by JW Stebner
I had the pleasure of asking Evan Marcroft a few questions regarding his short story, Samson Opens His Eye, as well as his writing process and inspirations. A relatively new voice in speculative fiction, Evan has recently published pieces in Asimov’s SF, PseudoPod, Strange Horizons, Metaphorosis, and the upcoming Dark Matter Magazine.
If you wish to learn more about Evan and the other authors of Issue 1, you can find their bios by clicking HERE.
“Power crackles in a malignant heaven. Lightning flashes, strikes metal, the utmost nail of a titanium hand protruding from the earth. Shedding momentum with each sliver of a second, it gutters down a stair of servos and wires into the earth, where worms ride robotic skeletons like reef-smashed ships, then at last between the slats in a steel ribcage. A bone-cold battery snaps up that last, dim volt, and warms.
Samson comes alive.”Evan Marcroft
JW: What inspired you to write “Samson Opens His Eye”? Was there a sudden moment of inspiration or did you build the narrative over time?
EM: I’d actually had the basics of the plot rattling around in my head for a while: a cyborg supersoldier rising from the dead on a mission of vengeance, becoming progressively more monstrous over time. The thematic core grew later out of a reaction I had to a short story I came upon, in which a person traveled from universe to dystopian universe destroying those deemed incapable of becoming better. With respect to the author, I felt that this was a horrible message to push, that a timeline could be utterly irredeemable, its population deserving of obliteration. As dark as Samson is, its message is the inverse: no matter how dismal the reality, things can become better, if people are willing to strive for it. The ending is actually one of my happiest, since only a majority of its cast end up dead.
JW: When I read “Samson Opens His Eye” the first time, I made connections to the tale of Samson and Delilah. Were these connections intentional, and if so, was there a reason why you decided to explore this tale?
EM: Good question! It actually wasn’t intentional, at least to begin with. Initially, I chose the name Samson spontaneously, and the suggestive names DelianCo and Philistine were coincidental, at least consciously—I can’t speak for what my subconscious was doing. It wasn’t until I submitted a rough draft for public critique that folks pointed out the parallels between this piece and the tale of Samson and Delilah, at which point it only made sense to play them up in revisions.
JW: The Black Goddess is a powerful entity in your short story “Samson Opens His Eye.” What do you think the Black Goddess does/could represent?
EM: I’m a big fan of not knowing what my own characters represent. If I had to pick two things, I’d say that she represents nihilism, cynicism, and accelerationism. She is the embodiment of the fertile world, yet has given up completely on her own rehabilitation, and wants only to utterly destroy the humans that live upon her, whatever the consequences may be. She is the idea that nothing can become better, that bad things are better off gone, that it is better to rush towards oblivion than to slowly creep towards hope. She is that little voice we all hear sometimes, urging us to flip over the table, or give up on a difficult relationship. And I hope I’ve made her at least a little sympathetic, because her stance is understandable, even if I don’t agree with it.
JW: As demonstrated in “Samson Opens His Eye,” your writing style is visceral and full of imagery. Are there any particular authors/creators who have inspired your particular style? What do you try to convey when writing a story like “Samson Opens His Eye”?
EM: Historically, I’ve been really into authors like China Mieville, which shaped my style of worldbuilding and prose, but since I began writing short fiction, my primary inspirations have been authors such as Cassandra Khaw, D. A. Xiaolin Spires, and Merc Fenn Wolfmoor, who are all amazingly better than I am at everything I want to do, and make me seethe with nuclear jealously every day. These authors in particular have an unparalleled sense of imagery, world-building, and character vivacity, and I often find myself turning to their works when I’m running low on writer juice. I can’t recommend their works highly enough.
JW: Can you describe your personal writing process? Do you use any visuals for inspiration? Perhaps you have a special candle that you light when you’re writing or a specific chair reserved for brainstorming?
EM: Honestly, I listen to a lot of music for inspiration. A lot of my stories have come out of how a particular song makes me feel, and an urge to translate that feeling into prose. This story, for example, was inspired by the song Zombie, by the Cranberries. It’s not nothing to do with the actual subject matter of that song, but everything to do with the more abstract mood of it. As far as physical accessories go I don’t have any, but when writer’s block begins to set in, or even if I’m just stuck on a difficult line, I often find myself taking my laptop to the bed, or the kitchen, or even the bathroom, as that physical motion will more often than not jog my thinking loose.
JW: Can you speak about a larger project that you might be working on? A passion project or slowly developing epic that might be something to look for in the future?
EM: While I’m not presently working on a novel or anything (at least not in the sense of putting words on paper), I’ve found myself accidentally building an expanded universe of stories all set in the same fantasy universe. One has been published already in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #43, and another is forthcoming in an anthology by Metaphorosis, while a third is on the way in a publication I can’t name just yet. This setting was originally created for a novel I wrote years ago; while the book was trunked, the world of Nelga Nense stuck with me, and I’ve enjoyed exploring its landscapes, creatures, and histories, gradually creating a larger and more vivid panorama. It’s a deliciously dark and unhappy place, where the monsters are eldritch, the politics vicious, and where every victory is pyrrhic; I can’t wait to introduce more readers to it. Keep a look out for more on the way.
JW: How might interested readers keep up with your future work?
EM: I built my first website this year, and I love showing it off at every opportunity. Readers can find a running list of my publications at evan-marcroft.squarespace.com, or follow me on twitter at @Evan_Marcroft. They can throw me a message there too; I respond to everybody, no exceptions.
A sensational author to watch in the future, Evan Marcroft will surely continue to amaze and excite his readers. We plan to bring you an interview with each feature story author for all future issues.
If you would like to read the issue which includes Evan’s short story, you can find it HERE.