the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘interviews’ Category

chris bucholzIf you’re a regular reader at Cracked.com, you’re sure to recognize the name Chris Bucholz. Over the last seven years he’s written over 300 humor columns at Cracked, touching on everything from Halloween costumes to confusing toys, customer feedback at McDonald’s, zombie movie mash-ups, and the history behind some really weird rock band names.   Chris’s debut science fiction novel is Severance (published by Apex Books) and he was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.  Let’s get to the interview!

 

LRR: Congratulations on the publication of your new novel, Severance! What’s the quick pitch for the novel?

CB: Severance is a comedic science fiction adventure set on a generation ship populated with stupid, stupid people. Severance is a warm fire on a cold day, and a cold drink on a hot day. It’s the son you never had, and now there he is, standing in front of you, arms wide, waiting to hug you. It is a masterpiece.

That may be overselling it a bit. It’s my first novel, ok? I tried really hard and I think it’s pretty great.

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The World Fantasy Convention was held earlier this month, and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award.  Her name will be familiar to fans of historical fiction, as she’s the author behind the famous Saint-Germain Cycle. The first novel in the Cycle, Hotel Transylvania, was published in 1978, and there are now over 25 volumes.   She’s written over 80 books, and over 70 works of short fiction. No stranger to awards either, she’s received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Horror Writers Association, the Grand Master award from the World Horror Association, and she was the first woman to be enrolled as a Living Legend of the International Horror Guild.

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Chelsea was kind enough to take a few minutes out of her busy day to answer a few of my questions on her famous series, music, and the occult.  Wanna learn more about this amazing author? I do! let’s go!

LRR: Your bio briefly mentions you are also a musical composer. Could you tell us a little more about this? Personally, I believe there are a lot of connections between music and other means of communication. Have you found any similarities between writing music and writing fiction?

CQY: There are many things that cannot be said with words, and it seems to me that’s where music comes in. When I get worded – out, I do music to deal with all the things that words cannot express. Words and music are powerful communicators, but they communicate different kinds of things. So while composition and writing are at the opposite end of the communication scale, they serve the same basic purpose. At least that’s my opinion.

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I’ve been lucky enough to interview some pretty cool people over the years.  But Ellen Datlow takes “pretty cool” to a whole new level. An editor of short fiction for nearly thirty years, Ellen holds four Hugo awards, ten World Fantasy awards, five Locus awards, three Bram Stoker awards, and I’ll stop there even though I could happily continue to list her achievements for the next hours or so. She’s co-edited twenty one Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror volumes, edited six Best Horror of the Year volumes (through Nightshade Books), and most recently was the editor for Lovecraft’s Monsters and The Cutting Room for Tachyon.

To say she is a rock star of the industry is quite the understatement.

Last weekend at the World Fantasy Convention, Ellen Datlow was awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement award, along with Chelsea Quinn Yarbro.

I was first introduced to her work through one of many anthologies she co-edited with Terri Windling, Snow White, Blood Red, which has since become a beloved paperback on my bookshelf.  That collection would become the first in a series of six, and many of them recently become available as e-books through Open Road Media.  If you are interested in fairy tale retellings, dark fantasy, or the short fiction of acclaimed authors such as Joyce Carol Oates,  Jane Yolen, Neil Gaiman, Tanith Lee, Charles deLint, Gene Wolfe, Storm Constantine and many others, this is an anthology series you should consider.

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Ellen was kind enough to answer a few of my questions on her lifetime in the field and the joys and challenges of putting anthologies together.  Let’s get to the interview!

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LRR: I remember reading Snow White, Blood Red in the late 90s, it was a collection my soon-to-be husband and I bonded over. That was your first Fairy Tale anthology with Terri Windling, and it would become a series of six anthologies. When you start a new anthology, how do you know it will be a “one of”, such as Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells or a series, like the Fairy Tale or Best Horror of the Year volumes?

ED: That’s really lovely to hear!

One rarely knows in advance if an anthology will sell well enough for the publisher to offer a contract for a second, although for a year’s best one always hopes it will become a series as that’s its purpose. Snow White, Blood Red was intended to be a one-shot but it did well enough that our editor commissioned another (or two that time). I don’t think we ever got more than a two-book contract at a time for what became a six book series. It just ended up that way. And by the time the sixth came out the publisher had changed hands (possibly twice) and I was burned out on retold fairy tales — for a time.

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You read their book, and you thought it was really cool.  Why not learn more about the author?  Here’s some recent interviews online of authors whose work has received rave reviews.  Check ‘em out!

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SFSignal has an ongoing series of interviews of the authors found in the Apex Book of World SF. So far they’ve interviewed Karin Tidbeck and Athena Andreadis, Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Myra Cakan and Nelly Geraldine García-Rosas, and Fadzlishah Johanabas and Ika Koeck. You can check this link for updates!

Also over at SFSignal, Neil Clarke (editor and creator of Clarkesworld Magazine) gets interviewed about his new anthology Upgraded.

fiefdom dan abnettMy Bookish Ways interviews Dan Abnett and Nik Vincent about Fiefdom

Amazing Stories interviews Hal Duncan

Adventures of a Bookonaut interviews Michelle E. Goldsmith

Ebon Shores interviews Cheryl Morgan

Liberty Voice interviews Michael West

Dab of Darkness interviews David Lee Summers

Words and Pictures interviews Liz De Jager

The  Black Library interviews David Annandale

Randomly Yours, Alex, interviews Kathleen Jennings

Bloody Cake News interviews Sebastien De Castell

 

Francesca forrest photoI recently read and reviewed Pen Pal, a most extraordinary novel by Francesca Forrest.  Click here to read my review of Pen Pal, but the super quick summary is that this epistolary novel focuses around the relationship between a girl named Em who lives in a floating community off the Gulf Coast, and Kaya, a political prisoner. Through Em’s letters and descriptions of her life, Kaya realizes she may have more in common with this girl than she thought.  This is a powerful and profound story of marginalization and empowerment.

Francesca was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the novel, living in Japan, indie publishing, and her passion for helping preserve native and minority languages.

Let’s get to the interview!

LRR:  The novel is written in an epistolary fashion, with letters, diary entries, e-mails, even newspaper articles. Why did you decide to present the story that way?

FF: The novel grew out of a story that evolved on Livejournal. Em’s message in a bottle, was just as an idea that came to me one morning, and people wanted more. I had had the idea of Kaya in my head for years, and I thought, what if she were the one who answered? So a few days later I posted her response. And then, every few days, I’d post another letter. I really loved the format and thought it worked well for a serialization because the wait for the next post gave the readers the experience of waiting for the next letter, just like the characters.

When I decided to turn it into a novel, I decided to supplement the letters with diary entries and other “evidence” so I could tell a richer story. I think it’s interesting to think about what people choose to reveal where, and to whom, and I tried to play with that with the characters’ letters to different people, and with how what they write in their diaries differs from what they say in their letters.

LRR:  Can you tell us a little about how this story came together, and what your inspirations were?

FF: Kaya’s story grew from two dreams I had: one in which a witch, or maybe a goddess, asked me to resurrect a defunct festival in her honor, and one in which a priestess was held prisoner in temple over a volcanic crater. I asked myself how those situations could be tied together, and that got me thinking about cultural suppression and why and how it happens—and then I could see how there’d be parallels to the situation of Em, whose community floats alongside, but keeps apart from, dry-land society. Other inspirations: I was enchanted, long ago, when I heard of jubilee, an event that happens fairly regularly in Mobile Bay, Alabama, and occasionally elsewhere: fish flood the shallow waters near shore so thickly that you can go out and just scoop them up by the armful. This became the dawn of seagifts in Pen Pal. And I was inspired, too, by the story of the pen pal correspondence I mention on the Pen Pal website, between Manuel Noriega, back when he ruled Panama, and Sarah York, a young American girl. That story raised so many questions about adult and child interactions, ulterior motives, and the intersection of the personal and the political.

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artwork by Kelsey Michele Soderstrom

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Be sure to check out the rest of the blog tour hosts, and Tomorrow Comes Media for more information on their other blog tours!

 

After reading Jason’s short story collection Irredeemable (watch for the review later today!), I was brimming with questions for him. The interview below just scratches the surface of everything I wanted to know about the collection, where his ideas come from, all the other projects he’s involved in.  Luckily I’ll have plenty of time to question and pester him later this year when I see him at ConText!  And if you’ve got questions yourself, be sure to pester Jason on twitter, @apexjason. We should probably ask him when he finds time to sleep. ;)

Jason Sizemore

Let’s get to the interview!

LRR: You know those “book blind dates” at bookstores, where they cover a book in brown paper, and write things on the paper like “historical fiction!”, “dinosaurs!” and “ray guns!”? What should go on the outside of Irredeemable when it’s covered up to be a book blind date?

J.S.: “Just deserts!”

LRR: What are some of your favorite stories in the collection? Which ones were the most challenging to write?

J.S.: As a huge geek and software developer, I find myself interested in issues involving artificial intelligence and evolving consciousness. “Mr. Templar” is my post-apocalyptic take on that concept where humans destroy the world and only a small handful of androids and robots still exist. Mr. Templar is searching for his creator. It is a bittersweet, touching, and charming story, and by far my favorite.

The most challenging to write was “For the Sake of Pleasing.” I wanted to write something longer than 10,000 words outside a sub-genre I usually write in. At the time, I was reading the Night Watch series by Sergei Lukyanenko, and wanted to try my hand at a dark fantasy similar to his. It took me months to get “For the Sake of Pleasing” to a point that made me happy.

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The other day I reviewed the second issue of a brand new short fiction magazine, Bastion Magazine. I was impressed by the quality of the short stories, but what was most remarkable was the sheer quantity of fiction the editor and staff insist on in each issue.  Most of the stories are short, 5,000 words or less, but still, eight or nine in each issue? Great for the reader for sure, but that is a ton of work for any editorial team!  I wanted to learn more about the magazine, and lucky for me, R. Leigh offered to tell me a bit about himself and answer a few of my questions!

R. Leigh Hennig recently moved with his wife and three young children from Rura Penthe, er, Rochester, NY to Seattle. Leigh works as a network engineer by day, and when he’s not working on Bastion in the night, he’s writing his own short stories as well. He’s also an avid soccer fanatic (center back for his Tuesday night team — a defensive rock, and about as fast as one as well) and is probably more dedicated to Arsenal than the Pope is to Jesus.

And as I just learned, Leigh and I are fellow beer snobs. But he lives within walking distance of the Diamond Knot brewpub. What a spoiled guy!  But let’s get to the important stuff, shall we?

LRR: I have to ask. What possessed you to start you own genre fiction magazine?

RLH: I wanted to do something that mattered to people — both to writers, and readers. I love science fiction, and short stories in particular. As a reader, I could never seem to get my hands on enough decent short stories. I’d heard similar sentiments echoed from others.  It seemed to me like there was room for another market. I think there’s probably room for even more. I also know a lot of writers who are putting out amazing stories, but for some strange reason they’re not getting published. It seemed reasonable that I could do my own small part to help out both parties: deliver fantastic new stories to the readers that crave them, and provide opportunities for talented authors, especially those who haven’t been published before, to get their work out in front of people. I’m passionate about the short story format. The publication only seemed natural.

LRR:What are your goals for the magazine?

RLH: In the short term, I’d like the magazine to be self-sustaining. Right now, I personally fund everything. Site maintenance, payments to authors, cover art, advertising, you name it. It would be nice if the magazine could stand on its own. Looking toward the future, I want to become a qualifying market in the Science Fiction Writer’s Association, and I’d like to be able to pay authors a decent rate. I’d also like to be known for putting out quality stories, where an author can be proud to have their story published. All of this I’m hoping we can do, and more, without losing focus on how we started: contributor oriented, providing meaningful feedback within a reasonable amount of time.

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2014 Hugo Awards

I reviewed some Hugo nominated stuff. Click here for the list.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.