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Genre Chick Interview: David Cleary

Today wraps up our final interview of May’s Month of Writers Blog Festival Or Whatever We’re Calling It. It’s been an exceptionally fun ride. I’ll write up all my thoughts about it tomorrow — in the meantime, feel free to wander back through the interview archives and learn more about these friends of mine whom I admire so much.

It is fitting that the last interview I post this month be from a man whom I’ve known the least amount of time. David and Cheryl Cleary sat with Mary Rodgers and I during the Nebula Awards banquet. Of course, directly after “Which entree did you order?” came the inevitable “What do you write?” question.

For some reason, this question has always made me uncomfortable. I don’t know why; it’s not like I don’t have an answer. Perhaps it’s because I have too many answers. So far, my favorite answer has been “I write crap.” Albeit bestselling crap, but I’m sure the academic professor I was addressing at the party in question would have deemed it crap nonetheless, so I saved him from classifying it thusly in secret.

When we asked David this question, his answer was “I’ve been published in Asimov’s,” which of course made me 1.) instantly jealous and 2.) want to know him better. And now, after this interview, we all know him a little better.

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Mac or PC?
PC

Coffee or Tea?
Tea for pleasure, coffee to get things done

Travel the World or Travel Outer Space?
Travel the world; I’m too claustrophobic for space travel.

Fantasy or Science Fiction?
Science Fiction with a fantasy feel

Music or Silence (while you write)?
Music. It gives me structure to organize my thoughts. But I cannot recommend to listening to Killing Joke and the Cure over and over; it’s a bad head space to put yourself in, even if you’re writing a time-travel story to the 80s.

What weird food do you like?
almond butter on matza crackers, crunchy seaweed snacks, baklava

What is one of your most irrational fears?
big bugs, such as praying mantises and African Horn Beetles, terrify me

Did you watch the Royal Wedding? Why or why not?
No, not interested in staying up so late.

How many novels/short stories/screenplays/poems/etc have you published?
about two dozen stories

How much do you write every day?
two hours 3x a week after working at my day job, 4-6 hours a day on weekends.

How much do you WISH you could write every day?
6 hours a day

What are you working on now?
a synopsis for my novel, and my first alien story in years and years

If you could write like one author, who would it be?
Either Gene Wolfe or John Crowley in our genre; Salman Rushdie or David Mitchell outside

If you could be one superhero, or have one superpower, who/what would it be?
the power to always say the right thing at the right time, rather than realize what I should have said 5 minutes later

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?
Sharing a bottle of wine with friends while riding a gondala at sunset in Venice

What’s the coolest thing you’re about to do?
Going to the Carnaval Parade in San Francisco this Sunday [obviously, I asked David these questions before the wekeend.]

Name three things on your List of Things to Do Before You Die.
–Publish an award-winning novel
–visit Rio, Egypt/Israel, and India
–have a kid

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David Cleary was born in Wyoming, grew up and went to college in Colorado, and was convinced he should become a writer by his experience at Clarion (MSU) in 1987. He’s lived in CA since 1990. His first published story, “All Our Sins Forgotten,” was made into a Sci-Fi TV show, with Henry Rollins playing the lead character. He’s mostly worked in Silicon Valley, first as a programmer, then as a tech writer. He’s had stories in Asimov’s, Interzone, and SF Age, as well as in several anthologies. He lives in Oakland now with his wife Cheryl, whom he convinced to marry him in 2006 after an 11-year courtship. They have a great cocker spaniel, and three cats of variable temper.

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Genre Chick Interview: Amal El-Mohtar

I had never met Amal El-Mohtar before last weekend. She and Aliette de Boddard kindly offered to let me crash in their room Thursday night (as I had a workshop first thing Friday morning), so I offered to pick them up at the airport. As no geek worth her salt would pick up someone at the airport blind,  I friended Amal on Facebook. My first reaction on seeing her picture was: “My God! She’s gorgeous!”

The FairyGoddaughters make fun of me all the time, because I apparently think everyone is “cute” or “gorgeous.” Who’s to say I’m wrong? But as the weekend went on and I got to know her better, I think what I saw in Amal was something I recognized in myself: the ability–no matter what time of day or night–to bring The Shiny.

Perhaps it is some elusive thing born to those of us who share that rare chemistry of Mediterranean and Canadian heritage. Perhaps we were born under the same star…or under the same Hill. For whatever reason, I was fascinated by this other soul so full of sunshine and smiles. Here is your chance to be fascinated by her too.

Or…to at least watch her go nuts while I force her to make decisions.

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Mac or PC?
PC — for now. I am tentatively leaning towards having my next laptop be a Mac, for lo, I am not partisan about such things. I’ve also been recently made aware that my feeling that I am Not Clever Enough for a Mac is probably bullshit and I should kick it to the curb.

Coffee or Tea?
Tea, unless I am called upon to be a hummingbird and/or an annoyance/spectacle to all around me, in which case, coffee.

Travel the World or Travel Outer Space?
Stupid binaries! I’m going to say that the World ought to contain Outer Space and say that if the Doctor can travel through both then so can freakin’ I.

Fantasy or Science Fiction?
Binariiiies! Fantasy, mostly. I’m more often drawn to it and I more often write it, but I’m looking forward to branching out.

Music or Silence (while you write)?
Both. It depends on what’s being written when. Often I’ll alternate music and silence within writing the same piece, because I’ve gotten tired of one or the other.

What weird food do you like?
Weird is such a relative word! I mean comfort food to me is dried yoghurt spread over pita bread with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of mint, sumac, thyme, and sesame seeds. I d’know, is that weird? I suppose brains are weird. I have enjoyed eating sheep brains, but only the once. And they were fried in garlic and coriander, which cannot help but make everything delicious.

What is one of your most irrational fears?
Daddy Long Legs. I know they’re harmless. I know. But they are too spindly and have the wrong number of legs to be spiders. Spiders are awesome and don’t activate my lizardbrain flight/smush instincts. Daddy Long Legs… Augh.

Also I recently learned that leeches can climb doors, which means my terror of them is COMPLETELY RATIONAL. Just in case anyone thought otherwise.

Did you watch the Royal Wedding? Why or why not?
I did, because my housemate and his friend sat down in front of the TV at 10:00 AM while I was trying to work on a thesis chapter, opened a bottle of port, and began a stream of pithy commentary whilst imbibing said port. I couldn’t help but sneak in to take part in wryly enjoying the deconstruction of spectacle.

…I think I may have just said I enjoyed it ironically. Shit.

How many novels/short stories/screenplays/poems/etc have you published?
0 novels, 10 short stories, 0 screenplays, 1 collection of short-short stories and poems, 22 poems.

How much do you write every day?
Not enough. Except while I was writing The Honey Month, where every day for 28 days I completed a piece of short fiction or a poem. That felt frankly wonderful.

How much do you WISH you could write every day?
Enough to make it my day job.

What are you working on now?
Two poems and several short stories which either need writing or revising; featured are grief-sucking throat-leeches, men with hollow backs and the witches who stuff them, Damascene rulers, footnotes, sentient diamond oceans, and ambiguously gendered gardeners.

If you could write like one author, who would it be?
Though I am in constant awe of the work of authors I admire, I don’t ever really think “I wish I could write like this person.” I have often thought “I wish I had written this amazing freakin’ book,” while recognizing that it would have been a very different book had I written it, making the point moot. I would like, I suppose, to write like my very best writerly self.

If you could be one superhero, or have one superpower, who/what would it be?
Storm was always my favourite X-Man. Elemental control really appeals to me — but then so do telepathy and telekinesis. I suppose to make an informed decision you’d have to tell me what kind of world I’d be inhabiting. I would deeply love to be a wandering water-bender from Avatar: the Last Airbender. The show, obviously, not the film.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?
The COOLEST? These questions are unpossible! I rate very highly the climbing of the Glastonbury Tor at night in order to sit and tell spontaneous stories with Jessica Wick and Oliver Hunter while passing around a bottle of Elderflower wine.

What’s the coolest thing you’re about to do?
Perform a D&D parody of “Like a G6” (“Roll a D6”) at Wiscon’s Karaoke night with Ben Rosenbaum and David Moles.

Name three things on your List of Things to Do Before You Die.
1) Finish my PhD
2) Write a novel
3) Get it published

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A Canadian-born child of the Mediterranean, Amal is currently pursuing a PhD in English at the Cornwall campus of the University of Exeter, sharpening her quills for the hunt. In her hours of rest, she lives in a house on a Hill’s Head, where she drinks tea, plays harp, tastes honey, and writes stories about the Arabic alphabet, book-women, singing fish, and Damascene dream-crafters. Not usually all at once. “The Green Book” was nominated for the 2011 Nebula Award.

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Genre Chick Interview: Mary Rodgers

May’s Month of Writers Festival is winding down this Memorial Day weekend — I have been honored to host so many of my fine writing friends here. I hope you’ve enjoyed the company and found some new authors to check out!

Today I bring you an interview with my beautiful and talented Nebula Weekend roomie (and fellow Codexian) Mary Rodgers. Yes, indeedy, I mean beautiful! But behind that Miss Universe exterior beats a geek girl heart I couldn’t help but fall in love with. After reading this interview, I dare you not to fall in love with her as well.

Watch out, world, this woman has some big plans!

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Mac or PC?
PC, now and forever. Apple doesn’t come out with working versions of new video games until months after their initial release. I can’t work with that. 😉

Coffee or Tea?
Ever since the Odyssey workshop, coffee, and way too much of it, at that. I even bought myself an espresso machine. I grind the beans, foam up the milk… I’ve lost all sense of boundaries.
Travel the World or Travel Outer Space?  The world, definitely. I’ve so much yet to see and experience here on earth.

Fantasy or Science Fiction?
Both, as long as the stories are character-driven.

Music or Silence (while you write)?
Monk-like silence. Sometimes I even use earplugs.

What weird food do you like?
Fried pork rinds. I should be ashamed. I know.

What is one of your most irrational fears?
I have vertigo. It’s not so much a fear of heights as it is the fear that my sense of self-preservation will suddenly evaporate and cause me to leap out an open window. I should note that I have no plans to actually do this, but I worry about it.

Did you watch the Royal Wedding?
Why or why not?  Nope. I would have rather stabbed myself in the eye with a fork. I just couldn’t get excited about watching two people who were strangers to me get hitched.

How many novels/short stories/screenplays/poems/etc have you published?
One short story and one full-length screenplay.

How much do you write every day?
Never as much as I would like. Due to the demands of my day job, I get most of my writing work done on weekends.

How much do you WISH you could write every day?
1000 good words a day would be a wonderful pace for me.

What are you working on now?
I’m finishing up final revisions on my dystopian fantasy novel, New Eden. I’m hoping that the agent who liked the partial will like the full version. Crossing my fingers…

If you could write like one author, who would it be?
Elizabeth Hand.  I’ve been in love with her work for years.  Still too shy to approach her at cons.  I’m afraid that she would drown in my fan-girl squee.  Or that I would simply expire on the spot in the presence of her awesomeness.  Did I mention that I was a fan?

If you could be one superhero, or have one superpower, who/what would it be?
I’d like the power to travel through time. There’s so much in our history and our future that I would love to see first-hand.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?
Slept in a flimsy tent in the middle of a jaguar preserve.  Slept is overstating it; the rainforest is never silent, and the jaguars sniffed at our tent flaps and chuffed to one another for hours before slinking away into the dawn.

What’s the coolest thing you’re about to do?
Finish my very first novel e-var!

Name three things on your List of Things to Do Before You Die.
1) Take a liesiurely trip through the Galapagos Islands on a boat
2) Accompany a team of archaeologists on a dig in Iraq, home to some of the most ancient and precious remnants of civilization on the planet
3) Get my pilot’s license

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Mary Rodgers was born in rural South Carolina and has a deep affection for the culture and the people who live there.  Currently she shares an NYC apartment with Sophie, the world’s cutest English Bulldog.  A career performer, Mary was the keyboardist and lead vocalist in an all-female rock band for a number of years, and has acted in plays and musicals across the country. Her first screenplay, Common Ground, won a finalist slot in the 2008 Moondance International Film Festival competition.  Mary is a proud 2009 graduate of the Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop, and published her first short story, Big Girl, in the September 2009 issue of Expanded Horizons. At the moment, she is hard at work on final revisions to her first fantasy novel, New Eden.

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Genre Chick Interview: Eric James Stone

Today, May’s Month of Writers Blog Festival brings you an interview with shiny, hot-off-the-press Nebula Award winner Eric James Stone.

Eric and I were Orson Scott Card Boot Camp buddies in 2003, and we both helped Luc Reid and Lawrence Schoen found the Codex Writers Group in 2004. Hard to believe it’s been almost a decade. What a decade it’s been! Any excuse I have to host Eric on this site is a good one. And if you haven’t read his novel Unforgettable, you really should.

Oh–and when he takes over the world, I still get to be princess.

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Mac or PC?
PC. However, it seems half my family have been converted to the cult of Mac, so I may be genetically vulnerable to infection.

Coffee or Tea?
No thanks, I’m Mormon.

Travel the World or Travel Outer Space?
I really hope that the cost curve for space travel comes down fast enough and my disposable income curve goes up fast enough that they intersect before I die.

Fantasy or Science Fiction?
Yes. I write (and read) everything from hard science fiction to soft fantasy, with a little humorous horror thrown in.

Music or Silence (while you write)?
Usually silence, but otherwise Russian techno.

What weird food do you like?
Dulce de batata. It’s an Argentine delicacy made from sweet potatoes, and it’s much more awesome than it sounds.

What is one of your most irrational fears?
Moths. When I was about six or seven, my family lived in Venezuela, where they have rather large moths. I slept on the bottom bunk of bunk beds, and one morning I woke up to see a moth with a wingspan of several inches clinging to the top bunk right above my face. And it had already eaten the face off one of my sisters. Okay, I made that last sentence up, but the rest is true, and moths have given me the willies ever since.

Will you be watching the Royal Wedding? Why or why not?
This question is obviously a little dated. I remember watching the Royal Wedding. Princess Diana looked quite lovely.

How many novels/short stories/screenplays/poems/etc have you published?
Over two dozen short fiction pieces, including “The greatest science-fiction story ever written”. I also have e-published my novel Unforgettable.

How much do you write every day?
Not enough.

How much do you WISH you could write every day?
“…[I]f wishes were horses, we’d all be eatin’ steak.” –Jayne Cobb

What are you working on now?
Filling out this questionnaire for your website. Oh, you mean writing-wise? I’m getting geared up to write a third novel and kicking around some short fiction ideas.

If you could write like one author, who would it be?
Orson Scott Card. He has a knack for writing complex characters, which is one of my weak spots.

If you could be one superhero, or have one superpower, who/what would it be?
Nice try. You’re not going to trick me into revealing my secret identity.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?
Won a Nebula Award.

What’s the coolest thing you’re about to do?
Lose a Hugo Award. Or possibly win one. But losing a Hugo Award is still very cool.

Name three things on your List of Things to Do Before You Die.
1. Go into space.
2. Visit Egypt and Israel.
3. Upload my mind into a supercomputer and take over the world.

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A Nebula Award winner, Hugo Award nominee, and winner in the Writers of the Future Contest, Eric James Stone has had stories published in Year’s Best SF 15, Analog, Nature, and Kevin J. Anderson’s Blood Lite anthologies of humorous horror, among other venues.  Eric is also an assistant editor for Intergalactic Medicine Show.

One of Eric’s earliest memories is of an Apollo launch on television. Thanks to his father’s old science fiction collection, Eric grew up reading Asimov and Heinlein. Eric attended Orson Scott Card’s Literary Boot Camp and the Odyssey Writing Workshop. Eric lives in Utah.  His website is www.ericjamesstone.com.

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Genre Chick Interview: Mike Lee

Today, May’s Month of Writers Blog Festival brings you an interview with my dear friend, SF writer Mike Lee.

Mike and his wife–you may know her my oft-time collaborator, the award-nominated Janet “J.K.” Lee–have been some of my very best friends for a very long time. Since leaving Tennessee, I miss them dearly. Which makes being able to interview Mike for this blog a personal treat for me.

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Mac or PC?
Mac for life! I used a PC for many years, but then my wife Janet got a MacBook a few years ago. It took less than fifteen minutes to set up. I swear I heard a choir of angels singing. Naturally, there was no going back after that.

Coffee or Tea?
Coffee. French press, and way too much of it. I do most of my writing at a coffee shop down the street from my house. I’ve been working there for so long that I have my own table.

Travel the World or Travel Outer Space?
Tough question. Although I’ve always dreamed of commanding a starship, so I’ll go with outer space. 😉

Fantasy or Science Fiction?
Fantasy – although that’s kind of a cheat, because there’s no reason why you can’t use the trappings of space travel and advanced tech in a fantasy tale. Is Star Wars fantasy or science fiction, in the strictest sense of the word? I’d argue that its fantasy, through and through.

Music or Silence (while you write)?
My preference is silence – or at least, white noise. Music is distracting – although listening to music at the gym while working out generally helps to clear my head before writing, so there’s that.

What weird food do you like?
Are Peeps food? I’m going to go with yes.

What is one of your most irrational fears?
Being trapped inside a sinking ship. Don’t ask me why. I have no idea. It’s not like I grew up sailing or living next to the sea.

Did you watch the Royal Wedding? Why or why not?
Nope. I honestly don’t get the fascination. I mean, sure, the pomp and pageantry are beautiful, but that sort of thing generally doesn’t appeal to me.

How many novels/short stories/screenplays/poems/etc have you published?
So far, I’ve published ten media tie-in novels (one under a pseudonym – long story), three novellas, five short stories, and ten video game scripts, plus contributions to more than thirty tabletop role-playing game rulebooks and supplements. I’ve been writing professionally since 1996, and became a full-time writer ten years later. And I feel like I’m only just getting started. 😉

How much do you write every day?
You’re assuming I have anything like a stable writing schedule. 😉 Generally I’m doing well to get 1,000 to 2,000 words written. Often it’s much less.

How much do you WISH you could write every day?
Once upon a time, 4,000 words a day was normal. I’d like to get back to that.

What are you working on now?
At the moment I’m working on my eleventh tie-in novel, which is the next installment in the Malus Darkblade fantasy series. Malus is a dark elf, and on his good days is a ruthless, scheming SOB. For some reason, he’s a really popular character in Warhammer Fantasy circles.

If you could write like one author, who would it be?
This is a trick question, isn’t it? 😉 There are so many writers, past and present, whose skills I envy and admire, but I wouldn’t necessarily want to write like any of them. Having said that, some of the writers I admire most are, in no particular order: Robert Howard, Michael Moorcock and Fritz Leiber.

If you could be one superhero, or have one superpower, who/what would it be?
I’d like to have the power to stop time. There would be no deadline in the world I couldn’t defeat. 😉

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?
Writing for video games in general is really, really cool. You never know what’s going to be asked of you from one moment to the next, or who you might end up working with. One of the coolest things I’ve done was to write the lyrics for a military anthem that were then translated into Russian and sung by a full men’s choir – all within a 24-hour period. And thanks to the skills of a very talented composer and his performers, it sounded amazing.

What’s the coolest thing you’re about to do?
I can’t tell you. 😉 Honestly, it’s under NDA. Check back with me later in the year. Maybe I’ll be able to talk about it then.

Name three things on your List of Things to Do Before You Die.
Easy!
1.) Write my own original fiction.
2.) Hit the New York Times Bestseller List. Repeatedly.
3.) Learn to joust.
I think that’s pretty reasonable. 🙂

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Mike Lee is a novelist, scriptwriter and game designer, whose most recent credits include Nagash the Immortal, the conclusion to the epic Time of Legends trilogy, and Fallen Angels, a story of conflict and betrayal set in Black Library Publishing’s best-selling Horus Heresy series. Along with UK author Dan Abnett, Mike also wrote the five-volume Chronicles of Malus Darkblade, whose signature character has become a cult favorite among fans of Black Library’s Warhammer Fantasy fiction.

In addition to his novels, Mike’s scriptwriting credits include Splinter Cell: Conviction, the hit sequel to the popular Splinter Cell franchise, and Tom Clancy’s HAWX, a game of near-future jet combat. He has also contributed to more than two dozen pen-and-paper role-playing games and supplements, including the award-winning Vampire: The Masquerade, Adventure!, Vampire: Dark Ages and Hunter: The Reckoning, published by White Wolf Games Studio.

An avid wargamer, history buff and devoted fan of two-fisted pulp adventure, Mike lives with his wife, artist JK Lee, and their family in the United States.

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Nebula Princess

The Prez & The Princess

Juggling is a precious talent. It’s so much fun to see so many things flying in the air over your head. You feel so giddy when they’re up there, so proud of yourself that you have come so far and are able to do so much. In that moment, you’re on top of the world.

God have mercy on your soul if you ever fall behind.

What with pushing myself to the edge and trying to be everything (and almost succeeding) I needed some time to recover that didn’t include new jobs and sick children and dusty to-do lists…but I don’t get to choose that part. Instead, I write notes to myself on the iPhone while I’m half-blind on the elliptical machine in the morning and I keep everyone hydrated and full of vitamins and I wash my new apron and stay until midnight to unload the truck if that’s what needs to be done. And if I don’t get to write about this past Nebula Awards weekend until Thursday (while I’m supposed to be recording another Fairy Tale Theatre podcast), that doesn’t make what happened there any less special.

I have this saying — I don’t remember when I came up with it, or to whom I said it first, but I’ve been saying it for a few months now: Strangers are just best friends I haven’t met yet. I do, in my heart, honestly believe that each one of us is special. Optimistic and crazy, oh yes, I am fully aware. But as a princess, that’s my prerogative.

It’s so easy to turn away from the stranger on the train, so easy to scream at the idiot driver in the car that just cut you off. We know fully well that inside each sack of flesh we encounter is a living, breathing soul full of life and love and complex beauty…and yet we do it anyway. It’s so much easier ignoring all that. It’s so much easier not to know. It’s so much easier managing a small group of friends. It’s so much easier to juggle fewer flaming batons. It’s so much more forgiving for someone with a lengthy, never-ending to-do list.

But I made a choice when Andre Norton died. When I got home Sunday night, I pulled Beauty & Dynamite off the shelf and read that essay again in the twilight to remind myself of the exact words.  I love having friends. I want as many as my heart can hold. I want them all. Even if it means that eventually and painfully I’ll have to lose every single one. The minutes and hours and years on the roller coaster of happiness and sadness with them are worth every second of gray numbness.’Cause when I get to heaven, I want there to be a heck of a lot more than five people waiting.

Friends are worth all the additional balls you have to juggle, and every bullet point on a never-ending to-do list.

Nebula nominee Barry Deutsch appropriately summed up the Nebula Weekend by saying that the convention was a very small group of people with a much higher ratio of really cool folks to the socially awkward off-putting variety. With that in mind, I took the opportunity to step way out of my box and introduce myself to people I didn’t know. I roomed the first night with a friend and a stranger. I threw myself into the one workshop I signed up for and the two that I audited. I sat down next to people I didn’t know and chatted with them until we stood up as friends. I was sure to gush compliments when compliments were due and asked to lend a hand if one was needed. I stayed up until way past my bedtime and I was babbling and incoherent. I took pictures whenever I remembered that I had a camera. And I wore the tiara, because Mary Rodgers reminded me that I wouldn’t be the same without it. She was right.

I would list all the new and wonderful friends I met this weekend, but I won’t — first, out of fear of forgetting someone, and second, because I need to email them all or add them on Twitter or tag them on Facebook, and I’ve spent far too much time on this blog post already. Suffice it to say that I have no idea why Kate Baker and I hadn’t met before, but I’m awfully glad we finally did. Michael Whelan is a fabulously nice guy, and far more approachable than I ever imagined. MK Hobson can seriously rock a dress, and Rachel Swirsky’s gorgeous jewelry brings out my dragonlike tendencies. Amal El-Mohtar can bring the shiny with me any day. Walter Cuirle needs to host his own radio show. Mike Zipser asks great questions. Bud Sparhawk tells great stories. Myke Cole is very good for my ego. Emily Whitten is a godsend from Geek Heaven. John Grace has great taste in comics, Eric Fullilove has great taste in t-shirts, and Shannon Rampe and Trodayne Northern have  impeccable taste in hats. Janice Shoults is a woman after my own heart. Kathy Morrow has great patience. Peggy Rae Sapienza and Bill Lawhorn can do anything, I am sure of it.

My Codex Homies

Possibly even more fun than making new friends was seeing the old ones–most especially, the Codex Writers. Every year that goes by I am so happy that the handful of us little kids with big ideas came up with that place. They are the family that gets reunited whenever there’s an event like this…even when we’ve never met in person. We still know each other. We have that much more in common. We can cheer like hell when one of us walks away with an award…and then stand up and do it all over again when one of us walks away with the next one, too.

Eric, I am so freaking proud of you. I’m still busting at the seams. When you shared your precious bag of Reese’s Sticks with me while my left leg was going numb in that hard plastic chair at Orson Scott Card’s boot camp–even after I’d threatened to slap your characters–who knew that we would be here right now? Who knew how far we would go? Who knows how far yet we still can? I hope that every time you see that shiny award you remember what it felt like…but right on the heels I hope is the memory of sitting at that lunch table with me and Scott Roberts while we each confessed to the fact that we were still freaking out inside at random intervals to the theme of “Holy crap, that’s Orson Scott Card right there!”

For me, watching Eric walk on stage and accept the Nebula Award this weekend was second only to watching Mary Robinette Kowal accept the John W. Campbell Award. It is so hard to believe that these people I love so dearly were strangers to me once. I can hardly remember a time before the Reese’s Sticks and the keys locked in the car running in my driveway (that was Mary). I know it’s true, though. We might have passed in an airport sometime in those first couple of decades, or waited in the same line at the World’s Fair. Back in those days, we were just best friends that hadn’t met yet.

Imagine what life would be like if we’d realized it then.

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Genre Chick Interview: Diana Peterfreund

May’s Month of Writers Blog Festival brings you an interview with another of my fellow WRW writers, fellow unicorn hunter Diana Peterfreund.

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Mac or PC?
I’ve been using a Mac since my college newspaper days. But I have a Droid phone. Her name is HALey and she’s thanks to our family plan. My husband is a PC. We haven’t yet decided how to raise the kid.

Coffee or Tea?
TEA! I actually hate coffee, and coffee-flavored things. Even coffee ice cream. I have a coffee pot I imprison in the basement and only let out when my mother visits. And I adore tea. I collect antique teacups, I have a slew of lovely teapots, and I have a collection of tea that takes up an entire shelf of my pantry. My favorite teas are flavored black teas, which I hear is a bit declasse in true tea aficionado circles, but oh well.

Travel the World or Travel Outer Space?
Oh, the world, definitely. So many fascinating things to see and do, and so many great people to meet. Plus, you can travel in a lot more comfort, and a lot less time.

Fantasy or Science Fiction?
Do not make me choose. (Though I’d definitely pick both over realism!)

Music or Silence (while you write)?
It really depends. If I make myself a playlist for a given book and listen to it over and over until it’s just background noise, it can help trick my mind into that mood. But some writing requires silence. I had a great playlist for the killer unicorn books, but my most recent book was music free, and I could only write it in silence.

What weird food do you like?
I don’t know if anything I like is weird. People tend to think it’s weird, however, that I DON’T like cake. I made my best friend taste-test my wedding cake for me. My husband and I wanted wedding oysters. Are oysters weird enough?

What is one of your most irrational fears?
I’m afraid of sleeping in the dark. Seriously. I can’t sleep with the lights off unless there’s someone with me — whether that’s my husband, or my dog. However — I love spelunking. Go figure.

Did you watch the Royal Wedding? Why or why not?
No way. I have an infant — every minute I can get of sleep is vital.

How many novels/short stories/screenplays/poems/etc have you published?
Seven novels, two short stories, a handful of lit crit and a bunch of food reviews.

How much do you write every day?
Not enough. Unless I’m on deadline, and then it’s too much.

How much do you WISH you could write every day?
If I could do a steady 2k a day, I’d be a happy camper.

What are you working on now?
A new short story. It’s about a girl and a cult.

If you could write like one author, who would it be?
Currently, I covet the muse of Laini Taylor. She puts the most beautiful images in her work.

If you could be one superhero, or have one superpower, who/what would it be?
Oh, that’s such an impossible question. Telepathy would be fun, but I’d have to be able to control it. Can’t have my dog sitting at my feet all day going, “Can we go to the park now? How about now? Now? NOW?!?! Park park Park!”

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?
Right now, I’m daily in awe of the fact that I made a whole entire baby, from scratch. But since several billion other people did that, too, I don’t know how “cool” it sounds to the outside observer. A few years after college, my now-husband and I saved up all our money, quit our jobs, strapped on back packs and went hitch/hiking around Australia and New Zealand for the better part of a year. We worked the occasional odd job on scuba boats or in hostels, slept in a tent, and lived primarily on lentils. We dove the Great Barrier Reef, learned how to surf, went black water rafting in New Zealand, walked the majority of the Great Walks (and even ran a few), climbed Mt Doom (Ngauruhoe), walked on glaciers, and other adventures.

What’s the coolest thing you’re about to do?
Soon I’ll be publishing a book (FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS, Balzer & Bray, Summer 2012) that is representative of a few things I’ve always wanted to do: write something post-apocalyptic, write a retelling, and write something Jane Austenian. And it’s set in New Zealand.

Name three things on your List of Things to Do Before You Die.
Go back to New Zealand.
Go on a sailing trip with my husband and baby (and maybe dog?) We went for our honeymoon and it was awesome.
Write a bestseller.

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Diana Peterfreund is the author of four books in the Secret Society Girl Series, as well as Rampant and Ascendant, two young adult fantasies about killer unicorns and the virgin descendents of Alexander the Great who hunt them. Her first published short story, “The Care & Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn,” was recently included in The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume 5; and, along with another killer unicorn story, “Errant,” appeared on the Locus 2011 Recommended Reads List. Her next book is a post-apocalyptic retelling of the Jane Austen classic, Persuasion. Diana lives in Washington, DC, with her husband, her daughter, and her dog Rio. Her website is http://dianapeterfreund.com

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Genre Chick Interview: Maya Lassiter

May’s Month of Writers Blog Festival brings you an interview with a my friend and fellow Codexian: SF author Maya Lassiter.

Maya recently interviewed me on her blog for her “How Writers Do What They Do” series — it’s only polite that I return the favor!

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Mac or PC?
Mac.

Coffee or Tea?
Coffee.  Definitely.

Travel the World or Travel Outer Space?
Stay at home with my cool family and all my things just the way I like them.

Fantasy or Science Fiction?
Merger?

Music or Silence (while you write)?
Silence.

What weird food do you like?
I’m addicted to Sriracha hot sauce.  I put it on everything.

What is one of your most irrational fears?
Becoming hunchbacked.  I’m not kidding!

Will you be watching the Royal Wedding? Why or why not?
No thanks.  Too long.  I’ve got stuff to do.

How many novels/short stories/screenplays/poems/etc have you published?
One short story, one novel on the way.

How much do you write every day?
1000 words or one hour, whichever comes second.

How much do you WISH you could write every day?
Two hours would rock.  Plus some noodling around time.

What are you working on now?
Drafting novel #8, editing novel #7, publishing novel #6.  So many projects, so little time!

If you could write like one author, who would it be?
Ursula Le Guin.

If you could be one superhero, or have one superpower, who/what would it be?
Happiness. Maybe the Buddha?  I know, I’d own an Empathy Gun.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?
Given birth, helped save hundreds of acres of Hawaiian rainforest, written novels, kept bees, unschooled my kids, podcast a novel, tandem skydiving, midwife to goats

What’s the coolest thing you’re about to do?
Publish Conjuring Raine.  Open an Etsy shop with my daughter who designs clothes that we dye and paint.

Name at least three things on your List of Things to Do Before You Die.
Have my children become my adult friends.
Drink espresso at a cafe in Paris.
Have twenty books out.
Full dropback to backbend.

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Maya Lassiter is a novelist and author of the upcoming Conjuring Raine.  She is also an unschooling mother, yurt dweller, goat keeper, yogini, and a half-dozen other things on any given day.  She has been published in Realms of Fantasy, and holds an MFA in Writing, but her best accomplishment so far is her crazy, peaceful, fun, happy life.  She can be found online at her blog, mayalassiter.com/blog.

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Genre Chick Interview: Leanna Renee Hieber

Dear Month of Writers Blog Festival,

It’s really no secret how much I love Leanna Renee Hieber. She’s my kindred spirit, my bosom companion, the Anne to my Diana…and my Dragon*Con roomie. She just had a book come out this month, and her brand new YA series debuts this November.

And today, she gets to play our little game, too.

So, without further ado… Immobulus!

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Mac or PC?
PC

Coffee or Tea?
Tea (A different tea for whatever series I’m working on. Clove tea for Strangely Beautiful, Earl Grey for Magic Most Foul.

Travel the World or Travel Outer Space?
Both, with The Doctor

Fantasy or Science Fiction?
Fantasy

Music or Silence (while you write)?
Music (Classical)

What weird food do you like?
Fried pickles

What is one of your most irrational fears?
Being buried alive. Not just buried alive. But inside a pyramid. No joke.

Did you watch the Royal Wedding? Why or why not?
No. Because I was too busy dressed up as Narcissa Malfoy at the time. Again, no joke.

How many novels/short stories/screenplays/poems/etc have you published?
3 novels (4 come November), 3 novellas, 2 short plays, 3 short stories, 2 non-fiction articles

How much do you write every day?
What? We’re supposed to write every day? Well, I can promise at least a scribble in a notebook or on a napkin…

How much do you WISH you could write every day?
3 or 4 thousand words would be stellar

What are you working on now?
Back and forth between the last Strangely Beautiful novel and the next Magic Most Foul novel.

If you could write like one author, who would it be?
Edgar Allan Poe during a mind-meld with J. K. Rowling

If you could be one superhero, or have one superpower, who/what would it be?
Flight

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?
I’ve attained a level of professional Geek. Being a Geek is my job. That’s the coolest thing ever.

What’s the coolest thing you’re about to do?
Continue working on the musical adaptation of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker

Name three things on your List of Things to Do Before You Die.
– Travel the world’s great rivers
– Meet Alan Rickman
– Hit the New York Times Bestseller list with a bunch of my friends listed beside me

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A southern Ohio native with a degree in theatre and a focus in the Victorian Era, the author, actress and playwright got her start in publishing with hot-headed little plays still produced around the country and has adapted 19th century literature for the professional stage. Her “Strangely Beautiful” debut, THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER hit Barnes & Noble’s Bestseller list, was listed as a 2009 favourite on 14 book blogs, won two 2010 Prism Awards and has been optioned for a Broadway musical. Her books have been chosen for Rhapsody and Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book Clubs. Her next series, MAGIC MOST FOUL, a Victorian Paranormal Young Adult series set in 1880s New York City, will hit bookstores November 2011. A proud member of Actors Equity, the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA, she can be found working on sets for film and television when not on a book deadline. She lives in New York City, happily coupled with her real-life-hero and rescued albino lab rabbit; Persebunny.

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Genre Chick Interview: Michelle Willingham

Today the Month of Writers Blog Festival brings you an interview by my fabulous roommate from the recent Washington Romance Writers Retreat here in Leesburg — the stunning and effervescent Michelle Willingham.

If you’re into medieval romance–particularly of the Highlands UK version–Michelle is definitely your girl.

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Mac or PC?
Definitely a PC. A Mac ate one of my disks in college and reformatted it, erasing everything. I was so traumatized, I haven’t used a Mac since.

Coffee or Tea?
Both. I love flavored coffees and warm gingerbread-smelling cups of tea.

Travel the World or Travel Outer Space?
Travel the world. There’s that little risk of dying in outer space that I have a problem with. J And there’s so much to see on earth!

Fantasy or Science Fiction?
I love fantasy. It’s very similar to the medieval world I write, and books with Arthurian legends are my favorites.

Music or Silence (while you write)?
Always music. I love listening to sound tracks such as “The Tudors,” “Last of the Mohicans,” and “Braveheart,” to name a few.

What weird food do you like?
I’m not sure if it’s weird, but I love Sour Patch Kids.

What is one of your most irrational fears?
I hate being dropped. I won’t ride any amusement park ride that involves a free fall (shudder).

Did you watch the Royal Wedding? Why or why not?
I DVR-ed it and enjoyed seeing Kate’s gown. My favorite part was watching the romance between Will and Kate, guessing what each one was thinking on their special day.

How many novels/short stories/screenplays/poems/etc have you published?
I’ve published ten books (book #10 comes out July 19), two anthologies, six novellas, and three short stories.

How much do you write every day?
I try for 1500 words (about 6 pages), but there are good days and bad days.

How much do you WISH you could write every day?
I’d love to write 2,000 words a day consistently.

What are you working on now?
I’m working on a proposal for my next Scottish medieval, Callum MacKinloch’s story.

If you could write like one author, who would it be?
LaVyrle Spencer. Her characters were amazing.

If you could be one superhero, or have one superpower, who/what would it be?
I would be Hermione Granger so I could wave a magic wand that would clean my house without me lifting a finger.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?
I got Prince Charles’s autograph when I was ten years old and got my picture in the Bury St. Edmonds press, since he didn’t usually give autographs.

What’s the coolest thing you’re about to do?
One day I hope to be a bestselling author, but that’s entirely up to the readers. Already, I’m so grateful to them for making it possible for me to live my dream of being a full-time author.

Name three things on your List of Things to Do Before You Die.
1. Visit Australia & New Zealand.
2. Take a cruise of the Mediterranean.
3. Make the people around me happy.

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2010 Rita® Award Finalist Michelle Willingham has published over a dozen books and novellas. Currently, she lives in southeastern Virginia with her husband and children and is working on more historical romance novels. When she’s not writing, Michelle enjoys baking, playing piano, and avoiding exercise at all costs. Visit her website at: www.michellewillingham.com or interact with her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/michellewillinghamfans.

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