Interview: Michael Arnzen

Michael Arnzen will be a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey workshop. He has been publishing outrageous horror fiction, SF, poetry, literary criticism, instructional essays on writing, and offbeat humor since 1989. Across his career, Arnzen has won four Bram Stoker Awards, an International Horror Guild Award, and several “Year’s Best Horror Story” accolades and reprints. His novels include Play Dead and Grave Markings. The best of his short stories and poems are collected in Proverbs for Monsters, which won the Bram Stoker Award in 2007. Always the experimentalist, his writing has appeared on Palm Pilots and postcards, short art films (“Exquisite Corpse”) and creepy online animation. His novel Play Dead even inspired a deck of custom-designed playing cards.

When he’s not writing, Arnzen teaches suspense and horror writing fulltime in the MFA degree program in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University, near Pittsburgh, PA. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Oregon, where he studied “the uncanny” in popular culture, as well as an M.A. in English from the University of Idaho, where he wrote his second novel. Arnzen sits on the editorial board for two literary journals associated with genre fiction (Paradoxa and Dissections) and has edited college literary magazines and more. He is presently working on a guidebook for authors, a book of literary criticism, and several horror titles.

Arnzen taught humor in fantasy at Odyssey in 2007 and students had a lot of laughs. Look for “Stripping Away the Mask”—his essay on crafting horrifying scenes in fiction—in the recently published book, The Writer’s Workshop of Horror (Woodland Press, 2009).

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: Michael Arnzen”

Interview: Melissa Scott

Melissa ScottMelissa Scott will be a guest lecturer at the Odyssey Writing Workshop this summer. She is from Little Rock, Arkansas, and studied history at Harvard College and Brandeis University, where she earned her Ph.D. in the comparative history program with a dissertation titled “The Victory of the Ancients: Tactics, Technology, and the Use of Classical Precedent.” In 1986, she won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and in 2001 she and her late partner and long-time collaborator Lisa A. Barnett won the Lambda Literary Award in SF/Fantasy/Horror for Point of Dreams. Scott has also won Lammies in 1996 for Shadow Man and 1995 for Trouble and Her Friends, having previously been a three-time finalist (for Mighty Good Road, Dreamships, and Burning Bright). Trouble and Her Friends was also shortlisted for the Tiptree. Her most recent solo novel, The Jazz, was named to Locus’s Recommended Reading List for 2000. Her first work of nonfiction, Conceiving the Heavens: Creating the Science Fiction Novel, was published by Heinemann in 1997, and her monologue, “At RaeDean’s Funeral,” has been included in an off-off-Broadway production, Elvis Dreams, as well as several other evenings of Elvis-mania. A second monologue, “Job Hunting,” has been performed in competition and as a part of an evening of Monologues from the Road. Her most recent publications are the short stories “One Horse Town” (in Haunted Hearths, Lethe Press) and “Mister Seeley” (in So Fey, Haworth Press).

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: Melissa Scott”

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. Continue reading “Podcast #25: Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman”