From the great Bree Hoskin at the fabulous Gaydarnation:
He looks just like you. He acts exactly like you. He takes away your job. He steals your friends. He seduces your lover. Every day he becomes more and more like you, pushing you out of your life, taking away what was yours - until there's nothing left. Where did he come from? Robot? Alien? Clone? Doppelganger? Evil twin? Long lost brother? Me2: A Novel of Horror, a shocking new view of queer identity, is a groundbreaking and wildly twisted novel that you'll remember for a long time - no matter who you are, or who you may think you are.
Following the publication of author M. Christian's surreal, humorous and horrifying novel of gay identity and existence, a devious imposter has surfaced claiming to be the real, non-imitation M. Christian. A question mark now hangs over the authorship of Me2 - was it written by the real M. Christian, or by his imposter?
We caught up with who we think is the real M. Christian - who insists he didn't write the book - and asked him about it anyway.
Where did you find the original impulse to write the book?
What book are you talking about? If you mean that travesty, the nightmare that’s been haunting my every waking moment, the book that has supposedly been written by me but that was actually authored by a madman claiming to be me, who’s attempting to steal my career and take away everything that has ever been, or ever will be, me, then this interview is over!
How many times do I have to say it: I did not write the novel Me2. Certainly it would appear to be something I’d write, being a surreal, scary, but also quite funny exploration of existence and identity, and, absolutely, it’s written in a style very similar to my own, but it’s not my work at all.
I do have to admit a certain … admiration for the author, thief that he might be. I’ve been thinking of a similar book myself and it’s been quite a shock to discover that he’s created his novel using some of the same concepts. I mean who hasn’t heard of the idea that for every one of us there could be a duplicate, a copy living a similar life, out there in the world? Then there’s the mirror-image fascination idea: that on some level we’re all looking for partners who are , in some way, just like ourselves. Add these together with a few clever constructions, some nasty commentaries on our oppressively homogenous culture, the effects of mass media on identity plus the literal ‘self-love’ reflection some gay men seem to have and … well, I might well have written a similar kind of book. If, that is, this copycat and plagiarist hadn’t done it first.
What was your aim in writing about such thought-provoking and philosophical concepts as identity and existence in such a sinister and haunting way?
Again I have to protest in the most stringent of ways that I am not the author of Me2. But, putting the terrible crime aside from the moment, since I am here at your request and I need to draw as much attention as possible to this nightmarish situation, I could – possibly – imagine that this forger of my identity, this thief of my existence, really couldn’t approach the central idea of the book without making it more than a bit frightening. We all want to think of ourselves as being unique, after all. If any of us were confronted, as I have been, by an impostor, it would have a seriously traumatic affect: you are not special. You are just like someone else.
But then there’s another question: what if this other person is not only like you but is doing better with what you both have – in other words he’s a better you than you ever could be. What does that make you? An inferior copy? A cheap knockoff? It gets even worse when you push it still further: do you love, or even like, yourself – or does this better version hate you for not being all you could be, or do you hate him for being better than you?
Still, I’d approach the whole thing with a bit of humor – which in a weird way could be even scarier. A boring person would be easy to copy but someone who is clever and witty (in his own way) … well, if someone like that could have a duplicate where does that leave the rest of us?
That’s my take on it anyway. If I were to write a book like Me2 – which I did not.
How much research went into the book?
Sigh. I can see that this is going nowhere. You obviously aren’t listening to what I’ve been saying: I did not write Me2. It is a fraud, a hoax, an attempt to steal my life. After all, if I did write Me2 I would not have spent as long as this thief did – clearly days if not weeks – going to Starbucks, driving around faceless cities like Los Angeles and Las Vegas, walking through shops such as Tommy Hilfiger, and reading magazines such as GQ and Instinct. Instead I would have done what most writers do: just fake it and hope for the best.
Is there a particular scene in the novel that resonates with you in a special way?
‘Resonates’ is a good way to put it, as that implies an echo, a signal copied and reflected back. Reading this book was disturbing in many ways, beyond the fact that the author is trying to steal my career and existence. If there’s a part of it that particularly struck home, it was the way the author grounded the book in familiar reality – everyday life – but still made what was happening, really happening, slippery and elusive. I also have to admire the way the author would put forth some ideas about what’s going on (clones, robots, doppelganger, demon, etc.) only to cleverly shoot down each and every theory until the final one. Despite his thievery, I have to admit I actually admire some of what he’s done with Me2. I, of course, would have done a far better job. Or at least I hope I would have ….
Are there any particular works of horror or horror authors that you would say have inspired you?
I’m actually not a huge horror fan, at least not a voracious one. I’ve always liked Michael McDowell and I’ve read everything Graham Masterton’s written, or close to it. I’m not a fan of King or Koontz. What I read a lot of is classic, old school, noir; science fiction, and comic books bu Sturgeon, Bester, Phil Dick, Alan Moore, Jim Thompson, Hammett, James M. Cain, to name a few. I do like weird stuff, too – books and such that don't really fit in any category, which is what I like to write as well. Aside from the horrible situation with the impostor, Me2 is the kind of book I love to read as well as write. The same goes for The Very Bloody Marys, the book I wrote that came out last year: funny, scary – a very different take on vampires.
Like a lot of writers, I wish I could write as well as my idols – but in the meantime I try to learn from them as much as I can and do my best. I just hope that people like what I do, which gives me the chance to do even more of what I love, which is writing.
You have been published extensively in various erotic anthologies, and you wrote a series of columns for The Erotica Readers and Writers Association on ‘the ins and outs and ins and outs and ins and outs of writing good smut’. Would you care to share a few of the best tips with us?
That’s wonderful that you brought up that column. I really enjoyed doing it. In fact I’ve been reposting many of them on my site at www.mchristian.com.
Good smut? Hmm …
Okay, here’s the secret: what makes smut good smut really is what makes any writing good writing. It really has nothing to do with what tab goes into what slot or how much attention you put into describing body parts. A good smut story has to have character, crafted writing, a well thought-out plot, a vivid environment – all that great and glorious stuff. After all, sex is really in the brain, the mind, not in what’s between your legs. If you can reach that magical place between a reader’s ears then what’s below will naturally follow.
I also seriously recommend not trying to turn you or the reader on. It’s not a writer’s job to do that and, besides, there’s no way you can do it for everyone. Just be a good writer; try and reach the reader as best you can.
Your writing certainly works to get an intense reaction from readers, whether it be fear or sexual excitement; how does it feel to know that you are turning readers on with your writing?
In a word: ewwwwwww! Kidding aside, it means a lot to me that people like my work. I don’t really want to be rich (though not worrying about the rent every damned month would be nice) or famous (though I would like a cadre of loyal minions who would do my bidding, no matter how twisted or bizarre), but all I really want is for people to enjoy reading what I do: scary or sexy or anything else. One of my favorite compliments came when I was chatting with a fellow at a party. It turned out we’d both been published in the same magazine. I’d read his story and liked it, and I told him so. When he asked me what story was mine I had to admit that I’d had to use a female pseudonym. His response still makes me smile: “But I masturbated to that story!” What I love isn’t that I made him so … ‘happy’, or that I’d tricked him, but that he’d enjoyed my work so much and that I’d been good enough that it had never occurred to him that she had been a he.
Writers, after all, are basically professional liars: if we do our job well enough, you don’t realise you’re reading at all and the story just takes you away. I really hope I do that for all my readers, no matter what I’m writing.
What’s next for you?
Lemme see … I’m having lots of fun with my blog at www.mchristian.com and the one I do with my brother at www.meinekleinefabrik.blogspot.com. I have two new novels coming out very soon: Brushes is a straight erotic romance about a famous painter and the people in his life, and The Painted Doll is a cyberpunky erotic novel about a woman who has to become someone else to avoid the mob. I’m also working on the start of some new novels as well, but those are still in their nascent stages. Beyond that I’m also playing with some graphic novel projects – keep and eye on www.mchristian.com for info on them as well.
Amidst this folderol, I’m still doing the 9 to 5 work grind and having quite a lovely little life with my precious partner-in-all-things Sage Vivant and trying to survive this country – at least until the next election (fingers crossed).
What else would you like to say?
Just that this has been a lot of fun: thanks so much! I also want to take this opportunity to implore you and all your readers to, please, buy as many copies of Me2 as you can to help me shine a much-needed light on the travesty that is this impostor’s attempt to steal my hard-earned reputation and – regretfully – simple little life.
For the love of everything, he must be stopped! Accept no substitutes! I and only I, am the real M.Christian!
Or, at least, that’s what I’ve been trying to tell myself.
Find out more at www.mchristian.com and read our review of The Very Bloody Marys, written by the real M. Christian.