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.
Settle in for arancini with Annalee Newitz as we discuss how difficult (and disappointing) it would have been to eat a trilobite, what writing their non-fiction books taught them about creating the arcs of novels, why their brain seems more suited for novels than short stories, how best to include a message in fiction without the soapbox overwhelming the story, the greatest bad review one of their books ever got (it involved creamed corn), how to inhabit characters who are hundreds of years old, fun facts they learned about moose which helped make their new book better, the music they blasted to rev up for one of the novel's big action scenes, how to make the growth of a fictional romance believable to readers, the serendipitous way in which Ken McLeod rekindled their love of science fiction, and much more.
Polish off a Polish meal with Walter Jon Williams while we discuss why when he started out he didn't think he was good enough to make it as a science fiction writer, how if I were to read his first drafts they'd terrify me, the con at which Gordon Dickson wandered around trying to sell one of Walter's novels to editors, why the '50s was the Golden Age of historical fiction in America, the way in which his first science fiction novel was an inversion of all the historical fiction he'd written before, which issues of <em>Fantastic Four</em> got him so angry he quit reading comics for 20 years, how deep he was into his career before he finally realized he might actually make a go at this writing thing, the most frequent problem found when teaching Taos Toolbox, what he learned about his Hugo and Nebula Award-nominated “Surfacing” by leaving it untouched in a drawer for six months, his motivation for the one time he had to say no to an editorial suggestion, what his extremely rare bouts of writers block — lasting only a few days — were really about, and much more.
Get crabby with writer Jennifer R. Povey as we discuss how the pandemic altered the timing of her newly begun five-book science fiction series, why she once had to rethink a novel after getting 20,000 words in, the reason series detectives are rarely the true protagonists in their own stories, our differing reasons for taking issue with J. K. Rowling, her <em>Star Trek</em> fan fiction origins, how to avoid sequel fatigue when writing long series, techniques for avoiding self-rejection, her unusual journey to getting published in <em>Analog</em>, how <em>20,000 Leagues Under the Sea</em> changed her life, the <em>Doctor Who </em> episode which altered her existential understanding of the universe, how her archeological training helped her fiction, what writers get wrong when depicting horses, how it's possible for pantsers to write novels, the time she horrified a Klingon in a convention bar, the divisive nature of "ship wars," and much more.
Collaborate over breakfast with horror writers Brian Keene and Mary SanGiovanni as they discuss how being intimidated by each other helps that collaborative process, their different tolerances for writing gore (and how that's changed over time), the romantic reason (up until this episode known to only one of them) their collaborative short story collection came about, which of them once wrote 45,000 words in a day, how they came to agree on a joint dedication, who gives each story its final polish (and who get the final say on sending it to market), how Brian attempted to bleed all over Mary's upcoming <em>Alien</em> novel, the way they approach their own deaths, their honeymoon book tour hitting every state but Alaska and Hawaii, their upcoming collaborative novel, and much more.
Lunch on Laotian food with Cory Doctorow as we discuss how different D.C. seems to him now that he's a U.S. citizen, the way his remarkable evening hanging with both David Byrne and Spider Robinson put things in perspective, the lessons we learned (both good and bad) from Harlan Ellison, our differing levels of hope and despair at the current state of the world, the major effect Judith Merril had on the direction of his life, how an ongoing column he wrote for <em>Science Fiction Age</em> magazine predicted the next 20 years of his life, our differing opinions as to what it means when we say stories are didactic, how to continue on in the face of rejection — and then once we do, how not to become parodies of ourselves, the best piece of advice he didn't follow, our differing views on spoilers, what he recently came to understand about the reactionary message of traditional hardboiled fiction — and how he used that in his upcoming trilogy, knowing when to break the rules of writing, and much more.
Feast on French toast with Ron Marz as we discuss how the letter he wrote to Marvel when he was a kid suggesting a Justice League/Avengers team-up predicted his future comics career, which side his childhood self fell in the Marvel vs. DC war, the difficulties of surprising readers when the publicity machine is always running, how early encounters with Bernie Wrightson and Jim Starlin led to him giving up journalism, why it was better he broke in first at "collegial" Marvel rather than "corporate" DC, how the thick skin he developed in newspapers helped him when he took over <em>Green Lantern</em>, why comic book companies like poaching each other's creators, the ironic conversation that led to him writing Superman, what he still considers the best part of the job after 30 years in comics, our memories of George Perez and Neal Adams, and much more.
Take a seat at the table in Little Italy with Al Milgrom as we discuss our time working together on '70s Captain Marvel, how he responded when Gerry Conway asked him to provide cover sketches for Jack Kirby, his memories of meeting Jim Starlin in middle school (and what Joe Orlando said about the duo when they brought their portfolios up to DC Comics), what he learned working as a backgrounder for the legendary Murphy Anderson, the day Marie Severin and Roy Thomas sent him on a wild motorcycle ride to track down Rick Buckler, how the artists on Marvel's softball team always played better than the writers, why (and how) he works best under pressure, how he became a triple threat writer/artist/editor, the conflicting advice Joe Orlando gave him about his DC Comics covers, what not to talk about with Steve Ditko, how Jim Shooter got him to edit at Marvel, and much more.
Dive into dim sum with Randee Dawn as we discuss the way her soap opera and gaming backgrounds led to the creation of her fantasy debut novel <em>Tune in Tomorrow</em>, what made her decide it was time for her to write funny, why her first instinct is always to turn her ideas into novels rather than short stories, how <em>Law & Order</em> fan fiction conquered her fears of showing her writing to others (and eventually led to her appearing as extra on the franchise), the reason she doesn't read her reviews, and much more.
Bite into blood sausage with Tim Waggoner as we discuss whether being a horror writer gives him any special insights into the pandemic, the true meaning of his latest novel's very specific dedication, the patience the writing life requires, what his agent doesn't want him to let his editors know, the reason ghost stories have never struck him as scary, how to write about people unlike yourself and get it right, the unusual way he decided which characters would live and which would die, why <em>Psycho</em> was one of the best movie experiences he ever had, the most difficult thing a writing teacher can teach, and much more.
Eavesdrop on the award-winning Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki as we discuss the reason "shocked" seemed an inadequate word to describe his feelings about winning a Nebula Award earlier this year, what he considered the true prize he won over his Worldcon weekend, how growing up next to a library changed his life, how writing fan fiction helped him get where he is today, the way reading the struggles of a certain character in a Patrick Rothfuss novel helped him deal with his own struggles, what caused him to say "the law cannot help you change the law," when he decided his novella "Ife-Iyoku, Tale of Imadeyunuagbon" deserved to be a trilogy, the way he does his best work when backed into a corner, how it's possible for three editors to edit an anthology, and much more.
Munch Carnitas Benedict with the award-winning Michael Swanwick as we discuss his response to learning a reader of his was recently surprised to find out he was still alive, how J. R. R. Tolkien turned him into a writer, why it took him 15 years of trying to finally finish his first story, how Gardner Dozois and Jack Dann taught him how to write by taking apart one of his tales and putting it back together again, why it was good luck he lost his first two Nebula Awards the same year, the good advice William Gibson gave him which meant he never had to be anxious about awards again, which friend's story was so good he wanted to throw his own typewriter out the window in a rage, the novel he abandoned writing because he found the protagonists morally repugnant, why he didn't want to talk about <em>Playboy</em> magazine, the truth behind a famous John W. Campbell, Jr./Robert Heinlein anecdote, and much more.
Dig into dim sum with the Nebula Award-winning Eileen Gunn as we discuss how it's possible to write when you always have writers block, the Ursula K. Le Guin story which convinced her she could have a career in science fiction, the two most important things she wants aspiring writers to know, her early advertising career writing funny ads for shoes she didn't like, the reason she believes "I don't decide what the story is until after I've finished it," which famous science fiction writer wrote the box copy for Screaming Yellow Zonkers, the question Kate Wilhelm asked her at Clarion which unlocked the unknown ending of a story in progress, the way her years in the ad business helped her become a better writer, how Carol Emshwiller made her a person of interest with a sheriff's department, what she said on a Worldcon panel which was so outrageous the audience had to be told she was joking, how <em>Psychology Day</em> magazine was almost sued over Frankenstein because they didn't listen listen to my advice, and much more.
Come to Chicago for lunch with Carol Tilley as we discuss how we each first learned about the Comics Code, the mostly forgotten rich kid origins of <em>Blondie</em>'s Dagwood Bumstead, the unsettling inconsistencies she discovered while going through 200 boxes of Fredrick Wertham's papers, what those documents reveal about how he came to believe what he came to believe, what it means to research with the brain of an historian, the proper pronunciations of Potrzebie and Mxyzptlk, her efforts to track down those who wrote letters to the Senate protesting comic book censorship during the '50s (including one of the founders of the Firesign Theater), the enduring power of EC's "Judgment Day," why she believed comic book censorship would have occurred even without Wertham's input, what she thinks he'd make of today's comics, how Wertham felt about the way comic book fans felt about him, and much more.
Chow down with Wesley Chu as we discuss why his new novel <em>The Art of Prophecy</em> has him feeling as if he's making his debut all over again, the reason his particular set of skills means he's the only one who could have written this project, why creating a novel is like trying to solve a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle without the picture on the box as reference, the heavy lifting a well-written fight scene needs to accomplish, why you'll never get to read his 180,000-word first novel, how to make readers continue to care when writing from the POV of multiple characters, the benefits and pitfalls of writing bigger books, why he decided to toss 80,000 words from the second book in his series, the ways in which environments are also characters, and much more.
Meet Max Gladstone for a Mexican meal as we discuss what a Godzilla movie has to tell us about the way future art will likely deal with the pandemic, our differing ideas over what we mean when we say we've written another draft of a story, how we'd be willing to dispense with the art inspired by tragedy if we could only skip the tragedy as well, the differences between his early and final drafts of <em>Last Exit</em>, how to make us care equally when writing from multiple points of view (and how doing so could cause the reader to trust the writer even more), what it is about science fiction that attracts dystopias, how our dreams have changed due to COVID-19, what we get wrong when we write about civilizations lasting thousands of years, and much more.
Join writer David Ebenbach for cheesecake in D.C. as we discuss the way he started writing science fiction without realizing he was writing science fiction, the final line of the worst thing he's ever written, how his first scribbling as a kid was a violent spy novel about The Smurfs, why it's important to root for an author and not merely our own reading experience, the cliches some in the literary and science fiction worlds believe about each other, the newspaper article which sparked his novel <em>How to Mars</em>, the way he's managed to carve himself out a bifurcated writing life, the philosophical differences between those writing novels and short stories, and much more.
Brunch on Eggs Benedict with Michael Jan Friedman as we discuss the comic book he refused to trade for <em>Fantastic Four</em> #1 as a kid, how the X-Men might actually be a deconstructed Superman, whether it mattered the Marvel Universe was set in New York rather than DC's series of fictional cities, why his two favorite superheroes are Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter, the lesson he took from an early encounter with Issac Asimov, how he easily solved a stardate conflict which allowed him to keep Chekov in one of his Star Trek novels, what it was like helping Hulk Hogan write his autobiography, and much more.
Catch up with Sam J. Miller over khachapuri as we discuss the 1,500 short story submissions he made between 2002 and 2012 (as well as the one story which was rejected 99 times), the peculiar importance of the missing comma from the title of his new collection <em>Boys, Beasts & Men</em>, his technique for reading collections written by others, why the Clarion Writing Workshop was transformative, how Samuel R. Delany gave him permission, the way his novels and short stories exist in a shared universe, the impossibility of predicting posthumous fame, the superpower he developed via decades of obscurity, the differing ideas of what writers block means, and much more.
Dig into dumplings with Patrick O'Leary as we discuss the way his new novel <em>51</em> is similar to <em>The Great Gatsby</em>, why he believes his books will crumble if he attempts to describe them, the perils and pleasures of pantsing (and how his stories often don't get any good until the 15th draft), the tragedy of being an invisible creature, our mutual fears of what aging might bring, his love for Marvel Comics (and especially the Silver Surfer), how Laura Ingalls Wilder introduced him to literature, the way reading Kurt Vonnegut taught him there were no rules, the two science fiction greats who literally left him speechless, and much more.
Join David Gerrold for a breakfast buffet as we discuss what he means by "humility in the face of excellence," the curse of fame and why J. D. Salinger may have had the right idea, how the more you know the slower you write, the challenge of living up to having won the Robert A. Heinlein Award (and why Heinlein once called him "a very nasty man"), the scariest story he ever wrote, how Sarah Pinsker helped him understand what he really felt about Ursula K. Le Guin's "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas," the kind of person he might have been had he not moved to L.A. as a kid, the fannish way he found out he'd been nominated for a Hugo Award, how it feels to already know what the headline of his obituary will be, and much more.
Grab dinner with Gwendolyn Clare as we discuss the important lesson COVID taught her about her career, whether her most famous short story reads differently during these pandemic times, the identity of the science fiction writer I was startled to learn had been her high school geometry teacher, what the novels of Elizabeth Bear taught her about writing, the short story concept she decided to instead turn into what became her first published novel, how she gets into the mindset to write in the Young Adult genre, the amazing cleanliness of her first drafts, the pantsing fingerprints she sees on Stephen King, the many iterations recent writers have made to John W. Campbell's "Who Goes There?," and much more.