Posts Tagged ‘Author Interview’

Lois McMaster Bujold is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author, with several series in both genres. Her most recognizable work is her science fiction series, The Vorkosigan Saga, featuring the intrepid genius Miles Vorkosigan and his extended family. Bujold’s characters are complex and interesting, and her series remain relevant even years after publication. (Due to the length of the interview, half will be posted today and half tomorrow, 02/09/10)

Q1: What draws you to speculative fiction?
LMB: I’ve been reading the stuff since I was nine years old, and found the magazines and books my engineering professor father left lying around — he used to buy SF to read on the plane during consulting trips. I of course read the children’s versions found in my school library, when I ran out of horse stories — I find I’m by no means the only SF writer of my generation with fond memories of Eleanor Cameron’s The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet — but my dad’s discards were the first fiction aimed at adults that I’d read.

What drew me was the adventure and the humor I occasionally found. One of the earliest hits for me was Eric Frank Russell’s Men, Martians, and Machines, which had it all, and L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt’s The Incomplete Enchanter on the fantasy side. (Which actually inspired me at age 15 to read Spenser’s entire epic poem The Faerie Queene, although probably not in the mode Spenser’d had in mind. But no writer can imagine all their readers.) William Tenn and Robert Sheckley, I dimly recall, also had occasional humorous short stories. James Schmitz’s The Witches of Karres — I own a Chilton first printing, bought new. I first encountered Bradbury about then, too. I don’t note him for humor, but he did have some upbeat tales like “A Medicine for Melancholy” that kept me coming back. When I had a subscription to Analog Magazine back in the 60s, I would always open it up and read the stories illustrated by Kelly Freas first, in the hopes that they would be funny. Randall Garrett was always a good bet. Adventure was offered by too many writers to name, but then as now, smart humor was thin on the ground

My current favorite fantasy writer is Terry Pratchett, so my hunger for humor seems not to have shifted much over the decades.

Q2: What was the first piece you ever had published?

LMB: My first professional sale was a short story, “Barter”, which appeared in the now-long-defunct Twilight Zone Magazine in 1985.

Curiously enough, it was a little comedy.

Q3: What did it feel like?

LMB: Like being lifted by a rescue helicopter. I’d been circulating a few short stories while working on my first novels, and had collected several rejection slips, experiencing the agonizing waits for same. About four months after I’d sent the tale in and had despaired of it, the acceptance appeared as a little blue Twilight Zone letterhead post card, with a typed message from editor T.E.D. Klein on the back, fallen down to the bottom of my front porch post box. I still have the card, somewhere. (A quick look in my filing cabinet just unearthed the original contract, which was for $250 and dated September 1984; the story was published in the spring of 1985.)

I was wildly excited, and ran upstairs to show it to my then-husband, who was perhaps less excited to be woken up. (He, and I, did a lot of shift work back in the day.) Validation from actual grown-ups! In New York City! The boost to my morale was enough to keep me writing through the end of The Warrior’s Apprentice and all of Ethan of Athos, at which point my second professional sale was three completed novels to Baen Books.

Now, that was a day — mid-October, 1985. That news came as a phone call from Jim, about whom I knew absolutely nothing at the time; my reaction was a weird amalgam of total elation (and relief) undercut by newbie-writer paranoia. I eventually learned enough to get over the paranoia, but it took some time.

Q4: What was the defining moment that made you say “Yes, I’m a writer”?

LMB: I’m not sure there was one defining moment; more a succession of steps. Finishing the early short stories, finishing the first novel, finishing something in my life for a change. (I had many false starts.) Encouragement from friends. The professional sales were what first allowed me to say “I’m a writer” out loud in front of people, though. At that point, I had proof, not just a dodgy and time-consuming hobby.

Q5: How long have you been writing? What keeps you writing?

LMB: The two short answers, in order, are: Since third grade, and Need for income.

To expand a little, I really started trying to write in junior high school, and kept trying through early college. (The results were fragmentary.) I was then distracted for a decade by marriage, work, and eventually children, and did not come back to those aspirations till my early 30s. At that point, it was time to railroad, as the old turn of phrase has it.

Once my career was finally up and running, it provided a lot of positive reinforcement: income, an adult identity, much-longed-for personal validation, and human attention. SF is both a career and a community.

This line of work also meshes well with both my control-freak and my reclusive proclivities. I am not entirely sure that writing (and reading) fiction isn’t actually a dissociative disorder, which suggests that I will keep on regardless of need for income, or till someone comes up with the right meds.

Q7: What is your favorite speculative fiction work?

LMB: I’m not sure I have a single favorite, but certainly The Lord of the Rings is the work to which I’ve returned most persistently, since I first read it in 1965. The text is the same, but I keep changing, so the reading of it keeps changing. Remarkably durable, that book.

I’ve occasionally thought that if I ever end up taking one of those one-way trips to a hospice, that would be the book I’d want to take along. For one thing, it would be all right if I didn’t get a chance to finish…

Q8: There are 13 books and at least 5 short stories within the Miles Vorkosigan universe. How many more books and/or short stories do you think you’ll write for the series?

LMB: I have no idea. The series structure is open-ended, so there is no final grand climax at which I have ever been aiming. But after a several-book break from the series, I have just completed a new Miles novel for publisher Toni Weisskopf at Baen. (I’ve been working with Toni for almost as long as with the late Jim Baen.) I finished final revisions this past July.

Title is CryoBurn, projected publication date is November 2010, which makes right now a little early to start promoting. It’s an adventure with Miles in mystery-mode, an Imperial Auditor investigation on a planet called Kibou-daini, a new setting, which I hope will help keep readers from totally second-guessing the plot before the book’s even printed. Miles is now 39. The tale is multi-viewpoint, featuring Miles, Armsman Roic, and a local lad named Jin Sato. As usual, what Miles starts out to do and what he ends up doing are only tenuously related.

Q9: Which of the Vorkosigan books or short stories is your personal favorite and why?

LMB: Hm, hard question. Memory, I suppose, because it’s where my on-going central theme of personal identity and how it breaks and grows and changes gets the hardest workout. And it’s all about second chances, which grow increasingly important as one grows older, if only because one has long ago used up all one’s first chances.

And A Civil Campaign, because it’s ornery and a comedy.

Q10 & 11: Because of his body, Miles must rely on brain over brawn, making him almost an anti-hero. What was the inspiration for such a strange main character? Is Miles Vorkosigan based off of anyone in real life?

LMB: Not whole. Like most characters, he’s an amalgam who is forged by the events of his books into an alloy, and becomes himself through his actions (and he’s exceptionally active.)

He actually began as a thing to do to Aral and Cordelia — I first envisioned him back when I was still writing Shards of Honor. I knew their first son and heir would be born damaged, and be smart, short, and difficult. I knew that before I knew his name, or that he would be an only child. With that for a magnetic core, he began to attract other elements. Direct inspirations include T.E. Lawrence, another ambitious soldier who was brilliant, squirrelly, and short, and a physical template from a hospital pharmacist I used to work with back in my 20s, from whom I stole the height, physique, chin tic and leg braces. Miles’s “Great Man’s Son” syndrome comes from my relationship with my own father, who was a professor of engineering of international repute.

Side note: What is the precise definition of the term “anti-hero”, anyway? My old dictionary doesn’t help. But I don’t think Miles is one.

Return tomorrow for the second half of the interview.


For more information about Lois McMaster Bujold and her writing visit her fan-run website, The Bujold Nexus.

You can purchase books from The Vorkosigan Saga and her other series through Amazon, Borders, and Powell’s Books


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Kaaron Warren is a Speculative Fiction author, focusing mainly on horror. She’s had quite a few short stories published, as well as three novels, including Slights. Her characters and settings are memorable and chilling. Kaaron is Australian born and currently lives in Fiji with her family.

Q1: What draws you to write Speculative Fiction?

KW: I like the fact I don’t have to stick to the truth! That anything is possible. If I want a ghost sitting at the breakfast table, I can have a ghost there eating Coco Pops!

Q2: What was the first piece you ever had published?

KW: White Bed, in Shrieks, from The Women’s Redress Press. This is how it started:

I saw my future. Squeezed my eyes tight and glimpsed; me, alone, cold and barren, reading a thick book and eating a large salad straight from the bowl, sucking my fingers before I turned each page.
I opened my eyes and the horror was still before me.

Q3: What did it feel like?

KW: I still remember the phone call. I’d moved from Sydney to Canberra, and not all of my mail followed me. The editors called me a week before the launch. I was stunned, speechless. I hadn’t actually believed I’d sell a story before that.

Q4: What was the defining moment that made you say “Yes I’m a writer”?

KW: I always believed I was a writer. I think the first time I really believed I was going to do it for real was when I was fourteen and wrote a real short story. I wrote it in a sitting, then edited and rewrote it. I also wrote a novel that year and that was hard work.

Q5: How long have you been writing? What keeps you writing?

KW: Written seriously since 14, sought publication from around 23, published from around 28. I keep writing because I am full of ideas and sentences. Also because people ask me for stories now and who am I to say no?

Q6: Who are some of your influences?

KW: Writers: Michael Marshall Smith, Christopher Fowler, Harlan Ellison, Lisa Tuttle, many, many others.

No teachers. I’m afraid I don’t look back with fond memories; I found very little encouragement of my writing through school.

Personal friends: Cat Sparks, Donna Hanson, Matt Farrer, Gillian Polack, Lauren Beukes. All great writers and great supporters. There are so many more. I’ve found the world of Speculative Fiction incredibly supportive and positive. Most people know that the stronger the community, the stronger the opportunities.

Q7: What’s your favorite speculative fiction work?

KW: I have a lot, but the one I’m thinking about now is “You Bright and Risen Angels” by William Vollman.

Q8: Slights would probably be considered horror rather than science fiction or fantasy. Why do you write horror?

KW: Even when I write science fiction or fantasy, there are elements of horror. I’m not sure why all my ‘what ifs?” are dark and nasty, but they seem to be. I think partly it’s because the world is such a messed up place in so many ways, so there is unlimited material and inspiration. My ideas notebooks are full of outrage and offence.

Q9: Where does the inspiration for a character like Stevie come from?

KW: She is every sad and lonely person I’ve seen in my life. Every tough chick, every angry girl. She is the old man I saw on Christmas Eve carrying a turkey roll for his solo lunch the next day. She was the kid who doesn’t get invited to the neighbour’s party.

She is all that plus more.

Q10: Stevie is a rare type of serial killer: a young woman. Did you do research on real female serial killers to build her character?

KW: Not specifically for the novel, but I’ve always been fascinated by serial killers, so my reading was done over many years. I have newspaper clippings, fiction and non-fictions books, magazine articles.

Q11: Why do you think women are less likely to become serial killers than men?

KW: I really hate to answer this one! I’m not good on gender questions. I had a boss who used to say “Women are made to bring people into this world, men are made to take them out.” I guess that’s a pretty standard belief.

Q12: Have you ever had any negative reactions to the characters you write?

KW: Negative in that people don’t like Stevie much, yes. Mostly very positive in that people understand her, want to know more about her.

Q13: What’s the best positive reaction you’ve received?

KW: It’s hard to choose one. Many of the reviews have brought tears to my eyes because they talk about Stevie as a real person. Every time she works for someone it is so satisfying.

However, receiving the starred review and book of the week from Publisher’s Weekly was pretty amazing! “With outstanding control, Warren manipulates Stevie’s voice to create a portrait of horror that in no way reads like a first novel.”

Q14: Do you believe in Stevie’s theory that each person we’ve slighted in life will be waiting for us upon our death? If so, has that changed your daily behavior?

KW: I do kind of believe it. I certainly believe in some variation of karma. I also believe that we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be hurt by the unintended slight. That has helped me deal with the small things of life. The thoughtless comment from a usually kind person, that kind of thing. I think it’s important to move on from that and learn how to deal with it.

Q15: Do you think that being a woman author has made getting published harder or easier for you?

KW: I don’t really think it made a difference. I’ve never had the sense of discrimination either way. That said, “White Bed”, the story I mention above, was in a women’s only horror anthology, so that helped, I guess, though I’d like to think it would have been published anyway!

Q16: Where do you think the future of speculative fiction is going? More inclusive of diverse characters, or more exclusive?

KW: I see a very positive future. I think the stories being told are further-reaching and more accessible to the wider audience.

As far as diversity of character, I hope so. I think many writers are trying to move beyond stereotypes and include characters beyond their own small lives. Also, with more publication of those writing outside of the US and the UK, we’ll see far more diversity of character and story.

Q17: What are you working on right now? Any other series or stories in the works?

KW: No series, but am finalizing Walking the Tree and Mistification for Angry Robot Books. Working on a novel about last things and another about a very strange archive. Working on short stories inspired by Fiji and beyond. Always lots going on!

Q18: Finally, do you have anything else you’d like to add?

KW: I think we’ve covered most things! The advice I give to people who say they wish they could write but don’t have time is; keep a notebook. Write down a good title if you think of it, or a character detail, or an odd idea. Have that ready for when you do have time. Lots of people will never get to it and I think that this process, this writing down of ideas, can be satisfying enough for many. For the rest of us, we end up with dozens of notebooks around the house with scribbled, barely remembered lines.


For more information about Kaaron Warren and her writing visit her website or follow her on Twitter @KaaronWarren

You can purchase Slights through Amazon, Borders, and Powell’s Books, and directly through the publisher, Angry Robot Books.

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Steven Boyett is a well known author as well as a DJ. His first book, Ariel, he wrote when he was just 19. He runs several successful music oriented websites, inlcuding Podrunner. He lives with his wife and a split personality, the DJ versus the Writer.

Q1: What draws you to write Speculative Fiction?

SB: I think the appeal of speculative fiction in general is its inherent ability to provide perspective, to step outside of the framework of the world, of everyday life, of even the human condition, and be able to comment on it, often uniquely by contrasting these with something else. Unfortunately I think it rarely aspires to this. Usually it steps outside because the reader and/or the writer simply wants the hell out. That has value, too, but it seems a shame to waste a valuable resource and squander such potential.

Q2: What was the first piece you ever had published?

SB: My first novel, ARIEL.

Q3: What did it feel like?

SB: Relief, honestly. I know I was young, but I’d been sending out fiction for years and banging my head against the wall looking for solutions and angles, and ARIEL had utterly occupied my every waking moment. So when it was accepted, I’m sorry to say that I didn’t feel elation, euphoria, a glorious epiphanic confirmation that I was truly bound to the shining golden rail of my writerly destiny. I felt relief. The kind of painful pleasure that comes after a long-clenched muscle can finally relax.

Q4: What was the defining moment that made you say “Yes I’m a writer”?

SB: There wasn’t one. I’ve been a writer since I was at least five. There was a defining moment when I realized I wanted to write for a living, though. When I was fourteen I picked up Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren. I loved the original cover, and the first sentence (“to wound the autumnal city.”) intrigued me. The book begins and ends midsentence. There in the bookstore I looked to see if they joined up, and they did: the book looped. (Though now I would offer that there’s a halftwist in the narrative that makes the book a Mobius strip.) At the time I had not read Finnegan’s Wake, so the idea that an author could reach out through a page and make me do that and by implication serve me notice that I was in for a deeper, more involving experience than I might be accustomed to, had me from the first line. It opened up the idea of fiction for me, something like the way 2001: A Space Odyssey opened up the idea of movie when it was released. And the rest of the novel only continued unfolding and subverting the conventions of novels themselves. This guy was using fiction to write about language. Holy shit.

I’d been writing fiction since I was about five, but I clearly remember the moment I realized I wanted to write for a living. I was in the school cafeteria about to be late to class because I couldn’t stop reading this book. Everyone had picked up their trays and gone to class and I was almost alone in the big room and totally absorbed. And it hit me: I want to do this. I want to write something that does for someone somewhere what this book is doing to me. I’m fourteen years old, and I want to do this for a living.

Q5: How long have you been writing? What keeps you writing?

SB: At least since I was five. What keeps me writing now is volition. I quit entirely for about five years, around 1999, and learned a lot of other things and became quite successful at some of them. I learned that this whole notion that you have to have no choice about writing is absolute bullshit. I’ve come to feel that it’s a motivational lie, something writers perpetuate to keep themselves writing. I told myself that lie for decades. What I learned by quitting is that if you really are an artist, then that engine will operate in whatever vehicle it is given. And that I’d rather have a good life than a good career, if it comes down to making a choice. The years that I quit writing were some of the happiest years of my life.

Now I write because I want to, not because I have to. That’s astonishingly different from the attitude of my younger self. It’s so much less romantic, so much less mysterious. But I just don’t have the patience or temperament for that navel-gazing drama-queen self-importance anymore. I write because I’m a writer and it’s fun and I want to do it, and I try to spare myself and the world all the usual trumped-up angst.

Q6: Who are some of your influences? (Authors, Personal Friends, Teachers, etc.)

SB: I’m a very critical reader, so it’s fair to say that everything influences me in that even the worst book is educational if you ask yourself why it sucks. That can be just as difficult to answer as why something is great, really.

Q7: What’s your favorite speculative fiction work?

SB: Dhalgren, by Samuel R. Delany (assuming we can count it as such. I dunno if Delany does).

Q8: How do you balance writing and music, being an author and a DJ?

SB: By sleeping four hours a night.

Q9: Who are some of your musical influences?

SB: I am totally serious when I say that I would have to be a much better composer to have influences. There are plenty of people I like but I honestly don’t have the chops to learn, borrow, or steal from them the way artists do. I just plink stuff out a note at a time. I haven’t composed in a few years, though; I have so little time. I really miss it. (My wife is one of the most naturally gifted composers I have ever met, and fascinatingly the only one to exhibit no discernible influences.)

Your readers can download one of my tracks at http://www.djsteveboy.com/steve_boyett_-_rachele.mp3, if they’re morbidly curious.

DJ-wise, John Digweed was an enormous influence until I found my own flavor, which I call New Old Funk (much more evident in my Groovelectric [www.groovelectric.com] mixes than in my Podrunner [www.podrunner.com] mixes).

Q10: Did you really expect to have ARIEL published when you began writing it?

SB: Why else put 150,000 words on a stack of pages? I don’t have any patience with writers who say they’re doing it for themselves. Who are they kidding? They sat on their collective ass and filled up a stack of blank paper with words with no intention of them being read? I’m so sure. In my life I have known exactly one artist with that kind of purity, if I can use that word in this context, and I married her.

Of course, when you’re young you have no idea how the deck is stacked against you, and that very ignorance paradoxically allows you to accomplish more than you’re likely to when you’re older & wiser. When you’re older you know that the windmill always beats Quixote, and that tilting at it isn’t romantic, it’s stoopid. When you’re young, though, you’re like the Fool card in a tarot deck. People tend not to understand that’s a very positive card. It sort of means being blissfully oblivious.

Q11: What do you think has kept ARIEL relevant even over 25 years later?

SB: Well, I’m glad you think it is! Besides good luck, I think the fact that it strives to be about more than its events, that despite some dated details it isn’t a slave to its time, and that it’s about some of the painful tradeoffs we make as we enter adulthood, resonates with readers.

Q12: Who was your favorite character in the original book and why?

SB: In a cinematic, scenery-chewing, character-actor sort of way, Malachi Lee steals the book. He’s crazy as hell, fearless, quirky, fun to cast (there’s a thread on my forum [http://www.steveboy.com/forum] devoted to casting the novel, which is kind of fun).

But more substantively it’s Pete, because he’s an interesting character and a fun voice to speak with. People often assume he’s simply my alter ego, and that isn’t true at all. Pete is as sarcastic as I am, but he’s much more innocent than I ever was. I was nobody’s innocent at 19 when I wrote the book. Pete’s a weird combination of raw nerve and survivalist utilitarianism. I think he’s kind of imprisoned by this, a feeling that’s definitely borne out in ELEGY BEACH.

Q13: What’s the best positive reaction you’ve received from ARIEL?

SB: Many years ago a schoolteacher wrote me to tell me about a problem student who was failing everything across the board. He wasn’t motivated, didn’t care, couldn’t see why he should bother. He discovered ARIEL in the school library, I think simply because he liked the Barclay Shaw cover, and it sparked something in him, struck some responsive chord. He started reading voraciously after that, applied himself, focused, improved his grades, got himself on track. I don’t by any means take credit for that. To hold yourself responsible for positive influences means you’re just as accountable for negative influences as well – people who shoot cops after hearing rap songs, etc. But the thought that the product of your imagination has made some concrete difference for the better is hugely rewarding. That’s been equally true for my Podrunner and Groovelectric podcasts as well. It’s unexpected, not something you think about when you set out to do these kinds of things, and very humbling.

Q14: What drove you to write ELEGY BEACH, even after you swore you’d never write a sequel to ARIELl?

SB: Well, the afterword to ELEGY BEACH, “Note to Self,” is almost entirely about that question, and it’s not easy to answer it briefly. The somewhat snarky version is that I felt the story in ARIEL was finished, and I had nothing more to say about those characters and no urge to squeeze money from it for the sake of keeping the conversation alive. Thirty years later it turned out the writer in me had some things it wanted to say in that milieu and with those characters. The rest of me absolutely didn’t want to do it. In a certain strange sense the rest of me still doesn’t. I had to compartmentalize myself to write the book. It was kind of odd.

The shorter answer is that I simply didn’t have anything to say in that regard until now.

Q15: ARIEL represented your growing up as much as it did for Pete Garey. Does ELEGY BEACH hold the same level of meaning for you that ARIEL did?

SB: I don’t believe ARIEL “represented” my growing up at all. I utilized my growing up for it, I mined my heart in the ruthless way artists dig into themselves to unearth and convey true feelings that will resonate with their readers. Similarly I mined my own life for ELEGY BEACH, and in some strange sense also unearthed my current feelings toward ARIEL; on one level you can read ELEGY BEACH as a commentary on ARIEL. But ELEGY BEACH is a much more laminated, mature, inferential work than ARIEL. It had better be, else what have I learned in three decades? A readership approaching it as ARIEL 2: MORE OF THE SAME is going to be disappointed.

I’ve joked that as ARIEL is my coming-of-age novel, ELEGY BEACH is my midlife-crisis novel. But it’s a mistake to read that as meaning that ARIEL is about my coming of age (though I mined it for that) or that ELEGY BEACH is about my middle age (though I’ve mined it for that; the midlife crisis either hasn’t happened or has been around since I was about eleven, I’m not sure which).

Q16: Will we see any more stories based around the spellware concept you developed in ELEGY BEACH?

SB: Spellware itself seems to want to be elucidated and explored, but right now all I have are ideas. I don’t write books about ideas; my main problem with science fiction is that it tends to be primarily about its ideas, and the characters are little meat puppets dropped into the scene to act as tourists to explore them. In my view the ideas are simply a stage on which the important parts are presented. I need more than ideas and events to make me write. I need emotional resonance, thematic cohesion.

The shorter answer is that I’ll write them if I have something to say.

Q16: Before spellware, did you have any experience with writing computer software?

SB: Nope. I used to write macros as a word-processing operator, and I’m relatively computer-literate and do my own websites and yadda yadda, but I’m no hacker.

Q17: The world of ELEGY BEACH seems much more complex and filled out than the world of Ariel. What do you attribute that to?

SB: Not being nineteen anymore.

Q18: Though in ARIEL, Pete met mostly white, mostly male characters, in ELEGY BEACH it comes to light that his wife and Fred’s mom was black. This gives Fred a duality beyond pre-Change adults and post-Change children, but it’s not expressed in the book. Do you think, in a post-apocalyptic society, things like race and religion will take a far back seat to survival? Why or why not?

SB: Well, I don’t agree with your second sentence. The reason it isn’t addressed in the book is because Fred has no duality at all, and isn’t treated (by the narrative or by the other characters) as if he does. That’s the entire point. In fact no one’s ethnicity is ever described in ELEGY BEACH; it’s all adumbrated. In Fred’s world, culturally very different from our own, no one gives a shit.

Personally I think that in most postapocalyptic scenarios race and religion would play an enormous role. If people banned together they would also ban against, and identifying with tribal units is pretty fundamental stuff that takes an evolved framework of culture to strive against. In many ways civilization itself is a striving against baser instincts for the greater good. But I didn’t want that to be the case in ELEGY BEACH because I didn’t see the point in writing a book about that. I wanted to deal with the clash between generations who seemed alien to one another, to discuss the dissonance between the outgoing Baby Boomers and the displacing generation, which my friend Ken Mitchroney has brilliantly dubbed Generation Eloi. The truth is that the young generation in ELEGY BEACH would be far more alien than it is depicted, but this was a case where the natural consequence of such speculation would have led to narrative difficulties that would have alienated the reader, and it would have increased the signal-to-noise ratio to pursue that too fully. Their strangeness is more suggested than detailed.

Q19: What do you think Pete’s reaction would have been had he known that Fred and Yan were lovers?

SB: What makes you think he doesn’t? In any case, Pete wouldn’t give a shit.

Q19.2: What made you write the boys that way, instead of simply portraying them as close best friends?

SB: Who says I did? Who says they aren’t? Nothing about anyone’s sexuality in ELEGY BEACH (and with some characters in ARIEL) is stated directly. The degree of Yan & Fred’s involvement in a sexual sense is up to the reader. The fact that you noticed it is great, because I think many readers didn’t pick up on the possibility, but to me whether or not they were lovers is irrelevant. As with Fred’s (or anyone’s) ethnicity, no one among Fred’s generation gives a damn. The important fact is that Fred loves Yan. Where people put their genitals doesn’t have a thing to do with that beyond confusing the issue, in my experience.

Q20: Do you think, twenty-five or thirty years from now, you’ll become compelled to write a sequel to ELEGY BEACH?

SB: When I’ve got something to say, I might. I don’t want to crank something out just to keep a product out there. I think part of the reason ARIEL has been remembered is because (to be tautological) it’s memorable. Take the fantasy elements out and it still deals with important issues and inevitable consequences of adulthood. I hope that’s the case with ELEGY BEACH. I’m sure I could tell some whizbang story with a third book, but so what. Plenty of people and companies across all media produce either carnival rides or soporifics. I don’t want to be one of them.

Q21: Where do you think the future of speculative fiction is going? More inclusive of diverse characters, or more exclusive?

SB: I’m not really qualified to answer that, because I haven’t read much current speculative fiction in the last twenty years or so. Or much fiction generally. Aphoristically, though, I think speculative fiction has a great future behind it.

Q22: What are you working on right now, music-wise and writing-wise? Any other series or stories in the works?

SB: With a full-time life involving two DJ podcasts and a full-time life as a writer, I haven’t had the time to compose music in years. I miss it, but it’s not as if I’m missing out (or as if the world is, either).

It’s odd to be asked if I have any other series in the works. I’ve never had a series in the works. I can’t imagine writing a series. I’ve never approached a thing I’ve written that way.

I’m about to begin what I hope is final revision on a novel that I’ve worked on for a long time, but I’ve learned to be leery of discussing anything I’ve written before it’s scheduled to appear. There’s writing, and there’s publishing. They ain’t the same thing.

I’d like to get back to short stories because they’re my first love and I miss them terribly (I never wanted to write anything but short stories, hard to believe now), but it’s a time and admittedly a motivation issue. The money for short stories is exactly what it was twenty five years ago – and you didn’t exactly write short stories for the money then, either.

Q22: Finally, do you have anything else you’d like to add?

SB: I’d like to plug the book websites, if I may. ARIEL (http://www.arielbook.com) and ELEGY BEACH (http://www.elegybeach.com) have dedicated websites featuring online & PDF chapters, audiobook chapters, and even Google Earth route maps that let you follow the novels in real-time with satellite imagery – one of the unexpected benefits of my obsessive need to be as real-world accurate as I can manage in my work.

I’d like to thank you for your questions and for interviewing me!


For more information about Steven R. Boyett and his writing visit the sites he listed above or head over to his writing blog, Write Now.

You can purchase Ariel and Elegy Beach through Amazon, Borders, and Powell’s Books.

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Next week’s Author of the Week will be fantasy author Steven R. Boyett. He wrote the ultimate boy and his unicorn story in 1983. Ariel is post-apocalyptic, with samurai swords, hang gliders, and evil wizards. Don’t miss this interview on Monday, November 23rd! Two reviews will cover Ariel and its long awaited sequel, Elegy Beach, released just this November.

Steven R. Boyett is a musician as well as a writer, and does podcasting and DJ’ing in his other guise.

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Tanya Huff

Tanya Huff is a prolific science fiction and fantasy author. Her best known works include the Blood series featuring cop-turned-vampire Vicki Nelson. Ms. Huff also writes the Valor series, a military science fiction series based around Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr and her kick ass, take charge attitude. Many of her fantasy works feature big and small cities in Canada, bringing a fresh perspective to readers tired of reading one more series set in New York or Chicago. She currently lives in Canada with her partner and fellow author, Fiona Patton.

Q1: What draws you to write Speculative Fiction?

TH: People tend to write what they like to read. The very first book I ever took out of a library — I think I was seven — was about the Greek Gods and Goddess. And then lightly older cousin started lending me the Narnia books and I’ve been remarkably consistent in my taste ever since.

Q2: What was the first piece you ever had published?

TH: Well, if we’re not counting the two poems I had published in the Picton Gazette when I was ten (they paid me $5 a poem) it was THIRD TIME LUCKY, the first of the Magdelene stories in Amazing Stories November 1986.

Q3: What did it feel like?

TH: It felt like a beginning.

Q4: What was the defining moment that made you say “Yes I’m a writer”?

TH: I suspect it was the first time I wrote it on a tax form. If you can defend the position in an audit, it must be true.

Q5: How long have you been writing? What keeps you writing?

TH: I was always a storyteller. I have a copy of a letter my grandmother sent to my father — he was at sea — when I was three with a story I told her about a spider who lived in the garden and made doilies. (I suspect that came from the intricate doilies my grandfather crocheted.) When I was ten, I had a cousin who spent the summer in a body cast and I spent the summer with her, telling her stories to keep her from being bored. Now I write the stories down but it’s much the same thing.

As to what keeps me writing… well, it’s what buys the groceries.

Q6: Who are some of your influences? (Authors, Personal Friends, Teachers, etc.)

TH: I’m not sure you could call it an influence — possibly it influenced me less than it should have — but the best advice I ever got was from my sixth grade teacher, Mr. Purcell. He said, “You’re likely to go far Tanya, if you remember one important thing: Brain first, mouth second.”

Q7: What’s your favorite speculative fiction work?

TH: Hmmm… I wouldn’t say I have one favourite but I’m very, very fond of Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart, Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (actually I love pretty much anything by Terry Pratchett) Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones and The October Country by Ray Bradbury. I love a lot of books but these are the books (and people) I tend to reread.

Q8: Are there plans for more books within The Enchantment Emporium series? If so, any idea when?

TH: There’s tentative plans. No idea when.

Q9: The characters in The Enchantment Emporium are very diverse, with at least one gay character and a few bisexual ones. Do you think that made it harder to get it published, even as a very well established author? Why or why not?

TH: No, not at all. Tell a good story with three dimensional, believable characters and their sexual preferences are moot.

Q10: Do you find yourself consciously choosing to write about LGBT characters, or do they just spring forth?

TH: All of my characters are bisexual unless I specifically tell you otherwise. Because that’s just the way I roll…

Q11: Have you ever had any negative reactions to the characters you write?

TH: Because of their sexuality? No. Because of something they may have done in the story? Well, there’s a whole lot of people out there who disagree with Vicki’s final choice. I’m not sure that’s negative exactly…

Q12: What’s the best positive reaction you’ve received?

TH: Best ever is an email I got from a USMC Staff Sergeant serving in Gulf about the first Valor book. The entire email read: “You got it right.”

But a very close second is that Randy Zalken and Paul McConvey at Kaleidoscope Entertainment were willing to do so much work and take so much risk to bring Blood Ties to the screen only because they really liked the books. It was an amazing compliment.

Q13: Is Alysha Gayle based off of anyone in real life? What about any of the Aunties or Cousins?

TH: Alysha, no. As for the Aunties… well, everyone has at least one Auntie…

Q14: Many of your book settings are based in Canada, where you live. What are some of your favorite places in Canada?

TH: I’m very fond of both coasts. And the middle bit is pretty cool too.

Prince George in the fall when the trees are gold. CFB Shearwater at 5:30 am in a fog so heavy you have to keep one foot on the driveway and the other on the grass to find the door to the Wardroom. Downtown Toronto on a Friday night and this little Japanese lunch place on Queen Street the rest of the time. The river run in Guelph. Quebec City during winter carnival. The Dartmouth ferry. Nose Hill Park in Calgary. The Forks area in Winnipeg. Vancouver — pretty much all of Vancouver actually. My garden in the spring when the ground first thaws and it’s all potential…

Q15: Who are some of your favorite Canadian authors?

TH: Charles de Lint would be top of the list but there isn’t a Canadian author who isn’t on it.

Q16: In Valor’s Choice, we meet Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr, a completely capable military woman in a combat position. Do you think that today’s military will eventually be completely co-ed? Why or why not?

TH: “In february 1989 a Canadian human rights tribunal ordered all obstacles be removed to the integration of women into all military occupations and roles. …”

In this, as with gay rights, Canadians are waiting for Americans to catch up.

Q17: What sort of research did you do for Valor’s Choice and the three books that followed? Did you speak with any military personnel?

TH: My family is military, I spent some time in the Canadian Naval Reserve, and I have a number of friends who serve or have served. So, yes to your second question. I also spent a lot of time reading solider’s blogs as well as tech research as needed. You can find pretty much anything on line and I’ve done some very weird searches.

Q18: The last book in the series so far is Valor’s Trial. Any plans for more books featuring Torin Kerr?

TH: I’m working on one right now. And, I really like the universe so I hope to go back with other characters. Following a Recon group perhaps.

Q19: Do you find writing in one genre easier than the other? Science fiction versus fantasy.

TH: It’s all story telling. And, fortunately, I have good support to help me get the science right.

Q20: Do you think that being a woman author has made getting published harder or easier for you?

TH: Hasn’t made the slightest bit of difference.

Q21: What about being a lesbian?

TH: Also, hasn’t made the slightest bit of difference. Unless your publisher wants to sleep with you, I can’t see why sexual preferences would even come up. It ALL comes down to writing a good book that there’s a perceivable market for. Granted your ability to maintain a professional relationship with both your publisher and your readers helps but again, that has nothing to do with sexual preferences.

Q22: Where do you think the future of speculative fiction is going? More inclusive of diverse characters, or more exclusive?

TH: I have no idea where speculative fiction is going. As society goes, I expect. Hopefully more inclusive. I type with my fingers crossed…

Q23: What are you working on right now? Any other series or stories in the works?

TH: Over the summer, I’ve written three Vicki Nelson stories and one Tony Foster story (that’s from the Smoke books) — don’t know for sure when they’ll see the light of day — although the first Vicki story is in Evolve which is debuting at the British Horror convention — but they’ll all show up eventually I expect. I’m also doing a story for the next Valdemar anthology and am working on a fifth Valor book, untitled as yet.

Q24: Finally, do you have anything else you’d like to add?

TH: If you haven’t had enough of me yet, you can follow me on twitter at TanyaHuff or on lj at http://andpuff.livejournal.com or myspace at http://www.myspace.com/tanyahuff


For more information about Tanya Huff and her writing visit the sites she listed above or follow her on Twitter @TanyaHuff

You can purchase The Enchantment Emporium, Valor’s Choice, and the rest of Ms. Huff’s works through Amazon, Borders, and Powell’s Books.

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Author of the WeekNext week’s Author of the Week will be science fiction and fantasy author Tanya Huff. Don’t miss it on Monday, November 16th! Two reviews will cover her newest book, The Enchantment Emporium, and the first book in her best selling science fiction series, Valor’s Choice.

Tanya Huff is a prolific writer and a really neat lady, so I hope to see you all back here next Monday to read some great interview questions.

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Devon_MonkDevon Monk is an urban fantasy author on the rise. She writes the popular Allie Beckstrom series and has published many short stories. She also has a not so secret passion for knitting, which you can learn more about on her personal website.

Q1: What draws you to write urban fantasy?

DM: The draw for me on one level is the chance to explore the unknown, the strange, the dark, the beautiful, mixed and contrasted with the more expected reality of day-to-day life. On another level, I like the fast-pacing, humor, mystery, magic, and relationship aspects of it. Plus, urban fantasy is a blast to write!

Q2: What was the first piece you ever had published?

DM: I did some articles and stories for a local outdoors magazine, but my first published fantasy was a short story, “Chosen Bond” in a now defunct magazine, Distant Journeys. The $10.00 check is framed in my office.

Q3: What did it feel like?

DM: It felt like I was standing in line to ride a rollercoaster and suddenly it was my turn, and the gate lifted, and I lucked out and got the front seat. I was so excited, I grinned for days.

Q5: How long have you been writing? What keeps you writing?

DM: I’ve been writing with the goal of publication for about 18 years. I keep writing because I love it. I love to learn. Writing has taught me so much about not only the world and the power of story, but also about myself.

Q6: Who are some of your influences? (Authors, Personal Friends, Teachers, etc.)

DM: Oh. Hard question. I grew up reading the authors my parents read: Roger Zelazny, Anne McCaffrey, Robert Heinlein, Zenna Henderson, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Henry Kuttner. I particularly loved Zelazny, McCaffery, Bradberry and Kuttner. I later discovered Raymond Chandler, and fell in love with his prose too. I think all of these authors have influenced my writing.

Q8: There are three books in the Allie Beckstrom series, with a fourth one, title Magic on the Storm, set to be published in May 2010. How many more books will you write for this series?

DM: At the moment I’m contracted for six books. If readers like them well enough, and they sell well enough, I hope the publisher will pick up another three books, bringing the series to nine books. I originally had nine books in mind for the series, but as I’ve been going along, I’ve discovered there are a lot of other things I could explore in Allie’s world. So who knows? I’d like to write at least nine, and if luck is with me, maybe even more.

Q9: Which of the books is your personal favorite and why?

DM: Great question! Magic in the Shadows was my hands-down favorite. I had so much fun writing it and discovering new characters I really enjoy. I think the book digs into the dangerous, exciting side of magic, and Allie continues to grow and learn and become stronger and face tough challenges. Then I wrote Magic on the Storm and it immediately became my favorite. More magic, more danger, more betrayal, more unrequited love and action, action, action. It is still my favorite so far, but then, book five isn’t done yet!

Q10: When did you first start to create the interesting magical system and was there any particular inspiration for it?

DM: I was asked to write a short story for an anthology with the theme of magic and business. Short stories take a lot of world building even for a small amount of words. So I knew I’d have magic, it would need to cost something, it would be a part of the “mundane” world, and something would be at risk because of magic. When I decided magic could be a natural resource like natural gas, coal, or electricity, that’s when it all started falling together.

Q11: What made you tie magic to pain?

DM: Everything in life has a trade off, and I wanted my books to reflect that reality. I knew magic had to cost something, but it needed to be a price anyone—the rich, the poor, the young, the old—could pay. And it needed to be something people didn’t want to pay. Pain, whether just a small ache, or a crippling agony, fit the bill nicely.

Q12: Is Allie Beckstrom based off of anyone in real life?

DM: A lot of people ask me that—it’s a good question. She’s based off of all the strong women who I’ve known who have found that strength isn’t necessarily swinging a sword or shooting a gun. Strength is the ability and courage to take every challenge that comes your way and go forward, even if you’re afraid, even if you don’t know if you’ll get through it, even if you don’t know how to do it, and somehow still maintaining your grace and humor.

Q13: Do you feel that, as a woman of action, Allie serves as a role model?

DM: I feel that Allie, as a strong woman, could be seen as a role model. She’s more than willing to step up and handle anything that comes her way, but isn’t trying to be anyone’s definition of kick-ass, or strong, or tough. She’s not letting other people tell her who she is. She just tries to do what is right for her heart and soul, and along the way, tries to help the people who she cares about, too.

Q14: The relationship between Zayvion and Allie has become more and more equal as the series progresses, with Zayvion pushing Allie to become self reliant. Do you think romantic partners today could take some tips from that attitude?

DM: I think any relationship is best when there is mutual respect. I think it’s best when both partners can stand on their own two feet, yet also rely on and trust each other to be there if they need them. So, um, yes.

Q15: Do you think that being a woman author has made getting published harder or easier for you?

DM: Who knows? Publishing is a hard business, and I personally, haven’t experienced degradation toward my gender. The only way to find out if it would have been easier to be published if I were a man, would be to somehow go back in time, change my gender and then make all the same choices and actions I have made along the way. And if I ever had a time machine, that’s not what I’d do with it!

One thing I do know is good story trumps all, and cares not one whit if you are male or female.

Q16: Do you see Urban Fantasy as a genre that will appeal to both men and women? Why or why not?

DM: Early on, I assumed my target audience was women, maybe in the twenty to thirty year range. I was so wrong! I’ve received fan mail from thirteen year old girls, sixty-eight year old men, and every age in between. I think the blend of action, paranormal, humor and relationships makes urban fantasy a fun read for everyone.

Q17: Where do you think the future of fantasy is going?

DM: I don’t know, but I hope I’ll be writing it!

Q18: Urban fantasy as a genre has increased tremendously in the past few years. Is that good or bad, and why?

DM: I think it’s fabulous! I know urban fantasy will continue to grow and morph and change, and I can’t wait to see where it will go.

Q19: What are you working on right now? Any other series or stories in the works besides Allie Beckstrom?

DM: I am working on another series, but it’s not under contract yet so I don’t want to give anything away. It’s not urban fantasy but I think it’s something urban fantasy readers will really enjoy. Keep your fingers crossed for me, ok?

Thank you so much for the questions! I really enjoyed being here!


For more information about Devon Monk and her writing visit devonmonk.com or follow her on Twitter @DevonMonk

You can purchase Magic to the Bone and the rest of the Allie Beckstrom series through Amazon, Borders, and Powell’s Books.


bookgiveawayAs a special event just for the readers of A Working Title, Devon has kindly offered to send a signed copy of her newest book, Magic in the Shadows, to one lucky commenter. You have 48 hours to comment on the interview using the form below, and on Wednesday morning I will choose one lucky commenter using Random.org. This event is open to all participants, including international readers.

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