Hi everyone! I’m Francis Gideon and today I want to talk about my book Fearful Symmetry–but also about movies. Specifically, Guillermo Del Toro’s work.
Most of you probably know his films in some capacity since he’s quite eclectic. But if you haven’t seen anything he’s done, I highly suggest starting with either Hellboy or Pan’s Labyrinth.
Pan’s Labyrinth was a huge influence when I created the world where Dryden (the main protagonist of Fearful Symmetry) lives. I tried to maintain a very “once upon a time” feel to the landscape, but I also knew that I didn’t want to set this in medieval fantasy-esque settings. My editor pinpointed the time period to around the beginning of industrialization in a small village. So there aren’t a lot of amenities, but some people have readily available books and access to a busy marketplace to buy imported goods, as well as local crops.
Before my editor picked up on this, I don’t know if I could have consciously articulated what time period the story took place in. Like always, I get lost in the visuals and the aesthetics of the world I’m trying to create. In many ways, this world is built on what I saw and wished to emulate in Pan’s Labyrinth. The dark enchanted forest, a fawn creature, and a series of bargains/trades. One scene involving the Pale Man has him sitting at a large table filled with food. I always found this image striking, mostly because it distills the main theme of most fairy tales: abundance, but with a cost.
Image Credit: dougjonesexperience.com
Not only is Del Toro’s work visually stunning, but he genuinely enjoys the genres he’s working in. When talking about the importance of fairy tales, Del Toro states, “[fairy tales] tell the truth, not organized politics, religion or economics. Those things destroy the soul. That is the idea from Pan’s Labyrinth and it surfaces in Hellboy and, to some degree, in all my films.”
I like this honesty about Del Toro’s work. Fairy tales don’t shy away from showing the darkness of a world filled with monsters–mostly because children already know these monsters exist. What fairly tales do is tell the kids that they can win. Isn’t that the kind of happy ending we strive for? It’s the kind of ending I wanted to give Dryden, and his eventual partner, Emmons at the end of Fearful Symmetry, and one that I hope the audience will enjoy as well.
“I still don’t know if you’re lying,” Dryden said.
“That is true. You’d have to trust me. But I can tell you this: I like you more than the others. You’re smarter than them.”
Grains of sand fell away. Half an hour left. He’s just trying to trick you. Trying to bide time. Don’t fall for it.
“You know how many people have gotten this far?” Otto asked. “Not many.”
“But some have—and yet, they’re not here. So why should I believe you?”
“I understand how difficult this is for you. You have absolutely no logical reason to believe me. I’m not a puzzle like the kind I give you. But the heart is a tricky organ, isn’t it? It will lead you down all sorts of pathways you don’t understand. If you stay with me, Dryden, you will use your heart. If you escape, you’ve used your head.”
“One is always stronger than the other. One will always win. So you have to pick what beast inside you decide to feed.”
Dryden felt his chest restrict. There were too many options. Head or heart? Freedom or death? Was Otto a monster or misunderstood?
“How will I know what one you use?” Dryden asked. “Your head or your heart?”
Otto smiled. “See? Even right there. No one has ever asked me that before.”
Dryden broke their stare. He knew each one of these sentimental moments were manufactured. He and Otto were always going to be giving lines to one another, performing a play. None of it was ever real. If only this were math, Dryden thought, then I’d know the right answer and I could be free.
When something is perfect, it sets itself up to be destroyed, and for everything gained, something is lost.
Since Dryden was young, his mother taught him about balance. While she weaves jewelry to sell at the marketplace, Dryden learns how every unspoiled gem begs to be damaged, just like the universe corrects every misfortune.
But with age and experience, Dryden begins to see the cracks in his mother’s innocent view of life. If she is wrong about balance, she might be wrong about the supposed beast in the woods. Dryden ventures into the forbidden, where a handsome hunter named Otto saves him from a deranged fox and seduces him. But like so much else, Otto has an unseen side, and if Dryden wants to regain his freedom and break Otto’s spell, he’ll have to answer three riddles in three days.
With the help of his mother’s stories and the fox who once threatened him, Dryden must beat the monster and restore balance to his world. But it will come at a cost.
Francis Gideon is a writer of m/m romance, but he also dabbles in mystery, fantasy, historical, and paranormal fiction. He has appeared in Gay Flash Fiction, Chelsea Station Poetry, and the Martinus Press anthology To Hell With Dante. He lives in Canada with his partner, reads too many comics books, and drinks too much coffee. Feel free to contact him, especially if you want to talk about horror movies, LGBT poetry, or NBC’s Hannibal. Find him at francisgideon.wordpress.com.
I’ll giveaway two (2) e-book copies (any format) to those who comment with their email addresses. I’ll use a random number generator and contact the winners via email.