July 2017

Interview with Author Brian Trent

Can you tell us a little what your story, "The JPEG of Dorian Gray," is about?

"The JPEG of Dorian Gray" is a continuation of Oscar Wilde's brilliant original, positing that Mr. Gray persists in his immortality into the future.

How did you come up with the idea?

I was rereading "The Picture of Dorian Gray" when, amid Wilde's lavish prose and razor-sharp dialogue, I started thinking about what it would truly mean to be immortal. That's something we never really see. Undying characters in media have been shown before, from Dracula to Duncan Macleod, but even then we glimpse lives that are a few hundred or few thousand years old. That's nothing on a geological scale. So I thought it would be interesting to explore the bigger picture of undying life, when the world continues to change (rising seas and evolving species) while Dorian, of course, does not.

What is your inspiration for writing as a whole?

I'm a bit of a method-writer in that when I'm working on a story, it's nearly all I'm thinking about, because I want to get into the unique world and headspace of the character. Dorian is an aesthete, so how he looks at the world is colored by his passion for paintings and philosophy of "truth is beauty, beauty is truth." Think of how well Dorian would enjoy the Jazz Age! Think of him amid the electrical forest of modern cities! But the story goes further than that. I thought of how ordinary people tend to mix up dates as they get older, and how the same would be true for our immortal decadent, only he's mixing up years like 5430 and 5043! And even then, it's little more than the dimly remembered younger days of a man who cannot end.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I'm a professional writer living in New England. My work appears in Analog, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Daily Science Fiction, Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, and more. In addition to science fiction, I have a background in history and literature, so a story like this was a delight to create.

Where can listeners find more of your work?

For those who like audio fiction, Escape Artists has several of my stories available for free listening: my science fiction on Escape Pod, and some truly dark and ghastly horror on Pseudopod. I also have audio stories that I read myself available at Great Jones Street, a wonderful app with a staggering library of fiction. And of course, stop by my website at www.briantrent.com.

Any new work we should keep an eye out for?

I have the first two books in a dark fantasy series--RAHOTEP and THE GOD AND THE GATE--currently available on Kindle. This series is also about an immortal, as it happens, who originated in Middle Kingdom Egypt.

(Just for Juli's curiosity): What are you reading now?

I'm currently reading Eye-Deep in Hell by John Ellis, a disturbing and haunting nonfiction look at trench warfare in World War I. And I'm rapidly working my way through the current issue of the ever-excellent Analog magazine.

Editor's Note: If you enjoyed this story, you might be interested in reading the whole anthology, Principia Ponderosa, with many more great stories. It's available on Amazon (ebook/print) and is free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

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