Interview: Graduate Vikram Ramakrishnan

Vikram Ramakrishnan is an alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania and enthusiastic member of the Odyssey Writing Workshop’s class of 2020, where he received the Walter & Kattie Metcalf Scholarship. He is the winner of the 17th Annual Gival Short Story Award. His stories have been published or are forthcoming in Meridian, Eclectica, and Asimov’s Science Fiction. He can be found at https://vikramramakrishnan.com.


You attended Odyssey in 2020, the first year it was held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Can you talk about your pre-Odyssey writing process? What kind of writing schedule, if any, did you keep? 

I have a friend who is very good at learning languages. He ran a language learning program in Berlin a while back. One thing he mentioned that stuck with me is that language learners fit into two categories: aspirational or required. The latter kind are the ones that make the furthest progress. Maybe they have to learn a language because they moved to a new country, it’s a requirement for their job, and so on. There’s something about deadlines and requirements that get them moving. Thinking about writing this way made me realize I’d been spending a bit too much time on the aspirational side and less on the required side. I looked at my stack of writing books and they were squarely on aspirational, and I realized I needed some help on the craft side to move forward.

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Odyssey Podcast #147: Gregory Ashe (Part 2)

mp3 Odyssey Podcast #147

Odyssey graduate and bestselling author Gregory Ashe was a guest lecturer at the 2021 Odyssey Writing Workshop. Podcast #147 is part 2 of an excerpt from his lecture about scene and sequel.

Gregory is a longtime Midwesterner. He has lived in Chicago, Bloomington (IN), and Saint Louis, his current home. He primarily writes contemporary mysteries, with forays into romance, fantasy, and horror. Predominantly, his stories feature LGBTQ protagonists. When not reading and writing, he is an educator. For more information, visit his website: www.gregoryashe.com.

The text of this recording is copyright © 2021 by Gregory Ashe. The sound recording is copyright ℗ 2022 by Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust.

For more Odyssey podcasts, visit:
https://www.odysseyworkshop.org/resources/podcasts/

Interview: Graduate Mars Hawthorne

Mars Hawthorne is a writer of dark fiction based in Portland, Oregon, as well as a 2021 graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop, for which she was the recipient of the Miskatonic Scholarship. Her passion for storytelling began in kindergarten when she informed a teacher that, during nap-time, she’d witnessed a monster eat the little girl next to her and then spit out her bones. She’s a member of the Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers. In her free time, Mars likes to patronize her favorite art-house movie theaters, take meandering walks, and watch her beloved local soccer clubs.


Can you talk about your pre-Odyssey writing process? What kind of writing schedule, if any, did you keep? 

Before Odyssey, my writing process was a mixed bag. I became serious about improving my writing in 2017, but I mostly worked in highly caffeinated sprints where I’d get excited about a project and work on it for 1-2 hours a day for 3-5 days a week for a couple months, followed by weeks or months-long lulls in between. I was lucky to have an active, supportive writing group to meet up with and submit work to (hi, Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers!), where I also critiqued the work of other members, which helped me assess my own work better. However, I didn’t have a varied toolbox of techniques to draw upon when problems arose, except for whatever I gleaned from the craft books I read in my free time. My process was mostly 1) draft, 2) receive critique, 3) reflect on critique, then 4) revise until a piece “felt” done. But, spoiler alert, I usually wasn’t done! Instead, I’d often put a story on indefinite hold in frustration when I got stuck on a problem that I couldn’t identify or address.

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Odyssey Podcast #146: Gregory Ashe (Part 1)

mp3 Odyssey Podcast #146

Odyssey graduate and bestselling author Gregory Ashe was a guest lecturer at the 2021 Odyssey Writing Workshop. Podcast #146 is an excerpt from his lecture about scene and sequel.

Gregory is a longtime Midwesterner. He has lived in Chicago, Bloomington (IN), and Saint Louis, his current home. He primarily writes contemporary mysteries, with forays into romance, fantasy, and horror. Predominantly, his stories feature LGBTQ protagonists. When not reading and writing, he is an educator. For more information, visit his website: www.gregoryashe.com.

The text of this recording is copyright © 2021 by Gregory Ashe. The sound recording is copyright ℗ 2022 by Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust.

For more Odyssey podcasts, visit:
https://www.odysseyworkshop.org/resources/podcasts/

Graduate Essay: “Into the Deep End” by Malcolm Carvalho

Malcolm Carvalho is a graduate of the 2021 Odyssey Writing Workshop.  He writes science fiction and poetry. His work has been featured in several literary journals and magazines, including 365 Tomorrows, Kitaab, Bengaluru Review, and Muse India. Most recently, his poetry has been featured in the anthology A Letter, A Poem, A Home. He blogs at grainsofthought.wordpress.com. He also facilitates poetry workshops and performs improv comedy in his adopted city, Bangalore.

Malcolm was the 2021 recipient of The Quantum Entanglement Scholarship. Funded anonymously by an Odyssey graduate, The Quantum Entanglement Scholarship provides support to an outstanding writer of science fiction each year. The scholarship awards $1,000 toward tuition.


When I came to Odyssey, I had made a small list of the skills I wanted to work on. I wanted to focus on creating stronger characters and better plot resolutions. I wanted to know what I was missing in my stories.

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Odyssey Podcast #145: P. Djèlí Clark

mp3 Odyssey Podcast #145

Award-winning author Phenderson Djèlí Clark was a guest lecturer at the 2021 Odyssey Writing Workshop. In this excerpt from a question and answer session, he answers questions about incorporating history into fiction, gaps in history, and originality.

Phenderson is the award-winning and Hugo-, Nebula-, Sturgeon-, and World Fantasy-nominated author of the novellas The Black God’s Drums and The Haunting of Tram Car 015. His stories have appeared in online venues such as Tor.com, Daily Science Fiction, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Apex, Lightspeed, Fireside Fiction, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and in print anthologies including Griots, Hidden Youth and Clockwork Cairo. He is a founding member of FIYAH Literary Magazine and an infrequent reviewer at Strange Horizons.

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Odyssey Podcast #144: David Farland

mp3 Odyssey Podcast #144

Bestselling author David Farland was a guest lecturer at the 2021 Odyssey Writing Workshop. In this excerpt from a question and answer session, he answers questions about his experiences as a teacher and mentor.

David, who sadly passed away in January, was an international bestselling author with over 50 novels in print. He won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Special Award for Best SF novel of the year, the Whitney Award for Book of the Year, and the International Book Award for Best Young Adult Novel of the year, among others. He was best known, however, for his New York Times bestselling fantasy series The Runelords.

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Director’s Corner: Introducing Your Personal Odyssey, a One-On-One Online Writing Workshop

jeanne

Jeanne Cavelos is the director of the Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust. She was a senior editor at Bantam Doubleday Dell, where she worked for eight years, editing the fantasy/science fiction program, the Abyss horror line, and other fiction and nonfiction. Jeanne is also the bestselling author of seven books and numerous short stories and articles. She has won the World Fantasy Award and twice been nominated for the Stoker Award.

Jeanne has run the Odyssey Writing Workshop for the last 26 years, and this year announced the breakthrough new program Your Personal Odyssey Writing Workshop.

Find out more about Jeanne here and more about the Your Personal Odyssey Writing Workshop here.


Your Personal Odyssey Writing Workshop is such an exciting new opportunity for writers! What are some of the best ways for potential students to maximize the possibility of being selected for the workshop?

The most important thing a writer can do to improve their chances of being accepted into Your Personal Odyssey is to apply. Writers often pre-reject themselves, deciding not to apply to a program or not to submit their story to a particular magazine because they think they have no chance of success. And it’s true that they have no chance, if they never try. So I would encourage interested writers to apply. 

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Interview: Graduate Larry Hodges (Part 2 of 2)

Larry Hodges is a science fiction and fantasy writer, as well as a table tennis coach. (Yes, that’s a strange combination.) Larry is a graduate of the 2006 Odyssey Writing Workshop, the 2007 Orson Scott Card Literary Boot Camp, and the 2008 Taos Toolbox Writers Workshop. He’s an active member of SFWA with over 100 short story sales, including ones to Analog, Amazing Stories, and Escape Pod, and 18 to Galaxy’s Edge. He’s also published several novels (When Parallel Lines Meet, co-written with Mike Resnick and Lezli Robyn; Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions; Sorcerers in Space; and The Spirit of Pong) and short story collections (Pings and Pongs, More Pings and Pongs, and Still More Pings and Pongs). In the world of non-fiction, Larry’s a full-time writer with 17 books and over 1,900 published articles in over 170 different publications. You can visit him online at www.larryhodges.com.


Part 1 of this interview, posted last Sunday, is available here.


One of your most recent publications is “Ninety-Nine Sextillion Souls in a Ball,” in the November/December 2021 issue of Dark Matter Magazine. What led you to write this story?

I like to take ideas to their logical extremes. I took the passage from the Bible, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth,” and wondered what would happen if the world were taken over by religious fanatics who took this to its logical conclusion. Assume they have advanced technology that can convert matter into food and other necessities, and other needed technologies. Let’s assume every woman from age 13 on is forced to have a baby every nine months, and nobody dies. Then population would eventually start doubling every six years. (It’s a little more complicated than that—fortunately, I have a degree in math, and I had a math professor check my work.) The numbers go up exponentially—believe it or not, it would take only about 250 years to convert the entire Earth’s mass into humans, and they would number about 99 sextillion! So that was the story I wrote. (99 Sextillion is 99,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.)

Continue reading “Interview: Graduate Larry Hodges (Part 2 of 2)”

Interview: Graduate Larry Hodges (Part 1 of 2)

Larry Hodges is a science fiction and fantasy writer, as well as a table tennis coach. (Yes, that’s a strange combination.) Larry is a graduate of the 2006 Odyssey Writing Workshop, the 2007 Orson Scott Card Literary Boot Camp, and the 2008 Taos Toolbox Writers Workshop. He’s an active member of SFWA with over 100 short story sales, including ones to Analog, Amazing Stories, and Escape Pod, and 18 to Galaxy’s Edge. He’s also published several novels (When Parallel Lines Meet, co-written with Mike Resnick and Lezli Robyn; Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions; Sorcerers in Space; and The Spirit of Pong) and short story collections (Pings and Pongs, More Pings and Pongs, and Still More Pings and Pongs). In the world of non-fiction, Larry’s a full-time writer with 17 books and over 1,900 published articles in over 170 different publications. You can visit him online at www.larryhodges.com.


You’re a 2006 graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop. What made you decide to attend? What insights did you gain into your own work?

I did some research and asked around, and Odyssey seemed the most recommended workshop. (Having Robert J. Sawyer as a “Writer in Residence” that year greatly helped!) Probably the biggest insight I learned about my own work was that I’m an “idea” and “humor/satire” writer who needs to focus on character and other aspects equally. I also went in knowing that I had little feel for description, and so have spent years working to overcome that. One thing that helped: Robert and Odyssey Director Jeanne Cavelos suggested writing a story that was all about description, and so I wrote and sold “In the Belly of the Beast,” where the whole story takes place in the belly of a dragon that has swallowed a bunch of people, including a wizard who creates a field to protect them in the dragon’s stomach—and much of the story revolved around vivid descriptions of the “venue.” It also became a character story about the wizard.

Continue reading “Interview: Graduate Larry Hodges (Part 1 of 2)”
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