Interview: Guest Lecturer Alexander Jablokov

jablokovAuthor Alexander Jablokov, who will be a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey workshop, writes science fiction for readers who won’t give up literate writing or vivid characters to get the thrills they demand. He is a natural transition for non-SF readers interested in taking a stroll with a dangerous AI or a neurosurgeon/jazz musician turned detective, while still giving hardcore SF fans speculative flash, incomprehensible aliens, and kitchen appliances with insect wing cases. From his well-regarded first novel, Carve the Sky, an interplanetary espionage novel set in a culturally complex 25th century, through the obscenely articulate dolphins with military modifications of a Deeper Sea, the hardboiled post-cyberpunk of Nimbus, the subterranean Martian repression of River of Dust, and the perverse space opera of Deepdrive, his last book was Brain Thief, a contemporary high-tech thriller with a class clown attitude. He has recently written a YA alternate universe adventure novel.

His day job is as a marketing manager. He does his writing during the mornings, and on weekends. It took him several years to figure out how to get any writing done at all, particularly since he hates getting up early and hates working on weekends, but has somehow managed it. Visit www.ajablokov.com to learn more about the author and his books.


On your blog you say that, “writing is rewriting.” How do you maintain excitement for that original idea as you work through various drafts?

Sometimes I don’t and have to let it rest for a while. But I consider the first draft as something akin to ore. Smelting and refinement are the next steps. Now, that’s just me—my initial drafts are tangled, full of blind alleys, notes to myself, and repeated sentences where I try to get something right. I’ve learned that attempting to revise while I write stops me dead. That kind of revision can be like cleaning your desk or doing your laundry—a useful task that has wandered into the wrong place. Continue reading “Interview: Guest Lecturer Alexander Jablokov”

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Interview: Guest Lecturer Michael J. Sullivan (Part 2 of 2)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPublishing veteran Michael J. Sullivan will be a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey Writing Workshop. He is the author of 29 novels and uses a wide range of publishing options, including self-publishing, small-press, big-five, Kickstarter, print-only, foreign translations, and audio. He’s sold more than 850,000 books, been translated into 15 foreign languages, and appeared on more than 150 “best of” or “most anticipated” lists, including those compiled by Library Journal, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Goodreads, and Audible.com. His most recent novel, Age of Myth, hit #2 on the Washington Post Best Seller’s List for hardcovers. Because of his wide range of publishing experience, Michael has taught several courses with Writer’s Digest and been a guest speaker at multiple fantasy conventions, as well as BookExpo America (the largest publishing tradeshow in the world). He’s currently working on his fourth Riyria Chronicles novel. The second book in his Legends of the First Empire series, Age of Swords, will be released by Del Rey in the summer of 2017.


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

How many stages does your work go through before you send it off to a publisher? How much of your time is spent writing the first draft, and how much time is spent in revision? What sort of revisions do you do?

Part of the problem in discussing the writing process is there are so many terms that mean different things to different people. For instance, I don’t re-write (which to me means starting the book over once you know where it ends up), but I do make a lot of changes through editing. There are some books where what was once on page one moved back to page fifty, and I cut some openings altogether. Is that re-writing or editing? For me, I consider that work editing, even though it may require rewriting parts of the book.

Okay, the process is rather long but here goes: Continue reading “Interview: Guest Lecturer Michael J. Sullivan (Part 2 of 2)”

Interview: Guest lecturer N.K. Jemisin (Part One of Two)

NK JemisinN. K. Jemisin is a Brooklyn author who will be a guest lecturer at this summer’s Odyssey Writing Workshop in Manchester, N.H.  Her short fiction and novels have been multiply nominated for the Hugo and the Nebula, shortlisted for the Crawford and the Tiptree, and have won the Locus Award for Best First Novel. Her speculative works range from fantasy to science fiction to the undefinable; her themes include resistance to oppression, the inseverability of the liminal, and the coolness of Stuff Blowing Up.

She is a member of the Altered Fluid writing group, a graduate of the Viable Paradise writing workshop, and she has been an instructor for the Clarion workshops. In her spare time she is a biker, an adventurer, a gamer, and a counseling psychologist; she is also single-handedly responsible for saving the world from KING OZZYMANDIAS, her obnoxious ginger cat. Her essays, media reviews, and fiction excerpts are available at nkjemisin.com.

Her newest novel, The Fifth Season, came out in August, 2015.


From the time you started writing to the time you started writing seriously, how long did it take you to sell your first piece (defined here as short story)? What do you think you were doing wrong in your writing in those early days?

I sold my first short story probably 1-2 years after I seriously started trying to get published in that area. I got serious basically around the age of 30. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford to go to Odyssey, but I did end up doing a one-week workshop, which was Viable Paradise, but after that I joined a writing group, and our writing group kind of made up the difference there. So that’s how I got a lot of experience and skill writing short stories–having the group tear them apart and then submitting them. The group got me in the habit of submitting stories, and submitting and submitting and submitting until submission was part of being a writer in my head—and rejections were also part of being a writer in my head. So I’d say it took a year to a year and a half, maybe.

As for what I was doing wrong, Continue reading “Interview: Guest lecturer N.K. Jemisin (Part One of Two)”

Interview: Mike and Rachel Grinti, Part Two

Mike and Rachel GrintiMike Grinti is a 2003 graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop. He and his wife, Rachel, cowrote two books: Claws (2012) and Jala’s Mask (released last November). They write middle grade fantasy, though they have dipped into YA on occasion. They met at a writing workshop in 2002, though they didn’t start writing together until a few years later. They live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the United States.

Rachel Grinti grew up in Pittsburgh as the oldest of five siblings. She learned to read when she was only three and has been reading about magic and monsters ever since. Not only is she hopelessly addicted to reading, but she tries to spread the habit by working as a children’s librarian. She loves dogs, and still lives in Pittsburgh with a hyperactive, cowardly Boston Terrier named Miles.

Mike Grinti was born in Russia but moved to the US with his parents at a young age. He picked up the language quickly, and fell in love with reading after he checked out The Hobbit from his school library. He’s been hooked on fantasy and science fiction ever since. Besides some short stories, he wrote one very bad novel on his own before finally working with Rachel on some good novels. When he’s not writing or reading, he’s probably playing video games. He has a day job making video games to support their writing and reading (and eating, and dog-owning, and roof-having) habits.

Catch up with the Grintis at their website–www.grinti.com–and go here for Part One of our interview with them.


When and how did you make your first sale? What is your philosophy about rejections?

Mike: I think my first pro sale by pay rate was to a horror anthology called Corpse Blossoms, back when I wrote under my way-too-long legal name. Continue reading “Interview: Mike and Rachel Grinti, Part Two”

Interview: Author Kij Johnson, Writer-in-residence

Kij JohnsonWriter-in-residence at this summer’s Odyssey Writing Workshop, Kij Johnson is widely considered one of the top fantasy/science fiction writing teachers in the country. She is the author of three novels—two fantasies set in classical Japan, The Fox Woman and Fudoki, and a Star Trek:The Next Generation novel—and a short story collection, At the Mouth of the River of Bees.

Since 2008, her short fiction has won the Nebula Award (three times), the Hugo, and the World Fantasy Award. In the past she has worked in book publishing, comic books and graphic novels, RPGs and trading card games; managed development and tech-writing groups for Seattle-area tech firms; edited cryptic crosswords; identified Napa cabernets by winery and year while blindfolded; and bouldered an occasional V-5.

She received her Master of Fine Arts from North Carolina State University, and teaches at the University of Kansas, where she is associate director for the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction. She splits her time between Seattle and Lawrence.


You are a permanent fixture at the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas, where you teach novel workshops in addition to classes, and we’re excited to have you as the writer-in-residence at this summer’s Odyssey Workshop.  Share with us the most important advice you can give to developing writers. Continue reading “Interview: Author Kij Johnson, Writer-in-residence”

Interview: Guest Lecturer Alma Alexander

Alma AlexanderFantasy author Alma Alexander will be a guest lecturer at 2015’s summer Odyssey Writing Workshop.  Alma Alexander’s life so far has prepared her very well for her chosen career.  She was born in a country which no longer exists on the maps, has lived and worked in seven countries on four continents (and in cyberspace!), has climbed mountains, dived in coral reefs, flown small planes, swum with dolphins, and touched two-thousand-year-old tiles in a gate out of Babylon. She is a novelist, anthologist and short story writer who currently shares her life between the Pacific Northwest of the USA (where she lives with her husband and two cats) and the wonderful fantasy worlds of her own imagination. You can find out more about Alma on her website, her Facebook page, or her blog.

Welcome! 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? Continue reading “Interview: Guest Lecturer Alma Alexander”

Interview: Rhiannon Held

Rhiannon Held is a graduate of the 2006 Odyssey Writing Workshop. She lives in Seattle, where she works as a professional archaeologist. Unfortunately, given that it’s real rather than fictional archaeology, fedoras, bullwhips, aliens, and dinosaurs are in short supply. Most of her work is done on the computer, using databases to organize data, and graphics programs to illustrate it. Her debut novel, Silver, is the first in an urban fantasy series from Tor. You may visit her website at http://rhiannonheld.com/


Congratulations on your book deal with Tor! Can you tell us what inspired Silver?

Continue reading “Interview: Rhiannon Held”