Q and A with 10,000 Dawns Anthology Contributor Evan FormanNovember 20, 2018
Barebones Ent sat down with one of the writer’s for James Wylder’s epic 10,000 Dawns Anthology, Evan Forman. Evan contributed a couple of the novellas in the anthology and helped out with getting this book ready to go. Take a stroll below and see what all he had to say about his writing, working on this project, and much more.
BS: How did you get into writing?
EF: I always enjoyed the creative writing exercises we got to do in primary school, but it never occurred to me that writing was something I could do outside of that until around my mid-teens. This is an extremely dangerous time in male life, and exposure to Charles Bukowski, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs will cause permanent damage.
BS: What are some of the projects you’ve worked on?
EF: The Actiontacular Adventures of John Boss was a series of jokes between me and my best friend / collaborator / male wife Michael Robertson, which is on track to grow into a half-million word dadaist fantasy novel about wasting your life on stupid creative projects nobody cares about. It’s set on the continent of Wurld on the planet Timperly, and it follows John Boss – a travelling adventurer and the main character of the universe – and the failed author he’s near-randomly hired to write his biography. It’s way too depressing to be a comedy and too silly to be drama; we put just enough thought and care into this fantasy world that it’ll never be considered literature, and just enough recursive metafictional layers to scare off anyone trying to enjoy a nice long fantasy yarn. At least one instalment was written by an AI I force-fed about a million words of surrealism and existentialist philosophy. The book is post-genre, and post-good. The target audience is nobody.
In Once Upon a Future, astronauts discover a portal to the Andromeda galaxy. The Andromeda galaxy is populated by mythical creatures. It has been described as “Supernatural in space” and “Rick and Morty for girls and gays”. Each book is six hyper-compressed “episodes”, and each episode is 11,250 words long: reading one would take you about 45 minutes. This is me and Michael selling out and doing a fuck-off massive pop banger. It’s worth reading if only to see what the hell we think “commercially viable” looks like: the last bit I wrote had a Trumpian leprechaun crime boss doing a weepy, fully-choreographed musical number to You Don’t Own Me.
BS: How did you and James hook up for 10,000 Dawns?
EF: A couple years ago James did a podcast with the premise of “let’s talk to an interesting creative person about anything other than their work”. The first episode was Elizabeth Sandifer (author of TARDIS Eruditorum and Neoreaction a Basilisk) on spirituality, so I followed James on Twitter while I waited for the second episode.
I am still waiting for the second episode.
I’d checked out 10,000 Dawns and I liked how weird and wide-open the thing felt. He mentioned he was looking for writers for a 10kd anthology and I near-instantly slid into his DMs.
BS: What about the project excited you the most?
EF: The two big words on my 10kd moodboard are “maximalism” and “diversity”. James will sometimes just sit down and write 10,000 words in one go, which absolutely terrifies me, and seems at points incapable of stopping himself. The first story in this anthology is a novel, and the book is precisely as big as the print-on-demand company can physically handle.
“Diversity” is something you want out of a story set across multiple universes, so on a structural level an anthology by a wide variety of writers is the perfect format for exploring it. The nerdiest part of me was also excited by the shared-universe aspect of it, and I think that’s come out very well: the opening novel is scattered with the kinds of references which would just be one-and-done worldbuilding in another sci-fi book, but then you flip back to the table of contents and spot that we’re doing the whole story behind that. I wanted to “give” more to the lore than I was taking, and suggest a whole bunch of ideas that other writers can run off with for future stories. It’s like 10,000 Dawns is constantly creating and consuming its own spinoff books. It’s borderline actual continuity porn.
BS: How do you feel about the novellas you did?
EF: The Night of Enitharmon’s Joy was me trying to write the kind of “precocious child discovers a portal to faerie” story I wrote in primary school and… failing. It was written in a six-week panic attack at the very end of my teenage life – I think I finished the first draft a couple days before I turned twenty – mostly in the wee early hours of the morning. It’s fabulously weird, and contradictory in ways that are very much the point, but I think the central Thing that’s trying to say itself is still… legible. I hope it’s legible.
Once I’d finished TNoEJ I noticed that it fails a sort of “reverse Bechdel Test”: at no point do two named male characters talk to eachother about anything, let alone anything other than a woman. James wanted to do a couple of online-only short stories to tide people over before the anthology came out so I pitched him Mud Nostalgia, or “The Road to Wigan Pier but with space cannibals”. I’d always had an eye on the crumbling Starship Magellan as a setting, and I wanted to do something very post-punk and horrible as a reaction against TNoEJ’s gothic fairytale aesthetic; very violent and Male. It had a troubled production history: it got aborted twice on two continents, once by me and once by James after he’d tried to finish it, and then it got wiped away in two laptop crashes, and then James made an offhand reference which clicked the whole thing into place for me and I rewrote the entire thing from scratch.
This was at the very end of the anthology’s development, so I kind of consider it a first draft. It’s rushed and messy, in ways that almost kind of work if you squint. Which means I’ve ended up writing a structuralist novella about structure and a messy novella about, uh, mess. Because I am Awful like that. Don’t tell James but it was written in enough of a hurry that I only realised after he published this space opera anthology that the thing reads like a rejection of space opera: the Elon Musks and Jeff Bezoses of the future achieve the dream of exploring space, it immediately falls apart, then we circle the drain for a few thousand words before we sink into another genre of sci-fi completely. It’s such a faux pas.
BS: Why should people check out this anthology?
EF: Like I mentioned before, it’s dense and weird and multifarious and yet James has managed to haul these different aesthetics into a coherent setting. The multiverse is a big place, and you’re bound to find something you love in here.
BS: Are there any other stories in this anthology that you didn’t write you’re most excited about?
EF: I proofread a chunk of the stories in the book so I’m trying to let the “work” associations with it fade away while my print copy gets sent over the Atlantic via tugboat then hauled to my door by mighty logging horses. Good Days and Bad Days is the novel-length opener that spans many decades and covers the timeline of the whole anthology, so I’m excited to see how James has interwoven that with all the other shorter stories. I’ve heard very good things about Kylie Leane’s story Horizons Lost, and Marble Hornets scared the shit out of me when I was younger so I’m looking forward to Tim Sutton’s The Rat King which is set on the same ship as Mud Nostalgia. I read The Shipyard of Death months ago, but I don’t think I’m going to be quite ready for That opening when I get around to reading it in print.
Mostly I’m excited about what comes after this. I think of 10,000 Dawns less as a book series and more like a platform for telling stories, and it’ll be fascinating to see how seeds we all planted in this anthology grow into richly imagined settings and little sub-series as other writers come in and work from what we sketched out here. Or just completely react against it, which I fully encourage.
BS: What is next for you?
EF: With this over my main focus is getting the first Once Upon a Future book finished and edited, then spending next year pitching it around. Michael and I are going to try and slip another John Boss into our schedules without our schedules noticing, and I have two solo novellas I’d like to finish in 2019. One is Sacculina Nervosa, a Lovecraftian horror story about talking to girls, and Winterbloom, in which I’m trying to figure out what Scottish scandi-noir cyberpunk looks like.
BS: How can people reach out to you or follow your work?
BS: Anything else you’d like to add?
EF: This video of Anton LaVey playing his sad clown song: