Lon K. Montag says: The Radio Silence is Over

So, first of all, you’ve got a new story out.  What’s it about?  The blurb–which seems pretty unconventional–obviously implies there’s some kind of story being told, about an investigation, maybe.

Let me put it this way: Imagine you’ve got something you really want to know–or someone you’re looking to find…You’re about to hire a private investigator you’ve never heard of before.  And before you seal the deal, you obviously want to know a little bit about the person you’re giving your money to.  How’d he get into the business?  Why is he doing what he does?  And most importantly, can you trust him to relentlessly hunt for the truth until he finds it?

In other words, you want to know why Manny Kant should get the gig.  Well he’s got an answer for you.  That’s The Will to Truth.

That sounds pretty hard-boiled.Will to Truth bookshelf

I intentionally wrote it to be hard-boiled.  If you know my writing at all, you know I like to blur the lines between genres.  For The Will to Truth, I constricted myself a little bit because I wanted to do something new and fun.  But no matter what I’m writing, if it’s got my name on it, then it’s going to be recognizably mine.  I hope you’ll trust that, if I’ve delivered for you in the past, I’m going to continue to deliver, even if it’s something you might not have expected.

So you’re obviously continuing to release short stories, why not concentrate your creative energies into just novels?

I think short stories fill an important niche, maybe one that’s becoming increasingly important.  There’s so much available for us to read, probably more now than there ever has been, and the longer a work is, the more time it takes to read.  But maybe you don’t want to make a huge time commitment to try an untested author; or you want something you can complete on a bus ride; or maybe you just want to explore a bunch of different stories with different characters in a more disjointed way than you’d be able to with (most) novels.

Those are all reader-centric reasons; from my end, it gives me the opportunity to work on new characters and styles and to really flex my muscles in a different way.  It’s kind of like the difference between sprinting and running a marathon or doing strength training versus toning. Plus, I’d have the writings hanging around anyway; might as well do something with them.

This was a busy week for you–not only did you post some fairly lengthy thoughts on the book of Job, but you’ve also announced The Will to Truth.  What about The Lives and Death of Alexander McDougal?

As I mentioned (more than) a few months ago, McDougal’s done–look for an announcement about that within days of the new year.  It won’t be out until the end of next year, but beginning with the new year, there’s going to be a lot more info about it leading up to the release.

I made a few announcements in July, about McDougal, the Job essay, and I also said I was going to have a new short story up before the end of the year.  That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really is a lot to produce, taking into account not just the writing and the editing involved in producing the book and story, but also reading and thinking about some really dense material and then making that material and those thoughts into something coherent for somebody else to read.

Sometimes there’s radio silence (and a lot of it), but there’s always something on the horizon.  Stay tuned–the silence, and that static on the radio, is over.  Happy holidays.

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“The Will to Truth”

The Will to TruthMy name is Manny Kant.  I understand you have a job for me.  But before we get to that, there are a few things we’re going to need to be in agreement about.

You probably want my job.  You imagine it’s exciting.  And a little dangerous.  And you think you can handle it…I’ll tell you right now, you’ve got it wrong.  And that’s something we need to get out of the way up front.  Because if this is going to work, I’ve got to have not just your trust, and not just your money—though I will be needing both of those—but, most importantly, I’m going to need your respect…

If you’re going to do what I do, you’re going to need something that you can’t learn…You might not even know you have it until you’re put to the test…And in the end, you’re either battered but still standing and coming back for more, or you’re crawling away crying.  There’s no alternative.  And there’s no middle ground.  That’s the will to truth.

Let me tell you about the time I found out I had it.

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On Jung’s “Answer to Job.”

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?  Tell me, if you have understanding.

Who determined its measurements—surely you know!” (Job 38:4-5).[1]

I have some serious reservations about the book of Job.  Not the kind of reservations that keep me up at night, but the kind that cause me to squint whenever someone recites the story to me in order to illustrate the incomprehensible mystery of God’s ways and the folly of attempting to understand the divine will.

Whenever I’m given this sort of gloss on Job, I resist it, because the upshot is inevitably, “You’ve got to accept injustice because, really, it’s for a purpose you can’t understand.”  Some people can accept this.  I can’t.  It seems to me that there’s something there that needs dealing with.  I’ve come back to Job periodically in my studies and in conversations, but I’d yet to encounter anything that really challenged the traditional interpretation of the text; all of the commentary I’d come across seemed to merely be trying to provide a new spin on the same old argument.  It was all the same to me—it was neither provocative nor enlightening.  Until recently, that is.  Sometimes it’s easy to forget that when you’re interpreting a text, you’re not doing it in a vacuum; you’re working from within a paradigm.  And paradigms can change.

I re-discovered Job not too long ago by reading it from within two different paradigms—Jungian and Kantian—which fundamentally altered my understanding of what the book could mean and what it could be saying about the nature of God.  (So that there’s no mistake, I want to make it clear from the outset that this isn’t an attempt to proselytize.  I’m going to be exploring philosophical interpretations of a text which happens to be religious.  I’m intentionally abstaining from endorsing anything apart from having an open mind.)

Sometimes, looking at something from a new perspective, one incommensurate with any others you’d previously considered, can change your life.  Even if you don’t necessarily adopt the perspective as your own, being able to understand it can be a catalyst for growth and understanding, for change.

Change.

That’s what this all comes down to.

But I don’t want to get too ahead of myself.  Before we really get started wrestling with this text, what we need is a barebones refresher of what happened to Job, to make sure we’re on the same page.  So, here goes: Continue reading

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Lon K. Montag Says: The Dark Stranger Arrives

So…where are you?  Or, rather, where were you?

I never left.  I’ve been quiet, but I’ve been busy…

Busy working on that second novel?

Absolutely…and now it’s done!  I’ve been working hard on it for the last few months and I’ve finished a draft.  The working title is “The Lives and Death of Alexander McDougal.”

And what exactly is it about?Montag

It’s about magic.  It’s about order and chaos and the lasting power of legacy and the struggle to break free of the past…

It’s pensive stuff, but it’s fun.  It’s got robots and magicians and superheroes and villains.  I really took the opportunity to push the envelope here; I wanted to write something challenging but also something exciting and interesting and expansive.  So there’s world-building and crime-fighting, and mystery and suspense—and flat out magical melees.  It’s adventurous in that way.  And I’ve pushed some boundaries, structurally; there are shifting points of view which respond to one another in a non-linear narrative.  It’s a little labyrinthine in that way…It was a blast to put together.

When can we expect it?

Fall/Winter 2014. Continue reading

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A Conversation with Paige Ambroziak

Paige Ambroziak, a doctoral candidate in Comparative Literature, is author of A Perpetual Mimicry.  Ambroziak’s novella follows a fallen fire angel who, with the aid of another exile, seeks to gain his wings back and end his banishment.  Along the way, he experiences the fundamentals of human experience, including love, death, art, and salvation, one of which might be just the key he needs to unlock the mystery of his expulsion from the stars…

Paige also maintains the website Fields of Twisting Phlox where she reviews self-published books.

Montag had the opportunity to ask Paige some questions about her art and her studies.  She also shared some thoughts regarding the future of self-publishing.

 

A Perpetual MimicryI want to begin by complimenting your prose and your imagination.  There was a real intensity to all of “Ani’s” emotions, particularly his longing, and this all really shone through in the language.  I thought you also made use of some very vivid and visual language – most of it having to do with fire and light.  For example, the novella begins with the following: “When I opened my eyes I recalled the bursts of light in the endless black above.  They were the genesis, the candelabrum lighting the chaos that engulfed this world.”  This is incredibly potent, primordial imagery which draws to mind, for me, the book of Genesis and the Gospel of John.  Later, toward the end, Ani receives some sort of spiritual communication and it’s described as an “exotic butterfly” whose color was electric.  The narration continues:  “The tips of its insect legs touched my hand twice before flitting away into the trees.  But I saw a great light come down through the leaves, sharpening to a point and into a little ball that traipsed upon the air like the will-o’-the wisp.  Hovering several feet from where I was standing, the light grew to a shape that mirrored my own.”  This is beautifully rendered.

There are several classes of spiritual beings in your story, including humans, seraphim, fire angels—and there’s some interbreeding going on between the humans and seraphim and their offspring and the fire angels.  Can you explain a little bit further the distinctions between the celestial beings (e.g. the seraphim and fire angels)?  And where did you draw your inspiration from, in deciding which creatures to include in your world?

I wanted to create a being that was neither human nor heavenly but rather an ulterior entity. The Fire Angel is an invention of a psyche or a soul that exists outside of the heavenly sphere. It is a being that is forged in the gaseous atmosphere of a fixed star, and is bound to that star. The Fire Angel has wings, as angels in Heaven do, but its plumage is the core of its identity, which is why Ani and Simon ache without them. My inspiration for these beings is Lucifer, the light bearer. I always wondered if he had his wings plucked when he was tossed to earth… Continue reading

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