Snack on sushi with Ray Nayler as we discuss how his time living outside the U.S. helped him become a better science fiction writer, why he feels the greatest effect of having written <em>The Mountain in the Sea</em> was a culinary one, the reason we agree our favorite part of writing is rewriting, the sad results of his accidental Facebook experiment, whether his mammoth memory behavior is based on scientific facts or is purely speculative, why we'll likely never be able to truly resurrect extinct species, how changes in culture can affect evolution, the train trip where he received career advice from a stranger he didn't realize was Neil Gaiman, why we aren't totally in control of our writing destinies, how he's haunted by the ghost of an alternate version of himself, plus much more.
Nibble garlic naan with Jo Miles as we discuss how what began as a short story blossomed into a trilogy, the way to juggle multiple points of view and keep them balanced, the science fictional precursors which helped them create their sentient ship, how to properly pace the arc of a burgeoning romance, the importance of making sure a redemption arc feels earned, the way their mandate for writing optimistic science fiction came to be, the differing ways we were each affected by the pandemic, how the Taos Toolbox workshop teaches writers to break down the beats of their stories (and why that terrifies me), plus much more.
Munch MVP sandwiches with MVPs Gary K. Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan as we discuss why <em>The Coode Street Podcast</em> is "the <em>Cheers</em> of podcasts," the foolish statement made during their first episode which meant there had to be more, the identity of the guest who was most resistant to appearing on their show, the reason the podcast made Paul Cornell want to run, the different interviewing techniques necessary when having conversations with the voluble vs. the reticent, the white whales whom they could never snare, how to make sure we're speaking to more than just our own generations, their advice for anyone who wants to launch a podcast of their own, the way to avoid getting canned responses out of guests, how their conversational methods have changed over 13 years, whether critiquing books or rejecting stories has ever affected relationships with a guest, and much more.
Join Izzy Wasserstein for Kansas City BBQ as we discuss the way Sarah Pinsker sparked her lightbulb moment, why it's important for her to learn your chosen D&D character, which <em>Star Trek: The Next Generation</em> characters caused her to take her first stab at writing, the change she'd make in her life if she were independently wealthy, why we both miss those paper rejection slips from publishing's pre-electronic days, the disconnect between the way we feel about certain stories of ours and how readers respond, the most important gift she was given by the Clarion writing workshop, our perverse love for second-person present-tense stories, how surprised she was when she sold a story to <em>Analog</em>, and much more.
Join Pat Murphy for lunch at "the single best restaurant in the world" in Episode 215 of Eating the Fantastic as we discuss the part of Robert A. Heinlein's famed rules of writing with which she disagrees, why she felt the need to attend the Clarion writing workshop even after having made several sales to major pro markets, the occasional difficulties in decoding what an editor is truly trying to tell you, the importance of never giving up your day jobs, why she can't read Dylan Thomas when she's working on a novel, the differences between the infighting we've seen in the science fiction vs. literary fields, what we perceive as our personal writing flaws, a Clarion critiquing mystery I've been attempting to solve since 1979, the science fiction connection which launched her career at the Exploratorium, and much more.
Feast on crab fried rice with Nina Kiriki Hoffman as we discuss the way a ghost story which left her wanting more led to her taking her writing more seriously, her early reactions to reading Robert A. Heinlein and Ursula K. Le Guin, how the Clarion workshop convinced her she could have a career as a writer, the way she wanted to grow up to be a combination of Ray Bradbury and Zenna Henderson, what she learned about characterization from Samuel R. Delany while at Clarion, the major difference she saw between the horror and science fiction communities during the early days of the Internet, how my perception of the arc her career was affected not by what she wrote but by what she sold, the lesson Ellen Datlow taught her which she passes on to her students, and much more.
Snack on spanakopita with Neil Clarke as we discuss how Clarkesworld was born (and what he wishes he'd known back when the magazine launched), the motivation behind his unrivaled response times, the irresponsible impact of AI on science fiction and what he's doing to help ameliorate it, how he proactively analyzes submission data to make sure he receives stories from diverse voices, the differing effect of the pandemic lockdown on first time vs. established authors, why it's hard for people to sell him a time travel story, his problems with <em>Star Trek</em>'s transporter, the true meaning of rejections, why reading science fiction in translation is so important, Lester del Rey's prophetic warning about the provincialism of U.S. fandom, and much more.
Polish off a Peruvian lunch with Alex Shvartsman as we discuss how intimations of mortality got him to start writing fiction, what he learned as a pro player of <em>Magic: the Gathering</em> which affected his storytelling, why he set aside his initial urge to write novels in favor of short stories, which U.S. science fiction writers are more famous in Russia than their home country, the reason his success as a writer and editor of humor came as a surprise, why he feels it's important to read cover letters, the secret to writing successful flash fiction, his "lighthouse" method of plotting, and much more.
Binge BBQ with the legendary Mike Gold as we discuss the way his hiring at DC Comics was all Neal Adams' fault, how the guerrilla marketing he learned from Abbie Hoffman helped him quadruple direct market sales, the Steve Ditko <em>Creeper</em> cover which sent a not-so-secret message to publisher Carmine Infantino, why editor Murray Boltinoff compared Marvel Comics to the Beatles (and not in a good way), which staffer was "the most disgusting human being I'd ever met in my life," how First Comics was born, his secret weapon for getting creators to deliver their work on time, our differing contemporaneous exposure to <em>Fantastic Four</em> #1 (and how his related to Merrick Garland), the way an off-hand comment led to a classic John Byrne comic, how the comic book field is like a donut shop, and much more.
Chat and chew over fried calamari with the award-winning writer Michael Marano as we discuss how his love of science fiction storytelling led him to explore wrestling and roller derby, the lessons we each learned from our early rejections, his preference for old school <em>Dungeons & Dragons</em>, how his crush on Linda Blair affected his first celebrity interview, whether writers ever really retire regardless of what they claim, what his career as a film critic taught him about the possible arc of his fiction writing career, and much, much more.
Dine on oxtail stew with Lauren Beukes as we discuss why the genre community is like a giant amoeba, how her choice of D&D character is in perfect sync with the way she writes, the reason she only recently realized she has ADHD (and why her new novel <em>Bridge</em> is definitely an ADHD book), why AI can never replace writers, the ways in which the protagonist of her new novel is different from all her other protagonists, the importance of authenticity readers, why acquiring editors at publishing companies are like restaurant critics, the importance of art in helping us find our way through the darkness, the reason you shouldn't be so hard on your younger self, how she uses the Tarot to get unstuck, and much, much more.
Relive Capclaves past and present during the lightning-round Capclave Donut Carnival, where you'll hear R. Z. Held and me bond over rejection, David Hacker explain his love of listening to writers read, Michael Dirda recall why Orson Scott Card once kneeled before him on an elevator, James Morrow share his fascination with Charles Darwin, how Katy Lewis found her husband through Dungeons and Dragons, Michael Walsh's favorite moment as a con chair (which involved Howard Waldrop, Gardner Dozois, and George R. R. Martin), Bill Lawhorn clarify the creation of the bronze dodo, Sarah Pinsker reveal how and why her first science fiction convention was Capclave, Adeena Mignogna explain why space is cool but space travel gets really hot, Mike Zipzer's memories of Terry Pratchett's surprise visit, Sarah Mitchell's arranging of a secret con wedding, Sunny Moraine opine on how the world's response to COVID-19 changes our ideas of what would happen in a real-world zombie apocalypse, John Pomeranz chat about how the infamous Disclave Great Flood transformed him into a hotel liaison — and much more!
Join Hildy Silverman for a Georgian feast as we discuss the kindergarten incident which taught her all she ever wanted to do was write, how to keep writing when the whole world is telling you to stop, what she learned early on from such literary lions as Sue Miller and Jayne Anne Phillips, the lunch that changed her life, why she loves writing for themed anthologies (and how to do it right), what made her decide to take over as editor and publisher of <em>Space and Time</em> magazine, how to beat the odds of the slush pile, the ways being an editor helped her become a better writer, how she's managed to collaborate without killing her writing partner, and so much more.
Munch on a monstrous fish sandwich with Michael Bailey as we discuss his Stoker Award-nominated poetry collaboration with Marge Simon (and how they managed not to kill each other during the writing of it), how he knows when a poem is a poem and not a short story, what reading other anthologies taught him that made his own anthologies better, the economics of small press publishing, how to lose awards gracefully, the way getting an early story torn apart by Douglas E. Winter at Borderlands Boot Camp gave him the boost he needed, why his novel <em>Psychotropic Dragon</em> took 16 years to transform from an idea into a book, how one of the joys of writing is never knowing the end until you get there, his new obsession of making chocolate from fruit to bar, our shared love of revising continually, and so much more.
Chow down on crispy pickled cucumbers with Lisa Morton as we discuss how seeing <em>The Exorcist</em> at age 15 changed her life, why she sometimes feels guilty about her path to publication, our memories of the late, great Dennis Etchison, the differences between trick or treating in New York vs. L.A., the weirdest thing about working in a bookstore during the pandemic, the differing ways our writing was affected by lockdown, how she myth-busted Halloween, why she doesn't think of rejection as rejection, what she means when she says horror fiction should be more political, writing for themed anthologies, what it would take for us to turn our hand to novels, and so much more.
Feast on Fettuccine Alfredo with Howard Bender as we discuss how desperate Marvel Comics must have been to have hired young kids like us, his role in founding the Pittsburgh Comics Club (and the way he paid homage to that club down the road in Dial H for Hero), the day he showed Stan Lee his art portfolio over dessert, how he started his career at Marvel using Jack Kirby's taboret, the fact neither of us would have become who we turned out to be without Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, how terrified we both were of production manager John Verpoorten, our first meetings with the late, great Johnny Romita, the important life lesson he learned from inker Mike Esposito, what he was glad he remembered you shouldn't talk about with Steve Ditko, how Marie Severin inspired him in his current career as a caricaturist, and so much more.
Bite into baklava with Charlie Jane Anders as we discuss how her childhood fantasy of aliens whisking her away from Earth gave birth to her Unstoppable trilogy, the way writing a YA meant she had to completely change the way she writes, the challenges of bringing a large cast of characters to life while giving them their own inner lives, why she has problems with Clarke's Third Law but was willing to roll with it for her new trilogy, the difficulties of still being at work on the third book of a trilogy when the first was already in the hands of readers, how growing as a writer means embracing the messiness of the process, her reaction to being called "this generation’s Le Guin," what she had to learn to be able to write comics, and so much more.
It's time for a ramen reunion with my 1979 Clarion classmate Rhondi Salsitz as we discuss her early missed opportunity to workshop with Octavia Butler, the terrible thing Tom Disch told her during their one-on-one meeting during Clarion, the animated series which inspired her to write her bestselling Sand Wars series of novels, why she feels she's still standing when so many of our Clarion comrades aren't, what caused a reader to write an angry letter to Dean Koontz about one of her novels, how she progressed from recognizing there was a problem but not knowing how to fix it to understanding what needed to be done, and so much more.
Bite into a baconless BLT with Jordan Kurella as we discuss which ice cream flavor he chose to celebrate his Nebula Award nomination, the way readers can tell which stories writers had the most fun writing, how all he needs to pants a story is the first line, what caused him to say "it's not write what you know, it's write what you're embarrassed about," why he doesn't like to reread his own published work unless he has to, how to avoid getting stuck in rabbit holes of research, the ways writing a book can be like spending time with your best friends, his rule about story titles, why we're both so attracted to writing love stories, how playing the violin in public prepared him for surviving rejection, why he published only a single piece of literary fiction before realizing the fantastic was where he belonged, and so much more.
Join J. Michael Straczynski for breakfast as we discuss his appearance on one of the greatest convention panels I've ever been privileged to witness, why Superman stood out above all the other superheroes of his youth, his epiphany which occurred the night before the premiere of <em>Changling</em> at the Cannes Film Festival, the low boredom threshold of Harlan Ellison, how Norman Corwin's ability to overcome bitterness about the Blacklist helped him deal with his own demons, his realization there was something more important about writing than either plot or characters (and what that something is), the tendency of humans to sleepwalk through our lives and what can shake us free from that, the life-changing nature of the "shoelace moment," why DC Comics would never have dared publish anything as political as <em>Captain America</em> #1, the reason you don't ever have to worry about him eating off your plate, the early encouragement he received from Rod Serling, and so much more.
Dip into durian ice cream with multi-award nominated writer William Shunn as we discuss what he hoped would happen when he arrived at the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Workshop when he was 17 vs. what actually did happen, how his post-Clarion homelife was haunted by Ray Bradbury, the time Kate Wilhelm critiqued his critiquers, how an early rejection from <em>Playboy</em> got him in big trouble, the way a tragedy scuttled the sale of his memoir to a major publisher, how he and Derryl Murphy collaborated on a novella without killing each other, and much more.
Munch on mahi mahi with L. Marie Wood as we discuss the way she began her writing career selling poetry in parking lots, our differing experiences with hand selling our own books, the fears which keep horror writers up at night, the many misconceptions she had about the writing life back when he began, the uncomfortable novella she wrote when she was five, what our parents made of our horrific scribblings, the ever-present problem of dealing with rejection, our mutual love of pantsing, what should become of our private papers, and much more.
Feast on fish and chips with the prolific Robert Jeschonek as we discuss why when he a kid growing up in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, he dismissed any suggestion Steve Ditko grew up there as mere rumor, the differences in the way we each pants our stories, how to get writing done amid the pressures of life, the best way to approach assembling collections and anthologies, how he got his first gig writing comic books, dealing with the inevitable rejections, whether his fans follow his writing career across his many genres, the many misconceptions people have about Steve Ditko, and much more.
Share crispy spinach with Sheree Renée Thomas as we discuss how to prevent being an editor interfere with being a writer (and vice versa), the way a serendipitous encounter with Octavia Butler's <em>Kindred</em> caused her to take her own writing more seriously and a copy of <em>Black Enterprise</em> magazine spurred her to move to New York, how her family's relationship with Isaac Hayes nourished her creative dreams, the advice she gives young writers about the difference between the fantasy and reality of a writers life, how realizing the books she thought were out there weren't launched her editing career, the rewards and challenges of taking over as editor for a 75-year old magazine, why she reads cover letters last, and much more.
Savor sea food with Theodora Goss as we discuss the ways in which being an immigrant is like living in a fantasy world, how she knows when a poem is a poem and a story is a story, the power of the specificity of prose, what Neil Gaiman once said about writing for theme anthologies which perfectly described her own process, our surprisingly similar experiences with editorial suggestions, why so many fantasy writers love <em>Middlemarch</em>, her theories about the best way to moderate panels, how she knows when a story is truly done, and much more.