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.
Me2: A Novel Of Horror, by M. Christian
Publisher: Alyson Publications
Released: 4 March 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
From Steve Wlliams:
Think fusing a psychological thriller with an indelible horror story and whipping it up with ‘Starbucks’ style foam of vacuous, store bought normalcy and you have M. Christian’s startlingly clever novel ‘Me 2’.
The pace of the narrative could threaten leave you breathless as M. Christian floods the page, again and again, with witty observations of today’s carbon copy world, whilst always keeping the story grounded in a reality that is as morbidly real as it is fantastically uncomfortable. There are times when the book threatens to flounder, but M. Christian is a writer capable of keeping on the right side of a flagging plot, and has crafted a story where the gimmick is the real irony: all across the land, as far as your Giorgio Armani shades can let you see, there will be person after person, perfectly alike in almost every way, reading ‘Me 2’ and deservedly so.An absolute high point on my literary calendar.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
"I love a book that takes a satirical but biting look at society and its ridiculous conventions. The beauty of Me2 is the way it captures the preposterous and the real of modern life. The reader is left slightly confused and a bit afraid to look too closely at his/her own life for fear of finding the same soulless homogeneity the protagonist faces. Leave it to M. Christian to wrap this commentary in such a cozy blanket of rich fiction."
- Sage Vivant
"Me2 is an intelligent, if surreal book by M. Christian --at least, I think it's by M. Christian. he says he didn't write it --so who's the M.Christian who has stolen his name, identity and reputation as a writer of pornography and lots of other good stuff?
"Well Me2 is so gripping, it doesn't really matter who the hell wrote it! The reader is taken on a ride of paranoia and insecurity; a kafkaesque (can't spell) world of uncertainty as the protagonist's reality and identity are questioned. And following that, the reader's. Who are we/ Who am I? What is this weird place I call reality?
"Me2 raises questions that discomfort me --it leaves me afraid; agoraphobic -- claustrophobic. A horrid dread that won't leave me..."
Sunday, April 20, 2008
For readers familiar only with Christian's rousing erotic short fiction, this horror-tinged fable about the foibles of queer identity may come as a welcome literary surprise. There's no sex, and there's really only one gay character, the narrator. Actually, there are multiple gay characters, but they're all the same fellow, which is where the one-of-a-kind craft of this delicious novel comes into play.
When first met, he's a quintessentially stylish queer "boy of summer" – blond hair, clear skin, good looks, just the right amount of muscle, endowed within reason, with a honed fashion sense, an Ikea-furnished apartment, and a sensibly sporty car. He revels in a self-satisfied life of conspicuously consumptive consumerism, fueled by a day job as a Starbucks barista slacker. All is good. Until other boys of summer start to take over the narrator's world, befriending his friends, rearranging his apartment, living his life. Being him. Evil twins? Doppelgangers? Creepy figments of the imagination? Christian never explains, which is why this horrific, terrific novel manifests quirky dread so well.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
"Me2 is an invigorating read, full of horror, sex, seduction, and what it means to have too much identity in an age where it can easily be stolen. Read M. Christian (any one of the many) now!"
Tom Piccirilli, author of The Midnight Road and The Cold Spot
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Yet another reviewer has been tricked by my hideous doppelganger!
Brian Jewell from Edge Boston (and Bay Windows):
Until the most recent movie version, each iteration of Invasion of the Body Snatchers has been tailored to the up-to-the-minute fears of its generation. This eerie novel goes where the Nicole Kidman vehicle should have, drawing on conspiracy theories, urban anomie, identity theft and consumerism to create a subtle horror tale about erosion of the self. The nameless lead character is a shallow twink, over stimulated but isolated, who has acquaintances and tricks instead of friends, and products and catalogs instead of values. After a street crazy puts the idea of pod people in his head, our hero starts noticing strange things. People are referring to conversations he doesn’t remember and events he didn’t witness. Does he have a double? Is this doppelganger trying to steal his life from him? And does this interloper come from outer space, a secret government cloning lab, a disordered brain, or is he a thought experiment come to life? Christian keeps the reader guessing, using repetitive language and a deliberate pace to evoke our Everyman’s sense of disorientation and disconnection as he realizes that no one would notice if he were erased, while barreling towards a suitably trippy conclusion. Like a lot of good science fiction, this is as much a contemporary social satire as an unsettling fantasy.
Let me be very clear about this: I did not write the novel Me2. Yes, the book certainly sounds like a book I would write: a unusually constructed tale about queer identity, human existence, and the horror of having your life copied and stolen from you. Certainly it's with a publisher I have worked with many times before, having edited many anthologies, written one novel - Running Dry - and three previous collections of short stores - Dirty Words, Speaking Parts, and Filthy. Absolutely the style of the book - surreal yet lightly conversational and easily comprehensible - is very similar to styles I've used in past, for instance in my recently released gay vampire novel The Very Bloody Marys (from Haworth Books) ....
Sunday, April 06, 2008
From The Bookshelf:
Talk about an identity crisis.
M. Christian (or is it?) puts a whole new spin to the genre of mind-bending thrillers with Me2, a twisted and psychological tale of individuality and the lack of it. Though my description doesn't sound that scary or interesting, I can't do justice to Christian's pulse-pounding skill of turning one man's relatively simple life around with the numerological Genetic Mirror Theory, which says that every human has a genetic twin. (Those who haven't heard of it can check any message board or website for TV show Lost for more info.)
Christian is very unique in his delivery, carving a Starbucks-employed, California-destined, gay "Boy of Summer" into a paranoid, mentally-intuitive, questionably-sane wanderer trying to find his true self (not matter how contradictory those adjectives are). His character's pursuit for his copycat takes him many a party and gathering, one during which he unintentionally gets a little friendly with a darkness-veiled guest.
Christian's visual descriptions (when provided) are vivid and entrancing, gathered in a somewhat confusing order to throw off the reader and any concluding thoughts they may have about this so-called twin and his gradual reign over Christian's character. It's cryptic, enthralling, horrific, fascinating, and never truly reveals its secrets - a great story, indeed.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Well, this little horror novel is certainly introspective, certainly plays out a stream of consciousness, and seems more like an epic (even satirical) free-verse prose-poem, divided into long stanzas (like you used to study in literature class in college) than a conventional novel. There are eleven chapters, starting with “Me” and run through “Me11,” each starting with a pre-stanza in italics. There are three epilogues (composer Arnold Bax as always satisfied with just one in almost each of his symphonies), the last of which is a letter from his publisher. This arrangement pretty much washes up "the Me Generation," even with Bill Clinton as part of it.
In fact, the gay content (the publisher is well known for that niche market) in some ways seems almost incidental to the literary form. Or perhaps not. The book is a meditation on the meaning of self, and a metaphor on the fear of self. The protagonist is the “young man next door” who works in the coffee business. I had a good friend in Minneapolis who did just that (he was straight and liked to try the local comedy circuit), and could tell you how cutthroat the business is – particularly on the Skyway. Here, the setting could be Anywhere, but it seems LA-ish.
Of course, “you know the story.” Doubles of himself start showing up, taking his job, thieving his identity. He’s not sure if it’s schizophrenia, bad memory, bipolar, or someone really doing him in. He sometimes seems unclear about which home is his. Along the way there is some real fantasy fulfillment. Is he with an imaginary self or someone real? I might have written the intimate scenes with a different kind of sartorial detail, inasmuch as I have a couple scenes in my own novel draft (in third person) a bit like Christian’s p. 140. Clive Barker could really turn these kinds of scenes out in “Imajica,” even when the partners were aliens or beings with ambiguous and bending gender.
Of course, here is where the “gay” part really matters. I have the impression that the protagonist, as much as he claims he likes himself, is self-indulging in “upward affiliation,” a kind of narcissism that George Gilder used to write about in the 80s in his bashings on “the perils of androgyny” (as in his 1986 these “Men and Marriage”). He would like to be affiliated with, or perhaps possess (I’m not sure which) a man who is as perfect as possible, before having his own family. He wants to become his own “god” before taking the dive. Then, it’s perfectly safe – except that you wind up in a world with “children of Men.” The problem comes if he is asked to stick his neck out, and take responsibility for someone else (perhaps a dependent, perhaps by having children), just “as he is.” In the epilogues, the author makes points about the Internet, which he fears has the potential of forcing more social conformity ....
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
M.Christian 1: So I’ve finally apprehended you, foul fiend!
M.Christian 2: What the hell are you talking about? I caught you!
MC1: There’s no denying it: you’re the wretched scoundrel who’s been impersonating me, writing books under my name, soiling my creative reputation, attempting to profit by using my name –
MC2: Hold it right there, buddy! I don’t know what kind of twisted game you’re playing but you’re the one who’s been copying me, ripping off my name –
MC1: Liar! J'accuse! It is you who have stolen my identity, my very existence, and sought to supplant me as the rightful owner to the life of ‘M.Christian!’
MC2: You’re freaking nuts!
MC1: No, sir, it is you who is the clearly unbalanced one. To even attempt such a reckless and audacious act reveals a tentative grasp of reality.
MC2: Look, you clearly need some kind of professional help: hardcore therapy, some good meds, maybe even a straight jacket. What I don’t get is why you even bothered to try and steal my name. It’s not like I’m a damned Stephen King or anything. I’m not worth very much. Hell, it’s not like you really needed to be me anyway. You’re a crook, okay, but you’re still a damned good writer. I really hate to say it but Me2 is a really good read. If you just hadn’t been so damned stupid to try and take my name away from me, you might have been able to make a real one for yourself.
MC1: Devil! Miscreant! How contemptible you are. How arrogant! Not only do you attempt the theft of my existence but now you play the game of mock sincerity and even praise your own impersonation. Well, sir, I think that the evidence of your crime is written on the very pages you try to pass off as my work. Agreed, the novel Me2 is the work of a writer with no small amount of talent but it is clearly not a subject matter that I, the true and real M.Christian, would ever create. For example, just look at the following text featured on the back of the current edition: “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? A shocking new view of queer identity, Me2 is a groundbreaking and wildly twisted novel that you’ll remember for a long time – no matter who you are, or who you think you may be.” That, sir, is not a book that the real M.Christian would ever deem to write.
MC2: Forget the pills and straight jacket, it’s a nice rubber-walled accommodation for you, buddy: you’re the one who wrote the damned book. But one thing you’re right about, Me2 sure isn’t something I would write. Sure it’s got a real interesting theme and all: existence, identity, the horror of losing who you are, of not only being replaced by a copy but even one who does a better damned job of living your life than you ever could. Yeah, it’s got an interesting and very readable style, even though it’s dealing with a lot of weird crap, but it sure isn’t something I would do.
MC1: Again you distort the truth of the situation. Curse you, impostor! I have worked for too many years to build up what I can only hope is a moderately respected literary career only to have to try to co-opt all my hard-won successes for your nefarious ends. I will fight you with every fiber of my being, thief! I am the one and the only M.Christian. I am the author of more than 250 short stories in such anthologies as Best American Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, and many, many other fine publications. Only I am the editor of 20 anthologies such as The Burning Pen, Guilty Pleasures, The Mammoth Book of Future Cops, The Mammoth Book of Tales of the Road (both Mammoth books with Maxim Jakubowksi), and Confessions, Garden of the Perverse, and Amazons (with Sage Vivant). I, and I alone, am the author of four collections – Dirty Words, Speaking Parts, The Bachelor Machine, and Filthy – and the novels Running Dry, and The Very Bloody Marys. You, sir, can never take that away from me!
MC2: God, you are a complete and total fruitloop, aren’t you? You’d have to be to sit there and rattle off my writing credits as yours. I tell ya if you weren’t such a 98-pound weakling, I’d be tempted to drive you into the ground like a tent peg. But since you are, I’m just going to keep reminding myself that you’re a little loose, brain-wise, and try not to take you too seriously. For God’s sake you don’t need to pretend to be me to get your name out there. Like I said, Me2 is a damned good book. Take the way you knock out all the usual explanations -- robot, alien, clone, doppelganger, evil twin, long lost brother – and offer up a totally unique explanation, and then totally screw with the idea of who the main character is. I tell you, I hate to say this, but it was quite brilliant. And then there’s the way you use humor as well as horror … you don’t need to pose as me: you could be right up there with me (if I’m even ‘up there’ to begin with) with a little work.
MC1: Is there no end to your infamy? Is there no depth to your depravity? How contemptible you are to stand there and claim to be the one, true, original M.Christian and then to compliment yourself for the work that you, yourself, created! The audacity! Beyond the insult to my person, however, is the loathing I feel for you for what you have done, in my name, to people I thought I could claim to be friends, associates .. people I respected. How did you manage to deceive so many people that you were myself? People who were not familiar with me or my work I could understand but to trick such luminaries as Felice Picano and Michael Thomas Ford … that is beyond fraud, bordering on evil criminality. Just look at what you tricked them into writing about this book you have written under my name. Lisabet Sarai, of Incognito and Fire fame says: “Absolutely brilliant. M.Christian explores the meaning of identity and humanity in a generic world where literally everything can be manufactured -- a world frighteningly like our own.” Art & Sex in Greenwich Village author Felice Picano writes: “Me2 is a unique and always entertaining fable-novel about what exactly identity may entail and how we may or may not decide whether it's worth the price of keeping it.” Mari Adkins contributing editor, Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest, says “M. Christian has a delightful, marvelously twisted way with words which cause his narratives to crawl beneath your skin and fester there, making you go back for more. He writes with a strong, unique voice which is not only entertaining but also makes you think, makes you ponder the improbable. You'll think you've read this delicious, fast-paced story, but did you? Or was it you?” And Full Circle and Changing Tides author Michael Thomas Ford writes "With delicious slyness , M. Christian creates a world in which the familiar becomes sinister and the comfort of daily routine is replaced by a growing sense of dread. His modern parable lays bare the all-too-real dangers inherent in the sacrifice of individuality in the pursuit of cultural homogenization.” I say again, and with heightened furor: how dare you, sir!
MC2: Okay, that’s it. I’ve had enough of you … you … damned copycat.
MC1: Is this it then? Are you so cowardly you resort to brute antagonism, simple violence?
MC2: You damned well started this – but I’m gonna finish it.
MC1: Unhand me, I say! I warn you, Sir, I was quite the pugilist in my day. Do not force me to defend myself.
MC2: Put ‘em up, you thief!
MC1: Have at you, sir!
MC1: You leave my mother out of this, reprobate!
Monday, March 17, 2008
I should first of all say this book is not a romance at all, so doesn’t really come under the umbrella of ‘original slash’ or whatever you want to call it. However, it’s such a clever bit of writing, it’s a shame to pass up the chance to draw readers’ attention to it.
The story is told from a POV - not necessarily a single POV, but that’s part of the conceit of an unnamed male narrator. He’s gay, but this is not about him being gay - his sexuality is just part of what makes him who he is and how he lives his life. If you’re tired of gay novels which are all about the anguish of being gay or how to find gay love, then this will be a refreshing change. [Interestingly, on his website, the author claims to be straight - but there’s a good deal of fucking with readers’ heads going on there, so I don’t know if that’s meant to be taken at face value.]
Our narrator’s life isn’t exactly challenging his intellect. He makes a habit of assessing people by their appearance, judging, tagging them, never really delving under the ensemble to the person’s soul. He treats himself in the same way, living superficially, obsessed with his looks and how he appears to other people. He works at Starbucks, doing the same thing, living the same meaningless existence in the same way every day, his customers no more distinct or real to him than the kinds of coffee they order. Until he talks to a crazy man who tells him about the doppelgangers, the doubles, the fakes, and how there are people walking among us who are mere simulacra of humanity, trying all the time to perfect the imitation. Our narrator starts to wonder if he has a double too, and the horror starts for him when he realises he does - and that the double is rapidly taking over our narrator’s existence. For the first time, he has to question just what makes him, his life and what is there that he desperately wants to call his own and no one else’s.
It’s a clever story exploring identity, mass consumption, the search for individualism in a world which promotes uniformity, where differences are superficial, and we become the labels we hang on ourselves and which are placed by the people. Christian asks in Me2, exactly what is the nature of self, and how much of what we believe we are, is merely a product of accumulated possessions, experiences and delusions. He also asks how can we hold onto true individuality in a consumer driven mass-marketed society. It’s a rather bleak portrait of American life, very time and place specific in its popular references, though perfectly comprehensible to the well-read non American. As ‘McCulture’ takes over the world, and rage against consumerism and Americanisation grows, Christian is taking pointed aim at the emptiness and meaningless of an existence dominated by brand names and advertising. It’s the same target that American Psycho went for, but in a very different and less bloody manner.
It’s a confusing, gripping story, though it loses pacing slightly towards the end, where it becomes a tad tiresome with its extremely long denouement. It demands closed attention, and the writing is layered, literate and intelligent, so not something for a lazy afternoon after a big meal. He builds the horror of the narrator’s situation beautifully, but the elliptical narrative with all the quotes from other speakers, told out of sequence, will be challenging to read if you’re not used to science fiction or the horror genre.
The idea of cloning, of doubles taking over one’s life, isn’t exactly new, but Christian’s spin on the idea and the execution is crisp and fresh. If you want a sturdy, well-written horror novel which will make you think, with a protagonist who’s gay in a completely non-exploitative way, then Me2 is one to buy.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Let me be very clear about this: I did not write the novel Me2. Yes, the book certainly sounds like a book I would write: a unusually constructed tale about queer identity, human existence, and the horror of having your life copied and stolen from you. Certainly it's with a publisher I have worked with many times before, having edited many anthologies, written one novel - Running Dry - and three previous collections of short stores - Dirty Words, Speaking Parts, and Filthy. Absolutely the style of the book - surreal yet lightly conversational and easily comprehensible - is very similar to styles I've used in past, for instance in my recently released gay vampire novel The Very Bloody Marys (from Haworth Books).
But I did not write Me2. Someone else did: someone who is attempting to steal my identity as a writer. Through devious means this shadowy impostor is attempting to supplant my career and even my existence. Rest assured that even though he at first appears to be my equal or even - I must grudgingly admit - my superior with regard to writing ability, I will not rest until he is exposed for the impostor he is. I want my life returned to me.
But if I did write Me2 here's how I would go about it.
I have to admit that I've always been fascinated by the illusion of individuality; how every one of us clings to the idea of being unique in the world yet feels comforted by a crowd of strangers who might share only the most superficial of interests with us. I also am interested in situations were lives are stolen: identity theft, impostors ... notions like that. What does it say about us if our 'selves', our identities, can be stolen, replaced, or sold off?
So if I was going to write a book like Me2 the proposal would come first. Then, with fingers firmly crossed, I'd submit it to, say, the great folks at Alyson Books. If luck and potential sales were on my side, Alyson Books would agree and a contract would be sent.
Then would come the fun -- and the hard -- part. That is if I were to write a book like Me2. Which, as I've said, I did not.
But if I had, I'd then break the book down into eleven or so pieces, each a set length -- say 5,000 to 6,000 words. After doing 5,000-word chapters for my first book, Running Dry, I swore I'd only do 3,000-word chapters going forward, which I did do for The Very Bloody Marys, but there's something about the idea of a book like Me2 that lends itself to longer chapters. In fact, what I might do -- if I were to write a book like Me2 -- is start each chapter with a brief monologue from a character trying to explain the presence of the double (Robot? Alien? Clone? Doppelganger? Evil twin? Long lost brother?). That way the reader would have their own guesses about what's happening tossed out until it gets to the wonderfully weird ending and final explanation to What's Really Going On.
Even though I didn't write Me2, I imagine that writing it would be a lot of fun, giving me the chance to have a lot of crazy, strange, surreal fun with the story. So crazy, strange, and surreal that I would never tip off a reader by, say, going into too much detail in a How I Wrote The Book piece like this one. Instead I'd only drop vague hints as well as warped and twisted tricks such as claiming not to have written the book, blaming the whole thing on a mysterious impostor ... which, naturally, is what the book is all about. That is, if I were to write something like Me2, which, as I've said, I didn't.
I usually write about 3,000 or so words a week, which is what happens when you have a day job as well as friends and family, so I'd probably have the book done in about six or so months. With Running Dry, I practically rewrote the book after I'd finished the first draft but since then I rarely touch the finished manuscript except to give it a final, careful read. Even so, no one can proof their own work, so I'd then send the manuscript over to my cherished partner-in-all-things Sage Vivant, who'd then read and copy edit the manuscript for me.
I should probably mention an interesting fact about writing a book like Me2. The book, if I were going to write it, would technically be a gay horror novel, as it would be written with a gay male focus and would be published by Alyson Books, which publishes gay and lesbian fiction as well as non-fiction books. Even though I did not write Me2, the one that has recently come out from my impostor, I would have no problem with it being a gay book as I am extensively published in that genre. Running Dry and The Very Bloody Marys are also gay horror books and three of my four collections were queer-specific.
But I'm straight.
I've never hidden my orientation. Far from it: I've written several essays and such on being a straight man writing gay stories. How it happened, and for that matter why it still happens, is simple: I'm a writer. I love to write, more than just about anything else. What it's about and who the stories are for really doesn't matter to me: having an audience who likes what I do, and gives me chances to write more, is what gets my motor going, so to speak. As I like to say, I might be straight but my orientation really is writer.
Starting out, I wrote a lot of queer porn. It was wonderful to sell what I wrote, and to have readers, editors, and then publishers want more of it. In fact I consider it a glorious compliment that I've worked with so many gay and lesbian writers, editors, and publishers who look beyond my own orientation and see just a writer who lives to tell a fun story.
A fun story like Me2. If I'd written it, that is.
After the book would be copy edited, it would then, naturally, go out to Alyson Books for their final thumbs-up. After that the novel would enter Alyson's pipeline: editing, cover design, back cover copy, promotion, distribution -- all of that.
Then it would be finished: from an few bubbling ideas to a proposal, from a proposal to an agreement, from an agreement to a manuscript, manuscript to finished book. From nothing to a few megs on my laptop's hard drive, then from bits and bytes to something you could go out and buy and, hopefully, enjoy.
But I didn't write Me2. I don't know who did. I've read the book, of course. And while I have to admit that it is well written, clever, haunting, disturbing, but also witty and evocative, I am still very disturbed that there is someone out there who is not only attempting to steal my life and writing career but is somehow doing a better job of being me than even I could have.
So I implore you: buy this book! Read it for yourself and discover the horrible truth of Me2!
I just wish I written the damned thing myself.
-- The REAL M.Christian
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Thank you all so much for your interest in my terrible plight. Before I touch on now you might help me in dealing with this frightening situation let me address a few of you who have expressed doubts about the existence of this 'other' M.Christian.
True I have a fondness for pranks and hoaxes, definitely the book itself it about an individual being haunted by an imitator, sure the book is written in a style that is as good as -- if not, I have to grudgingly admit, better than -- my usual style, but believe me when I say that THIS IS NOT ME!
As for how you can help me deal with this impostor please keep a regular eye here, on my site at www.mchristian.com, as well as purchase a copy of the book so you can read for yourself how this book differs than anything I might write.
The REAL M.Christian
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Someone calling himself “M.Christian” has been publicizing a gay horror novel from Alyson Books called Me2. This person is not me, the real M.Christian, but rather someone trying to capitalize on my name and steal my identity.
Sure, the plot of Me2 sure sounds like something I would create. Agreed, the style is very close to my own. And yes, I have done a lot of good work with Alyson Books before. But Me2 is not mine, and this other “M.Christian” is not me.
Just take a look at the back cover copy. Does this sound like a novel I would write?
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?
A shocking new view of queer identity, Me2 is a groundbreaking and wildly twisted novel that you’ll remember for a long time – no matter who you are, or who you think you may be.
This copy even goes for far as to steal my actual biography and even make fun of the fact that the author is not the real me! Here’s what he says on the back of the book:
What’s even worse is that this copycat hasn’t just managed to trick Alyson Books into publishing this novel, but he’s somehow tricked respectable authors and reviews such as Felice Picano and Michael Thomas Ford into providing blurbs for the book!
- Lisabet Sarai, author of Incognito and Fire
M2 is a unique and always entertaining fable-novel about what exactly identity may entail and how we may or may not decide whether it's worth the price of keeping it.
- Felice Picano, author of Art & Sex in Greenwich Village
M. Christian has a delightful, marvelously twisted way with words which cause his narratives to crawl beneath your skin and fester there, making you go back for more. He writes with a strong, unique voice which is not only entertaining but also makes you think, makes you ponder the improbable. You'll think you've read this delicious, fast-paced story, but did you? Or was it you?
- Mari Adkins contributing editor, Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest
"With delicious slyness , M. Christian creates a world in which the familiar becomes sinister and the comfort of daily routine is replaced by a growing sense of dread. His modern parable lays bare the all-too-real dangers inherent in the sacrifice of individuality in the pursuit of cultural homogenization."
- Michael Thomas Ford, author of Full Circle and Changing Tides
Please, help me catch this "other" M.Christian and expose him for the plagiarist and fraud that he is. It’s important to me, as the real M.Christian, to preserve my identity and career as a writer. For updates on this fraud being perpetuated in my name, please check out my Web site at www.mchristian.com.
Luckily I have managed to get my hands on the novel itself. If you’d like to receive a copy of Me2 -- either in its final printed form or as a PDF file -- so you can see that while is this is a excellent novel full of humor, horror, suspense and all kinds of devish twists and turns it's still not a book that I would actually write, please contact me:
41 Sutter Street, #1012
San Francisco, CA 94194
For your reference, I’m attaching info on the impostor’s book:
Thank you for your help and support regarding this frightening situation.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
The Very Bloody Marys author M. Christian, who has contributed his unique brand of clever, edgy and inventive erotic fiction to literally hundreds of anthologies, magazines and websites as well as authoring and editing more than a score of books, writes in his blog that someone has been impersonating him.
The counterfeiter has actually gone so far as to publish a book entitled ME2, the cover blurb of which implies that M. Christian is not a real person, but some sort of "house name" for a cadre of pseudonymous ruffians wreaking literary havoc in today's literary universe. This villain goes so far as to first take credit for Christian's vast literary output and then to write himself a blurb in the voice of "The other M. Christian," which would (maybe) all add up to a rousing literary fraud if it were a) funny, b) clever, or c) amusing, or if M. Christian (the only one) was actually the guy behind it. He ain't. How do I know? Because it's not funny, clever or amusing.
Certainly this scoundrel is not the first to think M. Christian couldn't possibly be one person; after all, his literary output boggles the mind with its breadth of both sexual proclivity and stylistic variety, but while I'm sure that Christian could, at least in spiritual terms, be accused of being a "cadre," and a well-armed one at that, he also happens to be an actual person.
Having been, incidentally, accused of being M. Christian myself in the very early days of my writing career (and he, likewise, having been accused of being me, probably because we're both weirdos from San Francisco who don't like you very much), I feel an eerie sense of déjà vu to now find out that a pigfucker thinks he (or she) can run roughshod over someone's career… to what end?
I'm telling you, if this person turns out to be named Laura Albert…. POW! Right to the moon.
Find out more about M. Christian's writing at MChristian.com.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
To give you an idea of this person's chutzpah, here's a draft of the book's back cover copy where he copies my style, goes so far as to use my biography as his own, credits me with a blurb and further insults me by saying I'm not a writer!
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 own life, taking away that was yours … until there’s nothing left. Where did he come from? What does he want? Robot? Alien? Clone? Doppelganger? Evil twin? Long lost brother?
You’ve never read a novel like Me2. You may think you have, but you haven’t. You may think it’s like every other wild, witty, sexy, twisted, strange, scary, creepy, funny, bizarre, and haunting suspense, comedy, horror, novel about identity and existence but you haven’t. You may think you know what’s going on, but you don’t – not until the final page.
A new view of queer identity, Me2 is a groundbreaking and wildly twisted novel full of surprises, shocks, and delightfully quirky writing. A book you’ll remember for a long time – no matter who you are, or who you think you may be.
For the last decade M.Christian has proven himself to be a true literary chameleon, establishing himself as a master of multi-orientation erotica with stories in such anthologies as Best American Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, and so on and so forth as well as with the collections Dirty Words, Speaking Parts, The Bachelor Machine, and Filthy. Recently he has also shown himself to be a master of humor and suspense with such novels as Running Dry, and The Very Bloody Marys.
Some, however, suspect that M.Christian may be more than one person. The other “M.Christian” adamantly denies this rumor.
“One of the best novels I’ve ever read. Full of strange humor, thoroughly warped horror, and a unique ending that will leave you sleepless for days. Highly recommended.”
- M.Christian (not the writer: the other one)
Please help me with this outrageous situation by keeping an eye out for this impostor and keeping me informed of any further attempts by him to steal my identity.