Interview: Graduate Scott T. Barnes

ScottBarnsSessiom-70Scott T. Barnes is the winner of the Writers of the Future Award and a graduate of Odyssey. His short fiction has appeared in numerous venues, including the anthologies Gaia: Shadow and Breath Vol. 3, History and Horror, Oh My! and Kevin J. Anderson’s Pulse Pounders II. He is also the author of Rancho San Felipe: A Story of California One Hundred Years Ago, an illustrated fourth-grade reader. He edits the online magazine NewMyths.com. His complete bibliography can be found at www.scotttbarnes.com.


You attended the Odyssey Writing Workshop in 2008. What made you decide to attend Odyssey? You also took two of the online Odyssey Workshop courses. What made you decide to take them?

Well, I didn’t get into Odyssey the first time that I applied in 2007, and so I applied a second time… Continue reading “Interview: Graduate Scott T. Barnes”

Interview: Guest Lecturer & Graduate J. A. White

J. A. White (or just Jerry, when he’s not being fancy) will be a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey Writing Workshop. Jerry attended Odyssey in 1996, its very first year. He is the author of the middle-grade fantasy series The Thickety, including A Path Begins (Winner of the Children’s Choice Debut Author Award, Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2014), The Whispering Trees (Booklist Top 10 SF/Fantasy/Horror for Youth 2015), as well as two more sequels. He has also published a book of essays about the Japanese filmmaker Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Jerry lives and teaches in New Jersey. Learn more about Jerry and his work jawhitebooks.com.


You write scripts for Escape Goat Pictures, a company that makes book trailers, commercials, and short films. How has writing for visual media changed how you write novels?

When you write screenplays, you have to strip story to its barest form. There isn’t room for any fat whatsoever. I think that has made the transition to writing children’s novels pretty easy for me. I’ve had a lot of practice communicating information in as concise a way as possible. Continue reading “Interview: Guest Lecturer & Graduate J. A. White”

Interview: Guest Lecturer & Graduate E.C. Ambrose

Elaine IsaacAuthor and Odyssey graduate E. C. Ambrose will be a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey Writing Workshop. She writes The Dark Apostle historical fantasy series about medieval surgery, which began with Elisha Barber (DAW, 2013), continuing with Elisha Magus, Elisha Rex, Elisha Mancer, and the final volume, Elisha Demon (forthcoming in 2018). As Elaine Isaak, she is also the author of The Singer’s Crown and its sequels. Her writing how-to articles have appeared in The Writer magazine and online. A three-time instructor at the Odyssey Writing Workshop, she has led workshops across the country on topics like “Crafting Character from the Inside Out” and “10 Mistakes I’ve Made in my Writing Career so That You Don’t Have To.” Elaine dropped out of art school to found her own business. A former professional costumer and soft sculpture creator, Elaine now works as a part-time adventure guide. She blogs about the intersections between fantasy and history at ecambrose.wordpress.com and can also be found at facebook.com/e.c.ambroseauthor or on Twitter at @ecambrose. Under any name, you still do NOT want to be her hero. Learn more at www.TheDarkApostle.com.


Once you started writing seriously, how long did it take you to sell your first piece? What were you doing wrong in your writing in those early days?

Well, first I have to figure out when I started writing seriously. I’ve wanted to be a writer for a very long time (I have stories I wrote when I was in the first grade). As for serious, let’s say it was the summer of my sophomore year of high school when I went away to writing camp and returned with new determination. I sold a couple of those juvenile pieces, but my first decent sale was after college. Continue reading “Interview: Guest Lecturer & Graduate E.C. Ambrose”

Graduate Essay: Rebecca Kuang, “Changing Everything”

kuangRebecca Kuang is a graduate of the 2016 Odyssey Writing Workshop. She studies Chinese history at Georgetown University. Her debut novel The Poppy War, the first in a trilogy, will be released from Harper Voyager in Spring 2018.


I came to Odyssey on the verge of a horrible case of writer’s block. I had just sold my first novel. I was now under contract to write two more. I had to finish a 200,000-word project in a little over a year. I’d been trying for weeks to tackle it. I couldn’t write a word. Continue reading “Graduate Essay: Rebecca Kuang, “Changing Everything””

Interview: Guest Lecturer Gemma Files

gemma-filesFormer film critic, teacher, and screenwriter turned award-winning horror author Gemma Files will be a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey workshop. Her most recent book, Experimental Film (ChiZine Publications), won both y 2015 Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel and the 2016 Sunburst Award for Best Adult Novel. Her other works include the Weird Western Hexslinger series (A Book of Tongues, A Rope of Thorns and A Tree of Bones), a dark fantasy story-cycle (We Will All Go Down Together: Stories of the Five-Family Coven), two short fiction collections (Kissing Carrion and The Worm in Every Heart), and two chapbooks of speculative poetry, along with over eighty short stories, novellas, and novelettes. Five of her stories were adapted into episodes of the dark erotica anthology series The Hunger (1997-1999 on Showtime, produced by Tony and Ridley Scott), two by herself.


As a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey Workshop, you’ll be lecturing, workshopping, and meeting individually with students. What do you think is the most important advice you can give to developing writers?

Don’t censor yourself—all writing is useful writing, even if you don’t think it is at the time. Basically, it’s far easier to fix bad writing than it is to generate writing from the ground up, however good, especially under pressure. My own process tends to start with notes that slowly grow into sections of prose, develop a spine and blend together like fungus. I write maybe three unnecessary words for each necessary one, but unless you do your due diligence, you won’t have anything to cut down to. Letting go of the impulse to edit before you can proceed is the single most important lesson I’ve learned as a professional writer. Continue reading “Interview: Guest Lecturer Gemma Files”

Graduate Essay: Richard Errington, “Leveling Up”

picture1Richard James Errington attended the 2016 Odyssey Writing Workshop. He is an American/British writer born in Japan. He focuses on a variety of different genres and bounces between YA and adult fiction. He has written for an independent comic book publishing company where he published under six different title series. He has a completely unnecessary Honors BA in Creative Writing from the University of Leeds in the UK. He’s worked at banks, non-profit organizations, comic book publishers, media outlets, and had a brief stint as a postman which ended disastrously. Though he has sought them out, he has never seen any evidence of ghosts, which is leading him to believe that they may, in fact, not be real.


I’ve known for years that when you became serious about writing you considered workshops. I’d heard of Odyssey back when I was still a teenager while attending the ALPHA Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Workshop. We had an Odyssey graduate as one of our guest lecturers. I’ll always remember how enthusiastic and excited she was about it. She recommended that we apply in the future if we wanted to keep on honing our craft as writers. Continue reading “Graduate Essay: Richard Errington, “Leveling Up””

Interview: Guest Lecturer Alexander Jablokov

jablokovAuthor Alexander Jablokov, who will be a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey workshop, writes science fiction for readers who won’t give up literate writing or vivid characters to get the thrills they demand. He is a natural transition for non-SF readers interested in taking a stroll with a dangerous AI or a neurosurgeon/jazz musician turned detective, while still giving hardcore SF fans speculative flash, incomprehensible aliens, and kitchen appliances with insect wing cases. From his well-regarded first novel, Carve the Sky, an interplanetary espionage novel set in a culturally complex 25th century, through the obscenely articulate dolphins with military modifications of a Deeper Sea, the hardboiled post-cyberpunk of Nimbus, the subterranean Martian repression of River of Dust, and the perverse space opera of Deepdrive, his last book was Brain Thief, a contemporary high-tech thriller with a class clown attitude. He has recently written a YA alternate universe adventure novel.

His day job is as a marketing manager. He does his writing during the mornings, and on weekends. It took him several years to figure out how to get any writing done at all, particularly since he hates getting up early and hates working on weekends, but has somehow managed it. Visit www.ajablokov.com to learn more about the author and his books.


On your blog you say that, “writing is rewriting.” How do you maintain excitement for that original idea as you work through various drafts?

Sometimes I don’t and have to let it rest for a while. But I consider the first draft as something akin to ore. Smelting and refinement are the next steps. Now, that’s just me—my initial drafts are tangled, full of blind alleys, notes to myself, and repeated sentences where I try to get something right. I’ve learned that attempting to revise while I write stops me dead. That kind of revision can be like cleaning your desk or doing your laundry—a useful task that has wandered into the wrong place. Continue reading “Interview: Guest Lecturer Alexander Jablokov”