Uncanny Magazine Author Interview: Jim C. Hines

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    uncanny-magazine-issue-9-cover-400x600Weightless Books interviews Jim C. Hines, author of twelve fantasy novels and blogger about topics ranging from sexism and harassment to zombie-themed Christmas carols.

    Q: In a break from your novel-writing, you took some time to write an insightful essay about racism in science fiction and fantasy for Uncanny Magazine. Your starting point in the essay was the November 2015 decision that the World Fantasy Awards would no longer use a statue of H.P. Lovecraft as a trophy. Have you ever had to explain racism in SF/F to a child?

    Hines: I’ve had conversations about racism with children before – most notably my own children – but it wasn’t specific to SF/F. It’s a challenging conversation, and depends a lot on the age and experiences of the child. My son has a very straightforward view that “treating people differently because of their skin color is dumb.” But then the question becomes how to talk about the historical and systemic roots of racism, the power structures that perpetuate it, the less obvious ways it plays out in day to day life, and so on.

    So we talk about power and greed and fear. We talk about cultural misunderstandings and miscommunications. (We’ve been reading Janet Kagan’s Hellspark, which is a great book for discussing culture and taboo and miscommunication.) We talk about how things that happened decades or centuries ago still have a very real impact on people today, whether it’s housing segregation or the United States’ attempts to wipe out Native Americans.

    Q: In the Uncanny essay, you ask “When we think about ‘prevailing attitudes on race,’ are we limiting our thinking to the prevailing attitudes of white people?” Why do you think this concept of “prevailing attitudes” has been allowed to persist for so long, and what can people do to rewrite the narrative?

    Hines: History is shaped by those in power. Here in the U.S., that means our history has been taught through a dominantly white lens. While there are exceptions, we generally learn to focus on white figures and white voices, to the exclusion of other perspectives and attitudes.

    As a white man in 2016, I think one of the most important things is to recognize those omissions in my own education and understanding, and to actively seek out other voices to start to fill those gaps.

    Q: Your books and short stories are filled with protagonists and villains who are strong, smart, and funny regardless of their race, gender, or sexual identity. When did you first notice the gap between the portrayal of male protagonists versus female ones in the work of other authors?

    Hines: Thank you. I don’t think there was a particular time or date when awareness switched on in my brain. Even today there are books I’ll read where someone else later calls out instances of sexism or racism or other problems that I completely missed in my own reading.

    It’s something I try to be aware of, because when you’re flooded with representation in stories, it’s so easy not to notice when others aren’t. It’s an ongoing process, one that for me, required conscious effort.

    It also helps a lot if you actively try to broaden the stories and authors you read. The more you read books that do a good job of portraying a range of well-written female characters, for example, the more it stands out when other stories fail to do so.

    Q: Wealth and rights disparities can be a key component of science fiction and fantasy storylines nowadays. How do you think the future will judge those story lines and their authors?

    Hines: That depends on the future, and whether we end up in the Darkest Timeline.

    Realistically, the future will probably be as contentious as the present, with just as wide a range of opinions. I suspect people will look at our literature in the context of our times, just as we do to past works. And just as in previous eras, there will be areas where we fall short, where our own prejudices and assumptions shine through in our stories.

    My hope is that the future judges authors and our stories honestly. Recognize the good without ignoring the bad.

    Of course, this will all become moot when the ant people invade and put us to work in their vast sugar mines…

    Q: “Rape Resources” isn’t a prominent link most SF/F authors have on their websites, but yours has that. Is it hard for you to move from talking with fans one moment about SF/F and the next about sexual assault resources?

    Hines: Not really, no. Sexual assault issues are really important to me, and have been for more than half my life at this point. Statistically, we have so many people who have been sexually assaulted, and given the scope of the problem, we don’t do a fraction of the work we should be doing to combat that problem, and to support survivors. Posting those resources and writing about rape are small ways I try to change things.

    Most of the time when I’m talking about rape with someone from the SF/F community, it’s either someone who wants to argue about it, or someone who’s been assaulted. The former can be frustrating, but I’ve done enough research and work to be able to present the facts for those willing to listen. The latter can be painful, but I do my best to listen and be supportive. It’s never easy, but it’s important.

    Q: You’ve written more than a dozen novels, and you have a wide fan base that you stay in contact with through the internet, conventions, and other events. How do you keep life in balance?

    Jim C. HinesHines: By falling down a lot. Balance is a daily struggle. Sometimes it depends on my deadlines. If I have a book due, I need to make sure I hit that deadline, which might mean neglecting the internet and not getting as much time with my family as I want. Other times, when I start to feel burnt out, I have to walk away from the writing and play video games with my kids. Going to conventions and chatting with people online can take up a lot of time and energy, but it can also give energy back and help to refuel my excitement about the genre or a particular project.

    Lately, I’ve had to say no to more projects, which is painful. I’ve turned down events and writing opportunities that I’d love to do, but there are only so many hours in the day, and I’ve got to prioritize.

    If anyone ever figures out an easy way to maintain that life balance, please let me know!

    Jim C. Hines is the author of twelve fantasy novels, including the Magic ex Libris series, the Princess series of fairy tale retellings, the humorous Goblin Quest trilogy, and the Fable Legends tie-in Blood of Heroes. He’s an active blogger at www.jimchines.com, and won the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer. He lives in mid-Michigan with his family.

    Uncanny Magazine is an online Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine featuring passionate SF/F fiction and poetry, gorgeous prose, provocative nonfiction, and a deep investment in the diverse SF/F culture.  Each issue contains intricate, experimental stories and poems with verve and imagination that elicit strong emotions and challenge beliefs from writers from every conceivable background. Uncanny is available DRM-free from Weightless in single issues and as a 12-month subscription.

     

    Beneath Ceaseless Skies Author Interview: Walter Dinjos

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    beneath-ceaseless-skies-issue-191-coverWeightless Books interviews Walter Dinjos, author of “The Mama Mmiri” in Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue 190.

    Q: Your story “The Mama Mmiri” revolves around a teenaged boy and a water spirit. Have you ever seen a water spirit or felt like you’ve been in the presence of one?

    Dinjos: Nigerians are a superstitious lot. It’s not uncommon to find a good fraction of us professing the existence of water spirits. When you, however, get down to asking what these spirits really are or look like, you begin to realise that our conviction is rooted in nothing but hearsay and blind faith.

    Some may tell you that the spirits are the same as the regular mermaids you find in fairy tales, some others may claim they are goddesses, and others may say they are female water apparitions—you know, like ghosts, but more powerful. But you have to wonder which one it really is, and if you are anything like me, you must be practical about this.

    It’s rumoured in Nigeria that if you should bend and look behind through your legs in an open market, you would see spirits floating in the midst of the crowd, and you would not survive the sight. I put that rumour to the test once, but here I still am.

    So, no, I have not seen a water spirit, or any spirit at all, but I believe I have felt their presence—in my stories, of course.

    Q: When did you first know you wanted to write?

    Dinjos: I can’t say I knew I wanted to write when I was little, because reading and writing in English didn’t grow on me until 2010. And I’m not a native English speaker (you can understand my apathy as a boy). So, trust me, writing was hard, very hard, for me in the beginning. Now it’s just . . . hard.

    Looking back and considering how tedious the journey has been, I find it funny that I embraced writing to raise money. I needed money to record some songs, and I imagined that writing a book was an easy way to it.

    So I wrote a book, The Prospect, about illegal diamond mining in DR Congo and the forceful extraction of bone marrow from people immune to the dominant strain of HIV by the antagonist’s doctor in an attempt to cure the antagonist of the virus. It took me three months. Piece of cake, I thought—well, until the rejection letters started flying in. Fortunately, I had fallen in love with writing by then, and I couldn’t stop.

    Q: You’ve published short stories and poetry. How do you decide whether something wants to be a short story or a poem?

    Dinjos: It’s actually easy for me, since most of my poems are lyrics from my songs. I can literally sing my poems. If you take a look at my poem “My Maker,” you’d see it’s in song form, with verses and a repeating chorus.

    Sometimes, I fear I’m incapable of writing poetry without a melody in my head, seeing as the few times I attempted writing poetry from scratch I ended up with short stories instead. In fact, “The Mama Mmiri” is one of these stories. I started it, along with my poem “The Diamond Fish,” as a prose poem, but it turned out to be longer than I expected.

    Q: How do your singing and songwriting affect your other writing?

    Dinjos: When writing, I tend to favour lyrical prose, and I think that’s because of my musical side. I can’t begin to tell you how hard I fight the urge to include music in my prose. Sometimes, though, to better understand the emotions my characters feel, I ask myself what kind of song this character would sing when faced with this plight or that plight. If I succeed in writing a song that exudes one character’s emotion at a point in my story, I tend to find that part of the story easier to write. It…just flows.

    Q: What kind of challenges do you face in making time for your writing?

    Dinjos: My writing and my studies at the Writers Bureau England are in sync, and I love that by writing my assignments I produce short stories, poems, and articles that I can submit to magazines. And since these are assignments, I enjoy the privilege of having my tutor look over them before I start making submissions.

    My singing and songwriting are also very helpful. I found that when I’m stuck, singing or writing a song is a nice way to recuperate.

    My day job is the only thorn on my writing life. I work from 7am to 6pm from Monday to Saturday in a place riddled with so much noise—the kind of noise that invades your thoughts. That’s what you get when you are into transportation and logistics in Nigeria, and this makes it difficult for me to think about writing at work.

    When I finally return home, all I want to do is sleep, and that’s what I do, so that when I wake around 10pm, I’m able to give my writing all the attention it deserves until 2am when I go to sleep again.

    Q: Do you have any upcoming projects you’re working on that you can share?

    Walter DinjosDinjos: I do. Most of them are short stories, but one is a novel—A Hundred Lifetimes. The story revolves around reincarnation (trust me, it’s not what you think; so don’t take a second look at the title), a form of teleportation that requires a certain natural ray to be possible, and a society where the coalescence of magic and science has led to the cloning of the human soul.

    Walter Dinjos is Nigerian, and he enjoys singing and songwriting as much as he does writing. In addition to Beneath Ceaseless Skies, his work has been accepted at Space & Time, Stupefying Stories, Literary Hatchet, and others. He is currently exploring means (both scientific and magical) of attaining immortality. You can find him online at www.walterdinjos.com.

    Beneath Ceaseless Skies, a three-time Hugo Award finalist and World Fantasy Award-winning online magazine publishing the best in literary adventure fantasy, is available DRM-free in single issues and as a 12-month subscription.

    Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Author Interview: A.C. Wise

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    Weightless Books interviews A.C. Wise, author of The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again and over one hundred published short stories.

    the-ultra-fabulous-glitter-squadron-saves-the-world-again-coverQ: The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again is a tender presentation of the well-dressed personalities behind some really effective ass-kicking. The sexual orientation of the team members is on a wide spectrum. Why did you choose to tell the story with sexual identity at the forefront?

    Wise: Part of it is the way the stories turned out, who the characters revealed themselves to be as they made it to the page. The other part is the idea that you should write the kind of stories you would want to read. Basically, I want to see stories that reflect the best parts of the world as it is, and that includes the whole spectrum of gender, sexuality, race, background, and so on. There’s a tendency in a lot of mainstream media to focus on a very narrow part of that spectrum as if it represents the entirety of human experience. There are so many stories out there, and I did my best to tell a few of them.

    Q: In a fight against giant squids from outer space, who from the Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron would lead the charge?

    Wise: Well, the fight would definitely have to be a team effort, but Bunny would lead the charge. She is the team leader after all, and she does have experience fighting tentacled beasts, though of the underwater variety. The basic idea is the same though, right? Dodge the tentacles and aim for the squishy bits.

    Q: You’ve published over 100 short stories since 2004. What’s changed about your writing or your interests since you started writing?

    Wise: Hopefully my writing has improved since I started off in 2004. I look back on my older stuff, and some of it makes me cringe. Some, I still think is okay. I tend to notice the things that have stayed the same more than what’s changed – it’s hard to see that kind of thing from the inside. But there are certain themes that recur throughout my work over the years. Birds tend to turn up a lot, as do foxes, witches, tattoos, and water. Just at my publication history with Shimmer, four of the five stories feature water in a very prominent role.

    Q: How did your Cthulhu mythos story, “Chasing Sunset,” come to be included in editor Ellen Datlow’s recently-published collection The Monstrous?

    Wise: “Chasing Sunset” was originally written for Whispers from the Abyss, a Lovecraftian anthology from 01 Publishing. In writing the story, I wanted to play with different kinds of monsters, human versus inhuman, and I liked the idea of two horrific mythologies battling it out to see who is the biggest bad of the big bads. When Ellen put out a call to authors she’d previously worked with asking for reprint stories that weren’t the typical depiction of monsters, but were still monstrous, I sent it off hoping it would be a good fit. Luckily, it was!

    Q: How does reading affect your writing?

    Wise: Bits of inspiration are constantly creeping in from the things I read. A stray bit of imagery here, a throw-away line there. Sometimes they spark an immediate idea I can twist around into something new, and sometimes they linger for months or years until I unexpectedly find them in the middle of something I’m writing. In a more direct way, fairy tales and Lovecraftian fiction have provided inspiration for several re-tellings and tales that play with the mythos.

    Q: What are you working on now?

    ACWPortraitWeb_320Wise: I’ve always got a handful of stories on the go in various stages of completion – writing, editing, or just floating around in my head as ideas. (There may be some more Glitter Squadron stories in that last category.) On the editorial side, at Unlikely Story, we’re getting ready to release our first print anthology. Up until now, we’ve been online only. Now we’re dipping a toe into the print world with an anthology of flash fiction about clowns in all their various forms titled Clowns: The Unlikely Coulrophobia remix. We were lucky enough to get some really wonderful stories from some fantastic authors, and we can’t wait to share them with the world!

    A.C. Wise’s fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Shimmer, Apex, and The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2015, among other places. Her debut collection, The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again was published by Lethe Press in 2015 and is available DRM-free on Weightless Books. In addition to her fiction, she co-edits Unlikely Story, and contributes a monthly Women to Read column to SF Signal. Find her online at www.acwise.net.

    Beneath Ceaseless Skies Author Interview: Bill Powell

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    Andrea Pawley interviews Bill Powell for Weightless Books. Powell’s play “The Punctuality Machine, Or, A Steampunk Libretto” appears in Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue 173.

    beneath-ceaseless-skies-issue-173-cover-200x266Q: How did “The Punctuality Machine, Or, A Steampunk Libretto” come together? Especially as a supposedly authentic Victorian script for a stage comedy?

    Powell: This is one of those extremely improbable projects where you break down and just write about the weird stuff you know you’ll love yourself, even though there’s no way it’ll actually get published. For this story, those loves include:

    • Time travel disasters, including fighting with your double(s). As a kid, Back to the Future completely messed me up.
    • Crazy comedies like I’ve been writing since high school (a format editors request rather infrequently).
    • The extravagant, amazing language and satire of Gilbert and Sullivan, especially Pirates of Penzance.

    As far as I know, Gilbert and Sullivan never happened to write about time machines and alien invasions — a most regrettable omission. But I had tons of fun trying to tackle these ideas as if I were one of their (much less skillful) contemporaries.

    Q: What’s the first play you remember wanting to write?

    Powell: Alas, I hesitate to inflict any of my juvenilia on the unsuspecting reader, even in summary form. :) But my first big audience for one of my comedy skits was a gym packed for my high school talent show.

    This must have been Election Year 1996, because the title of my skit was “Waiting for Perot,” which perhaps suggests the obscure quality of much of the humor. As I mounted the stage, I had no idea whether this heartless horde in the shadows would get most of the jokes. Comedy is wonderfully and brutally testable – people either laugh, or they most emphatically do not. You face ecstasy or evisceration. In public.

    The first few jokes got modest laughs, but then came a weird, complicated joke . . . and silence.

    A seething silence – I could feel hundreds of people all straining their mental muscles in concert. The question hung high above us all, like the long, long arc of a desperate three-point shot. Would they get it? Would they?

    Then came the explosion. Whoosh!

    They got it. And they got me – I’ve never recovered from the high of making an audience laugh as one. It’s an altered state for us all.

    Q: I understand in college you turned in philosophy essays in the form of plays when your classmates were taking more traditional approaches. Are you the first person in history to do this and get away with it?

    Powell: Ha! Definitely not. The honor of “first play-writing philosophy student” goes to that chap Plato. The Socratic dialogues really are dialogues, sometimes with a whole dinner table of argumentative characters.

    Personally, I stumbled early on into this rich tradition of disputation masquerading as drama, from the zany, high-spirited philosophical “novels” of G. K. Chesterton that I devoured in high school all the way back not only to Plato, at least, but also the delectable satire of his contemporary Aristophanes.

    In fact, I think my first college success at handing in a play instead of a paper was in a class where we’d read an Aristophanes comedy. I simply asked if I could write a modern retelling.

    This was for my “Great Books” seminar, a wonderful experience across all four years where everyone could actually talk about Plato, Homer, and all those names we’d always heard but never read. I suppose the course was already so offbeat that the teacher was comfortable letting me try something cool.

    Best of all, my class did a reading.

    After that, I hustled to write comedies instead of papers whenever I could. Professors, it turned out, were also human beings, at least part-time, and almost all appeared to be even more bored reading normal papers than I was writing them…up to and including my philosophy thesis advisor.

    Besides, comedy isn’t just a blast – it’s a most sensible way to discuss philosophy. People loved seeing these crazy philosophical positions come to life as even crazier characters. It’s one thing to read Descartes nattering on for chapters about how he might not exist; it’s quite another to watch Bob the Cartesian really try to get through his day.

    Q: If you could debate any living or dead comedian, philosopher, or playwright who would it be?  

    Powell: Wow! Are you kidding? All of them! I’d put everyone in a huge school cafeteria and lock the doors until they’d figured everything out.

    Things might get dicey once the grape juice started to ferment.

    Q: You’re a graduate of the the Odyssey Writing Workshop. How has your experience at Odyssey influenced your writing?

    Powell: Every possible good way! I can’t even list them all.

    Odyssey is like you’ve spent your whole life trying to build custom dollhouses, and you think you’re pretty good at it, maybe, and then Jeanne Cavelos walks in and:

    1) Turns your workshop light on (whoa!),

    2) Explains how to use hundreds of specialized carpentry tools, as opposed to your current toolset of a rubber mallet and a crowbar,

    3) Gently deconstructs your current attempts in microscopic, systematic, eviscerating and yet loving detail, illuminating every minute opportunity for improvement,

    4) Teaches you how to analyze and learn from other people’s dollhouses at this same incredible level, and

    5) Introduces you to a network of master carpenters, all of whom are delighted to meet you (even years later) simply because Jeanne chose you as a student.

    Apply to Odyssey. Everything will change.

    Bill PowellQ: Do you have any upcoming projects you’re working on now that you can share?    

    Powell: Sure! I’m writing a comedy novel about a hapless college student who gets trapped in a small, rural Virginia town where everyone is delightfully crazy. This town bears no resemblance whatsoever to the small, rural Virginia town where I happen to live.

    Bill Powell lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where he eats and breathes regularly. He writes fantasy, science fiction, metaphysically problematic author bios, and character-driven stories about driverless cars. His website is http://billpowell.org, and you know what’s awesome? Mutual funds. Seriously! You can retire with a million bucks! How is that not science fiction?

    Beneath Ceaseless Skies, a three-time Hugo Award finalist and World Fantasy Award-winning online magazine publishing the best in literary adventure fantasy, is available for DRM-free purchase from Weightless Books.

    Author Interview: Damien Angelica Walters

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    Sing Me Your ScarsWeightless Books interviews Damien Angelica Walters, a 2014 Bram Stoker Award nominee and author of Sing Me Your Scars, a collection of short stories.

    Q: What do you care about most when you write a story?

    DAW: The characters, most definitely. Most of my stories start as what-ifs: What if there was a woman who was a composite of body parts and each part retained sentience? How would that feel to the dominant part? What if there was a man who was disappearing, one body part at a time, and what would it feel like to watch that happening, knowing there was nothing you could do to stop it?

    I try to put my head firmly into the characters’ hearts and minds from the start, because unless I know how they feel, I won’t know how they’re going to react on their journey and their story won’t ring true.

    Q: If all the main characters in Sing Me Your Scars met on the battlefield, which ones would emerge victorious?

    DAW: I love this question! I suspect the characters would throw down their weapons and go off to have coffee and talk about scars, but if coffee wasn’t an option, I think it would ultimately come down to Olivia from “Girl, With Coin” and Isabel from “They Make of You a Monster.” In the end, though, Isabel would be victorious because although Olivia can’t physically feel pain, Isabel’s ability to kill with a touch trumps all.

    In the alternate universe, they’ve switched from coffee to cocktails and wine and they’re no longer discussing scars, but have moved onto things like what constitutes the perfect origami elephant, black and white versus color photography, and whether or not artificial intelligence should be granted autonomy.

    Q: You’ve published a phenomenal number of short stories in the past five years. What motivates you to do this?

    DAW: I don’t know how to not write. Words and phrases and characters and the before-mentioned what-ifs pop into my head all the time. Some of them turn into stories, countless others become scribbles in my notebook that might eventually be stories or they might remain as is. When I first started to write short fiction, those disconnected bits and pieces were frustrating, but over time, I came to realize that those pieces, whether intro paragraphs, lines of dialogue, or even story titles, were just as important to the writing process as the finished work.

    Q: Though it doesn’t seem to happen a lot, how do you handle the times when your writing is rejected?

    DAW: I think there’s a misconception that once you publish X amount of stories in markets A, B, and C, rejections become a thing of the past. This isn’t true, at all. Rejection is part of the business. Sometimes a story simply doesn’t fit what an editor is looking for. It doesn’t always mean the story is bad or won’t find the right home.

    Truthfully, I’m very hard on my stories. When a story is finished, I jot down three or four markets I think it would be a good fit for, but if the story is rejected by those markets, then I set it aside. But I don’t see this as giving up, because I revisit the story later (might be weeks, might be months), make changes or not, and send it back out. I have trunked stories that I feel are flawed, but I’ve also given a story one last ride on the submission train and had it sell.

    Most of the time, I brush rejections off, but every once in a while, usually when it’s an editor I’d love to work with or a magazine that has previously published my work, there’s a definite sting, a bit of not good enough. But it doesn’t make me want to give up permanently, nor does it last very long. I’m too stubborn and too driven to allow that.

    Q: How does reading affect your writing?

    DAW: I still read a lot as a reader, but there are times I read as a writer. In particular, if I’m trying to find the right threads to stitch ideas together in a story in progress, I’ll step away and reread an anthology or a few of my favorite stories, not for the stories themselves, but for the glue that holds them together or the story arc or the underlying theme. Often, just seeing how another writer has crafted a piece will help the pieces of my own story puzzle fall into place.

    I also like reading successful stories that don’t grab me personally for one reason or another; again, not for the stories, but to discern what makes them work. I think reading with that sort of critical eye has made me a better storyteller and has made me more willing to take risks in format, points of view, and story structure.

    Q: You’ve worked all along the editing spectrum — from associate editor at Electric Velocipede to freelance editing to being edited by senior staff at dozens of zines. If you could give yourself of ten years ago any kind of writing advice, what would it be?

    DAW: It would be the same advice I’d give to anyone starting out: Take your time and don’t send your stories out too soon. Start with the top markets first and work down. Don’t be afraid to submit. Don’t give your work away for free. Rejections aren’t personal. And lastly, you are not in competition with anyone but yourself.

    Q: Your second novel comes out in August. What can you tell us about it?

    Damien Angelica Walters - Author PhotoDAW: Yes, Paper Tigers is my second novel, although it’s the first to be published under the name Damien Angelica Walters. Paper Tigers is about a disfigured young woman and an old photo album she finds at a thrift store. At its heart, it’s a ghost story, but it’s as much about the things that haunt us personally as it’s about the external ghosts. It’s closer in tone to my short fiction than my previous novel—Ink, published as Damien Walters Grintalis.

    Damien Angelica Walters’ short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in various anthologies and magazines, including The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2015, Year’s Best Weird Fiction Volume One, Cassilda’s Song, Nightmare, Strange Horizons, and Apex. “The Floating Girls: A Documentary,” originally published in Jamais Vu, is on the 2014 Bram Stoker Award ballot for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction. Sing Me Your Scars, a collection of Damien Angelica Walters’ short fiction, is out now from Apex Publications and available from Weightless Books. Paper Tigers, a novel, is forthcoming from Dark House Press. Her other short fiction can be found here.

    Author Interview: Erica L. Satifka

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    Andrea Pawley interviews Erica L. Satifka whose most recent publications appear in Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet and Shimmer.

    24998-cover-200x242Q: When did you first know you wanted to write science fiction?

    Satifka: I came to genre reading (and writing) late. As someone who grew up pre-Internet in a shitty small town, I was restricted to reading what was in the school library, which had some SF (mostly Bradbury and Vonnegut), but not much. I did watch a lot of SF, mostly anthology shows like The Outer Limits. My college advisor said my stories were good but would be better if I didn’t insist on writing science fiction. It was a surprise to me that I was even writing science fiction! In college, I also gained access to a wider variety of books and there was also the arrival of a few online fiction markets (Strange Horizons is the only one that’s still around, I believe). I guess mostly I just want to write crazy stories, and crazy stories are usually going to be labeled as some kind of science fiction.

    Q: Almost two dozen of your short stories have been published since 2005. How has your writing changed?

    Satifka: I’m not sure I completely knew what I was doing in 2005. My introduction to genre was so late and spotty that I had a lot of disparate influences. Many of my earliest stories were basically style imitations of Vonnegut or Philip K. Dick. Now that I’m more widely read, I think I’ve developed a bit more of a personal style. Or I’m just getting better at copying people.

    shimmer-magazine-issue-21-cover-200x319Q: What technological advance do you most hope to see in the next fifty years?

    Satifka: Sounds boring, but eradication of various diseases. I really don’t think we should be launching people into space until we figure out how to stop people from contracting polio. I’d like to see a world where nobody dies from infectious disease because I think it’s insane that we’re still dealing with things like polio and measles in the year 2014. Then, space.

    Q: What do you care most about when you write a story?

    Satifka: Finishing it. Most of my short stories are written in one or two sessions, because if they run any longer than that, I get bored and start working on the next thing. I think this helps maintain a certain consistency of voice, which is also important to me. Short stories, more than novels, are really about the idea and I like to go really deep inside the concept to find the most resonant take on the idea.

    Q: What’s it like to be part of the Codex Writers’ Group?

    Satifka: I think it’s a wonderful community. It’s a lot of what you’d get at a place like Clarion, but it’s free! I’ve also met many writers through there who became real-life friends. I honestly think I’ve learned more about genre writing and marketing on Codex than I have in any academic setting. I really recommend that anyone who’s reached the minimum entry requirements (one pro-published story or attendance at a writers’ workshop) join Codex. If nothing else, it shows you that even people who have published way more than you or I have the same insecurities and self-doubt.

    Q: You live in Portland now, but you’ve lived in Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Does being on the West Coast versus the East Coast make a difference to your writing?

    Satifka: The East Coast is full of lovely people, but it’s not the best place for creative people. On the East Coast, your job is your life, and writing (or art or music) is just a hobby. Even though I produced some good work in Baltimore, and it’s where I became a writer again, I felt like too much of my identity was being steamrolled under my “real job.” (Pittsburgh isn’t really the East Coast, more the Midwest and is completely different from both coasts.) Portland is much more “work to live” and people don’t wrap themselves up in their day jobs as much. I almost never get asked “what do you do?” out here, and if you are asked that, it’s just as likely that the asker is inquiring about your creative outlet. This matters for my writing because it allows me to mentally put it front and center.

    Q: Do you have any upcoming projects you can share?

    Erica L. SatifkaSatifka: I’m putting the finishing touches on a novel. It’s about a young schizophrenic woman who battles against an alien invasion of Earth taking place in a small-town big box store, and it should be done very, very soon. I also have another novel project in very early stages. Of course, my main focus is still short stories and while my output has slowed slightly due to novel work I’m still on pace to write one new short story every month. I’ll also be teaching an adult extension class on Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy at Portland Community College in January 2015.

    Erica L. Satifka’s fiction has appeared in Shimmer, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and Clarkesworld Magazine, among others. She lives in beautiful Portland, Oregon, with her husband Rob and too many cats. Visit her online at www.ericasatifka.com.

    Lightspeed Author Interview: Sarah Pinsker

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    lightspeed-magazine-issue-49-women-destroy-science-fiction-special-issue-cover-200x300Andrea Pawley interviews writer / singer / songwriter Sarah Pinsker. Yesterday it was announced that Pinsker’s story “In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind” was the winner of this year’s Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award.

    Q: This year you were nominated for a Nebula Award and won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, plus fourteen of your stories have been accepted for publication,  including one in the Women Destroy Science Fiction issue of Lightspeed. That’s impressive! How do you decide where to submit your stories?

    Pinsker: I read a lot of short fiction. I think I have a good feel for which magazines are publishing what kind of stories. I’ll try the most likely market first, and then the editors ultimately decide whether my intuition lines up with theirs. If I believe in a story, I feel an obligation to try the most suitable magazines first. I’m also a big advocate for starting at the top, however you define the top. Aim high.

    Q: Why do you write science fiction? 

    Pinsker: I’ve been reading SF & F my whole life, starting with Madeleine L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time series, Le Guin’s Earthsea, Heinlein’s young reader books. I don’t remember how old I was when I discovered my father’s collection of science fiction magazines, but I would have been in the single digits. We got a computer when I was seven or so – one of the first PCs – and I started writing fiction immediately, mostly SF and horse stories. I think part of what I was doing was retelling novels I had read as short stories, but that was probably good practice for something. I love a good story regardless of genre, but if the question is why do I write SF, the adult me answers that it gives an opportunity to look at ourselves through a prism of otherness.

    Q: What changes have you seen to SF&F since you started reading it?

    Pinsker: I love the multitude of voices that we are finally getting to hear. Writers of all different backgrounds, telling stories of characters of all different colors and genders and nationalities and sexual orientations and ages and abilities/disabilities and economic backgrounds. SF is richer for this inclusion.

    There’s also the rise of audio fiction – story podcasts, in particular – which open up a whole new range of ways to experience fiction. And eReaders, which I think can increase access to short fiction. But I’m selfishly glad that the act of reading hasn’t changed all that much. I can still pick up a book and be transported.

    Sarah PinskerQ: You’re very active in the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. What’s the most unexpected thing that’s happened to you as a result?

    Pinsker: The whole thing, really. I’ve lived in Baltimore for eighteen years, but never discovered that community until two years ago. I’ve made some good friends there, gotten some great story critiques. BSFS also gave me a chance to moderate panels before I’d done that sort of thing. As it turns out, I think I’m pretty decent at it. That gave me the confidence to apply for panels at cons, and to seek out those opportunities.

    Oh, and I definitely never would have expected to be hosting a reading series/quiz show, but I’m co-hosting a series there, the quarterly Dangerous Voices Variety Hour.

    Q: Some of your music contains references to fantastical feelings or events. Do your songs ever think they want to be short stories or vice versa? 

    Pinsker: They’re usually pretty clear about which they want to be. Some of my songs definitely are stories. They have to accomplish a lot in a small number of words. The nice thing about a song is that you’re allowed to be a little more cryptic. I can paint a feeling and give the illusion of plot.

    There’s a song that’s going to be on my new album, about a circus sideshow’s “living doll,” in love with the star of the show. It starts “I am just the size of a half-finished thought/and most of my thoughts are on you.” It’s full of hope and longing and the search for commonality, but I think I’d have to explain too much if it were a story.

    Q: Is it true you once performed your music at a nudist colony? 

    Pinsker: Absolutely! It was a great gig. The Avalon Music Festival. The audience is clothing-optional, and the performers can choose. I kept my clothes on. They have a gorgeous resort, and the people were all lovely. No phones or tablets or cameras allowed, so the audience pays better attention than at other festivals, which works well for lyric-driven music like mine.

    Q: What are you working on now?

    Pinsker: My new album is very close to done. This one has taken me a long time, but I think it’s going to be worth it. I’m writing a lot of stories, and I’ve got a couple of novel projects I try to give love to when I get a chance.

    Sarah Pinsker is a singer/songwriter with three albums on various independent labels: two solo, one with her band, the Stalking Horses. A fourth is forthcoming. Since returning to fiction, she has made over twenty story sales to magazines, podcasts and anthologies. Her 2013 novelette, “In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind,”  was nominated for a Nebula award and won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. A DRM-free subscription to Lightspeed (including theThe Sewell Home for the Temporally Displaced” in Women Destroy Science Fiction issue) can be purchased on Weightless Books.

    Highfell Grimoires Author Interview: Langley Hyde

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    37801-coverThis month sees the publication of Langley Hyde‘s debut novel, Highfell Grimoires, from our friends at Blind Eye Books (publisher of Ginn Hale, Astrid Amara, et al.). Highfell Grimoires is a steampunk adventure set in a private school (with shades of both an orphanage and a workhouse) which floats in the aetheric currents high above the city below:

    Q: Your novel, Highfell Grimoires, is set in a boarding school high up in the atmosphere and riding the aether. The story is part steampunk, part fantasy, and part gay romance. Which one of those ideas came first?

    Hyde: Oh my. Well, the romance and the characters. The setting developed after that, inspired by my favorite books, my own experiences, and my interests. Then the magic happened. Magic always happen when I write. : )

    In college, I always tried to write contemporary short stories because writing classes were all literary. I ended up with hideous literary/fantasy hybrids. Monsters! I’d try to write a literary story about a superbly fashionable girl with a tragic past who’s walking down an alley, navel-gazing (very difficult to do this when walking, she has to be a master at multitasking not to trip) and then all of a sudden she sees a small coat shop, and it takes her to—

    Well, not Manhattan. That’s for sure.

    When other students encountered my work, often the response was chilly. I even had classmates refuse to read my stories because they weren’t literature (ha, what is?) and once a girl drew me aside to say, in a tone of deep concern, “Magic isn’t real. I mean, you do know that. Right?”

    When she asked me that question, I couldn’t help but feel a little sketchy as I looked around, trying to judge exactly what would to relieve her concerns, and then muttered, “Um . . .”

    Q: In Highfell Grimoires, your main character claims fantasy aspects like aether and bloodlocks are explained by science, but he still invokes the gods. Why did you choose this approach? 

    color with spirals web resHyde: When I created my main character, Neil, I wanted a character with a complex relationship to his society. Becoming a true adult involves negotiating what role a person wants to take in society. This is integral to identity. I think one’s society of origin plays a larger role in people’s decisions than they often want to admit.

    In my main character, the young Lord Cornelius ‘Neil’ Franklin, conventional societal beliefs and rules penetrate him more than he’d like to admit.

    In real life I’ve yet to meet an atheist who did not once say, “Oh my God!” or use other religiously derived curses or figures of speech like, “It’s my cross to bear,” or “an eye for an eye.” Just because an individual has chosen skepticism as a personal point of view does not instantly erase thousands of years of history or the modern religious beliefs still held by the dominant culture, right?

    So I wanted to try and create this same richness of language for Higher Eidoland. And I wanted to use Neil’s invocations of deities like Loxa the Lucky to subtly show that even though he doesn’t intellectually believe in gods, he still calls on them when he’s hanging off the edge of a flying ship in the middle of the night—lol.

    Q: What are you hoping your readers take away from Highfell Grimoires?

    Hyde: When I was in college, I used to read aloud at open mic. Once, after I’d read a flash piece about a family mourning at a river, a girl came up to me crying. My story had reminded her of her golden retriever. He’d been a happy dog, she told me. A good dog.

    For years, her reaction puzzled me. Then, about two weeks ago, I realized: Her dog must have died. At first, I felt terrible. But how she’d thanked me!

    I don’t want to write stories with a specific meaning. I want to write stories that are meaningful. And also stories that are fun, sexy, and interesting. Highfell Grimoires doesn’t have a specific meaning for me. But it may for others, and that’s wonderful.

    Q: What’s your favorite place to write?

    Hyde: I like to migrate as I write. When I’m at home, I’ll move between my desk, the couch, the kitchen nook, the dining table, even the floor. I write at coffee shops, libraries, bookstores. I love sitting with my laptop on trains, even buses. Whenever my mind is stuck, I move my body. Motion inspires me.

    Maybe if I get in a real rut, I’ll finally move to Mars like my husband’s always wanted.

    Maybe.

    Q: What was it like to attend Clarion Writer’s Workshop?

    Hyde: It was incredible. Intense. For those who don’t know Clarion, it’s a six-week summer camp for writers. Participants write one story per week and critique five stories a day. So basically I critiqued from eight a.m. to one p.m., got lunch, read for a couple of hours, and then wrote until morning, when I had to do it all again.

    It was like having a fever. Actually, that was because I did have a fever. For two weeks. But I’d highly recommend Clarion to anyone thinking of becoming a professional writer. The chance to meet other writers and prepare yourself for the submission as well as the editing process is invaluable.

    Q: Do you have any upcoming projects you can share?

    Hyde: Yes, I have them. No, I can’t share them. Just joking. I have a superstition where I can’t talk much about what I’m working on or it’ll die.

    What I’m working on now has spies, imposters, magic, love—and betrayal.

    Langley Hyde first fell in love with steampunk while studying abroad at Oxford University. There she spent most of her time reading about alchemy and heresy in Duke Humfrey’s Library or caressing manuscripts. Langley then lived in London, close enough to the Science Museum that she could regularly gawk at Babbage’s Difference Engine No. 2. Her favorite neighborhoods in London were Soho and Camden Town. She has also lived in New York, where she lurked in the Cloisters on the weekends, and Germany, near the old center of zeppelin manufacturing. Her hobbies include making wire sculptures, talking to cats, and wearing tiny hats. Hyde’s novel, Highfell Grimoires, is available for DRM-free purchase from Weightless Books.

     

    Howard Waldrop: Horse of a Different Color

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    24979-coverYou’ve probably read a Howard Waldrop story and don’t realize it.

    Have you ever remembered how the last flock of dodo birds met their end in a 1920s backyard barbeque over 200 years after the dodo was declared extinct? Have you ever recalled that a small band of the Lakota people and a Tyrannosaurus Rex defeated Union soldiers during the Civil War? Have you marveled that woolly mammoths are using humans to get through the interglacial period? Have you contemplated the conditions under which Alcatraz couldn’t hold a werewolf? Have you wondered how much truth there was to the stories of Ann Darrow after she returned from King Kong’s Skull Island?

    Does any of this ring a bell? If so, you’ve been Howard Waldrop’d. He’s a master of the short story format. Waldrop has been writing weird, wonderful, well-researched stories for a long time. So far, Waldrop’s work has garnered him a Nebula Award, a World Fantasy Award and numerous Hugo nominations.

    Waldrop’s latest collection, Horse of a Different Color, just came out. It includes ten of Waldrop’s best stories published in as many years. In addition to some of the stories above, you’ll find the piece that lent the collection its name and includes the line, “You were going to tell me about the Vatican’s and Mussolini’s interest in vaudeville horse-suit acts.” Add a sprinkling of time or history distortion, and that line sums up the Waldrop genre. “The King of Where-I-Go,” which was nominated for a Hugo Award, was the story I most enjoyed in Horse of a Different Color. I challenge any author to write a better tale about time travel, polio, siblings and the exact working of a linotype machine.

    Waldrop’s encyclopedic knowledge of odd things was on display at Capclave 2013, the Washington Science Fiction Association’s annual convention. Waldrop was the Special Guest. He participated in panels like “A Survey of Kickass Animals that Probably Don’t Exist” and “Any Resemblance to Real People is Intentional.” Often, Waldrop let the extroverts talk, but he occasionally broke in with something compelling offered in his soft southern accent. During an hour-long, one-on-one interview before an audience of hundreds, Waldrop told stories, cracked jokes and talked about writing, reading and the challenges of life. Among other things, Waldrop recommended everyone go home and write a thank-you letter to their favorite character actor.

    Waldrop is a most interesting character himself. His latest collection is worth a read. You might also want to check out Howard Who, an earlier collection similarly filled with great stories, some of which were mentioned above.

    Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet Author Interview: Nicole Kimberling

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    LCRW Issue 29 CoverAuthor Nicole Kimberling, a columnist for Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, answers a few questions for Weightless Books.

    Q: Your non-fiction piece, “How to Seduce a Vegetarian”, appears in the new issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet Issue (#29, September 2013). How successful are the vegetarian capture methods you describe?

    Kimberling: They are madly successful. Through use of my simple plan, I was personally able to snag a full time vegetarian that I have been cooking for for 27 years now.

    Q: What was it like to win the 2008 Lambda Literary Award for Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror for your novel Turnskin?

    Kimberling: Well, I was really surprised. I hadn’t even considered the notion that I would win so I didn’t work out a speech or anything and had to resort to stammering out a cute, but incoherent string of “Thank Yous” to random people. I think I also did a little dancey on the stage.

    In terms of how it affected me as a writer–I felt a lot more sure of myself after being presented with a glass brick with my name etched into it. Since that time, I haven’t ever suffered from that sort of crippling angst and frustration that afflicts young writers who still feel like they have to prove themselves. So it was really nice. Freed up a lot of mental space.

    Q: You write in several formats and genres. Do you have a favorite?

    Kimberling: Not really. Each length and genre is fulfilling in different ways. The column I write for LCRW lets me play with language and be philosophical, which is great fun.

    The mysteries and romances are interesting to build and execute. Because they’re largely contemporaries, they allow for the sort of observation-based commentary that doesn’t fit well into SF/F writing. (What I mean to say here is that you can’t riff on people’s relationships to their cars in a world that has no cars…and maybe no people.)

    And the SF/F stuff allows me to work at the highest degree of difficulty and also to express ideas that are hard to address directly in a contemporary setting without alienating a reader. (I’m talking about big issues here, like race and animal cruelty and things like that.)

    Q: Can you offer any advice to people writing novels in a series?

    Kimberling: Speaking as an editor who reads a lot of slush–do not plan for a book to be a series. Plan for a book to be a standalone. You can always find a sequel if you really need one.

    But if you’re really dead set on writing a series (that is not based on a protagonist who lends herself to episodic storytelling like a detective or mercenary or something) you must have a very explicit plan for how to execute the plot over the intended number of volumes. Otherwise the stories get mushy and indistinguishable from each other–like listening to too many MUSE songs in a row.

    I would also suggest that authors intending to write an episodic series have some specific direction for the protagonist to grow so that the intrepid detective (or mercenary or star captain) doesn’t appear to just have had some sort of reset button pushed on her memory directly before the start of every story. Characters who appear to have no capacity to learn from experience get old pretty fast.

    Q: Who’s your favorite author?

    Kimberling: My favorite author of all time is Douglas Adams. I also really love anything written and drawn by Fumi Yoshinaga. And, of course, I adore all the authors I choose for Blind Eye Books.

    Q: What are you working on now?

    Kimberling: I’m writing the sixth story in the Bellingham Mysteries, which is a series of contemporary gay comedy-romance novellas set in the town where I live.

    In addition to successfully feeding many vegetarians sandwiches in her personal life, Nicole Kimberling specializes in formulating this very same item at the restaurant where she now cooks. A current DRM-free subscription to Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet (including Issue 29) can be purchased on Weightless Books.

    Apex Magazine Author Interview: Rachel Swirsky

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    35777-coverAuthor Rachel Swirsky, whose story “Abomination Rises on Filthy Wings” can be found in Apex Magazine Issue 50, answers a few questions for Weightless Books.

    Q: What does it feel like to win a Nebula Award?

    Swirsky: A blushy, fluttery glow.

    I remember a previous winner telling me, “When you get up there, you forget everything; you forget how to say your name.” And I thought, “Oh, that’s just stage fright. I’m used to public speaking.” But then it happens and…you forget how to say your name.

    It was particularly special to me because the man who first published my work – John Scalzi, better known when wearing his writing hat – had told me that he’d be there when I won my first Nebula. And he was. He presented the award.

    Q: What was the hardest part about writing “Abomination Rises on Filthy Wings”?

    Swirsky: Several horror editors had confided in me that they receive a genre of submissions they call “kill the bitch” stories. There are a few defining traits, but two of them are: it must be misogynist, and it must be written as if it’s an autobiographical fantasy of killing one’s wife or ex.

    I don’t have a wife or an ex-wife. And as it happens, I rather like my husband.

    I could find the character’s voice and his anger and his imagery, but it was challenging to find a way to create the illusion it was also personal.

    Q: How did you first know speculative fiction and fantasy were for you?

    Swirsky: According to my mother, she fell in love with my dad when she heard him singing his sons to sleep (he was divorced but had primary custody). Afterward, they’d lie together in bed, and read to each other. Science fiction and fantasy, of course.

    They had (and have) a huge bookshelf that leans against their bedroom door filled with paperbacks from Adams to Zelazny. From the top shelf to the ceiling is stacks and stacks of old Asimov’s magazines. When I wanted something to read, I’d grab Octavia Butler or Anne McCaffrey or Joan Vinge.

    Q: What lessons from the 2005 Clarion West Writer’s Workshop still resonate with you?

    Swirsky: I follow these to greater or lesser extents, but they’ve stayed with me.

    Octavia Butler said, “The more personal your story, the more likely it will find a wide readership.”

    Andy Duncan said, “Why have you made me read this horrible, horrible thing? And that, too, is a worthy goal of fiction.”

    L. Timmel Duchamp said, “Character is voice.”

    Connie Willis said, “All plots can be comic or tragic. It’s how you write them that makes the difference.”

    Gordon Van Gelder said, “Evoke three senses in every paragraph of description.”

    Michael Swanwick said, “All fiction is a balance between dinosaurs and sodomy.”

    Q: What do you like most about being Vice-President of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America?

    Swirsky: Ha! No one ever asks what’s fun!

    I really like building things. Unfortunately, we don’t always get to. We get waylaid by rain or native wildlife stealing our bricks or people who just want to pout and stomp angrily in the mud. But we *do* build things.

    A couple months ago, I was able to hear a problem from a writer one night, and have it solved for them the next day. It was the most amazing feeling.

    I get to meet people I wouldn’t otherwise and share in their energy as we work toward mutual goals. For me, that’s fun.

    Q: What are you working on now?

    Swirsky: As I am the most distractable person ever, I’m always working on about 80 things at once. A couple previews:

    Swift, Grey, Wild – My in-process young adult novel about werewolves and race relations in Oakland. I have a draft finished, but the devil’s in the rewrite.

    “The Great Leap” – A novella about Judaism, ballet, and mortality. I started it when I was living in Iowa, during deep winter, when everything is frozen and beautiful and lifeless.

    “Wounded, Dancing” – A retelling of the moment when there was hope at Wounded Knee.

    Rachel Swirsky at World Fantasy 2011 by Folly BlaineRachel Swirsky got her MFA at the Iowa Writers Workshop where she learned about terrifying things like symbolism and snow. She writes short fiction on those days when she can’t come up with any more excuses to avoid it. Her short fiction has appeared in a number of venues, including Tor.com, The New Haven Review, and Clarkesworld Magazine. She’s been nominated for the Hugo Award and the World Fantasy Award, among others, and in 2010, she won the Nebula Award for her novella “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen’s Window.” Her new short story collection, How the World Became Quiet: Myths of the Past, Present, and Future, is forthcoming from Subterranean Press in September 2013. Swirsky’s story “If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love” will launch Apex Magazine’s upcoming podcast. Nominated in 2012 and 2013 for Hugo Awards for Best Semiprozine, Apex Magazine is available for DRM-free purchase from Weightless Books.  

    Beneath Ceaseless Skies Author Interview: Michael Haynes

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    Michael Haynes, whose story “The Barber and the Count” can be found in Beneath Ceaseless 25781-coverSkies Issue 119, answers a few questions for Weightless Books.

    Q: How did you first know science fiction and fantasy were for you?

    A: My love of science fiction and fantasy short stories stretches back across most of my memory. I come by my affinity for the genres naturally. My parents both have read science fiction and fantasy and when I was young I went along with them to some science fiction conventions. (The 1979 NASFiC was, as far as I know, my first con.) By the time I was ten or so, I was reading and collecting old (mostly 1950’s/60’s) SF/Fantasy anthologies.

    Q: Have you found a way to incorporate your love of hockey into your writing?

    A: Only in very minor ways. I’ve had a character or two that were hockey fans in stories, but I haven’t written any hockey stories yet. If I did, it would probably be just as likely to be a non-speculative fiction mystery story as SF. I’m also a baseball fan, and when I got really serious about my writing a couple of years ago, one of the first stories I wrote was a baseball SF story titled “Out With the Crowd.”

    Q: What’s your favorite place to write?

    A: I’m content to write just about anywhere that I can have quiet time to think and compose text — which can be a bit hard with kids around the house! Still, I’ve gotten lots of writing done at a desk in my bedroom or sitting on my bed. I’ve written in coffee shops (Yes, I can be one of those writers!) and in libraries. I’ve even written in the notepad feature of my phone when I had time to kill and no computer at hand.

    Beneath Ceaseless Skies is available for DRM-free purchase from Weightless Books. Michael Haynes lives in Central Ohio where he helps keep IT systems running for a large corporation during the day and puts his characters through the wringer by night. An ardent short story reader and writer, Michael had over 20 stories accepted for publication during 2012 by venues such as Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show and Daily Science Fiction. He is the Editor for the monthly flash fiction contests run by Kazka Press and an Associate Editor for the Unidentified Funny Objects anthology series.