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: Graduate Kate Marshall (Part 2 of 2)

kateportraitOdyssey 2005 graduate Kate Marshall is the author of the young adult novels I Am Still Alive and Rules for Vanishing (Viking Children’s). Her science fiction and fantasy fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Crossed Genres, and elsewhere. She lives outside of Seattle with her husband, a dog named Vonnegut, and two small children. They all conspire to keep her on her toes.


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

You used to read slush for Beneath Ceaseless Skies. What were some of the things you learned from reading all of those stories? 

The main thing I learned was that there’s a whole lot of “fine” and even “good” writing out there, far more than there is “bad” (in the slush, at least). The competently written stories abounded, and at first it was very hard to turn those down. There was nothing wrong with them, after all. But eventually, I learned to recognize the gulf between competent writing and a great story. There wasn’t one thing that set every great story apart; it wasn’t that clear-cut. It might be a killer voice, a grab-you-by-the-throat opening, an ending that left you feeling downright emotionally wobbly. Every one of those stories had something that provoked a reaction, and studying the difference between the death scene that was merely competent and the one that felt like a knife to the gut helped me start to think about what the true core of my stories was.

I also learned just how true it was that rejections can mean more about the magazine or the editor than the story. Stories just didn’t quite fit with BCS for one reason or another—or I’d just read another, similar story that did the same thing, which made this one less fresh. And sometimes I made mistakes! Continue reading “Interview: Graduate Kate Marshall (Part 2 of 2)”

Director’s Corner: Manipulating Pacing and Organization

jeanneJeanne 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.


After an all-consuming summer spent leading passionate, determined cadets through the leave-it-all-on-the-floor atmosphere of Odyssey’s boot camp, fall often brings mixed feelings.  The fifteen newly minted warriors I have bonded with–sharing the pain of their struggles, the joy of their successes, their longing to do better—are gone, carried off to the four corners of the globe.  Continue reading “Director’s Corner: Manipulating Pacing and Organization”