Dreampunk profile: Kari G. (a.k.a. Vapid Ink)
From an online interview on September 8 through 10, 2018
First off, tell us a little about yourself. How do you see yourself as a writer?
I've loved libraries since I was young, and knew I loved writing since I was about nine. As a writer, I'm a bit all over the place. I like to mix and match genres and try a bit of everything while writing diverse characters. Living in LA has really made me appreciate other cultures and ways of life that I'd like to include in my stories while also delivering interesting plots with either plenty of humor or plenty of drama—and sometimes a little of both!
Mostly, I want to tell interesting stories that can make people forget whatever's troubling them for a bit.
Where did you first encounter the term "dreampunk," and what does it mean to you personally?
I was actually looking into subgenres of fantasy and sci-fi when I found the term. Dreampunk is just a really interesting subgenre in that it allows for so much freedom while making it easier to explore the mind and more complex and abstract ideas through writing. As someone who loves visual art, particularly surrealism, I find that a lot of the books in the dreampunk genre really conjure some great mental images that make the stories more memorable.
Couldn't agree more. When they come together just right, those scenes really stick with you. Given that we're talking about fiction, which is already unreal, what would you say distinguishes a “dream” (or any sort of unreal experience) from the “reality” of the story?
To me it's the contrast between a world with set rules and a world where you have things that seem more ethereal and transient. Things change in an instant and there’s a sense of whimsy in the settings and people. I like to think of Alice in Wonderland and Over the Garden Wall where you have a skewed sense of logic and a mix of light and dark seamlessly combined. I think dreams are just a reflection of the mind and its various, shifting aspects—something more intangible—while the “real” world is a more rigid construct.
Over the Garden Wall is probably the best example anywhere of the aesthetic I'm shooting for in my own work. I love how you get this recurring sense that the real world is nearby, just out of reach. Great example of dreampunk. But then there's also the high-tech side. In a movie like Inception, there seems to be some overlap with cyberpunk. Where do you think dreampunk fits in between fantasy and sci-fi? Do those categories even apply?
It's really in an interesting place where it can lean either way and still be distinctly dreampunk, as long as dreams are a central part of the story. But I'd say dreampunk leans more towards fantasy, even if a story is rooted in science. There's always that otherworldly aspect when you deal with dreams and the subconscious.
Otherworldly is right. In that respect, it can sometimes approach Lovecraftian horror. Stephen King's Dark Tower series feels like dreampunk to me, with elements of both fantasy and sci-fi all through it. Which writers would you say have influenced you and led you in this unusual direction?
Stephen King, definitely. I've always been a fan of his works and you're right about the Dark Tower series giving off that feel. I'm also a fan of Neil Gaiman and Tim Burton so I guess I lean more towards darker fantasy stories even though I don't write enough of them, haha. I like variety in writing, and so I love how different their works are and the creativity of their stories.
Neil Gaiman here too. His Sandman comics are pretty much the urtext of modern dreampunk. On the subject of influences, would you say your dreams ever influence your stories? I mean, I'm sure they do, but can you recall any particular instances of that happening?
They actually don't, haha. I don't really dream a lot, thanks to the occasional bout of insomnia and terrible sleep habits, so most of my ideas come from random thoughts while I'm going about my day. Late night is my favorite writing time though, so maybe I get good ideas then because I'm half asleep.
Well, I had to ask. Yeah, I get my best ideas at night too. How do you hope to influence the genre of dreampunk with your writing?
For now I just want to add my own spin on the genre, hopefully show people you can mix all kinds of genres and end up with an interesting story. If I can introduce more people to the genre, that'd be great too!
How can we support you in your work? Do you have anything for sale yet?
I don't have anything on sale, but I do get a bit of ad revenue on Wattpad. Anyone that wants to support me can just read my work and watch a couple of ads. Also, people can always follow me on Twitter: @Vapid_Ink.