Discover more from Rabbit Trails and Parting Veils
Dreampunk profile: Sam Maze
From an online interview on September 3 through 9, 2018
First off, tell us a little about yourself. How do you see yourself as a writer?
Hi! My name is Sam Maze; rabbit tamer, world maker, and pizza baker. I write YA fantasy stories, delving into the sub-genres of magical realism and dreampunk.
My natural habitat is stretched between work, college, and chores, but I still find time to destroy the emotional lives of characters, and consider it a talent. I see myself as both the antagonist setting puzzles and traps for each cast, and the protagonist trying to find an entertaining way to solve it.
I love all the rabbits I see on your stuff. It's what first got my attention, way back when I first got started on Wattpad. Anyway, I've heard magical realism described in different ways, and that's certainly true for dreampunk as well. How do you see these two genres (or subgenres or movements or styles or whatever you want to call them) as related, and how would you say they differ?
I've been in the genre of magical realism since I first picked up stories such as The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater and the works of Leigh Bardugo. Magical realism can be described as a seemingly ordinary situation shocked with magic. This could be dragons in a Viking town (How to Train Your Dragon), a heist laced with killer powers (Six of Crows), or a small fishing village with seasonally murderous horses (The Scorpio Races).
Dreampunk is something I've been writing in before I understood the term. It's similar to magical realism with unlikely events, but while the former requires a base of truth, dreampunk can be whipped out of thin air. I use this method for personifying objects and animals in many of my short stories, as well as creating thrilling endings. There's a GIF out there on Twitter where someone approaches a sleeping dog with a spoon, and ends up wiping its face off. It's then you realize that the dog was not a dog in the first place, but a well-sculpted sand castle.
In this context, what would you say constitutes a "dream"? Would a mystic vision count? A psychedelic trip? A system of delusions, as in Don Quixote? How about an immersive computer simulation?
An idealist or imaginative reality would be more like it. The characters are quite sane, but it's the world itself that is the unreliable narrator.
Interesting. Can you think of any examples of this sort of thing (I'll call it "unreliable setting") in books you've read or your own work?
In Cornelia Funke's Inkheart trilogy, the characters are affected by a mythical world that ends up bleeding into their modern one as settings and antagonists filter in. All The Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater takes this a step further, by stretching the original setting in putty-like ways to the point where characters can travel faster than tumbleweeds. I use an unreliable setting in the short "The Light Boy" in which a character is kidnapped by the sky.
Sounds pretty surreal. How would you say dreams influence your writing? Have you ever pulled anything specific from a dream to include in a story?
If daydreaming counts, then nearly everything I've written has come from it. A small part of me is always churning over a knot in a plotline, or figuring out a character's goals. I also have a notebook I keep "seedling" ideas that are often the root of a short story or book. Many of these core ideas are from dreams or recalled as I'm about to fall asleep.
That hypnagogic/hypnopompic state between dreams and wakefulness is very fertile. I know my favorite writer Philip K. Dick made an effort to cultivate it. If you had to pick one established writer to tell people to read, who would it be?
C. S. Lewis, hands down. If his Narnia series were explained as a brand new concept today, people might scratch their heads. He made a complex idea simple, and it's the line that divides the apprentice and master writer.
Excellent choice. As a kid, I got a box set of the Narnia books, and they blew my mind. I don't know about this chronological ordering they do now though. Which book did you start with?
When I was little, I started with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and still begin with the second book despite the prequel, haha. The movies that followed also seemed to take this approach. My favorite would either be The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe or The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which captures both the awe and fear of a new adventure. (Which is your favorite?)
I always liked The Silver Chair best, probably because of Puddleglum. Also, I just loved the aesthetic. In general, what sort of feeling do you want your work to have? Can you think of any existing books, movies, or other media that capture it pretty well?
Yes, Puddleglum was a memorable character. You must be excited for the movie adaptation coming soon! That's a good question regarding the emotional takeaway of a story. It changes from book to book, but a base hope would be for readers to find a breath of fresh air amidst their own internal struggles or with one another, and that in someone else's adventure we can find the inspiration to pursue our own. Avatar: The Last Airbender would be a close emotional comparison to Rise and Fall, focusing on epic travels between a close group.
I hadn't actually heard anything about the Silver Chair movie, but yeah, now I'm excited. So, as for your work, do you have anything currently in progress that you'd like to share?
Typically I have 2–3 projects going on at once, but the one I can mention right now is Long Live the Queen, a YA fantasy novel I recently submitted to Pitch Wars—there's lots of fire and questionable characters. That's all I can share at the moment.
Hm, intriguing. How can we support you in your work? Do you have anything for sale currently?
As I look for representation, I don't have anything for sale at the moment. You can support my work however by adding it to your Wattpad reading lists and nominating it for awards—as well as following the outlets listed above.