Gunnar De Winter is a biologist/philosopher hybrid who explores ideas through fictional fieldwork. Stories of these expeditions have appeared/will appear in, among others, Abyss & Apex, Amazing Stories, Daily Science Fiction, and various anthologies. Gunnar is featured in the House of Zolo’s Journal of Speculative Literature, V2 with “Spectrum” – a powerful short story about a Poetess Soldier whose words are weapons of war.
1. What interests and/or excites you about writing speculative fiction?
Wow, going in with the big question right at the start, huh? There are a few reasons that come to mind (which apply to reading speculative fiction as well). It allows me to explore ideas, no matter how wild they are, to ask the powerful ‘what if’ question and see where it leads me.
If, like me, you have an occasionally overactive imagination, your brain can become a frothy sea of ideas. Since I have zero skill in drawing or other visual arts, I use words to corral some of those ideas into a potential story.
Another reason is that, for me, reading/writing speculative fiction is a form of therapy. Without going into unnecessary detail: if I am not careful, my mind has a tendency to drift to unpleasant places. So it’s good to have other worlds I can nudge it towards.
2. In your story Spectrum, poets have become warriors and their words are weapons. Was there something that inspired this idea?
Most of my story ideas start with an image, or a brief snippet of dialogue or descriptive text, a spark of inspiration that grows up to become something more. In the case of Spectrum, the image of a woman who speaks in rainbow colours. I coupled that to a few articles on synesthesia in which people shared their experiences of ‘seeing sounds’.
Then I wondered: ‘What if this experience allowed people to instantiate the words they speak, to give the words a very real physical presence?’ As I said, what if questions are a great way to start thinking about a story.
3. Do you think it’s possible that one poem could change the world?
Yes. I think that society, culture, the course of history, whatever you want to call it, is an incredibly complex and context-dependent, ever-evolving tapestry. This suggests that small things, seemingly trivial nudges, can, over time, have large effects – think butterflies and tornadoes.
A poem, a letter, a song, sculpture, painting, movie, speech, an insult, or a kind word can all potentially cause ripples over time that can interfere with others and create momentum as they do so. Which is a very convoluted way to say that we, as humans, like tidy cause-effect relationships. In something as complex as society, history, and so on, it’s a bunch of causes and a bunch of effects, and a bunch of bunches is hard to untangle.
Small things matter.
4. Has your writing practice or subject matter changed during the pandemic?
I don’t think so. Maybe when I look back later, I might see a change I’m not aware of right now.
What has changed is that I think I have a little more time to write. Of course, this can be because the situation makes me subconsciously set aside more time to write. I’m reading more as well, which is never a bad thing. The stream of books/stories/articles to read never runs dry.
5. What projects are you working on these days?
At any given time, I have two or three short stories in various stages of development, and many nearly undecipherable Word documents or scribbled notes with ideas for the next batch. For most writers, ideas are never the problem. (A taste of my current madness, you ask? Gladly. Dinosaur tooth fairy? An HTTP error that deletes eternity? An iron lion that questions its own existence? Take your pick.)
I’m also working on a few longer-form things. More on that, hopefully, later. (Agents reading this: Hi, nice to meet you. Interested in weird science fantasy, broken characters, and snarky inner monologue? I might have something for you.)
My semi-writing-related website (gunnardewinter.wordpress.com) is long due an overhaul, but, for now, it’s a good place where people – if interested – can check out some of my stories.
Finally, I’m fairly active on Twitter (@evolveon). If you want story sneak peeks, glimpses of harmless madness, various science- and philosophy-related thoughts, come say hi.
Read Gunnar De Winter’s short story “Spectrum” in the House of Zolo’s Journal of Speculative Literature, Volume 2. Buy here:
Buy HOZ Journal V2 on Amazon.ca (Book) Buy HOZ Journal V2 on Amazon.com (Book) Buy HOZ Journal V2 on Amazon.com (Kindle) Buy HOZ Journal V2 on Amazon.ca (Kindle)