Interview: Guest Lecturer Sheree Renée Thomas

Sheree Renée Thomas will be a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey Writing Workshop. Sheree is an award-winning editor and the author of three collections, Nine Bar Blues: Stories from an Ancient Future (Third Man Books, May 2020), Sleeping Under the Tree of Life (Aqueduct Press, 2016) and Shotgun Lullabies: Stories & Poems (Aqueduct Press, 2011). She is the editor of the groundbreaking anthologies, Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora (2000) and Dark Matter: Reading the Bones (2004), which earned the 2001 and 2005 World Fantasy Awards for Year’s Best Anthology, making her the first Black author to win the award since its inception in 1975. Sheree is the editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, founded in 1949. She also edited for Random House and for magazines like Apex, Strange Horizons, and is the Associate Editor of the historic literary journal, Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora.

As a fiction writer and poet, her work has been supported with fellowships and residencies from Smith College as the Lucille Geier-Lakes Writer-in-Residence, the Cave Canem Foundation, Bread Loaf Environmental, the Millay Colony of Arts, VCCA, the Wallace Foundation, the New York Foundation of the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, ArtsMemphis, and others. Widely anthologized, her work also appears in The Big Book of Modern Fantasy and The New York Times. Sheree was honored as a 2020 World Fantasy Award Finalist for her contributions to the genre and will serve as a Special Guest and a co-host of the 2021 Hugo Awards Ceremony with Malka Older at Discon III in Washington, DC.


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 advise you can give to developing writers?

The most important thing that we can do as writers, particularly at the beginning of our journey, is to read widely. You will probably get more out of reading than you would out of any workshop, to be honest. But workshops help you create a shortcut, in a way, to some of the hard-earned lessons you would eventually find out on your own, and it’s good to have people who have been on that journey before you to give you some pointers on how to get where you’re trying to go.

Continue reading “Interview: Guest Lecturer Sheree Renée Thomas”

Interview: Guest Lecturer Melissa Scott

Award-winning author Melissa Scott will be a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey Writing Workshop. Melissa was born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, and studied history at Harvard College. She earned her Ph.D. from Brandeis University in the comparative history program with a dissertation titled “The Victory of the Ancients: Tactics, Technology, and the Use of Classical Precedent.” She also sold her first novel, The Game Beyond, and quickly became a part-time graduate student and an—almost—full-time writer.

Over the next thirty years, she published more than thirty original novels and a handful of short stories, most with queer themes and characters, as well as authorized tie-in work for Star Trek: DS9, Star Trek: Voyager, Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, Star Wars Rebels, and Rooster Teeth’s anime series gen:LOCK. She won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1986, and won Lambda Literary Awards for Trouble and Her Friends, Shadow Man, Point of Dreams (with longtime partner and collaborator, the late Lisa A. Barnett), and Death By Silver, written with Amy Griswold. She has also been shortlisted for the Tiptree Award. She won Spectrum Awards for Death by Silver, Fairs’ Point, Shadow Man, and for the short story “The Rocky Side of the Sky.”

Lately, she has collaborated with Jo Graham on the Order of the Air, a series of occult adventure novels set in the 1930s (Lost Things, Steel Blues, Silver Bullet, Wind Raker, and Oath Bound) and with Amy Griswold on a pair of gay Victorian fantasies with murder, Death by Silver and A Death at the Dionysus Club. She has also continued the acclaimed Points series, fantasy mysteries set in the imaginary city of Astreiant, most recently with Point of Sighs. Her latest short story, “Sirens,” appeared in the collection Retellings of the Inland Seas, and her text-based game for Choice of Games, A Player’s Heart, came out in 2019. Her most recent solo novel, Finders, was published at the end of 2018, and she is currently at work on the next book in the sequence, Fallen.


Your first novel was published in 1984. What advice do you have for writers looking to achieve a long career?

I think for me the most important thing has been to stay active in and involved with the genre, as a reader and a fan as well as a writer. By staying involved as a fan, I mean making an effort to find new works that I can get fannish about, that spark of pure delight, that make you want to stay up all night reading or spend hours parsing all the details with your friends. It’s finding the next book that’s going to go on my “re-read every year” list. Without renewing that spark, there’s a danger of getting bored or falling out of step with the field. That’s not to say that you have to join every new trend—for example, I’m not very excited by YA as a writer, though I’ll happily read it; the singularity was a fascinating concept but did nothing for me as a storyteller—but it’s vital to know what’s happening and why. The genre is constantly evolving. To stay active, you have to evolve with it.

Continue reading “Interview: Guest Lecturer Melissa Scott”

Interview: Guest Lecturer David Farland

David Farland will be a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey Writing Workshop. David is an international bestselling author with over 50 novels in print.

He has 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 is best known, however, for his New York Times bestselling fantasy series The Runelords.

He is the lead judge for one of the world’s largest writing competitions and has helped dozens of writers launch their careers, including such well-known names as Brandon Sanderson, James Dashner, Brandon Mull, and Stephenie Meyer.

You can learn about his workshops and sign up for his free advice column at www.mystorydoctor.com.


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 isn’t one piece of advice that everyone needs. Putting together a writing career is like putting together a puzzle. So I try to talk to a writer and figure out what the one piece of advice that author needs is.

For example, with Brandon Sanderson, he really just needed to believe that he could make writing a career, so we worked on that. For Stephenie Meyer, we analyzed her intended market and how to break into it. For James Dashner, he needed to transition from a low-paying market writing sports tie-ins to writing science fiction for a wider audience, and so on.

Continue reading “Interview: Guest Lecturer David Farland”

Interview: Nancy Holder

Nancy Holder will be the writer-in-residence at this summer’s Odyssey Writing Workshop. She is an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of adult, young adult, middle grade, and early reader work, both fiction and nonfiction. She has sold approximately 80 novels and 200 short stories, comic books, and essays in various genres. She has taught creative writing classes at the University of California at San Diego, the Maui Writers Retreat and Conference, and other conferences and colleges, and has been on the faculty of the Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing for seven years. She has also served on the boards of Clarion (San Diego) and the Horror Writers Association. You can learn more about Nancy and her work at her website: http://nancyholder.com/


You are an incredibly busy and successful writer, writing in different genres, for different ages, in different formats. How do you keep up? Is there ever a danger of having too much on the go? Continue reading “Interview: Nancy Holder”

Interview: Jason Heller

Jason Heller is an author, editor, and journalist whose nonfiction has appeared in many publications, including Clarkesworld (where he’s currently the nonfiction editor), The A.V. Club (where he served as Denver City Editor and is currently a regular contributor), Weird Tales, Fantasy Magazine, Alternative Press, and Tor.com. His writing on popular culture appears in Scribner’s A.V. Club book, Inventory. He’s a 2009 graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop, and his science fiction/fantasy/horror short stories have been published in Apex Magazine, Sybil’s Garage, Polluto, Expanded Horizons, Farrago’s Wainscot, M-Brane SF, the anthology Descended From Darkness, and others. Quirk Books released his debut novel, the satirical alternate-history Taft 2012, as well as his Pirates of the Caribbean tie-in, The Captain Jack Sparrow Handbook. He can be found at www.jason-heller.com.


Congratulations on your debut novel Taft 2012! What sort of feedback are you getting? Continue reading “Interview: Jason Heller”

Interview: Laura Anne Gilman

Laura Anne Gilman will be the writer-in-residence at this summer’s Odyssey workshop. Before she took the first plunge into murky writing waters and submitted her first story to a professional market, she was an editorial assistant at the Berkley Publishing Group in 1994. An almost immediate sale to Amazing Stories followed. She didn’t make another fiction sale for more than a year, which taught her humility and patience. And the fine art of perseverance.

Over the next few years, in addition to a number of short stories published in magazines and anthologies (many garnering “Year’s Best” honorable mentions), she wrote or co-wrote four media tie-in novels (Quantum Leap: Double or Nothing; Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Visitors and Deep Water; and Poltergeist: The Legacy: The Shadows Between). In the meanwhile, she moved up the corporate ladder to be Executive Editor at NAL/Penguin USA.

In 2003, after a great deal of planning and soul-searching–and with a three book contract in-hand–she left editorial to become a full-time writer. In 2004, her first original novel, the urban fantasy Staying Dead was published by Luna. It was followed by Curse The Dark, Bring It On, Burning Bridges, Free Fall, and Blood From Stone. The first in a spinoff series, Hard Magic, will be published in May 2010.

The first book in The Vineart War trilogy, Flesh and Fire, was published by Pocket Books in October 2009. The second book, Weight of Stone, will be available October 2010.

To-date, she has sold over thirty works of short fiction, ranging from mainstream to science fiction to horror. She is also the author of the Grail Quest YA trilogy for HarperCollins (2006), and a number of nonfiction books for teenagers. Writing as “Anna Leonard,” she has also written four paranormal romances (The Night Serpent, Dreamcatcher, The Hunted, and Mustang).

Laura Anne also co-edited the anthologies OtherWere: Stories of Transformation (Ace), Treachery & Treason (Roc) and The Shadow Conspiracy (Book View Press). As part of the Book View Café (http://www.bookviewcafe.com/), she is involved in expanding the definition of publishing beyond the traditional models, experimenting with the writer-to-reader connection.

More details about her work can be found at http://lauraannegilman.net.

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?

I have a terrible confession to make. I sold the first short story I ever submitted to either the first or second place I sent it to (“All The Comforts of Home,” Amazing Stories, 1994). It freaked me out a little, because I knew damn well it wasn’t supposed to be that easy. But it took another eighteen months to get past the form rejection stage for anything else, so the scales balanced.

Continue reading “Interview: Laura Anne Gilman”

Podcast #33: Jeffrey A. Carver

Podcast #33 is now available for download here.

Jeffrey A. Carver was a guest lecturer at Odyssey 2009, where he lectured on Story Structure: Conflict and Plot. In this podcast, Jeffrey explains the importance of structure. Structure supplies the skeleton for your story; without it, your story becomes a jellyfish. But structure is more than the organization and skeleton. It gives your story its purpose, movement, life. Jeffrey discusses the different components of structure and how they interact with each other. He especially stresses the interaction of plot and character in the structure, and explains that to discover plot, one must discover character. He offers various techniques for creating structure, from outlining in advance to discovering and recording it as your write. He also provides a checklist to help you examine your structure after you have a draft, so you can discover weaknesses and make necessary changes.

Jeffrey A. CarverJeffrey A. Carver is the author of sixteen science fiction novels, including Sunborn (Tor Books, November 2008). Prior to that, his most recent books were Battlestar Galactica: the Miniseries (a novelization), and Eternity’s End, a grand-scale epic of conflict and mystery in the far future, which was a finalist for the Nebula Award.

Continue reading “Podcast #33: Jeffrey A. Carver”

Interview: Jeffrey A. Carver

Jeffrey A. CarverJeffrey A. Carver will be a guest lecturer at the Odyssey Writing Workshop this summer. He is the author of sixteen science fiction novels, including Sunborn (Tor Books, November 2008). Prior to that, his most recent books were Battlestar Galactica: the Miniseries (a novelization), and Eternity’s End, a grand-scale epic of conflict and mystery in the far future, which was a finalist for the Nebula Award.

His novels Neptune Crossing, Strange Attractors, and The Infinite Sea began his series known as The Chaos Chronicles, a hard science fiction series which continues with Sunborn. Science Fiction Chronicle named Neptune Crossing one of the best science fiction novels of the year, while Kirkus called Strange Attractors “dazzling, thrilling, innovative…probably Carver’s best effort to date.” Periodically he returns to his Star Rigger universe (Star Rigger’s Way, Dragons in the Stars, and others), a favorite haunt for readers.

Carver’s writing involves elements of both hard science and psychology, and is character-focused while exploring possibilities for science and technology in the future, including nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and the possibilities for travel (and both contact and conflict) among the stars. His novels and stories explore not just technological but moral, ethical, and spiritual challenges for tomorrow.

In addition to writing, Carver teaches. In 1995, he developed and hosted an educational TV series, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing–a live, interactive broadcast into middle school classrooms. Reaching into schools across the U.S., the show encouraged student writers to stretch their imaginations and learn the basic skills of storytelling and writing. Much of that teaching is now free online for aspiring writers at writesf.com. He also teaches regularly at the New England Young Writers Conference at Bread Loaf, Vermont, and at the Ultimate Science Fiction Writing Workshop in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

A native of Huron, Ohio, Carver is a graduate of Brown University, with graduate work in marine resources management at the University of Rhode Island. He has been a high school wrestler, a scuba diving instructor, a quahog diver, a UPS sorter, a technical writer and developmental editor, a private pilot, and a stay-at-home dad. He lives with his family in Arlington, Massachusetts, and is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and The Authors Guild. For more information, visit his website at starrigger.net.

Several of Carver’s novels (and some short stories) are available for free download as ebooks at http://www.starrigger.net/Downloads.htm.

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?

Continue reading “Interview: Jeffrey A. Carver”