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Interview: Robert Reed on “Every Color of Invisible”

Tell us a bit about “Every Color of Invisible.”

The story is a sequel, of sorts, to every other “Raven Dream” story. And in particular, it is tied to the most recent: “Shadow-Below.” Unfortunately, that story is several years old, which might present a challenge to readers. Knowing this, I tried to write something that could at least pretend to stand on its own. And if you can read “Shadow-Below” first, or even afterwards … well, I think that might give you a fresh perspective on what is happening.

 

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

I wanted to get back to the world of Raven Dream, with the goal of finishing this saga — at least well enough to satisfy me.

 

Can you tell us about any of the research you may have done for “Every Color of Invisible?”

The family and I went for a driving trip through the American Southwest in 2017. There were two benefits. First, the Natives. Not just the archaeological digs at Mesa Verde and Hovenweep, but the vivid living communities. Particularly the Navajo, who maintain a working nation inside our sloppier, more Walmart civilization. And just as important, I did most of the driving, which meant a lot of long periods where I had no choice but to think and think about story options.

 

Was there any aspect of this story you found difficult to write?

Let’s just say that there are some basic writing challenges to working in a series started more than a decade ago, and that has enjoyed a few changes of inspiration along the way.

 

Why do you write?

To figure out what’s going to happen next in my stories.

 

Who do you consider to be your influences?

I could list the usuals: Tiptree, Wolfe, Silverberg, etc. Or I could admit to a dark writerly secret. The universe outside me has receded. As I get older and less willing to read science fiction, I find myself influenced mostly by my own work. Stories from twenty and thirty years in the past, and it seems like they were written by someone with my name and many of my qualities, but not me. That is the writer who means the most to me.

 

What are you working on now?

The main function of 2018 was preparing my past short fiction for publication online. Nearly 300 works had to be reformatted and lightly edited, or severely edited. As of today, 65 or 66 are available from Kindle, including all of the previous Raven Dream stories. RAVEN DREAM at the Amazon store.

 

“Every Color of Invisible” appears in the November/December 2018 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1811.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: Bo Balder on “The Island and Its Boy”

Tell us a bit about “The Island and Its Boy.”

It’s a story about a boy who wants to stay on the island he loves when everybody is going to leave. He goes against his society out of love for that living island. In this world, the special relationship between people and their island is usually reserved for women, which is why the headwoman and his brothers and friends initially don’t believe him and don’t support him.

 

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

It’s a trait I’ve noticed in people (and myself) that the more people tell you no, the more you want something, and the more your strength to want it grows. The adversity creates the energy to fight.

 

Can you tell us about any of the research you may have done for “The Island and Its Boy?”

For this story and the other stories in this world I researched extensively for the lifestyles of people in prehistoric Arctic environments. I also researched marsupials, because that’s what the people in this story are, with the sf change of both sexes having pouches for carrying babies in. That detail is in the underwater part of the iceberg for this story, but it is vital when you have to think up good reasons for a society where women are both scarce and dominant.

 

Can you tell us about any of the worldbuilding of this story and what inspired your choices?

The idea of a floating island as a living creature is not a new one, but I’ve always loved that notion. So when in the course of a novel I wrote about people on an island floating by my protagonist’s village, trading for a few days and then hurrying back to catch up with their island, I knew I would write a story set on that island one day.

Because on such an island, you’re both living in an unchanging environment, the island itself, and floating past whole continents in the course of a year. As a writer, you immediately think in a seemingly static situation, what if?

And once I started asking myself questions about the island itself, I had to find the answers. Questions like: If it is a living creature, it must have been born once. Living creatures grow and mature. So the kind of change I needed to happen presented itself organically. The island would grow too big for its original course and have to move to a new one.

I also wanted to portray a world where women are the dominant members of society, and to see what would change if that happened. I wanted to have really good biological(if sf) reasons for this, not just make it so because the author wants it.

If there are few women, you need really big ‘litters’ to keep your population large enough. That would be hard on women, except if you create the possibility for men to take part in the suckling and raising of babies. It also has a big impact on the way your society works, for example marriage can’t between just one man and one woman. You need group marriages. Or if you don’t, you create a large body of discontented young men. (That could be another story….) And homosexuality would be the norm.

It also makes sense for children having been suckled by women to get different hormones than the ones suckled by men, and from this follows the special qualities of the brother who shares a pouch with his sister.

 

Who do you consider to be your influences?

I love Ursula LeGuin, because she focuses on people and what makes them tick. Nothing wrong with battles and spaceships, but I really enjoy a more anthropological point of view. Liz Williams also wrote a couple of novels where the biology is a driving factor in the plot. Kate Elliott because she takes good deep looks at how societies work and how you need solid underpinnings for change.

I’m also very concerned about the big environmental issues in our world, and it seemed like a good and fun idea to make the ”environment”, the island, not only a living but also a sentient creature. That way if you want to think about themes, this issue is there in the background, but in the foreground there’s an enjoyable adventure.

 

What are you working on now?

I’m finishing up a present-day sf thriller, but as to short stories, usually spaceships and lots of aliens.

 

“The Island and Its Boy” appears in the November/December 2018 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1811.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: Nick DiChario on “The Baron and His Floating Daughter”

Nick DiCharioTell us a bit about “The Baron and His Floating Daughter.”

The best way to tell people about a story you’ve written is to ask them to read it and hope they can tell you what it’s about. A good story speaks for itself. Mine happens to be a folktale, which means I hope it has a snappy plot, a touch of magic, and a clever character or two to root for–all hallmarks of the traditional folktale. A folktale is also a cultural snapshot of its times, so I invite readers to enjoy the social commentary in my story. (And it really is about a baron and his floating daughter just like the title says!)

 

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

Many years ago, I read a wonderful novel by Italo Calvino called The Baron in the Trees. It’s about a young baron who climbs a tree after an argument with his parents and decides he’s not coming down. Ever. He spends his entire life up there, moving around town from one tree to another, meeting people, experiencing life from twenty to fifty feet high. When I started writing my own folktales, Calvino’s novel came roaring back into my mind. I wondered what it would be like if someone didn’t have a choice in the matter and had been born with a peculiar floating ailment. That’s when the story was born. 

 

Was “The Baron and His Floating Daughter” personal to you in any way?  If so, how?

All my stories are personal to me. The published ones, anyway. They’re never any good if they aren’t personal on some level. There are things about Francesco, Levita, Antonio, and the bind they find themselves in that I can relate to: lost hopes and dreams; disappointments and failures; perseverance and spirit; facing the forces in life that cannot be controlled. It’s a very human story. The great philosopher Albert Camus is often quoted as saying, “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.” I try to keep those words in mind whenever I write a story. Truth is what makes fiction personal.

 

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

I suppose you could say I’ve been researching the story for years. I’m a great admirer of Italian folktales. In 2016, I traveled to the University of Calabria in Southern Italy to learn about Italian folklore, literature, and culture, an experience that led me down the path to writing my own original folktales. “The Baron and His Floating Daughter” is one of several I’ve written that all embrace the Italian tradition. I also wanted to bring modern themes and sensibilities to the form. I hope I’ve succeeded in doing that as well.

 

Why do you write?

Please hold while I schedule a psychotherapy appointment. 

 

What are you working on now?

I’ve recently finished a collection of my own new Italian folktales (including “The Baron and His Floating Daughter) and would like to find a publisher for it. I’ve also been working on a few other short stories, at least one of which will be published in an upcoming F&SF. I’m feeling the itch to write another novel. My last novel was published in 2008. I’ve been knocking around a few ideas for it, hoping one will jump up and down and insist I write it. We’ll see. 

 

“The Baron and His Floating Daughter” appears in the November/December 2018 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1811.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

Visit Nick DiChario’s website: www.nickdichario.com

Links to Nick’s two novels:

Interview: J. R. Dawson on “When We Flew Together Through the Ice”

Tell us a bit about “When We Flew Together Through the Ice.”

Merribelle and her sister Sarah are kidnapped by their mother and become nomads among the stars. But when Merribelle starts questioning her mother’s actions, she’s fitted with an upgraded robotic Conscience-9. C-9 begins to malfunction and twist her reality into something dark and frightening. Sarah has a way out for both of them, but Merribelle’s not sure she wants to leave.

 

J.R. DawsonWhat was the inspiration for this story, or what prompted you to write it?

I have an anxiety disorder, and I actually wrote the whole first draft while I was stuck on a plane during a panic attack. I’ve wondered if I should share that, but I think it’s important to the story. I thought, “Everyone writes about their experience in the world, and anxiety is my experience.”

I also am always fascinated by the interstate system in the Heartland. Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, etc., all have this sweeping landscape that makes you feel like you are alone and isolated from anything else. It reminds me of space. And these little Pilot-J truck stops and rest areas and weird little motels are little stations for travelers, and … there’s something very “lost astronaut” about putting your name in for a shower above the gas station fountain drink machine. I’ve always taken it for granted, but I guess it’s actually weird and its own thing.

 

“When We Flew Together Through the Ice” gives the reader a very intimate view into the mind of the protagonist/narrator, but reveals nothing about the mindset of another character who looms so large in the story: the mother.  Who is this woman, and can you tell us anything about your thoughts on this character or your approach to writing her?  How do you see her relationship to her daughters?

This story is from Merribelle’s perspective, and not only does Merribelle suffer from anxiety attacks for most of the narrative, she’s also being abused to the n-th degree. When someone is abused, especially when it’s a child receiving the abuse from a parent, there’s not always bandwidth to empathize or understand where they’re coming from. There’s just the need for survival, to keep the waters calm, to appease. But. I do think in the very last sentiment of the story, I found the answer to Mom. I think Merribelle finally understands why this has all happened. For me as the author, I think Mom is scared, I think Mom is mortal, I think Mom knows both of these things.

 

Was there any aspect of this story that you found difficult to write?

Yeah, the revisions were actually the hardest part. Between writing this piece and receiving the acceptance and edits, I started therapy and medication. Things got so much better. My anxiety actually doesn’t run my life anymore. Because there is hope and it can get better. But I hadn’t looked at the story for a very long time. I was so sad that this was a sad story. I was so sad that there are people out there who feel like there’s no hope. Especially since I am a huge fan of hopepunk, it was hard.

 

Is there any other aspect of “When We Flew Together Through the Ice” that you want to touch on?

There’s hope. There’s help. You’re not alone.

 

Why do you write?

I love to tell stories. I love to converse with other people about their stories. I love how our souls shine through the worlds we paint. We find ourselves among the dragons and the stars, and I love that. It’s magic.

 

Who do you consider to be your influences?

I fell in love with science fiction because of Ray Bradbury and KA Applegate. But lately, I have to say the author who has stayed with me the most and who I have learned so much from is JY Yang. Their Tensorate Series is amazing … I don’t even have words. So I came for the Bradbury and stayed for the Black Tides.

 

What are you working on now?

I’m currently finishing a novella about a post-WWI magic circus and its performers who try to fix the future.

 

“When We Flew Together Through the Ice” appears in the November/December 2018 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1811.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

Visit J. R. Dawson’s website: http://www.jrdawson.org/

Interview: Abra Staffin-Wiebe on “Overwintering Habits of the North American Mermaid”

What was the inspiration for “Overwintering Habits of the North American Mermaid,” or what prompted you to write it?

I was challenged to write something very rooted in the winter weather and the geography of Minnesota, where I live. We have over 10,000 lakes and the Mississippi River. Combine that with the odd phenomena of seasonal dating habit changes and the appearance of abandoned clothes, add a few mermaids, and there you go!

 

Is flash fiction something you typically write?

I write at all lengths, from micro fiction to novels. The shortest story I’ve sold was only 20 words long (to Thaumatrope twitter fiction). The revisions process is certainly less painful when you only have a few sentences to polish!

 

What are you working on now?

I’m working on two novels… with occasional breaks to write short stories when I’m struck by an irresistible idea! My main project is a contemporary fantasy thriller set in Belize. My fluffy side project is an urban fantasy novel about a half-dragon, half-succubus who stumbles onto a dimension-traveling hotel (hint: hijinks ensue). And my epic fantasy novella, The Unkindness of Ravens, recently came out. It’s a story of trickster gods, favors owed, and a royal heir desperate to protect his House from a plague-driven war.

 

“Overwintering Habits of the North American Mermaid” appears in the November/December 2018 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1811.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

Visit Abra Staffin-Wiebe’s website: http://www.aswiebe.com/

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