Genre Chick Interview: Luc Reid

Back on “Take Your Princesses-in-Training to Work” Day, Ariell and Kassidy helped me create a great questionnaire that I could send out to the ever-growing list of authors on my to-interview-list. After I sent the interview out, Ariell then started formatting all the interviews into posts for me. Hooray!

We start with my dearest longtime friend, Luc Reid. (Some of you may remember him from the Beauty & Dynamite essay “The Story Magnet.”) Not only is Luc the founding father of the Codex Writers Group, he is one of the original members of the League of Unextrpardinary Gentlepersons. Find out about his writing, his exceptional motivation, and his superpowers in this interview!


Alethea Kontis: Mac or PC?

Luc Reid: Both! I bought my Mac laptop solely so that I could use Scrivener on it, but I’ve used it enough now that I’m almost as comfortable on it as I am on the PCs I work on. I write on that Mac, various PCs, and an AlphaSmart (an outdated-seeming yet very useful device that basically consists of the world’s most rudimentary word processor with a full-sized keyboard and a four-line LCD screen. It cost me $30 on eBay, fires up in less than a second, and can dump data to a Mac or PC with a USB cable). I read and critique stories on computers, scrap paper, and my Kindle.

AK: Coffee or Tea?

LR: Neither, I’m afraid. Caffeine has nasty effects on me unless I administer it in carefully-managed doses–itching, headaches, high blood pressure, etc. You would think that an existence without coffee, tea, and chocolate would be pretty miserable, but once I got used to it, it got so it barely registers on the I-Care-At-All meter.

AK: Travel the world, or travel outer space?

LR: Can I say “both” on this one? Probably not, I’m guessing. Forced to pick one, I choose the World, for several reasons:

1. There are tons of fascinating people on it, and as far as I’m concerned, people are the most interesting thing conceivable. People seem to be harder to find in Outer Space.
2. Cheaper tickets.
3. Better food.
4. Free air. I hate having to pay for air.
5. Travel time measured in hours or days rather than decades or centuries.
6. Water parks.

On the other side of the equation, travel in Outer Space offers things like (possibly) alien civilizations, magnificent views, mind-boggling scientific discoveries, and all the rest–so it’s not an easy choice.

AK: Fantasy or Science Fiction?

LR: Both, again. Apparently I have trouble choosing individual things: I hadn’t noticed that pattern before. I’m also a compulsive black sheep type: you say tomato, I say tomatillo.

Anyway, sometimes I like digging into what the world could be like and what the universe might have to offer, and for that I need SF. Other times I just want to find out what would happen if chickens could talk or if some guy had a tie that made him invisible, and at times like that I tell physics to go jump in a lake and call the result Fantasy. I also am fond of alternative history, except that it’s a hell of a lot of work to do it right.

AK: What is one of your most irrational fears?

LR: My brain getting full. Ever see that Gary Larson cartoon with the kid who asks to be excused from class because his brain is full? That kind of thing completely creeps me out. I mean, brains are finite, right? What if I run out of space and start losing things like how the rocks felt on the shale beach when I was a kid, or the reasons for not worrying about death?

AK: What are you working on now?

LR: I’m revising, expanding, and reformatting my 2006 bookTalk the Talk: The Slang of 65 American Subcultures as an eBook. There was a lot of material I couldn’t put in the book when it originally came out because of page limits, and I get to put some of that back in for the new edition. To get this done, I temporary stopped work on an alternate history novel set in a 1950’s America that has been fending off a decade-long Russian invasion. It’s not about war, though: it’s about musicians.

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

LR: I want to be “Insight Man.” I’d love to have some sort of beam I could blast people with that would give them immediate perspective on who they are and what they’re doing. People would say things like “Wait! I’m not even enjoying these chips–why am I trying to bury my emotions under junk food?” and “Hey, I could ditch this crummy job, sell most of my stuff, and live very cheaply while doing meaningful volunteer work!” and “Wow, this shirt definitely does not go with these pants!” I would use it on myself constantly.

With that said, I do already have a super-secret identity, which you already know and which I’ll share with the Internet as long as the Internet promises not to tell anyone: I’m Vertigo Man. I don’t exactly know what my superpower is, but I do have a trademark phrase that I use for people in peril on bridges, skyscrapers, Sequoias, space elevators, etc.: “I’ll save you! Whoa, hold on–that’s really high up!”

AK: What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?

LR: I’m not sure, but here are some of the failures and successes that might be on the list: I helped found an intentional community and devised a more or less unique labor management system for it. I’ve raised my son to teenagerhood without (as far as I can tell) seriously screwing anything up. I taught myself some Hungarian and spent a month in central Europe trying to found an import/export company. I earned a black belt in Taekwondo. I won second place in the Writers of the Future contest. I learned how to play a dozen or so musical instruments. Oh, and Charles Barkley sweated on me once: that’s cool, right?

AK: Coolest thing you’re about to do?

LR: I’d like to know that myself! I personally would like to vote for “Release an eBook edition of Talk the Talk that becomes phenomenally popular,” but only time will tell.


Luc Reid is a Writers of the Future winner whose fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Brain HarvestAbyss & ApexStrange HorizonsClarkesworld, and elsewhere. He writes a column called “Brain Hacks for Writers” for Futurismic, is member of the flash fiction group The Daily Cabal, and founded theCodex online writers group, whose members garnered 8 Nebula nominations this year (none of which were for Luc himself). His books are Talk the Talk: The Slang of 65 American Subcultures (Writers Digest Books, 2006; with an electronic edition expected out this month) and Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories (2010). He blogs about writing and the psychology of habits at and can be found on Twitter @lucreid.