In “Close Your Eyes” published in Apex Magazine 21, Amber’s writing ability is described as being innate, instinctual, “The stories had possessed her. They emerged beneath her pen, flowed like a fountain.” Is your writing process similar to the character or are you more of a structured writer?
I’m always happy when the writing is flowing in that way, but unfortunately it’s more the exception than the norm. But, yes, sometimes stories arrive complete and ready. “Pippa’s Smiles,” which recently appeared in (on?) Daily Science Fiction is one. I woke up in the morning and went straight to the keyboard to hammer it out. If only they could all be that easy!
Flash fiction has seen a rise in popularity with the advent of the internet. What are your thoughts on the form? Is it more difficult to deliver a fully fleshed out story in so few words?
I love flash fiction, both reading and writing it. I’m teaching a one day workshop on it this summer for Bellevue College, which I proposed for them based on success I’d had with a similar class at Johns Hopkins.
I think flash pieces are intense fiction, distilled fiction, fiction pared down to the bone. When I write flash, I go back and cut it by 10%, then another 10%, then perhaps even more, until every sentence is a lean, mean fighting machine. The brevity of the form lends itself to superficial stories sometimes, but the ones that go beyond that do an amazing job of showing what the patterns underlying fiction are and how they can be executed. As a teacher, I find flash invaluable in providing quick examples of points I’m talking about.
You character Lewis has crafted his own brand of magic, his own mythology by borrowing elements from film and literature. Do you believe this makes him more of a threat to Amber because his power is unique and unknown?
Sure, in that it makes it impossible to know what to do. That’s why she seeks guidance from her writing, which ends up protecting her from Lewis and the creature he’s summoned to kill her.
The complex emotions that dominate the lives of caregivers are expertly described in “Close Your Eyes”. We experience Amber’s despair, guilt and her deep love for her brother Lewis, who is a victim of the plague. This evokes a powerful response in readers. Do you find this a difficult subject to write about?
I think any subject that is apt to trigger folk is something the writer should think about, perhaps not during the first draft, but definitely before that final version goes out. In writing it, I ended up pulling hard on my own emotional chords — guilt is easy, don’t most writers feel it in one form or another throughout our lives?
Your publication history is impressive. Assuming you have free time what do you enjoy doing, any hobbies?
I am an avid reader, all over the place. I play some World of Warcraft and other video games with my husband, most recently DragonAge 2. I take a lot of photos, some of which go up on my blog.
I was one of the administrators of Armageddon MUD for over a decade, and learned a great deal about coding, writing, and people from the game, as well as met many wonderful and/or crazy people. But I ended up stepping down because it was taking too much time away from writing. I still talk to a lot of the friends from there, some of whom are in the Seattle area as well.
Although I don’t have any actual garden space, I do manage to fill my balcony with flowers and herbs over the course of the long Seattle summer, and use the produce in cooking, which I also like to spend some time experimenting with.
For first time readers of your work, sum up what to expect in one sentence.
Dark fantasy, with occasional moments of science fiction.
Thanks for being such a great guest! Where can we go to learn more about you and your works?
Thank you for coming up with such great questions! People interested in reading more of my work will find links to the online pieces on my website, https://www.kittywumpus.net. Readers can also find my collection, “Eyes Like Sky And Coal And Moonlight”, and my collaboration with Jeff VanderMeer, “The Surgeon’s Tale and Other Stories”,on Amazon, as well as available on e-reader.