did they tell you stories about the saints of old
stories about their faith
they say stories like that make a boy grow bold
stories like that make a man walk straight
rich mullins // boy like me, man like you
Like most novels, Plenilune needed an author biography. I had been putting off writing it: how am I supposed to distil myself into a few pertinent (or impertinent) lines for the reader? But I finally got the thing written to my satisfaction, all in one take. It is equal parts bare fact and myself (I am rarely fact). It is the effect of cumulative causes arising from my pitched wrestle with Plenilune & Co.
If you are a writer, you know how intricately entwined you can be with your writing. I have long since got past the self-insert stage of scribbling, thank goodness, but I am the giant, great and still, which sits upon the pillow-hill, and sees before her, dale and plain, that pleasant land of Counterpane. I am still all over and through my novels like lightning across a summer sky and gold in the rock. Like any writer, I wonder what my readers will do when they wander through the stories and find me there. I wonder if they will recognize me. I wonder if they will hear whatever it is my subconsciousness is saying between the lines. I wonder if they will wake up.
"You show me how splendid I could be and you awaken my aches."
"Good. I think somewhere beneath all the chaos of creating, that is one thing I wanted to accomplish. I wanted to wake up the kettle-drum sound of blood in your ears and put the sunset in your eyes and teach people how to be brave - or foolish - or faithful. Sometimes those things are all rolled up into one."
I am five feet tall and six months pregnant. I have a voice which no one can hear because it is so small. I have big brown doe-eyes and I have to make myself not look away shyly when I am trying to communicate verbally. When you look at me, you do not see the snippets you read on The Penslayer. But when you read the snippets - and Plenilune - you will be seeing me. You will hear crack-backed knuckles and the sizzle and rip-tide of lightning; you might see what it is like to have every nerve traced with fire, or feel with it is like trying to hold an atom together and release it at just the right moment. You might feel what it is like to breathe stardust and feel like you could pick up a mountain and hurl it end-down into the ocean. You might feel what it is like to be desolate and brave and lost and triumphant all at once, because when I turn myself into whatever energy the written genius is, that is how I feel.
"The gods and demons in their palaces. Lewis writes that you never meet a mere human, and I know that is true. In light of The Princess and Curdie, one meets monsters and deities. Only, one can't always tell which, and people do not realize how splendid they might be, or should be, and don't wear their heritage like tattered gold cloaks. So I do not see the gods and demons of them, only the shabbiness, and I write the palaces in my novels to console my aches."
They say everything hums with the movement of sheer existence, and if you have the right mechanics, you can hear that music. Whatever I am composed of, it hums inside me like the throat-snarl of a wildcat. I want others to hear that hum too. I want them to wake up and grow spines. I want to patch together the old Gammage Cup cloaks and polish the light in the old Gammage Cup swords, and make us brave, because life wears us down and looks thin and shabby. I want to light up the rim of the reader's world with apocalyptic fire and feel what I feel when the words come roaring and the wind picks up, and the deceptive shabbiness of the weary soul is scrubbed off like verdigris off precious metal.
I want to make us bold and brave and steadfast, and not lie to ourselves and say we are not tremendous even while we are small. That is why Plenilune catches you in the teeth. I'm not hitting you with my little five-foot frame at the end of a small fist. Whatever they mean by the halo in the old iconic paintings, whatever Lionel Royer painted into Julius Caesar's face, whatever the heart means when it is torn to shreds by a vicious joy, that is what I hit you with when I write.
man, walk at large out of thy prison