The Science of Unvanishing Objects, by Chloe N. Clark (Co-Editor-In-Chief of the literary journal Cotton Xenomorph) is a collection of poems published by Finished Line Press in which Clark explores the erotics of desire and fulfillment, the uncanny dazzlement of daily life. The titular ‘unvanishing objects’ are missing girls, lost women, fortune tellers, ghosts, black holes, demons, magic.
1. While on the rise in popularity, you still don’t hear much about speculative nonfiction, the rendering of one’s autobiographical life through supernatural elements. How has that helped get across your message to the reader?
So I actually don’t consider any of my work to be non-fiction. I steer far away from autobiography, or if I use elements from my life—it’s usually anecdotes or experiences that I can translate into fiction because they are removed from me. That being said, I think using speculative elements probably works for people because the important moments in our lives already have a veil of the unreal around them—the way we remember them, the way we think about them. Memory is a liminal space in many ways which fits with the speculative pretty ideally.
2. For which poem did you have to bleed the most to have it come out right?
I think I might be outside the norm in that writing for me is just an absolute joy. Not writing is another story. But each poem, or short story I write, is a deeply wonderful experience—nothing beats that feeling of having finished a piece, it’s such a cathartic rush. So I don’t know that I had to bleed for any of these poems, but to go the opposite direction—the most joyful one to write was Google Search History, hands down.
3. Have you nailed down your creative process or it is still in development, changing from work to work, draft to draft?
I think in some ways I have nailed it down—I feel really confident in how I go about writing and revising pieces. But the process itself changes with each piece, because not every piece wants to be written in the same way.
4. Do you remember what was the very first story/poem you’ve written? What came of it?
When I was really little—3 or 4—I’d tell stories to my dad and hed write them out and then illustrate them for me. The one I remember the most was about a ghost monkey pirate who wore a checkerboard outfit. Basically I just threw all my favorite things into one character. The first one I remember actually handwriting myself was a story in the first grade about a vengeful Easter bunny who goes after someone who killed its babies and it got real violent. My mom recently refound it and said something along the lines of “I’m surprised I wasn’t called in to talk to your teacher more.”
5. As an editor, what do you look for? What stands out to you as a piece of writing worth publishing?
For me, I look for something that strikes me as something that I couldn’t have written but as soon as I read it, it feels like its answered some question I’ve always had or articulated a thought I could never get into words. One thing I don’t look for is perfection, I think perfect pieces are often cold—I want to see the author’s voice coming through, even if that means there are lines that have imperfection to them. Honestly, those moments are usually the ones I remember.
6. A saucer has descended from the skies and kidnapped a fan of yours in the middle of the night. The fan has been taken to an alien planet where a society not dissimilar from our own is in place, and has been made the Chief Commander over the whole planet. The first decree this fan of yours (who is, incidentally, also the most devoted and extreme of fans) passes, is to render mandatory to anybody, child and grownup, the reading of your magnum opus. What do you suppose would the aliens dislike the most of your work?
All the jokes maybe. Or my over-reliance on phones ringing and people hearing things (I LIKE SOUND AS A SENSE ALRIGHT).
7. Let us assume a fully grown, completely healthy Clydesdale horse has his hooves shackled to the ground while he head is held in place with thick rope. He is conscious and standing upright, but he is completely immobile. And let us assume that for some reason every political prisoner on earth (as cited by Amnesty International) will be released from captivity if you can kick this horse to death in less than twenty minutes. You are allowed to wear steel-toed boots. Would you attempt to do this?
I would not. I think this kind of question is the type of morality puzzle that always creeps me out—do we sacrifice the individual for the community? And what does that say about us if we do?
8. What’s next for author Chloe N. Clark?
This summer, I’m working on my novel and I’ve also opened up my summer to do some freelance editing and critiquing. I’m also, of course, reading and editing for Cotton Xenomorph. Additionally, I have some projects that are out for submission right now, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.