A question for Travis Wade Beaty

Q: Do you often include children in your stories? What role do they play?

A: I include children in my stories fairly often. Children are full of hope and are themselves a kind of manifestation of hope. So I like to see how cynical or hard-hearted adult characters might respond to being confronted with that kind of limitless optimism of a child.

There’s also that strong desire to protect children which can inspire a lot of fear. And letting a kid down can really haunt a person. So as a parent, I spend a lot of time thinking about that push and pull between hope and fear and all the doubts between.

Travis Wade Beaty’s story “Regret’s Relief
in Metaphorosis Friday, 8 May 2020.
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A question for Jonathan Louis Duckworth

Q: Duckbilled platypus – result of divine distraction, or alternate universe crossover?

A: The platypus is the result of a beaver scientist and a duck mathematician attempting to divide by zero. There is a small organ called an oxylitic ganglion adjacent to the left sinus, unique among mammals, which allows the platypus to process mineral-heavy water and use it to produce pure DMT. By the time you have finished fact-checking this, I will have already made my escape.

Jonathan Louis Duckworth’s story “Figlia della Neve
in Metaphorosis Friday, 1 May 2020.
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A question for David A. Hewitt

Q: What do you think makes a good story?

A: This is a profound question, by which I mean I find it virtually impossible to answer. If I could answer it conclusively, the number of rejection letters I receive would be much, much smaller. Sometimes it’s the inventiveness or the beauty of the language that makes a story. Often it’s that quality described by Jillsy Sloper in John Irving’s The World According to Garp: “Most books you know nothin’s gonna happen … Other books … you know just what’s gonna happen, so you don’t have to read them, either. But … this book’s so sick you know somethin’s gonna happen, but you can’t imagine what.” Most often, that can’t-look-away quality derives from the characters. They may be hard-boiled (Sam Spade, Easy Rawlins, Arya Stark); or perhaps they’re soft-boiled (Huck Finn, Indiana Jones, Gabriel Conroy of Joyce’s “The Dead”), or raw (Falstaff, George Eliot’s Maggie Tulliver, The Incredible Hulk). In some cases they’re even poached (Sanger Rainsford in “The Most Dangerous Game”). But some combination of compelling character and compelling need to see what comes next strikes me as being the closest thing to a magical formula for catching lightning in a bottle.

David A. Hewitt’s story “Donald Q. Haute, Gentleman Inquisitator, and the Peril of the Pythogator
in Metaphorosis Friday, 24 April 2020.
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An additional question for L. Chan

Q: What’s a genre you’d like to write, but don’t or can’t?

A: I’d love to write a heist story, either cyberpunk or fantasy. I’ve tried once or twice but the craft of getting a good twist in plain sight, without resorting to pulling stuff out of a hat has thus far eluded me. There’s a lot to love in the heist genre – getting a gang together, often with new or old frictions, backstories, cool tricks and pulling things back from the brink at the last minute through redirection. One day, I’ll get there.

L. Chan’s story “Seven Scraps Unwritten
in Metaphorosis Friday, 17 April 2020.
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A question for J.J. Drew

Q: Have you always wanted to be a writer?

A: Honestly? No. I know there are many stories out there of people who started writing as children and completed their first novel draft in their teens.

That’s not me.

While I’ve always loved reading, I never felt like I had stories to tell. Then, in my early thirties, a story idea popped into my head and refused to go away. I decided to write it down, if only to get it out of my mind.

I quickly discovered that my writing abilities weren’t up to the task.

Determined to do the idea justice, I set about honing my craft, and the strangest thing happened. It was like a mental floodgate had opened; the more I wrote, the more ideas I had.

I’ve been writing ever since.

J.J. Drew’s story “Clod-Shodden
in Metaphorosis Friday, 10 April 2020.
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A question for Jason P. Burnham

Q: [What book or books inspired you as a child?

A: Many, so many. In third grade, I had a reading award named after me by my elementary school teacher, Mrs. Charlene Joachim (RIP). I think I read something like 128 books that year. The next year, another kid smashed it with like 200 (?), but it was awesome to inspire others to read. Books that I haven’t looked up and don’t know if they stand the test of time, but still have warm memories of include:

The second book in the Boxcar Children series, Surprise Island. The kids were just out there, on their own, having a good time. The image/feeling I still remember from this book was independence and a sense of wonder, particularly with loft-style dwellings (oddly specific, I know).

Lots of people were probably inspired by The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but The Voyage of the Dawn Treader sticks out to me the most. My memory is of them sailing through the ocean, seeing mysterious civilizations under the waters and the awe that came with reading that. Maybe the water was even made out of sugar? It was incredible. I know there’s a lot of religious symbolism in those books, but I remember it for the wonderment at the worldbuilding.

The City of Gold and Lead by John Christopher: I actually read this second book in the Tripods trilogy first. It was a wild ride to drop in to, but I just remember the fascination of an adolescent being in a foreign place, discovering things. So cool.

Are you still a child in sixth grade? If so, I’ll add Sphere by Michael Crichton, recommended by my teacher that year. Writing class with Ms. Imrie was when I first discovered people could actually write things. Sphere was a trip as a sixth-grader and the general aura of omniscient creepiness that I attribute to that book is why I think I like movies like those in the Alien franchise. I’m talking about the scenes before the peak action when everyone is starting to realize that they’re in big trouble. Think the wheat scene in Alien Covenant when it’s otherwise silent except the wind and they realize there are no animals at all.

For some reason, these four stand out the most. If you ask me next week, I might say Encyclopedia Brown, Tales of the Bounty Hunters, and Jurassic Park.

Jason P. Burnham’s story “Revitalized
in Metaphorosis Friday, 3 April 2020.
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