There is a movement happening in literary fiction that embraces the weird, the surreal, and the unexpected. It’s becoming more common in annuals such as The Best American Short Stories in the form of speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction and horror) as well as magical realism, neo-noir, and other writing that isn’t primarily (or only) realistic. In this class, we will study examples of the new weird. We’ll do exercises that take traditional scenes, prompts, and moments in fiction and transform them—reinventing tropes, finding innovative ways to write within genres, and defying the reader’s expectations through unreliable narrators, misdirection, and unexpected choices. How do you get weird without losing your audience? We will read the seminal novel Perdido Street Station by China Mieville, which kicked off the new weird movement, and explore how it relates to classic genre fiction, how it innovates and embraces the new weird, and how it aligns with literary fiction. You will bring to class a short story that we’ll read and discuss in workshop, looking for ways to elevate the prose and grab the reader, while tapping into the strengths of the new weird. Whether your voice is rooted in classic speculative fiction, literary writing with a hint of the strange, or something in-between, this class will help you acquire tools for telling layered, compelling stories that resonate with emotion and impact. All genres and levels of experience are welcome.
Richard Thomas is the award-winning author of seven books: three novels—Disintegration and Breaker (Random House Alibi), and Transubstantiate (Otherworld Publications); three short story collections—Staring Into the Abyss (Kraken Press), Herniated Roots (Snubnose Press), and Tribulations (Cemetery Dance); as well as one novella in The Soul Standard (Dzanc Books). He has published over 100 stories, with work appearing in, among others, Cemetery Dance, PANK, storySouth, Gargoyle, Weird Fiction Review, Midwestern Gothic, Arcadia, Qualia Nous, Chiral Mad 2 & 3, and Shivers VI (with Stephen King and Peter Straub). He has won contests at ChiZine and One Buck Horror, and has received five Pushcart Prize nominations. He is also the editor of four anthologies: The New Black and Exigencies (Dark House Press), The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers (Black Lawrence Press), and Burnt Tongues with Chuck Palahniuk (Medallion Press). He is a columnist at LitReactor and Editor-in-Chief at Dark House Press and Gamut Magazine. For more information, visit www.whatdoesnotkillme.com.