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.

One Response to “Author Interview: Erica L. Satifka”

  1. Ron Edison says:

    Great insight and an awesome interview! Can’t wait for the novel.

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