Anna Smith-Spark Interview

court of broken knives

Anna Smith-Spark Interview

My guest this week is Anna Smith-Spark! She is the author of the Court of Broken Knives. She has previously been published in the Fortean Times and the poetry website greatworks.org.

We talk about gender in fantasy, writing, characters and world building. Also there are some jokes about Tony Blair.

[LISTEN HERE]

anna-smith-spark-author-photo-1I first met Anna on a panel at FantasyCon2015. I believe it was gender and sexuality representation Sci-Fi and Fantasy. I remember a point being made that we hope to one day not have these panels because the issue will have become accepted as representation begets representation.

But we still do get them – I did one at BristolCon this year. We talk about what Anna thinks of the progress that’s been made since and how we may have taken backwards steps recently.

We also delve into the Court of Broken Knives as Anna gives us insights into how she wrote it and where her characters came from.

You can find Anna online here:

courtofbrokenknives.org

https://www.facebook.com/anna.smithspark

 

 

V. E. Schwab Interview

V. E. Schwab Interview

For this week’s episode of the Writers of Fantasy Podcast, I got to talk to Victoria Schwab, aka V.E. Schwab. She is an American fantasy author best known for her 2013 novel Vicious, the Shades of Magic series, and her children’s and young adult fiction.

We had a really good, long talk about world building, characters, writing, and gender issues in science fiction and fantasy. Listen here, and there are some key quotes! Check it out!

[Listen here]

On The Near Witch and How a Writer changes

I started out when I was quite young, and I wrote my first book when I was nineteen. The Near Witch was the second book I’d ever written, and I was twenty-one! And I’m now thirty! There’s some growth that happens, I’ve not got thirteen books published, and obviously you grow and change as a person.

I get asked often ‘do you go back and look at your previous work and think of things you would do differently?’ The honest truth is that I kind of look at each and every one of my books as a time capsule of who I was and what I was capable of doing. So, I never want to change any of them, as The Near Witch is a capsule of who I was in college and what I was studying and what excited me.

Whereas The Shades of Magic series and The Monsters of Verity series are just as much time capsules of who I was and what I was going through while doing a Masters Degree on depictions of monstrosity. And I was travelling a lot. So, they’re precious to me in different ways.

Monsters and Villains

Certainly with something like Vicious, which is about villains, and villainy. About the arbitrary labels that we apply to heroes and villains. It’s a book about personal vendettas, and who is a hero and who is a villain. Is it determined by where they fall on opposite sides of this argument? In that book, specifically, I wanted to play with the idea [of villains].

I sat down and thought ‘wouldn’t it be a fun challenge to write a book without heroes?’ Could I write a book without heroes and make the reader strongly root for one of the villains? It was a craft exercise in learning it’s not what our characters do, it’s not what we do as people, but why we do it. Motivation Vs action.

Sometimes I do sit down and think. There’s always a seed. I gather ingredients for a story until I have enough to make a meal. But I think there’s always that one ingredient that’s the core, bonding thing.

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“I haven’t seen it yet. Not with these eyes” – A New Doctor, A New Show.

Thirteen 2

The Thirteenth Doctor has arrived. Change, my dear, and it seems not a moment too soon. Jodie Whittaker is the Doctor, whether you like it or not.

Regeneration isn’t just about the Doctor extending their life. It’s about getting to experience everything afresh, with new eyes, and a new perspective. The Doctor has spent 12 (or 13, depending on how you count it) lifetimes in the body of a man. Now the Doctor will be a woman, giving them a new perspective, a fresh pair of eyes with which to consider the universe.

“It’s all waiting out there, and it’s brand new to me. All those planets, and creatures and horizons. I haven’t seem them yet! Not with these eyes. And it is going to be fantastic.”

– 10th Doctor, The Christmas Invasion

de3w6gowaaa00vyDoctor Who always changes. That’s how it stays around, and stays interesting. It changes its main character, changes its supporting characters, and changes its production team. Every new set of people brings a new approach, a new perspective, and a new focus. It has its peaks and troughs, good times and bad. At its base, it’s a fun, sci-fi/fantasy adventure for family audiences. But there are lots of ways it can and has been interpreted.

For example, in the early days it was envisioned as an educational show to teach children about history and science. Then, it became more about speculative fiction, high concept sci-fi. Then, more of a swashbuckling adventure. Then gothic horror inspired. Later it became more drama oriented. And so on.

Doctor Who changes its format. That’s how it survives.

The Doctor is a catalyst for much of this change, and is a window for the audience. Each new Doctor comes at it from different angle, spreading light in new and interesting angles, even on a familiar scene.

So, what can we expect from Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor? Having watched the teaser clip a few times now, there is one thing I’ve zeroed in on as a sign of hope. As the TARDIS materialises and we see her face for the first time, the Thirteenth Doctor gets a look of wonder on her face. It is a brief smile that says a lot. She looks hopeful, she looks almost in mild awed anticipation of what’s to come.

Wonder

That sense of wonder has been lacking in Doctor Who of late. If it had been a constant presence I’m sure we’d all be bored of it by now, but I’ve missed it. Bringing back the heartache and the promise of adventure might be the shot in the arm the series needs.

Jodie Whittaker has a wonderful adventure ahead of her. Let’s join her, shall we?

About Time 2

Legend of Korra Comics: Irene Koh Interview

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Legend of Korra Comics: Irene Koh Interview

The Legend of Korra is back! We spoke to Irene Koh, the artist behind Turf Wars, the upcoming graphic novel trilogy. The first graphic novel trilogy continuing the series, written by co-creator Michael Dante DiMartino, is coming out this month.

Irene Koh is an illustrator from Seoul, now living in Los angeles. She received her BFA in illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design and has worked for Dark Horse, DC, Marvel, IDW, Oni Press, and Stela.

If you read Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or Batgirl, you might have seen her work before.

But we are here to talk about Korra! So let’s get started! Spirits, elements, martial arts, and maybe a bit of Korrasami?

lokturfw-4– For those who might not have heard yet, can you tell us a little bit about how you got the job on the Korra comics?

I’d been joking for years that I’d be a perfect fit for the comic, as a bisexual Asian martial artist and avid Avatar fan. After Brittney Williams dropped out of the project, a friend of mine was offered the gig, to which she referred me instead.

I drew a few test pages, and now here I am, almost done drawing Part Two.

– There have been a lot of artists who have worked on both Avatar and Korra, do you have any favourites that informed your own style? 

The key art people on staff (or at least the ones whose work I can readily find on the Internet) have been great to look at. Not necessarily for style’s sake, since I was asked to draw the book in my own style, but for movement.

Animation folks have totally different way of approaching movement and character acting, and there’s a lot of great tricks I picked up just studying their work. Specifically, I looked at Steve Ahn’s work for action, and Ki Hyun Ryu’s amazing, expressive faces.

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Foz Meadows – Writers of Fantasy Interview

atyrannyofqueens_144dpiFoz Meadows – Writers of Fantasy Interview

A new series of the Writers of Fantasy Podcast from Scifi-fantasy network!
Joel Cornah talks to Foz Meadows, author of An Accident of Stars! Foz is a genderqueer author, blogger, essayist, reviewer and poet.

In 2014, she was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer for her blog, Shattersnipe; she is also a contributing writer for The Huffington Post and Black Gate, and a contributing reviewer for A Dribble of InkStrange Horizons and Tor.com.

Give the episode a listen here, or on iTunes! There’s a transcript below.


READ THE TRANSCRIPT

The Lie of the Land – Doctor Who Review

I want to start by saying I enjoyed this episode a lot. It was very well written, the dialogue, for the most part, was snappy, natural, and drew me in. The cinematography and direction really brought out the best in Capaldi and Mackie as they delivered some of the most emotional scenes this series.

Having said that, there is something that worries me tremendously. It’s a concern I had right from the moment I saw the trailer and read the synopsis.

It Never Happened

Cast your minds back to 2007 and the series 3 finale, Last of the Time Lords. The Master took over the world and the Doctor was locked in a cage for a year while Martha Jones walked the earth. But then, at the end, it was all erased. It never happened. Nobody but the Doctor and his friends could remember the events of the whole episode. And people got angry.

When you erase an entire episode’s meaning and importance for the world its set in, it feels a bit like a cheat. You set up high stakes and your characters must face the challenges not only of ending the horrors, but dealing with the aftermath. To take that away can often feel like a let down.

I was somewhat miffed at Last of the Time Lords, but it had a few saving graces. Firstly, I thought it was a very good episode on its own. But more than that, the lasting effects on a personal level for the Doctor, Martha and Martha’s family were felt long after the episode ended. The events may have been forgotten for most, but they stayed with the main characters. I was eventually okay with that

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Asexuality in SFF

I wrote a piece for Fox Spirit Books about Asexuality in sci-fi and fantasy. I’ve talked about it before, but this is very much an updated and better version of stuff I’ve said in the past. A topic somewhat close to my heart.

Asexuality in Fantasy

AceBy Joel Cornah

Writing characters is so often about letting the reader know what they are, rather than what they are not. In our world, so much of how people’s identities are perceived is bound up in ideas of sexuality and romance that, in the words of comedian Charlie Brooker;

We’ve become so accustomed to seeing characters pairing off with one another that it’s now almost impossible to see a man and a woman together on screen at once without internally speculating about whether they’re going to have sex or not.”

 Indeed, the trope of having two people (often of different genders) who do little but argue and despise one another but end up falling madly in love is incredibly prominent. I might even go so far as to say that for a lot of people, seeing two characters bicker has become an almost sure-fire way of predicting if they’ll end up together. But even in these cases, the writers will often tie them together through some reconciliation scene that ends with physical intimacy of some sort. Just to hammer home the point.

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