Caitlin R. Kiernan and The Red Tree: An Interview with a Dark Fantasy Icon

Caitlin R. Kiernan has become an icon in the field of dark fantasy, although "dark fantasy" may be a little to limiting for an author whose fiction has been influenced by everyone from Poe to Faulkner. Slowly, patiently, she's built a body of work that has received praise from the likes of Poppy Z. Brite, Peter Straub, and Neil Gaiman. Her unabashedly adult, lush prose recalls some unholy mix of H.P. Lovecraft and Angela Carter. Her unrelenting focus on re-vitalizing American Gothic fiction with her portraits of flawed, often haunted human beings has made her one of my favorite reads.

Now she has a new novel out, The Red Tree, that's as ambitious and atmospheric as anything she's ever written. With layered stories-within-stories and the use of a writer as a narrator, the novel may be complex, but its emotional resonance is simple and pure. The best review I've seen so far, on OF Blog of  the Fallen, aptly compared it to Mark Danielewski's House of Leaves and Elizabeth Hand's Generation Loss. Like those novels, The Red Tree is both personal, eerie, and structurally interesting. (The cover, clearly influenced by the rise of urban fantasy, promises something much more traditional, but don't be fooled.)

I recently interviewed Kiernan by email, about The Red Tree and a variety of other subjects...


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