Nadia Bulkin is a writer and political science student. Her short fiction has appeared in ChiZine, Strange Horizons, Fantasy Magazine, the anthology Bewere The Night, and elsewhere; more information is available at nadiabulkin.wordpress.com. She spent her impressionable teen years in the suburban wilds of Nebraska. Her world view (and “Absolute Zero”) was greatly influ- enced by her environmental science minor and the 1982 movie about life out of balance, Koyaanisqatsi. Her original story “Absolute Zero” appears in Creatures.
What was the first monster that scared/moved you?
A talking, walking chair on Sesame Street. It had a face in the cushions. It horrified me so much that I actually don’t remember it at all — as in, I blocked it out of my mind – but my mother says I was deeply disturbed by it. I do remember a similar talking, walking gloved hand – apparently I had a very rigid sense of “proper” and “improper” shapes. Body horror’s been my weakness ever since.
Does a great monster have to evoke pity as well as fear?
Not pity, but for me, the best evoke empathy.
If you could be a monster, which one would you choose and why?
I’d probably be a will-o’-the-wisp. A lost wanderer spirit stuck between two worlds who’s not all that malicious, but might still lead you down a dangerous path. Also, seen all over the world!
King Kong, or Godzilla?
Godzilla. Okay, I actually don’t know much about either, but having lived in Indonesia as a kid, I grew up with Godzilla.
What are the challenges of writing about a monster, as opposed to showing it on film?
Keeping the monster and all of its menace in the reader’s “frame.” In great monster movies you can feel the monster’s presence even when it’s not on screen, and I think it’s much harder to create a sense of foreboding and suspense when you don’t have visuals and sound.
Who are the new monsters of the 21st century? Recommend a monster story/book/movie from the past ten years.
I think Larry Fessenden is doing really interesting work with wendigos, harsh conditions, and human violence (the movies The Last Winter and Wendigo, and the Fear Itself episode “Skin and Bones”). I think we’ll have monsters of globalization: contagion, overpopulation, environmental hazards, communication breakdown (see Pontypool). But that’s the poli sci student in me talking.