EDT 1997
From: ed_bryant_mod At:

I don't think I've ever asked a guest about her rubber stamp addiction. Ever thought (or done it) of designing your own? 4,000+? That's for real?
MsgId: *omni_visions(66)
Date: Thu Jun 19 23:34:27 EDT 1997
From: RobertaLannes At:

Um,well, yeah. You let out my secret. I'm frighteningly ordinary in real life. I have addictions like rubber stamps, mail art, gummy candy, chocolate, and snuggling with my husband. I can even withstand not turning on the computer for days at a time!

As for designing my own, I think what I find "cute" for stamps wouldn't be popular...

MsgId: *omni_visions(70)
Date: Thu Jun 19 23:39:19 EDT 1997
From: ed_bryant_mod At:

Well...I've got some Clive Barker designed rubber stamps that also aren't "cute". But I believe they did just fine in the marketplace in specialty stores.

Since you live in the hot-bed of the motion picture industry, have you felt any temptations that direction? Anyone (oh, from Miramax maybe--that's the closest you'll get to Disney) tried to inveigle you into being rich?

MsgId: *omni_visions(71)
Date: Thu Jun 19 23:39:28 EDT 1997
From: guest At:

Hi guys - Boswell (aka Lisa Morton) here. Roberta, you were asking for some tag team help on the question of why women write horror. Here's a topic for chaw: Women are naturally more open with their emotions, and horror is the most viscerally (pun intended) emotional genre there is. Just makes sense.
MsgId: *omni_visions(72)
Date: Thu Jun 19 23:40:26 EDT 1997
From: EllenDatlow At:

I'm here. How do you feel about being considered (by some) a writer of erotic horror. Is it your intent to continue in that direction or do you see your writing taking a turn into a different direction?
MsgId: *omni_visions(73)
Date: Thu Jun 19 23:41:38 EDT 1997
From: ed_bryant_mod At:

And along that line, do you see a distinction between erotic horror and sexual horror?
MsgId: *omni_visions(74)
Date: Thu Jun 19 23:43:27 EDT 1997
From: guest At:

Hi Roberta,

You mention Clive Barker. Have you had anything to do with his latest (A-Z) Book of Horror?

MsgId: *omni_visions(75)
Date: Thu Jun 19 23:44:47 EDT 1997
From: RobertaLannes At:

Ed, Clive Barker stamps? Where did you get them? Can I order some? God, stop me!

Hollywood has come knocked on my door. I sold the option on "Auntie" for a year, but nothing came of it. I have written plays which have garnered readings, but not yet performed. As for the BIG time, I await the interest of others, but am not ambitious yet.

Hi Bos, glad to have your thoughts. And you're right. Although many men write poignant and touching fiction from the heart, they don't write it in the horror genre. Well, I suppose Harlan Ellison might be considered in that group, though he's not just a horror writer.

MsgId: *omni_visions(77)
Date: Thu Jun 19 23:45:26 EDT 1997
From: guest At:

Ms Lannes (may I call you Roberta), I enjoy your stores. Seconding Ed's comments about their possible potential as movies, how's about another medium: wouldn't they make excellent radio scripts? Marty
MsgId: *omni_visions(78)
Date: Thu Jun 19 23:46:10 EDT 1997
From: ed_bryant_mod At:

The Barker stamps were sold through Dark Carnival in Berkeley.
MsgId: *omni_visions(79)
Date: Thu Jun 19 23:48:09 EDT 1997
From: EllenDatlow At:

There's also a wonderful set of Edward Gorey stamps.
MsgId: *omni_visions(80)
Date: Thu Jun 19 23:49:08 EDT 1997
From: RobertaLannes At:

Hi Ellen. Welcome to our little tea party! Sexual horror is sex used to violate. Erotic horror is sex used to titillate, invoke warm and creamy feelings, then of course rip you into another place when you'd rather stay there. I like to write erotic fiction, whether it be horror or outside of the genre, probably because I am a sensualist. As for moving in another direction, I'd say I'm writing more in the magical realism realm these days. Horror Lite.

Yeah, Clive Barker's A-Z is actually a television series made by the BBC and I was filmed for a portion of it. Some of the quotes from the TV series are in the book.

Hi Marty. I was asked to do a radio play, but at a time when I was trying to finish my story collection. You're right about my work lending itself to the medium. I've often thought of writing something specifically for the aural.

MsgId: *omni_visions(82)
Date: Thu Jun 19 23:51:42 EDT 1997
From: ed_bryant_mod At:

Gotta ask while there's still a little time: what have you got coming up toward publication? what we look forward to?
MsgId: *omni_visions(83)
Date: Thu Jun 19 23:54:11 EDT 1997
From: guest At:

Roberta, your books have been published in other languages than English, haven't they: what is different about non-US' readers' reactions? I mean, do they draw chiefly on *our* cultural references or see something more universal in what you write? Leon
MsgId: *omni_visions(84)
Date: Thu Jun 19 23:54:31 EDT 1997
From: RobertaLannes At:

Ed: A story in the new Phantasm. That's about it. My switching from the explicit horror to something more literary and mild is not being received with the same enthusiasm as the former.

Hi Leon. Well, it may be because the work is in a foreign language that I rarely hear about it. I just got a request for a reprint of "Essense of the Beast" for a French anthology, so I am seeing universal interest in my work.

We're about through with this shindig. Anyone got a good question before we dance off into the sunset?

MsgId: *omni_visions(87)
Date: Thu Jun 19 23:59:31 EDT 1997
From: guest At:

When you say 'more literary and mild', what does this mean. And when can we hope to see it? J
MsgId: *omni_visions(88)
Date: Fri Jun 20 00:01:13 EDT 1997
From: RobertaLannes At:

An example would be "Butcher's Logic" in Lethal Kisses edited by Ellen Datlow! As for the future, I'm circumspect.
MsgId: *omni_visions(89)
Date: Fri Jun 20 00:01:17 EDT 1997
From: ed_bryant_mod At:

The East Coast server may well cut us all off at the knees a midnight EDT. So just in case, I want to thank Roberta Lannes, very, very much for being tonight's guest on Omni Visions. Her first book, the collection *The Mirror of Night,* ten stories, half of the words brand-new, along with an intro essay by Harlan Ellison, has just been published by Silver Salamander Press. Check specialty bookstores or Silver Salamander's web site through for ordering informaton. Roberta's work is powerful, dark, and redemptive. You need to check it out.

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