Contemporary writers will find the current hotel equipped with modern amenities. Historical fiction writers would be best writing generic stories in an era, but not based on specific local events. And steampunk writers, well you can stage a whole mechanical speakeasy in the cocktail lounge. Mystery has the gift of finding a dead body in the hotel room, but you know, have fun with it. And so on. Market List Updates To see all the details about these new listings and what they're looking for, as well as hundreds of other listings, go to Aswiebe's Market List and download the latest version of the spreadsheet.
This way it's easy to find, for example, only horror markets that accept reprints greater than 10, words. For more information on what it is and how to use it, see About Aswiebe. Many magazines close for the month of December. Very few new magazines choose to start up during this time January is a different story.
So if you have something you want to send out on submission, get it out now, before Thanksgiving happens in the United States. Skip sending out submissions in December, as many publications will be on hiatus anyway. Take a break, write new things, and spend time with family and friends! What I've been up to lately, writing-wise: This month, I performed at a couple of big reading events.
It went well! One was for a new release that I have a couple of stories in, The Subverted Fairy Project , a collaboration between artists and writers. If you enjoy twisted fairy tales, art, or flash fiction, I recommend it! We've decided there's enough grim and dark in the real world without creating more of it as entertainment. In fact, we can count the number of such anthologies without resorting to two digits in binary. That's right, there's just ONE.
It's a very good anthology, but it's carrying a heavy load. To summarize, we need a more inclusive space opera. Fewer Nazis. No Cthulhu. Better representation for women, especially women of color. Sure, we like stories with white guys who fight off evil In space. Hey, who doesn't like space? You're living in it, you know. But there are other stories.
We'd like to read them. Also has a special flash fiction section. No internet, no cellphone signal I didn't even burden myself with, "I should be writing a lot. I enjoyed the autumn splendor, went for long walks in the woods, and read two books. Now I'm back and feeling less stressed and more connected, in a good way! My inner year-old is SO happy right now! It's always a great time. Check it out if you're in town! It's going to be amazing. Mark your calendar now!
However, I've been listening to the Writing Excuses podcast a lot. This season they're doing an excellent "What writers get wrong" series about professions, conditions, hobbies, and all the multifaceted parts of a person's identity. We are happy to read works from any speculative subgenre: science fiction, fantasy, horror, alternate history, magical realism, fabulism, mythic work, Weird fiction and so on.
Happy Autumn, everyone! And a blessed Autumn Equinox to those who celebrate it.
My autumn goals are always threefold: ease back into being more productive now that I have school mornings to myself; de-stress myself; and frantically try to catch up with everything that I fell behind on during the summer. This includes cleaning and meal-planning and paperwork, as well as my Very Long Indeed list of writing-related to-dos.
That's not actual writing, mind you, just the many obligations and projects and bookkeeping related to being a writer! Then my oldest got sick with pneumonia. He's doing a lot better now, thank goodness, but all my fine plans and alone time! Time to take a deep breath and remind myself that fifteen minutes at a time still makes a difference. It's time to focus on writing. What I've been up to lately, writing-wise: I had a great reading at The Wolf House my pictures of this weird, wonderful, bizarre space are here and here as part of the Subverted Fairy Project.
It was recorded, so you should be able to listen to that soon. And there will be more news about this project as the launch date gets closer. If you're local to the Twin Cities, mark November 17th on your calendar for an awesome launch party! To get back into the swing of writing more, I've found Cold Turkey Writer incredibly useful. It takes over your whole computer and doesn't let you do anything else until you've written the amount of words or for the amount of minutes that you specify. Great for avoiding distractions! Characters can be complex, except when a story demands them to be painted with a coarse brush.
But a driving narrative is a sine qua non. We love SF stories that carry characters from their beginning to their end. That take the reader along on the journey of discovery or loss, or redemption, or whatever. And of course, they have to be speculative. I've had so much on my plate lately that I completely blanked on the last Aswiebe's Market List update, so this is a double shot. What I've been up to lately, writing-wise: My little epic fantasy novella is out in the world!
The Unkindness of Ravens is an epic fantasy story about trickster gods and favors owed. Initial reviews on Goodreads are very positive. Go read the long excerpt on my website. During my final grammar-and-typos copyedit, my proudest moment was spotting the extra space hiding at the beginning of a paragraph. Want to know what gave me the most trouble? Figuring out the grammatically correct use of articles with a term I made up myself turns out it's complicated. Ah, writers. We do it to ourselves. What I've been up to lately, writing-wise: See above. I have a novella coming out soon! July 17th!
Soon, The Unkindness of Ravens will be available in print for pre-order. The ebook is already available for pre-order on non-Amazon sites, with a special low pre-order price Kindle coming soon. I'm also going to two local writing conventions in the next month. I'll be doing a reading with donuts if they're allowed in the room first thing in the morning on Friday! On Saturday, I'm part of the group book signing look for my origami tree and the Writing Violence in Violent Times panel.
Today I realized that a lot of the reason why is that I haven't been writing. I've been doing a lot of writing-related stuff, don't get me wrong! I've been writing for years, in large part because when I wasn't writing, I wasn't okay. And yet, I keep forgetting! This is a problem. Yes, I prepare compulsively for panels. I am aware that some people don't. Summer vacation is coming up, which means my non-napping 4-year-old is going to be home with me all day.
Insanity meter: yellow. What I've been up to lately, writing-wise: Stuff! Free stuff for you! My Goodreads giveaway is live. Lots of people have already signed up to win a copy. I am so pleased and relieved to see that readers are interested in my little high fantasy novella! See the giveaway details at Goodreads. I recently did the narration for "We Are Sirens" by L. Johnson, published by PodCastle. I loved this story and how the Americana and fantasy elements blended together. Reminded me of some of Seanan McGuire's short stories. Highly recommended. You can read some of the stories for free here , including one of my favorite short stories so far this year, " Upon Your Marriage to a Redcap ," by Tori Curtis.
You can buy the entire issue here including my reprinted fantasy story, "Ekaterina and the Firebird". No matter the genre label, stories must have a speculative element. Surprise and amaze us. A punk strain runs through SFFH so we know that great stories are out there. Want a recent fantastic example? It, too, has the vibe we want. I'm working on all the pre-release bits for my upcoming novella, The Unkindness of Ravens. I have a paper to-do list. I have a writing to-dos spreadsheet. I'm trying and liking Trello, an online visual to-do board that lets you pin things to different lists.
I have a longform document for my publishing timeline. And of course, I have all kinds of reminders in my regular Google calendar. What I've been up to lately, writing-wise: Working on getting everything lined up. I'll have a couple of things to announce in May! Weird stories about cults, capitalism, working stiffs, and weirdos. We like bizarro. We like horror. We like our sci-fi and fantasy on the weirder side. We like humor. Think Joe R. Think Victor Pelevin. Think Brian Keene.
Think Jessica McHugh. This is a loosey-goosey guideline. The title obfuscates as much as it reveals. We know. It was done on purpose. Take it and run. How do we still manage to focus and write? For me, it comes down to a few principles. Avoid temptation instead of resisting temptation. Turn off push notifications on your phone applications. On your writing device, consider installing a browser extension like Leechblock that stops you from 2. Create focused time.
Schedule writing-only time. Figure out what you need to do in focused time, and what you can do even when you're distracted. Writing might be something you have to do in solid chunks of time. Maybe you can do market research or editing or read writing newsletters during time when you are more distracted, whether the distraction is being around other people or your kids or simply during a time of day when you have trouble concentrating. What I've been up to lately, writing-wise: Deadlines, deadlines, all the deadlines!
I'm giving a talk to some college students on Monday, I've promised feedback to a couple of writer friends, I did taxes, I'm getting this newsletter out, I am doing some narration work, and I'm writing three short stories for a collaborative fairy project. There are other things on my list, too.
Did I say list? I mean spreadsheet. We welcome quality flash fiction and non-traditional narratives. Take chances, try something new, just make sure that your story is funny. I took a break after finishing a major revision project. I did a fair amount of catch-up housecleaning not that anyone who doesn't live with me would be able to tell there's an improvement!
I caught up on miscellaneous non-writing, writing-related things like submissions and website updates. I did some keyword and category updates for my post-apocalyptic steampunk alternate history book. You'll be able to hear that in a little bit! My children had a number of no-school days, including a rare-for-Minnesota snow day, and I really can't do any immersive writing or editing while they're home and awake.
I got a little squirrelly. This happens when I don't write. My brain gets bored and goes looking for other things to be creative about. This is not a good thing. It has reminded me of the importance of doing little bits of freewriting every day. I didn't do that and I regret it. Between taxes and a major photography project coming up, I'm not going to have solid writing time for a while. Bah humbug. What I've been up to lately, writing-wise: I have a book giveaway over on Goodreads, because I wanted to take advantage before they changed their terms.
We are interested in:. Well, one out of two ain't bad! First, a moment of silence for those publications I learned were dead in the ordinary course of updating the market list this year. I sold a story I quite liked to one of these; there are others that I hoped to be published in, but never got the chance. Rest in peace. I have some rewriting I need to get done on a project that I want to submit this month, but I've edited this project so many times that I'm really, really sick of it.
The first appearance of my work in is also a personal first! A very short story of mine is part of a winter art installation, the Art Shanties on frozen Lake Harriet in Minneapolis. Expect pictures, because that's how I roll. I have a little digital plaque to put on my website and everything. Happy Holidays!
I am embracing the idea of a writing session being a success even if you only write 3 sentences. How About a Thread on Literary Agents? New pro themed anthology! As we approach the holidays, the publishing industry slooooooooowwwws way down. This month, I performed at a couple of big reading events. This past week the kids had off from school, so our family headed to a cabin in the wilds of Wisconsin. November 17th will be the grand book release party and fairy-themed extravaganza for The Subverted Fairy Project, an art and writing collaboration that I am part of.
I haven't been reading many articles this month. Summer is a hectic, not-so-productive time for me. Opens for new subs October 1st. The End of Our World anthology is seeking thoughtful SF themed to climate catastrophe and end of the world. Contemporary warnings of impending doom, the rapidly approaching end of our overdeveloped and unsustainable world, are based on reality and science, on cold, hard facts, matters of projection rather than prediction.
And we are already seeing the end beginning. The signs are everywhere: environmentally and socially check our fact sheet for details. We are going down, and most of us know, perhaps not consciously, not clearly spelled out, but we know , deep inside, that we are going down, in spite of all the comforting lies told by those who are profiting from our downfall and want us to go meekly.
This contest is meant to raise people's awareness of what is happening to our natural world right now and what this may mean for the near future. We are looking for short stories dealing with the many existential issues facing us. No nonsense, no wild, impossible fantasies but strong, intelligent stories, based on facts, cautionary tales, speculative, plausible and thought-provoking.
All submissions must be science fiction in nature. Any sub-genre is acceptable, but the stories must have have a science fiction element and must be dark in tone or atmosphere. Due until filled. Keep writing, keep submitting, and good luck! Goodreads Book Giveaway. And the first issue of Iridium Magazine is live! What I've been up to lately, writing-wise:. Cockroach Conservatory Vol.
On your writing device, consider installing a browser extension like Leechblock that stops you from. For the last couple of weeks, I haven't been writing new fiction words. This year marks the first time since I started the market list when the number of publications in the total list of the dead outnumber the ones that are still ongoing.
My dead list has entries not including anthologies or other limited-time publications. My active market list has Some of this is because I checked a whole bunch of old entries and removed the ones that were obviously dead. What does obviously dead mean, you ask? Your first clue might be when you go to the URL and a Japanese website pops up, trying to sell you It might be a parked domain trying to get you to buy the URL.
It might be a website that has kept the basic structure of the previous website but filled the whole thing with crappily written paid content. It might have completely vanished from the internet. It might even say on the submissions page that it's closed! I didn't, however, do the in-depth check on recent issue dates and submission responses to be sure that the publication website wasn't abandoned as-is, without notification.
That happens more often than you might think. I thought the longevity results were interesting, so I made pie charts. Pie for everyone! Bear in mind, this data is based on very old, un-updated publication listings mostly pre, when dinosaurs roamed the internet. If a magazine boosted its pay rate, or widely spread the news of its demise, it isn't in this data set. Dead pro markets are unlikely to be included in this, because people talk when those go under.
Featured Market. Though our scientific knowledge has increased exponentially alongside technological development, there remains much about the natural world we still do not understand. Stories for Force of Nature should involve nature and the weird at their core; how the author wishes to interpret these themes is entirely up to them. Try to avoid anything that is overtly cautionary. Wordsworth with a modern sensibility. Or just Wordsworth. Submit your email for market list and publication news updates. What they want.
Pay Per Word. Flat Pay Lowest. Terraform Motherboard.
EVENTS IN 2018
All genres, themed to the hotel. Flame Tree Newsletter Flash Fiction. Horror and sci-fi, themed. Themed to human survival after the return of the Elder Gods. Crimson Streets. Pulp, but not straight SF. Action and adventure in any genre. Written to prompt,multiple rounds. Future Visions Anthology Series. You just have a sequence of events. Every story has some kind of conflict of some kind that has to be resolved by the end of it, at least to a degree.
And when I write, the first thing I start with is actually not a plot or characters. I start with figuring out…a conflict, basically. And then I start working my way down in, you know, different levels of concreteness, as far as developing goes. One of the points…you often hear writers say they write character-driven stories. So, you really have to have a plot to develop a character in the first place.
But the most common reason I would reject a story is just because it…there was nothing wrong, the writing was usually quite competent, and there was nothing really wrong with the story, exactly, but there was nothing right with it either. You mentioned characters.
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How do you…how do you identify the characters that you need in the story, and then how do you…how much do you work on developing them before you start the actual writing? I mean, the characters kind of emerge, just in the process of thinking about a plot. And I studied Andrew…and also, the central hero is Sam Houston. I think somewhere you mentioned you would sometimes take an hour to write one paragraph because of the research you had to do to make sure you got all the facts right that were in that paragraph.
Yeah, sometimes. Yeah, that happens. The second is I just get more and more familiar with it. I mean, you know, her knowledge of it is way deeper than mine. I mean, you have to read, do the kind of studying that an actual professor does. So, I try to develop friends and contacts who are experts on all kinds of things, who are people I can go to if I need to find out something.
Movies are even worse. Have you ever encountered anything like that in your in your series? Oh, sure. But, yeah, I try not to. Every scene in a novel should be part of the plot. And we all get a little loose and sloppy about that, including me. But in theory, at least, and I did try to pay attention to this, every episode, every plot point, I mean, every scene in a novel, most of it at any rate, what is it doing to advance the plot? Well, when you have written a draft, what does your revision process look like?
Do you bang out a first draft and then go back, and do you revise a lot, do you keep it revised as you go, or how does that work for you? Typically, a chapter I write is the final draft. Now, I will polish continuously as I go along. But it enables me to write pretty quickly. I do polish all the time. And I see, from your website, again, that once you start writing you just write through, like, you sort of write in a burst to finish the book?
Yeah, I…yes. There are some writers who religiously write every day and they set goals, you know, words a day, whatever. Speaking of editing, do you get much in the way of editorial revision then, coming back from Baen, or suggestions? Toni Weisskopf, who was then the chief editor, did a very detailed line edit of the novel. Yeah, and she was just going through and showing them to me so I could see it. And I learned a great deal from that. It was very helpful. He was very taken by that book and he worked more closely with me on that book than any other I ever did.
So, that…there was a lot of editorial feedback. And I did two books with Del Rey. I got a lot of editorial input from Steve Saffel and later from Jim Minz. Steve edited the first book, Jim edited the second. Why do we write science fiction and fantasy? In my case…my whole life, I was a political activist for close to 30 years, which is why I stopped writing, and…issues of, social issues in general, how human society works, the moral and ethical issues and values that come out of that, are things that have been central to my life ever since I was a kid.
And I think fiction is really lousy at that anyway.
- Eyes In The Sky.
- The Continental Shelf (Life in the Sea).
- Design Research in Information Systems: Theory and Practice: 22 (Integrated Series in Information Systems).
You have to abstract the individual out of it and be talking in some sense about social abstractions. Stories are about individual people, and they have to seem like people to readers. They have to seem real. So that means you have to find individual characters, and once you start doing that they tend to get quirky.
They tend to…well, let me not turn this into a lecture, but the upshot of it is this: fiction is lousy for educating anybody about politics, but what it is very good at is imparting broad moral and ethical values. There are certain values I have that are reflected, one or another, in almost any book I write. That just came out. And this will be the first time the series goes into China. He has done…I know quite a bit of Chinese history, but Iver has done an enormous amount of research on it over the past few years.
I should just mention where people can find you online. Somebody had bought. I guess not. Kendare Blake grew up in the small city of Cambridge, Minnesota. Though not medically advisable, she and her parents are eternally grateful for this advice. When was that? Four or five years ago now? It was such a long time. It seems like yesterday. Yeah, it was a few years and, of course, at the time you actually thought that we shared a last name because I was there in my capacity as E.
Blake, which is a pseudonym of mine. So, we do kind of share a last name. I literally finished reading it about 15 minutes before I called you up here. What was the…your story that led you into this? I think a love of reading, it oftentimes just progresses into a love of storytelling and then it naturally lends itself to wanting to live a life of stories and write your own stories. My mom largely was the one who got me into reading.
So, I was reading voraciously…like, I could read before I went to kindergarten because of her, because she just really immersed me in words. And my Dad, too. So, that kind of kept on. They always kept my nose in books. So, thanks, parents! How small a town is it? Very close to…I grew up in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, and the population signed for years said 10, but they were rounding up, and then…I think they have finally passed 10, But for most of the time it was more like 6, and something, I think, officially, but they rounded it up to 10, I spent a lot of time in the library there as well and I also learned to read before I went into Grade 1.
So, kind of a similar story there. Well, once you started reading things other than unicorn picture books, did you gravitate to the fantastical at that time or were you reading other stuff? It was a pretty fast switch, actually. That was the end of Black Beauty for me. He only read science fiction and fantasy. Well, the earliest fledgling attempt I can remember to actually write anything of length, it was kind of a length challenge.
I wanted to know if I could write something that was as long as a book, like a book-length something. So, I started writing this horse story when I was in seventh grade. And it took up, like, three spiral-bound notebooks by hand. So, as you went on through high school, did you write more and more stuff. Did you share it with other people to read, at some point? I was…whenever you gave me an option in homework to use words instead of numbers, or to have, like a more than just a simple answer, I always took it.
I wrote a couple of…well. I love writing short fiction. So, I wrote a collection of short fiction with my then-boyfriend, like, he wrote a bunch, and I wrote a bunch, and so I shared them with him. And then I wrote another novel in high school that was also terrible. Well, just the act of writing something long, you know, just putting that many words on paper, is an important part of becoming a writer.
I mean…. You mentioned Stephen King. It was, yeah. They actually brought in a speaker who I think was supposed to be inspiring to us as the senior class, but all I heard the whole time he was talking about how he had a Lambo and worked for Merrill Lynch and had this great office and…but all I heard was. Well, maybe it was…maybe he was the perfect speaker. It was a year or two of working kind of horrible jobs. I sold garbage at one point. So that was my chance. So, I asked my parents if they were cool if I moved back in with them. And, yeah, I took out just massive student loans and went to London—with a friend!
That helped. I always wanted to live abroad. So, yeah, it was only…it was a thirteen-month program, I think? And it was wonderful. Just really relaxed. Laid back. So, I get varying degrees of was it worth it or not, depending on who you talk to. What was your experience doing it formally? Oh, well, they…my professors were wonderful. It was a really small class. Like I said. It was just a very small program. And it was a supportive and collaborative kind of environment. But they were very open to whatever our natural voices and our natural inclinations were.
I mean, I love literary fiction, and I do write it occasionally, so I was trying to do that. They got me an internship with a literary agency in London, so I had some work experience and got to see things from the other side of the desk, and they just embraced my voice. I never had a…I took one creative writing course in university. They just found him a mentor who could, who could help him with that. So, obviously it just depends on the program. So, you went on from there. Your first book, Anna Dressed in Blood.
Were you actually working on that while you were still doing your masters? Did that sort of start during that time or did it start afterwards? No, it definitely started afterwards. Probably about six months afterwards was when I started writing? And I was…I worked on a different novel during my, for my dissertation, and I completed it. A trilogy?
What would you call it? So, the Three Dark Crowns series is set on an island. So, you can be like an elemental, for example, so you can control one or more of the elements. You can also be a poisoner, so poisoners really like to ingest poison, because it has no effect and it kind of gives them a rush, actually, to ingest poison, and they really like poisoning other people.
So, Three Dark Crowns is the story of one such generation of these sisters and how they deal with their battle to the death. Now, you mentioned, that you, you know, your fantasy often also dips into the horror side. That certainly seems to be the case in Three Dark Crowns. Is that common in all of your fantasy? Do you…does it always have that kind of dark edge to it? I would say so. Well I certainly noticed them making their appearance in Three Dark Crowns. So, what are the…what is the seed for you for a book? I mean, this one, specifically, but also any of your books.
How do the ideas come to you that you then develop into a book? Three Dark Crowns, with its triplet sisters who have to kill each other, actually came from a ball of bees, like a swarm of bees? Are you familiar with beekeeping at all? And everybody was fine and that was true, but since there was a beekeeper there—I mean, what have I ever met a beekeeper? That seems very inconvenient. Does she do this a lot? But that is the only time—the only time—that I can pinpoint exactly when an idea arrived.
It depends very much on the on the particular story. But it may be has gained something in the time that it was gone. Well, so once you had this this initial idea of this case—this is good, because at least you remember this one—how do you go about fleshing it out and developing it into a story? I do not. You know, there was something going around on Twitter yesterday, like, one of those square, you know, tables, like a chart, and you could kind of.. Are you a lawful plotter? Are you a chaotic pantser? I had the idea in , spring of So, initially I met the three queens, you know, the three sisters kind of introduced themselves to me and told me what their names were, which I love, because I hate naming characters.
Please just introduce yourself to me! And I knew what their gifts were. And I kind of knew…over time, I grew to knew what their situation was, you know, what their culture was like in the different cities, because on the island different cities foster different gifts. So, the poisoners have a city, the naturalists have a city, the elementals have a city, and each one has a different culture because each gift values different things and are raising these girls differently. And so, by the time I started writing I had a pretty good sense of who these girls were and where they were coming from.
But I had no idea what would happen once I threw them together. And that is the ultimate joy that I have as a writer, is I love my characters, and they are real people to me. And then after that I just depend on it to fill itself in. I did have…with Three Dark Crowns , I did know the secret.
So, I did know that that is what would be revealed at the end. It was very going in blind, and it usually is, as far as my books are concerned. Or do you? I write from start to finish. So, what is your actual physical writing process? Do you write by hand, do you write in an office, do you go off to a coffee shop, do you sit under a tree, how do you like to work? Oh, except for those very brief notes I never do anything by hand because my handwriting is just bad. I really envy people with pretty handwriting. And I have an office, I have a home office, so I write here pretty exclusively.
Probably fast by adult standards. So…young adult. I mean. Some of us write three books a year, which just makes my brain hurt and wish for sleep. But I probably…left to my own devices, I would love to have eight…seven to nine months…to do a first draft. I love it. Love it! So, when you have a first draft, then what?
Do you have beta readers? I kind of wish that I did. That went pretty well. Let me just take that back from you and do it all over again. Good process. Do you do revision before you send it to your editor, or does it…are you done when you get to the end of the first draft? Like, do you publish it as you go, or do you go back and start from the beginning and work your way through it again? How does that work for you? So, yeah, it was hard, it was a lot. Each book has gotten a little bit better. And I just…I really need those few months of just letting it cool off so I can gain some perspective.
What kind of feedback do you typically get from your editor? Have you had the same editor all along? And the kind of feedback that I get from her is I think fairly standard. She really has a strong handle on worldbuilding. She has a really good sense of character. You know, I have gotten to the end of one of those conversations.. So, I guess that is our process, our process is kind of a combo, like, the letter just like land the blow, and then the phone call to really soften it out and get things moving. Are there any specific writing tics that you have to watch out for? I mean aside from the entrails thing, which apparently you have fully embraced?
You know, we all, or I do, anyway. Anything like that for you? It differs by book. I find that more than I would like. My first, Anna Dressed in Blood , had almost no revisions, like it just, there it was, like it felts like most of them were additions, story smoothing, but as far as sentence-level rewrites there were practically none. Is that something you often choose for your stories? It depends on the story. It felt right for this, third-person present, which I know really, really bugs some people, but third-person present felt right for this.
I really want it just to stream right through, so it adds a little bit more authenticity to the voice, a little more believability. Maybe I just need a break from present tense. Probably more to do with me than you, though. Oh, exactly. And it is still very exciting to see my books on shelves and be able to hold them as physical books because books are so, you know, such a big, monumental part of my life. But I never want to crack my book open and actually read it because I have read it like ten times from cover to cover within the last six months or so.
I presume there are audiobooks of your work. Have you ever listened to those? But then I stop. Do you do the same thing or can you…? So, I actually found the narrator,, but I was also the publisher because I was doing it through ACX—audio book exchange or whatever that stands for—Audiobook Creation Exchange or something like that. So, I had to listen to them all because I had to do the proof listening, And actually, I kind of enjoyed it. She did such a great job. Also, I read it out loud to my wife, so I feel like….
I do the same thing, I read them all out loud to my husband. So, yeah. Is your wife an audiobook listener? But the last book will be called Five Dark Fates. So, completely out of numerical order, which is really bugging people. They totally skip…I totally skipped number four. Originally, the series was designed to be a two-book series.
It was just a duo. So, the story…it completes an arc at the end of One Dark Throne , and then, the next two books…I like to think of them almost as separate duologies, because the first is, like, the story of the Ascension and then the second is like the story of the reign. And then I started adding more numbers and it just got out of control. Why do you write and why do you think any of us write?
In particular, why do you write this kind of stuff, and why do you think any of us write this kind of stuff? What do you think is the impetus? I think escapism has so much to do with it as far as why we write fantasy, and even horror, in particular. I always used to try to find, you know, magic when I was a kid, in the real world. Not even an invisible one.
She never grew one. I waited… And so, yeah, escapism. And…what was the other question? Kind of starting to ramble here. I mean, is it fun? Oh, yeah. So, for me the act of writing has always been a little bit magical. But it does. Every time it does, and that is just magic. Have you found that the writing process, where you are drawing all these plot threads together and bringing the story out, has that gotten easier the more you do it or does it…has it changed for you?
I reset and I went back to one. The revision process has changed a lot, but the actual drafting has remained the same. Which I suppose is always an option. I will have just plain old flubs. So, stuff like that does happen, yeah. And speaking of readers, what do you hope readers get from your work? You mentioned escapism, are you looking for any other impact on their way of thinking or their life. I guess it sounds a bit grand, but this is called The Worldshapers , so, are you trying to shape the world with your fiction?
I really want readers to enjoy it. I hope they care about the characters and I hope they care about the story and I hope they enjoy it. Oh, no, no. By no means do I mean to say that a matriarchy would be without flaw, because women are still humans and we just mess things up no matter what, no matter what gender we are we will mess it up, guaranteed, but…. So, no. It just happened to be the right book and the right character hitting me at the right time to really make an impression on me. And speaking of that, what are you working on now? I mean, we know the fourth book is coming out in September, I think you said?
September 3rd. And I just finished it. We got a little behind. They…well, they asked me to do the novellas shortly after, I think, One Dark Throne was published. Normally, I would be…they would all be wrapped up by now. And I just turned in another edit, like another decent-sized edit, and we tried to combine the line edits and the copy edits into that edit and I only had four days to turn it around. So, it was tight. And…but, yeah. So that immediately was what I was working on. And Caril Ann Fugate was only thirteen when this happened, and she was tried as an accomplice, and she went to prison, and Charlie Starkweather, I think, was only fifteen or sixteen.
I mean, these were kids. But I need a lot of time. Well, it certainly sounds intriguing. So, where can people who want to keep up with your writing exploits, where can they find you online? Well, my website is a good place to start, just KendareBlake. I try to keep the events updated. And those are all just my name. But uh, yeah, you can definitely find me there. You said…how do you pronounce it? Well, thanks so much for being on the podcast. After working in embassies in Colombia and Cuba he settled and Gatineau, Quebec, where he writes science fiction and fantasy and raises his son.
His first novel, The Quantum Magician , came out in from Solaris. Its sequel, The Quantum Garden , will be in stores everywhere in October My sort of creative primordial soup was Saturday-morning cartoons. And I was a kid when Star Wars came out and my parents brought me to see it in the drive-in, and there was Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers , and I think all of that together I had in in my brain right when I was ten years old and my mother gave me my first comic books and I became a voracious reader of comic books.
Well, what were some of the other books that you gravitated to after you started with Edgar Rice Burroughs? And so, I read a lot of Edgar Rice Burroughs, which is terrible training for a writer because it was pulp. I read a lot of comic books until end of university. Katherine Kurtz was really good. I discovered Asimov in high school and also Tolkien, and then when I got to university, there was a second-hand bookstore nearby, and I discovered Robert Holdstock and a few other writers.
And I started picking…I just went through all the Hugo and Nebula lists and just tried to see what I could find in second-hand shops and, you know, I just started reading a lot more. I never read Edgar Rice Burroughs, I admit. But Katherine Kurtz was one that I did pick up as well. But I also played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons in university. I often say that I supposedly majored in journalism but really I majored in Dungeons and Dragons and minored in journalism, based on the amount of hours I put into it. And I do hear that a lot from authors. Now, I admit that when I did it I actually preferred to be the dungeonmaster and I realized one reason I quit playing it very much was I ran out of people to play with, because I moved away from university, but also I realized that a lot of the muscles I was using and creating my Dungeons and Dragons world were the ones I could be using in creating fictional worlds.
I still have those original books somewhere, at least two of them. So, anyway, enough about Dungeons and Dragons. So, did you just begin to start trying to write in college or along that timeframe? Oh, no. I wrote my first book in Grade 4. And then in Grade 8 I wrote another book. But, I mean, these are all childish attempts, right? It took me…by the time I got to eighteen years old I realized that the roots of the book were, like, the beginning of it, were not strong enough to sustain it and so I just kind of restarted.
Which is not a bad thing to do. And so, from eighteen to twenty-five I got two university degrees and then also finished the novel and sent it off while I was still in grad school. Well, it was that but also…like, I wrote, I started writing fairly lengthy stuff about Grade 8, 9, and wrote three novels in high school and all that. I was wondering if that was your experience. Yeah, no. But why did you start writing? Like, did you consciously, like were you self-aware that I am a writer therefore I am writing? Or did you just start to do it the way a beaver builds a dam, which is a bit the way I feel I started?
So, I always ask writers about that. It sounds like you fall into that ballpark, too. Actually, to be fair, I think I took…it was a second-year course at the University of Guelph. Not all bad. Now what you were studying was science, was it? You said you got two degrees. So, that was also a really interesting experience, which exposed me a lot to, you know, the viral world as well, which is really cool genetically. And so, I decided to head for grad school and, you know, be on the researcher sort of career path. But as soon as I got into grad school I saw, you know, the kind of quality of life that professors have and the sort of uncertainty they have and how much, you know, almost independent of how smart you are is your success, which is based on luck of, did you pick the right field, did you pick the right time, did you pick the right set of experiments, did you pick the right gene?
And, yeah, after grad school I wanted to work with street kids, and I had a cousin who was already working with children who worked in the street in Honduras. And so, she set me up with an NGO in a different city who gave me room and board and I worked with, you know, kids who were, you know, drug-addicted, living in the streets, being abused, some here in prostitution. So, I did that for about ten or twelve months. And, yeah, it was a life-changing experience. And so, I did, and managed to score high enough that I got picked, and about a year later they shipped me off to Colombia for three years, where I worked on their special refugee program that they had there, which was really cool.
And then, you know, after three years I was cross-posted to Havana, where I was working basically in what you could call anti-people smuggling, where, you know, I would work with airlines and the Ministry of the Interior of Cuba to, you know, just pass around information to try and stop people from using false passports and fake visas and imposters, how do you detect them, and stuff like that. But also, I knew that artistically I was far away from other writers and I needed to be closer to other writers who were writing in English, whom…I needed to be able to interact with them.
Since, period. You need that…have you ever seen the visual punctuation thing that Victor Borge used to do? I sold my first short story in One question I have because I read it in the bio and then I thought that sounds a little odd. Are they audio, then? Yeah, yeah. So, for example, Escape Pod , Pod Castle , and Pseudo Pod are three big markets and I have three stories in there that have all been published elsewhere.
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And, yeah, I kind of consider podcast to be reprint markets because I always go for the print first. The other thing I wanted to ask, because you are bilingual, have you…do you write in French at all, or do you just write in English? I…my reading is good. My writing is fine, but fine is not what you need for fiction, you need something, you know, much more expansive. No, no almost none. So, what happens is, I find that reading in French is slow enough that I get bored of it.
And then I stop. So, I took a leave from work to be with my son more. We spent four summers so far together, I think. You can only live for so long on unpaid leave. First, before we talk about how it came about, synopsize it without spoiling anything. Spaaace, yeah. There are a set of…one of the tropes of space opera that I really enjoy is that.
So, it was a very fun book to write. So obviously that was a deliberate thing. Well, also the sting. I enjoy heist movies a lot. And to be honest, as well, I wanted to go with a plot structure that I understood pretty well, whose beats I understood pretty well, because I had five failed novels. I sort of was lacking the confidence to embark on a sixth unless I had a bit of a boost, so to speak. And so, I went with a plot structure that I think I understood.
So, did you choose the structure and then thought about a way to make a space-opera version of that, or was the impetus something different. How did…where did you get your idea? What was the seed for this? So, I did…so, one of the…I subscribe to the theory of John Truby, who is this Hollywood script doctor. I wanted to create a few others. And I think I wanted to do something about…do I really think that access to space is going to be as equitable as we think. So, once you had your sort of general idea, what does your…and this applies to all your writing…what does your outlining and planning process look like?
Are you a staunch outliner? And so, for me, I have to know the ending, because at least, when I outline the ending, what I can do then is I can start interrogating it and say, well, is this ending surprising? Is this ending satisfying? And so, those are all the elements I put in. But also understanding, in this one novel, that I was using a particular structure that had audience expectations with it that I could play with as well was part of that, too, was part of my calculus.
Well, with all that worldbuilding…and there was, you know, little asides on the history of playing cards and things like that…what does your research process look like? So, on this one…I did a science fact article for Analog Magazin e on this book, because it also got serialized in Analog. And I think in science fiction, as well, you often have two questions.
I mean, you know, everything from a goldfish to a human to a whale to whatever you can imagine, all sorts of things that could be alive. So, the research was a lot lighter on that side. I had to research more on the physics, I think. And the cards, in fact. There were a few other things like that, you know, little historical notes and some of the naming and things like that. So, in addition to the researching you did ahead of time before you started writing, you do find things along the way that you have to do a bit of research on as well I presume?
But, so, I outline lightly enough that research happens, you know, on the spot as well as ahead of time. Probably fifteen to twenty pages single-spaced. Have you ever had to replot to the end? I do spend a lot of time trying to figure out what makes me tick as a writer, what motivates me. So, how do you find the characters you need and how do you flesh them out?
A lot of stealing. So, you know, the Belisarius character is, you know, every character is a stand in for you. But in the end…. Every character is Ed Willett! No, the Belisarius character, I think, is the sort of straight man of the whole thing, right? The Iekanjika character, the major, is a military person, and I wanted her to have a chip on his shoulder and I wanted her to have her own grudges she wants to solve and so, that comes through. The Marie character was a mix of, you know, somebody I know mixed with that Muppet who likes to blow things up, and then Stills is another character with a different kind of chip on his shoulder and a different way of taking the sort of not being the first-class citizen, and what does he do with it and what do his people do with it, and, you know, what kind of cultural baggage do they take on to make…to sort of defend themselves against the world where power.
Well, it certainly is a fascinating cast of characters. Do you sit and work in your office same time every day, you said you write in your sons at school, so…? So, The Quantum Magician I actually wrote on my last year while I was still at work, and basically what I did there was I would show up at a coffee shop every day at , I would write from till , and hopefully get somewhere between and words, and then I would be at work by 8 a.
And you work directly on the computer or do you…are you one of these amazing people that writes longhand? I tried that once for my fourth novel. But then I found that the time it took to type it in was about as much as it would take to write it in the first place. All right, so you have a completed draft. How long did that take you in the case of The Quantum Magician , to have your first draft done? So, I had a bit of fire under me to try and get it done on time. So, do you…did you do a complete draft. I get it down, and then I go back and do the revision. But I think everybody has the same flaws and nobody ever really outgrows them.
You mentioned the critique group before, and you just mentioned it again. How many people is that that sees your work in progress and make suggestions? And so, I think five people, maybe, or six in the group had read The Quantum Magician and gave me comments, and then I had a couple of other people from outside the group who also gave me comments. And then, in the end, then I went through four more drafts with my agent. Yeah, yeah, Solaris in the UK. And if you go beyond that then, you know, everyone is happy.
And so, there would have been another editorial pass once you got to an editor at the publishing house. Well, yes. Do you agree with it? So, the serialization comes out before the book is released? I think the deal is the last instalment of the serialization has to come out six months before the first book drops. So, the timing is important. Well, and the Analog readers are the true sort of hard-science-fiction space-opera types generally. So, how did how did they respond. Because you would have had response from the Analog readers before it ever appeared as a book, presumably. It was all very positive.
You know for people a little outside that Venn Diagram circle, you know, their mileage may vary, but…. It got onto the Locus recommended reading list, Barnes and Noble picked it as one of their books to watch, their favourites. And then, there are two other deals that are pending right now. These things take a long time to negotiate.
No, no, I wrote that one basically as soon as my agent had this other one going. I started the second one right away because I had heard from experience, from, you know common friends of ours, that, you know, if you get a two-book deal or something, sometimes they may want the second book in a hurry. And I think I had finished much of the second already by the time we inked the deal on the first. If, if, you know, it does well, would there be possibilities of more books in the series, or a trilogy, or what? So, with Solaris I gave them two books.
They liked them both. I then offered them a third, which is a novel set years before the events in The Quantum Magician, and set in the same universe, and they bought that as well. But so far the sales on The Quantum Magicia n seem to be good. Which is, which is heartening. Yeah, yeah it is. And particularly, why do you. Science fiction and fantasy. So, when we had first discussed doing this podcast and we had talked a bit about what might come up, I was thinking on this question. I was like. Are we writing because one of our dials is turned too high? Why do we write?
Well, I like that too. Or the creation of stories is a collaborative act because the writer creates something, but the ultimate story is different for every person who reads it because of their own background. I guess we will just sort of bring this to a close by telling people how they can find you online should they so desire. Well, thanks very much for being on The Worldshapers , Derek.
Instagram: KevinHearne. Now, we met at Can-Con last year in Ottawa. That was your first time at that convention, I think? So, I know you grew up in Arizona. I was born in New Mexico, by the way, right next door. And so, how did that all begin for you? Did you start reading it and then get interested in writing? What was the process for you? Oh, I did start reading. And then, as I got older, I think my first introduction to fantasy and then really science fiction both was through the author Alan Dean Foster. So, I kind of liked that. I was writing for a very long time before I got published.
In high school I was into music and art. I was actually a graphic-design major originally and I was doing cartooning and things like that. I was editorial cartoonist for a weekly newspaper for several years in my twenties when I started as a journalist. It worked out for Andy Warhol. I mean he started drawing shoes, and then….
Yeah, right. But I just, I switched from graphic design to English, and then got into reading, of course, a whole lot more, and, you know, that just inspired me to write, as well. I did not. See…so, the very bizarre thing is that I never took a creative writing course, and I never took a writing workshop or went to a writing conference.
Do you find that having…I presume you were teaching some creative writing as part of your classes…did you find that teaching it helped you on your own writing in any way? Not so much. A lot of times…unfortunately, a lot of what we were supposed to teach was not creative at all. I was a writer-in-residence at a local high school and worked with kids but that was very different because they were very much the kids who were interested in creative writing and were coming to me for advice as opposed to trying to teach just the general student population.
But I do miss the kids. It never gets old, because the kids always have different reactions to it and no day is the same, and that was delightful. So, somewhere along in there you decided to try to write an epic fantasy novel. I tried to write an epic fantasy, and I did. But it was my first attempt at writing something that was really specifically genre and I learned a lot of what not to do next time. I think Stephen King said half a million words of unpublished stuff before you ever write anything publishable.
So, basically, it just kind of proved once again that my wife is always right. All right. Basically, it follows the…I started with the dog. I wanted to have a dog that could be a character that a human could talk to, and that kind of wound up being the inspiration for Atticus, a Druid. And that is basically your series, this fellow who decided to fight the gods instead of run. I really enjoy reading fantasies, or urban fantasies I should say, that are set in real-world locales that you can actually go and visit. Yeah, it…well, my agent sent it to nine different publishers and four of them decided to put in a bid on it.
So, you know, that was super fortunate. I actually wound up getting to go to auction and then I chose one based on proposals that I was given and was super-happy with the result. Del Rey has been wonderful. Did you have that in mind from the very beginning? What we did is, we wrote the first book so that it could be a stand-alone, but with series potential.