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August 21, 2011

Lucid Membrane: my Transmedia, and Trance-media Book




Lucid Membrane is a lot more than a simple book of short stories. Readers can participate in finding hidden narratives, a variety of new secret types of fiction not between the covers at all, and can work on projects together. It’s an example of the genre that has been gaining more understanding and excitement lately —  Lucid Fiction. And it’s fun, playful stuff.


Those who only download the black and white e-book will miss the extent of what’s being offered. Those who buy the print book have more of it in their hands, as three stories are color coded, embedded within the text. And those who take the password found in the book, and put it into the Secret Womb, the password-protected page of the Lucid Membrane site, will find much more of it.


Lucid Fiction:


This is my debut as far as a full length fiction book, and the stories, written over 22 years, are picked from a massive bunch of the darn things, to cover the range of the self, from the subconscious, to “reg’lar,” to the expanded self. Many have been in magazines over the years. There are New Wave Fabulist, and Absurdist stories, pure zaniness, Surreal anti-narratives. But the book as a whole, as it covers the range of self, is in the genre “Lucid Fiction.” Characters, and narrators sometimes step outside the usual beta brain-wave state, exploring the alpha, and theta brain-waves, more dreamlike, aware, archetypal, mystical.


Lucid Fiction can also question the necessity of the plot arc based on problems. This default idea of what a story is seems to do violence to our psyches and our society. Why are we told that for a story to be enjoyable, it has to involve something bad happening? Why do we have to focus on duality? What other things can happen? Can the plot be the transformation of the reader? Can the structure be a spiral? Instead of just one tense drama after another, I like it when sometimes a story takes us OUT of the story.


Lucid Fiction can also address issues normally hidden by mass media, as this genre is the literature of a new paradigm, where we don’t participate in the obscuring of the truth. The stories don’t have to be earnest and conspiratorial, but are allowed to play with forbidden topics however they wish. They can be transgressive, and some of mine are, that break religious taboos.


I recently co edited the Prosetry section, and guest edited the Lucid Fiction section of the current issue of Medulla Review. It was wonderful to see how many people embrace Lucid Fiction with such enthusiasm. There were a LOT of submissions of it. The guidelines were based on the many articles and interviews I’ve done on the topic.




The password in the book is like the Easter egg, should be fun to come across. It’s not too hard to find. It’s based on one of the color coded bonus stories. This book is contained not only between the covers, but online. The website for the book is substantial to begin with, with a page called the Fascia, where I will map more and more people who are connected to me in the literary world. And those people who want to can put up anything of their own. I’ve added in some playful collaborations with other writers. We’re all connected, and this is like a reading. You go to a reading partly to meet and mingle. You can do it a bit in the Fascia, but a lot more in the group that may form in the Secret Womb. To get in to the transmedia section, you just click on the website and go to the page called The Secret Womb. Put the password in and it should work. Otherwise, contact me.


Who knows, maybe being online more than we have to, and playing with words and creative acts won’t be that appealing. But considering how many people have been collaborating with stories such as the ones I’ve been putting out with LucidPlay Publishing, I’m giving the option to continue and get even more wild with it. There is a group linked within the Secret Womb where we can play.


There is a whole lot more in the Womb, like art if people want to click on the images in the subtle gallery, and some new kinds of fiction you probably have never imagined.




I call the encoded stories trance-media, because hypnotherapists sometimes use a certain method they don’t mention to their clients, to speak to their subconscious, and get good results. The hypnotist will move her head to the side to say certain words that go together to form a hidden story. The brain hears it come from a different place, so puts it into its own narrative, and responds to it.


One of the stories is the kind of thing I would do with that method, when hypnotizing someone. It’s literally good for you. You may notice positive effects, even if you don’t take the time to put the yellow words together and see what they say consciously. Who knows.


The other two are just for fun, one being transgressive, both having their naughty strangeness. You can go through the book just reading one color, and easily read the stories, though it takes some doing. But doing is what people like these days! People don’t like just reading as much as clicking, choosing, getting involved. It’s the modern world, and so my book gives people what they want.




The cover art is my own design. My art has shown and published often Internationally, and won awards. At times I do book and magazine covers. The art on the cover is organic, and you may find some shell-life in there. . . . Here is another piece from the series that inspired me to make that cover.



In the Secret Womb, there is a gallery of iconographic images of one of the characters from the book, who learned to read with her skin. This ability is a real one, with some people documented to do that. That is the kind of topic Lucid Fiction can engage with with gusto: human abilities we aren’t generally told about.


My Literary Life:


I have been writing all my life, and the dream of full length fiction books that were considered critically great, adding new ideas to the dialogue of innovation, has propelled me all along. I got my MFA from Iowa, and have 170 creative writing publications in magazines. I have a huge number of non fiction articles out too, and have had many books published, including 5 chapbooks recently. I’ve won quite a few awards. But mostly, I focus on being helpful to other writers and readers.


I write a lot of reviews of books I feel should be seen, putting most in Speaking Without Interruption, a site I admire greatly. It fosters free speech, has integrity, quick and clear communication, and Bob shows his real, lovable self. Being asked to write for SWI, by Bob, took me eventually to Night Publishing, which put out Lucid Membrane. I also teach writing online through my own academy, UCLA Extension Writing Program, and also Writers College. I run a resource website called Experimental Writing that gathers together presses, magazines, articles, books, etc. related to Innovative Literature.


I had one page in it that I labeled Exclusive, as it wasn’t just links, but actual work people could read there, not published anywhere else, with commentary by the authors about what made their writing exemplify Experimentation. I didn’t care for the name when I expanded that into its own magazine, but there you have it: Exclusive Magazine, each issue going for 3 months. Just about time for issue 4 now.


I also do FlameFlower Experimental Short Story Contest, which is going now!


I’ll be reading from Lucid Membrane at Analog Books in Berkeley, speaking on Lucid Fiction at University Press Books in Berkeley, and performing from it in San Diego in mid October at the &Now Festival of Innovative Writing.



And I now am starting to publish e-chapbooks through LucidPlay Publishing. I had previously only put out some of my own materials there – an art book, and an art/Tantric instruction manual spiritual practice book, and a set of instructional 3 DVDS called Tantric Lucidity, in association with VLC as the co producer. Now, you can buy Paul Barnett’s excellent Cosamodo’s Travels, as well as reading the free little books that are collaborations. To instigate those, I put up prompts. The one I just published, I each series of prompt phrases reversed the ones before, so the narrative weaves back and forth through itself. I really enjoy getting people writing, having fun, and hope to continue through the Secret Womb. I also have some other e-chapbooks in progress, collaborations of different kinds entirely.




How can you enjoy my new books?



I love to encourage writers and publish them for free, to publish my own work for free. Right now, this is the part where people would need to pay to see this thing, as they would for the new chapbook, made of stories that don’t show up in Lucid Membrane, called The Cabinet of What You Don’t See, by ISMs Press. It’s beautiful book art, and very conceptually presented, unlike anything you’ve seen. With drawers.



Lucid Membrane is available through Amazon. You get a thick paperback, printed in many colors, and access to the transmedia part of the book online. And my great gratitude. Thanks for your support!


I appreciate the chance to announce my book’s availability for the first time at SWI.







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Tantra Bensko
Tantra Bensko, MFA, teaches Fiction Writing online through UCLA Extension Writing Program, Writing Academy, Lit Demon, and her own academy. She maintains the resource site, Everything Experimental Writing. She has a couple hundred flash, story, novelette, and novellas in magazines and anthologies, as well poems, chapbooks, literary theory, reviews, and books. She has an MA from FSU and an MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop. She lives in Berkeley.

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