Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mini-Interview with Author Shannon Connor Winward

I'm thrilled to be presenting another mini-interview on my blog, this time with poet and fiction writer Shannon Connor Winward. Her first chapbook of poetry is out, Undoing Winter, and it's a treasure. (There is a link below to the publisher's site.) She's had short stories and poetry published in various magazines (check out her bio.) I've read her new chapbook and it's just beautiful, with phrases I found myself lingering on. I've also read two of her short stories and I loved them. Her ideas and themes tend toward genre but not always, and I like writers who write outside forms and labels and not just to genre. Ray Bradbury comes to mind when I think of that kind of writer, and though he was lumped into "genre," some of my favorites by him are literary mainstream. Those are my favorite authors to follow because I always know they are delivering works from the heart, the moment, the true inspiration.

And on that note, without further delay, I give you Shannon Connor Winward.

Why do you write what you do?
I'm trying to answer this question without falling down a rabbit hole of self-analysis.  How and what we write is a reflection of our psychology, don't you think?  It reveals our obsessions, what we've been through or where we want to go, our unique languages and landscapes.  So. 

If you were to survey my stuff, you could make some educated guesses about my personal neuroses.  UNDOING WINTER []is pretty representative.  My inner world is a broody, sensual place.  It's Jungian and witchy.  I'm preoccupied with spiritual questions, mythology, symbols.  Womanhood, family, love and loss.  The mind. Oh, and I'm a sucker for ghosts.  I write in poetry and metaphors, even in my prose, because I honestly think that way.  I like to provoke an emotional response.  I worry the flow of language. 
How does your writing process work?
Sometimes the creative spark catches just right and the piece seems to birth itself.  My short story, "Ghost-Writer", recently published in Scigentasy: Gender Stories in Science Fiction [], was one of those.  I started the idea as a mini NANOWRIMO project and wrote it in a day and a half with very little later editing.  The characters sprang like Athena, fully formed from my brain.  Gotta love that.

But that's rare for me.  I call myself a Turtle writer in a world of Bunnies.  That is to say, a lot of my colleagues are rich with ideas and they write all.the.time.  But that's not me.  I can only write when something moves me to.   I try to set aside time to write regularly, give myself goals and prompts - I try to hide from my husband and kids in a dark cave somewhere - but if I'm not feeling it, then I can't force it.  I physically can't write unless I'm emotionally engaged.  So I might nurture a single idea for months, even years. 

My first novel took eight years before I was satisfied.   I've got pieces even older that I tweak now and then, or plan to someday come back to when I've gained some distance or when the idea has had a chance to fully mature.  Slow and steady is maybe not the best business model, but since so much spit and polish goes into my writing, when I'm finally finished with a project, I feel like it's in pretty good shape.

What are you working on now?
Well, I just had a baby this summer – the release date for UNDOING WINTER and my due date were a week apart - so I haven't been as productive as I'd like.  Been, you know, otherwise occupied. That said, I have a lot of work coming out in various journals – fiction in Stupefying Stories and Spinetingler Magazine, poetry in Scheherazade’s Bequest and Kaleidoscope Magazine (a journal put out by United Disability Services that explores the experiences of disability through the arts).  Locally I've been promoting the chapbook as well as an anthology that I'm close to, SOMEONE WICKED: A WRITTEN REMAINS ANTHOLOGY []. And I'm shopping around a novel [].

But as for new work, I'm enjoying a sense of newness, reading a lot, and experimenting.  I just got back from a writing retreat sponsored by the Delaware Division of the Arts.  I went with nothing in my creative queue and came back with a few pieces and renewed motivation.  Somewhere in between washing cloth diapers and attending IEP meetings, I'll get right on that!
How does your work differ from others in the genre?
I call myself a lit-spec writer because my work straddles both realms but doesn't fit squarely in either.  My writing is broody and character-centric, which is a hard sell in genre circles, but in the genre tropes that traditional lit journals tend to be wary of. 
I also favor less overtly-genre themes; I play more with folklore, mythpunk, weird fiction-ish stuff than with straight-up sci-fi or fantasy (though I write that, too). 

What's most distinctive, though, is that I'm compulsive about holding things back (which is funny, because in person I'm pretty straight-forward; especially if you get some rum in me).  I hate literature that over-tells; as a reader I like to think and dig and chew and make discoveries, so I tend to write that way.  There are a lot of layers in what I do.  Symbolism, unreliable narrators, subtlety to the point of opaqueness.  I absolutely require beta readers to tell me what just isn't making sense, where I need to expound.  My most common response is "yeah, I'm not really… sure… what's going on here?"  In an era when quick is king, my kind of writing can challenging to place, but I'm okay with that.  I write what I love, and I know there are people out there who love the same things.  Eventually my work finds good homes, and that makes me very happy.
My bio:
Shannon Connor Winward is an American author of literary and speculative writing. Her stories have been published or are forthcoming in Stupefying Stories, Spinetingler Magazine, Scigentasy, Flash Fiction Online, Plasma Frequency Magazine, PANK, and The Vestal Review, as well as in genre anthologies on both sides of the Atlantic. Her poetry appears widely in such venues as Pedestal Magazine, Strange Horizons, Fairy Tale Magazine, Literary Mama, Hip Mama, Star*Line, Illumen, Ideomancer, and Dreamstreets, and in the SFPA’s 2012 Rhysling Anthology of Rhysling Award nominees.

Shannon recently earned Honorable Mention in the L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest for short fiction, and as an emerging artist in literature by the Delaware Division of the Arts. Her debut poetry chapbook, UNDOING WINTER (Finishing Line Press), was released in 2014.  Shannon is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the Science Fiction Poetry Association, and the Written Remains Writers Guild.  She lives and writes in Newark, Delaware.


From Wendy:
I would like to add that I really enjoyed doing this interview from Shannon. Her use of the term "unreliable narrator" most especially hit home with me. I realize not only do I love that kind of story/novel, it is a recurring theme in my own writing: the amnesia victim, the stranger, the alien, etc. And the fact that she went out of her way to say she writes "character-centric" means I will be peering at her now and again through the future to see what new and wonderful things she's doing.

Thank you, Shannon, for this wonderful interview!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Moltenrose is Done...and Other News!

I finally finished the corrections on my companion book to my science fiction novel Pale Zenith. The book is called Moltenrose and contains one novella, one story and two poems set in the Pale Zenith universe. I'm so happy with the result. I think the cover looks great. Click on the title above and it will take you to the Kindle page. It's also available in paperback.

On the sales front, I just sold two poems to Mythic Delirium and one poem to Apex.

Last Thursday, November 6, 2014, I attended a book signing event for the anthology A Darke Phantastique, edited by Jason V. Brock. I have a story in this anthology called "I Keep the Dark that is Your Pain" and so I was invited as an author. It was a great honor to be there and I had a great time.

Other authors in attendance for the signing included: William F. Nolan, Joe R. Lansdale, Dennis Etchison, Nancy Kilpatrick, Gini Koch, E.E. King, Cody Goodfellow, me, and of course Jason Brock and Sunni Brock. George Clayton Johnson also made an appearance, and although he is not in the book he is talked about in the introduction. For the uninitiated, Nolan and Johnson are best known as the author duo who wrote Logan's Run. George Clayton Johnson also wrote tons of the best loved episodes of Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Star Trek, and more .

The attendance for the signing was impressive. There was standing room only. Possibly 40 - 50 in attendance over a period of two hours. There was a wonderful cake with the cover of the book on it, and wine!

My friends Kelly Dunn and Stephen Woodworth showed up and it was wonderful to see them.

Most people may not realize that book signings do not often generate much hoopla unless one is pretty damn famous and/or a bestseller. The fact that many people showed up for this was a treat for me, and I do credit it to Nolan and Johnson (though very frail now) showing up. Also, Joe Lansdale has a pretty big rep. So it helped that some "bigger" authors are in the anthology.

Right now the anthology is available in a limited edition hardcover. Only 350 copies were printed by Cycatrix Press. Later it will come out in paperback from Hippocampus Press. As an ebook enthusiast, I hope it eventually comes out in that form as well.

Also, this anthology is HUGE. It's over 700 pages. (When the paperback comes out it may end up being two editions, part one and part two.) I have started reading the stories in it and I am loving it.

My story in the anthology is about Love and Chaos personified, commitment, betrayal, and all that good stuff.

My next projects include: More poetry (always!) A collection of some of my vampire short stories which I have re-titled Bitters. I am also in-progress on a new novel called Lace.

If you are reading all this and not bored yet, you can always find more info. about me, all my books, and updates on my blog at my Amazon author page.

And as a treat for getting this far...I offer a new poem.

Post Dusk

fleeting light…
new night hunches with its
burden of stars
its recipes for moon-curved clouds
rejecting all mortal shape
all its winds crying
up into the voids
to lash themselves
to galaxies storming
in their dazzles of dream

Friday, November 7, 2014

Mini-Interview with David Lee Summers

About two or three times a month I do mini-interviews of authors who have crossed my path. It's a lot of fun and I enjoy hearing other author's views about their books, why they write, what it is that sparks their creative passions.

Today I give the page over to David Lee Summers who has an impressive list of novels he's written, as well as short stories and poems. He has also edited several anthologies. I'm honored to interview him on this blog. He has a lot of interesting books so please check out his author page on Amazon.

Here are David's answers to the four questions I always ask:

Why do you write what you do?

In short, I write the stories that I'd like to read but don't find often enough to satisfy me.  For example, I loved both The Wild Wild West and The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. when they were on television, but I didn't find many other westerns with that kind of retro-futuristic vibe.  So, I set out to write my Clockwork Legion novels Owl Dance and Lightning Wolves.  They tell how Russia's airship fleet invaded America in the wake of the Civil War and how a healer woman and a former sheriff formed a resistance against them. What's more, I have a real affinity to both the west and the technology of the nineteenth century.  Pat Garrett, the man who shot Billy the Kid, is buried a quarter mile behind my back door and I pass the turnoff for Tombstone, Arizona every week on my commute to work.  In addition to writing, I'm an astronomer working at Kitt Peak National Observatory.  My first job in the field was at an observatory on Nantucket Island, observing variable stars with a nineteenth century telescope that tracked the sky with windup clockworks.  I published two research papers in the 1980s from data obtained on that equipment.  In a very real way, writing western steampunk is writing what I know.

How does your writing process work?

My process is very much like the ones storytellers use.  Before I sit down at the keyboard, I visualize the story and get to know it almost as though it's a series of events that actually happened.  That way, when I type, it's like I'm relating a series of events and I'm not worried about basic plot.  I'm free to embellish details as I need and try to figure out why someone took an action.  As it turns out, I have a five-hour drive to work.  Fortunately, I only have to make that drive once a week, but this process of visualizing stories is a way that I can put that time to good use!

What are you working on now?

I'm working on the third book in the Clockwork Legion series, The Brazen Shark.  The healer and the sheriff are swept away by pirates and learn that Japan is pretty worried abut Russia's imperial ambitions.  Did I say I write what I like?  I'm also a big fan of Akira Kurosawa and anime.  I'm sure you'll see plenty of those influences in this new book.

How does your work differ from others in the genre?

I think there are two things that set my Clockwork Legion novels apart from other steampunk novels.  First, I want even the most outrageous gadgets to feel like they could have been built.  This gives my books a more retro science fictional tone than some steampunk, which feels like Victorian fantasy.

Second, my books reflect the multiculturalism of the southwest.  Historically, Billy the Kid spoke Spanish and Japanese farmers helped to cultivate New Mexico green chile.  Latino, European, Asian, and Native populations often competed, but sometimes cooperated.  I wanted to write steampunk where being a white male wasn't a prerequisite for being a dashing hero, a mad scientist, a bounty hunter, or an airship pirate.

 A list of my novels is at:
Info about my short stories and poetry is at:
Thank you, David, for this wonderful interview!

David Lee Summers is the author of eight novels along with numerous short stories and poems.  His writing spans a wide range of the imaginative from science fiction to fantasy to horror.  David’s novels include The Solar Sea, which was selected as a Flamingnet Young Adult Top Choice, Vampires of the Scarlet Order, which tells the story of a band of vampire mercenaries who fight evil, and Owl Dance, which is a wild west steampunk adventure.  His short stories and poems have appeared in such magazines and anthologies as Realms of Fantasy, Cemetery Dance, and Apocalypse 13.  In 2010, he was nominated for the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s Rhysling Award.  In addition to writing, David edits the quarterly science fiction and fantasy magazine Tales of the Talisman and has edited three science fiction anthologies: A Kepler’s Dozen, Space Pirates and Space Horrors.  When not working with the written word, David operates telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory.  Learn more about David at
Thank you to David for taking the time to share his thoughts! Look for more interviews later this month.

Wendy Rathbone