Binge on the Balkans with Eisner Award-winning comics writer Tom King as we discuss the two questions no one in comics can answer, his attempt at age 11 to get a job at Archie Comics, how he goes back to the beginning when writing a classic character such as Supergirl, whether Alan Moore would have had the impetus to create Watchmen in today's environment, our dealings with comic book censorship, the weird way Monica Lewinsky caused him not to get hired by MAD magazine, the differences we discovered early on between Marvel and DC, what he learned as an intern to the legendary Chris Claremont, the Black Knight pitch he got paid for which was never published, the way comic book people are like circus folk, why the current state of Krypto proves I could never go back to writing comics, and much more.
Nosh with Nebula Award-winning writer John Wiswell as we discuss his motivation for giving one of the greatest acceptance speeches ever, how he learned to build meaning out of strangeness, the way writing novels taught him to make his short stories better, his dual story generation modes of confrontation vs. escape, why what we think we know about the Marshmallow Test is wrong, the reason we're both open online about our rejections, how the love of wallpaper led to him becoming a writer, why we've each destroyed our early writing from time to time, what he learned writing a story a day for six years, and much more.
Dig into dolmades with agent extraordinaire Joshua Bilmes as we discuss how the COVID-19 lockdown impacted the publishing industry, what he learned by visiting 238 Borders bookstores, the offer he's made to bookstore employees he's surprised has never been taken up, how writing letters to <em>Analog</em> led to his career as an agent, what life was like at the famed Scott Meredith literary agency, the fact which had he but known he might not have gone out on his own as an agent, why he's had to redefine what "pleasure" means, what he has to say to people who think they don't need agents, the sixth sense he possesses which helps him choose new clients, and much more.
Share sushi with Philip K. Dick Award-winning writer Meg Elison as we discuss her pre-pandemic prediction for the kind of year 2020 was then shaping up to be, how reading Terry Bisson's "They're Made Out of Meat" changed her life, using tabletop RPGs to deal with the powerlessness felt during recent times, the way rereading taught her to be a writer, our dual fascination with diaries, when she realized her first novel was actually the start of a trilogy (and the songs which helped her better understand each installment), why she followed that post-apocalyptic trilogy with a contemporary YA novel, and much more.
Share shahi korma with writer Karen Osborne as we discuss her biggest surprise after signing with an agent for her first novel, how she was able to celebrate the launch of that debut book <em>and</em> a Nebula nomination during the COVID-19 lockdown, what you need to keep in your head to never go wrong about a character's motivations, how the Viable Paradise writing workshop taught her to lean in on her weird, the favorite line she's ever written, how she wrote fanfic of her own characters to better understand them, why she doesn't want her daughter to read her second novel until she's 13, the way <em>Star Trek: The Next Generation</em> changed her life, how the Clarion workshop taught her to let go of caring what other people think of her writing, what Levar Burton means to her childhood, and much more.
Nibble prosciutto bread with Nebula and Hugo Award-nominated writer Nino Cipri as we discuss how they made peace with the heat death of the universe, the way their favorite endings also feel like beginnings, the false assumption things will always get better, how their award-nominated novella started out as a screenplay, their trouble with titles and fascination with trees, the many pleasures of ambiguity, how we almost lost them to mortuary science, why they've been called a verbal terrorist, and much more.
Grab gỏi cuốn with award-winning writer Aliette de Bodard as we discuss how best to deal with imposter syndrome, the way the pandemic contributed to her completing a long-unfinished story, the phone call which sparked her to focus on more personal stories, when she realized she was building universes rather than single stories, how anger over <em>Revenge of the Sith</em> gave her insight into the kinds of universes she did and didn't want to build, why the <em>Shadow and Bone</em> TV adaptation wasn't the escapist entertainment she hoped it would be, how writers can fight back against the cliches popular culture puts in our heads, whether writers can control the effects of their stories when they have no idea what individual readers might bring to them, how best to use anger appropriately, the importance of a story's final line, what she wishes she'd known about writing rules when she began, and much more.
Grab an egg roll and join comics writer/editor Jim Salicrup as we discuss the illustrated postcard which convinced Marvel Comics to hire him at age 15, how John Romita Sr. caused him to change his name the first day on the job, what he did to enrage <em>MAD</em> magazine's Al Feldstein, his late-night mission to secure Stan Lee's toupee, what editor Mark Gruenwald had in common with Bill Murray, why the 1970s' <em>X-Men</em> revival was like <em>Amazing Fantasy</em> #15, how he convinced Todd McFarlane to stick to Spider-Man (which eventually led to a blockbuster new comic), the possible connection between Stan's love of crossword puzzles and the famed Marvel Method, and much more.
Grab a slice of pizza with A. T. Greenblatt and eavesdrop as we discuss the writing workshop-induced panic which caused her to begin writing her latest Nebula Award-nominated story, how the Viable Paradise workshop helped kick her writing up a notch, why she prefers Batman to Superman, the importance of revisions, critique groups, and community, what's to be learned from rereading one's older work, why she's a total pantser, her love of Roald Dahl, something she wishes she'd known earlier about the endings of stories, how much of writing is being able to keep secrets and not explode, and much more.
Bite into BBQ with Zig Zag Claybourne as we discuss how creators can self-define their success to avoid jealousy and despair, why he's always preferred Marvel to DC, how he'd annoy his family with his love of the original <em>Star Trek</em>, the two professors who showed him he could be a writer, why the title is the soul of a story, the most important pointer he received after reaching out to romance writer Beverley Jenkins for advice, why he does some of his best writing in the bathtub, how dialogue reveals character, whether his wild duology will ever become a trilogy, how to survive toxic fandoms, and much more.
Grab a slice of pie with podcaster Gil Roth as we discuss his surprising (and my unsurprising ) guest with the greatest number of downloads, the advice John Crowley gave him about his potential writing career, how a guy who used to memorize X-Men comics got turned on to Love & Rockets, the way we process the deaths of former guests, the song he wants played at his memorial service, how to get often-interviewed guests not to regurgitate their favorite soundbites, why no comic book movie beats the first <em>Superman</em>, how he became the publisher of every letter Samuel R. Delany wrote in 1984, why readers thought he was the secret identity of another writer during his days reviewing for <em>The Comics Journal</em>, the Italo Calvino quote which has kept him going through the pandemic, and much more.
Savor Stan Lee's favorite sandwich with comics writer Jo Duffy as we discuss why she knows what Superman will look like when he's 100, the many reasons our kid selves both thought Marvel had D.C. beat, the genius of Marie Severin, how I may have inadvertently been responsible for her getting a job as an Assistant Editor in the Marvel Bullpen, what it was like to work with Steve Ditko, the firing she still feels guilty about 40 years later, how she approached the challenge of writing <em>Power Man and Iron Fist</em>, the letter she wrote to Stan Lee after the death of Jack Kirby, the two-year-long <em>Star Wars</em> story arc she was forced to squeeze into a few issues, the best writing advice she ever got, and much more.
Nibble hors d'oeuvres with award-winning writer Mary Robinette Kowal as we discuss the temporal differences between puppetry and science fiction conventions, how she transitioned from writing magical Regency novels to the Lady Astronaut series, why unlike many writers, she reads her reviews (albeit selectively), the reason she's able to write relationships between reasonable people so well, how she constructs a science fiction mystery, why it's so important she likes her characters' clothing when she picks a project, the meaning of science fiction itself within her science fiction universe, the way she uses sensitivity readers to make her work better, how a novel is like a clear glass pitcher, and much more.
Settle in for bagels and a schmear with comics retailer Joel Pollack as we discuss what the pandemic has done to the comics shop business, the comic his mother bought him which changed his life, the card game which led to him getting his first piece of original art, how his run-in with a young Howard Chaykin convinced him he wasn't cut out to be a professional comics artist, what opening day was like at the first of his Big Planet comic book stores, the biggest sales event he's seen during his 35-year retailing career, what inspired Bernie Wrightson to draw a freaky issue of <em>Swamp Thing</em>, how he fights back against the Comic Book Guy cliche to makes his shops welcoming places, our joint distaste of slabbing, why he doesn't like doing appraisals, and much more.
Savor spanakopita with Nick Mamatas as we discuss why there's a generational divide when it comes to what potential readers might think his upcoming novel <em>The Second Shooter</em> is about, our joint Brooklyn heritage and history with professional wrestling, why he threw away the first dozen stories he wrote, the reason Marvel Comics was always better than DC, his encounters with the famed monologuist Brother Theodore, the first bad book he ever read, the way having been a journalist helps him collaborate without killing his co-writers, why work for hire assignments can be difficult, how we feel about our refusal to pick a genre lane, and much more.
It's time for cookies and conversation with writer/editor/publisher Ian Randal Strock as we discuss what he said upon meeting Isaac Asimov which caused the Grand Master to refuse to write him a limerick, why he prefers <em>The Princess Bride</em> novel to the movie, the reason his father advised him not to name his publishing company after himself, why the 1,000-word short story is his natural length, the question editor Stan Schmidt asked before purchasing his first story for <em>Analog</em>, the essay which so thrilled him he felt compelled to start his own magazine, the most difficult aspect of running your own publishing company, why ending a story too late isn't as great a sin as starting one too early, how his fascination with presidential trivia began in the bathroom, and much more.
Binge brownies with William F. Wu as we discuss how the two of us almost ended up at the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop together (and why we didn't), the reason he wasn't terrified when he got the chance to play in Issac Asimov's robot universe, how an assignment from Harlan Ellison gave birth to one of his more famous short stories (which was later adapted as an episode of <em>The Twilight Zone</em>, what he found easy about writing in George R. R. Martin's <em>Wild Cards</em> universe, how you might never have read his science fiction if crime editors had been kinder to him, what Kate Wilhelm told him which helped fix a story problem, why Marvel's <em>Master of Kung Fu</em> comic books attracted him (and how he'd have written the book if given the chance), how he manages to collaborate with other writers without killing them, and much more.
Chow down on pizza with Ignatz Award-winning Alison Wilgus as we discuss how their life might have gone an entirely different way if not for the <em>Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles</em> movie, why they describe themselves to people as "a feral nerd," how an unsolicited pitch on a Post-it note led to selling their first script, what fanfic taught them about writing professionally in other people's universes, the best way to interact with sensitivity readers, why they've retired from Hourly Comics, what would have happened with Odo and Kira if their <em>Deep Space Nine</em> spec script been accepted, the big surprise about the way they made their first sale to <em>Analog</em>, and much more.
Loaf around with award-winning writer A.C. Wise as we discuss how her first professionally published fiction ended up printed on a coffee can, the 24-hour challenge which led to the creation of her Lambda Award-nominated collection, which comic book character obsesses her the most, how individual stories can act as commentary on all stories, why she enjoys wielding the power of ambiguity, how workshopping with other writers can help make stories better, what <em>The Queen's Gambit</em> can teach us about dealing with reader expectations, the unexpected way a flash fiction piece turned into her first novel, and much more.
Share Sachertorte with Steve Toase as we discuss how his COVID-19 lifestyle has been both an inspiration for and a distraction from his writing, the way reading his stories at open mic nights helped him hone his craft, the importance of dread in horror, how his background in landscape archeology helps make his fiction more visceral, the challenge of scripting a planetarium show for the visually impaired, what gave birth to his fascination with Forteana, his advice for those who'd like to improve their flash fiction, the short story sale which told him he'd made it, our shared love of the great Italo Calvino, which of his creations brings him the greatest pride, the advice he wishes he could give his younger self about writing, and much more.
Things get crunchy with award-winning writer Robert Shearman as we discuss the reason we're lucky we each survived to adulthood, how he almost talked his way out of selling his first short story, the way he starts every story thinking it's funny even as things turn horrific, why some readers find his new collection offensive and others uplifting, how he's following up that three-volume, 2,000-page, 650,000-word, 101-story collection, the way his brush with COVID-19 has affected his writing, and much more.
Cross the pond for pappardelle with Priya Sharma as we discuss the best decision she made about her debut short story collection <em>All the Fabulous Beasts</em>, how the cover to that book conveys a different message in our COVID-19 world, why we each destroyed much of our early writing, a surprising revelation about the changed ending to one of her stories, who told her as a child "your soul is cracked," the two of us being both longhand writers and defenders of ambiguity, what it's like writing (and not writing) for theme anthologies, the most difficult story for her to write, how the pandemic has affected our writing, and much more.
Uh-oh! It's Spider-Man SpaghettiOs with comics writer/editor/historian Danny Fingeroth as we discuss his start (like mine) in the Marvel British reprint department, what was wrong with the early letters he wrote to comics as a kid, his admittedly over-generalized theory that there were only two kinds of people on staff at Marvel, our differing reactions to the same first comic book convention in 1970, our somewhat similar regrets about the old-timers we worked beside during our early days in comics, why working in comics was wonderful and heartbreaking at the same time, why he wanted to be not only Stan Lee, but both Stan <em>and</em> Jack Kirby, how he was able to interview Stan and get "The Man" to say things he'd never said before, why comics was the perfect medium for Stan Lee, and much more.
Down dumplings with the legendary Irene Vartanoff as we discuss how she'd never have gotten into comics if not for her father's cigar habit, what made a comic book reader become a comic book fan become a comic book professional, the "heartbreaking" advice given to her by Julie Schwartz during her teen visit to DC Comics, why her reputation as a famed letterhack meant she didn't face the same sexism as other women in comics, what it was like working for Roy Thomas at Marvel and Paul Levitz at DC (and why she respected them both), how critiquing romance manuscripts for 25 years was like being at Marvel all over again, the secret origins of her Temporary Superheroine character, how politics changed Hollywood Superheroine, the final novel in her trilogy, why pantsing works better for her than plotting, the reason she decided to go the indie publishing route, and much more.
Join Farah Mendlesohn for tea and scones as we discuss the reasons Robert A. Heinlein resonated with her, how her early and current readings of Heinlein differ, why the science fiction of the '30s was far more politically radical than that of the '40s and '50s, her deliberately controversial comment about Ursula K. Le Guin, the circumstances under which she's more interested in the typical rather than the groundbreaking, that period during the '20s when everyone was fascinated by glands, the one Heinlein book she wishes we'd go back and reread, our joint distaste for fan policing, and much more.