Sam Kearns, whose story ‘Tear Down the Aqueducts’ is published in issue 5 of Lucent Dreaming, is a graduate of Creative Writing from Oxford University and Southampton Solent University. He has previously self-published a science fiction novel, The Darkness under the Rainbow, and an online serial, Litany of the Elementals. He resides in Oxford with a talking cat.
So, what inspired your piece ‘Tear Down the Aqueducts’ and how did it find its way to Lucent Dreaming?
I discovered Lucent Dreaming quite by accident. Once I had, I decided in advance to interpret the theme ‘lead’ as in reference to the material. Whilst idly googling I discovered the debunked theory claiming that lead poisoning had been a major affliction of the Roman elite, and that this may have contributed to the empire’s downfall. Of course, it’s all baloney. But it’s the rich type of baloney that might lay at the delicious centre of a story sandwich. The ahistorical events demanded an ahistorical framing, a sort of House M.D.-esque social climber with a political mind. I would have liked to have spent more time in that world.
What does writing and art mean to you?
Have you ever been in a deeply unhealthy relationship that you nonetheless feel you can’t live without? That’s writing. Have you ever been in a deeply satisfying relationship that fuels you to do better even when it’s challenging? That’s art. They exist in the same oscillating Venn diagram.
What are you most excited about right now and what writing/creative projects are you currently working on?
I’m excited about restless oceans, ancient secrets buried within mountains, grotesque mermen assaulting villages in the overwhelming dark, and morose pirates trying to stay alive when their own hearts long for death. It’s a fantasy novel that I’m writing in-between worrying about my fantasy novel and worrying about literally everything else.
Tell us about some of your favourite books or art you’ve experienced – of all time or more recently. Why are they favourites?
This week I rewatched Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. It’s such a singular masterpiece in that it engages with dream-logic on the thin precipice between satisfying and frustrating, and never falls off. It reminds me of a quote from the foreword of Stephen Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon where he says that an artist needs to go for the throat of what they are aiming for, or something along those lines. It’s liberating to realise that you can unapologetically pursue a particular vision and think about audience reaction much later, until after you’re personally satisfied.
What advice would you give those who want to do what you do?
I’m still very much a student of writing with a long way to go. But I would always advocate to read as widely as possible, and to try and enjoy the experience of growing as a person and a writer over any particular result. It’s hard to keep that in mind as we are all impatient for success, but having that perspective is important.
Where can people see more of you and your work?
I wrote a science fiction novel called The Darkness Under The Rainbow. Do check it out, though it’s certainly from a different period in my life. Let’s follow each other on Twitter (@SamKearns1) and gripe communally!