March sees the release of the eagerly anticipated Corrupts Absolutely? from Damnation Books. Today, editor and author, Lincoln Crisler joins me to discuss the book. Lincoln, a US Army combat veteran and non-commissioned officer, also gives us a sneak preview of some of his other 2012 releases, including his contribution to IDW's Zombies Vs Robots, an upcoming collaboration titled Four In The Morning, and Wild 2, his follow up to his 2011 novella Wild.
Hi Lincoln. Welcome to Dreams of the Damned. First up, what is Corrupts Absolutely?
LC: It’s a collection of dark fiction predicated upon the idea of what “real people” might do if they had superpowers, like in comic books.
LM: What can we expect from some of the stories?
LC: Try to crack into it without expectations. There’s people with mental powers, people who can fly, who have super-strength...there’s at least one high-tech protagonist, and a couple of sidekicks. That’s about where any similarity to your standard comic book ends. If you can accurately describe this book in terms of another project, I may have done something wrong.
LM: Where did the idea come from for an anthology of dark meta-human fiction?
LC: Corrupts? is based on two ideas: One, that there just isn’t enough superhero prose out there. Superhero comics have been done ad nauseum, for the most part, in my humble opinion and there are plenty of derivative movies, but precious little in the way of stories. There’s some good stuff, but you have to hunt, and once it’s gone, it’s gone.
The second is that people wouldn’t really act the way they do in comic books if they had powers...and while that might seem a little obvious, it also makes for interesting reading. I’m not exactly blazing a new trail here; the idea’s been explored a bit in actual comic books, but that brings us back to my original thought: precious little in the way of prose.
LM: There was a lot of interest in Corrupts Absolutely? What separated the good from the bad in terms of submissions?
LC: The stories I accepted were the very cream of the crop. I could have easily pulled another 5-8 stories out of the pile, but I wanted a reasonable-length anthology at a reasonable price, and that meant around 20 stories and 85,000 words. I got some pretty funny stuff, and you can read more about that here, but I also received work from authors I never heard of before that is on par with that offered by the more seasoned contributors.
LM: What advice would you give to writers wishing to contribute to anthologies?
LC: Reading guidelines will save you time and heartbreak. Reading guidelines will save you time and heartbreak. Reading guidelines will save you time and heartbreak.
LM: What do you believe the attraction of the superhero / supervillain is?
LC: There are certain moral dilemmas that simply aren’t going to be part of most people’s experience. I, for instance, will never have to seriously consider whether I’d cheat on my wife if trapped in an elevator for two hours with a naked and willing Sandra Bullock. I’ll never know how I’d really handle the zombie apocalypse. And I, like everyone else, will never have to really deal with going through life with superpowers. Sure, we can posit theories about what we would do, and that’s the attraction. There are a lot of things to consider. Would you procreate, knowing you could pass your powers on to another human being? Would you actually go to work like every other poor slob and take crap from an idiot (perceived or actual) boss? Would you brush off the neighborhood bully, knowing you could kill him with a thought and use your powers to make everyone forget they saw you do it?
LM: If you were a supervillain, who would it be and why? Also, the villains usually fail. How would you put this right?
LC: I don’t know if I’d be a supervillain. There’s an equal chance that I wouldn’t stick my neck out as a hero, don’t get me wrong. I think I’d probably use my powers to make a comfortable life for myself...a Chaotic Neutral sort, I guess you’d say. I wouldn’t rape and pillage, but I wouldn’t be against walking up to some overpaid CEO and telling him to give me a million bucks in cash, then disappearing into the night, you know?
Villains fail because if they didn’t, there’d be no more comic book. It’s the same reason heroes fail. Now, I might get some odd looks for saying “Heroes fail,” but think about it. Magneto’s good now, but he’ll be bad again. The Joker’s still alive. If I was Batman, I’d have killed the shit out of the Joker the first time he murdered an innocent person. But after a few issues of that, who’s left? And while of course that presents a dilemma for the comics industry, there’s also the moral dilemma: would it be right for Batman to kill the Joker? I say hell yes, but that’s just my opinion.
LM: 2012 is a busy year for you. As well as Corrupts Absolutely? one of your most exciting projects is IDW's Zombies vs. Robots. Your featured story "Kettletop's Revisionary Plot" is due in March. Tell us about it.
LC: IDW releases Zombies vs. Robots comics in groups of limited series, each telling a complete story arc. Basically, the zombie apocalypse kicks off when three scientists go through a time portal and bring back the zombie virus, and big robots try to fight them off. This year, the editors launched a prose line. My story is about a fourth scientist, a colleague of the other three, who, after months of dodging zombies, hatches a plot to go back in time and stop the whole thing. The story’s going to be available digitally for .99 on March 9th, and then be released as part of a hardcover anthology in early April.
LM: In June you have pencilled in the release of a collaboration with Tim Marquitz, Ed Erdelac and Malon Edwards for a four novella collaboration titled Four in the Morning. What can we expect from Four in the Morning and what is your featured novella?
LC: Four in the Morning is going to stomp some serious ass. It’s a collection of novellas based around age, and dealing with an issue from each stage of life in a speculative manner. Not only are we each dealing with a different sort of character (child, teen, grown adult, elderly adult), we each wrote our story in a completely different style. Malon’s is steampunk, Ed’s is urban fantasy, mine is dark science fiction and Tim’s is straight horror/thriller. My story, QUEEN, is about a middle-aged woman going through a mid-life crisis, who volunteers for an experimental reverse-aging treatment
LM: You have announced a follow up to your 2011 novella Wild. Wild 2 is due for release in September. What does the sequel have in store for fans of the original?
LC: I’m still plotting it, but as it stands right now, it’s not taking place in the West, there won’t be any zombies and you’ll learn more about Matthias and Juan. I’m pretty sure I’m going with a New England witches’ coven as the main antagonists.
LM: In general, as a reader what do you think good writing is?
LC: Good writing is well-constructed and makes efficient use of the language to communicate an engaging story. If you’re lucky, it’ll make you think long after you’ve turned the last page. Worst-case, you never pick it up again, but don’t feel you’ve wasted your time, would pass the book on to a friend, and will consider buying the author’s next work.
LM: Your Kindle (or generic non-branded e-reader) is broken and you can only have one book (not your own!) on there. What would it be and why?
LC: Might be a completely different answer again if you ask me again in six months, but right now, it would have to be Livia Llewellyn’s Engines of Desire. Without a doubt one of the most diverse and stirring collections of speculative fiction I’ve ever read. Neck and neck would be Multiplex Fandango by Weston Ochse. You can just tell the guy’s the real deal. He doesn’t have to bullshit you.
For more on the work of Lincoln Crisler you can find him at: