Samuel Glavney

Biography

SAMUEL GLAVNEY lives and works in Portland, Oregon, with his wife, Miriam. He writes science fiction in the mornings and drinks coffee until the walls hum. He is the author of BUSINESSLIKE CONFIDENCE! the novella MORAL HAZARD (sold for free by Smashwords) and, as D.S. Larsell, THE SEVERING KISS (vampire story, buried deep in the internet).

Smashwords Interview

What is your writing process?
First I make coffee.

I drink coffee and I read the news. Right now I read a lot of Vox and Naked Capitalism and Salon and the Guardian-- lefty Fox News. This gets me good and agitated. So, after I've read the news and had more coffee and checked Facebook and made some moves in my Diplomacy game and gone to the fridge for a snack-- after this, I go out to the balcony and look at the birds. I sigh. I think about how nice it would be to be a bird. Birds don't worry about money, do they? Birds don't worry about word counts and careers. Birds, I realize, have their own sets of worries-- mostly having to do with eggs?-- but the bird gig still seems like a good one. All that flying. Very little ego. I think about some pelicans I saw in North Carolina. I think about sending some text messages.

I sit in front of my computer and open Google Docs.

I imagine a man breaking rocks in the hot sun for no pay. That's worse than squeezing a few words out of my brain, surely? Yes. I imagine a Victorian boy crawling through the narrow darkness of a chimney. He's coughing. That's worse, too? No doubt, much worse. Alright, then. What you're doing, Sammy? Sitting in front of a computer and thinking things and typing them in? That's positively a pleasure! It's true; no one can argue.

I check the S&P 500.

I write a sentence down. I place it directly after the last sentence I wrote the day before. I don't like this new sentence and so I begin to tweak it. They say you shouldn't do that. They say you should just let all of this stuff pour out, like you're vomiting on the page! Just keep going, by God! Don't look back! It's all pillars of salt back there! Just keep--

I tweak the sentence. It's worse than before. Actually, what I wrote yesterday isn't looking so golden, come to think of it. Maybe more coffee will help? I go make another cup.

I try for a thousand words a day.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1. 'Life and Fate,' by Vasily Grossman.

Grossman was a Ukrainian Jew who lived and worked (as an engineer) and wrote in the Soviet Union. He was a war correspondent present at the battle of Stalingrad, and his eyewitness accounts of Nazi atrocities at Treblinka were among the first published. His masterwork, 'Life and Fate,' with a narrative structure similar to 'War and Peace,' focuses on the lives of everyday Germans and Russians in Nazi prison camps and Soviet Gulags and Red Army units and SS Divisions. He follows a physicist in Moscow and partisan fighters in Stalingrad and bored tank drivers on the Kazakh steppes and men awaiting trial in the Lubyanka. The novel-- and I know this phrased gets tossed around, but, Jesus-- the novel is sweeping. It's written beautifully and filled with both high philosophy and petty grievances. The stuff of life. Everyone in the book is stuck in an impossible position-- forced to make impossible decisions-- between these two monstrous States. It's an incredible book.

Grossman never saw it published. The book was suppressed by Soviet authorities and only snuck into Switzerland after his death. Grossman died of stomach cancer in 1964 never knowing if anyone would read this masterpiece he'd produced. Thinking about that, my throat always threatens to close off. The man is one of the great writers of the 20th century. If anything should be 'required reading,' this should.

2. 'Homage to Catalonia,' by George Orwell

'Homage' doesn't get the love that 'Animal Farm' and '1984' get but, for my money, it should stand right there with them! Orwell fought for Republican Spain against Franco's fascists and, you guys? That was a badly organized effort! A clusterfuck! I mean, these people called themselves, 'anarchists,' but you'd think in a life-or-death struggle...

Anyway, the novel is funny and grim and a whole lot leaner than Hemingway's 'For Whom the Bell Tolls.' You get to watch our author start out very idealistic about the whole cause and then-- reoccurring theme, I know-- watch the Soviet Union screw the pooch pretty dramatically. You get great characters and great scenery and a 101-style introduction to one of the weird, savage conflicts of the nineteen thirties.

3. 'Moby-Dick,' by Herman Melville

Just because this is goddamn hipster catnip doesn't mean it's not also one of the greatest things a human brain has ever produced! Maybe, friend, you've never done drugs. You're scared of the experience-- even as you're attracted to it-- or you're frightened of some permanent effect, or something. I have the answer: Moby-fucking-Dick! The whole thing might be a fever dream, if it weren't so beautifully executed. The prose, the characters... there's a stupid chapter on whale types you can skip, but otherwise, perfect ten.

Melville also died without seeing this work elevated to its high place in the Western Canon. So if your book isn't selling so well on Smashwords... buck up!

4. 'The White Mountains/ The City of Gold and Lead/ The Pool of Fire,' by John Christopher

'The Hunger Games' of its day (and if that description throws anyone off, it shouldn't), 'The White Mountains' is a bleak, gristle-bound wonder. Will is an adolescent boy (these adolescents!) about to be brought fully into his idyllic, pre-industrial society-- that is to say, capped. Instead, he says, 'fuck that, I'm out,' and begins making his way south towards the White Mountains. Now he's hunted by towering, roaming tripods-- and what are they, even? The slow reveal here, the withholding of info, is beautiful-- as he makes his way across a fun-house mirror landscape of our own. You can keep 'Day of the Triffids.' This should have won the Hugo.

5. '2666,' by Roberto Bolano

Man, this is a big book! It's worth the dive, though: the final, successful effort of a dying man to produce a work that will stand the test of time. What's it about? A bunch of literary critics (people with access to amounts of time and money that make me drool) hunting down an obscure German author of the post-war years. A bunch-- and I mean a LOT-- of unsolved murders in a Mexican maquiladora town. A man dealing with the death of his mother (just to make sure it's literary, ya see?). A poet slowly going mad. Other stuff. It all does come together, more or less, I swear, and in the meantime you're drinking in some really lovely writing and enjoying yourself. Or, at least, I did!
Read more of this interview.

Books

Businesslike Confidence!
Price: Free! Words: 122,610. Language: English. Published: August 15, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
Wally El Amin, datacomber, is a professional of the surveillance age. He deals in secrets-- personal, professional, digital, scatological. Even your thoughts are his for the taking. Wally undermines governments and destroys careers, but something strange happens when he's hired by an advertising executive to ruin the nascent reputation of budding west-Texas politician, George Morales.
Moral Hazard
Price: Free! Words: 32,380. Language: English. Published: December 20, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
For hundreds of years, the fangpères have ruled the cities of the world. Beautiful, long-lived, and possessing incalculable wealth, these beings have become little more than myth. Now, in the sprawling slums of Verdun, a fangpère has appeared for the first time in living memory. His gaze has fallen upon Andre, a boy without a future, and he offers a monstrous pact.

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