Sunday, 8 April 2012

Interview With Storm Constantine.

 Storm Constantine is a British writer of Science Fiction and Fanstasy books. She is best known for her Wraeththu (pronounced Raythoo) chronicles. She pushes out the boat with regard to issues of gender and alternative sexuality. Maybe of her stories involve same sex relationships, androgynes and hermaphrodites. 

I love the way that she pushes boundaries both in relation to gender/sexuality, which is one of my fascinations, but also with regard to all kinds of taboo and what is/isn't 'acceptable' in mainstream literature. Although, I guess her writing stretches the definitions of 'mainstream' too :)

Storm is one of my heroes and I hope you'll enjoy getting to know her a little better. I know I did.

1.       You clearly like torturing your characters as much as I do. So, which particular scenes of torture were your favourites?

Hmm hard question to answer. I think what I enjoy exploring is people’s assumptions and misconceptions about situations, which can of course give rise to torture. The biggest torture is not being able to connect with the ‘beloved’. That is probably a recurrent feature in my work. Sometimes I let them connect, sometimes not.

2.       You’ve probably been asked this a lot but are any of your characters based on people you know/have met. If by any chance Uluame is – do you have his telephone number and is he still single. If not, Seel is a close second. I would say Cal but I figure he’s BOUND to be taken J

Ulaume was not based on anyone I knew or had seen, but Seel was. It was someone I met briefly during the 80s. He was a rare gem, but we never maintained contact. However, he was enough to inspire a character. Cal is like a web of characters and people. He is the ultimate nemesis and beloved. He is made of many people.

3.       What was it that originally sparked off the idea of the Wraeththu story? Was it a dream, a snippet of conversation, someone else’s work, an idea that had been bouncing around for a while, a TV programme?

Honestly, I have no idea. I have Wraeththu stories going back to my teens. It just sort of happened but can’t remember why or how.

4.       When you first started to write the Wraeththu books you MUST have written a plan. Nothing that complicated could have been entirely spontaneous. When you actually got down to writing, did the story take you in unexpected directions? Was the end result a lot different to the original plan?

I wrote... er ... very organically. There was no plan. I just wrote what came out. I still do that really. If an urge takes me, I follow it. The story I’ve written for the next Wraeththu anthology, Para Imminence, was like that. I thought I had a plan then the story decided to hijack that and go off in its own direction. It’s a better story for it, though.

5.       When writing the Grigori trilogy, did you do a lot of research on the mythos of the Grigori and the Nephylim? What was your favourite element of that mythos? Semjaza is an enigmatic character, why did you choose him to fill the role you wrote for him, rather than one of the other fallen?

I’d been into fallen angels from a very young age, and the only reason I started to put all my thoughts, ideas and feelings down about this huge subject was because Andy Collins was writing his ‘From the Ashes of Angels’ non fiction book and was willing to share his research, which helped me shape a fictional take on it.  Shem to me was always the prime mover, because he took the flak for everything that happened.  If you look into the somewhat wobbly mythological ‘facts’, Shem is a composite of many well known names, such as Azazel, Lucifer and so on. He is seen as the ultimate ‘baddy’ yet mythologically, outside of the Judaeo/Christian tradition, such as in one of the Kurdish traditions, he’s seen as the advocate of humanity, not its downfall. I was interested in that aspect. I liked the idea he spoke up for and wanted to advance the human race, yet his rulers said ‘no’ and punished him and his followers for trying.

6.       In Burying the Shadow, what gave you the idea for your depiction of vampires? It’s very different to the traditional one.

Well at the time I wrote that, the flavour of the month in the publishing industry was vampires in fantasy fiction. I just wanted to write a book about vampires and fallen angels that didn’t include either term. Vampires have been flavour of the month for a long time now and I quite detest a lot of the novels written about them.

7.       Is there a connection between your vampires and your fallen angels?

Same thing. From research that Andy Collins did for the aforementioned ‘From the Ashes of Angels’ it’s quite likely the idea came from the same source.

8.       Out of all your books, which character(s) affected you most?  Not necessarily the one(s) you liked/hated most, but the one(s) that had the greatest effect when and after you were writing them.

Probably Cobweb, because he is the voice of reason, and also the voice of kindness.  He says the things, as I type the stories, that I wish I could have said in some situations. He’s due for a reappearance soon and will have one imminently, with more of his words of wisdom. Can’t say more than that.

9.       Which character was the easiest to write? Which was the hardest?

Most characters were easy for me to write. I wouldn’t say any one in particular was hard, but certain scenes were hard to write. In particular when Shem sacrificed himself in Stealing Sacred Fire – that scene made me feel physically sick.

10.   Which character can you picture most easily, and what do they look like?

I can see them all quite easily, but my view is different to anyone else’s reading the stories. That’s the beauty of books over film. You can fill in your own details.

11.   What are your favourite pictures of your characters? By this I mean illustrations, fan art etc. (blatant ploy to get pretty pictures in the blog.)

Ruby, to me, captures best the characters I write about. She has done most of my book covers for my Immanion Press releases, and also the Wraeththu Tarot. But there are also some very good artists out there who capture the spirit of Wraeththu.


12.   What sparked off the idea of writing a new Wraeththu trilogy so long after the first?

Again, no idea. I just woke up one day realised I had a trilogy. Then it started pouring out, and that was that.

13.   What can you tell us about the new Wraeththu stories?

The one I’ve just completed for the forthcoming Para Imminence, I’m very happy with. It involves the future of Galhea and the house We Dwell in Forever. Don’t want to say too much so as not to spoil it. I also want to complete a lot of other half written novellas and stories I have. It’s in the ‘to do’ list.

14.   You have probably guessed that the Wraeththu books are my favourites, although I ADORE the characters in Sign For The Sacred and I want to take Lucien home and keep him in my pocket. He would get on SO well with my characters, Silver and Ariel. However, which is your favourite book that you’ve written.

From a technical (writing) point of view I think the Magravandias trilogy works best, but Wraeththu is my first love. There are some parts of the second trilogy that I just don’t know where they came from but they make me tingle, all the same.


Lianvis and Uluame                                   Pellaz


Cal and Pellaz


15.   If you could throw a dinner party and invite six of your characters who would you choose and why.

Lianvis, the Kakkahar, he would tell some interesting tales. Pellaz because in some ways he is me; we’d either get on or hate one another. Velaxis and Caeru, who would no doubt be full of fascinating gossip. Cal because he’s Cal. And finally Cobweb, who would whisper snippets of information to me about everyone else at the table.

16.   Who is your favourite author

Tanith Lee. She’s been an inspiration to me throughout my life, and now I’m publishing new works of hers. A goddess of language.

17.   I’ve asked you a lot about your works, but what about Storm the person. What ten words do you think best sums you up as a person?

Ten words, ha ha. Lazy, workaholic, insecure, confident, caring, impatient, cruel, kind, jaded, hopeful. Think that covers it!

18.   Is Storm the writer different to Storm the person and, if so what characteristics distinguish each.

Storm the writer and Storm the person are the same. It’s just people’s expectations that might differ. I was quite shocked when I was first published, and people got into the Wraeththu books, that many expected me to be some sort of mystical creature, or perhaps more like my characters than I really am. One guy once came to interview me for a fanzine in the 90s and didn’t hide his astonishment that I behaved like an ordinary person. While amused, I was also impatient with that. Just because someone can tell stories it doesn’t make them a guru or a wise woman by default. We all, every single one of us, have to work on that kind of thing individually, no matter what job we have!

19.   Do you have any little foibles about your writing, for example a favourite brand of coffee you drink when you’re writing, a favourite time of day to write, a special pair of pyjamas you write best in?

It varies. Sometimes I write most easily in the morning, the afternoon or the evening. I think my most important requirement is silence. I can’t bear noise of other people, or even music, while actually writing.

20.   If you could have had any job at all, other than writer, what would it have been?

The top guy at Blizzard Entertainment who owns World of Warcraft. Well, that’s a joke really, but what I mean is that he is in charge of an empire that has created and fully realised a virtual world. Whenever I visit virtual worlds online – and I dabble in several fantasy MMOs – I think wistfully of how I wish one of my imagined worlds could be realised like that. Some virtual worlds are very beautiful and that’s a great part of the appeal of them for me. I like exploring! If I was in the position to recreate in artful pixels the world of Wraeththu, or Magravandias, or even the strange world of Calenture, I’d count myself as having the best job in the world.

21.   What is your deepest fantasy/wish/dream?

To be free of money worries. I’m not greedy. I don’t want a yacht. Just want to have the comfortable freedom that a certain amount of money allows.

22.   Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

Hopefully the same but richer!

23.   Is there a single person who has helped you more than anyone else in your writing… ideas, practicality, handling your temper and mood swings (which as a writer I presume you must have at times when writing)

Again, Tanith Lee. That’s for inspiration and also support for my writing. I also have a few dear friends who I turn to when I’m having a wobble in life, and feel blessed for having them.

24.   What would be your best piece of advice for a writer today, trying to get their books noticed, especially when they are not mainstream? (okay, yeah, this one’s for me but still, advice is advice and it’s not something I’m going to be keeping to myself)

There are three things I’d say.

First, it’s a struggle in some ways nowadays, in that the big publishing houses are soulless and often difficult to penetrate, but at the same time we now have the Internet at our disposal, which years ago, when I was first writing, would have sounded like a science fiction Utopian dream for writers. You really have to make the most of it, promote yourself, talk about your passion for your work in every appropriate place. Use social media, even if you find some of it repellent. (Twitter, *shudder*). However, the downside of this free dispersal of information is that many people who think they are gifted writers don’t get the education of working with a qualified editor. I know from personal experience that you’re not the best judge of your own work when you start out. When I republished the first Wraeththu trilogy, parts of the prose made me wince, they were so badly written. Only experience enabled me to see that – and these books were edited professionally at the start too. As an editor as well as a writer, I had to correct those books before I could bear to publish them again.

So, the second piece of advice I’d give is get as much feedback as you can, from people you trust to be honest – usually other writers – rather than friends or family who might simply say, ‘oh yes, very nice’. That’s no help at all. A true writer wants the unadulterated truth on how to improve and refine their words.

Thirdly, and perhaps the most important, become accomplished with a writer’s tools – words. Study language, learn how to get the best from it, be conversant with grammar, syntax and punctuation. An artist cannot create without their tools, i.e. pigment of some kind. Words are a writer’s pigments, their colour palette. Learn how to apply them well.

25.   Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself or your work that you might want to get out there or that can help YOU? There’s not a huge amount of publicity I can drum up but if you have any pet projects you would like to get out there, I’ll do my very best to get them heard.

Well despite all my good intentions for this year, I’ve become bogged down in Immanion Press work so much I haven’t started the new novel I’d wistfully been thinking of doing. However that doesn’t mean I haven’t had a little time to fit in some creative work of my own. I’ve written one story for Para Imminence, the next Wraeththu short story anthology (we’re still looking for submissions to that, by the way, should anyone reading this be interested in submitting). While Paragenesis, the collection that came out last year, focused on the early days of Wraeththu, for this new one I’ve asked contributors to think about the far future, which opens everything up for really interesting possibilities.  I’m also working on the second Deharan Magic book. While I might not be able to create a virtual world online for Wraeththu, I can create a magical system, which is a lot of fun. Pop culture magic really intrigues me. I’ve also started a second story for Para Imminence and am currently working on a further short for another anthology.

I’m gradually republishing all of my back catalogue through Immanion Press. The novel Aleph is due this summer, and I hope to get time this year to republish another one, possibly Sign for the Sacred. I’m also slogging through getting all the books out as ebook editions. Most are available via and I’m starting to get them onto Amazon’s Kindle now as well.

All my books, and those of other writers we publish, can be found at

No comments:

Post a Comment