Interview: Graduate Michael J. DeLuca

michael_j_deluca2017Michael J. DeLuca is a 2005 Odyssey Writing Workshop graduate who lives in the rapidly suburbifying post-industrial woodlands north of Detroit with wife, kid, cats, perennials, worms and microbes. He is the publisher of Reckoning, a new journal of creative writing on environmental justice. His short fiction has appeared most recently in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Three-Lobed Burning Eye, Strangelet and Middle Planet. You can find him online at @michaeljdeluca or mossyskull.com.


You attended the Odyssey Writing Workshop in 2005. What made you decide to attend the workshop? 

I’d written a very long fantasy novel that didn’t sell and decided it would be a much wiser course not to pour a bunch of time into another novel but work on improving my writing via short fiction instead. So I joined my first-ever Milford method critique group, WriteShop, in Columbus, Ohio, which happened to include Charles Coleman Finlay—who at the time was writing smart, fun, noirish SF for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and now is the editor. Charlie’s a great, perceptive critiquer and teacher, and I think he caught on quickly to the fact that I wanted to get better and didn’t mind working at it. He encouraged me to apply to a six-week workshop. I picked Odyssey, barely knowing the work of any of that year’s guest authors and never having heard of Odyssey Director Jeanne Cavelos before, based almost entirely on liking what I read about the curriculum—and also that New Hampshire was pretty much my favorite place in the world. Continue reading “Interview: Graduate Michael J. DeLuca”

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Interview: Graduate Rebecca F. Kuang

Kuang HeadshotRebecca F. Kuang studies modern Chinese history at Georgetown University and will be pursuing her graduate studies at the University of Cambridge as a Marshall Scholar. She graduated from the Odyssey Writing Workshop in 2016 and the CSSF Novel Writers Workshop in 2017. Her debut novel The Poppy War is about empire, drugs, shamanism, and China’s bloody twentieth century. It will be published by Harper Voyager in May 2018. She tweets at @kuangrf and blogs at www.rfkuang.com.


You attended the Odyssey Writing Workshop in 2016. Can you talk about your pre-Odyssey writing process? What kind of writing schedule, if any, did you keep

Before Odyssey, I gave myself just one hard and fast rule: write 2,000 words a day, every day, no matter how bad they are. (To be fair, I was on a work schedule where I could make time to do this, whereas now I count myself lucky if I can squeeze 1,000 words in on a good day.) I’d never taken a creative writing class before, so had absolutely no understanding of craft, plot structure, or world-building before I dove in. I bought some books on writing genre fiction and read them along the way, but it was very much a DIY approach to writing. Continue reading “Interview: Graduate Rebecca F. Kuang”

Interview: Graduate & Guest Lecturer Meagan Spooner

SpoonerNew York Times bestselling author and Odyssey graduate Meagan Spooner will be a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey Writing Workshop. She is the author of Hunted, Unearthed, and the Starbound Trilogy (These Broken Stars, This Shattered World, and Their Fractured Light). She attended Odyssey in 2009 and sold her first novel a year and a half later.

She grew up in Virginia, reading and writing every spare moment of the day, while dreaming about life as an archaeologist, a marine biologist, and an astronaut. She’s traveled all over the world to places like Egypt, Australia, South Africa, Antarctica, and the Galapagos, and there’s a bit of every trip in every story she writes.

She currently lives and writes in Asheville, North Carolina, but the siren call of travel is hard to resist, and there’s no telling how long she’ll stay there.

In her spare time she plays guitar, plays video games, plays with her cat, and reads.


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?

One of the things I tell developing writers is to get used to sharing your work as early as you can. Learning to receive both praise AND critique is an invaluable skill, and like any skill, it takes practice! Leaving aside the emotional component that makes sharing work and receiving critique difficult, one of the hardest things to learn as a writer is the ability to pick and choose what elements of a critique serve you and your story. Not every suggestion is right for you—and what might work well for one writer’s style may not work for another. You can’t accept and implement every suggestion you get, but neither can you reject it all out of hand! This skill is one that simply takes practice, and a lot of it! Continue reading “Interview: Graduate & Guest Lecturer Meagan Spooner”

Interview: Graduate Jason S. Ridler (Part 2 of 2)

ridler2005 Odyssey Writing Workshop graduate Jason S. Ridler is a writer, improv actor, and left-wing military historian. His novels include Hex-Rated, the first installment of the Brimstone Files series for Night Shade Books; Rise of the Luchador; and Death Match. He’s also published over sixty stories and numerous academic publications. FXXK WRITING! A Guide for Frustrated Artists collects the best of his column of the same name, and his next historical work, Mavericks of War, is forthcoming from Stackpole Books. A former punk rock musician and cemetery groundskeeper, Mr. Ridler holds a Ph.D. in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada. He lives in Berkeley, CA and is a Teaching Fellow for Johns Hopkins University.


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

Your latest novel, Hex-Rated, is about a PI investigating supernatural happenings in the 1970s Hollywood porn industry. As a historian, what drew you to writing about the 1970s and the porn industry? How did you handle mashing multiple genres together?

The 1970s, especially the early 70s, are about dreams and hopes dying and being reborn (a theme in my own work and life). It’s the end of the Love Generation and the birth of the Manson murders, of peace movements helping end Vietnam and the return of soldiers with PTSD, of drugs eating through the hearts and minds of people as much as expanding their consciousness. Heavy metal and proto-punk is screaming at the sincerity of the folk-rock and Woodstock crew. It’s the shifting sands of violence in the civil rights movement as desegregation takes hold and black nationalism refuses to bow to white power and privilege and searches for alternatives to the power structures that abide. And it’s the emergence of the modern adult film industry.  Continue reading “Interview: Graduate Jason S. Ridler (Part 2 of 2)”

Interview: Graduate Jason S. Ridler (Part 1 of 2)

ridler2005 Odyssey Writing Workshop graduate Jason S. Ridler is a writer, improv actor, and left-wing military historian. His novels include Hex-Rated, the first installment of the Brimstone Files series for Night Shade Books; Rise of the Luchador; and Death Match. He’s also published over sixty stories and numerous academic publications. FXXK WRITING! A Guide for Frustrated Artists collects the best of his column of the same name, and his next historical work, Mavericks of War, is forthcoming from Stackpole Books. A former punk rock musician and cemetery groundskeeper, Mr. Ridler holds a Ph.D. in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada. He lives in Berkeley, CA and is a Teaching Fellow for Johns Hopkins University.


You’re a writer, a historian, and also an improv actor. How has doing improv impacted your writing? What lessons have you taken from improv and applied to writing?

Improv has provided many things that help me be a writer: being socially engaged in creating art with others; the nature of performance and stagecraft in reaching an audience; tools for brainstorming; a life outside of “all I f***ing do is write and be in my head,” which acted as an antidote to a lot of the writer b***s*** about being special because you’re a loner who does art (writing is also a great way to AVOID dealing with people and problems: improv helped me crack that code); improv uses less conventional storytelling tools and tactics that allow you to play with the absurd and normalcy and break expectation; improv also champions mistakes and failures as awesome means to new ideas (writing …. not so much); and it’s fun as hell. Improv and its gifts are now just a part of the complex lab of the imagination that exists in my storytelling brain. Continue reading “Interview: Graduate Jason S. Ridler (Part 1 of 2)”

Interview: Graduate & Guest Lecturer Theodora Goss

TheodoraGossAward-winning author and Odyssey graduate Theodora Goss will be a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey Writing Workshop. She was born in Hungary and spent her childhood in various European countries before her family moved to the United States. Although she grew up on the classics of English literature, her writing has been influenced by an Eastern European literary tradition in which the boundaries between realism and the fantastic are often ambiguous. Her publications include the short story collection In the Forest of Forgetting (2006); Interfictions (2007), a short story anthology coedited with Delia Sherman; Voices from Fairyland (2008), a poetry anthology with critical essays and a selection of her own poems; The Thorn and the Blossom (2012), a novella in a two-sided accordion format; the poetry collection Songs for Ophelia (2014); and her debut novel The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter (2017). Her work has been translated into twelve languages. She has been a finalist for the Nebula, Crawford, Locus, Seiun, and Mythopoeic Awards, and on the Tiptree Award Honor List. Her poems “Octavia is Lost in the Hall of Masks” (2003) and “Rose Child” (2016) won the Rhysling Award, and her short story “Singing of Mount Abora” (2007) won the World Fantasy Award. Her next novel, European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman, will be published in 2018 by Saga Press.


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?

There are all sorts of things students can learn from teachers and workshops, but in the end, the most important advice I can give them is that at some point, they’ll need to stop listening to other people, or perhaps listen very selectively. Not anytime soon—there’s still plenty to learn. But they’ll get to a point where they’ll need to start selecting, or perhaps creating, their own paths, making their own decisions about what they want to write and how. They’ll decide when to break what they’ve been taught are the rules, or when to throw aside the entire rulebook. They’ll see other writers doing things they’ve never seen before, and they’ll say, “Yes, I want to do something like that, but in my own way.” And that will be wonderful. In the end, every writer is different—we all have our own stories, we all decide how to tell them, and none of us have exactly the same careers. Continue reading “Interview: Graduate & Guest Lecturer Theodora Goss”

Interview: Guest Lecturer Nisi Shawl

Hewlett-PackardAward-winning author Nisi Shawl will be a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey Writing Workshop. She wrote the 2016 Nebula finalist and Tiptree Honor novel Everfair, and the 2008 Tiptree Award-winning collection Filter House. In 2005 she co-wrote Writing the Other: A Practical Approach, a standard text on inclusive representation in the imaginative genres. Her short stories have appeared in Analog and Asimov’s magazines, and many other publications. Shawl is a founder of the Carl Brandon Society and a Clarion West board member.


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?

Listen to your inner bell. That’s a maddeningly vague tip, I know, but it’s the closest I can come to describing what it’s like to understand when something just is not working, or when something needs a little tweak to make it work smashingly well, or when you’re laboring over something that is not going to ever work, no matter how you tweak and nudge and sweat and polish it. I’m an aural writer, so I think of it in terms of sound; others may metaphorize the idea differently, but most of you will recognize it. For me, it’s “clunk” versus “bonggg.” Continue reading “Interview: Guest Lecturer Nisi Shawl”