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.
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.