The Ecstasy of Influence

By Lesley Conner
on September 27, 2019

Guest post by Paul Jessup, author of Close Your Eyes

One of the things I love about genre is how we embrace our influences. We don’t feel that anxiety of influence Harold Bloom talks about when discussing literary fiction and literary writers. We take our influences and mix them up, throw them together, create new things out of the hodgepodge of what came before.

The best kind of genre fiction, I feel, is in constant conversation with its antecedents. Genre itself is based around taking what came before and enjoying it so much that you’re inspired to remix the whole thing. It’s part of the joys of working in genre fiction, and some the most interesting ones are writes who pull in influences from outside of genre, and then treat them with that same kind of exhilarating joy that they have for their speculative influences.

I know I feel a bright joy when I’m writing, and I’m reading a million different works at the same time, and I can feel them worming their way through my consciousness, infecting my writing. There is an ecstatic excitement to it, by creating something new out of all the detritus that clogs up my head.

I don’t worry about it, like Bloom thinks all writers do. I don’t have anxiety thinking I will never live up to these people. Why should anyone care about that? Why would we want to live up to the past when we can blaze a new way into the future, built on the bones of what went before? And it’s a great easter egg for other reads and writers and fans of the fiction we pull from, isn’t it? Who doesn’t get that warm clever feeling when they spot a reference or a call back or a crib from something else?

I know, my writing is full of this stuff. Take Close Your Eyes, for example. The influences on that are wide and varied. I was forcing my mind to soak up so many things, to get to that feeling I wanted while I was writing it.

I reread Delany’s Nova and Empire Star a few times, as well as M John Harrison’s Light and Nova Swing. I watched Alien, mostly because I wanted the ships in Close Your Eyes to feel like the ships in Alien, especially that weird giant vessel at the start of it. I watched the Dune documentary untold number of times, and read the Incal, knowing that Jodorowsky was going down the same weird space opera path I wanted to get in the book. I also watched Holy Mountain and Sante Sangre again and again for that same reason.

I also watched a few Felleni films, to get the emotional tone I wanted. One big influence was La Strada, which had a folklore feeling to it. I copied the character archetypes he used for the main characters aboard my ship in the story. I also watched his Satyricon for the same surreal inspiration I was getting from Holy Mountain and Sante Sangre.

And of course, I also watched a ton of Star Wars films. I wanted to dig back into my first love for space opera, back in the day. From there I went on and read all of Leigh Brackett I could buy from the local used bookstore. I read a ton of Cordwainer Smith as well, buying several short story collections and a copy of Norstrailia from that same used bookstore. His use of language and non-traditional story structures were a huge influence on Close Your Eyes.

The second half of the book was influenced almost entirely by Heart of Darkness. I had this idea I’d been working on for a long time, a moon-sized labyrinth that was also a sanitarium, people inside being experimented on by creepy dolls. And the plot structure would be Heart of Darkness, right down to a character turning into mad Colonel Kurtz. It also pulled from the movie, Apocalypse Now, though not quite as much.

The parasitic alien language was inspired by reading tons of Burroughs. Both his books, and listening to his lectures and audio recording. I also read a ton of Philip K. Dick while writing this, the biggest influences being Ubik and a Scanner Darkly. I also pulled the poetic language and the sentence structure from the Beat poets, most specifically Kerouac. But I also pulled some of it from Dave Eggers and his You Shall Know Our Velocity.

And what joy I got from ingesting all these works, the excitement of reading them while I was working on Close Your Eyes infected it deep down on the bone level.

You should snag a copy, they’re at B&N and Amazon, but what the hell. Be a good reader and get it straight from the source at Apex.

You can save 25% when you order Close Your Eyes and anything else in the Apex store by using discount code SEPTEMBER at checkout!

Find Apex Publications At GenCon 2018 This Weekend!

By Suyi Davies
on August 02, 2018

Find Apex Publications At GenCon 2018 This Weekend!

Welcome to GenCon Week! This year's 51st GenCon takes us on the road, from the Apex Publications offices in Lexington to the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, where all the good stuff is happening this week.

Throughout the Best Four Days of Gaming(TM), Jason and Jane will be manning the Apex table at Hall J, Aisle 900, Table K (Hint: Hall J is just in off the Capitol Concourse). Come by and say hello, have a quick chat with Jason and Jane, who're willing to give you all the cool behind-the-scenes info you need about any Apex title.

On this battleground of wares, you're definitely spoiled for choice. You'll find all of Apex's best titles in print, from oldies-and-goodies like James Newman's Ugly as Sin and The Wicked to our War Stories anthology of military science fiction; from all-time-faves like Brian Keene's Throne of Bastards and The Lost Level to Benjaun Sriduangkaew's Winterglass; from all the Apex Books of World SF in one place to recent releases like Paul Jessup's Close Your Eyes, Kirk Jones' Aetherchrist, Jerry Gordon's Breaking The World and Damien Angelica Walters' Cry Your Way Home.

Jason at Panels and a wee Seminar

Publisher and Editor-In-Chief of Apex Publications, Jason Sizemore, will also be a panelist and seminar host through this period. His schedule includes:

- Thursday 2pm: Tighten and Clarify Your Writing (Seminar, Austin)
- Thursday 3pm: Writing for a Themed Anthology (Panel, Boston)
- Thursday 4pm: Writing Informative and Engaging Author Bios (Panel, Boston)
- Friday 11am: Revising Your Story (Panel, Boston)
- Friday 12pm: All About Apex (Panel, Ballroom 1)
- Saturday 10am: Editing (Panel, Boston)
- Saturday 11am: What Happens at a Publishing House (Panel, Ballrooms 3-4)
- Saturday 1pm: The Morphing of the Story (Panel, Boston)
- Saturday 3pm: Signing (Signing Table)
- Saturday 4pm: The Ins and Outs of Patreon (Panel, Boston)

If you're in Indianapolis, drop by (or if you've got your good Uncle Jesse up there, ask him to). Remember, hall hours are 10am to 6pm each day until Sunday, when it's 10am to 4pm.

See you guys at Table K!

Close Your Eyes: Now Available for Purchase

By Suyi Davies
on June 12, 2018

Close Your Eyes: Now Available for Purchase

Close Your Eyes, a weird, surrealistic, far-future space opera by critically-acclaimed author Paul Jessup, releases today! Get it now in print and digital at the  Apex Store, or on AmazonKobo and Nook

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Apex Book Company acquires CLOSE YOUR MOUTH by Paul Jessup

By Jason Sizemore
on July 07, 2017

Apex is pleased to announce the acquisition of CLOSE YOUR MOUTH by Paul Jessup. A release date of early to mid-2018 is expected.

CLOSE YOUR MOUTH is a novella length sequel to Jessup's acclaimed out-of-print weird SF story OPEN YOUR EYES (Apex Book Company, 2010). Apex will be bundling the two works that will form a hybrid-novel for readers to enjoy.

Author Paul Jessup calls CLOSE YOUR MOUTH "a surreal space opera that at its core is about loneliness and identity."

Paul Jessup is a critically acclaimed/award winning author, poet and playwright. He has appeared in many different magazines, anthologies, and has a few books placed out in small and large publishing houses alike.

APEX PUBLICATIONS ( is a small press dedicated to publishing exemplary works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Owned and operated by Jason B. Sizemore, Apex publishes the thrice Hugo Award-nominated Apex Magazine. The Apex catalog contains books by genre luminaries such as Damien Angelica Walters, Lavie Tidhar, and Brian Keene.

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