Podcast #25: Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman

Podcast #25 is now available for download here.

In their guest lecture at Odyssey 2008, Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman discussed the many differences between writing a novel and writing a short story. In this podcast, Delia and Ellen explore how the opening of a novel differs from the opening of a short story. What must the beginning of a novel do, what can it do, and how much space does it have to do these things? Ellen and Delia list the elements that should usually be established in the opening chapter. They also explain that many novelists don’t know the right opening for their novel until they reach the end. Thus, it’s very important to keep pushing ahead, rather than to get bogged down rewriting the opening chapters. Ellen and Delia discuss the difficulties of getting through a first draft and offer valuable advice on how to make it to the end. They also explore some of the things that short stories can’t do and novels can.

Delia ShermanDelia Sherman was born in Tokyo, Japan, and brought up in New York City. She spent much of her early life at one end of a classroom or another, at Brown University where she earned a Ph.D. in Renaissance Studies in 1981 and at Boston University and Northeastern, where she taught Freshman Composition and Fantasy. Her first novel, Through a Brazen Mirror (Ace, 1989), was an Ace Fantasy Special. In 1990, she was nominated for the Campbell Award for Best New SF Writer. Her second novel, The Porcelain Dove (Dutton, 1993; Plume, 1994), won the Mythopoeic Award. Her short fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies, and has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award. She made her debut in the world of children’s literature with short stories in The Green Man and Faery Reel (edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow) and Firebirds (Viking, 2003). Her first novel for children is the urban fantasy Changeling (Viking, 2006), with sequel The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen due out in 2009.

Delia has been a judge for the Crawford Award for Best First Fantasy Novel and the World Fantasy Award, served on the Motherboard of the James Tiptree Jr. Award, and is a founding member of the Interstitial Arts Foundation.

As an editor of books and anthologies, Delia’s continuing quest is to get more of the kind of fantasy she likes out to readers. She has been a contributing editor for Tor Books and has co-edited, with Ellen Kushner and Don Keller, the fantasy anthology The Horns of Elfland (Roc) as well as the Bordertown punk-elf anthology The Essential Bordertown with Terri Windling. She has edited Interficitons: An Anthology of Interstitial Writing (Small Beer Press, 2007) with Theodora Goss and Interfictions 2 (Small Beer Press, 2009) with Christopher Barzak. She teaches SF and Fantasy writing whenever she can at Odyssey, Clarion, and workshops at regional and national science fiction conventions.

Delia lives with fellow author and fantasist Ellen Kushner in a rambling apartment in New York City. She is a social rather than a solitary writer and can work anywhere, which is a good thing because she loves to travel, and if she couldn’t write on airplanes, she’d never get anything done.

Ellen KushnerAuthor, performer and radio personality Ellen Kushner hosts and writes the national public radio series Sound & Spirit. Her newest novel, The Privilege of the Sword, won the 2007 Locus Award for Best Fantasy novel, and was nominated for the Nebula and the World Fantasy Awards, as well as being a Tiptree Honor Book. Her first novel, Swordspoint: A Melodrama of Manners, was hailed as the progenitor of the “Mannerpunk” school of fantasy. Her second novel, Thomas the Rhymer, won both the 1991 World Fantasy Award and the Mythopoeic Award. With Delia Sherman she co-wrote The Fall of the Kings. Her short fiction has appeared in The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, and, most recently, in Coyote Road and Troll’s Eye View.

Her spoken word performances include The Golden Dreydl (with Shirim Klezmer Orchestra, on Rykodisc CD), which was published as a children’s book by Charlesbridge in 2007 and appeared as a play (“The Klezmer Nutcracker”) at New York’s Vital Theatre in 2008.

She has also taught at the Clarion Workshop, the Cape Cod Writers’ Workshop, and the American Book Center in Amsterdam. She is a founding member of the Interstitial Arts Foundation. She lives in New York City with Delia Sherman and a recently-unpacked suitcase or two.

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