It’s Q&A time again, this time with Christine Morgan, author of “The White Bull Ranch” (for the sign of Taurus) in Astrologica: Stories of the Zodiac edited by Allen Ashley.
Give us a little bit of background on your writing career.
I’ve been a reader, writer and storyteller since before I can remember, according to family reports of my early years. High school introduced me to roleplaying games and the notion of wanting to be an author when I grew up. It also introduced me to getting some weird looks from my English teachers, because the stories I’d turn in … well, I’ve always been a horror fan too. My published and self-published works span a wide range of genres, pretty much everything but hard SF and gritty procedurals. So far. I’m not ruling anything out yet. I’ve edited amateur anthologies, run online ‘zines, done a lot of beta-reading and reviewing. I have over a dozen novels in print, half a dozen kids’ books, a couple of roleplaying game books, and almost fifty short stories sold (again, so far).
What appealed to you about the Astrologica project?
My interest in mythology goes back almost as far as my interest in reading, beginning with the Greek myths from which the classic zodiac signs are derived. I’m fascinated by history, sociology, anthropology, folklore and divination. I describe my approach to psychology as being a Jungian/Skinnerian, into archetypes and behavior. I also like astronomy, because of the way the constellations derive from myths. Being able to look up into the night sky and know the names and meanings of those grouped dots of light lets me feel a connection to those long-ago storytellers.
Why did you choose this particular star sign for your story?
Among my all-time favorites of the myths was the entire convoluted business of the Minotaur. It’s got everything: sex, violence, greed, pride, betrayal, deception, the gods being really crappy and unfair (mad at Minos? Punish him through his wife! Jerks), the heroes not exactly very heroic (Theseus was a total thug). I’ve visited it before in my writing, but since I also enjoy writing historical fiction, I thought it’d be a fun challenge to present the old story in a different way. So, I gave it a Wild West spin, sending the gunslinger known as the Athens Kid pays a visit to “The White Bull Ranch.”
Which star sign are you and what qualities of that sign do you display?
Aries, Sign of the Ram. I find that most of the usual characteristics associated with it apply to me – headstrong, ambitious, impulsive, determined. I suppose leadership fits too, though I often see it more as being an aspect of the impulsiveness or impatience; I get frustrated with others dithering around, so I tend to take charge because somebody’s got to. The qualities that go with the sign but are not such a much in me would include exercise, vitality, high energy, and being adventurous in a physical, athletic, outdoorsy sense. I like my comfort too much and prefer my adventures to be imaginary.
What is the most accurate / least accurate horoscope you have ever read?
The most accurate ones are always the vaguest, with the most room for interpretation. The least accurate are those specific ones that promise something like a wild new love affair or sudden monetary windfall. I’m still waiting on a LOT of those. The question reminds me, though … when I was in college, an astrophysics prof once dedicated an entire lecture and several blackboards’ worth of equations to showing how a Volkswagen Bug in the parking lot of the hospital exerts more gravitational influence on a newborn than the positions of the planets. He got pretty worked up about it. We were all tempted to find out when his birthday was and tack the appropriate horoscopes to his door.
Where do you go from here?
Wherever my muse takes me! Which, lately, has seen me bouncing back and forth between Viking-themed horror and Wodehouse-style steampunk, with side trips into Lovecraft, ancient Greece, and twisted fairy tales. It’s an interesting ride, to say the least. But it lets me indulge my love of language as a plaything, get as silly or creative as I want, and just have fun. I’m currently working on The Slaughter, a novel that would be elevator-pitched as “Dexter meets Beowulf,” as well as a series about a psychic investigator. And I hope to soon begin a sequel to The Horned Ones, which is about subterranean monsters and a disaster at a tourist show cave.