Friday, June 22, 2018

Author Interviews: Juliette Wade


Many of us balance writing, family, day jobs, and taking care of ourselves. Juliette Wade, whose stories have been featured on the covers of magazines like Analog, brings her own inimitable style to the challenge.

Juliette Wade is a rising star in science fiction, writing thoughtful, provocative pieces based in extraordinary insight into culture, language, and personal agency. Of her recent novella, Gardner Dozois wrote:

“The best story in the March Clarkesworld, and one of the best stories published so far this year, is “The Persistence of Blood” by Juliette Wade. … “The Persistence of Blood” is strongly reminiscent of C.J. Cherryh's work, and if you like Cherryh, you're likely to enjoy this story too.”



Deborah J. Ross: When did you know you wanted to be a writer? 
Juliette Wade: This actually took me a long time. I wrote a lot in elementary and junior high, but then got into nonfiction (i.e. class assignments) and didn't try writing fiction again until I was married and studying for my Ph.D. Maybe it was the fact that I'd been musing on the idea for a secondary world for quite a lot of years by then, but when I started writing, I couldn't stop. The desire to write was so strong and so clear that I knew immediately this was what I was meant to do. It was frightening and wonderful.

DJR: What is your writing process? When do you write? 
JW: Writing for me is about moments stolen in between running life for myself and my family. The impact of this on my process is that a lot of my work gets done in the form of thinking while I'm doing other things. Then whenever I get a chance, I sit down at the computer and write everything down. It's easier now than it was when my children were first born, but still, a constant challenge. My favorite time to write is when I'm by myself in the house, and that doesn't happen as often as I'd like.

DJR: How would you characterize your fiction? Are you writing to/for a particular audience or audiences? 
JW: My fiction is as realistic as I can make it - from the perspective of psychology, sociology, linguistics, and anthropology. I am aiming for a wide audience, but hoping particularly to appeal to people who are looking for diversity, intersectionality, and respect of other cultures.

DJR: What writers have been major influences in your work and why? 
JW: The writer who most influenced me when I was first beginning to write was Ursula K. LeGuin. The language she uses is graceful, and she brings a cultural sensibility to her work that always impressed me. I could see the evidence of her deep thinking about societies and cultures as well as individuals, and try to emulate her in those ways as best I can. In more recent times, I have found inspiration in the works of N.K. Jemisin and Ann Leckie. It's hard for me to pinpoint any one thing about these authors that I admire, because I admire so much about what they do. One thing they are both good at, though, is making sure to keep an intimate emotional connection to characters at the same time that they bring cosmic significance to events and stakes in their stories.

DJR: What is your most current project?
JW: My most current project is a novella that just came out in the March 2018 issue of Clarkesworld Magazine. "The Persistence of Blood" takes place in my Varin world, where people live in a complex caste society in underground cities. Lady Selemei is a noblewoman who nearly died giving birth to her fifth child, who takes the revolutionary step of refusing to bear any more children, despite the fact that the noble caste is in decline and expects every woman to have as many children as possible in order to sustain the Race. Her husband is supportive, and together they attempt to change the law to protect more mothers from death in childbirth, but when things go terribly wrong, she's forced to stand on her own and become a unique political voice in her own society.

DJR: What was the inspiration for the project? 
JW: I had a conversation with Ann Leckie a couple of years ago, and she encouraged me to try writing a novella in the Varin world. I chose to focus on Lady Selemei because it's important to me that Varin stories reflect the kinds of social issues we are dealing with right now in our own world. Selemei is a very grounded person, and a mom, and has to step out beyond what she has known in order to protect herself and her family from government policies that put her life in danger. It should come as no surprise that she ends up having to fight in the political arena, and that this fight turns out to be very difficult.

DJR: What lies ahead for you as a writer?
JW: I'm currently working on a sequel to "The Persistence of Blood," which will feature a character from the Imbati servant caste and take on a very different set of social issues. I'm also working with my agent's help to publish a novel of Varin.

DJR: What advice do you have for new and aspiring writers? 
JW: I guess my advice would be something Lady Selemei believes in, which is to believe in your own gifts and keep persisting, learning as much as you can along the way. 

DJR: What do you do when you’re not writing?
JW: When I'm not writing, I do lots of different things. I like to work in my garden, and to take long walks and hikes, all of which help me to think. I like to go top-rope climbing in the gym, and to do yoga, because both of these activities help to relax my over-active mind. I work as an English and French teacher, and I work with my family on things like school homework and life in general!

Juliette Wade combined a trip to the Gouffre de Padirac with her academic background in linguistics and anthropology to create the world of Varin, a grand experiment in speculative ethnography. She lives the Bay Area of California with her husband and two children, who support and inspire her. Her fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Analog, and Fantasy & Science Fiction. She runs the Dive into Worldbuilding video series and workshop at www.patreon.com/JulietteWade.




Monday, June 18, 2018

Great Authors Meet Darkover at the Crossroads


Contributors to Crossroads of Darkover share how they first encountered the world of the Bloody Sun.

Robin Wayne Bailey: 
The first Darkover tale I ever read was Darkover Landfall, and I came across it perhaps in an unusual way. At the time, I was working in a bookstore part-time to earn college money, but I was also already a fairly dedicated book collector. Among the books I collected were DAW's yellow-spined paperbacks, which DAW was kind enough to number. I searched these out in new bookstores and used bookstores, determined to own them all, and this is how I came across Darkover Landfall. I'm not sure if I had previously read any of Marion Zimmer Bradley's earlier work, but this book captivated me. I was a sucker for a good "lost colony" story, and this proved one of the best. I remember the day we unpacked that latest DAW shipment and removing this book with its shiny cover and artwork by, I think, Jack Gaughan. It excited me then, and although I drifted away from the series after a time, it continues to excite me.

Evey Brett:
Back in 2002 when I was just out of college, I got a job working retail at a now-extinct Foley's department store in a mall. There was a Waldenbooks right across from the store, so I'd often go get a book and settle down in a comfy chair somewhere in the mall to eat my lunch and read. One day I was looking for a new book and picked up The Fall of Neskaya, and I was hooked. Fortunately for me (and the bookstore) they had several other Darkover novels as well.

I'm a sucker for stories with telepaths and damaged characters. I'd gone through a number of Mercedes Lackey's books, so finding Darkover gave me a whole new world with a sizeable canon to explore. Having just read the back of The Fall of Neskaya, I'd still pick it up to read because it's got everything I want--telepaths, power, gifts, a tormented character with a secret he can't reveal.

Rebecca Fox:
As a moody teenage girl with SFnal leanings in the early/mid-1990s, I really had three main reading choices: Pern, Valdemar, or Darkover. Pern I’d found on my own, in a sixth grade language arts reader of all places. My discovery of Valdemar and Darkover (simultaneously) at the age of 14 or 15 and the subsequent loss of at least a week’s worth of sleep while I devoured several books as fast as I could possibly read them I owe to a camp roommate.

Monday, June 11, 2018

A Thousand Ways to Story: Lace and Blade 4 Authors Talk About Writing Process


 Judith Tarr: 
[How do I write?] Horribly slowly now, but it still works, after a fashion. I get ideas and prompts from all kinds of places. I keep a file of them, multiple files in fact, and when one really needs to have a story, I pull it out and make notes and brainstorm and throw things together and see what comes of it. I do outline, but it's an ongoing, circular, organic process, which grows and changes as the characters wake up and start talking (or often yelling), and the settings make themselves visible, and the gears of story--the friction, the "what does this character want?" and "what are the stakes here?" questions that move it all forward--start to turn. Sometimes in totally unexpected directions.

With this story, I had a visual first, a scene viewed from above. Then I became aware of the viewpoint, and the character started telling me the story. I knew what had to happen in the end, but not how to get there, until I started telling the story. The resolution didn't come clear until I wrote the scene. What I thought was going to happen was not what actually happened at all.


Carol Berg: 
I’m an organic story developer, that is I start with a character in a situation and enough thinking about the world, cultures, and characters to put down the first scene. The act of writing that scene gives me ideas for moving forward in plot, characters, and world development, so that by the time I’m halfway in, I’ve got lots of notes about what needs to happen next. Every day, I read what I wrote the previous day, getting it right enough I can charge forward toward a climax that, so far, has made itself apparent by the time I get there. Revision is my friend and delight!

Marie Brennan:
I am such a night owl. Such a night owl. As I type these words, it's almost 11:30 at night, and this is the warm-up work I'm doing before settling in to put more words on the current story. I'll probably go to bed between 2 and 3 a.m. This has been my habit since college, and I've been lucky that, barring a few summer jobs with very early start times, I've been able to maintain my preferred schedule for basically my entire adult life.

As for the stories themselves, I am much more of a discovery writer than an outliner, though lately I've been working on some collaborative projects where outlining is a necessity. I can do that if I have to, but I prefer when possible to figure out my story as I go along -- that way I stay excited about it, rather than feeling like I'm just filling in the blanks.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Praise for Thunderlord

From Library Journal: 

Those who fondly remember the “Darkover” books (Stormqueen!; Hawkmistress!) set during the Ages of Chaos will welcome this new entry, which chronicles the aftermath of a conflict between two houses that can control the weather telepathically. Ross collaborated with Bradley on several other Darkover titles before Bradley’s death in 1999, and has written most recently The Children of Kings.

From Gabrielle Harbowy, editor and author:

Stormqueen! is my favorite of the Darkover books, and Thunderlord is a worthy successor to it. Ross sets up a complicated situation, drawing on all the nuance of Darkover politics and manners, and then proceeds to tighten the knot around her characters with fierce tension and, as the kids say, "all the feels." Definitely a worthy addition to the Darkover legacy!

Buy it now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Powell's, or your local indie bookseller.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Monday, June 4, 2018

Where’d You Get That Idea? Story Inspirations from Lace and Blade 4 Authors


Carol Berg: One of my aims when I create new heroes or heroines is to make them real people. I want readers to believe they had a life before walking onto the canvas of my story and will (if the story permits!) have a life when they walk off again. But of course, after the traumas/losses/victories of the story, the nature of that life is often irrevocably changed. 
Ever since my novel Song of the Beast was published, I’ve had readers asking what became of Aidan McAllister--a scarred, broken singer of visions, who saved his world from the scourge of dragon warfare. At the end of the story, he abandons his friends and his hope of a normal life to lead the beasts into the wild. I decided that it would be fun to satisfy the readers’ curiosity and mine, and so I wrote “The Heart’s Coda.”


Marie Brennan: Some years ago I bought a pair of black-and-red beaded earrings from the jeweler Elise Matthesen, who habitually gives titles to all the pieces she makes. The earrings are called "At the Sign of the Crow and Quill," and like many authors, I pledged to Elise that I would try to write something by that title someday. The mood that evoked in my mind was very much a Lace and Blade mood, so when I received an invitation to submit to the anthology, that turned out to be the spark I needed to transform the phrase into characters and plot.

Heather Rose Jones:  “Gifts Tell Truth” is set in the same world as my Alpennia series: a 
mildly alternate Ruritanian early 19th century with magic. One of the things I love to do when exploring characters it to make offhand references to events in their past. Events where I may not know all the details of what happened, just that it shaped them in some way. One thing that is very clear about Jeanne, Vicomtesse de Cherdillac, one of the protagonists of The Mystic Marriage and a continuing character throughout the series, is that she is a “Woman With A Past.” The more I write about her, the more fascinated I am by how she came to be the person she is in the novels.

The events in “Gifts Tell Truth” haven’t been specifically referenced in the books, other than a passing comment about how the stories of her youth aren’t appropriate for innocent ears. But I knew in a general way that during the French occupation of Alpennia, just after Jeanne’s unexpected marriage to a much older French aristocratic émigré, she led a wild and scandalous life, spurred on by a tragic event in her coming-out season (which will be told in a later story). The current story grew out of wanting to explore the origins of some of her later attitudes and reflexes, with the added bonus of showing the start of an odd but enduring friendship that features in the novels.