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Uncanny Mini Interview with Year One Contributor Sofia Samatar!

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Sofia Samatar is the author of the novel A Stranger in Olondria, winner of the 2014 Crawford Award, as well as several short stories, essays, and poems. Her short story “Selkie Stories Are for Losers” has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards. Sofia is a co-editor for Interfictions: A Journal of Interstitial Arts, and teaches literature and writing at California State University Channel Islands.

Interview by Michi Trota.

1) What was the first science fiction or fantasy story that you ever fell in love with? How has it inspired your own work?

The first SFF work I fell in love with was The Lord of the Rings. It’s inspired my work enormously–mostly in terms of language. Tolkien was a master at creating an imaginative reality through the use of fantastical languages. He really understood that language makes the world. I didn’t create a fully functioning language for my own imagined universe, but I certainly know the meaning of all the names of people and places in A Stranger in Olondria. I know something about the phonology and morphology of all the languages in the book, and I have a decent idea of how the grammar works (though I’m better at Olondrian grammar than I am at some of the other languages). That knowledge is important, even if the reader doesn’t share it. When there’s consistency in an imagined language (for example, Olondrian does not have the sounds “p,” “j” or “ch”), it creates a sense of depth, of alternate reality–which is what we’re all after. Tolkien knew that the sounds of words are powerful, even if you don’t know exactly what they mean. He’s taught me a lot.

2) You’re an academic and a teacher, as well as a fiction writer, essayist and poet. When you come up with ideas to write about, do you know what form the piece will take? How do you decide if your idea is going to become a story or essay or poem?

For me, form and content are too closely related to pull apart. Ideas don’t come to me in the abstract–they come as essays, stories, or poems. Sometimes they come in more than one form–I’ve recently written both a short story and an essay about Charlie Parker, and I’ve published a poem and a story about Shahrazad from A Thousand and One Nights. But, basically, there’s never any question. There’s no decision to make. The idea is an object.

3) How do you use your work to challenge readers?

Wow, I don’t know! Maybe I challenge readers, but I really don’t set out to. In fact I always hope my work is clear and easy to read, a pleasure rather than a challenge (I’m pretty sure I don’t always succeed). I want to give someone an experience. I want to tell what I see, and for it to mean something to another person. I’m just saying stuff like “Tree–I see that tree. Do you see it too?” I suppose it can be challenging if people don’t see my trees. But–and maybe this is because I’m a teacher–I see “challenge” as something sort of awful, like a tough assignment. I don’t think of my favorite books as challenging, so I’m not looking for my own work to be received that way. I guess I would say, to someone “challenged” by my writing: “That’s too bad. I’m sorry.”

4) What is the most uncanny thing that’s ever happened to you?

Ok, do you know that game Dictionary? Where you pick a word nobody knows, and everyone makes up fake definitions for it, and then you try to guess which one is right? Well, one time I was playing with a bunch of people including my husband, Keith Miller, and there was a totally unfamiliar word (which I unfortunately can’t remember), and Keith and I both made up the same definition: “Swedish nougat.” Now, there was something about this word that suggested candy–I think someone else came up with a candy definition too–but it was definitely not “svenskanugatte” or anything like that. There was nothing in it that suggested Sweden or nougat specifically. We were speechless. I mean, we spend a lot of time together and read a lot of the same books, but it was still very weird.

Uncanny Mini Interview with Year One Contributor Liz Argall!

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Liz Argall often writes speculative fiction and interstitial work that explore spaces between genres. She is especially fond of gritty urban fantasy, thought provoking science fiction and fantastical literary fiction.

Liz’s comics have been published in an array of publications, including Meanjin, The Girl’s Guide to Guy Stuff, Eat Comics, Something Wicked and her collection Songs, Dreams and Nightmares. Her anthology, Dreams of Tomorrow, won a Bronze Ledger Award for Small Press of the Year. In January 2009 her musical Comic Book Opera, written with composer Michael Sollis, was performed for the first time. Two of her short stories have been staged as plays.

Interview by Michi Trota

1) You’re a prolific comics’ writer as well as a writer of prose and poetry. What’s the most challenging aspect about writing comics vs. writing prose or poetry?

I’d say the most challenging aspect of writing comics is that you’re not doing the most challenging part! Drawing a comic is much harder than writing one. The first time I wrote a short story in a long time I couldn’t believe it; no back and forth, no trying to find the right artist with the time not to mention all the variables of collaboration in an industry that has very little money and a lot of dysfunction.

When I’m drawing and writing a comic (aka Things Without Arms and Without Legs) the greatest challenge is coming up with ideas that are good enough for the characters. They are such special characters that I want to make sure I always honor their spirit and the ness-ness of each entity.

One of the hard things about returning to short stories after a long time writing comics was not having someone to collaborate with. There’s nothing like having an artist read your mind and draw something richer than you could have ever imagined. It’s an extraordinary feeling. With a layer between yourself and the finished product it can feel a little safer, it’s easier to be brave and once you have a finished product it’s easier to say, “Check out X’s art, they’re fricken amazing! Buy our comic!” Than to spruik solo work.

And as for poetry? Crippling imposter syndrome. When I was younger I wrote poetry all the time and my first creative paying gig was as a guest performance poet at the Dan O’Connell in Melbourne (I was paid $20 and the gig was 600km away). Now that I am older I often feel like I’m not good enough, although I push myself into this realm from time to time and find sideways approaches such as my “Love Letters to Inanimate Objects” series.

2) You have some very physical hobbies, like roller derby and fire spinning. Do you ever integrate them into your writing?

Roller Derby has found its way into several of my stories. There is a vividness and strength in derby that is very appealing. I have not yet integrated fire twirling into any of my stories. I probably should, the time when I fire twirled the most was an emotionally intense period and I think I might be ready to draw from that well now that over a decade has passed.

The biggest impact that Roller Derby and Aikido (the two physical activities I do the most, I recently returned to Aikido as a form of cross training) has been psychological. Roller derby and Aikido have both helped me become more creative and FINISH work. In addition to the well-known benefits of exercise roller derby and Aikido provide me with tangible evidence of the value of practice and the different ways that you can push yourself to grow as an athlete or a creator. Seeing the benefit of thoughtful, intense practice in one field makes it easier to see the benefit in other practices.

It’s also easier for me to find and be in “the flow” when training physically and finding the flow, remembering the flow helps me find it on the page as well.

My favorite book on creativity is a sports psychology book! I highly recommend Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice by Matthew Syed.

3) How do you use your work to challenge yourself or your readers?

I try to lean into the discomfort. If I find myself flinching in a certain part of the text it often means there’s something powerful there and I need to push into it. I want to be of service to my readers and I do that by bringing them the best story I can and not flinching. I believe in my readers, they are smart and want diverse worlds.

Sometimes people are clearly challenged by my work, but often those same stories give other readers a warm safe place to snuggle into. I remember how much I wanted spaces for me when I was a teen and reading felt like my food, water and shelter. I want there to be a greater diversity of spaces and people for people to imagine themselves into.

I try to be brave when I sit down to write, it’s one of the muscles I work on and like my calves there is always room to grow! There are so many ways you can practice being a better writer; it can be overwhelming, but bravery is one of those areas I try to push into. Every time I’m brave or try to tackle intersectional issues or draw on things that make me feel exposed or get critiqued for falling short of my intention I grow in muscle and strength. Sometimes, like a hard practice, it hurts, sometimes I feel injured, but the important thing is to get up, keep growing, be brave and hold your space (or translating from derby to prose don’t let the world silence you).

4) What is the most uncanny thing that has happened to you?

That I am an athlete now. When I was in my early twenties I thought about setting a goal of standing up the whole time I was in the shower without needing to drop down to my ankles in dizziness for three days in a row. That goal seemed so far away and impossible it made me cry.

The less cheaty answer is that once I feinted while I was in the shower with my boyfriend and had a very minor seizure. While I was unconscious I felt like I was swimming in pure information, then I got pulled out of the stream and into elaborate multiple reality time travel conspiracy theories. When I awoke I briefly thought I was in a government facility and didn’t know who the naked guy was, but because he was naked I thought he must know who I was and I couldn’t let them know that I didn’t know who he was or the game would be up. Then I looked up, realized I was in the shower and that brought me back to the reality where I knew my boyfriend’s name. The post-seizure state was pretty dreamy and mildly euphoric. It made me half wish I was spiritually inclined and half feel grateful I wasn’t!

Uncanny Mini Interview with Year One Contributor Diana M. Pho!

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Diana M. Pho (also known as Ay-leen the Peacemaker) is a scholar, activist, performer, and general rabble-rouser. She is best-known for running Beyond Victoriana, an award-winning, US-based blog on multicultural steampunk, and the oldest-existing blog on this topic. For several years, she has traveled the country as a professional convention speaker about social justice issues and fandom. Her published work can be found in Steampunk Magazine: Issues 1 – 7Fashion Talks: Undressing the Power of StyleSteaming into a Victorian Future, the Journal of Victorian Culture Online, Overland magazine, and The Anatomy of SteampunkShe also has work that will be featured in the forthcoming books Steampunk World, edited by Sarah Hans, Like Clockwork, edited by Professors Brian Croxall and Rachel Bowser, and The Steampunk User’s Manual by Jeff Vandermeer and Desirina Boskovich.

Diana currently lives and works in New York City as an editor for Tor Books & blogs for Tor.com. You can follow her academic work on Academia.edu.

Interview by Michi Trota.

1) You often write about steampunk “outside of a Western-dominant, Eurocentric framework.” What is it about steampunk that you find so appealing? What would a truly multicultural steampunk world look like?

What got me into steampunk was a fascination with 19th century history and literature combined with my love of SF/F, cosplay, and theater. What makes me continually return to steampunk is its possibilities for storytelling during a dynamic era full of conflict, struggle and hope, and how I believe it parallels our current times as we undergo the next technological revolution. As much as I adore 19th century aesthetics I’m fascinated by early modern industrialization and its sociopolitical implications. Hey, I dig that waistcoat and those spats, but let’s talk about changing gender roles, worker’s movements, the fight against slavery, and anti-imperialist campaigns too, shall we?

I also think that steampunk as an art movement gives the opportunity for people of color and other marginalized backgrounds to address their own histories in an empowering way: stories that had been lost, erased, or oppressed. When I think of “multicultural” I want to see stories told from all different perspectives in a way that creates a multifaceted conversation between different peoples and communities. A “truly” multicultural steampunk world addresses the complexities of industrial change, talks about it from the perspectives of the disadvantaged as well as the privileged, and the challenges that arise from these changes.

In order to achieve that, I’m all for critical mass of voices. A single author or a single book (or a single form of media) cannot best create a “multicultural steampunk world” (though it can certainly contribute toward one). I want to see artists and creators on all different levels build an immersive dialogue that translates into a multicultural world.

2) You’re also known as Ay-leen the Peacemaker. How did you choose this name?

The name started off as a joke and a play off of the very Western name “Irene” (which also means peace). And since steampunk has pulp, I wanted a western “gunshooter” aspect to it so put on “the Peacemaker” at the end (it is also the legit name of my prop gun). Years later, others have pointed out serendipitous factoids. The Colt .45 ‘The Gun that Won the West” is nicknamed the Peacemaker. The anti-imperialist General O.T. Shaw, the titular “Warlord of the Air” in Michael Moorcock’s classic forerunner to steampunk, also was known as the Peacemaker. Those connotations are purely coincidental, but I like to chalk it up to destiny. 😉

3) How do you use your work to challenge your readers?

In a nutshell: that learning can be fun! Or maybe, that all peoples have a history worth telling, and stories that should be more widely known, especially when we live in a society that tells us that our stories aren’t worth telling at all because of willful destruction, fear, shame, or ignorance.

4) What is the most uncanny thing that’s ever happened to you?

I was really into ghosts as a kid (and still am, actually). One of my best friends in middle school lived in a haunted house. We’d have sleepovers where we’d try to detect the spirits and find cold spots. We did the Ouija board thing too and had some really creepy interactions.

Uncanny Mini Interview with Year One Contributor Galen Dara!

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Galen Dara likes monsters, mystics, dead things and extremely ripe apricots. She has created art for 47North publishing, Fireside Magazine, Lightpseed, Apex Publication, Goblin Fruit, Lackington’s, Resurrection House, and Edge Publishing. Her art is included in Spectrum 20 and 21. She won the 2011 Orycon33 Art Show Directors Choice award and the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist. She is nominated for the 2014 Hugo Award for Professional Artist and the 2014 World Fantasy Award. 

Interview by Michi Trota.

1) Your work often blends fantasy, myth and the macabre. What is it about the “dark side” of fantasy that you enjoy integrating into your art?

I have a thing for wanting to scratch away at all the paint and polish and see what lies beneath. The hidden stuff, the darker stuff. The secret stuff. The macabre is more interesting to me than idealized images of heroics and beauty.
2) Can you describe what your artistic process is like? How does your art progress from inspiration to completion?

I often start by perusing around looking for reference and inspiration images. These can come from all over: old art books, my collection of comics, google searches, Pinterest boards, diving through my old sketchbooks, etc.  I tend to “over gather”; it’s easy for me to get lost looking at all the other cool stuff and become hesitant to dive in and make my own marks, but it’s still part of my process. Once I’ve satisfied that itch to look at ALL THE INSPIRING STUFF, I start collaging images and photos and sketches together, assembling, rending apart, reassembling until I have a composition that satisfies me. Then I begin to paint. Layer upon layer in Photoshop, glazing with varying opacities, a few choice blending modes and a handful of textured brushes. Building up color, depth, luminosity, creating softness, carving out hard edges.
3) How do you use your work to challenge your readers?

Oh, that’s an interesting question. When I’m illustrating a story, or creating cover art, I’m trying to find creative ways of solving the problem that the writer has delivered. Everyone comes away from reading a story with a different visual in their head. How I illustrate a story is very different than how another artist would do it. My job as an illustrator is to reach into the story, grab the parts and images that resonate with me.  Hopefully the art I create also resonates with readers.
4) What is the most uncanny thing that’s ever happened to you?

I learned how to drive stick-shift in a dream: When I was younger my dad obtained an ancient Toyota Corolla Hatchback for us kids to drive and for the life of me I couldn’t make that thing stop lurching and stalling, couldn’t get it out of the driveway. Then I had a dream where the details of clutch handling became crystal clear and the next day I was able to vroom that car smoothly all over town.

New Backer Level: Elise Matthesen’s Haiku Earring Party In A Box!

The Uncanny Magazine Kickstarter is now 81% funded at $21,115 with 576 backers!

We’re celebrating by offering a new $300 backer reward: Elise Matthesen’s Haiku Earring Party In A Box! Jeweler and all-around amazing person Elise will provide a dozen pairs of earrings (all sterling silver) with names, pens and haiku cards, and instructions for conducting the party. There’s only one, so hurry if you’re interested!

Please also check out the Kickstarter Updates or the Uncanny website for a series of neat mini interviews conducted by Interviewer Deborah Stanish and Managing Editor Michi Trota with the Year Once contributors. So far they’ve interviewed Maria Dahvana Headley, Mari Ness, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Paul Cornell, Kat Howard, Kameron Hurley, and Jim C. Hines.

Warmly,

Lynne & Michael

 

Uncanny Mini Interview with Year One Contributor Jim C. Hines!

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Jim C. Hines is the author of fifty published short stories and nine fantasy novels, including the Magic ex Libris series about a magic librarian from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the Princess series of fairy tale retellings, and the humorous Goblin Quest trilogy. He’s an active blogger, and won the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer. He lives in mid-Michigan with his family. You can find him online at www.jimchines.com.

Interview by Michi Trota

1) You’ve written several novels and maintain a blog with almost daily entries. How do you balance keeping up your blog while writing books?  

It’s a day-to-day balancing act. The past year has been a particular challenge, since I’ve been working on two different novels, which is more than I’ve done in the past. I try to keep my fiction writing as my top priority, meaning I don’t work on the next blog post until I’ve made progress on whatever novel or story I’m working on that day. Though there are days when a particular topic gets under my skin, and I can’t focus on fiction or anything else until I’ve written an essay for the blog and gotten it out of my system.

2) You often write about social issues, like addressing privilege, understanding rape culture and the need for greater diversity in SF/F. Since you’ve been writing about these issues, do you think there’s been any change for the better (or worse) in how the SF/F community handles discussions about these issues?

I hope so! I think there has been some change in parts of fandom — conventions, online fandom, fanzines. I’m seeing far more conversations about representation and inequity and other problems in the genre. Those conversations aren’t always pretty. Often they’re infuriating and painful and ugly. But I think we’ve reached a point where it’s very difficult to keep sweeping these problems under the rug and pretending they don’t exist.

I think the internet has helped a lot here, by providing a voice and platform to people who have historically been silenced, as well as helping to create connections among people who might have felt isolated or alone in their frustrations.

I rarely go a day without reading something that makes me want to put my head through my desk. For example, “You wrote about an overweight bisexual heroine, therefore this is a TOTAL SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIOR BOOK!” But overall, I do think we’re seeing change for the better, and I’m hopeful for where the genre and community are going.

3) How do you use your work to challenge yourself or your readers?  

I’m not deliberately setting out to challenge my readers, though I’d like to believe that all fiction can challenge people, if only by showing them the world through other people’s/character’s eyes. As for myself, I try to push myself to do something new and challenging with each book. I get bored doing the same thing over and over, and it’s harder to grow if you stop climbing. Often, that comes in the form of writing stories that scare me. The best example I’ve got is a story I did last year called “Stranger vs. the Malevolent Malignancy,” which was a humorous story about cancer. I was terrified of getting it wrong, of being insensitive, or just flat-out failing to pull it off. It was one of the hardest things I’ve written, but I’m also incredibly proud of the result, and I learned a bit more in the process.

4) What is the most uncanny thing that has happened to you?

That’s a tough one. In a lot of ways, I have a pretty canny life. I think the ghost squirrel who lives in our attic keeps most of the weirdness at bay.

Uncanny Mini Interview with Year One Contributor Kameron Hurley!

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Kameron Hurley is the author of the novels God’s War, Infidel, and Rapture a science-fantasy noir series which earned her the Sydney J. Bounds Award for Best Newcomer and the Kitschy Award for Best Debut Novel. She has been a finalist for the Hugo Award, Arthur C. Clarke Award, Nebula Award, the Locus Award, BFS Award, and the BSFA Award for Best Novel. Her latest novel, The Mirror Empire, will be published by Angry Robot Books on August 26th, 2014.

Interview by Michi Trota.

1)You write both nonfiction and fiction – when you’re working on a new story or novel, do you concentrate exclusively on that project or do you also continue to write essays? Do your essays influence your choices in fiction (or vice versa) and if so, how?

I don’t think anyone who writes for a living gets very far without learning how to juggle multiple projects. At my day job, I generally write 2-4 pieces every day. When I get home, sometimes there will be an essay and novel writing, sometimes just novel writing. But if I stopped writing novels or other contracted work to pick up and pen an essay, I’d never get anything done. I actually write all of my essays fairly quickly. The longest one took maybe 6 hours – the rest generally only an hour or two. Investment in novels and short fiction is far greater.

Much of what I write about in nonfiction are issues I’ve encountered while writing my fiction, or are about situations or themes or structures I explore in my fiction. The fiction and the nonfiction come from the same person, so it’s inevitable they address similar themes, they just use different modes of storytelling to tackle those themes.

2) Your essay, “We Have Always Fought: Challenging the ‘Women as Cattle and Slaves’ Narrative” is the first blog piece to be nominated for the Hugo Award for “Best Related Work.” What was your approach to crafting this essay and how was it inspired?

It’s funny how you just don’t know when something is going to take off. Aidan Moher, the editor at A Dribble of Ink, asked me for a guest post about women involved in conflict, as that was my academic background – the history of women’s involvement in resistance movements in Southern Africa. I remember it being very late at night when I was working on it, thinking it was way too long, and being uncertain if Aidan was going to be on board with the long llama introduction. I just looked up my email to him when I turned it in, and it was this “I believe you inquired about a guest post a few weeks back, something related to female fighters in history. I seem to have finally written, uh, something sort of related to that. With bonus llamas.” His response was “It’s great.” Neither of us had a clue, I think, how it was going to go over.

At the time, Aidan’s blog got far more traffic than mine, and I knew it was a good place to host a post I was going to write anyway, as it would get a greater reach. I…just did not realize how much greater it would be. It’s been reprinted a bunch of times now, and is still gaining readership – over 160k+ readers on his blog alone. It was a tremendous post, a combination of the right content at the right time… and llamas. There are a lot of discussions going on online in gaming, fiction, movies and other media spaces about the representation of women, and this became the go-to piece for those arguing for inclusion in those spaces. I’m happy to have helped make it easier for folks to have those discussions. I admit that every time I see somebody ending a “women have never fought, it’s not realistic” argument by linking out to that essay, I snicker delightedly.

3)How do you use your work to challenge yourself or your readers?

If I’m not challenging myself, I’m not having fun. I had some folks point out that by the time I got to the end of my third book, RAPTURE, I had the noir bounty-hunter-gang-hunting-whatever form down pat. It’s great to have a form down, but why write the same book over and over again? If I’m going to get better as a writer, I need to challenge myself, which is what I’ve done with my new epic fantasy novel THE MIRROR EMPIRE. It’s unlike anything I’ve done before, and I had to stretch a lot of writing muscles to bring it into being.

And, of course, as far as content goes – I got into writing genre to explore worlds that were really different. If I feel I’m just reading about the same pseudo-medieval patriarchy all over again, I’m going to stop. I write what I like to read, and that means challenging ideas about how people organize themselves, and who we are at heart. If we remove all the modern day trappings and social structures, how different will we be? That’s the question I want to answer in my fiction.

4) What is the most uncanny thing that has happened to you?

I was staying at a bed and breakfast in Cape Town and it was very late at night. I was watching The English Patient, and the lights were all off and the window to my room was open. There are bars on many of the windows of houses there, and this was no exception. But as I sat there, I saw someone’s arm move through the window and point at the opposite wall, just out of the corner of my eye. I started and turned to face the window, but of course, no one was there. It freaked me the hell out and I had a lot of trouble sleeping. The next morning, at breakfast, I overheard two of the staff talking about the resident B&B “ghost” and how it must have been the one to move something around in the kitchen that morning.

It was a super fabulous B&B, but when I went to Cape Town on my next research trip… well. I didn’t stay there!

Uncanny Mini Interview with Year One Contributor Kat Howard!

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Kat Howard is the World Fantasy Award-nominated author of over twenty pieces of short fiction. Her work has been performed on NPR as part of Selected Shorts, and has appeared in Lightspeed, Subterranean, and Apex, among other venues. Her novella, The End of the Sentence, written with Maria Dahvana Headley, will be out in September from Subterranean Press. You can find her on twitter [email protected]

Interview by Deborah Stanish

1. Let’s talk about your process – how do you nurture a story from the first flicker of an idea to completion. Are you a researcher? Note taker? Or do you just dive in and let the story carry you?

It really depends on the project. In most cases, I’ll start with the idea – the opening line, or the voice of the character, or the thing I want to do with the story. Quite often, at that point, I’ll just start writing. Which sometimes works well – my recent story, “The Saint of the Sidewalks” in Clarkesworld started from a picture that Libba Bray posted on twitter as a 140 character writing prompt, and it almost wrote itself. I only needed one polish-pass after I did the zero draft. And sometimes, trying to take an idea and just start writing blows up in my face – “Hath No Fury” in Subterranean had eight different beginnings, and I had to rewrite the end twice, and that was just to get it in draft. I probably cut as many words as there are in the published version.

I love to do research, so I do often look for ideas that give me an excuse to immerse myself in a topic, and if I know I’m going to need to do research, I do most of that before I start writing. And for longer projects, I am trying to make myself better and doing some planning before I write, so that I don’t get through an entire zero draft and realize that I’ve forgotten to put in something important, like the plot.

2. With the twitter handle “KatWithSword” it should come as no surprise to readers that you practice the art of fencing. Both writing and fending require a great deal of mental energy and strategy. Does the combination of writing and fencing cause any sort of creative synergy?

I’m unfortunately on injury retirement (injury pause? I’d love to compete again) right now, as I have a shoulder that insists that I can either write full time or fence, and I’ve chosen writing. But I fenced foil competitively for years, and I loved it.

One of the things I particularly loved was the strategy. Foil has right of way, which means that in the case of simultaneous hits, you need to be controlling the action in order to be awarded the touch. I always thought of it as a kind of structured poetry – like, you can say anything you want in a sonnet, but if you don’t follow the rules, it’s not a sonnet. It might be something great, but it’s not a sonnet. SO thinking like that – how to do what I want (win!) within the rules, was a great pleasure to me, and something that made the writing parts of my brain stronger.

Plus, this means that fencing uses a lot of the same language that writing does – there is a “conversation of blades” and when the judge determines right of way, she is said to be “reading the phrase.” I mean, that’s just marvelous.

3. How do you use your work to challenge yourself or your readers?

I am always trying to challenge myself as a writer. I want to say new things, take new risks, push myself to write better stories, whatever “better” happens to mean to me that day. I don’t ever want to sit back and rest. I’d rather fail spectacularly than be blah.

As to challenging my readers, I don’t know that I necessarily think about that in a concrete way when I write. I don’t say “I’m going to make this character a woman, because that will challenge the status quo!” But I do hope that what I write makes people think and feel, sometimes in ways that are outside of their comfort zones, and if I’ve done that, then I do think that I’ve challenged them. Any time you accept that the world is bigger or different that you thought before, you’ve seen a challenge, and accepted it.

4. What is the “uncanniest” thing that has ever happened to you.

Aaahh! You don’t want me to write that down, do you? Don’t you know that’s how this sort of thing spreads? Better not to talk about it. Just be quiet. Sit in the sun, somewhere nice and warm with no ghosts at all instead.

Uncanny Magazine Is 75% Funded and Thomases Interviewed on Skiffy and Fanty!

There’s a brand new interview with Uncanny Magazine editors Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas on the Hugo Award-nominated Skiffy and Fanty Show.

In other news, Uncanny Magazine is now 75% funded!!!

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We are so excited to be this far after one week. The sooner we hit 100%, the sooner we can open up to unsolicited submissions.

Uncanny Party!

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Since we hit 75% yesterday, one of yesterday’s new backers will receive a signed copy of The Book of Apex: Vol. 4. This anthology collects all of the original fiction from Lynne M. Thomas’s first 14 issues of Apex Magazine.

Here is Caitlin drawing the name from her Indiana Jones fedora that she received at the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular during her Make-A-Wish trip.

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The book goes to Michael Silverstein! Congratulations!

Uncanny Mini Interview with Year One Contributor Paul Cornell!

PaulCornellLaunch

 

Paul Cornell is a writer of SFF in prose, comics and television. He’s one of only two people to be Hugo Award-nominated for all three media. He’s written Doctor Who for the BBC, Wolverine for Marvel and Batman and Robin for DC. His urban fantasies, the Shadow Police novels, are London Falling and The Severed Streets, out now from Tor.

Interview by Deborah Stanish

1. You’ve done it all – television, novels, comics, short stories, audio plays – how do you use short fiction to tell stories differently than other story telling formats?

 

It’s the hardest thing I do. It’s a very pure form, all about creating a situation and characters and working through a single concept. I think in many ways it’s the ideal mode for big idea SF.

 

2. Not only have you created amazing original characters, you’ve also played in some pretty fantastic sandboxes. If you could create a crossover using any character you’ve created or written for, what characters would you choose and why?

 

I have so many Doctor Who crossover stories in my head, notably a Patrick Troughton’s Doctor/Original Star Trek one that one day I will get to professionally write for someone!

 

3. How do you use your work to challenge yourself or your readers?

 

Just going back to writing a novel every morning is a challenge to oneself. There’s also the continual challenge to be honest, to not shy away from the tough stuff because you’re afraid of the audience. You’re not necessarily trying to please them, you’re trying to satisfy them, which can include engaging their darker emotions, and my own.

 

4. What is the “uncanniest” thing that has ever happened to you?

 

And here’s an immediate example of the above! I’m going to be honest: I had some impossible experiences in my childhood, about which I’ve written a novel which nobody’s heard about yet. Also, my numinous contact experience, which left me feeling I should choose a religion. That was a bit more than you were expecting, wasn’t it?

PaulCornellLaunch

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