Risingshadow has had the honour of interviewing Samuel Sattin.
Samuel Sattin is a novelist and essayist. He is the author of League of Somebodies, described by Pop Matters as “One of the most important novels of 2013.” His work has appeared in The Atlantic, Salon, io9, Kotaku, San Francisco Magazine, Publishing Perspectives, LitReactor, The Weeklings, The Good Men Project and elsewhere. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College and an MFA in Comics from CCA. He's the recipient of NYS and SLS Fellowships and lives in Oakland, California.
Click here to visit his official website.
AN INTERVIEW WITH SAMUEL SATTIN
- Could you tell us something about yourself in your own words?
I'm 33 years old, I live in Oakland, California, but grew up in Colorado. I write mixed media, both novels and comics, and have a huge interest in visual storytelling. I also hold two Masters degrees, one in Fiction from Mills College, and one in Comics from California College of the Arts. Sometimes I feel like I'm jumping in and out of different worlds, which can be both wonderful and frustrating.
- How did you become interested in speculative fiction?
I think it started when I was young. A shy, chubby kid, I was always retreating into books. I find that speculative fiction appeals to people with tough and/or difficult childhoods. Many come into it for the imagery alone, for the lessons that can be gained, from the socio-cultural boundaries that can be pushed. But I think that, at least in my case, I was able to gain from it tangible psychological benefits. Speculative fiction allowed me to flee reality. Or perhaps not flee reality, but process it under a different set of circumstances.
- Your novel, "The Silent End", was published by Ragnarok Publications on September 7th, 2015. What inspired you to write this novel?
I began writing it out of my passion for all things scary; I'm a big horror enthusiast, and that has only increased in recent years. But after I finished writing the book and looked back upon what I'd done, I realized that I'd also written something incredibly personal. The story is about three kids in a dismal, monster-infested town, but it's also about my mother's passing, and the realities of depression. The Silent End is an homage to how scary things can save you. It's a book that embraces its dark side. Perhaps because I've grown to see a lot more nuance in reality than I used to. Or perhaps I'm more comfortable when I'm scared.
- What kind of a novel is "The Silent End"? What can readers expect from it?
I like to think of THE SILENT END as Stephen King's IT remixed with Stanislaw Lem's SOLARIS, but I also think of it as a novel about death, loss, and the power of dreams. There's a vast conspiracy taking place beneath the city of Mossglow, a small place enshrouded in mist. Its citizens get lost inside themselves; they forget why they moved to Mossglow to begin with, and ignore the horrors lurking among them. The main character's mother has disappeared, and no one knows what happened to her. His father spends his nights slinking off into the forest with a man known as The Hat to hunt monsters no one else can see. It's a mysterious book, a puzzle in some ways, but also fun and quirky and filled with tender moments.
- Your previous novel, "League of Somebodies", was published in 2013. Is "The Silent End" similar to it or different from it?
Very different. League of Somebodies was an absurdist sci-fi comedy. The Silent End is far more atmospheric and traditional story in terms of structure. It's also more of a page turner, or so I've been told. Perhaps this has something to do with the subject matter...while League was about my father, The Silent End is about my mother. A lot of emotion went into it. Also, there remains the simple fact that The Silent End is scary. League is more of a funny book than not; while TSE has its humor as well, its aim is to chill.
- What is the target audience of "The Silent End"?
It's funny. I don't normally say this about my work, but I think The Silent End could span many different audiences. I set out attempting to write the book I wanted to write; when it was finished, my agent decided it had a YA bent to it. I embraced that classification. I think it could appeal to adults and teens. But it has a lot of vulgar language and some light gore, so it's probably inappropriate for kids.
- The protagonist of "The Silent End" is Eberstark. What kind of a protagonist is he?
Eberstark (he goes by his last name) is a teenage outcast...but in some ways that exile is self-imposed. He has problems relating to other people, unrequited crushes, and an inferiority complex...and yet, in many ways, he's your average geeky teen. What really sets Eberstark apart from his peers is that he carries around a house full of lies on his back. From his mother's disappearance to his father's lunacy, Eberstark has had to resort to maintaining a web of lies in order to keep his life from collapsing. In some ways, he is his own worst enemy, and when creatures begin crawling from the dark, he has to face his own cowardice.
- What was the most challenging part of writing "The Silent End", and what was the most rewarding part of writing "The Silent End"?
The most challenging aspect was editing. Overwriting is my crux. But thanks to my editor Tim Marquitz, I was able to shave twenty thousand words off the book. It was difficult, but the benefits outweighed them. The most rewarding part of writing the book was the moment when I discovered how the plot could fit together. I spent a long time wading through narrative muck, trying to figure out a direction for my characters to head in. When I discovered that direction, I was elated enough to power the rest of the way through.
- Is "The Silent End" a standalone novel or will there be sequels?
Standalone for now, though I have thought about a sequel...though it would have to take place elsewhere, for reasons I can't divulge without major spoilers.
- What are you currently working on?
A graphic novel, a book proposal, and some comics geared towards kids.
- Is there anything you'd like to add?
For those that decide to read the Silent End, I've been told it gives you odd, vivid dreams. I would be curious to know if that's the case for others as well...