Sèphera Girón: Why Flesh Failure?
As I was working on Flesh Failure last summer, it occurred to me that I’ve visited themes from Mary Shelley’s classic horror tale, Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus several times in my work. I’m sure I’m not the first author who is blind to ongoing themes while immersed in her own work until one day...Wow, I never noticed that I had several patterns in my body of work that don’t relate to witches, magic, or ghosts.
Flesh Failure is the story of a Frankenstein-monster-inspired creation dragging herself from a shallow grave in the park and realizing that she lives, well, as only a sewn-together reanimated corpse can live...
As she revives herself, flashes of memories return to her. The story follows her search for her creator and the people she meets along the way.
Originally the monster in Flesh Failure was to be in Captured Souls (a story unfolded through the journal entries of a modern-day mad scientist, Dr. Miriam Frederick, on a mission to create the perfect sexual lifestyle without the complications of emotions). I was going to have many of Dr. Miriam Frederick’s creations drag themselves from the grave to haunt her, spurred on by the electrical impulses she was using to control Specimen 1, Specimen 2, and Specimen 3. However, as often happens to me, once I found the true pulse of a book, I realized that adding these creatures would change the direction of the story that I had found while writing.
So Agatha scenes were put aside while I worked on Captured Souls. When Don D’Auria, Editor-in-Chief at Samhain Horror announced a call for Victorian Horror novellas to create an anthology, I decided to revisit the monster. I wondered if I should have her as one of Frankenstein’s botched experiments.
How far will she go? How far should anyone go to manipulate another person to do her bidding?
The ideas of “someone” playing God, whether it’s Dr. Frankenstein, or Dr. Frederick, or the nameless creator in Flesh Failure, is the one that I find most intriguing. Certainly some people have great power to manipulate. But how far is too far? Why should one person have power over another to do what he wants with no regard for what the other person wants?
Do the monsters ask to be sewn together from the dead? What is the responsibility of the creator? The “parent?” The “lover?”
What happens when you’ve created another human being? Now what? Much like parenthood, where does your personal responsibility for the creature end?
Since I’m known for writing erotic horror, my work tends to explore themes of sexual and emotional manipulation. I’m not new to that idea either, the punch line ending of Young Frankenstein is a sex joke. Many movies, books, and stories before my time examined the machinations of sex slaves and no question influenced my own renderings of the Frankenstein mythos. I’m looking at you, Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Dr. Miriam Frederick in Captured Souls isn’t a sweet transvestite, but she’s a control-freak bi-sexual who changes her appearance with wigs, corsets, contacts, and clothes and likes it kinky.
In 1999, Gord Rollo edited an anthology called Unnatural Selection: A Collection of Darwinian Nightmares. He asked me to contribute and I got to work trying to conceive an evolved monster. I thought about what kind of monster would a mad scientist be able to make with these new things called computers that we now can have in our homes? What can computers do? If they are run on electricity and have radiation and other elements, would there be a way to configure a real life person who isn’t a robot? There have been holograms since the eighties. Do you combine all that to make a person? Could you input data into his brain to be the person you want him to be? How much electricity would it take? If you used human fear, would it give the creature emotions?
I had lots of questions and so set to work writing the story. It took place in 1999. Back in those days, there was a very real fear that at midnight, the computers would screw up and the world would be paralyzed. The rumour of “no one thought ahead to set the clocks” was a bizarre notion that ran at fever pitch and contributed to a hesitant hysteria over that holiday season. People hoarded food and water just in case the world came to a standstill. Everyone backed up their stories and other important data onto their trusty floppies in case the computers all stopped, never to work again. Yes, it was an odd time back in 1999. So my mad scientist fed on this idea and the story, “Cyber-Prometheus” was born.
You can see me read the beginning of “Cyber-Prometheus” on my YouTube Frankenstein channel. I put a few clips from movies and songs as well on there. It’s a smorgasbord of Frankensteinian goodness and I’m going to be adding to it so keep checking back.
I read from Captured Souls, and there are a few Instagram clips of me “reading” as characters from Captured Souls (Dr. Miriam and her wig fetish) and Flesh Failure (Agatha, the monster). Yes, I like to have fun with my horror. You only live once, unless you’re sewn back together at some point.
It seems fitting that Flesh Failure was the next step on my exploration of Frankenstein themes. I usually focus on the scientist and this way my first long version of a monster. I hope you enjoy it!
I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about my work or anything else. I would love to hear what you think about Flesh Failure.
Thank you Lisa for inviting me to guest post on your blog!
About the author:
Sèphera Girón was born in New Orleans, grew up in London, Ontario, and currently resides in Toronto. She has over 17 books traditionally published in several genres. Her latest releases are Flesh Failure (Samhain Horror, July 2014) and Captured Souls (Samhain Horror, March 2014). When Sèphera isn’t writing, she is helping others write with her editorial services. She also is a professional tarot counselor.
For more about Sèphera and her writing, check out her page at Samhain, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, or any of the links below:
Fan Expo/Festival of Fear, Toronto, August 28 - 31, 2014
Will be appearing on a panel presented by the Horror Writers Association
Inspire! Toronto Book Fair, Toronto, November 13 - 15, 2014
Will be appearing on a panel presented by the Horror Writers Association
http://www.youtube.com/sephera - free monthly horoscopes
Sèphera also offers editorial services.
My review: Flesh Failure:
Agatha’s falling apart. Literally. Waking underground stiff, weak, and in agonizing pain, she must claw her way to the surface, only to realize she has no idea who she is or how she got there. Even worse, she finds that she is a patchwork of body parts sewn into a crude figure, stitches oozing and housing filth and maggots. The author uses a nice bit of symbolism in Agatha’s slow recovery, her journey from unearthing herself to mobility taking seven grueling days: Just as Mary Shelley draws against Greek myth, describing Frankenstein’s monster as “a modern Prometheus,” Girón ties her monster to its own mythological roots with allusions to creationism. This fits well with the theme of man playing God.
Girón’s language is simple but elegant, and the story progression offers some interesting surprises. I did feel that the first dozen or so pages moved slowly, but it was purposeful—a marriage of form and function that helped to immerse the reader in Agatha’s hell. I liked the integration of Jack the Ripper, the “Elephant Man,” and Frankenstein, Agatha’s life weaving between history and fiction. One issue I had with the story was the very nature of Agatha’s being, finding strength and notable improvement in her health and wellbeing both through electrocution and blood consumption. While Agatha’s bouts of vampiric behavior helped to add to the story’s horror element, it just didn’t work for me.
Overall, I found Flesh Failure to be an enjoyable take on the Frankenstein formula, filled with suspense, horror, and heart. With that in mind, I rate it at a solid 4 stars.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this novella in exchange for my honest review. Parts of this review rely on reader response theory, which speculates, and may not coincide with, author intent.