Dark Faith: Invocations Devotional – Nick Mamatas

Posted by on Jan 11, 2013 in Apex Publications Blog: Matters of SF, Fantasy, and Horror | 0 comments

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Dark Faith: InvocationsNICK MAMATAS is the author of several novels, including Sensation, Bullettime, and the forthcoming noir Love is the Law. His short fiction has appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Weird Tales, both volumes of Dark Faith, Tor.com, and in many other magazines and anthologies. He won a Bram Stoker award for co-editing the anthology Haunted Legends with Ellen Datlow, and has also been nominated for the Hugo and World Fantasy awards for his work as an editor.

In 2011, Apex Publications released Starve Better, Nick’s no-nonsense (and funny!) guide to surviving as a freelance writer.

Nick is the author of “The Big Blue Peacock”.

Buy Dark Faith: Invocations from one of our retailers.

Who are you?

That’s a pretty odd existential question. I’m just someone who foolishly wastes his time writing ten-twelve short stories a year, I suppose. I’ve written some novels as well—the most recent is called Bullettime, which is unfortunately about a school shooting—and a fair amount of non-fiction, but short fiction is my main interest.

Tell us about your story.

“The Big Blue Peacock” is about someone’s fascination with the Yezidi, a religion found in Iraq, Armenia, and a smattering of other places. They are castigated and oppressed as devil-worshippers. Our heroine gets a job teaching at a dubious American university in Kurdistan, finds that one of her students also has an interest in the Yezidi and things go south from there.

How does your story tie into the concept of faith?

The Yezidi are an oppressed group, and hang on to their faith. Some religions are structured so as to encourage recruitment, others are based on an ethnic tradition, and still others are positioned as reflections or inversions of a larger, dominant local or regional faith. The leaders of the public cult say X, and so someone emerges and so “Aha, but God told me not-X!” It’s a strange and brave thing to be able to hold on to a not-X. Almost by definition a member of some religion believes in its tenets and some of its cosmological story, but it’s a lot easier to believe when one is a member of the public cult. But there’s always something fascinating about minority sects or minority religions. So I wanted to look at what makes these religions attractive to outsiders. The rumors that swirl around minority faiths—in the case of the Yezidi, one might hear the story that they defecate outside to show contempt for the world of matter or the Earth—are designed to demonize, but do occasionally attract.

Every year, Maurice Broaddus throws a convention in honor of himself (Mo*Con). How do you feel about this fact?

I was a guest of honor at Mo*Con in 2008! It’s a pretty fun convention, though at this point I hope Maurice no longer has to struggle to reconcile his Christianity and his interest in writing horror fiction. If he wants to fly me out again, I stand ready to participate.

Excerpt from “The Big Blue Peacock”:

Tian lit the cigarette and considered the situation the way New York had trained her. Grab the wheel with the right hand, cigarette to his eye with the left. If the cigarette misses, try the blanket over his head. Be sure to kick his foot off the accelerator. She glanced around for anything else in the Kia that she might have missed—a tire-iron, an AK, an empty plastic cup that might come in handy for the long walk back to campus. Nothing. The cigarette and blanket might just have to do. The important thing was to keep the car from rolling off into the dunes.  She knew it was a delusion—all her students were born and grew to men in war. But scenario-planning calmed her, just as it did back when she was in New York. So many plans and possibilities: the rolled-up Sunday Times to the bottom of an opponent’s chin; the knitting needles in her Coach bag, which she had saved so long for; instep stomp, then run…

“Oh, don’t worry. We don’t torture students who pay their tuition promptly,” Tian said. “I…just didn’t think it would be such a long trip.”

“Not so long now,” Ibrahim said, and turned the steering wheel hard to the left, taking his SUV off the road and into the sands. Soon they were at the site. A bomb hadn’t gone off, Tian knew. Gunfire was like traffic; a person gets used to hearing it off in the distance. Explosions are more like thunder and lightning—impossible to ignore, and inevitably remarked upon. But something had happened, as the sand was blasted into black glass all around a great scoop of a crater. And something had been hit. The place smelled like boiled blood.

Buy Dark Faith: Invocations from one of our retailers.

Be sure to stop by the Apex Goodreads group to discuss the stories of Dark Faith: Invocations and look for more devotional posts by the authors next week.

Can’t wait till next week? Read Jay Lake and Katerina Stoykova-Klemer’s devotionals now.

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