Jeff VanderMeer conjures up weird worlds in his books

Novels by Jeff VanderMeer are being adapted into film, starting with Annihilation, the first volume of his trilogy, The Southern Reach (2014).
Novels by Jeff VanderMeer are being adapted into film, starting with Annihilation, the first volume of his trilogy, The Southern Reach (2014).PHOTOS: KYLE CASSIDY, FARRAR, STRAUS AND GIROUX

New Weird writer Jeff VanderMeer's mind is where his novels begin - from cities overrun by mushroom people to giant bears flying

The novels of Jeff VanderMeer come to him in visions. Of a woman on the run, having been given a key to a storage locker that holds a taxidermied hummingbird and salamander. Or a woman reaching out to a creature like a sea anemone, caught in seaweed, because it reminds her of the island of her childhood.

"As she pulled the creature away, I saw that the seaweed was actually dirty fur," recounts the American author. "Then the dirty fur moved and I saw (it was a) giant bear, fierce and horrifying and beautiful. Then the bear flew away like some kind of god, which was perhaps the most surprising thing.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 27, 2018, with the headline 'Weird world inside his brain'. Print Edition | Subscribe