the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘interviews

King David Spiders from MarsI recently reviewed King David and the Spiders from Mars, and last year I got a kick out of She Nailed a Stake Through His Head, the first two anthologies in Tim Lieder’s series of Biblical horror story collections.  It’s easy to say “The Bible is full of violence”, because yes, it is.  But what about the violence we don’t see?  What about the horrific reasonings behind why people did the oh so strange things that they did? Is that *really* the a Temple of Dagon over in the next valley? Why yes, yes it is.  This is what makes historical fantasy so much fun – the authors have free range to take the tiny details that speak to them and go crazy with them. The result? Stories that speak to me.

nailed a stake

In my interview with Tim Lieder, we discussed lessons learned in the publishing industry, the Bible as Literature (and seeking different translations),   the importance of diversity in your TOCs, and more. So let’s get to it!

tim lieder

LRR:  Tell us a little about yourself.

T.L.: I’m a writer. I live in New York. When I was in college I decided to convert to Judaism which was a surprise to everyone, including me, especially since the original inspiration was from an academic class on Biblical literature. I did convert but it took a long time. I have four cats. I started Dybbuk Press (Dybbuk Press facebook page) back in 2004 and I have published 9 books through it. I named it after the Ansky play The Dybbuk which takes liberties with the Jewish legends of the Dybbuk put is one of the spookiest plays ever written (the movie was put on by the 1939 Warsaw Yiddish Theater so that adds even more disturbing subtext). Currently, I make a living at writing but most of the writing is freelance for several clients and includes personal statements, editing jobs and term papers. Still, I manage to sell a few stories every year and I keep working on the fiction.

LRR: How did you get involved with editing and publishing? Any big lessons you’d like to pass on to anyone thinking of a career in editing?

T.L.: Ten years ago, I thought it’d be fun to edit a multi-author anthology and stick my story in it. I was unpublished and thought that it’d be my big break. I think I made every mistake that you could make when trying to edit an anthology. I didn’t offer much money. I tried to work with friends who were also amateurs. I agreed to work with a small press publisher whose only interest was self-publishing (something I learned when I realized that he had thought that his girlfriend’s terrible vampire story was going into the anthology). I didn’t even copy edit. About the only thing I did right was naming the book Teddy Bear Cannibal Massacre. I think that’s the only reason why it ever made a profit.

teddy bear cannibal

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As the Book of Apex Book 4 tour continues, I find myself interacting with more and more of the authors, be it on twitter, or reading their guest posts and interview on other blogs, or interviewing them here.  I’ll let you in on a little secret about how I come up with interview questions: I check out the author’s website. I read their recent blog posts, I look at different projects they are involved in, I wanna know what their deal is.  After a quick glance through Cecil Castellucci’s website, I e-mailed a friend of mine and said “have you looked at her website? this woman is awesome!”.  The more I looked at Cecil’s site and everything she’s involved with, the more often I found myself picking my jaw up off the floor. This woman is involved with everything, she does everything, she’s passionate about literature and storytelling and youth literacy programs. She does everything.  It’s inspirational, is what it is.

Wanna know more about Cecil Castellucci? Of course you do!  let’s get to the interview!

cecil-castellucci-author-2013

LRR:  I’m not usually a fan of zombie stories, but I really enjoyed your Apex story, “Always The Same. Until It Is Not”.  Did I interpret it right? Is the guy a zombie? And what inspired this story?

 C.C. Yes!  You got it right.  He is a zombie.  To be honest, I’m a little freaked out by zombies.  They really are creepy.  Writing this story was a way for me to try to confront my fear of zombies.  I tried to think of it as a way to own my fear.  The idea came after I’d talked with an acquaintance who writes for The Walking Dead.  I swore I’d never watch the show.  Then she sort of challenged me on that because she knows I like a good story.  I started thinking about how it’s always an infection that takes over like wildfire and then descends the world into a nightmare.  I thought, what if I switch what “infection” and “descent” means?  So in this story the infection is humanity and the descent is the rise of it.  It’s sort of the after of the after.

LRR: I’m also a huge fan of your short story “We Have Always Lived on Mars” (Tor.com May 2013). What inspired this story, and without spoiling the ending, can you tell us how you hit on that twist?

 

CC: Oh, I’m so glad that you like that story! I think it’s safe to say that Mars has always been a place where we humans have longed to settle.  It’s close enough to us that we could actually go there, but far away enough that if something happened there or here it’d be hard to get to or get off of.  Right now, there is a lot of Mars love and attention with things like that Mars One and us landing Curiousity on Mars and the Mock Mars missions that they have on Earth in Antarctica, Northern Canada and Utah.  It was a combination of these things that inspired the story.  I wondered what it would be like to be a girl born on Mars who had been cut off from Earth, living in a colony that had no room to grow because it had no supplies with which to expand.  I can’t say more than that or I’ll spoil it!

tin star cover

LRR: Congratulations on your soon to be released Tin Star! What’s the quick elevator pitch for  Tin Star?

 

CC: Tin Star is the story of a girl named Tula Bane, a colonist from Earth who gets abandoned on an alien space station by the charismatic cult leader of her ship at the brink of a Galactic war.  She’s the only human there and human’s are not well liked.

LRR: You’re incredibly active in your local community, hosting teen writing workshops at the library, being continually active in the local arts scene, even reading at local elementary schools.  Can you tell us a little about your passion for the local arts scene and especially  youth fiction and reading?

wrinkle in time

CC: Yes it is true that I am super active in the LA literary scene.  I am very passionate about reading and literacy because I love stories and I really believe that books and stories allow us to see past the boundaries of our day to day life.  It allows us to dream and stretch and grow and travel and see possibilities for different ways of living.  That is especially important when you are in low economic circumstances.  I work at a Title One elementary school doing read aloud to first and second graders.  I’ve been doing it for 12 years now, working with the same two teachers and it is one of the best things I’ve ever done.  I read books, this year it’s The Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo to the first graders and A Wrinkle in Time with the second graders.  We take forever reading the book because I stop and talk about every little detail and we use the book to talk about how stories are told, style, history, science, everything!  As for the LAPL Teen Author Reading series that I run, there is one in NY and I know a lot of authors here, so I work with Mary McCoy at LAPL and we coordinate the series together.  I thought LA needed one!  Also, I co edit the LA Review of Books YA / Children’s section.  Mostly we run essays and thought pieces about young people’s literature.  I do these things because I am passionate about young people’s literature and these are ways that I can get our field to be sitting at the big kids table in the larger literary world.  Also, because I think that we fall in love with reading when we are young and that is when we become life long readers.

LRR: You manage the fascinating “Letters for Kids”, where kids get a letter in the mail from an author. What a fantastic idea! What other authors are involved in this, and what’s the most creative letter that has been sent?

 

CC: It is a great idea!  Stephen Elliot who runs the Rumpus asked me to coordinate the Rumpus Letters for Kids, after the wildly succesful Letters in the Mail for adults.  It’s kind of a perfect thing, because I think our sweet spot is about 6 -10 and that’s a perfect age to be getting letters in the mail.  By they way, you don’t have to be a kid to subscribe, anyone can subscribe! Even classrooms!  You get a letter from middle grade author twice a month.  It’s great fun!  Some of the authors who have written letters are Rebecca Stead, Susan Patron, Natalie Standiford, Lisa Yee, Janet Tashijian, Arthur Slade, Bobbledy Books.  They are so good!  I have a few favorites, but of course, it’s hard because they are all so different!  But Adam Rex did an original comic story. (you can see it here http://therumpus.net/2012/12/letters-for-kids/ )  Sherri L Smith wrote an original short story and this guy Nolan O’Brien did an amazing thing with circles.  It’s truly a brilliant thing, and I would have totally subscribed to Letters for Kids when I was young.

plain janes

LRR: Your graphic novel Plain Janes was a kick-off publication for the  D.C. Comics Minx imprint. The imprint didn’t last, but Plain Janes did very well. Would you consider doing graphic novels again? 

year of the beasts

CC: Of course!  And I still have!  For the record, Vertigo reprinted The Plain Janes, so it’s still available.  And you can still get the sequel Janes in Love.  I have actually written many other comics!  I did a hybrid novel called The Year of the Beasts with Nate Powell.  It’s alternating chapters of prose and graphic novel.  I also had a ghost story in Vertigo’s ghost anthology, a comet story in the SPACE anthology over at IDW, an Aquaman/ Mera love story in the Young Romance issue #1, I wrote Green Lantern: The Animated Series issue #11 and most recently I had a comic book for little kids called Odd Duck illustrated by Sara Varon on First Second.  Upcoming in early 2015 I have a graphic novel called Pearl in the Rough illustrated by Joe Infurnari out on Dark Horse.  It’s about a girl who rides the rails in 1932 with an old hobo.  So I’d say that at this point I consider myself a YA author and a comic book writer!

odd duck

well, that’s what I get for not researching Cecil enough on her website. Otherwise I would have known about Odd Duck, Year of the Beasts, and her other graphic novels.  Don’t make the same mistake I did!  Learn more about Cecil on her website, or by following her on twitter.

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As part of the Book of Apex Vol 4 blog tour, I feel very lucky to be able to interview Alethea Kontis.  An award winning author, she describes herself as among other things, a princess and a force of nature.  Alethea was kind enough to answer a few of my questions, and give me more information on her short story “Blood From Stone”,  her current projects, adventures on YouTube, and how she stays sane.

Let’s get to the interview!

alethea kontis 1

LRR:  Your story, “Blood from Stone,” is a dark fantasy about a woman who seduces the man she loves and they succeed with their alchemical magic. What inspired this story?

A.K: “Blood from Stone” is based on the Grimm Brothers’ “Fitcher’s Bird” (some are more familiar with Perrault’s “Bluebeard”). “Fitcher’s Bird” is the tale of Fitcher’s last three wives, all sisters, the last of whom ultimately reveals his true nature (because she heeds the warning of a noisy bird) and leads the townspeople to murder him at his wedding. But what about Fitcher’s first wife? What kind of woman twisted this man into such a serial killer? Had he always been a sociopath? And if so, what sort of woman would have fallen in love with him in the first place?

Few have tried their hand at telling this part of Fitcher’s tale, and I am honored to be one of them. To prepare for this story, I researched the real-life historical figure that Perrault’s Bluebeard was based on: Gilles de Rais. Gilles de Rais was a baron who fought beside Joan of Arc, but he went on to squander his fortune until his family was forced to place him under something similar to house arrest.

His get-rich-quick schemes then turned to summoning demons, with the help of an Italian magician called Prelati, dark magicks that involved the sacrifice of countless children, whose bodies they subsequently burned in the fireplace (which is why no exact number is known). Once an author hears a history like that, how does she not write it?

I encourage readers who enjoyed “Blood from Stone” to explore further into the real life of Gilles de Rais.

LRR:  I found “Blood from Stone” to be dark and very adult. But you also write a lot of children’s and YA fiction. Is writing for different ages a different mindset? What’s the trick to being able to write kid’s stuff one day, and very adult fiction the next day?

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It was just about a month ago that I met author Matthew Thyer at Confusion. We hit it off, he sent me home with a copy of his new novella The Big Red Buckle (review will be posted later this week), and we’ve been emailing and tweeting back and forth a bit since them.  After some initial confusion on my part, we ended up trading interviews.  You can learn more about Matt by following him on twitter, or checking out his blog, Feet For Brains, where he talks about writing, publishing, technology, traveling the world, parenting, and more.  He’s a pretty cool guy, and I’m looking forward to seeing him again at ConText later this year.

In our extensive interview, we talk publishing, sports, influential authors, NaNoWriMo, getting into science fiction, and more!

matt thyer

LRR: The Big Red Buckle is a novella in the scifi subgenre of “sports in space”. How did you come to the decision to make sports a large part of the story?

MT: It was not so much a decision as a happy circumstance. The Big Red Buckle was a short story I took to a critique group for fun. I am a huge fan of endurance sports, and I had written this piece because I could not shake the idea. The critique group liked it, way more than I had expected anyone would, they gave me some feedback and I went home and let it mature. Soon it had doubled, then tripled in size and the concept, “sports in space”, seemed like more and more like a series.

In the days before NaNoWriMo I was doing a great deal of preparation work for a novel idea and in tandem with that I finished the first one and outlined three more stories in the “sports in space” series. All the stories are based on sports I enjoy, but they were also world building exercises.

Why sports? Well, think about all the hubbub that we just lived through. Another Super Bowl is done and gone. High enough anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere it’s hockey and the Stanley Cup that are celebrated with equal vigor. Europe and South America have soccer. Sport is a huge part of any contemporary human society.

If fiction is supposed to be a mirror for self observation than this particular sub-genre seems underrepresented. With the series, I hoped to address a couple of issues. With The Big Red Buckle, in particular, what happens to sports that have a money problem (see Professional Bicycle Racing). I wanted to juxtapose athletes with elite levels of funding next to the people who compete because they love the activity. Book two, Up Slope, is more about a sport that is used as a utility, how it affects us mentally and physically, and becomes a part of our lives which can bridge functional gaps. How a sport, especially in a non-professional setting, makes better people.

Books three and four, will have similar thought experiments going within them.

big red buckle

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Way back when I didn’t know epic fantasy from high fantasy, or an orc from a soulsword, my husband gave me a book and said something along the lines of “This is weird, but you might like it.  It’s fantasy, but it hasn’t got any orcs or quests or stuff. It’s about a guy who is an assassin, but he doesn’t like, like it. It’s just his job, and he doesn’t nejoy being so good at it, and there’s some cool magic. It’s by that same guy who wrote that book you really liked, The Sun, The Moon and The Stars“.  This was like eight or ten years ago, but it really did go something like that. My memory for these kinds of things is awful.

That book was The Book of Jhereg, and I have been a huge fan of Steven Brust ever since.  I have yet to find another author whose voice affects me so strongly. I haven’t read everything he’s written, but I am working on it. A little while ago Steven tweeted that he’d be interested in being interviewed about his upcoming novel, The Incrementalists, co-written with Skyler White.  After all the big-name famous bloggers chimed in, I quietly raised my hand.  One day I’ll realize my favorite authors are just regular people. But until that day, they can stay up on their pedestal and remain superheroes. Before I say anything too much more embarrassing, let’s get to the interview, shall we?

Feeling lost? Go check out my interview with Skyler White, my review of The Incrementalists, or if you have some time on your hands check out all my Steven Brust reviews. You might notice I asked both authors some of the same questions. that was on purpose.

Photo swiped from Wikipedia.

Photo swiped from Wikipedia.

Q: I’ve been a huge fan of yours for years. I’m nuts for Vlad Taltos, nearly ended a friendship because she thought Greg from The Sun, The Moon, and The  Stars was an asshole, and I pretty much follow you around twitter. But  everyone else reading this might not be like that, so would you introduce  yourself, and tell everyone a little bit about yourself?

A: This is tough for a Minnesotan; we get really uncomfortable talking about ourselves.  Um.  I’ll do my best.  I’ve been writing for 30 years, full time for about 26 of them.  I’m an amateur musician and poker player. Politically, I consider myself a Red.  I’m not an incrementalist.

Q: How did the idea for The Incrementalists come about?

A: I was involved in a sort of complex shared world open source creative commons multi-media project a while ago.  Being that far over my head (I understand almost nothing about any of those things), I went out asking for advice.  One of the people I asked–because one always asks him–was Tappan King.  In the course of the conversation, he mentioned the idea of a secret society operating through all of history and dedicated to making things a little better.

The idea stayed with me long after the collapse of the other project.  I was hanging out with Skyler talking about writing process and writer tools and tricks and How To Do It Gooder and stuff, and she mentioned how much she missed the collaboration that is inherent in theater.  I remembered what a joy it had been to write with Megan and Emma, so I mentioned Tappan’s idea.  We drank whiskey.

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Kurt Vonnegut: The Last Interview, and Other Conversations, edited by Tom McCartan

published in 2011

where I got it: purchased new

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It’s been a while since I read any Vonnegut, but as soon as I saw this book I knew I had to have it. Sure, I’ve read plenty of Vonnegut, but I could count on one hand the things I knew about his personal life: he was very close with his sister, he studied chemistry, he was a prisoner of war in Dresden when it was bombed by the Allies. I accidentally learned that his family thought he was very strange. *

The Last Interview actually contains six interviews, spanning thirty years, from 1977 to 2007, and it’s interesting to see what changes over the years, and what says the same. In the first interview, a special edition of Slaughterhouse Five is coming out, and he’s been asked to write a special introduction for it. In a later interview, Playboy is interviewing Vonnegut and Joseph Heller at Heller’s home, and in a yet later interview, Heller has already passed away.   Vonnegut’s opinions on war and family never changes (he’s against the first, and for the second).

After the small talk of “what are you working on now?” and the like, every interviewer wants to ask the same thing: what was it like being in Dresden?  Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut’s most famous work, was inspired by his experiences there, and all the interviewers want to know what it was really like. And in his casual, newspaperman, just-the-facts way, Vonnegut tells them. that Dresden was a beautiful city. and then it was gone.  He wonders how he survived it. He offhandedly remarks that due to the profits of Slaughterhouse Five, he actually made money off the bombing. Like when I was reading Slapstick, I had no idea if I was supposed to laugh or not.

Other topics that come up again and again are Vonnegut’s feeling that everyone should have an extended family,  and that the closest he came to studying writing was being the editor of the student run newspaper at his high school. he was pushed into studying chemistry, and then after returning from the war he studying anthropology. He jokes that when asked where the best new authors are, he says something along the lines of “not in the English departments”.  ouch. but as always, brutally honest.

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Last week I reviewed Love Minus Eighty, the new speculative fiction novel from Will McIntosh.  I might be new to his fiction, but McIntosh has already taken the speculative fiction world by storm, having won a Hugo for his 2010 short story Bridesicle, and his novel Soft Apocalypse (2012) is a multiple award nominee.  He’s been publishing short fiction and winning awards since the early 2000s, so I was over the moon thrilled when Mr. McIntosh agreed to answer a few questions about the new novel, movies, day jobs, and what’s next.

Hi Will, thanks for joining us today!

Thanks, glad to be here!

Love Minus Eighty is an expansion of sorts of your short story Bridesicle. What was the inspiration for Bridesicle?

Bridesicle started as a brief image that flashed as I was waking up one morning.  It was Mira, frozen in her crèche, and as these things usually go, for some reason I knew this was a dating center.  The story grew from there.  At first I wrote it from the point of view of Lycan, a clueless man visiting the center for the first time, but after getting feedback I ended up shifting the point of view to Mira.

Bridesicle has parallels to the world of Hitchers, but in Love Minus Eighty, we’re in a world with plenty of followers, but no actual, traditional hitchers. Why the change?

I wrote a post for the Far Beyond Reality blog that explains this in more detail, but in a nutshell, I decided giving people the ability to upload their consciousness into someone else lowered the stakes, because it allows people to become basically immortal.  It also makes for a really complicated story, if some of the characters are actually two, or five, or ten characters sharing one body.  Sometimes a technology that seems cool in a short story introduces all sorts of complications when you’re telling a longer story.

I read somewhere that Bridesicle was optioned for a film. How exciting! What was your reaction to that? Any thoughts on changes you’d like to see, or fear to see when Bridesicle or Love Minus Eighty makes it to the big screen?

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I recently had the opportunity to get to know Matt, from 52 Book Reviews, a little better. Father, scifi/fantasy fan, and all around cool guy, Matt is pretty new to the blogging community.  This is his first year blogging, but he’s been on GoodReads for ages, and I think he has more Goodreads reviews up than the number of books I own.   Matt has recently reviewed the newest short story collection from Saladin Ahmed, Wool by Hugh Howey, and has a very in-depth interview with Ken Scholes as well. have you bookmarked 52 Book Reviews yet? It’s cool, I’ll wait.

Here’s my interview with Matt:

 
LRR: your blog is fairly new, what made you decide to start blogging about books?

52BR: Obviously, I read a lot. I can’t think of a time when I haven’t had at least one or two books in process in the last ten years or so. What is not so obvious is that I have always dreamed of being a writer. After two abortive attempts at a novel, I decided to channel my need to write in a slightly different direction, and writing about books seemed the best fit. I already volunteer book recommendations to my family, friends, and strangers in the bookstore, so I thought why not do it online to a bigger audience of strangers. At least they won’t look at me funny, like some of the folks in the bookstore.

LRR: Your blog might be new, but you’ve got hundreds of books on Goodreads, going back years! I’m not on Goodreads, do you recommend it an online community that book bloggers should all be involved with?

52BR: To be honest, up until now I’ve only used Goodreads to keep a record of what I read. No one was more shocked than me to find out just how many books I’ve read. These days I’m posting my reviews on the site and have seen a small uptick in hits since then. But nothing beats networking with other bloggers in my experience.

LRR: What are your favorite genres to read and review?

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Hi Everyone!  This week is Bookblogger Appreciate Week!  They do a ton of themed activities, but the one I mostly participate in is the blogger interview swap.  Each blogger is randomly paired with another blogger, and you ask each other some fun questions, make some new friends, and the best part is that i get to discover a new blog that truly, I would have never found on my own. It’s like getting a random penpal. this is my third year doing Interview Swap, and I’m still in contact with the bloggers I was partnered with in previous years. How cool is that?

This year, I got lucky enough to get paired with Allison from On My Bookshelf. She runs the blog with her friend Holly, and they have all sorts of fun, reviewing novels of many genres, cookbooks, some crafty books, and children literature as tested by their young children. You might know Allison from the Stainless Steel Droppings R.I.P. (Readers Imbibing Peril) challenge a few years ago too. Make sure to visit On My Bookshelf for Allison’s interview with me. We talk e-books, vampires, and  scifi in pop culture!

here’s my interview with the super-cool Allison:

You run On my Bookshelf with Holly. How did you two meet? How did you two  decide to start a blog?

Holly’s husband and my husband went to high school together, so Holly and I met through them and found a mutual love (obsession) with books.  Our book blog actually started as a book club with a few other members, but Holly and I were the only ones who always read the book, and eventually, the blog was born.

 You review a lot of non-fiction too, like memoirs, cookbooks, and books on  crafts. How is reviewing a non-fiction book different than reviewing  fiction?

Reviewing memoirs is pretty much the same as reviewing fiction for me.  I’m looking primarily at the story being told, and how successful the author is at telling that story.  Even though memoirs are based on actual events, the art to choosing what to include, what light to cast, and what boring bits to skip is still the core for me. Cookbooks and craft books, on the other hand, are all about how well they convey instructions.  Although I read these books for enjoyment and inspiration as well, I’m reviewing them first based on utility, then noting beauty and style.

You review a lot of children’s books, often by seeing if your kids like  them.  How has your blogging (and being obsessed with books!) influenced  your kids?

The lovely Mieneke of A Fantastical Librarian interviewed me!  see my goofy answers and a photo of my sagging and unorganized bookshelves.

While you’re over there, check out the rest of her wonderful blogger query articles, and learn about more folks in our vibrant community. Mieneke also has a great giveaway going right now for James Maxey’s HUSH. You can learn more about HUSH and GREATSHADOW here as well.

and since it seems to be turning into a link soup type of post, how many titles from the Fantasy Mistress Works list have you read?

 


About this redhead, etc.

Redhead is a snarky, non-politically correct 30-something who reviews mostly science fiction and fantasy and talks about all sorts of other fun scifi and fantasy geekery. She once wrote a haiku that included the word triskaidekaphobia.

This blog contains adult language and strong opinions. The best way to contact her outside of this blog is twitter, where she is @redhead5318 .

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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.