Enter a wondrous universe…the latest volume of Sword and Sorceress, featuring stories from new and seasoned authors. Herein you will find tales of fantasy with strong female characters, with some version of either martial skill or magic. Not all the protagonists will be human, and sometimes the magic will take highly original forms, but the emotional satisfaction in each story and in the anthology as a whole, remains true to the original vision. The release date will be November 2, 2018.
Deborah J. Ross: Tell us a little about yourself. How did you come to be a writer?
Lorie Calkins: I’ve been writing since I was about three. I would scribble in a blank notebook, trying to make lines that looked like my parents’ handwriting.Then I’d “read” it back and tell my stuffed animals what the “story” said. Sure wish I had recorded those tales in a more reproducible manner. My stuffed animals thought they were Really Good.
The writing comes pretty easily for me, actually. The two things that are absolute hell for me are determining whether the stuff I wrote is worth showing to anyone,and trying to sell it.
DJR: What inspired your story in Sword and Sorceress 33?
LC: I like to turn things inside out and see what color the lining is. You never know what you’ll find. Fairy tales are fun like that, because everyone already thinks they know how the story goes.
DJR: What authors have most influenced your writing? What about them do you find inspiring?
LC: Sadly, I only find bad authors inspiring. If I throw the book at a wall – and let me tell you that does not do any good for my Paperwhite – then I think, “I can write better than that idiot,” and I am tempted to send out one of my manuscripts. But when I read someone good, like Peter S. Beagle, I feel so inferior I tuck my unfinished story in a drawer and go clean the house. My family knows if I’m cleaning, it’s not a good time to ask anything, just tiptoe away.
DJR: Why do you write what you do, and how does your work differ from others in your genre?
LC: I like to write fantasy or science fiction, because I can make the characters think and do what I say. Not that they don’t take over and do things that surprise me, but the things they do are likely to be something I can make sense of, becauseI put together their cogs and timing chains.I find real life baffling, and don’t always know where people are coming from, so it’s easier if I can make up the world to work the way I want it to.
DJR: How does your writing process work?
LC: The first thing I do is make a list of “what if” ideas – brainstorm style, where anything goes, no matter how ridiculous. Then I try to stretch them into plots, play with any of them that appeal to me, mix and match. If anything goes more than a sentence or two in my head, or two characters get talking, I grab a pen and paper and start writing it down. Sometimes that carries right through to the end, but often I get about two thirds of the story and have to pound my head against the brick wall until I find a way to solve the problem and end the story. Typing it into the computer cleans it up and fleshes it out. If I can figure out what I wrote in the heat of ecstatic creation. One of the story notes I made that still confounds me is, “Put a fish in here, Lor.” A fish?
DJR: What advice would you give an aspiring writer?
LC: The world of writing and publishing contains many kind and helpful people who are eager to help newbies and pay forward the help they received. It also harbors vast numbers of people who only see suckers and want to take advantage. I’ve found it hard to tell the difference sometimes, and paid the price. I would tell a wannabe, “Bah. Go to school. Learn something useful.” Or maybe, “Here’s a hammer. Hit yourself with it repeatedly, and it will feel the same as the road to getting published.” If they are among those who have to write, can’t stay away from writing, and are prepared to suffer the consequences, I would tell them to try the traditional route first, sending to established publishers, because it’s a good way to find out if the work is really ready for publication.
Lorie Calkins’s first pro short story sale, “Oops,” was to Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine in 1994, for issue #30.Her stories are also in Sword and Sorceress anthologies 19, 28, 31, and 32, as well as many short stories in various magazines, and a science fiction book for children, The Terrarium Dragons. Besides the medium of words, Lorie likes making things in wood, fabric, glass, yarn, or metal, but above all, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren.
Lorie and her husband live with Magic and Chaos, two Miniature Schnauzers who fully live up to their names. Their home is on Whidbey Island in Washington State.