Q: If you could talk to novice-writer self, what bit of advice would you give?
A: Since I’m fairly new to writing, I’m not convinced that I’m out of the novice stage yet, but if I could go back in time and give myself one piece of advice, I would tell myself not to be afraid of failing. Much of learning to write, I’ve found, is doing things badly until I figure out how to do them better. In my office, I have a bulletin board filled with scraps of paper, a French postcard of citrus fruits, and my writing bingo card. There’s a quote from Richard Bausch up there: “You can’t ruin a piece of writing. You can only make it necessary to go back and try again.”
I’d also tell myself to go read some Anthony Trollope, because he is hilarious and excellent at that whole omniscient narrator thing. Read widely, young writer-self. Also, don’t be too worried about adverbs.
Beth Goder’s story “To the Eggplant Cannon” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 21 April 2017. Subscribe to our e-mail updates so you’ll know when new stories go live.
Q: Have you ever wondered whether ideas are thought waves directed at you by an AI supercomputer located in the distant future?
A: Honestly it would be a relief if they were. It might mean that I couldn’t take credit for any of my good ideas, but it would also mean I couldn’t take all of the blame for my bad ones. I’ve always liked the Terry Pratchett idea of idea particles whizzing through space looking for receptors in people’s brains, meaning we’re surrounded by creativity all the time. In truth, though, a great idea is only half the battle. The best idea in the world is nothing more than an idea unless you do something with it.
Ian Rennie’s story “Angels at the Border” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 14 April 2017. Subscribe to our e-mail updates so you’ll know when new stories go live.
Q: What happens when you hit writer’s block head on?
A: If I hit writer’s block, it’s usually a sign that there is some problem with scene, plot, characters, or all of the above. My immediate response, which I try to ignore, is to go and mess around on the internet. This is rarely helpful. To solve the problem rather than avoiding it, some level of thinking is required, worse luck. I sometimes sit down with marker pens (I have Copics, which are a tremendous indulgence but I do love them) and a colouring book and try to let my brain freewheel. Going climbing is good, too. Both colouring and climbing work well for occupying my monkey brain (the bit that just wants to hit refresh on Twitter) and letting the slower-thinking creative parts ruminate for a while. If I had a different sort of dog, walking the dog might work. Unfortunately if I stop paying attention to my dog, she considers this to be a reason to ignore me in turn, takes off after the nearest squirrel, and refuses to return. This experience does not generate anything useful at all brainwise, though all the running backwards and forwards is probably good cardio.
Lying down and staring at the ceiling can be surprisingly helpful, although sometimes it leads to napping. But then, napping isn’t always bad — once in a while I dream a solution to a story problem, which is exceptionally satisfying when it happens.
And, most importantly, all of the above work better when I add both chocolate and tea, in large quantities.
Juliet Kemp’s story “Scraps” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 7 April 2017. Subscribe to our e-mail updates so you’ll know when new stories go live.
Q: Do you prefer your SFF as books or movies?
A: While I love movies, I’m both a writer and an editor, so I pretty much have to say that I prefer books. And I really do! For a bunch of reasons. For one thing, they’re much more cost-effective! Just compare how much time you spend enjoying a book versus a movie, and these days you can usually get a book for less than a movie ticket. Plus, I love how books let you get deeper into the characters, into the backstory, just deeper into the whole world. There are lots of great SFF movies out there, but it’s the rare one that can compare to the book.
Timothy Mudie’s story “Sundown on the Hill” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 31 March 2017. Subscribe to our e-mail updates so you’ll know when new stories go live.
Q: What’s the piece you’ve made that no one else thinks is as good as you do?
A: My favourite piece is a dragon I painted a few years ago. Non-artists seem to like it, but none of my peers do. I think its maybe not as technically proficient as it could be, but I loved painting it and it reflects those darker parts of my nature that most people don’t get to see, so it’s quite personal in that way. And well, I love dragons, so I don’t really care what my peers think, lol.
Candra Hope‘s image “Scraps” is the cover art for our April 2017 stories.
Q: From where you do you draw inspiration for your characters?
A: It really depends on the character and the story, but I believe I can narrow it down to three sources. Some characters are based on, or are composites of, people I know. With others the characterization comes from mе, although in such cases I try to be very careful not to reduce them to mouthpieces for my own opinions or ideas: perhaps infuse the character with a trait of my own personality, make them react like I would in a similar situation, but then I’d veer right off, forcing our personalities to diverge. (Side-note: I especially enjoy writing in the first person about characters decidedly unlike myself.) The third situation is when another work of fiction affects me to the point where I think up characters in response, as if saying, “The kind of characters I like to read about would never do that.”
All that said, most of the time I feel like characterization just happens spontaneously, right then and there, when I’m writing the scene, or perhaps during the long walks beforehand. I may start off with an idea of what a character is broadly about, but the Aha! moments — when you truly understand why your character acted the way they did — come much later.
Damien Krsteski’s story “Lake Oreyd” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 24 March 2017. Subscribe to our e-mail updates so you’ll know when new stories go live.