Q&A with Colleen: Themes

Around 15 years ago, my best friend had some time to read, so I gave her a bunch of book suggestions. I can remember a few:

  • Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsong
  • Robin McKinley’s Hero and the Crown
  • Patricia McKillip’s Forgotten Beasts of Eld
  • Meredith Ann Pierce’s Darkangel

After my friend read them, she pointed out to me that all my favorite books were about a young, ostracized female who talks to animals, develops amazing healing powers, and ends up saving the world. I laughed because it was true, and I hadn’t even noticed.

Anyway, I’m happy to say that my tastes have expanded somewhat. That particular theme does come out occasionally in my own work, but as I’m middle-aged, not ostracized, and I connect with people more than animals these days (I often felt the reverse when I was younger) it’s harder for me to Mary Sue that story line into a writing project. So this leads me to the second question in my Q&A:

What themes do you pursue?

I pursue the same themes in writing as I do in my daily life, as the writing is an exploration of identity, my own reality, my perspective on society, cultures, and relationship, sublimated and expressed in metaphor. I like to look at how the outer and inner worlds reflect one another, particularly in the shadow. How can external conflict be resolved through inner growth and a shift in consciousness? Where are we enslaved by our conditions, and how can we free ourselves to cause reality instead of being the effect of past creations? How can we heal self and society?

When I write erotica, it’s a little less deep, but a lot more fun. Plot becomes secondary and the stories come from a different place—the characters take on their own lives and play how they will. Despite the lack of depth in these stories, I do enjoy making an oblique commentary on fantasy vs. reality.

I seem to have written quite a lot about detached penises, but I think that whatever that is has worked itself out.


Q&A with Colleen: What I do

Around fourteen years ago I received a diagnosis of a precancerous condition, a severe cervical dysplasia, right before I was leaving for a summer in Brussels, Belgium. The typical treatment at that time was cryotherapy–freezing off the abnormal cells of the cervix. Because I had no time for this treatment before leaving, I decided that I would explore alternative healing methods while I was abroad. This led me to a naturopath in the Netherlands who dowsed my body to find the right diet for me and also to an ashram in the Belgian Ardennes where I received a couple of shamanic healings and met some very interesting people.

This isn’t a story about my healing of the disease, which did happen after almost a decade of experimentation. It’s not a story about what happened in Belgium, either. In fact, it isn’t a story at all. It’s a tangent to how I met a Facebook friend named Simon who I don’t actually know, but who is a real-life friend of a couple of the people I met in the ashram. He’s one of those few people who posts meaty and posts often, one of the few who I will always read what he says. I’m honestly captivated by much of what he writes, and inspired by how much he lives what he preaches.

Anyway, he has a “Q&A” section of his blog that I decided to try as a limited experiment in breaking out of a mental paralysis that has taken hold of me the past few months.

Here’s the first question:

Explain what you do in 100 words.

Because of my internal tug-of-war between what I’m doing and what I wish I was doing, I end up drifting, mentally scattered and physically a zombie, an effect of my prior creations. I float just above an accumulating anxiety that craves a big picture when it knows only that nothing can be known. I allow myself to be distracted from the existential crisis that consumes me by the daily responsibilities that don’t go away, but I’m pulled into those beta-wave spaces unwillingly. Sometimes I love, and that feels right. I want to cause my life, but not without vision, will, and desire. I try to focus inwards and to evoke my joy, and I keep hoping that this is enough.






Interview with Valentine Lahey, winner of the “Draw Minimus” Contest

Here it is, from Valentine Lahey, the winner of Montag Press‘ “Draw Minimus” Contest!

In Dysmorphic Kingdom, Minimus is Prince Magnus’ princely penis, who because of some strange magic has been detached from his body. 

MeOne of the reasons why I like your drawing is that it represents a penis without being pornographic. Did you do that on purpose? 

Valentine: Yeah, I think so. There is an overflowing universe of salacious material present nowadays that tends to obviate the novelty of porn in art.

Me: What do you think of Minimus’ character, and how does that translate to this picture of him? 

Valentine: Minimus keeps developing, deepening until he transcends absurdity. It’s why I gave him eyes. I imagine there would be something wistful about him in the midst of his rampaging lust; a spiritual yearning for reunion. I also think that his ambition must be acknowledged, so I drew Minimus with his attention on the taking of political power in Malland.

Me: Why is there a rainbow in the background? 

Valentine: Rainbows simultaneously evoke wishes and barriers.

MeCan you say something about the development of your distinct style of drawing? 

Valentine: It’s deliberately feeble, in a way. I use my wrong hand, the left one, and a cursor pad instead of drawing straight onto a screen, so it’s very hard to control the line or even see where it’s going. Everything is colored with a flat paint bucket fill, which is usually a bad way to operate because it is so limited. I look for constraints that force choices to make the process more immediate. Even if the result is loaded with illustrative errors and visible corrections, it is hopefully more memorable as a result of this method.