Terence Hannum is a Baltimore, MD based artist, musician (playing in Locrian and The Holy Circle) and writer. His novella Beneath the Remains was published by Anathemata Editions and his novella All Internal will be published this year by Dynatox Ministries. His short stories have appeared in Terraform, Lamplight, Turn to Ash, SickLit,and the SciPhi Journal.
When did you start writing?
I wrote art criticism for years, but seriously started writing fiction seven years ago when I began my novella “Beneath the Remains. It took a while to finish, edit and get published, but it was an important experience and one I’ve kept at since.
And what specifically drives you to write speculative fiction?
To me it allows you the freedom to address subjects that maybe don’t fit inside traditional literary fiction, such as climate change or environmental collapse. I am not a very good orthodox sci-fi or horror writer, I don’t follow rules very well, so I tend to think of speculative as a great middle group for me.
You’ve certainly found that middle ground in “The Seam.” What inspired this story?
“The Seam” was inspired by a family camping trip. My kids were discussing how real things were. It kind of all fell into place. It got me thinking about how else you could replicate the reality of the outdoors and why you would.
That’s fascinating. “The Seam” definitely brought that realness. Who are your favourite writers that bring something beyond reality to the page?
I have to say JG Ballard and a lot of the New Wave of Science-Fiction. It always dismays me that that thread of science fiction has waned a bit, but writers like Ballard, Delaney, and Le Guin really challenged me. I also owe quite a bit to the New Narrative writers—like Dennis Cooper, Kevin Killian, and Kathy Acker—who would combine surrealism with violence, gender politics, and humor. I also would add André Breton, Anna Kavan, Don DeLillo, and Zora Neale Hurston.
That’s a great list of writers who have contributed a huge amount to science fiction. What do you want to contribute to the genre with your writing?
Really what I try and do is take something mundane, a camping trip or a mall, and imbue it with something uncanny. To me that is about sharing a sense of disturbance that something that would be normal is more strange and difficult.
What was the last book that blew your mind?
I’ll give you two, one a recent one and one an older one that I just got around to. First was Karl Ove Knausgard’s “My Struggle: Book 4”, it really blew my mind—it was so simple but really a great novel about writing and transitioning from being a teenager into an adult. The second one is more of a classic. I neglected Jack Finney’s “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and it was to my own peril. It is such a great novel, and so well written and composed. I was blown away.
What was the last book that made you laugh and/or cry?
A collection of short stories by Zora Neale Hurston. There were some stories in there that made me laugh out loud. I think when I read “Ice” by Anna Kavan I maybe felt a lot of sorrow—it’s a very strange and tragic story. I don’t know if I cried but I felt close to it.
What is your favourite TV show?
Of all time, probably “The Twilight Zone”. Recently, maybe “The Terror” (AMC) and “Dark” (Netflix), so far “Sharp Objects” on HBO is doing it for me but I’m sure it’s going to be dumb when they catch the killer.
If you could offer one piece of advice to your past self, what would it be?
Write, I should have started writing earlier.
What writing projects are you working on now?
I have been editing my first novel, Lower Heavenfor a while now and submitting it for publication—it’s about surveillance, suburbia, and religion taking place beneath a surveillance blimp and diving into issues around guns, technology, and belief.