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.
Have hot antipasto with Andy Duncan as we celebrate the publication of his new collection <em>An Agent of Utopia</em> and discuss why it took a quarter of a century to bring the book's lead story from title idea to completion, how he was influenced by the research regimen of the great Frederik Pohl, the way a short story is like an exploded toolshed, why he deliberately wrote a deal with the devil story after hearing he shouldn't write deal with the devil stories, the embarrassing marketing blurb he can't stop telling people about in bars, what caused a last-minute change to the title of one of the collection's new stories, how he feels about going viral after his recent J. R. R. Tolkien comments, what he learned about himself from completing this project and what it means for the future of his writing, what it is about his most reprinted story which made it so, and much more.
Slurp down Thai Beef Noodle Soup with Stephen Kozeniewski as we discuss how it took nearly 500 submissions before his first novel was finally accepted, why he has no interest in writing sequels, his advice for winning a Turkey Award for the worst possible opening to the worst possible science fiction or fantasy novel, why his output is split between horror and science fiction (but not mysteries), the reason Brian Keene was who he wanted to be when he grew up, why almost any story would be more interesting with zombies, when you should follow and when you should break the accepted rules of writing, where he falls on the fast vs. slow zombies debate, and much more.
Join Jo Walton for a seafood lunch as we discuss how Harlan Ellison's fandom-slamming essay "Xenogenesis" caused her to miss three conventions she would otherwise have attended, why Robert Silverberg's <em>Dying Inside</em> is really a book about menopause, the reason she wishes George Eliot had written science fiction, the ways in which during her younger days she was trying to write like Poul Anderson, her technique for getting unstuck when she's lost in the middle of writing a novel, why she loathes the plotter vs. pantser dichotomy, how she developed her superstition that printing out manuscripts is bad luck, the complicated legacy of the John W. Campbell Award (which she won in 2002), how she managed to write her upcoming 116,000-word novel <em>Lent</em> in only 42 days, and much, much more.
Savor a steak dinner with comics legend Paul Levitz as we discuss why even though in a 1973 fanzine he wrote he had "no desire to make a career for myself in this industry" he's spent his life there, how wild it was the suits let kids like us run the show in the '70s, the time Marv Wolfman offered him a job over at Marvel (and why he turned it down), what he learned from editor Joe Orlando about how to get the best work out of creative people, the bizarre reason Gerry Conway's first DC Comics script took several years to get published, how he made the Legion of Super-Heroes his own, which bad writerly habits Denny O'Neil knocked out of him, the first thing you should ask an artist when you start working with them, why team books (of which he wrote so many) are easier to write, our shared love for "Mirthful" Marie Severin, how glad we are there was no such thing as social media when we got started in comics, why Roger Zelazny is his favorite science fiction writer, and much, much more.
Taste tiramisu with Vina Jie-Min Prasad as we discuss why she didn't start writing any fiction until the release of J.J. Abrams' <em>Star Trek</em> reboot, the reason food has such a prominent place in her fiction, why she might never have become a writer if the Internet hadn't existed, the lessons she took away from her fan fiction days, what she meant when she wrote in her bio that she’s "working against the world-machine,” why her multi-nominated story "A Series of Steaks" was her first submission to a speculative fiction magazine, her fascination with professional wrestling and wrestling fandom, why her story "Pistol Grip" needed a warning for sexual content but not violence (and what Pat Cadigan called her after reading that story during the Clarion workshop), the reason she likes working in the present tense, and much more.
Chow down on fish and chips with the award-winning Steve Rasnic Tem as we discuss the importance of writing until you get to page eight, what he did the day after Harlan Ellison died, why even though he was a fearful kid he turned to horror, the thing which if I'd known about his marriage might have caused problems with my own, how crushed we both were when comics went up to 12 cents from a dime, why his all-time favorite short story is Franz Kafka's "A Country Doctor," the way joining Ed Bryant's writing workshop taught him to become a writer, how math destroyed his intended science career, why he made an early pivot from science fiction to creating horror, the reason it took him 48 years to take <em>Ubo</em> from initial idea to finished novel, how TV shows like "So You Think You Can Dance" had an effect on the way he writes action scenes, why beginning writers should consciously read 1,000 short stories (and what they should do once they're done), and much more.
Eat empanadas with Rebecca Roanhorse as we discuss the spark without which her award-winning short story would never have been written, the differing reactions her tale garnered from inside and outside of the Native American community, the compelling reason she chose to write it in the second person, what she learned as a lawyer that helped in writing her first novel, how she upped her game when she decided to be a writer for real, why she fell out of the reading habit and how a Laurel K. Hamilton novel drew her back in, what it was like to hear Levar Burton read her award-winning story, and much more.
Nibble naan with K. Tempest Bradford as we discuss how her Egyptian Afro-retro-futurism idea grew from a short story into a series of novels, the way she used crowdfunding to complete the research she needed, why her discovery of my <em>Science Fiction Age</em> magazine means I bear the responsibility for all she's done since, how an online writing community gave her the confidence to be a writer, the advice from Samuel R. Delany she embraces the most, why she set aside her goal of becoming an opera singer and decided to become a writer instead, the reason there are so many female monsters in Greek mythology, how she blew up the Internet with her "Stop Reading White, Straight, Cis Male Authors for One Year" challenge, her extremely strong opinions about Steven Moffat's version of <em>Doctor Who</em>, and much more.
Binge on sushi with award-winning author Pat Cadigan as we discuss what it was like being Robert A. Heinlein's liaison at the 1976 Kansas City Worldcon, why John Brunner hated her when they first met and what she did to eventually win him over, her secret childhood life as a member of The Beatles, what she and Isaac Asimov had in common when it came to convincing parents to accept science fiction, her original plan to grow up and script <em>Legion of Super-Heroes</em> comics, what she learned about writing from her 10 years at Hallmark Cards, how editor Shawna McCarthy helped birth her first novel, what effect being dubbed the Queen of Cyberpunk had on her career, who's Thelma and who's Louise in her Thelma and Louise relationship with editor Ellen Datlow, our joint friendships with Gardner Dozois, how she came up with her stories in the <em>Wild Cards</em> universe, and much more.
Share a steak dinner with legendary comics creator Don McGregor as we discuss how meeting Jim Steranko led to him selling his first comics story, why when he was 13 years old he wanted to be Efrem Zimbalist Jr., what he learned from <em>Naked City</em> creator Stirling Silliphant, how his first meeting with future <em>Black Panther</em> artist Billy Graham could have been disastrous, why the comics he wrote in the '70s wouldn't have been able to exist two years later, the reasons Archie Goodwin was such a great editor, how he convinced Stan Lee to allow the first interracial kiss in mainstream comics, what life lessons he took from Westerns in general and Hopalong Cassidy in particular, why he almost stopped writing <em>Lady Rawhide</em>, and much more.
Dive into Vietnamese Seafood Noodle Soup with Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning writer Rachel Pollack as we discuss why Ursula K. Le Guin was such an inspiration, the reason celebrating young writers over older ones can skew sexist, what Tarot cards and comic books have in common, how <em>2001: A Space Odyssey</em> isn't a science fiction movie but an occult movie, why Captain Marvel was her favorite comic as a kid (Shazam!), the serendipitous encounter which led to her writing <em>Doom Patrol</em>, how she used DC's <em>Tomahawk</em> to comment on old Western racial stereotypes, the problems that killed her <em>Buffy the Vampire Slayer</em> Tarot deck, how she intends to bring back her shaman-for-hire character Jack Shade, and much more.
Join Bram Stoker Award-winning writer John Langan for fish and chips as we discuss how reading <em>Conan the Barbarian</em> comic books as a kid made him hope he'd grow up to be a comic book artist, why his evolution as a writer owes as much to William Faulkner as it does to Peter Straub, what he learned about storytelling from watching James Bond with his father and Buffy the Vampire Slayer with his wife, the best way to deal with the problematic life and literature of H. P. Lovecraft, the reason his first story featured a battle between King Kong and Godzilla, his process for plotting out a shark story unlike all other shark stories, why a writer should never fear to be ridiculous, what a science experiment in chemistry class taught him about writing, his love affair with semicolons, that time Lucius Shepard taught him how to box, the reason the Shirley Jackson Awards were created, and much more.
Eavesdrop on a Sunday brunch with JY Yang as we discuss why they consider themselves "a master of hermitry,” the catalyst that gave birth to their award-nominated Tensorate Universe, why they think of themselves as terrible at world-building, how their dislike of the Matt Damon movie <em>The Great Wall</em> gave them an idea for a novel, the surprising results after they polled fans on which of their works was most award-worthy, their beginnings writing <em>Star Trek</em> and <em>Star Wars</em> fan fiction, why they never played video games until their 30s, the Samuel R. Delany writing advice they hesitated to share, and much more.
It's time to taste Toad in the Hole with Ellen Klages as we discuss why it took 40 years from the time she wrote the first sentence of her Nebula Award-nominated story "Passing Strange" to finish the tale, what a truck filled with zebras taught her about the difference between storytelling and real life, how cosplaying helped give birth to her characters, what she finds so fascinating about creating historical science fiction, why revising is her favorite part of writing, the reason she's the best auctioneer I've seen in my lifetime of con-going, what she teaches students is the worst mistake a writer can make, how her collaboration with Andy Duncan gave birth to an award-winning novella, whether she still feels like "a round peg in genre’s polyhedral hole" as she wrote in the afterword to her first short story collection, and much more.
Time travel to 1993 for lunch with Arlan Andrews, Sr., Gregory Benford, Geoffrey A. Landis, and Charles Sheffield as we discuss how <em>Gilligan's Island</em> gave TV viewers the wrong idea about scientists, the ways in which most science fiction isn't actually science fiction at all, but rather <em>engineering</em> fiction, what's wrong with portraying scientists as if they're any different than non-scientists, why Stephen King's <em>The Stand</em> gave such a negative picture of science and technology, the dangers of letting governments control science, why real science, like real art, is work, the reason scientists need to be more aggressive about the ways in which they're portrayed, and more.
Share BBQ brisket with Matthew Kressel as we discuss the story of his accepted by an editor within an hour and then praised by Joyce Carol Oates, the ways in which famed editor Alice Turner was the catalyst which helped turn him into a writer, why after publishing only short stories for 10 years he eventually published a novel, how comments from his Altered Fluid writing workshop helped make his Nebula-nominated "The Sounds of Old Earth" a better story, why a writing self-help book made him swear off those kinds of self-help books, the secrets to having a happy, heathy writing career, why he's grown to be OK with reading bad reviews, what he learned from reading slush at <em>Sybil’s Garage</em>, and much more.
Eavesdrop on an Italian lunch with award-winning science fiction author A. M. Dellamonica as we discuss how a long list of random things she liked eventually grew into her first novel, the intricate magic system she created for her series, how her novel <em>Child of a Hidden Sea</em> taught her she was less of a plotter and more of a pantser than she'd thought, the doggerel she wrote when she was five years old (which you'll get to hear her recite), how discovering Suzy McKee Charnas at age 15 was incendiary, which run of comics made her a Marvel fan, what it was like attempting to live up to the pioneering vision of Joanna Russ while editing the anthology <em>Heiresses of Russ</em>, which YouTube series happens to be one of her favorite things in the world, the way John Crowley's teachings might have been misinterpreted by her class during the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop, the three mystery novels of hers you'll hopefully be reading in the future, and much more.
Nebula Award-winning writer Kelly Robson had a little lamb (and you can eavesdrop) as we discuss how the first Connie Willis story she read changed her brain, the way a provocative photo got her a gig as a wine reviewer at a top national magazine, what she learned from the initial Taos Toolbox writers workshop, why completing <em>Gods, Monsters and the Lucky Peach</em> was like giving birth to a watermelon, how reading a <em>Battlestar Galactica</em> tie-in novel helped teach her how to write, where she would head if time travel were real, why she's contemplating writing a "frivolous" trilogy (and what that really means), the reason the story of hers she most likes to reread is a professionally published James Bond fanfic, and much, much more.