Rori Shay is the author of the short story "The Pendant," included in the anthology Athena's Daughters Vol 2, a collection of SF stories by--and about--women. In "The Pendant," Earth is a struggling planet after climate change brings flooding and all-out war. When America's First Lady is asked to hand over her most valuable possession, she must choose between fortifying her country or aiding a quest to cure the environment.
The Kickstarter for Athena's Daughters Vol 2 got under-way earlier this month, and today I have the pleasure of presenting an interview with Rori about this particular story, this anthology, and her writing life.
Q: Your story is about global warming. What responsibility do you believe fiction writers--especially science fiction writers--have when writing about controversial and political topics?
A: That’s a great question. Hmmm…well, I do want my readers to know that it’s still fiction, and it’s just my guesses as to what climate change could eventually do to the planet. It’s an extreme guess about the future. But I do think writers have a responsibility to do some research when talking about a subject that’s controversial/political/scientific. I tried to take the science of climate change seriously and incorporated information on what could happen if the arctics melted and how humans might react to much different weather patterns. One of the best parts of reading fiction is that you can delve in to the most controversial subject in a safe surrounding, and it illuminates your imagination. I hope what I write about helps my readers think about the topic, even if they disagree with the idea or the way I portray climate change affecting the environment in the future.
Q: Athena's Daughters, volumes one and two, are SF stories by female writers about female protagonists. What inspired you to write SF and what is your stance on the future of the genre?
A: I love commercialized science fiction, especially stories that give glimpses of a possible future. I mean, who doesn’t want a crystal ball? I think more and more women will get involved writing SF, especially after the success of Hunger Games and Divergent. Those are examples of scifi that I think are relatable to a lot of people. I have to admit, there’s some scifi that’s way too detailed and techy for me. I like my scifi punctured by a lot of romance and character depth and just peppered by the science.
Q: In addition to writing spec-fic novels and stories you also write picture books. How did you get into that area and what sorts of challenges do you face when switching from genre to genre?
A: It’s actually very hard to switch genres. The publishing industry doesn’t seem to like it. They want you to brand yourself in one genre or the other. I switch around because when I have an idea for a book, I go with whatever it is. Some lit agents, however, only rep one genre or the other. The agency I originally worked with, for instance, didn’t focus on children’s picture books, so I had to find someone else to help with those projects.
Q: I teach newer writers at university and we talk a lot about the writing process itself. Tell me about your writing process.
A: I outline everything! I start with the bones of the story and fill in details as I go, constantly adding more as I keep writing. I never get writers block that way because I can always just look at my outline and know what scenes I’m supposed to write next.
Q: What are you working on now? (Can you give a first-line sneak peek?)
A: I’d love to! I’m working on the 3rd book in the Elected Trilogy, on which "The Pendant" is based. The trilogy is made up of: Elected, Suspected, and Perfected. Elected is out there for people to purchase. Suspected is coming in Feb. And I’m about 1/3 of the way done with Perfected. Here’s the first line of Perfected: "Calix’s threat lashes around my head, leaving me no good options.”
Thanks to Rori for sharing with us!
To read more about Rori Shay and her work, and to purchase her books, visit her website girlclassified.com.
To support the Athena's Daughters Vol 2 Kickstarter, click the cover image to the right!
Next week, I post an interview with another fellow Athena's Daughters Vol 2 author, Sarah Brand. We will discuss her story "Perhance to Dream" as well as the Alpha Workshop for Young Writers.
Revising a novel is hard. It's much much harder than writing it in the first place. That old nugget "Writing is Rewriting" is true.
I finished the first draft of the PhD novel a year and a half ago and have been revising it on and off since then. (Lots of stuff has delayed me.) Things that are difficult about revisions:
1. Letting parts of the novel sit for so long that you've honestly forgotten what the hell happens in a section.
2. Not writing down ideas for revision as you have them, thinking you'll miraculously remember when you get to that line or that phrase. You don't.
3. Even after all this time letting a section or scene sit, you *still* don't know what is supposed to happen at the end of the section or scene.
4. Hating it. Like, really and truly hating it.
Case in point: My PhD novel is in five parts, each part a different time period. Each section has between one and three point-of-view characters. For each section I've had to do extensive research into not only gardening history but also food, medicine, clothing, daily lives, women's lives, art, etc., etc. of that time period. My Victorian and Second World War sections were the easiest. The Georgian section was a pain, but it's pretty much finished now. The contemporary section still needs to be finished (I have only recently figured out the end of the whole novel). And then... And then there's the Tudor/Stuart section.
It's my kryptonite. It's oysters and creamed spinach and jazz and horseradish all mixed together. I hate it with the white hot passion of a thousand suns. I have torn it apart, put it back together, torn it apart, changed POVs, deleted whole scenes and storylines, added new ones. For months. YEARS. I was stuck a week ago with these three characters who each had secrets from each other... and then nothing. I had no idea how to fix it, how to end it. So I let it sit and thought about it. I let it sit and did NOT think about it (sometimes NOT thinking about it lets your brain breathe a bit and you come up with the solution).
I finally FINALLY figured it out a few days ago. I've had to get rid of more stuff, bring a long-dead character to life only to kill him near the end of the story. I'm still in the middle of fixing it, and I still hate it, but I think in some way that hate may be because I sort of love it again. Hate and Love are close cousins. The opposite of love isn't hate, it's apathy. So if I feel this strongly about this section of the novel, there has to be a reason for it.
Plus, hating it so much makes me want to finish it and walk away from it. Quickly. Oh so Quickly.
It's not the most efficient way to finish a novel, but it's one way.
You know you write historic fiction when you have to know both how to graft an apple tree correctly (you can't plant an apple seed and end up with the same apple variety as the fruit it came from, for instance) *and* that to keep a sickly apple tree well in the early 1600s required cutting open the bark to 'release the humours.'
Thank you, Thomas Hill, for The Arte of Gardening, 1608
And so the Tudor/Stuart section of the novel slowly (oh so slowly) is getting done.
It started Monday, US time, and within the first 24 hours it made its goal and then some!
But there are still stretch goals to meet (already at least one has been reached, which adds another story to the TOC).
Click on the cover photo to go to the Kickstarter page, watch the video, and pledge some support!
Once the art for my story, "The Final Voyage of the World's Oldest Time Traveler," is released, I'll share it here.
I've also got two blog swaps scheduled with short interviews with two of the other anthology authors, one on the 29th and the other on January 4.
How's this for awesome?
It's a preview piece of art by Ginger Breo for Athena's Daughters, Vol. 2.
The Kickstarter gets going in just a couple more days, and this piece is an extra that backers can get for supporting the 'starter.
As of Monday, when the Kickstarter begins, I'll be sure to talk about it enough to make you all sick to death of hearing about it. Oh, and I got a sneak peek at the art for my story, "The Final Voyage of the World's Oldest Time Traveler." And dang but is it *amazing*! I can't wait to be able to share it with you.
When I was a kid, my parents would ask for a Christmas list from me. Or maybe they never did. I can't remember. What I *do* remember are the lists I made.
I'd gather up the JC Penny or Sears toy catalogues, get some lined paper, and make lists like a 7-year-old accountant. Item name, item number, page number, price. Maybe it was a sign that I should have been an accountant rather than a writer. At least my desk would be more tidy.
This year, I made a list for my SO. It is mostly books. BECAUSE WHAT ELSE IS THERE?
Rather than discuss the books I'm asking for this year, I am going to list here the books that I own and want to read, that I own and hope to read over the week OFF I am taking soon, that I own and that call to me from the shelf, promising wonders.
So, in no particular order (well, I am pretty much looking from the top shelf down on the case behind my desk chair):
New York by Edward Rutherford (I love his sweeping historic (doorstops) books)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (I am so far behind that I still haven't cracked this one open)
The Decadent Gardener by Medlar Lucan & Durian Gray (I've no clue, really, just *what* this book is, but it's kinda-sorta research and looks intriguing)
The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (a student gave me this as a gift last year and I've never read Murakami, but friends love him, so...)
Anno Dracula by Kim Newman (Dracula in Victorian London revamped (pardon the pun): what's not to love?)
Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer (I got this last xmas and have dipped in and out of it)
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (another gift from that same student: the cover is gorgeous)
NOS4R2 by Joe Hill (I *heart* Joe Hill and read about a third of this last xmas...and then got stupid busy again, so hoping to finish it this time round)
Little, Big by John Crowley (I've started it 3? 4? times, and liked what I read, but life got in the way, alas)
The City's Son by Tom Pollock (Tom is a friend in the SFF community here, I've seen him read, gone to his signings...and never had time to actually read this. Bad Friend! Bad!)
That's ten. I am only taking a week off, which will be full of get-togethers and such. Once again, my eyes are too big for my stomach.
I come up with little blog posts in my head all the time. It's that word 'time' that is so important here.
I don't have any of it!
Hence my lack of posts lately. Between teaching and PhD work and LIFE stuff (boy but life takes a lot of work), I've left this blog to its own devices.
Going on now:
PhD: I am nearing the finish line on the 3rd draft of the novel. Hopefully, that will just leave one final pass to fix typos or any threads that got dropped. This means that over Christmas break I will be working on a total draft of the dissertation. I am allowing myself to make a mess of it. I tell my students all the time: you can edit shit on a page but not shit in your head. Going to follow that advice! The goal: give my supervisor a decent full draft at the beginning of February.
Teaching: Monday is the final class of the term! (YAY!) That means that I have to mark papers in early January, and the next term doesn't start until February.
Life: My knee is falling apart, but a doctor appointment next week should mean a start to getting it fixed. Christmas is right around the corner, and I am done shopping and wrapping (Yes, I'm one of those!). I just have ALL THE BAKING to do!
The Kickstarter for Athena's Daughter's Vol 2 starts next week, and a Thunderclap has done the rounds these past couple of days. I just saw the art for my story and it is *amazing*!
Irregularity, ed. Jared Shurin. I've had lots of train time lately, so have got lots of reading done on this.
The Enclosed Garden: History and Development of the Hortus Conclusus and its Reintroduction into the Present-day Urban Landscape by Rob Aben and Saskia de Wit
And a rag-tag pile of assorted books on gardening history, women's history and fiction writing. The pile never gets any smaller.
The Hunger Gamest trilogy. I gorged on it. Love me some apocalyptic fic!
Mostly thoughts on writing and the creative life.