the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘Interview

Collaborative, competitive, serialized, and interactive, Archipelago is part choose-your-own adventure, part screw-your-neighbor, and part stay-tuned!   What started out as a joint Patreon complete with enforced writing exercise has turned into what could be the next big thing in serialized fiction.  Created by Charlotte Ashley, Kurt Hunt, and Andrew Leon Hudson, Archipelago is a historical fantasy with Lovecraftian flavors. Members vote on where they want the story to go, and the authors have to go in that direction!

A few teaser intro episodes are  publicly available on their Patreon, check out The Ur-Ring by Charlotte Ashley, In Extremis by Andrew Leon Hudson, and Whatsoever is New by Kurt Hunt.  Here’s the homepage of their Patreon, where you can learn more.

I’ve been intrigued by this project since the moment I heard about it,  so I was super thrilled when the authors agreed to do a panel interview with me.  I set up a shared document on Google Drive, put in some open ended questions, and let them take the wheel!   But before we get to that, let’s learn a little about these amazing and creative writers:

Andrew Leon Hudson is an English writer, editor and designer based in Europe, a ten-year resident of Madrid with the local vocabulary of an introverted three-year-old at best. He is only now coming to terms with the stunning moment of culture shock that came with realising Sir Francis Drake – one of England’s great naval heroes, especially famed for his victory over the Spanish Armada – is viewed in his chosen home as nothing but a despicable pirate. He became involved with the Archipelago project as a way of working through this nautical trauma, and you can track his general therapeutic progress at https://andrewleonhudson.wordpress.com/.

Charlotte Ashley is a writer, editor, bookseller, and reckless thrillseeker whose stories are all mostly true. Since moving to Toronto, Canada, she has dabbled in the arts of fencing, parkour, capoeria, and LARPing, applying the lessons learned to her skill at writing rollicking swashbuckling adventures. Her stories have appeared in F&SF, PodCastle, the Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, and numerous anthologies. She has been nominated for both the Sunburst and Aurora Awards, and once wrote and performed a science fiction musical from the equipment of a CrossFit gym. You can learn more about her at http://once-and-future.com/ or on Twitter @CharlotteAshley

Kurt Hunt was formed in the swamps and abandoned gravel pits of post-industrial Michigan. At 17, he fell in love and moved into a shabby Chicago apartment instead of that fancy school he planned to attend, a decision that convinced him that the best things in life cannot be planned but must instead be conjured through a combination of good luck and poor impulse control. His fiction has been published at Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and PodCastle, among others, and he co-edited the 2016 “Up and Coming” anthology of writers eligible for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. You can follow Kurt on twitter at @SonitusSonitus .

and with that, let’s get to the panel!

Andrea Johnson: How did the three of you come up with the concept for Archipelago? What were your brainstorming sessions like?

Charlotte Ashley: It started out as a simple shared Patreon, then spun out of control. Andrew and I decided to do a shared world with a lot of interactivity and we realized pretty quickly that we had a similar vision of how this would work out. We invited Kurt on board and he “got it” instantly as well.

We brainstormed through Google Hangouts – it was a lot of “Oh! Oh! We could do this!” “Yes, omg, and then this!” We wanted a format that allowed as much autonomy as possible, with leeway for adding new things on a continual basis. As our characters discover the world, we’re discovering it as well.

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Coming this summer from Apex Books is MARS GIRLS, a YA adventure set on everyone’s favorite red planet.  Written by award winning author Mary Turzillo, Mars Girls follows the frantic and frenetic adventures of Nanoannie and Kapera.  Both girls understand the dangers of living on Mars, but still, life isn’t easy when you’re just a couple of Mars Girls!    Click here to preview the first chapter of the book.

What others are saying about Mars Girls:

“Mary Turzillo has crafted an extraordinary tale of teenaged adventure on a harsh planet. Heroines Nanoannie and Kapera use bravery and ingenuity to survive on a vividly imagined future Mars.”
—Brenda Cooper, author of Edge of Dark

“Mars Girls delivers real-feeling characters in a fast-moving, exciting space adventure.”
—Kij Johnson, author of The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe

“Great fun! A rollicking adventure across a uniquely imagined Martian landscape.”
—S Andrew Swann, author of Dragon Princess

 

And what would a blog tour be without a giveaway? Make sure you scroll all the way to the bottom of this post to get entered in the give away for a free e-book of Mars Girls.   Mary Turzillo and Nanoannie and Kapera have been blog touring all over the blogosphere, head on over to these other posts to read reviews, interviews, and more!

 

Blue Book Balloon reviewed Mars Girls

Interview and give away at Dab of Darkness

The Journey to Mars Girls guest post at The Grimdark Files

Review at Rapture in Books

Review at Cedar Hollow Horror Reviews

Interview and give away at Books, Bones, and Buffy

10 Bad Habits reviewed Mars Girls

Unlikely Friends Driven Together by Disaster, a guest post and giveaway at Ardent Attachments

Would You Go To Mars? Guest post at I Smell Sheep

Religions on Mars, according to Mary Turzillo Guest post at Skiffy and Fanty Show

Women Write About Comics interviews Mary Turzillo, the original Mars Girl

Why I Wrote Mars Girls guest post at Frank Errington’s Blog

Frank Errington reviewed Mars Girls

Wow, that’s quite a trip around the blogosphere!

The tour ends here, at Little Red Reviewer, with an interview with Mary Turzillo.  This may be the end of the blog tour, but it’s just the beginning of Nanoannie and Kapera’s adventures out in the wild.  If this book looks like something you or someone you know would enjoy, head over to Apex Books or Amazon to order yourself a copy.

About Mary Turzillo:

Mary Turzillo’s 1999 Nebula-winner,”Mars Is no Place for Children” and her Analog novel, AN OLD-FASHIONED MARTIAN GIRL, are read on the International Space Station. Her poetry collection, LOVERS & KILLERS, won the 2013 Elgin Award. She has been a finalist on the British Science Fiction Association, Pushcart, Stoker, Dwarf Stars and Rhysling ballots. SWEET POISON, her Dark Renaissance collaboration with Marge Simon, was a Stoker finalist and won the 2015 Elgin Award. She’s working on a novel, A MARS CAT & HIS BOY, and another collaboration with Marge Simon, SATAN’S SWEETHEARTS. Her novel MARS GIRLS is forthcoming from Apex. She lives in Ohio, with her scientist-writer husband, Geoffrey Landis, both of whom fence internationally.

 

Let’s get to the interview!

 

Andrea Johnson: Who was your favorite character to develop and write in Mars Girls?

Mary Turzillo: It’s hard to choose. Nanoannie is a more complicated character than she at first seems, since her desires and enthusiasms are so conflicted. She wants adventure, but now that it’s happening, she’s rather it had more designer suit-liners and fantasy boyfriends, and fewer slightly burned hands, slimy kidnappers, and unwanted real-life lovers. She seems all surface, but despite her silliness, she has backbone.

But I’m also rather fond of Cayce. He’s such a player. In fact, I like him so much that I gave him a cousin by the same name in an upcoming novel, except the cousin is younger and a rather nice guy.

AJ:  Without giving any spoilers, can you tell us which scene was the most fun to write? Which scene was the most difficult to write?

MT: It’s hard to talk about scenes very farther into the novel with out giving out spoilers, but here goes. Out of context I’m not giving too much away.

I enjoyed writing everything in the novel. If I didn’t enjoy a particular scene, it meant I’d just have to ditch it, because if I didn’t like it, how could I expect the reader to enjoy it? But my favorite was, curiously, Kapera doing her EVA. I researched space-walks thoroughly, and I even have a mug from Kennedy Space Center of the cooling radiators on the International Space Station. I wanted to show her courage and ingenuity and the fact that she persisted.

The hardest passage to write was Marcus’s account of what really happened at Smythe Pharm, because the plot had gotten pretty complicated by that time. I also had to get inside Marcus’s mind. I’m writing about him in another novel, a prequel to this one, and he’s an interesting, tortured soul with a strange background. He’s been a criminal and also a devoted family man. This is all background, but it had to be subtext.

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This month’s Apex Magazine has a bragworthy table of contents.  Fiction by Aimee Ogden, Tobias Buckell, Mary Turzillo, Maureen McHugh and more, and non-fiction essays and reviews from Karen Lord, Mary Turzillo, and A.C. Wise.

 

You’ll need to check back on their website later in the month to see everything that’s being released for free, but right now, you can read the fantastic short story “Elena’s Angel”, by Aimee Ogden, and you can also read the interview I did with her.

 

But I want to turn this into a discussion. Go read Ogden’s story.  Or if you don’t have time, just read the Interview. or if you have lots of time, read both. And come back here and chat with me in the comments.   What did you think of the Angelic people in the story? Are they helpful? a hindrance? abusive? are they a gift, or something to be freed from?

 

And speaking of short stories, I’ve been enjoying some fantastic short story podcasts from Clarkesworld recently,  and hope to post reviews of them soon.

You’ve all read Robert Sawyer (right?).  The WWW series, the Hominids series, Flashforward,  Mindscan, Frameshift,  about a 20 other novels, and his newest novel is Quantum Night.

Sawyer won his first Prix Aurora award in 1991 and has been going strong ever since.  His books are accessible and easy on the eyes. He writes the kind of near future scifi thrillers that are perfect for your friends who don’t want something too weird.

Head over the Apex Magazine website to read my interview with Robert Sawyer, where we mostly talk about Quantum Night, but also talk about getting characters (and readers!) excited about science,  what baseball has to do with writing hard science fiction, what BattleStar Galactica has to do with psychology, and the reason why your surgeon might have pretty crappy bedside manner.

I am very proud of this interview. Mr. Sawyer and I spoke on the phone for about 40 minutes, and then I muppetflailed around the house for about a week. I took time out from the muppetflailing to transcribe the interview. If you enjoy reading the interview as much as I enjoyed conducting it, please leave a comment over at the Apex site, so they know you enjoyed it too.

 

Also? If you like Jeff Vandermeer, you should read “How Lovely Is The Silence of Growing Things”, also in this issue of Apex.

When the Apex Magazine Revive the Drive hit $3500, it unlocked me doing a No Boundaries interview with Jason Sizemore, editor-in-chief of the magazine.  The fundraiser reached that goal a few days ago, and we recorded the interview the other night.  I had a very short window of time to get questions from Jason’s friends, co-workers, his nemesis, and I even got a few questions from my friends who have no idea who he is.

What’s a No Boundaries interview? It’s where I could ask Jason absolutely anything, and no topics were off limits.  I did make him blush, but we didn’t get it on camera.

Enjoy the interview!  And head over to the Apex Magazine Revive the Drive store, pick yourself up a subscription, a subscription bundle, a signed manuscript, short story critique, mystery boxes, book bundle, home made crafts, and brand new in the Drive store are – holy crap there is a copy of The Weird Compendium that is signed by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer!   The Drive runs through April 17th,  and the funds raised will allow Jason and team to purchase more weird surreal fiction, to pay artists and writers more, and to give fan of the magazine more of what they’ve come to enjoy. A fitting anniversary for a magazine that’s coming up to it’s 100th issue, wouldn’t you say?

 

oh, anyway,  here’s a link for the interview. I don’t know how to embed a 22 minute video into a WordPress article.

Jason Sizemore No Boundaries Interview by Andrea Johnson

click the link, don’t click this picture. the picture doesn’t go anywhere.

He says it’s not moonshine in that coffee mug…

 

What did we talk about?  Everything from heated toilet seats, to llamas, to something embarrassing he did at a Con, to who he wants on his Apocalypse team, to famous Apex parties (lots of people wanted me to ask him what’s in the famous Apex Party Punch!), to books he wishes he could experience for the first time.  And yes, we even talked some serious stuff about Apex sales and editing.

 

Enjoy!

 

Also?

Ursula Vernon’s short story “The Tomato Thief”  from Apex Magazine issue 80 is on the Hugo Ballot

Rosewater by Tade Thompson is on the Locus Annual Recommended Reading List

 

 

In Michael Wehunt’s debut short story collection, Greener Pastures,  readers will enjoy a variety of his favorite short stories – everything from unsettling horror, to spooky fun, to Southern gothic, to unnerving dogs and haunted woods.  If you’re looking for unsettling stories that touch on a variety of themes, this is a collection you should look.   Greener Pastures was nominated for the Crawford Award, which is presented annually by the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts for a first book of fantasy.

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Michael had some fun when Greener Pastures came out from Apex Publications, he made a bunch of meme-ish images, and they are hilarious!  I’ll be posting a few of them throughout the interview, here’s a link to the whole collection.   Michael’s short fiction has appeared in Innsmouth Magazine, Shock Totem Magazine, Aghast,  Unlikely Story, The Dark, Cemetery Dance, Year’s Best Weird Fiction Vol 3,  and The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2016 among many others.   Michael was kind enough to answer my questions about the amazing cover art on this collection, how he knew what should go in the collection and what should be left out, why writing horror is so much fun, and more!  Let’s get to the interview!

Andrea Johnson: The cover art for Greener Pastures features some easter eggs that connect with stories in the collection. Most authors don’t have any control over the cover art of their books, but you had a number of conversations with cover artist Michael Bukowksi about what you wanted in the artwork. What can you tell us about your brainstorming sessions with the artist and how the two of you decided what the cover art should include?

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Michael Wehunt: I was lucky to be able to commission an artist for a new piece, and I was doubly lucky to choose someone as talented and collaborative as Michael. He was enthusiastic and communicative from the beginning. The first thing I told him was that I was open to anything. The second thing was an asterisk regarding the first thing—that I had my heart set on trees. Not every story in Greener Pastures features trees, but the book as a whole felt very woodsy and earthy to me. And I knew from Michael’s style that the trees would look amazing and draw the viewer in. We started brainstorming with the diner from the title story, crowded on one side by the woods, but as soon as Michael read the story “October Film Haunt: Under the House,” he really wanted to use the dog with the wooden crown in its mouth as the focal point (the dog unnerved him deeply), and that was instantly a yes for both of us. So the woods became the entire backdrop, which was the right choice. From there we decided to do a full wraparound cover, which was exciting, and with the extra space we chose elements from three other stories to include in the art, and a year later I’m still in love with the entire piece.

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We’re getting close to the halfway point of the Apex Magazine Revive the Drive, (and holy cow have you seen the awesome stuff in the Drive Store?!?!?!) so let’s catch up with Editor in Chief Jason Sizemore and Managing Editor Lesley Conner!   Jason and Lesley let me pick their brains, and it is very important that the resulting document they sent me back was exactly 666 words!  Now that I’ve wrecked that  word count with an intro and outtro, let’s get to the interview!

 

Andrea:  I really loved the print edition of Apex Magazine:SFFH Volume 0. What needs to happen for there to be more of these?

Jason: Glad you liked it. I kind of did it in a nostalgic cloud for the old Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest of yore.

Like most things, it comes down to time and money. I don’t expect the print edition to make Apex the big bucks, but it has to at least pay for itself and make enough profit for me to buy a bag of Nate’s Coffee.

The ultimate answer: more copies need to be sold.

Andrea: How many short story submissions do you get in a month? Are there certain times of the year when you get way more submissions, or times of the year when the quantity of submissions dip?

Lesley:  We average between 800 and 1,200 submissions a month. We definitely get more submissions in January and right after we open after being closed for a while. Other than that, the rate at which we receive stories seems to be pretty constant. Apex Magazine is typically open 9 or more months out of the year, so yeah … we read a LOT of stories. Good thing I love it!

Andrea: When you’re reading a submission, what makes you say “I gotta buy this story!”

Jason: One of the things I’m proudest of is how well Apex Magazine has branded itself. So many of our fans and readers tell me that there is a certain…tone or theme that makes our original fiction standout as an ‘Apex story.’ Writers who read our zine have a huge advantage over those that don’t for that reason. Certain writers from the get-go tap into this with ease: Rich Larson, Lavie Tidhar, Mary Robinette Kowal, Ursula Vernon.

I’m big on ideas, characterization, and symbolism. I like stories that carry an edginess. Stories that can tap into my emotions are particularly great, as I’m a rather emotionless editor (okay…this is true of most editors).

Lesley: Stories that evoke a strong emotional reaction definitely grab my attention. Also, great characterization and a since of purpose. If I finish a story and immediately want to read it again, then I’m definitely sending it up to Jason.

Andrea: What are you hobbies when you’re not working on the magazine?

Jason: My favorite hobby is giving Lesley Conner a hard time. Other hobbies include chasing Pumpkin the Apex Cat around the house, playing video games (it’s my mindless escape), ranting about the inequities of life, and reading (of course).

Lesley: When I’m not wearing my Apex editor hat, you can often find me doing something cool with my Girl Scout troop. Whether we are camping, going on trips, making a horror movie, baking goodies for our local police officers, or volunteering at the food bank, the girls in my troop really know how to keep me running!

If I have a break from both Apex and Girl Scouts, then I’m doing something … calmer. Reading, hiking, yoga—things that are nice and relaxing amid my chaotic life.

Andrea: Who are some of your favorite authors?

Jason: Some favorite writers include Nick Cutter, Ben Winters, Nisi Shawl, Cat Valente, Cherie Priest, and Nick Mamatas (but please don’t tell him). My writer crush is Jacqueline Carey.

Lesley: How much room do I have to answer?

For short fiction, I adore Rich Larson, Damien Angelica Walters, E. Catherine Tobler, Douglas Warrick, Sarah Pinsker, A. Merc Rustad, Iori Kusano, James Beamon … There are so many fantastic authors writing really stellar short fiction right now; I could go on and on. For longer work, I will pick up anything and everything by J.F. Gonzalez, Sarah Pinborough, Cherie Priest, David Wellington, Shirley Jackson, and Katherine Dunn. I’ve recently read books by Consuelo Saah Baehr, Laura Hillenbrand, Fredrik Backman, and Paolo Bacigalupi and really enjoyed them so I’ll definitely be looking for more.

… I may have a slight reading habit.

 

Andrea: Thanks Jason, Thanks Lesley!  I really have no idea how those to do it. They must have some kind of time creation machine that lets them have 32 hours in each day.

 

Hey, did you know? The $3500 award in Revive the Drive is me getting to harass interview Jason over Skype!  Which means I need all sorts of fun questions. The above interview was informative and all, but those were some gentle questions, wouldn’t you say? Give me some suggestions of both heavy duty and crazy things to ask Jason!   If the video goesn’t go viral on YouTube, we’ve failed in our mission!


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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.