Aliette De Bodard Interview – Writers of Fantasy

house-of-shattered-wings-uk-resizedThis week’s interview in the Writers of Fantasy series is with Aliette De Bodard! She is best known for her incredible historical fantasy novel The House of Shattered Wings.

She is a master of both short fiction and long novels, with a number of historical fantasy settings that have kept readers hooked for years.

We talked about her development as a writer, comparing her short stories to novels, the writing process, character building and much, much more.

Take a listen! There are key quotes below.

[Listen here]

“The first book in English that I bought with my own money… and it turned out to be Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea Quartet. I didn’t know anything about her at the time, but all I knew was that it looks thick… and it has dragons on the cover! I mean, hey bring it on, right?”

“I made my way through [Earthsea] with a dictionary because it was so bloody hard!”

“I picked up a book titled ‘How to Write Fantasy and Science Fiction’ and I read it and I was like ‘You can DO this?’ I never really thought about this because an awful lot of French literary canon is people who have been dead for quite a bit!”

“I actually started by writing novels. They were these epic, like, 200,000 word novels. The kind of thing you can use as a weapon against other people. Obviously at this length it’s difficult to find readers for them, especially when the quality is not great. So I had this brilliant idea, I thought ‘I’m going to write short stories so it’s going to be easier for people to give me feedback and then I can work on my craft!’”

“Writing a novel and writing a short story are actually not very much alike, so for the first five to six years I was writing a lot of short stories and I was getting better and better at writing short stories. But when I decided I was going to write a novel I suddenly discovered that I might know how to write short stories but novels were different and in particular pacing was a big problem.”

“My very first draft, my husband read through it and said, ‘I think I have one major comment before we get around to any of the other stuff like logical points and character development and so on and so forth… You realise that your characters have not slept or eaten for at least four or five days.’”

“Ever since I’ve been very careful to give the characters lunch breaks.”

FULL INTERVIEW HERE

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A M Dellamonica Interview

This week in our Writers of Fantasy series is our 91c2t4kdfrlinterview with A. M. Dellamonica, author of Child of a Hidden Sea, A Daughter of No Nation, and over thirty short stories.

She writes science fiction, fantasy, and alternate history.

We talked about how she has changed in her craft over the years, what it takes to build characters and worlds, her theatre background, and the importance of representation and diversity.

KEY QUOTES;

“It was an inspiration story in the sense that the concept kind of hit like a bolt of lightning. That’s always really pleasant. I think that’s something that happens more when you’re new because you haven’t built up the infrastructure in your mind for simply generating good stories weather inspiration strikes or not.”

“When I came to write The Hidden Sea Tales, I wanted to write about someone who was markedly different from me. So I looked at the people in my life who from my more button down point of view are – sort of – over sharing all the time. So I started there.”

ON DIVERSITY AND REPRESENTATION:

“There’s been a long, ongoing effort by a lot of writers to broaden the palette. Those of us who are gay in some variation have always included those characters, but I think we also tended to make more compromises to make more characters that a more general audience would grasp onto.

So the gay characters might be tucked in at the side or the people of colour would be secondary. They wouldn’t necessarily be as integral to the story. And that’s a sad thing, but it just seems to be slowly becoming the case that you can pick characters from the full range of options available and it doesn’t necessarily tank your chances of selling a novel.”

“I’m still honestly surprised when I see things that reflect my life on TV.”

ON CREATING HIDDEN SEA TALES

“I just started making this enormously long list of everything that I think is cool or fun and delightful.”

“I included court proceedings, because I’m a huge nerd. (Like all science fiction writers).”

[Listen here]

JOEL CORNAH – THE SKY SLAYER | Small but Mighty SFF World

I was featured on SFF World’s ‘Small but Mighty’ series about my new book, The Sky Slayer! Check it out HERE. And here’s a little excerpt to take up some space on this blog posts and maybe get you to click on to their website and give them a sense that yes, some people do read my books.

SMALL BUT MIGHTY – JOEL CORNAH’S ‘THE SKY SLAYER

joel-cornah-author-003This week’s Small but Mighty attention turns to Kristell Ink whose publications are finding their way to award shortlists.  The Sky Slayer is Joel Cornah’s fourth publication to be released by Kristell Ink  and is the sequel to The Sea-Stone Sword.

Welcome to SFFWorld Joel! Can you tell us a little about The Sky Slayer without quoting the publisher’s blurb?

Where The Sea-Stone Sword was influenced by Jason and the Argonauts, The Sky Slayer has much more of a Blake’s 7 feel. The cast of seven fugitives fleeing an empire on a ship unlike any other, a hero who is more curse than cure, and a dry, sardonic second-in-command who has all the best lines. But I wanted to tackle some drastically different themes than Terry Nation’s classic series, and eventually subvert expectations in the process.

There is a boy who could have been a hero. To some, he is a hero. He killed the great and malicious Air King. But Rob Sardan was cursed with nightmares that will haunt him forever. He can break the curse by finding a Sky Slayer’s pendant. The only problem is he’s been locked in a prison of ice and crystal at the South Pole. A prison run by pengs (sort of human-penguin hybrids).

The story revolves around Rob and his gang of rebels as they escape to the high seas. There is Alya, the strategist with a sharp tongue and boundless wits, Gorm the chef with her deep wisdom and superior strength, Vann the thief with his ridiculous puns, and Ilma the doctor with her world-weary but shrewd observations.

They flee across the grinding ice and head to the Tomb of the Dead God, perused by the chaotic pirate Skagra, who seeks the ending of the world.

It’s action, adventure, philosophy, and puns all rolled into one amazing story!

Tell us a little about Rob Sardan, your protagonist?

Rob Sardan has all the makings of your average brooding anti-hero with a dark past. Pain, loss, and isolation – not to mention a supernatural curse – plague him and in so many fantasy novels we would see such a figure become bitter, full of pessimism and bleak of humour. I didn’t want that. I wanted Rob to defy the universe, to defy fate, and the gods themselves by being… optimistic.

His mother was a hero, a famous pirate who did incredible and terrible things. He wants to make his own legacy, to forge his own legend in the world.

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Kameron Hurley Interview

The latest interview in our Writers of Fantasy series is with Kameron Hurley, author of the Gods War series, The Mirror Empire, and her new book of essays, The Geek Feminist Revolution (which is pretty amazing).

We talked about how she develops her cultures in writing, explores gender and sexuality, as well as building characters around stories. She has a lot of experience and is well worth listening to!

gods-warYour books expand and explore numerous cultures in depth; what has been the most interesting aspect of developing them?

I wanted to come up with cultures that I really hadn’t seen explored in other fantasy and science fiction novels. I see so many novels that will take exactly one “big idea” and have that be the only thing that changes in the entire world of the novels, and it feels astonishingly lazy to me. So they’ll throw in faster than light travel, but military and social hierarchies remain the same, people talk the same, live the same, the social mores are the same. And that’s just boring to me.

I read science fiction and fantasy because I want to go places that are really different. If all you’re doing is picking up a piece of tech and throwing it into a status quo version of the world we see on TV every day, I’m just not interested.

What I love most about creating cultures is seeing how each aspect affects every other aspect. So if you have a polyamorous matriarchy, say, there are very different conversations that go on about property inheritance/distribution, and while there’s still plenty of social drama, it’s very different drama, as it’s no longer “I can only choose one man!” it’s “We can all choose each other but now we need to figure out how to get along.”

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Becky Chambers Interview

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Our Writers of Sci-Fi Interview series continues with the incredible Becky Chambers. Best known for her phenomenal ‘A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet’, Becky talks about her writing process, her history, and how she developed her characters. Moreover, she gives an insight into how and why she tackled social issues such as gender, sexuality, and humanity’s place in the universe.

“I REJECT THE IDEA THAT THE FUTURE IS FOR ONLY ONE GROUP OF PEOPLE.”

LISTEN HERE

Key quotes:

“Once I put my butt in a chair and started writing it, it took me about a year and a half, but I’d been working on it for a good seven years before that. Just writing little scraps of stuff; characters, cultures and what not. So, it really was just this sort of melange of things that interested me, documentaries I’d seen about a particular culture or whatnot… I compare it to making leftovers from whatever’s in the fridge!”

“A lot of my alien cultures do come from my general interest in biology and the animal world. So, a lot of the time I’m starting out with physicality – how are these people different from us physically? And then, how does that affect their culture. That, for me, is a really fun way to build a new culture.”

“I didn’t want to write a story in which humans are either the leading power in the galaxy, or are they’re the underdog that we see come up.  I really wanted them to be in a sort of lowest rung on the ladder position.”

“We have this image of ourselves as the end-all be-all of evolution here on earth… But I like the idea that we’re not special, and that that makes us special. That sort of Carl Sagan idea of we’re very small and finite; we are not the best, but we are unique.”

“The thing about science fiction in particular, is you’re always talking about the world you want to see. So, whether that be a hopeful future – here’s what we could aim for – or something fearful – here’s what we should avoid. So, I think in terms of representation, in terms of creating futures that include lots of different people – I’m not interested in working with anything else.”

“I don’t like the idea of surviving just for the sake of surviving. We have to have a reason why this struggle is worth it.”

READ MORE

THE SKY SLAYER | OFFICIAL RELEASE

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At last, my second novel, The Sky Slayer, has been released into the world!

My first novel, The Sea-Stone Sword, feels like something I did a hundred years ago, and a lot of the mistakes I made in it still haunt me. The Sky Slayer is a better book, in my honest opinion. Building off all the good things I think I did in Sea-Stone, making the characters more interesting, making the plot more devious, and ultimately making the whole reading experience better.

Pterosaurs, penguins, dinosaurs, and moral dilemmas. The Sky Slayer is a book that explores what happens after someone has become a legend through questionable means. After the hero has sailed off into the sunset and has to live with what they have done, with all of the terrible consequences, the trauma, and the political fallout.

Pirates roam the sea under the banner of an immortal self-styled villain. The Pengish Empire spreads into the Eastern continent. Refugees from the fall of the Air King flee to other lands, seeking help. And all the while, Rob Sardan sits in prison, haunted by the terrible things he did in the name of becoming a hero.

The Sky Slayer is out now!

Get a signed copy direct from the author


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OR click HERE to buy from:
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10 Days until The Sky Slayer

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The Sky Slayer [Paperback] £9.99

It’s only 10 days until the official launch of my new book, The Sky Slayer! It’s been a really odd process compared to the first book. Now I have a canon to stick to, a continuity to keep in mind and I can’t change it, even if I think an ida would work better.

I made a lot of mistakes in the first book, followed some tropes that were unhelpful, unkind, and even hurtful. So, with The Sky Slayer, I took a very different approach. While The Sea-Stone Sword certainly has its shocks, its plot twists and devastating moments, The Sky Slayer tries to earn them properly. I wanted to build the characters more, explore them in depth and give them space to breathe. I wanted to really delve into the consequences of the hero’s quest and pull it apart.

If you do something monumental that changes the world, how does it change you?

If you were a hero, how could you live with it?

If you’d done some terrible things, could you be trusted by others, and  could you trust yourself again?

It’s a story about finding hope again, but it’s also a deconstruction of the hero narrative. It’s the story of a boy who lost the boy he loved, and chooses to love the rest of the world instead. He finds new friends, a new crew, and a new quest.

The quest is not the quarry.

The quest is the quest.

THE SKY SLAYER IS COMING.

Click HERE to Pre-Order from:
Amazon US
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Martha Wells Interview

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Martha Wells is the latest subject of our Writers of Fantasy Interview series. She has been writing ground-breaking fantasy for over two decades now. Her Books of Raksura series in particular has challenged gender stereotypes and more in every way imaginable and she still has more coming! She has also been doing a Patreon for short Raksura stories!

We chatted about how she has changed as a writer, what her process is, and what she thinks of the industry at large. Even if you’ve never read a word of her books before, this interview is well worth checking out as she has great insights into the world of being a writer.

– When you look back on your first novels, such as The Element of Fire, and compare it to something more recent,like The Edge of Worlds, how do you feel you’ve changed as a writer? Has your process or method changed?

As a writer, I think I take more chances. I think I’m more in touch with the kinds of characters and relationships I want to write. My process has changed in that I write faster, I’m more productive,and I’m more confident in my abilities.

– Many of your works, Books of the Raksura in particular, explore gender and sexuality and there is great diversity within the cast. How important is representation and diversity to you?

It’s very important. Books that explored gender and sexual orientation were very important to me when I was was growing up, and helped teach me about the world in a way that I was not going to get from any other available source. And for me I think it’s an ongoing process and that I still have room for improvement.

– (Related) Is this something the genre as a whole needs to get better at, and have you seen it improving?

It definitely needs to get better. I think there has been some improvement, or at least more awareness of the problem. And some of the most critically acclaimed, award-winning, most exciting and original SF/F in the past years has come from writers who are POC, LGBT, and women,which you would hope would make a dent in the belief that only straight white men write SF/F. But you still see people saying things like “women don’t write fantasy” or “women don’t write SF” and believing it, which is depressing.It’s not encouraging to see the work of hundreds of women writers erased.

The popular, most visible bestsellers are just the tip of the genre’s iceberg, but for most people the rest of the iceberg doesn’t exist. It’s hard to be optimistic about it sometimes.But the other day on Twitter, Kate Elliott said “It’s hard to change the narrative when so many of the narratives that get the most visibility aren’t changing. But change is coming.” I think that’s very true.

[Read More]