A question for Amelia Dee Mueller

Q: How do pets/children/significant others help/hinder your process?

A: I keep the part of me that’s a writer a bit secluded from my family and friends, and they don’t really hear from that part unless I have a piece that’s done and ready to be torn apart by the real world. By then I’ve built some armor around the work and can take any comments they might have, good or bad. If I let people whose opinions I highly value see a piece before it’s ready, I wouldn’t be able to take any of their criticism, no matter how constructive. Strangers’ comments, however, I can take all day long and feel very little personal affiliation and see the room for improvement their negative feedback can bring. I think this comes from my journalism degree, because I didn’t have a choice as an undergrad but to let strangers eat up my words and spit them out again. I personally found that my journalism instructors were tougher than the creative writing teachers I worked under for my minor, but they all made me a better writer in the end.

The only thing that might hinder the creative writer in me is my day job, which I love, but it’s hard to sit down in the evening to write and mentally switch from the kind of writing I do for work to the kind of writing I do for me.

But my cat generally lets me work in peace, because if I’m writing it means I’m not forcing her to cuddle with me. She, similar to lots of great writers, needs her space.

Amelia Dee Mueller’s story “The Lightkeeper’s Wife
in Metaphorosis Friday, 1 February 2019.
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A question for M.J. Gardner

Q: If your writing style were a bird, what type of bird would it be and why?

A: If my writing were a bird, it would be (free-range) chicken. Chicken is a versatile food. You can smother it in slipstream, steam it with some Lovecraft, spice it up with horror and serve it with a side of suspense. You can use part or all of the chicken in dishes like BBQ short stories, novellas stuffed with cheese and mushrooms for a dinner party, or roast a whole novel for a more filling meal. No matter how you cook it, my writing is a good source of protein.

M.J. Gardner’s story “The Book of Regrets”
in Metaphorosis Friday, 4 January 2019.
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Yet another question for Kathryn Yelinek

Q: Do you write with a particular audience in mind?

A: Short answer: Yes, an audience of one–me.

Long answer: I don’t start a story thinking, is this a story for young adults or adults? Or is this a story for people who like epic fantasy or urban fantasy or fairy tale retellings? My reading tastes encompass all of these subcategories, and I suspect the same is true of many readers. So I set out to write stories that I would want to read and that involve elements that are of interest to me. Of course this means I often write about similar concepts or themes. I’m a big bird-lover, so many of my stories involve birds to some degree. I once had a writer friend tell me that any story I write isn’t one of mine unless it has a bird in it. I also tend to write about issues of loneliness, love, animal-human relations, and the environment. My stories often have at least a suggestion of happiness in the ending, if not a completely happy ending. I hope these elements appeal to a wide audience.

Kathryn Yelinek’s story “Cinders and Snow” will be
published on Friday, 28 December 2018.

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A question for Lindsey Duncan

Q: How does writing speculative fiction affect your daily life (not as a writer but as a person)?

A: Being a speculative fiction writer means that life is rarely boring. I’ve always got some plot point to chew on, and the oddest details in life might inspire a story. I’m always asking, “What if?” and spinning thoughts from that. But it’s also entertaining because (at least for me), it’s fostered a tendency to take metaphor literally. You have no idea how disappointed I was to find out that “Entertaining Silverware” just sits there. I also find that writing speculative fiction makes me both more open-minded and more skeptical. Speculative fiction is about what-if, considering what could be true or become true, so it tends to break down the tendency to say, “This is impossible.” On the other hand, when everything could be true in some world, I find I’m less inclined to proclaim (even to myself) that “this is so” in our world. My reaction to a theory or belief that sounds plausible is not so much to accept it as to acknowledge that it could make a good story.

Lindsey Duncan’s story “Family Tree” was
published on Friday, 21 December 2018.

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A question for Susan McDonough-Wachtman

Q: Do you have a garden? Have you ever grown your own food?

A: I have often gardened, although I have never been a great success. Moving every few years, raising kids, and teaching school made it hard to find the time and energy. We got lucky a few times. We moved into one house in Western Oregon with well-established and highly productive raspberries. When the kids were young, we planted peas and beans in Western Washington and learned to battle slugs every morning. Now that I have an empty nest, we are living in my husband’s family home and benefit from well-established blueberry bushes. We compete with the birds for those. I am still trying to grow peas and beans, but now have to keep away the deer and wild rabbits. We also grew a wide variety of squash this year. My husband is a wonderful cook and we’ve been enjoying baked squash and squash soup.

Susan McDonough-Wachtman’s story “I Will Go Gently” was
published on Friday, 14 December 2018.

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A question for William Condon

Q: When do you decide a story is finished?

A: When I first get through to “The End,” I set the story aside and mull over how to fix the points I’m not satisfied with. Sometimes I can put my finger on the problems at once and how to fix them; other times I know something’s wrong but need some time to puzzle out what. Then, I revise. I hardly ever agree a story’s perfect, but there’s a point where I know it’s good and I don’t know how to make it any better – and that’s when I decide it’s finished.

William Condon’s story “Of Hair and Beanstalks” was
published on Friday, 7 December 2018.

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