Thursday, February 02, 2017

Chicanonautica: How to Pull Stories Out of the Thin Air

by Ernest Hogan
In case you've been too busy dodging the insanity radiating from Washington, D.C. to catch my ballyhoo, I have a new story out, in The Jewish Mexican Literary Review, which is a lot classier than other publications I've appeared in. Really, I actually was in a magazine called Fuck Science Fiction – which is a weird tale too long to get into here, ask me some other time . . . 

The story, “Lunch in the Ruins,” was based on recent events, along my humble suggestions as to what needs to be done about things. I pulled it out of the thin air. Pulling stories out of the thin air is something a writer should be prepared to do, because you never know when an opportunity to get published will arise. 

I've done it on other occasions

The first time was Brainpan Fallout, serialized and sent out via fax by The Red Dog Journal. Then there was “Human Sacrifice for Fun and Profit,” in which I introduced my alter-ego character Victor Theremin in Voices for the Cure: A Speculative Fiction Anthology to Benefit the American Diabetes Association. Let's not forget “Doctora Xilbalba's Datura Enema,” in Rudy Rucker's Flurb:A Webzine of Astonishing Tales. And coming soon – stay tuned for details! – “Uno! Dos! . . . One-Two! Tres! Cuatro!” in Five for the Future. I didn't have any idea of what to write for any of these stories until after the editors asked me to contribute to their unconventional publications, and I got away with things that would cause more “professional” markets to run away screaming bloody murder. 

"Lunch in the Ruins” started with Silvia Moreno-Garcia sending me an email. It caught me totally off-guard. Soon I was combing through my files . . . Then I looked around at what was going on around me in the final days of 2016 . . . I had a vision of a genre of murals with pigs butchering humans that decorated Mexican restaurants in my youth . . . Yes, a Mexican restaurant, but a strange one . . . that cuts across rifts in spacetime on this troubled continent . . . It wasn't long before I wrote “Lunch in the Ruins.”

I owe it all to the story-generating machinery that I've been building in my brain for the last forty years. And the reflexes I've developed that keep me scanning the horizon for places to publish, as well as my hunter/gather instincts that keep me aware of my surroundings, rearranging it and regurgitating it.

Some folks do find it amusing . . .

Now it's a good time to be on the look out for these kinds of markets. They often take strange forms, caused by new, inexpensive technologies and are inspired by political turmoil. It helps if there's something in the air.

I've always tried to keep one foot in the underground, so that when push comes to shove I'd have a place to stand. And that time has come. Again.

Sure, they usually don't pay much – if anything – but, if you don't get published people end up thinking you're dead, which is bad for business.

Besides, where else are people going to get those bizarre jolts that will inspire them to fight for a better world?

Ernest Hogan's words and wisdom can be read online in the latest Mithila Review, and Tapastic, and will soon be available in the anthologies Latin@ Rising and Five for the Future

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