Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast to Coast (Canada has three coasts) is due out in October, from Edge Publishing. It features stories and poetry by Canadians and those living in Canada. Edited by Steve Vernon and me, we were lucky enough to end up with at least one piece from every province and territory (Canada has three territories) except for Nunavut. I’m doing short interviews with all of the authors over the next few months, so stay tuned to find out a little bit more about the authors and their pieces. The anthology begins with British Columbia, where Claude Lalumière was living at the time, and opens with his story “Vermilion Wine.”
CA: “Vermilion Wine” opens the the Tesseracts 17 anthology. Steve and I were immediately impressed and swept in by the mystical, mysterious feel of this piece. How did you come up with the idea of Venera, a shadow city to Venice, and is this anything like other mythical cites, such as Shangri-la, Avalon, Bette Noire or Brigadoon?
Claude: I first conceived of Venera during my first visit to Venice in 2006. I was tremendously seduced by the sensuality of the place. I had just visited the (now defunct) Museum of Erotica (upon which is based the similar museum featured in “Vermilion Wine”) and Venera popped into my head while riding the vaporetto — the Venetian waterbus. I wasn’t consciously trying to come up with anything, but surrounded by the water and by the architecture of Venice, Venera started to take shape in my mind. Bits of Rome and Barcelona — both of which I also visited for the first time in 2006 — also contributed to the tapestry of Venera. “Vermilion Wine” was written during my third trip to Italy, in spring 2012. Venera is not so much kin to those mythical lands you mention, but more of a thematic hybrid of Ursula Le Guin’s Orsinia and J.G. Ballard’s Vermilion Sands, with perhaps echoes of Arthur Byron Cover’s strange future from his related novels Autumn Angels and An East Wind Coming and of Michael Moorcock’s End of Time society.
CA: Obviously, mythical lands have fueled human imagination for centuries. What do you think draws us to them? Are they all Edens or are some Hells?
Claude: Neither. I think it’s the romance of the unknown — that there might still be places in the world left to discover. That we can never know everything or everywhere.
CA: Will we see other Venera stories or are you done with this idea?
Claude: Actually, I’m working on a book-length mosaic of stories about Venera. The project is called VENERA DREAMS, and “Vermilion Wine” is the fifth episode to appear. Venera first appeared online in “The City of Unrequited Dreams” in Chiaroscuro #43 (January 2010); it next showed up in “Vermilion Dreams: The Complete Works of Bram Jameson” in Tesseracts 14, then a third episode, “Xandra’s Brine” was published in the Dagan Books anthology Fish; more recently, “The Hecate Centuria” appeared online at Three-Lobed Burning Eye #23 (May 2013). There’s more on the way, too, but I can’t talk about those yet. I maintain a page on my website about the progress of the VENERA DREAMS project: http://lostmyths.net/claude/?page_id=1978
Claude Lalumière (lostmyths.net/claude) is the author of two books: the collection Objects of Worship (2009) and the mosaic novella The Door to Lost Pages (2011). He has edited or co-edited twelve anthologies, the most recent of which is Super Stories of Heroes & Villains. With Rupert Bottenberg, Claude is the co-creator of the multimedia cryptomythology project Lost Myths (lostmyths.net). Originally from Montreal, Claude is now something of a nomad.