Cymera 2- Discussion Post: Monsters

Eris Young asked Lesley Glaister and Alexandra Christo, ‘what makes a creature or monster?’

That question took me a bit off guard, I mean we could all give the obvious answers about physiology but Eris obviously was digging deeper than that as both characters aren’t strictly/particularly human in either book the authors were discussing. I would also like to add that Eris had a fantastic dress, I loved it, and really such a great interview, the questions were always spot on!

Alexandra looked at the question from a nature vs. nurture point of view. She asks if not being human doesn’t make us a monster, then ‘what is it? Something deeper?’ To paraphrase her, Alexandra believes it’s actions that define us.

Lesley took a look at themes, what’s a human, an animal, or in between according to mythology and what’s a hierarchy of those all? She deems there is a lot of gray area and it’s within that, that you’ll find her answer.

In both their respective novels, Christo’s To Kill a Kingdom and Glaister’s Aphra’s Child, there are some common themes, they both have a hierarchy but in Christo’s, the Sirens are at the top in their underwater world, while humans are on equal footing in their respect on land. Glaister’s, it’s clear the humans are in charge but they’re infiltrators and the creatures are vast and varied.

When looking at what makes a monster, corruption and power play large parts, do these things make us less human? And Christo points out something interesting, for us the compassion the things that make us all good are labeled to correlate directly to us, humans, it’s humanity that makes us different.

But why is that the term? And if something’s not human that doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t capable of compassion or goodness, or ‘humanity.’

One thing is clear about both novels aside from creatures and hierarchies, it’s that there’s the theme of hidden nature, that no matter creature or human, you are capable of being a monster or a shining example of humanity.

So I’d love to hear from you all! What do you think makes a monster? Is it simply the physiology, is it more, is it something that can’t be put into words but by actions alone?

In my opinion I tend to agree with Christo in that it is our actions that define us, I think a lack of compassion and empathy/sympathy are clear indicators for beginning of something that doesn’t equal our ideals of humanity, and I agree with Glaister, there’s such a vast spectrum of gray.

 

Cymera #1

Hey guys!

So, Cymera was awesome! I was pretty brief in my appearance, I went on Saturday to my two events and had to rush off to meet up with my friend who had so kindly went about on her own in Edinburgh -her first time too- as she knew I was super excited about this festival.

Let me just say this was a delightful experience and there was so much that I took away in the short span of time of my attendance.

First off everyone was so nice and helpful and friendly! I mean everyone! From volunteers, to writers, to fellow regular/blogger attendees, to the amazing authors! So thank you so much to those who put so much work and effort into Cymera Festival and I can’t wait for the next one.

The small setting was perfect, you really got to feel a sort of intimacy between the other attendees, yourself, and the authors and their wonderful chair peeps! I could not say enough good things!

The only complaint I have is with the weather, Edinburgh, you let me down lolol, thankfully I come prepared for our typical summer/spring showers and my books were safely wrapped up in my backpack to avoid getting damaged.

Instead of just giving you all a run down, I really want to delve into what the authors were talking about and the questions brought forth to them as they would make some excellent conversation posts for us all!

I am trying to give you a small summary for now though as you can see by my gushing about the festival and the lament of the weather. I was well prepared for it as said though, and I was really thankful that there was a Blackwell’s bookshop open. I brought my own books but I still ended up coming home with a couple.

There were readings by well known and emerging authors, there was gathering, there was coffee [alas the line was too long and this well known caffeinated reader was without caffeine] and there were books. What more could a reader ask for?

Well my first discussion piece will be on Thursday, and we’re going to take a look at what our authors and chair speaker Lesley Glaister, Eris Young, and Alexandra Christo had to say about mythical creatures.

But more importantly, we’re going to see how they view the categorization of monsters and creatures and how they differentiate from humans, and what makes humans..human? Why do we call it humanity and is it possible for a monster to be more human than one of us?

Find out Thursday!!