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Internet Review of Science Fiction:

Elizabeth Bear

The Internet Review of Science Fiction: Vol. IV, No. 3: March 2007

Elizabeth Bear burst on the speculative fiction scene when she won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2005 and with the publication of the Jenny Casey trilogy (Hammered, Scardown, and Worldwired) from Bantam in 2005, for which she won the Locus Award for First Novel in 2006. According to Wikipedia, "Her CV includes working as a 'media industry professional', a stablehand, a fluff-page reporter, a maintainer-of-Microbiology-procedure-manuals for a 1000-bed inner-city hospital, a typesetter and layout editor, a traffic manager for an import-export business, Emmanuel Labour, and 'the girl who makes the donuts at The Whole Donut at three A.M.'" Her current novel Carnival (Bantam) reviewed in this issue is a nominee for the Philip K. Dick Award.

 

Karin Lowachee

The Internet Review of Science Fiction: Vol. III No. 9: Fall 2006

An excerpt from the interview:

LM You must be channeling a past life as a gay man, because one of the reasons that I felt Cagebird, in particular, was such a moving book was because of how accurately I felt you portrayed the isolation and loneliness of growing up queer.

KL I'm not queer so to a certain practical extent I can't speak specifically from that experience. But that said, I don't think you need to be queer in order to feel or understand any sense of isolation or loneliness. I think those are emotions that many people feel growing up for one reason or another (and that is probably intensified especially in adolescence because of the psychological, emotional, physical changes that youths go through), and my books and characters just place them in often extreme circumstances....

 

 


 

Strange Horizons:

Kelly McCullough

Forthcoming

An excerpt from the interview:

forthcoming

 

 

 

 

 

Tim Powers

February 2005

An excerpt from the interview:

"If you make magic systematic and reliable ... It's no more a violation of reality than a Chevy station wagon would be to Charlemagne -- a big surprise, but not an intrusion of a different reality."

You can read the rest of the article at: http://www.strangehorizons.com/2005/20050207/powers-int-a.shtml

 

Eleanor Arnason

March 2004

An excerpt from the interview:

". . . when I began working out what the Hwarhath were like I realized that there are many excellent, excellent arguments against heterosexuality. . . ."

You can read the rest of the article at: http://www.strangehorizons.com/2004/20040329/arnason.shtml

 


 

Science Fiction Chronicle:

Laura Anne Gilman

July 2003, Issue 237

An excerpt from the interview:

SFC: Are there still times when being an editor is the coolest thing? Give me a for instance.

Gilman: Starting to read a new manuscript, and finding yourself unable to stop smiling, because its wonderful, and you're going to unleash it on the world. That's the rush every editor wants, what we're junkies for. It's what makes all the meetings and more meetings and presentations worthwhile.

SFC: When I was an as-yet-unpublished author, I got the impression that those kinds of postive experiences don't happen very often. I'm sure you get sick of this question, but what is it that makes you smile when you read a manuscript? What kinds of things do you look for?

Gilman: That's a tricky question, becaue I don't "look." I wait. And when I find that I'm nodding my head over the next words out of a character's mouth because they're so perfect, or hunching my shoulders in anticipation of the next scene, then I know there's something there. And if I have to put the manuscript down and take a walk around the halls of the office (or up and down the stairs at home) because the book is filling me with so much energy, then I know I have to buy this book. It's a very physical thing for me.

 

Joan Vinge

 September 2001

 An excerpt from the interview:

SFC: I loved Catspaw and that whole series.

Vinge: An awful lot of women are attracted to that, probably the idea of the tough guy with a heart of gold. We all want that! We wish, you know! (laughs)

SFC: Yeah, it's a little wish fulfillment.

Vinge: Exactly, but, it's also too that by best friend and I and grew up reading all these boy adventure books. We even had role-playing game pseudonyms, they didn't have the term role-playing games then, but we'd go out and do it. We'd play with our dolls one day. But the next day we'd go out to the park and play Roger's Rangers in the French and Indian War. We'd sew moccasins from the chamois you'd get to clean your car off with. String fringe on the old sweaters and all that... we knew that girls never got to do anything in the stories [we were reading], and it was very interesting [to be a boy] at least when we were kids. There weren't a lot of good strong good female role models then. So, we just thought, "Well, you know." I mean it didn't seem that odd since we were pretending we were running around in the 1700s, to just be running around in the woods in the 1700s AS BOYS, you know? We would make up stories. That was just something I always did, even though I didn't write them down. Sometimes they were about women characters and sometimes they were about guys.

SFC: Do you still do that?

Vinge: Yeah, except now I write them down. (laughs)

 Eleanor Arnason

 August 2001, Issue 215

 An excerpt from the interview:

SFC: Do you have any advice for young or new writers starting out?

Arnason: Advice to writers starting out? The usual....

Read a lot. Write a lot. Listen to criticism. If possible, join a writers group. Figure out what you want from writing, because you aren't likely to get it all.

Excercise regularly. Eat nutritiously. Avoid excessive amounts of alcohol and caffeine. Drink plenty of water. Don't give up your day job. Make sure you have a life--and sources of pleasure--outside of writing, because writing is an unreliable source of pleasure and not in any way a subsitute for real life.

Remember the Gary Larson cartoon of the cow lifting her head with a look of surprise and saying, "Grass! We're eating grass"? I feel the same way about writing. Periodically, I want to lift my head and say, "Fiction. We've been reading and writing fiction. And there's real life to be experienced somewhere close by."

 

B. A. Chepaitis

May 2001, Issue 212

An excerpt from the interview:

SFC: So, do you write every day, or what's your process?

Chepaitis: I'm a binge writer. I think of something for a long time; I'll be writing it in my head. Then I'll carry a notebook around, make little notes, and I'll write for two weeks until I have a first draft. Then I'll edit that.

SFC: Have you gotten any kind of negative reaction from your acknowledgement plea to send money to the Leonard Peltier Legal Defense Fund?

Chepaitis: No, nothing at all. You'd think that it didn't exist. That's kind of disappointing. No one's really picked up on it. One of the readings I did, I had a Peltier group there with me, soliciting donations. I've done that kind of thing -- done readings for Peltier. But, in the science fiction community, nobody has taken any notice of it, not really.

 

 Pat Murphy

 April 2001, Issue 211

 An excerpt from the interview:

SFC: What's a day in the writing life of Pat Murphy like? What's your process while you write?

Murphy: Well, let's se. During the time I was working on There and Back Again and Wild Angels, I had taken a year leave of absence form my day-job. I usually work at the Exploratorium. I write books for them, I put together projects.

During the time I was writing those two books I as writing a little different than normal. What I'd do was wake up in the morning, go to my desk and write for an hour.

SFC: Oh, you're one of those peole. Do you write everyday, even on the weekends?

Murphy: Even when I was working at the Exploratorium--an hour in the morning. I don't usually write on the weekends.

SFC: Let the brain rest.

Murphy: Yeah. I think about what I'm working on before I go to sleep. Then often in the morning I've figured things out on an unconscious level. When I was taking the days off, I had a little timer that I set for an hour. I'd write for an hour, then I'd take a fifteen-minute break and go putter in the garden or do something else. Then I'd sit down and write for another hour. Take a lunch break. I really write in one-hour increments. I try to leave my writing at a point where I know what's happening next and I'm really kind of eager to write it. Because if you finish a scen and you've dotted the "i"s then it's really hard to start up again. So, I'll get tho the end of my hour and I'll know whererI'm going. I'll jot down a couple of notes, like, "We're going to talk about this, this is going tot happen." Then I'll leave it there. It really makes a difference, especially when you're ending for the day. There's a great temptation to finish it off, finish the chapter, make it all tidy. But then when you sit down the next day, it's like you're staring at a blank piece of paper. If I'm going to finish off a chapter in one day, I'll finish it off, but then I'll start the next one. Even if I only get a couple of paragraphs into it. Just so I'm picking it up where I've left off."

 

Suzette Haden Elgin

October-November 2000, Issue 208

An excerpt from the interview:

SFC: ...You sort of imply that, if you want to stay successful, a writer has to get this involved with the promotion and whatnot of their work. You've been in the writing business a long time. Do you see this as something that's changed in the publishing industry in recent years, or has it always been the case?

Haden Elgin: Yes--it represents a major change. When publishers started getting "acquired" by big corporations that were used to seeling widgets, the Widget Marketing Ethic was transplanted into the publishing business. Twenty years ago, what a writer had to do was write-- and write well enough for that writer's readers. Even ten years ago, perhaps that was true.

Today, books are published as market tests for the licensing industry, which is where the real money is. They're pitched out onto the racks to sink or swim, and if they don't take off in the first two weeks they disappear forever. There are a few exceptions--books by celebrities, books by serial killers (another sort of celebrity), books a particular editor has fallen in love with and is willing ot stand behind with serious money and effort... that sort of thing. But for most books, unless the writer is willing to take on promotion and work hard at it, the book's life will be exceedingly brief--and the next book will be exceedingly hard to sell."

 

 Peg Kerr

 August-September 2000, Issue 207

 An excerpt from the interview:

SFC: Do you want to tell your sucess story?

Kerr: I finished the book, and it took Emerald about two years to sell. I was writing Swans while I was working on selling Emerald. It was rejected by about three or four editors, and then picked up by Betsy Mitchell at Warner. It sat at one publisher for almost a year and they never read it. I finally pulled it, although I understand that's not uncommon. Still it's very furstrating when you're trying to get your first book sold

SFC: But you were vindicated at the end.

Kerr: (laughs) I was, and it went into a second printing which was very gratifying.

SFC: People who have read Emerald have told me that they feel that the parts you do really well are sort of the mundane aspects of jewlery making. In Swans, I found myself very fascinated by some of the characters' mundane work, as well. Elias' photography and Eliza's weaving. Can you explain your talent for making the mundane so fascinating?

Kerr: (laughs) Well, one of the joys of writing is to make everything so immediate, to show how ordinary events in people's lives are interesting, they have drama, and have to do with their story as a whole.

If I said that Elias was a photographer, I didn't want the reader to have to assume his work is interesting to him. It is! He uses his photography to look at this relationship. He uses his photography to make an incredibly loving gift for Sean--a wedding gift. Also, Eliza's task to wave the nettle shirts is an important part of the book and had to be examined very carefully.

It drives me nuts. I sometimes have to redraft things like that over and over to get them right, but it's important to get them right. I think they add a lot to the book, rather than just relying on dialogue.

 

 

Nalo Hopkinson

February-March 2000, Issue 205

An excerpt from the interview:

SFC: Is there any advice you'd give a young writer just starting out? Or, what was the worst advice you got as a young writer?

Hopkinson: The worse advice? Don't trust anybody, that's the worst advice I ever got. A couple of people said, `Don't show your work to anyone; they'll steal it!' That's fairly pervasive in some circles.

If I have an idea that's brand new, that's cooking, I don't talk about the details. Once the thing is written, I don't worry about it too much. But [if you don't share your work with others] how can you know what's a good market to send it to?

...I think you do have to show your work to people who you can trust in terms of their opinion and their ability to address the work. If you're writing SF, who it to someone who reads a whole lot of SF--someone who appreciates it. Show it to someone who knows how to tell you their opinion without ripping you limb from limb, but who will, nevertheless, be honest. Do show it, and do send it out.

 

 Neil Gaiman

 June 1999, Issue 202

 An excerpt from the interview:

SFC: All right, how about some advice to young writers?

Gaiman: Ah. Okay, let's do this seriously. People think I'm being facetious when they say to me, `I want to be a writer, do you have any advice?' and my primary piece of advice is, yes, write. W-R-I-T-E, full stop.

I can expand on that for them, if they'd like. It's basically the [Robert A.] Heinlein rules: You write, you finish what you write; you send it out; you refain from re-writing except to editorial caveat--unless you include the Harlan [Ellison] amendment, that is, unless you disagree, in which case you fight to the death for the integrity of the work; you keep sending it out until it sells; and you start the next thing. That's the advice.

I have very little time for people who come up to me and say, `I want to be a writer, what advice do you have?' And you say, 'Well, write.' They say, 'Yeah, yeah, no, but what sort of advice really do you have? Should I be getting an agent?' No, just write. Write, and then finish what you write. Most people start novels, or start short stories. They have dozens and dozens of started stories, but never get to the end of them.

The other thing I think people sometimes need to know is that it isn't always fun, sometimes it's ditch-digging. Sometimes it is as romantic a profession as carpet laying, or probably less romantic than carpet laying. All that you are doing is that you get up every day, you polish a chair with your bottom, you type while your back hurts, and you get it done…

Sherri S. Tepper

December98-January99, Issue 200

An excerpt from the interview:

SFC: "...do you have any advice for people who are just starting writing?

Tepper: Yeah, sure, write! (laughs). Write and then rewrite, and rewrite, and rewrite. When you think you have it good enough to publish, send it. Do not consult with anyone about where to publish until you have one complete work. If that takes a long time, so be it. It may take a long time; Revenace took me two years to write. You learn as you do. Don't be afraid to rewrite. If you can go through a manuscript and not find anything to rewrite, it means that you're blind, or you're in love with your own words. Both of these are terrible mistakes for a writer."

 

 Melissa Scott

April 1998, Issue #196

 Excerpt from the interview:

SFC: What drew you to science fiction to begin with and why do you stay?

Scott: That's a question you confront periodically, if you write in any genre. There's a great deal of pressure to write something mainstream. Or, even to try a more persistence genre. What I like about SF--what I started reading it for, why I started writing it--it presumes change. It presumes the world is not going to be the way it is. And, when I was in 7th grade looking for any way out [the genre was very appealing.] I grew in Arkansas, and my family was liberal for the time and place, but did not deal very well with issues of gender. When I turned 14, 15, I was expected to be a girl now. It was a role that I never found very congenial, that I wasn't very good at. Not a part I was cut out to play. All of a sudden, my parents, who had been very supportive, are telling me, 'All right, now act stupid, don't let the boys know what you know.' I was like, 'But you told me not to do that.'

So, [SF] is a place where you could redefine the rules, where the writer, or me the writer, could say, `I want the world to be this way, and what would it look like if it did?' It was incredibly powerful, incredibly exciting. That power remains why I do it. You can talk about things that matter so much now. And, you can talk about [current issues] in a way that is, at once, a little bit distant, and therefor safer, but also more radical, because you can push it further, because its not right now….

 

Science Fiction Chronicle, P.O. Box 022730, Brooklyn NY, 11202-0056, USA. One year subscription rate, $25.00, USA; 26.75, Canada. See www.sfsite.com/sfc for details for other countries.

 

 


Odyssey:

Also, in Odyssey, a British Science Fiction Magazine, she has interviewed:

Volume 7

Maureen McHugh:

"When Maureen McHugh first started writing it seemed the only place that she could sell was Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. Her first novella, `Baffin Island' appeared in the August 1989 issue of Asimov's, followed by a short story called `The Beast' in March of 1992.

`I know it sounds like sour grapes,' she said, `because Asimov's is a really good magazine, but I kept thinking, if [Gardner Dozois] is the only editor who finds my stuff worth buying, maybe he's wrong! What if he wakes up one day and he says, "God, she's not really any good at all." Then I have no markets!'

In fact, before she broke into Asimov's, she was known in her writer's group, the Cajun Sushi Hamsters from Hell, as a market killer. According to McHugh, nearly every market to which she sent her work would then immediately go out of business."

 

Seems the 'market killer' struck again, as this interview appeared in what would turn out to be the last issue of Odyssey.