Dreampunk profile: David Pierre
From an online interview on July 9 through 23, 2019
First off, tell us a little about yourself. How do you see yourself as a writer?
I see myself as an experimental writer. I like to try out different types of genres (especially science fiction, fantasy, and horror), forms (I’ve written short stories, novels, and poems), characters, and worlds, but I always give some protagonism to the subconscious. Dreams are my principal inspiration, even if they don’t have any apparent sense. I think they always have meaning!
As a primarily Spanish-language writer, how do you see the state of dreampunk outside of the English-speaking world? Where did you first encounter the term?
It’s difficult to find books categorized as dreampunk. I only know two other writers that define their stories this way, and they usually write together: Gabriella Campbell and José Antonio Cotrina. One book that is an example of this is El Fin de los Sueños (2014). I discovered the term when a writer friend of mine said that my work could be classified as dreampunk.
I see they’ve got a lot on Amazon that definitely seems to fit the aesthetic. One writer that immediately comes to mind for surreal, mind-bending fiction is Jorge Luís Borges. Are you familiar with his work?
Yes! Borges is one of the first names that comes to my mind when we talk about references of literature written in Spanish. I know him well for his poems, and also for his short stories. One of my favorite creations of Borges is “El Aleph,” a book that philosophizes about reality and logic, but it is a little less surreal than other texts of the Argentinian writer.
I had a feeling you’d be a fan! What other authors would you name as influences on your work?
I can’t help thinking of some classics like Carmen Laforet, J. K. Rowling, Ursula K. Le Guin, H. P. Lovecraft, and Ray Bradbury. Each one of them has influenced me in one way or another. But nowadays, I prefer reading emerging writers. I’ve discovered in recent years that there exists a community where you can talk and work, in more or less equal measure, with your favorite authors. Two of the best in my opinion, and the ones that have influenced me most are Alicia Pérez Gil and Ma. Martí Escayol. Some of their stories could be classified as dreampunk, or at least as dream-something.
That raises an interesting question: What does “punk” mean to you in this context? Do you consider yourself a punk?
For me and for some other writers, “punk” means “rebellion.” Nowadays, there are a lot of punk-labeled subgenres in literature and other kinds of fiction. I think that the classic definition talks about an individual or a group of individuals rebelling against their society. But if we go deeper into this concept, we can consider that every story that talks about breaking with reality could be labeled as “punk.”
I can’t consider myself a punk. Maybe a “semipunk.” I run my own business and try to break against the traditional roles of family and work, and I also look for more than this traditional life offers in fiction (writing, reading, playing video games and watching series and films), but I still live under the rules of a society.
That sounds about right to me. How about the “dream” in dreampunk? Does it always point to literal dreams in the story, or could it be stretched to include a psychedelic trip, a mystic vision, or a system of delusions?
For me, the “dream” in this subgenre name points directly to the subconscious. That means, as you mention, that every experience related to this part of the character could be accepted here. Examples of this kind of trip I’ve written: hallucinations, a mystic trip through inhalation of a gas, a state of mind that is a punishment of a superior force…
What role does technology play in a dreampunk story? Could an immersive computer simulation be considered a “dream,” or is that the exclusive domain of cyberpunk? How about if the simulation is informed by the user’s subconscious?
Technology can play an important role in a dreampunk story. Most “punk” stories are set in possible futures, or even in imaginary futuristic worlds. For example, a strange monster connected to a machine that projects its magic and converts it into a fog that makes people hallucinate could be considered dreampunk.
I think there is a fine line between these two subgenres sometimes, ’cause the subconscious can easily betray an individual. Considering this, when this subconscious affects the simulation, we could talk about a merge of cyberpunk and dreampunk, maybe… Matrixpunk?
How do your dreams affect your writing? Have you ever pulled anything specific from a dream to include in a story?
Sometimes I describe my dreams or someone else’s in my stories. It’s difficult to describe these dreams exactly, but I always take some ideas. One of my novelettes was born in a dream that evolved and became what it is now.
Can you think of any particular movies, TV shows, or video games that capture the sort of feeling you’d like your work to have?
There are a lot of movies that talk about the subconscious. With the games, it’s more complicated. But if I have to choose one of each, I’d like to mention Mulholland Drive, directed by David Lynch, and Kingdom Hearts, directed by Tetsuya Nomura.
David Lynch has had a big influence on dreampunk, for sure. Where do you hope to see the genre headed next? What is the future of dreampunk?
I have the sensation that dreampunk is an unexplored genre. Even without this “punk” label, I’d like to see more stories that explore the subconscious, at least in Spanish, and more concretely in the actual literature. But I understand that it’s not a subgenre for all kinds of public.
How can we help support you in your work? What do you currently have for sale? Do you have any plans for English translations in the future?
I have two books for sale: Proyecto Ficción and Lágrimas de Aren (this was published by the small press Pluma de Cristal) and more on the way. The best way to help an author is always the same: reading their books or short stories.
I have thought about translation sometimes. Maybe I’ll begin with a short story.
Update: David contributed to the dreampunk short story collections Mirrormaze (2020) and Somniscope (2023)!