Share scallops with comics legend Larry Lieber, co-creator of Thor, Iron Man, and Ant-Man, as we discuss the old-time radio shows which most influenced him, what he learned about humanity from reading Margaret Mead back in the '50s, how the only reason he became a writer was because he was too slow to make a living an artist, who told him at the start of his career that comics was a "dying industry," the tips Stan Lee gave to make him a better writer, why his attempts to work for DC Comics never worked out, the warning artist Syd Shores offered he wishes he hadn't heeded, how a quote he heard in a movie about Irish playwright Sean O'Casey helped him understand the arc of his own life, the three best-selling books he read before writing his own novel, his mixed feelings on winning the Bill Finger Award, how Jim Shooter helped him relearn how to be an artist, which comics assignment he enjoyed the most, what Stan Lee told him about the Rawhide Kid that made him decide to take it over from Jack Kirby, why he feels like Don Quixote, the surprising thing he thinks is the best thing he's ever written, and much more.
Nibble naan with artist Paul Kirchner as we discuss how a chance encounter in art school led to him assisting cartoonist Tex Blaisdell on <em>Little Orphan Annie</em>, the life lessons he learned during his apprenticeship with EC Comics legend and <em>Daredevil</em> innovator Wally Wood, the ruse he used to convince the editor of <em>Harpoon</em> into commissioning more installments of his famed <em>Dope Rider</em> strip, how the office of <em>Screw</em> magazine was nothing like you thought it would be and the office of <em>High Times</em> was everything you thought it would be, where he learned "the only thing that'll kill you bigger than a flop is a hit," the techniques he uses to dream up new episodes of his surrealistic strip "the bus," his druggiest fan encounter, our joint memories of "Fabulous" Flo Steinberg, Marvel's "Gal Friday," the first person he ever met in comics. his graphic novel collaboration with famed writer of detective fiction Janwillem van de Wetering, and much more.
Devour Cthulhu with World Horror Grandmaster Ramsey Campbell as we discuss his early relationship with Arkham House editor and publisher August Derleth, who he might have been had he never discovered H. P. Lovecraft, how this master of unease is able to keep the sense of dread going for the length of a novel (hint: he's not entirely sure himself), why he loves <em>The Blair Witch Project</em>, what it was like writing novels in the Universal monsters universe, how he felt when <em>The Times</em> listed <em>The Doll That Ate its Mother</em> as one of the silliest titles of 1987, how <em>Twilight Zone</em> editor T. E. D. Klein changed his life, our shared memories of the 1979 World Fantasy Convention, why he feels his attempts to write science fiction have been "clumsy," the way he was made speechless on his first meeting with J. G. Ballard, why he admires Vladimir Nabokov, and much more.
Head to Dublin for brunch with Maura McHugh as we discuss how the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers' Workshop sometimes makes people realize they <em>shouldn't</em> be writers (and why that can sometimes be a good thing), how having lived in both Ireland and the U.S. affected her life and her writing, whether her attraction to dark fiction was ever a choice, what it was like getting to create comics in the Judge Dredd universe, how she decides whether ideas that pop into her head get transformed into comics or prose, her recent art project inspired by the works of Simone de Beauvoir, why she doesn't speak much about works in progress on social media, what she learned pulling together the selections for her first short story collection, why Twin Peaks fascinated her so much she wrote a book about the show — and much more.
Share a walnut whip with Cheryl Morgan as we discuss the only science fiction she was allowed to read in school as a kid, why she preferred American Marvel Comics over the British comics of her youth (and how she considers Jean Grey her big sister), the way Dungeons & Dragons made 10 years of her life disappear, how helping out on a Worldcon bid led to her meeting one of the most important people in her life, the reason deciding to go digital infuriated fanzine fandom, the legacy of Ursula K. Le Guin's <em>The Left Hand of Darkness</em>, how she hid behind the sofa while watching the first episode of Doctor Who (and which was her favorite Doctor), the unfortunate reason she stopped publishing her Hugo Award-winning fanzine, why I'm to blame (in part) for her first encounter with science fiction, whether the Retro Hugo awards do what they're intended to do, the pre-history of robotics before <em>R.U.R.</em>, the difficulties in judging the best translated work — and so much more.
Join Lisa Tuttle for a Javanese dinner as we discuss the amusing series of mishaps which prevented her from learning she'd won the 1974 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best New Writer as early as she should have, the first thing Harlan Ellison ever said to her, how the all-male table of contents for a major horror anthology inspired her to edit her classic female horror anthology <em>Skin of the Soul</em>, the way emigrating from the U.S. to the UK affected her writing, why an editor said of one of her submitted novels, "I love this book, but I could no more publish it than I could jump out the window and fly," how she and George R. R. Martin were able to collaborate early in their careers without killing each other, what she'd do if she were just starting out now as a writer, the reasons contemporary acknowledgements sections of novels should be shortened — and so much more.
Chow down on chowder with the award-winning Jack Dann as we discuss the novel he and Gardner Dozois always planned to write but never did, how a botched appendectomy at age 20 which left him with only a 5% chance of survival inspired one of his most famous stories, why he quit law school the day after he sold a story to Damon Knight's <em>Orbit</em> series, the bad writing advice he gave Joe Haldeman early on we're glad got ignored, the secrets to successful collaborations, the time Ellen Datlow acted as referee on a story he wrote with Michael Swanwick, how it felt thanks to his novel <em>The Man Who Melted</em> to be a meme before we began living in a world of memes, why he's drawn to writing historical novels which require such a tremendous amount of research, the time he was asked to channel the erotica of Anaïs Nin, the gift he got from his father that taught him to take joy in every moment — and much more.
Join award-winning horror author Lucy A. Snyder for an Indian lunch as we discuss how Madeleine L'Engle's <em>A Wrinkle in Time</em> made her want to become a writer, the rare bad advice she got from one of her Clarion instructors, the way Hunter S. Thompson and Truman Capote taught her about consensual truth, how she learned to embrace her uneasy relationship with horror, the time Tim Powers said of one of her early stories that "this is an example of everything that's wrong with modern science fiction," why if you want to write flash fiction you should learn to write poetry, what you should consider if you're starting a new writing workshop, how best to prepare for public readings of emotionally difficult stories, the way she used Kickstarter to continue her Jessie Shimmer series (plus everything you need to know to start your own campaign), what it was like writing in the <em>Doctor Who</em> and <em>X-Files</em> universes, and much, much more.
Bite into a burger with P. Djèlí Clark as we discuss his upcoming first novel (the sale of which was announced only days before we spoke), the background which gave birth to his award-winning story "The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington," the reason <em>The Black God's Drums</em> switched point-of-view character during his writing of it, what he learned about New Orleans due to an unfortunate encounter with the local police department, how he found success when he switched from writing multi-volume sagas to focusing on shorter forms, his complicated feelings about Ray Bradbury, how being a professional historian helps his writing, our favorite (and not so favorite) episodes of <em>The Twilight Zone</em>, and much, much more.
Nibble New York cheesecake in L.A. with Nebula Award-winning writer Rachel Swirsky as we discuss what it was like to be critiqued by Octavia Butler at the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop, how she learned there's no inherent goodness in being concise in one's writing, the generational shift in mainstream literature's acceptance of science fiction, why she's an anarchist (though she's really not), what she learned about writing as a reporter covering pinball professionally, how the things most people say are impossible actually aren't, why you shouldn't base your self-worth on your accomplishments, how to deal with writers block and impostor syndrome (and the way they're sometimes connected), the proper way to depict mental illness in fiction, why whenever she writes erotica it turns out to be depressing, how she survived the controversy over "If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love," and much more.
Slurp matzoh ball soup with Will Eisner Award-winning writer/editor Mark Evanier as we discuss the lesson he learned watching Stan Lee write one of his famous Bullpen Bulletins pages, how his first sale to <em>Laugh-In</em> magazine led him to believe he could make it as a professional writer, the lunch at which Jack Kirby swore him to secrecy about quitting Marvel, the inker Kirby would have chosen if he was allowed to choose only one (and why it wouldn't be Vince Colletta), his stupefied reaction when Sergio Aragonés placed the original art for the first issue of <em>MAD</em> in his hands (and how Mark later stupefied Jerry Lewis), whether he can imagine a world in which Stan Lee and Jack Kirby could have ironed out their differences, and much, much more.
Join comics legend Gerry Conway for lunch in L.A. to learn how the comics business has always been dying and what keeps saving it, why if he were in charge he'd shut down Marvel Comics for six months, what it's like (and how it's different) being both the youngest and oldest writer ever to script Spider-Man, the novel mistake he made during his summer at the Clarion Writers Workshop, why he's lived a life in comics rather than science fiction, what caused Harlan Ellison to write an offensive letter to his mother, the one bad experience he ever had being edited in comics (it had to do with the Justice League), the convoluted way <em>Superman vs. Spider-Man</em> resulted in him writing for TV's <em>Father Dowling Mysteries</em>, how exasperation caused him to quit his role as Marvel's Editor-in-Chief (while I was out of the Bullpen on my honeymoon), how he'd have been treated if he'd killed off Gwen Stacy in today's social media world, and much, much more.
Hash it out with award-winning writer Kathe Koja as we discuss her love of immersive theater (and dissect her previous night's performance at StokerCon), why her groundbreaking debut novel <em>The Cipher</em> will always be <em>The Funhole</em> in her heart, what caused her to move into the YA world after her dark adult novels and why it's harder to write for a younger audience, how she accidentally wrote her <em>Under the Poppy</em> trilogy, the allure of writing historical novels, how being in the presence of Kate Wilhelm at Clarion changed her life, what she got out of her many collaborations with Barry Malzberg and others, plus much, much more.
Bite into what <em>USA Today</em> dubbed the best burger in Michigan with award-winning horror writer John R. Little as we discuss how seeing his sister's portable typewriter for the first time changed his life forever, the way he launched his career by following in Stephen King's men's magazine footsteps, why he's so fascinated by time and how he manages to come up with new ways of writing about that concept, which writer's career he wanted when he grew up and how buying a copy of <em>Carrie</em> changed that, the reason a science major has ended up mostly writing horror, the most important thing he learned from a night school's creative writing course, which of his new novel's controversial aspects concerned him the most during creation, and much more.
Crunch into a crab cake sandwich with award-winning horror writer Kaaron Warren as we discuss how her recent <em>Rebecca</em> reread totally changed her sympathies for its characters, the disturbing real-life crime related to the first time she ever saw <em>The Shining</em>, the catalyst that gave birth to her award-winning novel <em>Tide of Stone</em>, how she came up with new angles for tackling stories about such classic characters as Sherlock Holmes and Frankenstein, the way flea market bric-a-brac has led to some of her best ideas, the only correct method for preparing fairy bread, her go-to karaoke song, and much, much more.
Dare to eat donuts with a dozen horrific creators during the StokerCon Donut Spooktacular! Join us as Michael Bailey describes his novel inspired by a fire which turned his home to ashes in seven minutes, Geoffrey A. Landis shares about the Sherlock Holmes/Jack the Ripper horror story he published in the science fiction magazine <em>Analog</em>, Brian Keene explains why he chose last weekend to finally reappear at an HWA event, Wile E. Young tells why he thinks of the Road Runner whenever a story gets rejected, Anton Cancre reveals which guest that weekend earned most of his squee, Wesley Southard offers his schtick for selling books when stuck behind a dealers table at a con, Erik T. Johnson gives an unexpected (but perfectly logical) answer when asked about one of the perks of StokerCon, Patrick Freivald looks back on how his horror career began via a collaboration with his twin brother, Josh Malerman recounts how he replaced readings with full blown <em>Bird Box</em> interactive performances and the way an audience of 85-year-olds reacted, Asher Ellis shares how the Stonecoast MFA program made him a better writer, Kennikki Jones-Jones discusses her Final Frame award-winning short film <em>Knock Knock</em>, Eugene Johnson celebrates his Bram Stoker Award win that night for <em>It’s Alive: Bringing Your Nightmares to Life</em>, and much, much more!
Float away with Annalee Flower Horne as we discuss the incident at their first con which was a catalyst for wanting to become a writer, the way a glare from Mary Robinette Kowal caused them to submit (and then sell) their first short story, how the intricacies of game design can teach fiction writers to write better, why writers shouldn't complain when editors reject stories too quickly, the first story they wrote while angry (and what was learned from the experience), the cuss word they wish they'd thought of in time to get into their first published story, the novel-in-progress that's a feminist take on <em>The Demolished Man</em>, how codes of conduct can (and should) help make fandom better, and much more.
Enjoy an enchilada with Steve Stiles as we discuss what it was like to work at Marvel Comics in the mid-'70s, the ironic reason he no longer owns his Silver Age Marvels, the time he thought he'd gotten the gig to draw <em>Dr. Strange</em> (but really hadn't), what it was like being taught by the great Burne Hogarth at the School of Visual Arts, his first professional art sale (and why it ended up hanging on Hugh Hefner's wall), how his famed comic strip <em>The Adventures Of Professor Thintwhistle And His Incredible Aether Flier</em> was born, why he didn't like being art-directed by Marie Severin, which current comics he keeps up with, what Robert Silverberg said to him when he won his first Hugo Award after 14 tries and 49 years, the phrase he most wants carved onto his gravestone, and much more.
Bond over bing bread with Hugo-nominated author Malka Older as we discuss why democracy is a radical concept which scares people (and what marriage has to say about the dramatic potential of democracy), the pachinko parlor which helped give birth to her science fictional universe, how what was intended to be a standalone novel turned into a trilogy, her secrets (and role models) when it comes to writing action scenes, which of her characters moves more merchandise, how (and why) editor Carl Engle-Laird helped her add 20,000 words to her first novel, what she learned about herself from the collaborative Serialbox project, the one thing about her background I was embarrassed to admit I'd never realized, and much more.
Dig into dessert with Parvus Press publisher Colin Coyle as we discuss the reason we're glad we got to record the episode rather than spend the night in jail, how the tragic events of Charlottesville inspired him to hire Cat Rambo to assemble the <em>If This Goes On</em> anthology, why he switched over to the Kickstarter model for this book and what surprises he discovered during the process, the reason his company isn't publishing horror even though he'd like to, the surprising shared plot point slush pile writers used to indicate future American culture was failing, what an episode of <em>West Wing</em> taught him about launching Parvus Press, what he isn't seeing enough of in the slush pile, the acting role of which he's proudest from back in his theater days (hint: you've probably seen Danny DeVito do it), the advice he wishes he could have given himself when he started out as a publisher, and much more.
Binge on Brisket Benedict with Michael J. Walsh as we discuss what it is about the annual World Fantasy Conventions that drew him to attend all 44 of them, how a generous teacher's gift of an Ace Double led to his first exposure to true science fiction, the big score which induced him to become a book dealer, the way Ted White was able to do so much with so little when he edited <em>Amazing Stories</em> in the '70s, what witnessing Anne McCaffrey and Isaac Asimov singing Gilbert and Sullivan tunes made him realize about writers, what his time in fandom taught him which made him realize he could make it as a publisher, the time he was left speechless by Robert Heinlein offering him a drink, why it would have been wrong for a certain book he published to have won a Hugo, what con-goers most misunderstand about con runners, and much more.
Share spring rolls with Ruthanna Emrys, author of the H. P. Lovecraft-inspired <em>Innsmouth Legacy</em> series, as we discuss the ways in which her first exposure to Lovecraft was through pop culture references rather than the original texts, the reasons for the recent rise of Lovecraft recontextualisation, how tea with Jo Walton convinced her she was right to go ahead and write her first <em>Innsmouth Legacy</em> novel, why she ascribes to the tenets of the burgeoning Hopepunk movement, her love of writing <em>X-Men</em> fanfic and her hatred of gastropods, how she recovered from a college professor's unconstructive criticism, the time George Takei was nice to her at age 8 after she attended her first con in costume on the wrong day, and much more.
Pig out on pork belly tacos with Alan Smale as we discuss why an astrophysicist's chosen field of fiction is alternate history rather than hard science, how his fascination with archeology and ancient civilizations began, the reason he started off his novel-writing career with a trilogy rather than a standalone, the secrets to writing convincing battle sequences, the nuances of critiquing partial novels in a workshop setting, how his research into Roman and Native American history affected his trilogy, what steps he took to ensure he handled Native American cultures appropriately, that summer when at age 12 he read both <em>War and Peace</em> and <em>Lord of the Rings</em>, one of the strangest tales of a first short story sale I've ever heard, how and why he joined forces with Rick Wilber for their recent collaboration published in <em>Analog</em>, and much more.
Gobble goat cheese fritters with <em>Beneath Ceaseless Skies </em> publisher and editor Scott H. Andrews as we discuss the treatment he received as a writer which taught him what he wanted to do (and didn't want to do) as an editor, how his time as member of a band helped him come up with the name for his magazine, why science fiction's public perception as a literary genre is decades ahead of fantasy, what it takes for a submission to rise to the level of receiving a rewrite request, the time he made an editor cry (and why he was able to do it), how he felt being a student at the Odyssey Writing Workshop and then returning as a teacher, the phrase he tends to overuse in his personalized rejection letters (and the reason why it appears so often), the way magazine editing makes him like Arnold Schwarzenegger in <em>Conan the Barbarian</em>, why writers shouldn't worry about the ratio of submitted stories to purchased ones, the reason he'll probably never edit novels, what anyone considering starting a magazine of their own needs to know, and much more.
Eavesdrop on my Thai dinner with the immersive (and totally science fictional) theatrical troupe Submersive Productions as we discuss the ways everything from <em>Dragon Ball Z</em> to <em>Myst</em> to Terry Gilliam's <em>Brazil</em> stoked their love of the fantastic, how the funding came together for their first mesmeric show about the women in the works of Edgar Allan Poe, the dare that made their recent durational play grow to eight hours and the half-scripted/half-improvised way they were able to keep their performance going that long, how the actors found their voices by channeling Katherine Hepburn and Roberto Benigni, the multiple meanings of the most transcendent pie-eating scene I've ever witnessed in the theater, how they deal with introverted (as well as overly extroverted) audience members during immersive performances, the differences between improv comedy and improvisational theater, and much more.