Marc Norman: ” I like inventing people and putting them in settings”

Why do you write?


Marc Norman:  As to why I write, I used to say it was because I was incapable of anything else, which of course is a description of a compulsion–something that has power over you, something whose reins you don’t hold. But lately, I explain it more along the lines or the “making” stuff I mentioned earlier.  I think I like to make worlds and populate them.  You’re sort of God, and you’re sort of a miniaturist at the same time.  You can make up a world and you can design the door knobs they use.  I used to make model airplanes–all of us did when we were kids.  Most of my friends threw them together, sloppy, with great globs of glue, and then blew them up with firecrackers.  I worked for hours, painstakingly, on mine, getting books of pictures of the airplane or ship or tank in question from the library and adding details, tiny bits of things, rivet heads, all to the purpose of realism, which is another way of saying, the illusion of reality.  And I suppose I’m still operating along those lines.  I like inventing people and putting them in settings so finely drawn that the viewer, for some short period of time, forgets he or she is yoking at an artifice and thinks it’s real.  That’s my performance.  That’s my, for lack of a better word, magic.

There was a big spike of interest in science-fiction around the turn of this century.  In that incarnation, the themes weren’t galactic battles and aliens–they were ghosts, spiritualism, seances.  Somebody asked Joseph Conrad why he didn’t write a book in that genre, since it was so popular with the public.  He replied, “Because it would imply that the quotidian was not miraculous.”  That’s always rung a bell with me.  I find the lives we lead here, in our flawed world, endlessly fascinating.

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