Tuesday, November 22, 2011

On the Sixteenth Day of Tesseracts - The A - Z of the Tesseracts series.

On the Sixteenth Day of Tesseracts we are celebrating The A's  - Z's of the Tesseracts series.  Listed below are all the fine authors and editors who have been a part of this Canadian literary legacy, the first anthology of which was published in 1985, and was edited by Judith Merril.  The authors/editors from
"Tesseracts Fifteen: A Case of Quite Curious Tales" are in bold below.

Tesseracts One through Fifteen and Tesseracts Q

The A to Z of the Tesseracts series: 

Colleen Anderson, Timothy J. Anderson, David Annandale, Jean Pierre April, D. W. Archambault, M. Arnott, Kelley Armstrong, Phyllis Aronoff, Madeline Ashby, Margaret Atwood, Alison Baird, Douglas Barbour, Michelle Barker, Edward Barnosky, Natasha Beaulieu, René Beaulieu, Greg Bechtel, Stephanie Bedwell-Grime, Ven Begamudré, Nancy Bennett, Jocko Benoit, Sylvie Bérard, Alain Bergeron, Bertrand Bergeron, Neil B. Bishop, Peter Bloch-Hansen, K. Boorman, Bob Boyczuk, Rebecca Bradley, Shen Braun, Jane Brierley, Leslie Brown, Michael Bullock, Tony Burgess, Cliff Burns, Mick Burrs,
Andre Carpentier, Lisa Carreiro, Joël Champetier, E. L. Chen, Eric Choi, Mary Choo, Lesley Choyce, Jason Christie, Suzanne Church, Carolyn Clink, David Clink, John Clute, Kevin Cockle, Michael Colangelo, John Robert Colombo, Michael G. Coney, Denis Côté, Margaret Curelas, Sheryl Curtis, Julie Czerneda, Mark Dachuk, Peter Darbyshire, Charles de Lint, Marlene Dean, Khria Deefholts, A. M. Dellamonica, Roger Des Roches, A. K. Dewdney, Christopher Dewdney, Jean Dion, Cory Doctorow, Ivan Dorin, Candas Jane Dorsey, Ian Driscoll, Dave Duncan, Claire Eamer, Gary Eikenberry, Scott Ellis, Marian Engel, M.A.C. Farrant, M. W. Field, Victoria Fisher, Pat Forde, Susan Forest, Eduardo Frank, Heather Fraser, Benjamin Freedman, Leslie Gadallah, James Alan Gardner, Dorothy Corbett Gentleman, William Gibson, Marg Gilks, David Godfrey, Charles Shelby Goerlitz, Kim Goldberg, Leona Gom, Phyllis Gotlieb, Kelly Graves, Andrew Gray, Terence M. Green, John Greene, Wendy Greene, Ed Greenwood, Jennifer Greylyn, Agnès Guitard, Tracey Halford, L. L. Hannett, Katie Harse, Alyxandra Harvey-Fitzhenry, Brent Hayward, Tom Henighan, Robyn Herrington, Erika Holt, Nalo Hopkinson, Laura Houghton, Matthew Hughes, Aaron Humphrey, Michele Ann Jenkins, Jan Lars Jensen, Paula Johanson, Patrick Johanneson, Matthew Johnson, Nancy Johnston, Sandra Kasturi, Sansoucy Kathenor, Michael Kelly, Eileen Kernaghan, Nancy Kilpatrick, Kurt Kirchmeier, David Kirkpatrick, E. B. Klassen, Dora Knez, Aliocha Kondratiev, Stephen Kotowych, Kevin Kvas, Michèle Laframboise, Claude Lalumière, Lynne M. MacLean, Marie-Claire Lamaire, Michel Lamontagne, M.Travis Lane, Lydia Langstaff, Francine Lewis, Michael Lorenson, Nicole Luiken, Jill Snider Lum, Susan MacGregor, Scott Mackay, Catherine MacLeod, John Mavin, Catherine MacLeod, Susan A. Manchester, Helen Marshall, Michel Martin, Laurent McAllister, Margaret McBride, Randy McCharles, Judy McCrosky, Cat McDonald, Donald McGrath, Jason Mehmel, Shirley Meier, Judith Merril, Yves Meynard, Michael Mirolla, Steve Mills, Virginia Modugno, Allen Moore, Matthew Moore, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, David Morrell, Elise Moser, Derryl Murphy, Lucille Nelson, Katrina Nicholson, David Nickle, P. K. Page, John Park, Lia Pas, Jacqueline Pearce, Wendy G. Pearson, Francine Pelletier, Annick Perrot-Bishop, Jean Pettigrew, Ursula Pflug, Holly Phillips, Tony Pi, J.Marc Piché, Teresa Plowright, Claude-Michel Prévost, D. M. Price, Robert Priest, Yvonne Pronovost, Kate Riedel, Clélie Rich, Jason Ridler, Mike Rimar, Spider Robinson, Esther Rochon, Stan Rogal, Gord Rollo, Leon Rooke, Rhea Rose, Dan Rubin, Robert Runté, Geoff Ryman, Jonathan Saville, Brett Alexander Savory, Robert J. Sawyer, Karl Schroeder, Howard Scott, Keith Scott, Andrea Schlecht, Gord Sellar, Rebecca M. Senese, Daniel Sernine, Marc Sévigny, Grace Seybold, Stephanie Short, Carl Sieber, Leah Silverman, Sara Simmons, Katherine Sinclair, Michael Skeet, Lisa Smedman, Douglas Smith, Gena Snyder, Pierre Sormany, Heather Spears, Hugh A. D. Spencer, Dave Sproule, Steve Stanton, J. J. Steinfeld, Richard Stevens, Paul Stockton, Jerome Stueart, Peter Such, Amanda Sun, Susan Swan, Robert Sward, Lorna Toolis, Sarah Totton, Mildred Tremblay, Hayden Trenholm, Jean-Louis Trudel, Gerry Truscott, Edo van Belkom, Michael Vance, Bev Vincent, Élisabeth Vonarburg, Wendy Waring, Jon Martin Watts, Peter Watts, Andrew Weiner, Allan Weiss, Alette J. Willis, Robert Charles Wilson, Casey June Wolf, Tim Wynne-Jones, J.Michael Yates, Melissa Yuan-Innes, and Robert Zend.

We are proud to welcome Tesseracts Fifteen to join this literary legacy of fine speculative fiction collections.

On the Sixteenth Day of Tesseracts: An Interview with Leslie Brown

I cannot believe that 16 days have gone by.  We hope you have enjoyed meeting some of the authors from Tesseracts Fifteen.  Joining us today from Ottawa is Leslie Brown.

TT: What is your name?

Leslie Brown: Leslie Brown

TT:  Where in Canada are you currently located?

Leslie Brown: Ottawa, Ontario

TT: What is the name of your story in T15?

Leslie Brown: The Windup Heiress

TT: Could you please share a summary of your story without spoilers?

Leslie Brown: My story is a futuristic retelling of the old fairy story The Goose Girl. Aliantha is on her way to an arranged marriage when her hired companion takes her place and forces Aliantha's co-operation. Aliantha, mute and resentful, must use all her skills to regain her rightful place. But does she really want it?

TT: What is the first sentence of your story?

Leslie Brown: When Aliantha Mercit was betrothed to Hasaidi Odi, no one actually consulted Aliantha on the matter.

TT: What do you love the most about this (or being in this) anthology?

Leslie Brown: The awesome cover and the good company of authors.

TT:  What is your main writing process?

Leslie Brown: A "what if" idea or part of a story plot will occur to me during my daily routine and if I'm quick, I'll record it somewhere before it vanishes underneath "What's for dinner?" or "What's that wet spot on the rug?". Then I'll ponder it and see if I can tease it out in my mind into something bigger and with enough to it to interest other people besides myself. After I have a rough outline in my head (usually done while walking the dog while he uses my distraction to eat disgusting things off the ground), I'm ready to try and put it on the computer. All too often I get down three quarters of the story and then grind to halt. The story will either get put away for a few months, or, if I'm lucky, I can workshop it with my writers' group and get a suggestion that appeals to me. Once completed, I'll find a market for it that needs it to be 2000 words less than what I have, so I will ruthlessly delete my immortal prose and usually end up with a tighter, snappier story.

TT: Thanks Leslie for joining us on the Sixteenth Day of Tesseracts.

Monday, November 21, 2011

On the Fifteen Day of Tesseracts: From East to West with J. J. Steinfeld, Kurt Kirchmeier and Claire Eamer

From Charlottetown, to Saskatoon, to Whitehorse on the Fifteenth Day of the "Sixteen Days of Tesseracts" series.

TT: What is your name?

J. J. Steinfeld: J. J. Steinfeld

TT: Where in Canada are you currently located?

J. J. Steinfeld: Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

TT: What is the name of your poem in T15?

J. J. Steinfeld: "Civility"

TT: Could you please share a summary of your poem without spoilers?

J. J. Steinfeld: A fanciful description of a chance meeting with a space alien.

TT: What is the first sentence/stanza of your poem?

J. J. Steinfeld:
What startled me most
was the ability to know
my words and fears
though our lips never moved
not that the space alien
had lips or that my lips
were anything to write home about
wherever home might be
especially if you believe in
innumerable galaxies.

TT: What do you love the most about this (or being in this) anthology?

J. J. Steinfeld: The diversity of well-crafted speculative visions presented by the authors in their work.

TT: What is the best piece of writing advice you've discovered?

J. J. Steinfeld: Approach whatever imaginative piece you are working on as if it will be your last opportunity to leave a literary "footprint."


TT: What is your name?

Kurt Kirchmeier: Kurt Kirchmeier

TT: Where in Canada are you currently located?

Kurt Kirchmeier: Saskatoon, SK

TT: What is the name of your story in T15?

Kurt Kirchmeier: "Four Against Chaos"

TT:  Could you please share a summary of your story (without spoilers)?

Kurt Kirchmeier: Caught in a winter storm that might be more than what it appears to
be, four boys must work together to avoid being buried in snow and
battered by flying toboggans.

TT:  What is the first sentence of your story?

Kurt Kirchmeier:
Once upon a time there were four gifted boys who went to war against
chaos and won.

TT: What do you love the most about this (or being in this)anthology?

Kurt Kirchmeier: I love that this year's edition is themed for younger readers.

TT:  What other authors inspire your writing?

Kurt Kirchmeier: I think every author I read inspires me in some way or another, but the two who have probably inspired me most are Ray Bradbury and Kate DiCamillo. When I read Bradbury I feel like I’m seeing enthusiasm in its purist form. He reminds me that I’m supposed to be having fun.
Kate DiCamillo has a style that actually feels similar to Bradbury’s, except she writes exclusively for YA and younger audiences. Her work simply blows me away. It’s both deceptively simple and remarkably beautiful.

Two other strong influences are Charles de Lint and Robert McCammon. I love de Lint’s contemporary settings and his underlying themes of hope and redemption. McCammon has amazing range, and seems to excel regardless of which genre he’s writing in.

TT: What is your name?

Claire Eamer:  Claire Eamer

TT: Where in Canada are you currently located?

Claire Eamer:  Whitehorse, Yukon

TT: What is the name of your story in T15?

Claire Eamer:  Ice Pirates

TT: Could you please share a summary of your story without spoilers?

Claire Eamer:  An unusual pirate ship is driven from the Caribbean and chased north to the Arctic. There, in ice-locked seas, the pirate captain and the ship's boy meet their past and future--and some seals.

TT:  What is the first sentence of your story?

Claire Eamer:  "Curled within a huge coil of rope near the main mast, Jem braced himself as the Otter wallowed in a slight swell."

TT:  What do you love the most about this (or being in this) anthology?

Claire Eamer:  I love the opportunity to sample so many new (to me) voices, all writing in my favourite field. And I really, really love being in their company!

TT: What is the best piece of writing advice you've discovered? 

Claire Eamer:  Write what you care about and what interests you, not what you know. One of the greatest joys of writing is learning new things. That applies to writing non-fiction as well as fiction. If I just wrote what I already knew, I'd be bored and -- much worse -- boring.

TT:  What other authors inspire your writing?

Claire Eamer:  I love fantasy, adventure, and humour, as well as magic that is solid, earthy, and believable. When I find an author who does most or all of these things, whether for adults or kids, he/she inspires me. Among my favourites: Tanya Huff, Diana Wynne Jones, Tamora Pierce, Neil Gaimon, Margaret Mahy, Isobelle Carmody -- and, from my childhood, Catherine Anthony Clark. 
TT:   Thanks, everyone, for joining us for the Fifteenth Day of Tesseracts.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

On the Fourteenth Day of Tesseracts, a "Tesseracts Fifteen: A Case of Quite Curious Tales" reading will be held at the Pure Speculation convention in Edmonton at 11:15 am MST in the Alpha room. Please join us if you are attending the con.

Kate Boorman
Nicole Luiken
Cat McDonald
Shen Braun
Susan MacGregor

Come and hear YA speculative fiction like you're never heard it before, with selections from: The Memory Junkies, Feral, The Road of Good Intentions, Costumes and others. Come and find out why the Tesseracts series continues to be one of the most esteemed and recognized anthologies in Canada!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

On the Thirteenth Day of Tesseracts: Erika Holt and Jennifer Greylyn

The Sixteen Days of Tesseracts Series welcomes Tesseracts Fifteen authors: Erika Holt and Jennifer Greylyn.  We will start with Erika Holt.
TT: What is your name?

Erika Holt: Erika Holt.

TT:  Where in Canada are you currently located?

Erika Holt: Calgary.

TT: What is the name of your story in T15?
Erika Holt: "Just Dance."

TT:  Could you please give us a short summary of your story without spoilers?

Erika Holt: Marie-Lunie is a tough, orphaned, teenaged girl, living alone in the gloomy tower of her family home, surrounded by junk. Only in that junk she's discovered wondrous things, including a crimson red "eye bulb" that lets her see the Otherrealm, and a pesky, talking cape named Ervin. Her solitude is broken when Kelbee Worth, the ringletty-haired treasurer of the high school yearbook committee, shows up to ask for her help. The two set out to save Kelby's dad, who is being held captive in the library by ghouls.

TT:  What is the first sentence of your story?

Erika Holt: "A shrill keening burst into Marie-Lunie's head as the power needles she'd pressed into the ground of her house warned of an intruder."

TT:  What do you love the most about this (or being in this) anthology?

Erika Holt: I'm not aware of many other speculative fiction anthologies for young adults. Teens are avid, enthusiastic, and perceptive readers and I'm excited to be included in a collection aimed at them. I'm also flattered to be in the company of such amazing authors.

TT: What is your main inspiration while working?

Erika Holt: The idea for "Just Dance" came to me, in part, while listening to the Florence + the Machine song, "Girl With One Eye," though that song is considerably darker than my story. I'm often inspired by music and musicians, and have based several stories on song lyrics.

TT: What is the best piece of writing advice you've discovered?

Erika Holt: Neil Gaiman says: "Finish things." Can't put it any better than that.

TT: What's the worst piece of writing advice you've discovered?

Erika Holt: I don't believe that there's any one "right" way to write. Do what works for you. But finish things.


TT: What is your name?

Jennifer Greylyn:  Jennifer Greylyn

TT:  Where in Canada are you currently located?

Jennifer Greylyn: Halifax, Nova Scotia

TT: Name of your story in T15?

Jennifer Greylyn: Saving the Dead, or The Diary of an Undertaker’s Apprentice

TT:  Could you please share a summary of your story without spoilers?

Jennifer Greylyn: My story is set in the early 20th century, just after one of the most famous disasters ever to take place at sea. It's told through the eyes of a young man with an unusual ability who is part of a family business chosen to bring as many of the victims of the disaster home to their families as possible.

TT:  The first sentence of your story?
Jennifer Greylyn: Saturday, April 20, 1912…12:45 p.m. Three days out from Halifax and we’re nearly there.

TT:  What do you love the most about this (or being in this) anthology?

Jennifer Greylyn: The fact that it’s for young adults.  I’ve always been interested in young adult stories because it seems to me that the experience of being a young adult parallels what I do as a writer. Young adults are trying to figure out who they want to become and that’s similar to what happens when I write. I’m trying to figure out who my characters are and what they want to tell me. There’s the same sense of wonder and exploration.

TT: What is your main inspiration while working?
Jennifer Greylyn: Stillness. I can get my initial ideas for a story from anywhere—what I’m reading, who I talk to, what I see on TV or the Net or in my everyday life. But, when it actually comes to writing the story, I need quiet and privacy. That lets me hear what my characters want to tell me.

TT:  What is your main writing process?
Jennifer Greylyn: I almost always start with pencil and paper. I carry a little notepad with me everywhere to jot down things that catch my attention. Sometimes it’s only a few words. Other times, it’s whole paragraphs. Then, when I have more time, I use those initial impressions as the basis for the story.  They don’t always end up being included in the final version, but they help me find a starting-point, even if that point is in the middle or near the very end of the story.

TT: Thanks for joining us Jennifer.

Friday, November 18, 2011

On the Twelfth Day of Tesseracts - A Live Launch Event at SF Contario

On the Twelfth Day of Tesseracts, our celebration is live!

Tesseracts Fifteen: A Case of Quite Curious Tales Book launch - Toronto
November 18th, 2011
9:00 PM
Ramada Plaza Hotel
300 Jarvis Street, Toronto, ON

Tesseracts Fifteen: A Case of Quite Curious Tales includes works by authors: E. L. Chen, Amanda Sun, Erika Holt, Francine Lewis, Jennifer Greylyn, Nicole Luiken, Katrina Nicholson, Cat McDonald, Leslie Brown, Kevin Cockle, Mike Rimar, Elise Moser, Shen Braun, J. J. Steinfeld, Michele Ann Jenkins, Claude Lalumière, Virginia Modugno, Helen Marshall, Ed Greenwood, Robert Runté, Rebecca M. Senese, Kurt Kirchmeier, Claire Eamer, Michelle Barker, Lynne M. MacLean, Tony Pi, K. Boorman.
Please join Julie Czerneda and others for the book launch and mass autographing session for Tesseracts Fifteen during SFContario 2 / Canvention (November 18-20, 2011). 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

On the Eleventh Day of Tesseracts: Lynne M. MacLean, Tony Pi and Kate Boorman.

On the Eleventh Day of "The Sixteen Day of Tesseracts", we have three authors from the newest edition of the Tesseracts anthology.

TT: What is your name?

Lynne M. MacLean:  Lynne M. MacLean

TT: Where in Canada are you currently located?  

Lynne M. MacLean:  Ottawa, although I still think of myself as a Prairie girl.

TT: What is the name of your story in T15? 

Lynne M. MacLean:  "The Illumination of Cypher-Space."

TT: Could you please share a summary of your story without spoilers?

Lynne M. MacLean:
  A street kid named Dannie/ Cypher discovers she can change the world through a magical talent with graffiti. While desperately fleeing her murderous captor and dodging street gangs, she meets another gifted street kid who wants to join forces. Cypher must learn who to trust and how to manage her new ability. And she must do so before the night’s end.

TT: What is the first sentence of your story? 

Lynne M. MacLean:  Dannie woke up stiff and sore.

TT: What do you love the most about this (or being in this) anthology?

Lynne M. MacLean:  I was familiar with, and loved, the Tesseracts series as a reader, and that was the draw for me when the call for submissions went out. Some of my favourite Canadian authors have been published in them, so to be in such company is amazing. I love the stories written by the other authors in this volume,so it's very exciting. This is also my first fiction sale to be published in a book.   

TT: What is the best piece of writing advice you've discovered?

Lynne M. MacLean:  To just sit down and do it, even if you are uninspired and filled with writer's block. This applies to me for both fiction and for the non-fiction academic writing I do for my day job. Just get something out, assume it's going to be trash, and edit afterwards. Once I'm going, I usually stay going. If it's fiction and I'm really stuck, I'll just start with writing dialogue. That pulls me in faster than anything. I wish I could put dialogue into other stuff.

TT: Of the stories that you have written, which is your favorite and why?

Lynne M. MacLean:  I think "The Illumination of Cypher-Space" is right now, probably because it's finished, and because it's on my mind again from all the recent Tesseracts activity. I really like the main character, who just emerged one day out of the blue, and wouldn't go away until I gave her a story of her own.  I like her gutsiness and survival instincts.

TT: What is your name?

Tony Pi: Tony Pi

TT: Where in Canada are you currently located?

Tony Pi: Toronto, ON

TT: What is the name of your story in T15?

Tony Pi: "The Tremor Road"

TT: Could you please share a summary of your story without spoilers?

Tony Pi: "The Tremor Road": A stilt-walking wizard must discover the truth behind a strange, linear earthquake.

TT: What is the first sentence of your story?

Tony Pi: From atop his runestilts, Kulno surveyed the line of devastation before him.

TT: What do you love the most about this (or being in this) anthology?
Tony Pi: I love the enthusiasm and dedication of the editors, whose love of the anthology shines through in the great stories they have selected.

TT: What is the best piece of writing advice you've discovered?
Tony Pi: The best piece of writing advice I've discovered is probably from the exercise we did at the Writers of the Future workshop - learning that it's possible to write a good story in 24 hours. Actually doing the exercise, writing an entire story by drawing on random inspirations in such a short period of time, proved to me that I just need to put aside the excuses I make for myself, and write.

TT: Of the stories that you have written, which is your favorite and why?

Tony Pi:  My favourite story currently is "A Sweet Calling", which I wrote as part of a writing group challenge. It was inspired by the picture of a dragon made of water, merged with my memories of the Chinese art of blown candy figures. The research itself was fascinating, and I really enjoyed writing it. It sold to Clarkesworld Magazine, and Kate Baker did a stunning podcast reading of it.

To listen to the story
To listen to the podcast

TT: What is your name?

Kate Boorman:  Kate Boorman

TT: Where in Canada are you currently located?

Kate Boorman:  Edmonton, AB

TT: What is the name of your story in T15?

Kate Boorman:
  "The Memory Junkies"

TT: Could you please share a summary of your story without spoilers?

Kate Boorman:  A group of high school non-friends gather to plan a very specific terrorist act: they want to blow up a 'health and wellness' facility that lets people relive their happiest memories.

TT: What is the first sentence of your story?

Kate Boorman:  "We stood together in a dark corner of the schoolyard, tucked away from the iciest windblasts."

TT: What do you love the most about this (or being in this) anthology?

Kate Boorman:  I appreciate the diversity in themes, characters, and settings the stories present. Each story is so different from the next yet together they create a great Anthological Whole (Yes I made that term up-- you can use it).

TT: Why write YA?

Kate Boorman: 
YA is so much more than a story with a 'teenage protagonist'. Young adulthood is an intense phase of life: you teem with desire and ideas about your life's direction but don't yet have full grasp of the reins. That moment in time is specific and exciting; it offers a very unique lens through which to examine the human experience. And it's a really challenging voice to write.

TT: What is the best piece of writing advice you've discovered?

Kate Boorman:  It might sound cliche, but the best advice I've ever received is "write from the heart".  Seems obvious but it's so true! If you don't care deeply about what you write, neither will your reader.

TT: Thanks everyone for joining us today!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

On the Tenth Day of Tesseracts: A Conversation with Rebecca M. Senese and Michelle Barker

Welcome to the Tenth Day of Tesseracts! I cannot believe that ten days has gone by.  Just a quick note, in my original schedule found on the EDGE Facebook page, I had included Yukon's Claire Eamer.  However she is still travelling in Cuba and will not be back for a few days, so her interview will get tucked in later.  However, our two originally scheduled Tesseracts Fifteen: A Case of Unusual Tales authors, Rebecca M. Senese and Michelle Barker are joining us virtually.  So, without further ado, here is our conversation for Day Ten of the Sixteen Days of Tesseracts. - Janice from EDGE

Rebecca M. Senese

TT: What is your name?

Rebecca M. Senese:
Rebecca M. Senese

Michelle Barker:
Michelle Barker

TT:  Where in Canada are you currently located?

Rebecca M. Senese: Toronto, Ontario

Michelle Barker: Penticton, B. C.

TT:  What is the name of your story/poem in T15?

Rebecca M. Senese: "Hide"

Michelle Barker: A poem called, "You Always Knew."

Michelle Barker
TT: Could you please share a summary of your story without spoilers?
Rebecca M. Senese: A young girl makes it into the exclusive neighbourhood hide and seek game only to discover there's something to really hide from.

Michelle Barker: Death is envisioned as a character who owns a rickety roller coaster in an unnamed city...but you've been there.

TT: What is the first sentence of your story?

Rebecca M. Senese: "Billy skidded to a stop beside her."

Michelle Barker: "I’m going to tell you something/ about Death, / though you suspect it already."

TT: What do you love the most about this (or being in this) anthology?

Rebecca M. Senese: The thing I like most about the Tesseracts 15 anthology is being included among so many diverse and interesting stories and so many talented writers. It's exciting to see the different tacks taken and worlds created, pushing the boundaries of YA fiction.

Michelle Barker: I love that it is a foray into YA literature, which I adore.

TT:  What is your main inspiration while working?

Rebecca M. Senese: My main inspiration is to always be writing. I have written every day for several years and track my word count. I give myself challenges to write a certain amount per day or per week or per month. I have a yearly goal that gets revised as I go. I always want to be writing, to be practicing. I think of it like being a musician. I need to practice the fundamentals daily. Some of my stories fizzle out and never get finished but it's practice. As long as I'm practicing and working to finish the majority of stories, I know I'm on the right track. Watching the word count add up and the finished stories pile up keeps me inspired and keeps me going.

Michelle Barker:  Wow, I get inspiration from so many different places. I would say, the novels/poetry I'm reading serve as my main inspiration, but sometimes ideas just come from out of the blue. I've written a lot of poems that have Death as their main character. I suppose it has become something of an obsession. But in this particular poem, I had the roller coaster at Vancouver's Playland in mind, a place I went to every year while growing up. I guess it is a potent memory - and memories definitely serve as inspiration as well.

TT: What is the best piece of writing advice you've discovered?
Rebecca M. Senese: The best writing advice I've ever discovered is to follow Heinlein's rules: You must write, you must finish what you write, refrain from rewriting except to editorial order, send what you write to markets and keep it out there. And always keep writing. Write the next story and the next and the next. I learn more from writing something new than from rewriting something endlessly. Basically, I work hard to get out of my own way and allow the story to come out in its own way. I find most stories know how they want to be told and it's my job to allow them to tell themselves.

Michelle Barker: Fiction is about people in trouble. That's one of them. But I also love Elmore Leonard's advice to writers: cut the parts that readers skip. Oh, and Stephen King's advice about adverbs: cut, cut, cut. And Stephen King one last time (his book, On Writing, is one of the best out there): be true to the story, not to what you're worried people might think of it.

TT: Thanks Rebecca  and Michelle for joining us for the Tenth Day of Tesseracts.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

On the Nineth Day of Tesseracts: A Conversation with Virginia Modugno, Helen Marshall and Robert Runte

For the "Nineth Day of Tesseracts" we are being virtually joined by three of "Tesseracts Fifteen: A Case of Quite Curious Tales" authors, Virginia Modugno, Helen Marshall and Robert Runte.

Virgina Modugno
Helen Marshall
Robert Runte
TT: Welcome everyone!

TT: Could each you please introduce yourself and tell us where in Canada you are currently located?

Virginia Modugno: My name is Virginia Modugno, and I live in Montreal, Qc.

Helen Marshall:
Hi, I'm Helen Marshall, and I'm currently living in Toronto, Ontario 

Robert Runte:
I am Robert Runte and I live in Lethbridge, Alberta.

TT: What is the name of your story in T15, and a brief summary?

Virginia Modugno:
"Every You, Every Me". It's about a girl who goes to school one day and makes a shocking, Twilight Zone-like discovery.

Helen Marshall: "The Oak Girl"

Robert Runte: “Split Decision”. The story came to me when I was listening to my 13 year old daughter try to tell me about her day at school, and she was talking so fast, and going off on so many tangents, and what she said was so self-referential, I had to keep interrupting to get her to explain what she was talking about. So I wondered, what if she were trying to tell someone who didn’t know her something important, or what if something really unusual had happened so that they had no context to follow what she was talking about? So its the story of her trying to explain to someone in authority about her part in the lockdown at school earlier that day.

TT: What is the first sentence of your story?

Virginia Modugno:
"No matter how many times I blink, she still won't disappear."

Helen Marshall: 

"She would watch him as he worked,
 the thin spirals of wood falling in ringlets
 to rest carelessly
 or scatter when he moved."

Robert Runte: “So Mr. Shakey came over the intercom saying it was 2:30 and would all the teachers therefore stop whatever they were doing and please water the plants?”

TT: What do you love the most about this (or being in this) anthology?

Virginia Modugno:
For me, this is the first story I've ever published, so it's just a huge thrill to finally see a life-long dream come true.

Helen Marshall:
I've been following the Tesseracts series for about ten years now, and I find it a tremendous way to keep in touch with the pulse of Canadian genre fiction. I'm thrilled to be part of the anthology because it's really the arrival party for a new generation of writers.  The stories in this collection are thoughtful, innovative and poignant--it's a great group and I'm proud to be ranked among them.

Robert Runte:
I've been an SF critic and editor for years -- including coediting a previous Tesseract anthology -- but I've only recently gotten serious about writing myself, so it was very validating to get a story into Tesseract on my first try.  Nice to start out at the top! And the cover's  great. 

TT: Fantastic, thank you.  Thanks for being with us for Day Nine of the Sixteen Days of Tesseracts.

"Beyond the Interview"Questions:  after receiving the interview questions, authors were also given opportunity to select and answer additional questions. 

TT:  What is the best piece of writing advice you've discovered?

Virginia Modugno:  I'm always trying to improve, so I come across a lot of great stuff, but something that stuck with me recently, from my writing group, was make sure your character has agency. Have them be the ones doing things, being pro-active. Obviously, they do have to react to things being done to them - the beginning of my story is a good example of that - but make sure their reaction isn't sitting around and contemplating the situation for long periods of time. As someone who has never met a paragraph of introspection she didn't love, I personally responded to this advice.

Helen Marshall: When you write, write about yourself, write from yourself. You'll never get anywhere trying to mimic someone else's voice--the best thing you can do as a writer is to present your own take on the world as authentically and truthfully as possible. That's what people want from your writing. They want to see you. That being said, read as widely as you possibly can, and this is the most important thing: don't just read in the genre! Read South American poets and medieval bards, read non-fiction, read romance, read crime, read CanLit, read everything you can get your hands on. Everything you read broadens the pool of resources upon which you can draw. All writing is a conversation with the people around you; don't speak to just one person.

Robert Runte: Get a good editor. I'm a development editor, but I know better than to try to edit my own work. Everybody needs a second pair of eyes to look at their manuscript.
TT: What other authors inspire your writing?

Virginia Modugno: So many! In terms of this story, I would definitely say Christopher Fowler, a fantastic British author, especially his early work in the urban fantasy/horror/occult genres. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is one of those works that has haunted me my whole life, and definitely gave me my love of dystopian worlds. I also worship at the altar of the many great sci-fi/speculative fiction writers in television – which is where I think some of the best writing is being done today - such as Joss Whedon, and the Lost and Fringe writers. And, of course, their spiritual grandparents like Tolkien, Ursula K. LeGuin, Angela Carter, Rod Serling, and Richard Matheson. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there!

TT: What is your main writing process?

Robert Runte: I usually day dream my way through the next scene or two before I write them down -- because there are usually long gaps between when I actually can get time to write, and all I can do is day dream about the book/story while standing around in lineups or waiting to pick the kids up from school or falling to sleep at night, or whatever. The process of writing the scene down when I finally get to the computer always changes them, sometimes quite substantially, but I usually have the gist of it and at least a couple of versions of the dialog when I finally sit down. On those occasions when I actually have a little time for writing and have typed up to the point where I have already thought the story through, I just keep going, winging it. I like to throw my characters into a situation and watch how they work their way out of it (or deeper in, if things end up going that way.) So I often write myself into corners, and maybe get blocked for a bit, but it's usually not long before one of the characters makes a break for it.

The other thing I do, is that I compulsively reread everything I've written on that story or book up to the current line. It gives me some kind of momentum to carry through the blank screen and into the next two or three scenes. The upside is that my stories tend to be fairly seemless since each new sentence builds on everything that's come before. The downside is that I end up compulsively re-editing every line of the story/ novel every time I sit down to write something new. It's not a very efficient process.

TT: Who are your biggest inspirations?
Robert Runte: The novel I am currently working on is an amalgam of influences: Silverberg's first novel,  the automat scene from Hargreaves' "Dead to the World", various Harry Harrison and Christopher Stasheff and Keith Laumer  novels, and various bad WWII spy movies. Probably every Analog story I've ever read, but all overlain with a Canadian view of things. But I have 11 other novels in my head, and they are all based on very different influences — I just deliberately picked the easiest of my novel ideas to write first so I could master the basics of story-telling before trying to do my Dostoevsky-level stuff. As an editor, I've seen a lot of beginning authors fail because they wanted to start out with the Great Canadian Novel and couldn't get there first try out of the gate. I'm quite willing to start with a simple little 1960s-style space opera, and work my way up to the  more complex stuff.

TT: What's the worst piece of writing advice you've heard?
Robert Runte: "Hey, instead of a second draft, why don't you just self-publish?"

TT: What's story have you written that's your favorite and why?

Robert Runte: I'm pretty fond of the current one in Tess15. It just seemed to come together really easily and well. And when I read it out at the launch at When Words Collide convention, the reaction was overwhelming: so many people laughing. Made my day! I still like  The Luck of Charles Harcourt, which was my first published story, but not everyone gets that one.

Monday, November 14, 2011

On the Eighth Day of Tesseracts: Mini-Interviews with Tesseracts Fifteen Authors Shen Braun, E. L. Chen and Michele Ann Jenkins

Welcome to Day Eight of the "Sixteen Days of Tesseracts".  Today we are visiting authors from Brandon, Manitoba (Shen Braun) ; Toronto , Ontario (E. L. Chen) and Montreal, Quebec (Michele Ann Jenkins). Each of the authors has been asked the first five questions for the first part of the interview. They were then given the option of answering one or more questions from a list sent by Speculative Fiction Examiner, Josh Vogt.  Alternatively they could simply choose one of their own to answer.  We hope you enjoy the mini interviews!

TT: What is your name?

Shen Braun: Shen Braun

TT:  Where in Canada are you currently located?

Shen Braun: Brandon, Manitoba.

TT: What is the name of your story in T15?

Shen Braun: "Costumes."

TT: Could you please share a summary of your story (without spoilers)?

Shen Braun:
The weirdest teacher in school traditionally goes all out for Halloween. This year one of his students is about to discover the unbelievable reason for his obsession.

TT: What is the first sentence of your story?

Shen Braun:
  "I opened my sister's yearbook to the page I'd marked last night and tapped the picture with one finger."

TT: What do you love the most about this (or being in this) anthology?

Shen Braun:
The stories in Tesseracts 15 are fantastic. Considering it's a Tesseracts anthology, that almost goes without saying. The thing I love most about this particular anthology, though, is the cover art. Michael O has created a gorgeous piece that never fails to fill me with curiousity, questions, and inspiration. You could probably write a hundred stories just based on that illustration.

Optional questions:

What was the best piece of writing advice you have ever received?

Shen Braun:
  Writing advice is pretty subjective. What works for one person may be a nightmare for the next. However, in my case, the best piece of advice I've ever received is also wonderfully simple: "Practice makes perfect." It's a cliche, but it's very true. Masters of any art or craft rarely take extended periods of time off. I can't write just when the mood strikes me, or I find the mood starts striking me less and less. Making that daily effort to get some words out of my brain is always worth it in the long run. It can feel like a waste of time if nothing's working, but even producing garbage can still teach me something about what not to do. That's my two cents, anyway.

TT: What is your name?

E. L. Chen:
E. L. (Elaine) Chen

TT:  Where in Canada are you currently located?

E. L. Chen: The city other Canadians love to hate-- Toronto, Ontario.

TT: What is the name of your story in T15?

E. L. Chen:
"A Safety of Crowds"

TT: Could you please share a summary of your story (without spoilers)?

E. L. Chen: "A Safety of Crowds” explores celebrity and anonymity in the digital age through the interconnected lives of two young women.

TT: What is the first sentence of your story?

E. L. Chen: "Jan's phone chimes."

(Not particularly enticing, but it fits the rhythm of the first scene.)

TT: What do you love the most about this (or being in this) anthology?

E. L. Chen:
I love that because it's YA--and Julie and Susan were committed to publishing at least one previously unpublished writer--there are so many names on the TOC I don't recognize.

Optional questions:

What is your main inspiration while working?

E. L. Chen: Deadlines.

(That was a brief one so I'll answer two more.)

What is the best piece of writing advice you've discovered?

E. L. Chen:
"What would E. L. Chen do?"

Seriously, I find it helpful to think of "E. L. Chen" as a separate persona. It reminds me that I need to learn how to write like myself, not someone else. It helped me write the end of "A Safety of Crowds" when I was stuck. "Well, WWELCD? She'd give it an ambiguous, self-referential unhappy ending that could be interpreted several ways." I'm currently rewriting a very old unpublished story and going through the same exercise. E. L. Chen would never write something so one-dimensional, I tell myself. She'd make it more challenging, for herself and the reader.

Man, I hate that writer sometimes. She's probably more fun at parties than I am, too.

How do you feel social media has impacted your writing career?

E. L. Chen:
Social media is great for keeping in touch with people and staying in the loop in whatever community with which you're involved. It has also destroyed my productivity and rewired my brain so that I can no longer focus for long periods of time like I used to.

Background: I was on Twitter for three years. I tweeted incessantly as part of the local digital and social media community. As a web designer I felt it was important for me to stay on top of how people use the internet, and it was also an invaluable source of the latest local and/or tech news.

When I stopped last June, I had clocked 12,047 tweets. Let's say each tweet was at least a dozen words. I could have written a novel, maybe two, with all those words. Instead I wrote pithy gems like, "Why, hello again, insomnia! You can just suck it."

(I won't try to justify it by saying it trained me to be a more concise writer. It only trained me to be a smartass and be quick with written quips and comebacks.)

But the main trouble is that social media channels like Twitter and Facebook that offer real-time updates become addictive. That's no secret. With Twitter, it's like a slot machine. I think studies have even shown that it appeals to the part of the brain that likes gambling. Once you follow a certain number of prolific twitterers it becomes that slot machine. Clicking refresh is like pulling the handle. Mostly you get useless crap, but you keep pulling every five minutes in the hope that something interesting will come up.

So I've quit it now, on hiatus while on I'm on mat leave but I don't think I'm going to take it up again. Which is kind of a pity because it seems the SF writing community has started jumping on. But my brain feels more at peace, and now at 3am, instead of tweeting that I'm up with the baby, I'm answering this question instead. And if I weren't doing that I'd be working on a story.
TT: What is your name?

Michele Ann Jenkins: Michele Ann Jenkins

TT:  Where in Canada are you currently located?

Michele Ann Jenkins: Montreal, Quebec

TT: What is the name of your story in T15?

Michele Ann Jenkins: "Take My Waking Slow"

TT: Could you please share a summary of your story (without spoilers)?

Michele Ann Jenkins: "Take My Waking Slow" is the story of a young woman code-napped from virtual-reality program she's grown up in.

TT: What is the first sentence of your story?

Michele Ann Jenkins: “Who the null gave you access?”

TT: What do you love the most about this (or being in this) anthology?

Michele Ann Jenkins: I love the diversity of stories -- “speculative fiction” brings together so many interesting genres and it’s exciting to think it might be the first time some young readers are exposed to these ideas.

Optional Questions:

What was the  best piece of writing advice you have ever received?

Michele Ann Jenkins:
“Kill your darlings” -- supposedly writing advice from Faulkner, but (I had to go look this up now, of course) originally from Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch: “Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it – whole-heartedly – and delete it before sending your manuscripts to press. Murder your darlings”

I heard this advice in a high school journalism class and didn’t quite know what they meant until I was writing my first long story. I had this one scene - really just a few sentences, and I loved it, it was great, witty, writing. Only, it didn’t seem to fit in where the rest of the story was going. I actually stuck it at the bottom of the page while I wrote out the rest of the story and it just kept moving down below the edge of the screen. Finally, the story felt done and... I realized I just needed to delete that part. To kill my darlings. I think it’s really about letting the story take you where it needs to go and not holding on to your initial expectation of where you think it’s headed.

What's story have you written that's your favorite and why?

Michele Ann Jenkins: I usually don’t like going back and rereading my stories once they are done, but I do occasionally re-read “Mother’s Little Helper” (it’s coming out in an Anthology from Vehicule Press next month). It had a very short limit -- only 1200 words-- so I constantly had to take sentences out and try to get as much as I could out of every single phrase. It was an interesting exercise and I think the piece holds together really well as this short, fast, read.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

On the Seventh Day of Tesseracts: Michell Plested Interviews Susan MacGregor on "Get Published"

On this Seventh Day of Tesseracts, please join us on the Get Published podcast, as Michell Plested interviews "Tesseracts Fifteen: A Case of Quite Curious Tales" co-editor Susan MacGregor.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

On the Sixth Day of Tesseracts: Elise Moser, Mike Rimar and Kevin Cockle

Each author in Tesseracts 15 was given some questions to answer for inclusion on our blog.  Here are the answers from authors Elise Moser, Mike  Rimar and Kevin Cockle.  Enjoy!

Elise Moser, copyright
Monique Dykstra 2009
TT: What is your name?

Elise Moser: Elise Moser

TT: Where in Canada are you currently located?

Elise Moser: Montreal

TT: What is the name of your story in T15?

Elise Moser: Darwin's Vampire

TT: Could you please give us a summary of your story without spoilers?

Elise Moser: A woman is bitten by a vampire ... and it changes her perspective.

TT: What do you love the most about this (or being in this) anthology?

Elise Moser: I love being in the company of such a range of imaginative and well written stories.

TT: Each author was given the option of selecting two final stories to answer.  Which are yours?

Elise Moser: What is your main writing process? Mostly I just sit down and write "from my fingertips" as a friend recently put it. Sometimes I a first sentence comes to me and I go from there. And then when I have done with a first draft, I really need someone to look at it and help me find the infelicities and inconsistencies and the things that go "clang" when they shouldn't even be noticeable.

Elise Moser: What is the best piece of writing advice you've discovered? I was once told "If you want to be a writer, you have to write."

TT: Thanks Elise for being with us today!

Mike Rimar

TT: What is your name?  Mike Rimar

Mike Rimar: Mike Rimar

TT: Where in Canada are you currently located?

Mike Rimar: Whitby, Ontario

TT: What is the name of your story in T15?

Mike Rimar: My Name is Tommy

TT: Could you please give us a summary of your story without spoilers?

Mike Rimar: Tommy Smith, a teen with special needs who lives aboard a generation ship, learns he has a gift.

TT: What is the first sentence of your story?

Mike Rimar:   “Commander Paul says he won’t ever let me be Captain," I said.

TT: What do you love the most about this (or being in this) anthology?

Mike Rimar:  It's a Tesseracts!  You're not a Canadian genre writer until you've been published in Tesseracts.

TT: Each author was given the option of selecting two final stories to answer.  Which are yours?

Mike Rimar:  The first one is What is your main writing process?

My main writing process?  I really don't have one.  I've read a lot of books, attended panels and workshops all on writing, and it seems everyone has different techniques.  I use them all, or variation. I outline, but more to keep an idea of where I want the story to go. I don't have to stick to it.  Sometimes I don't outline and just hack a way because I've thought about the story so much I know what I want, or I happened to have a lot of time and wrote most of it in one sitting. Sometimes I'll mash two or three ideas together into one plot.  I don't listen to music on a first draft.  The room needs to be quiet.  But on rewrites I like to listen to instrumental soundtracks on internet radio.  Lyrics seem to ruin my concentration. Let's face it, I'm not a teenager anymore.  Sometimes I'll walk away from a story because I'm stuck and need to figure something out.  Sometimes, I put the thing on blocks like an old car, and cannibalize parts for other stories. If I've a common denominator, it's when I get an idea, I like to think on it for a while.  Let it percolate in my brain until I get a plot that I like.

Who is your inspiration?

I've always said Stephen R. Donaldson was my inspiration.  His Thomas Covenant series introduced me to the antihero, and his world was both fantastic in scope and his plots very mature in nature and themes, at least for me. My dream has always been, should I ever get a book published, and I had the opportunity to meet him in person, is to give him a signed copy as a thank you.  And then he would write me and say how he read my book, and either thought it was great, or is suing me for plagiarism.  Usually depends on what I ate before going to bed that night.

TT: Thanks Mike for being with us today.
Kevin Cockle
TT: What is your name?

Kevin Cockle: Kevin Cockle

TT: Where in Canada are you currently located?

Kevin Cockle: Calgary

TT: What is the name of your story in T15?

Kevin Cockle: "The Bridge Builder"

TT: Could you please give us a summary of your story without spoilers?

Kevin Cockle: Real-life elves hide in plain sight at comic-con.

TT: What is the first sentence of your story?

Kevin Cockle: "THIS, was cool." 

What do you love the most about this (or being in this) anthology?

Kevin Cockle: I'm particularly delighted to be included in this anthology.  I'd assumed I'd be rejected as I'm totally ignorant of YA as a publishing category, and the guidelines seemed skewed towards ruling me out.  No swearing?  Hopeful ending?  They may as well have been saying "Kevin Cockle need not apply.  We mean that."  But that was the artistic challenge - to use images/language/setting I might not have otherwise.  I don't normally think of myself as an "artist" per-se, but I did when I sold this story.



Kevin Cockle: Bernard Hopkins.  Ex-con early in life, got out to become arguably the world's best pound-for-pound fighter (ie: in boxing) for a time.  But it was the way he got to the top: self managed; never played promoters' games; negotiated his own contracts; laboured in obscurity for years, taking short-money/big-risk fights.  Once finished a fight one-handed after dislocating his shoulder when anyone else would have gone to the cards...Bernard didn't want to take the chance on politics, so he went ahead and won it on sheer will, guts, and paranoia.  Totally inspiring, and of course well beyond my capacity to emulate.  Also, I once heard the expression "tougher than prison beef" with respect to Bernard, which cracks me up every time I think about it.

On the writing side...George RR Martin; Robert E. Howard; James Ellroy; Robert McCammon.

And Chuck Yeager.  Who also dislocated his shoulder before doing something really challenging.  I'm sensing a pattern here.  He's inspiring because he's one of those guys that causes people to stop and think: "What would Chuck Yeager do?"  before going on to do almost the exact opposite.  You can't be Chuck Yeager: he's an ideal type.


Kevin Cockle: I wrote a story for On Spec a few years back called "Eight Precious Spiced Jewels".  Quirkiest sort of Seinfeld non-plot I ever came up with; effective voice (by my standards of course - not compared to Alice Munro or anything); neat ideas (again: I'm the benchmark); no violence, obscenity or other shock-tactics I'd normally employ to get a sale - this one felt like a bit of an outlier, like I'd jumped ahead in my career and written something I probably shouldn't have been able to at that time.

"Stone Cold" in Tesseracts 13 is another favourite, because Nancy (Kilpatrick) said such nice things about it.  If I never write anything else, I'll always have that.

TT: Thanks Kevin for being with us!

Friday, November 11, 2011

On The Fifth Day of Tesseracts: A Tale of Two Cats (Kats)

Tesseract Fifteen's
Kat Nicholson and Cat McDonald
TT: Thank you for joining us.  Could I ask the two of you to please introduce yourselves?

Kat: My name is Katrina Nicholson. Otherwise known as Kat.

Cat: Hi! I'm Catharine McDonald, also known as Cat.

TT:  Where in Canada are you currently located?

Kat Nicholson: I live in Sydney, Nova Scotia, which is on Cape Breton Island.

Cat McDonald: I'm in St. Albert, Alberta (Near Edmonton)

TT:  What is the name of your story in T15?

Kat Nicholson: "A+ Brain"

Cat McDonald: "The Road of Good Intentions"

Could you each tell us a bit about your stories, without spoilers?

Kat Nicholson: In "A+ Brain" a high school school student's life turns upside down when he chooses brain transplant surgery over working harder to get into college and ends up stuck with a pushy nerd ordering him around inside his head.

Cat McDonald:
"The Road of Good Intentions" about a not-completely-human young man who goes to a hellscape of chains, chains made out of human hatred, in order to track down the creature that's spiritually tormenting his best friend.

TT: What is the first sentence of your story?

Kat Nicholson: "I'm really looking forward to college."

Cat McDonald: "Lee was too young to know why they called it The Road of Good Intentions, and quite nearly too human to walk it."

TT: What do you love the most about this (or being in this) anthology?

Kat Nicholson: I love that it's completely YA – there are hardly any markets for YA short fiction (compared to adult fiction, anyway) and that goes double when it's speculative. I also love that it's an opportunity to introduce teens to more facets of SF than just the popular ones without forcing them to commit to reading a whole book.

Cat McDonald: Tesseracts has a lot of history! The first volume was published before I was even born, and some real legends of genre fiction have been printed here. I feel like I'm in good company, but especially when I look specifically at Tesseracts 15 and see the other stories. There are a lot of really brilliant, moving works in this anthology, so the idea that I get to stand next to them is pretty overwhelming! I remember hearing Robert Runte's reading at When Words Collide and just being completely in awe.

TT: In order to mix up the interviews a bit, each of you was given the opportunity to choose and answer two questions. Ironically you both chose the same first question so we will look at that first.

TT: What is your main writing process?

Kat Nicholson:
DAYDREAMING: I do this all the time. In fact, I'm surprised I don't bump into things more often. My brain likes to think up characters and scenes inspired by stuff we do or see. It will then play them for me in a little brain video (usually while I'm trying to do something, like drive). The cleverest, most recurring ones become story ideas.

NOTES: Once I've caught onto an idea, it gets its own notebook (or notebook section, if it's only a short story). I make my brain focus on the existing scenes and fill in more plot and character details, and I do research to help it along. I jot this all down in the notebook. Sometimes I draw little pictures, too, especially if I'm inventing devices for the story. When the first sentences start to write themselves in my head, it's time to move on to:

WRITING: I write on my computer in MS Word. I usually only write for an hour or so at a time, during which I can do up to 2,000 words of prose or 10 pages of screenplay. If I have to do any more than that I run out of brain juice and need to switch to candy-based fuel (which is bad for my waistline!) I write all of the scenes in the order they come in the story.

PERCOLATION: After I'm de-juiced, I continue thinking about the story, letting it drip through my brain and pick up new bits and pieces while I'm off doing something else (work, exercise, shopping, cleaning stuff, etc.) The most productive percolation times are shower time and bedtime, which unfortunately means I have to sleep with my notebook. Usually by the next day the story has percolated enough to deliver another hour's worth of writing.

MOTIVATION: In order to make sure I actually finish the story, I have to be really bossy with myself. “No supper until your pages are done,” I tell myself. Or “get this last scene done and we can go watch the new episode of Castle.” My friends are often amused when I tell them I'm “not allowed” to go out with them that day. I participate in programs like Nanowrimo and Script Frenzy too, because then my competitive instincts can take over for a while and give my Center of Bossiness a break.

BETA READING: Once I'm done, I send the story off to a couple of people. My mom is my go-to Grammar and Logic Nazi, and the others rotate depending on what the story's about and what age group it's for. Writer friends provide story notes while the “civilians” mostly just give a “yay” or “nay.”

EDITING: All of the notes I receive on my story (including the ones I come up with myself on read-throughs) go into the story's notebook. I then go though the notebooks and deal with each note one at a time, highlighting them as I finish. Then I'll do one more polish read-through before I send it anywhere.

Cat McDonald: I just pretty much do it.

It's not really an elaborate thing for me; I ruminate on an idea for a while, and then I sit down and I write the story. As it's going, I discover things about the concept sometimes, I rework it as I go, and I typically write an absolutely abominable ending. (I am the worst at endings; I blame all the Dracula I read when I was young.)

Ideally, I "see the true face of the story" (bear with me; I really like to use over-mystical terms whenever possible). There's a moment, and it usually happens while I'm writing or researching, when I suddenly realize exactly what the story is. With "The Road of Good Intentions", it happened when I was on a walk, imagining how the conversations between my main character and this creature were going to go. I really just live for this moment, when the story and I understand each other; that's when I know I'm on to something.

Because I work as an editor, I go through later and worry about whether or not the story makes any sense, and fix my stupid ending, and make sure I haven't done something completely pointless with my initial draft. Often, because I tend to write my first draft without paying too much attention, I find something on the re-read that startles me, so I kind of nudge things around to focus on it.

TT: What are the individual questions that you will be answering?

Kat Nicholson: "What story have you written that's your favorite and why?"

It's not the best thing I've ever written, but I think “The Wild Helicopters of the Australian Outback,” the story I wrote for the Airborne anthology by Third Person Press, is still my favorite. The elements in the story read like a list of Things Kat Thinks Are Awesome: airships, helicopters, wind turbines, Australians, the Outback – even the personal sized airship-car that I've spent the last few years pestering my aerospace engineer brother to build for me. I also really want a pet Huey, the living helicopter/star of the story, who's a sort of cross between a brumbie, a dog, a hummingbird, a rabbit, and R2-D2.

Cat McDonald: What is the best piece of writing advice you've discovered?

Edit. Since learning to be an editor, my writing has improved at a breakneck pace, because when you evaluate writing constantly, when you worry about what makes a sentence effective and what gives a story impact, you absorb it. It becomes part of your thought process, and eventually, it becomes unconscious.
I first learned to edit when I finished my first National Novel Writing Month novel, and realized that I would have to edit if I wanted to seriously publish it. (It was terrible and trying to publish it was a mistake, but I was younger then.) Soon, I found that, actually, I really enjoyed editing, and that's what led me to the job. And the more I practiced writing, the better I got at editing, and the more I practiced editing, the better I got at writing.
Both the writer and the editor have the same goal; to turn out the best possible text. They just go about it in different ways. So, when a writer learns to think like an editor, they gain a lot of new tools and techniques. Soon, they find they have less to edit, because they're doing a lot of the editing subconsciously as they go!
(This story was called "The Road of Good Intentions", but if I was the main character, it would be called "The Path of Least Resistance", I am that lazy.)

TT: Thanks again for joining us! It's been great!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

On the Fourth Day of Tesseracts: A Mini-interview with Amanda Sun

TT: Welcome to the Totally Tesseracts blog.  Could you please introduce yourself?
Amanda: My name is Amanda Sun (@Amanda_Sun on Twitter)

TT: Welcome, Amanda.  As you know our authors are all over Canada. Where are you currently located?
Amanda: Toronto
TT: Super, thank you. What is the name of your story in T15?
Amanda: "Fragile Things"
TT: What is it about (without spoilers of course)?
Amanda: "Fragile Things" is the story of a cynical farmboy who must come to terms with the unicorn born on his farm, and the public life he is thrust into because of it. It is also a love story between that troubled boy and a frail, chronically ill girl from the other side of the social gap that looms between them.
TT: What is the first sentence of your story?
Amanda: "There are only two news crews this morning, so after I turn out the workhorses and feed the unicorn, I might actually make it to the bus before it pulls away."
TT: What do you love the most about this (or being in this) anthology?
Amanda: The variety! It was wonderful to read each author's unique perspective on what speculative YA fiction could be, and the length of the pieces was perfect to imagine that world and cup it carefully in my hands for a few moments before it drifted away. Together, the stories really complement each other and fit together as a whole imagining.
TT: Who are your biggest inspirations?
Amanda: The writers that truly inspire me are Neil Gaiman, John Green, Terry Pratchett, and Patrick Ness. Each shares such a strong voice in his writing, and I have learned so much from poring over those carefully constructed pages. I had just finished Ness' Chaos Walking Trilogy when I wrote "Fragile Things", and I think his influence will be apparent for those familiar with the books. He is a writer who is not afraid to point to a threatening mountain and then walk beyond, to reveal a gun and fire it twice, to show the darker sides of people and not flinch at those findings.
Some of the best advice I ever learned from Pratchett was to not forget that "the cute dragon that sits on your shoulder also craps all down your back," because keeping speculative fiction real and reactions genuine will not take away from the writing but in fact make it resonate in a truer way.
TT: What story have you written that's your favorite and why?
Amanda: "Fragile Things" is dear to my heart because it takes an idea I long wanted to write about--an atypical, antlered unicorn born on a farm--and places it in my hometown of Deep River, Ontario. I was able to draw on my memories to recreate the paths I walked, and the paddocks I rode in, and stage in them the ideas of innocence, of breaking, and of the fragility inside each of us.
I am also excited about the new YA Urban Fantasy series I'm working on, Ink, which is set in Japan and draws on Shinto mythology. Having lived in Osaka, it's been a pleasure to revisit familiar places through my characters in a new speculative light. The first book comes out in late 2012, and I hope you'll like visiting paranormal Japan as much as I do!
TT: Thanks for joining us for the Fourth Day of Tesseracts.

On the Fourth Day of Tesseracts: A Mini-interview with Nicole Luiken

In our second mini-interview "On the Fourth Day of Tesseracts", we spoke to Tesseracts 15 author Nicole Luiken.

TT: What is your name?

Nicole: Nicole Luiken

TT:  Thanks for joining us Nicole. As you know our T15 authors are located throughout Canada. Where in Canada are you?

Nicole: Edmonton, AB

TT:  What is the name of your story in T15?

Nicole: Feral

TT:  Could you please share a summary of your story without spoilers?

Nicole: Though born into a werewolf pack, Chloe has yet to have her first Change and fears she's a Dud.  Then she meets a feral werewolf with the opposite problem...

TT:  What is the first sentence of your story?

Nicole: Half-hidden in the trees, a werewolf paced her.

TT:  What do you love the most about this (or being in this) anthology?

Nicole: In having a story in Tesseracts I feel like I've joined a secret club.  (My husband had a story in Tesseracts 7)

TT: In order to change each of the interviews, we have given each of the authors an opportunity to write their own last questions, or choose from a list sent to them.

Nicole: How do you write with a preschooler in the house?  I sneak writing time.  Dad's turn to get up with the kids? Twenty minutes of editing time (or, okay, sleep)  Preschooler listening to a CD or watching a DVD?  Boot up the netbook.  Kids in bed for the night?  Time to write.  Though, I have to say, I REALLY miss nap time.

What is your main writing process?  I always have a couple of ideas brewing in the back of my brain.  Once I decide to turn one into a novel, I brainstorm scenes and bits of dialogue and character snippets until they hit critical mass.  Then I do at least a rough outline and pound out a quick first draft.  I sometimes let my novels 'rest' between drafts and chase a shiny new idea.  When I get back to the first draft I decide what parts stay and what parts of the plot need to be rejiggered.  I do a mostly plot-oriented second draft, then a scene-by-scene polishing and third draft.  Then its off to get critiqued and it may need one or two more drafts after that.  (Five is average for me.)

TT: Thanks Nicole for dropping by.

To our readers: If you have a question that you would like Nicole to answer, please comment in the space below.

On the Fourth Day of Tesseracts: An interview with Claude Lalumière

TT: Hi! welcome to Totally Tesseracts.  Thanks for joining us today. Please introduce yourself...

Claude: Claude Lalumière

TT: Great to see you Claude. Our authors in Tesseracts 15 are located in many places in Canada. Where in Canada are you currently located?

Claude: Montreal, but I will soon be moving to the West Coast.

TT: Good luck with your move. Could you please tell us the name of your story in T15 and a summary of your story without spoilers?

Claude: "The Weirdo Adventures of Steve Rand".
Summary: A teenager who has a fraught relationship with his mother experiences immersive visions of being a superhero called the Weirdo.

TT: Thanks Claude. On a recent Tesseracts Fifteen multi-author interview on Bitten by Books, one of the authors asked our authors to share the first sentence of their story.  What is yours?

Claude: "Surrounded by five Hellscorpions, the Weirdo draws his ropegun and laughs maniacally while the disembodied voice of Madman Mastermind issues yet another death threat."

TT: That is great. Thanks! What do you love the most about this (or being in this) anthology?

Claude:  The cover is fantastic. Also, it's a personal goal of mine to be in as many Tesseracts anthologies as possible.

TT:  True. So that our reading audience can appreciate how many Tesseracts you have actually been in, could you list the editions, and indicate whether you have been an author or editor?

Claude: My first one was the one that Edge relaunched the series with, vol. 9. I've also been in 11, 14, and 15. And I was the editor for vol. 12, New Novellas of Canadian Fantastic Fiction.

TT:  One of the things we decided to do to make sure that each of the interviews does not have all the same questions, was to give each author their choice of the final two questions to answer.  So, could you please share the questions you selected, and the answers?

Claude:  Who are your biggest inspirations?

J.G. Ballard. Jack Kirby, R.A. Lafferty. Philip José Farmer, Robert Silverberg. Paul Di Filippo. Rachel Pollack. Garry Kilworth. And tons more. In the case of "The Weirdo Adventures of Steve Rand" -- Steve Ditko.

What story have you written that's your favorite and why?

That changes depending on my mood, but right now I'd say it's a toss-up between "The Ethical Treatment of Meat" (which is in OBJECTS OF WORSHIP) and "Dead" (from CHILLING TALES), the former because it's my favourite story to perform at readings, the latter because I feel it perfectly encapsulates so much of what I try to do with my fiction. But other days I could say "The Object of Worship" or "Hochelaga and Sons" or "Vermilion Dreams: The Complete Works of Bram Jameson" or "This Is the Ice Age" or ...

TT: Thanks Claude for being with us today!