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Interview: Sarina Dorie on “Impossible Male Pregnancy: Click to Read Full Story”

Sarina DorieWhat was the inspiration for this story, or what prompted you to write it?

There never is one piece of inspiration for any story that I write.

I had been reading about genetic chimera before I wrote this. I then started thinking about how one side of the body could be female and the other side male and how that person would be both genders. While writing this story I had a friend who was pregnant who referred to the fetus as her parasite, so that also influenced this story. Another friend had tried to adopt a child and had to jump through a lot of hoops to adopt, but I ended up cutting out that part of the story.

Previously I used to work at an advertising agency, and I wrote the copy for people’s blogposts, trying to come up with the most clickbait-like titles possible. This inspired me to write flash fiction serial stories like “Clickbait for Paranormals,” which was published in Daily Science Fiction. I was having a lot of fun with the idea of clickbait, and I liked the idea of this story being told as clickbait.

Lastly, it’s hard to write a male pregnancy story without thinking about the movie Junior with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito. I was very conscious of that influence but trying hard not to go in the same place that they went.

 

Was “Impossible Male Pregnancy…” personal to you in any way?  If so, how?

When I was in college, one of the students in my art class painted a person in a scene for an advertisement and everyone in the class thought it looked like him, but he denied that he had tried to make it look like himself. The teacher said, “Every portrait is a self-portrait.” That stuck with me over the years. I don’t think I can make any piece not about some life experience I have. The stories that are the strongest are the ones that a reader can connect to emotionally and it is easiest to do that through personal experiences.

Sometimes writers subconsciously put their lives into their stories without realizing it. Though, I think I was pretty conscious of my own views on children and life experiences as I wrote this.

 

Can you tell us about any of the research you may have done for this story?

Prior to writing this I read an article about a crime committed by someone whose DNA on the left side of the body didn’t match the DNA of the right side of the body because their body had absorbed their twin while in the fetus and the investigators thought the crime must have been committed by a twin or sibling because the DNA was close but not a match. While writing this story I went back and did research on chimeras as well as research on clickbait titles.

 

What was the most difficult aspect of writing “Impossible Male Pregnancy…” and what was the most fun?

The part that was the most fun was the clickbait. The part that was difficult was also the clickbait. At first, I thought I was writing a serial story broken up and told in separate segments, but that didn’t work because each section didn’t have its own arc or a cliffhanger ending. I wanted to intersperse the clickbait titles like one would with chapter titles or at scene breaks, but sometimes it was hard figuring out how to organize the story using the clickbait.

 

Who do you consider to be your influences?

I think my love of science fiction and fantasy is influenced by my love of Star Trek, Star Wars, Tolkien, Anne McCaffrey, Twilight Zone, and The Outer Limits. I think the humorous tone in my stories are influenced by the banter and comedic tone of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Dresden Files, Sookie Stackhouse, and Carl Hiaasen’s quirky fiction books. In general, I have a love of the classics: Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, and I am sure the relationships in my stories are often influenced by books the classics that I am drawn to again and again.

 

What are you working on now?

I am very excited about the series I am working on now: Womby’s School for Wayward Witches. The ninth book is about to be released on Amazon. I love writing titles and most of the books have titles related to school and/or witchcraft like: Budget Cuts for the Dark Arts and Crafts or Reading, Writing and Necromancy.

Womby's School for Wayward WitchesThe premise behind the series: You think you know the world of magical boarding schools. Not from a teacher’s perspective at a school for at-risk youth.

I get to use a lot of my real-world knowledge in this series, drawing on my experience as a public-school art teacher as well include as my love of fairies and witches. When I read Harry Potter, I was in college. I wasn’t a kid who daydreamed about my owl coming to invite me to be a student at Hogwarts. I was a student teacher who wanted to be rescued from this Muggle world of budget cuts and hours of curriculum planning for ungrateful teenagers who threw spit wads at me and be invited to teach at a magical school.

A good way to find out about my series is to go to Amazon, my website, or sign up for my newsletter on my website to get updates, hear about days stories are free or on sale on Amazon, or to get free short stories.

 

“Impossible Male Pregnancy: Click to Read Full Story” appears in the September/October 2018 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1809.htm

You can subscribe to the print edition of F&SF here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/subscribe.htm

You can subscribe to the electronic edition of F&SF at the following links:

Weightless Books (non-Kindle): https://weightlessbooks.com/category/publisher/spilogale-inc/

Amazon US (Kindle edition): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004ZFZ4O8/

Amazon UK (Kindle edition): http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004ZFZ4O

Click on the author photo to visit Sarina Dorie’s website and learn more about her work: https://sarinadorie.com/writing/novels

 

Interview: Geoff Ryman on “Blessed”

Tell us a bit about “Blessed.”

It’s a horror thriller with a happy ending. I think horror is likely to be the genre – if you must write one and increasingly you do – it’s the genre that is most likely to get what being alive psychologically now is like. The happy ending is wishful thinking.

It’s about in part discovering you’ve grown down not up. It’s about what I imagine to be the hidden costs of being a white South African, which I suspect can really screw you up if you let it. It’s a tense place that still has an apartheid-like habit of breaking everything into oppositions. So white literary writers in English mutter about how the only South African writers getting any attention are science fiction writers. And the white SF writers mutter about how South African publishers many of them won’t even look at SFF. And you would think that white writers would have something to unite them, but no, there is opposition. Given how weird some of the older white men are, genuinely aggressive, dismissive, or loudly drunk and stepping off the bus while it’s in motion – ger-thunk – I suspect history in the country is something that gnaws at your bones and could stop you being your best even without you knowing it.

Anyway, that’s the main character’s problem I think. The tensions of being South African have weighed her buoyant spirit down. She becomes part of the solution. If she were a real person I would tell her to leave South Africa and go live somewhere else nice in Africa like Nairobi or Accra or possibly Lagos – which I like but I don’t live there, haven’t faced the day-to-day grind. But to visit—there’s the superb revamp of Fela Kuti’s house into a museum. It was done I understand by the guy who did Freedom Park and that’s the old colonial prison turned into an arts centre. A really low entry fee and it can be full of jamming musicians, and there’s good food and a really great bar. I also like Lekki Beach, which was supposed to be all middle class. They built all these buildings on the beach and of course storms blew them away, so there are these lopsided ruins in the sand looking like something out of Mad Max.

 

What was the inspiration for this story, or what prompted you to write it?

Going to visit Olumo Rock with a bunch of African writers from the Ake Festival in Abeokuta last year. I ended talking a lot to Diane Awerbuck and we had a hoot of a time and started making up stories about the Rock. She wrote a story too and it’s really good, a lot better than mine. (makes smiley face). You should publish hers as a companion piece.

 

Was there any aspect of “Blessed” that you found difficult to write?

No. It just came out more or less as you see it on first draft. I had to move some of the threats around to increase the tension. And the ending at the very first was that she walks out into dinosaurs. There was not difficulty at all in getting rid of that. Soooo easy getting rid of that.

 

What would you want a reader to take away from this story?

That they should contribute via Paypal to the African Speculative Fiction society website that administers the Nommo Awards for African science fiction. Visit www.africansfs.com.

 

Who do you consider to be your influences?

Well for this story Diane Awerbuck. I’d already interviewed her for 100 African Writers, and we’d spent a really fun afternoon a year before in Muizenbeg, a kind of resort town on the coast. So we found ourselves at the Ake Festival in Nigeria, in Abeokuta where the novel was set, and visiting the rock in the story. I started out with my good friend Dare Segun Falowo. You guys have published two of his stories and he’s in 100 Africans as well. Anyway so I started climbing the rock with Dare and sort of with Nnedi Okorafor – it is sort of that kind of festival, not all that different from a convention. She was climbing with C J Obasi who turned out to be the Director of Hello Rain, a Nigerian film adaptation of one of her stories. So I got interview CJ for Strange Horizons as well.

Dare is very much into Yoruba cosmology so that was kind of an influence. I don’t think anyone will spot which Yoruban entity the heroine encounters because her spiritual vision of it is so Western and so different from anyone else’s, so outside what Yoruba people would see or describe.

But I’m not sure that liking an author is the same as being influenced by them. I really wasn’t too aware of any outside influences. One of them was me. I’ve been influencing myself for quite some time. Which might explain my sales figures (smiley face).

I just remembered thinking at the time that this was a scary story and that “Pol Pot’s Beautiful Daughter” which you guys also published had horror elements, and how the horror elements suited the background. Back around to how horror is up to the job.

 

What are you working on now?

Well finished is the horror story ‘This Constant Narrowing’ that you guys are publishing. I was really surprised that you guys took it. I thought you had more class, really (smiley face). It was me not you guys who put on the trigger warnings stalking, homophobia, racism, and sexual violence. Contains offensive language.

Speaking of giving offence, I am writing a long thing about Jesus Christ. It was a novella and it took tor.com about two days to say, like, ‘No, not under any circumstances.’ They may have been afraid of giving offence? I sure was, so I thought I’d been oh so careful and polite. I wrote back to the editor to ask it they didn’t like it was because I was just a boring old fart and wrote like one. I mean it is possible, if my brain has as many age spots as my skin. At the time it was a very long novella so it may have just been the awkward length.

So I re-read the Bible and realized there was a whole theme I hadn’t explored, so it will now be a novel – a short novel, but definitely now a novel. Wish me luck, I need it. I’m composing the trigger warnings for that one now.

 

“Blessed” appears in the September/October 2018 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1809.htm

You can subscribe to the print edition of F&SF here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/subscribe.htm

You can subscribe to the electronic edition of F&SF at the following links:

Weightless Books (non-Kindle): https://weightlessbooks.com/category/publisher/spilogale-inc/

Amazon US (Kindle edition): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004ZFZ4O8/

Amazon UK (Kindle edition): http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004ZFZ4O

Interview: Brenda Kalt on “The Gallian Revolt as Seen from the Sama-Sama Laundrobath”

Brenda KaltTell us a bit about “The Gallian Revolt as Seen from the Sama-Sama Laundrobath.”

This is the story of an old, undocumented woman trying to survive in a city. She initially cheats a young rebel, as she does most of her customers, but she later helps him.

 

 

 

 

What was the inspiration for this story, or what prompted you to write it?

I grew up in the rural South, and I was exposed to many old, downtrodden women there. They stayed with me.

 

What would you want a reader to take away from “The Gallian Revolt…?”

I’d like for them to remember Ter, the old woman. Also the power of little actions.

 

Why do you write?

Because I can’t not write.

 

Who do you consider to be your influences?

I admire Larry Niven, especially his early work. I have read a lot of obscure SF authors and skipped many of the famous ones. I also read a lot of 1930s pulp when I was younger.

 

What are you working on now?

Two things. First is the story of how the people in our Martian base confront an angry asteroid miner who has decided to crash his ship into it. Second is the story of aliens who have lost a war to humanity and whose hidden crown prince realizes that he must become king to lead his people.

Whatever your political views, register to vote this fall. Then vote.

 

“The Gallian Revolt as Seen from the Sama-Sama Laundrobath” appears in the September/October 2018 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1809.htm

You can subscribe to the print edition of F&SF here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/subscribe.htm

You can subscribe to the electronic edition of F&SF at the following links:

Weightless Books (non-Kindle): https://weightlessbooks.com/category/publisher/spilogale-inc/

Amazon US (Kindle edition): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004ZFZ4O8/

Amazon UK (Kindle edition): http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004ZFZ4O

Interview: Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam on “The Men Who Come from Flowers”

Bonnie Jo StufflebeamTell us a bit about “The Men Who Come From Flowers.”

On the outskirts of a village that grows their men from flowers, Susan cares for the gardens. When she saves a flower that would otherwise have been discarded, she risks her post and her heart.

What was the inspiration for this story, or what prompted you to write it?

The phrase “boy flowers” popped into my head, and I was left with an image of talking flowers like the ones in Alice in Wonderland. I then started thinking on how flowers were often associated with femininity, and femininity versus masculinity, and why beautiful, softer things are often labeled feminine. I wanted to play with expectation and also explore this idea of toxic masculinity in a metaphorical context.

Was “The Men Who Come From Flowers” personal to you in any way?  If so, how?

Absolutely, in the way that all my work is personal to me: there are many elements in it that I have taken from experience. For example, I have been a gardener since I was a child, I have loved men who have spoken to me of their desire to be vulnerable without fear of repercussion, and I have felt lonely enough to have acted irrationally as Susan does.

What would you want a reader to take away from this story?

Whatever they need from it when they read it. I intended to write a modern fairy tale of sorts, and I hope that comes through. I also would like to inspire more people to think about gender from new perspectives.

Why do you write?

For so many reasons! I was a shy child and writing was a way to express myself that allowed me to cultivate the bravery to speak. I’ve been changed and moved so much by the stories and poems I’ve read over the years and I long to move people in similar ways. It’s the only thing I’ve ever loved doing this much. I have so many worlds going on inside me and I feel a need to play in them.

Who do you consider to be your influences?

When I first discovered the work of Aimee Bender, Karen Russell, and Kelly Link, I felt like I’d stumbled upon the kind of fiction I’d always wanted to write. I’m also heavily influenced by fairy tale and mythology. The magical realists get me: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jose Saramago, Toni Morrison, Carmen Maria Machado. I’m influenced by music and art: surrealists like Dorothea Tanning and melancholy indie musicians like My Brightest Diamond. Also, for classic SFF, Ursula K. LeGuin and Octavia Butler.

What are you working on now?

I’m writing text message stories for the app FlashReads, which is a fun exercise in dialogue and suspense. I’m also in the initial stages of writing a novel, as I’ve been writing a novel a year for the last four years. Various short stories are in the works as well; I write on those as I have time. I’ve always got several irons in the fire.

“The Men Who Come from Flowers” appears in the September/October 2018 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1809.htm

You can subscribe to the print edition of F&SF here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/subscribe.htm

You can subscribe to the electronic edition of F&SF at the following links:

Weightless Books (non-Kindle): https://weightlessbooks.com/category/publisher/spilogale-inc/

Amazon US (Kindle edition): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004ZFZ4O8/

Amazon UK (Kindle edition): http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004ZFZ4O

Author photo by Tony Najera.  Click on it to go to Bonnie Stufflebeam’s website: www.bonniejostufflebeam.com

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