Friday, August 28, 2015

The Fortunate Ones

Ten years ago today, I was running.
Elizabeth Hand was my week 1 instructor at Clarion West in 2013. She asked us to write a single page of non-fiction about something raw, emotional, and personal. I stumbled across the file last night. Today seems like a good day to share it.


6.24.13 -- Hand Assignment #2

Imagine yourself at home. Now, imagine that you have fifteen minutes to pack as much as you can. Anything you leave behind will be destroyed. What do you take? Your computer? Important documents? Wedding photos? Pets? Clothes?

We hadn’t planned on evacuating; our car was in the shop with a cracked radiator, but on the morning before landfall, a relative offered us the use of her second car. In all, we fit three people, five cats, and a hamster into a PT Cruiser. That didn’t leave much room for anything else. We barely made it out of the city before the police closed the roads.

Somewhere north of Atlanta, we finally found a hotel with a vacancy. The rest of the night was spent watching the live coverage as Hurricane Katrina plowed into the gulf coast. By morning, New Orleans was submerged. Lake Pontchartrain had swallowed everything, including the single-branch credit union attached to the University of New Orleans where we did our banking.

Overnight we’d become homeless and penniless. Of the three of us, I was the only one who had two pairs of pants. In Richmond, the Red Cross processed us into their system as unemployed vagrants, not evacuees.

The news called people like us “refugees.”


When I read over this now, it occurs to me that it ended one sentence too soon. It should have ended:

The news called people like us “refugees.”

And we were the fortunate ones.

[Edit 8/28/15 8:13pm -- added image below]

Monday, August 17, 2015

*Great Responsibility Not Included

Genre writers wield godlike power, but whose stories do they tell? I did an eight-month study of the depictions of race, gender, and sexuality in Clarkesworld, Analog, & Asimov’s to find out.

Voltaire and Stan Lee got it wrong. Great power doesn’t come with great responsibility; it comes with great potential. Speculative fiction writers certainly have the power. In their hands, the laws of reality are malleable things, and apotheosis is only about as a rare as empty notebooks and blank Word documents. My question was this: are these contemporary gods wielding their great power responsibly, or does their pantheon favor a chosen few?

To answer that question, I catalogued every short story, novella, and novelette published in three prestigious speculative fiction magazines (Asimov’s, Analog, and Clarkesworld) over an eight-month period that ended in May, 2015—163 stories, in all. Before I get into that, let’s make sure that we’re all on the same page. We can start by situating my perspective: I’m a 39-year-old, college educated, straight, white male. I’ve tried to be as accurate and objective as possible, but my methodology was improvised, and I’m only human—and this human is still a work in progress. Your mileage may vary.

Next, it’s important to note that I’ve focused exclusively on literal instances of real-world race, gender, and queer identities, and that means I’ve had to intentionally overlook much of the figurative artistry that defines the speculative genre. I had no choice.

Wait – I can explain.

Speculative fiction has a long history of serving as an instrument of ideology. Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, and Orwell’s 1984: these works, and others like them, changed minds, inspired movements, and directly influenced our national discourse. On the other hand, some speculative fiction is simply entertainment, tales of derring-do featuring intrepid heroes who overcome long odds and unequivocal evil with a winning combination of grit, guile, and one-liners. The zombies they slay aren’t metaphors; the invading aliens never read Edward Said. Back in the day, so I’m told, you could differentiate between the deep stuff and face-value fiction just by looking at the book covers. Things are apparently more complicated now.

Stahp spoiling my derring-do!!!
Case in point: A student of mine once claimed that Heinlein’s Starship Troopers is a pro-Western, pro-imperialist allegory in which the aliens represent certain people of color. Other students disagreed, and a debate ensued:

“You’re reading way too much into it.” 
“The bugs were Nazis.” 
“No. The humans were fascists.” 
“But in the movie…”
“The bugs aren’t symbols. They’re bad guys.”

I’d never read the book, so I didn’t have an opinion, and sadly, glancing at the cover didn’t help with that, but over the course of the discussion, I entertained reasonable arguments for several drastically different interpretations—and that’s the problem. Subjective opinions make for unstable soapboxes, so instead of debating whether or not Mr. Spock figuratively qualifies as a person of color, I formulated my conclusions around Uhura & Sulu.

Here’s the abbreviated version of my methodology:
Read a story
Record notes in a spreadsheet
Repeat 163 times
Crunch all the data!

A few data points had dedicated columns which received a 1 (positive/present) or a 0 (negative/absent) based on the contents of a story. For the sake of objectivity, all human characters were considered straight, white men unless the narrative clearly indicated otherwise, usually by overt description, but occasionally by cultural indicators such as name and geographic location (which is, admittedly, subjective).

[Edit: 8/26/15 – Let me clarify the “for the sake of objectivity” line. Because I was counting the instances of queer identities, people of color, and female protagonists, each story began with a score of 0 (“no”) in each of those categories. As a consequence, all characters began as not queer, not persons of color, and not female—hence “all straight, white men.” It was not my intention to suggest that it is objective to assume all literary characters default to straight, white men.]

Okay, let’s talk numbers.

Of the 163 stories, 63 (38%) received a positive score for people of color (POC). Given that the magazines that published these stories are based in nation that was 72% white according to the 2010 census, you may be thinking that 38% doesn’t sound all that bad, so let me clarify the scoring process a little bit: positive scores were assigned with no regard for the narrative significance of the characters or circumstances involved. In other words, to receive a positive score in the POC column, a story merely needed to acknowledge that people of color exist.

Here are a few examples of things that earned stories a positive score:

  • The only two POC, a “black woman” and “the Chinese guy,” appear in the same scene. They never spoke, were never named, and occupied a total of 6 sentences in an 8,000 word story.
  • A white man is easily located in the opening scene because the fellow stands out among the local POC (who are only ever spoken of) in the story’s African setting.
  • A passive, minor character with a Hispanic surname, who exists primarily to be inferior to the male paragon (and later, his implied prize), is a “dark-gold” skinned beauty.
  • A white man goes to Chinatown and overhears people speaking Chinese (which he doesn’t understand).

When 62% of the sample neglects to acknowledge the existence of POC, it should come as no surprise that people of color seldom enjoyed the spotlight. While nearly a fourth of the writers told stories with people of color, very few told stories about them: only 29 stories featured a protagonist of color (18%). By way of comparison, female protagonists were featured in 68 stories (42%), making heroines more common than people of color (of any gender, in any role), and more than twice as common as protagonists of color (also of any gender).

So, how do you feel about that 38%, now?

Before you answer, let’s consider another demographic category: Queer. Once again, the bar for earning a positive score was set at “acknowledge they exist,” and of the 163 works in question, 23 (14%) successfully met that lofty standard. Included among them are stories that received a positive score for:

  • A partner introduced on the final pages of an 8000 word story whose presence is limited to holding the narrator’s hand, touching the narrator’s hair, and a speaking single line (six words) of generic dialogue.
  • A partner who does not appear in the story and is mentioned once in passing.
  • A partner introduced on the last page whose primary function is be told things by the protagonist and set up a homophobic joke in the story’s final line.

For a little perspective, consider this: people of color were the protagonists of fewer than 2 out of every 10 stories. A story was more likely to have a protagonist of color than to even mention the existence of a queer individual.

In the stories that did acknowledge the existence of queer characters, however, those characters were significantly more likely than people of color to land leading roles.  Of the 23 stories with a positive score in the queer column, 70% included at least one queer protagonist—a percentage that drops to 46% for people of color. Despite this penchant for commanding the stage, however, queer protagonists were only featured 16 stories, affording them a meager 10% share of the total spotlight.

Having the very existence of queer characters overlooked 86% of the time might seem like a bummer, but a closer look at the queer demographic makes that 86% seem downright cordial. Lesbians are perched at the top of this downward spiral. They dominated the queer demographic, appearing in 15 stories—which allows them to bask in the validating glory of only being completely disregarded 91% of the time. Gay men appeared in only 8 stories, a 95% shut out. As for characters representative of the rest the queer spectrum, they graced a total of 3 stories, racking up a 98% omission rate that would’ve plummeted to 99.993% if I’d counted bisexuals separately.

Getting back to my original question: are speculative fiction writers wielding their power responsibly, or do they favor a chosen few? Like my student’s debate about symbolism in Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, there are different ways to interpret the data. I believe that genre provides us with the opportunity to remake the world in the image that best suits the stories that we want to tell. I believe that we reveal ourselves through those stories, through the ideologies we choose to lionize or vilify. I believe that the principles we tell stories about reveal what we care about. I believe that the same holds true for who we tell stories about.

We don’t tell many stories with queer people of color, just 8 out of 163 (5%).

We tell even fewer stories about them: 5 (3%).

So, what does that say about speculative fiction writers? Subjectively, I think it says that we could do better, but your mileage may vary. Objectively, I know what it says about me. It says that I’m afraid of getting it wrong. It says that, by allowing fear to influence who I write about, I have favored a select demographic: my own. It says that I have a lot to learn about great responsibility.

But I’m still a work in progress.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Down the Rabbit Hole with Julian Mortimer Smith

Julian Mortimer Smith is a writer, resident of Nova Scotia, and a board game enthusiast. His work has appeared at Daily Science FictionAE, and Crossed Genres. Julian’s story, “The Fumblers Alley Risk Emporium,” appeared in the December 2014 issue of UFM, and I’ve since had the opportunity to chat with with him about plotting, character arcs, writing workshops, and a few other choice digressions:

LM: For those unfamiliar with the terms, “architects” are writers who completely plan out their stories before they begin to write them. “Pantsers,” on the other hand, fly by the seat of their pants, making their stories up as they go along. Where do you fall on the architect/pantser spectrum?

JMS: I do a bit of both. I usually start out pantsing, building out from a specific image or character or idea, but eventually hit a point where the story becomes unwieldy, and I have to take a step back and play the architect for the bit. Occasionally, I’ve had one of those great runs where I just sit down and bang out a complete story, carried along by a wave of inspiration — the way I used to imagine writing happened — but I find it’s only really feasible with very short stories. For longer pieces I always end up needing that scaffolding to keep things from falling apart.

LM: I’m pretty much the same, pantsing my way through the first draft and then using it as a foundation to build on. What to keep and what to kill is always a trick part. “The Fumblers Alley Risk Emporium” leaves a number of things to the reader’s imagination, such as the growler behind the curtain, the nature of the fox-like man, and the means by which the narrator extracts the final price. As a writer, how do you decide what to explain and what to obscure?

JMS: One of the things I love about speculative fiction is feeling as though I’m entering a world that’s ripe for play and exploration. Sometimes, the second half of a novel or movie is a process of slow disappointment as all the fantastical elements are explained and all the mysteries resolved. Tying everything up in a nice tidy package can be clever and satisfying, but also makes the world of the story feel smaller, less rich with possibility. My favourite stories are rough-edged — the ones that leave you with more questions than answers. I find that small details, mentioned in passing, are often more compelling than even the strongest plot.

I guess I try to explain enough to give readers a kind of guided tour while leaving as many open doors and windows as possible, so they can get a glimpse of a much larger world beyond.

LM: Your story certainly provided us with a tantalizing glimpse of a world that felt ripe with mystery and narrative potential. Will you ever revisit the world of Mr. Handlesropes and The Aficionados?

JMS: I’m working on a novel set in the same world as the Fumblers Alley Risk Emporium that will climb through some of those doors and window. I have also previously published two stories set in a place called Fumblers Alley [Barb-the-Bomb and Yesterday Boy and The Mugger’s Hymn]. Are all three set in the same world? I’m not sure yet.

Translation: Love me!
LM: In “The Fumblers Alley Risk Emporium,” we’re presented with a desperate narrator who, until the final scene, appears to be a violent, drug-seeking gambler. As a writer, how do you get a reader to invest in a character like Mr. Magpie?

JMS: The protagonist isn’t very fleshed out in this story. In fact, I never even specify a gender; although, I’ve found many readers assume one way or the other. But right from the start, the character wants something, and that’s an easy (lazy?) way to ensure a certain amount of investment, whatever the motivations for wanting that thing.

LM: Many writers would be loathe to discuss their protagonists in such honest terms, so kudos for that. In collegiate writing workshops, writers are often encouraged to write stories where the protagonist changes in some way. They’re also told: “You have to know the rules before you can break them.” When I reread the story to prep for this interview, I remember noting that the narrator was flat (our perception of her/him changes at the end, but s/he doesn’t). It’s one of the things that I really liked about this piece: the protagonist didn’t need an arc. I was totally invested the quest for the phial, drawn in by the intensity of the narrator’s need.

Have you done any writing workshops?

JMS: Yes, I’ve taken some writing workshops. During my undergrad at McGill University I took a creative writing seminar taught by Claire Rothman. Then in the summer of 2012 (about 10 years later) I took a class on writing dark fantasy through the School of Continuing Education at the University of Toronto, taught by Eve Silver. They were very different from each other in tone and structure, but both super useful. Writing classes force you to write and let you talk to writers about writing. Great instruction is the icing on the cake.

LM: What was the best and worst advice you’ve received in a workshop?

JMS: “Write what you know” is probably the worst piece of writing advice in circulation, at least if taken at face value. (Although, to be honest, I’m not sure I’ve ever actually received this advice — does anyone give it without giving careful disclaimers alongside? Maybe it’s an urban legend.) Having said that, I think there’s a kernel of good advice there. “Find out as much as possible about your subject, and don’t try to just make it all up” is good advice. The most inventive fantasy worlds often lean heavily on research (like Tolkien).

But for me, the most useful advice has often been tips about staying motivated and working hard rather than craft stuff. The idea that writing just flows out of you on a wave of inspiration is extremely attractive but extremely damaging to productivity. The most useful advice I received didn’t come from a writing class, but from an argument with a musician friend, who claimed that musical talent doesn’t exist, and that the best musicians are just the ones who work hardest at it. At the time I argued with her: “What about this prodigy?! What about that person with perfect pitch?!” Implicit in my reaction was the hope that I might have that kind of natural talent. I didn’t want to give up that possibility, and a part of me still doesn’t. But abandoning that notion has been the most useful thing for my writing.

This is a metaphor. 

This attitude also gives you a certain amount of distance from your work. I no longer think of my stories as an expression of my inborn talent. I think about them as things I’ve made. Like meals. If they turn out well, I’m proud of them, and enjoy sharing them with people. If they turn out badly — well, maybe I used a bad recipe, or put in too much salt, or whatever. It’s not a reflection on me. And I think that’s the best way to view advice from craft workshops — as reliable recipes to be followed or tinkered with. If you follow them too slavishly you’ll never really get a good feel for your ingredients. You can ignore them altogether, but don’t be surprised if your dinner turns out gross.

LM: You worked as a collegiate teaching assistant. Was your work related to writing, and if so, how did that experience influence your craft?

JMS: I worked for two years as a TA for a class called “Film & Society,” so it wasn’t a writing class, but it did deal a lot with narrative and form. I spent a lot of time trying to teach students to write (essays) with clarity and precision and avoid the kind of rough edges and open questions that I enjoy in fiction. I think good academic writing makes everything as explicit as possible.

LM: I think you bring up a good point about the stylistic differences between academic and creative writing. Aside from a sense of mystery, what else would you say that good storytelling needs?

JMS: I don’t know that a good story “needs” anything in particular (I’ve read a lot of great stories that violate many of the traditional rules of storytelling), but there are some ingredients that a lot of good stories share: specificity of setting, compelling characters, tension (and resolution of that tension).

What would you say good storytelling needs?

LM: For me, good storytelling requires an awareness that the reader needs a reason to keep turning the pages. Craft elements such as solid prose, creative premises, and deep characterization aren’t enough if I’m not invested. During my first week at Clarion West, instructor Elizabeth Hand talked about the way a compelling painting commands the viewer to look. As a reader/editor for several publications, I reject a fair number of well-written stories because they failed to draw me in. They didn’t command me to look.

JMS: That’s interesting. Do you think it’s more true for short stories than novels?

LM: With short stories, readers are typically looking for something they can finish in a single sitting. Novels have more breathing room; the reader expects to have an extended engagement with the narrative, so if a novel starts off slow, the reader knows that the author still has hundreds of pages to work with. If you’re two pages into a short story, and it hasn’t captured your interest yet, the next story in the publication (or a different book, or the TV, or the clickbait about the top 5 celebrity amputations) starts to compete for your attention. With novels, the reader expects to take breaks, but with short stories, if a reader stops reading voluntarily, there’s a good chance s/he won’t go back.
The top 11 times that readers got bored with a story. 
#6 is totally amazing!

JMS: What about authors who are “difficult” or “hard to get into” but that you end up loving? One of my favourite fantasy authors is Mervyn Peake. The first book of his Gormenghast series, Titus Groan, famously starts with a long, dense description of the architecture of a castle. It goes on for pages and pages before introducing any of the main characters. It’s a bit of a slog. And yet that series is among my all-time favourite books. Would the book have been better if it had started out as a real page turner? I’m honestly not sure. Maybe it would have been.

LM: Some publications instruct their slush readers to reject a story as soon as it loses their interest. I think that the bottom line is this: don’t bore the reader–but that doesn’t mean that stories need to open with gunfire, mushroom clouds, or whirlwind sex. How a story keeps the reader’s interest doesn’t matter, just so long as it does. Take Nabokov’s Lolita for example: the narrator’s sheer audacity commands the reader’s attention as s/he wonders what Humbert will say or do next.

Since being published by UFM, another of your stories found a home at Crossed Genres [and Motherboard*]. You’re on a roll! Any parting advice for aspiring urban fantasy writers?

JMS: Be patient. Magazines can take months to get back to you, and you might have to shop your story around to a dozen different markets before you hit the right editor, so selling your first story can take literally years. This can be dispiriting, but time and quantity make it easier to deal with.

Any given story sent to any given market has a very small chance of getting published, but if you submit 10 stories to 10 different markets you’ve increased your chances by an order of magnitude. And if those 10 stories get rejected, you can rotate them one market counterclockwise and send them out again.

It’s a bit like gambling, but playing the game is free, so there’s nothing to lose and your expected return is always positive. If you can think about it like this, then simply having stories out there in slush piles will start to feel like real progress.

To read Julian’s other published work, check out "Headshot," “Cabaret Obscuro,” Barb-the-Bomb and Yesterday Boy,” and “The Mugger’s Hymn,” or visit his website

This interview was originally published on the Urban Fantasy Magazine blog

* "Headshot" published after the first publication of this interview

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Down the Rabbit Hole with John Wiswell

John Wiswell’s work has been published in Weird Tales, Flash Fiction Online and SF Signal. His short story “Wet” was featured in the first issue of Urban Fantasy Magazine. I recently had the opportunity to pick his brain about craft, the nature of urban fantasy, and participating in top tier workshops.

LM: Worldbuilding is a balancing act between too much and too little detail. In “Wet,” the narrator’s immortality is never explained. Why not?
JW: When we tell our own stories, we typically ignore things that are common to us. The narrator has always been immortal and doesn’t care to explain it any more than I care to explain having brown hair. That they take this undying existence for granted is a theme of the story, and the reason for why they behave with such offhanded altruism. I’m very fond of stories that teach us about characters through what they don’t think is worth explaining; Nabokov’s Pale Fire is probably the ultimate example. In “Wet,” we need to know some of the rules of ghosts, and eventually what this ghost’s trauma is – we need to know it, so it’s what our narrator cares about, pursues and explains.
LM: That’s an excellent point. On that note, your narrator describes a sound by comparing it to GWAR, and he mentions one of their songs by title. Using specific pop culture references can be a risky move: some readers won’t get them. As a writer, what made this one worth it?
JW: GWAR was the first form of sound I could think of that was appropriately ridiculous and otherworldly. Then I couldn’t top it. That’s a terrible reason to exclude part of an audience, but there was a specific quirk to comparing the noise coming out of a little girl to the bombast of GWAR that makes the opening for the people who get it (and I left the stealth note about Satirical Metal for those who don’t). I’m obviously into [pop culture references], conjuring One Direction, snuff film, Twizzlers, pool noodles. I should ask – what did you think of the GWAR appearance?
The bards of the panicking dead
LM: As a long time veteran of the gamer scene (I speak Thac0), I’m no stranger to GWAR, so using them in the story worked for me. The specific song mentioned at the end was one of my favorite touches: a last dollop of sentimental irreverence that so perfectly characterized your narrator.
Many urban fantasies are set in what is ostensibly the current “real world.” Cassandra Clare’s “The Mortal Instruments” series comes to mind, with its frequent nods to specific anime & manga franchises. Do you think pop culture references are almost a necessary evil, especially given the genre’s target audience?
JW: I wouldn’t even call them an evil! I’m attracted to cultural references in fiction, Pop and otherwise, because they’re a natural part of expression in real life. We quote and reference and relive in every conversation, from arguments in the Supreme Courts over textual intent to a Jurassic Park joke during an uneventful car ride. Cultural fluency is one of the big things Urban Fantasy has over invented worlds, because you have to do so much groundwork establish Elvish before you can present the Epic Fantasy equivalent of an Elvis impersonator. In Urban Fantasy, your life experience has done half the world-building work already. The other half is in my hands, to remix those things you might already know about. It can be used to render the familiar in novel ways, or to render the unfamiliar relatable. They’re beautiful access points.
LM: How would you describe your writing process?
JW: You know how Eudora Welty claimed to have written “Where Is The Voice Coming From?” in a white heat? I love writing in a white heat. I’ll jot down a plot skeleton, often just the few key beats I need to get excited, what scenes must happen, and what absolutely must happen in them, but these are all appetizers for myself, to get myself excited about gushing words. “Wet” is so short that I only had a few notes – the ghost had to appear, had to disappear over water, and had to have a second incident of some kind regarding water later (which became the burning building rescue when I got to it). And I knew the ending. I subscribe to the Pixar dogma of knowing an ending so you can build up your payoffs.
Often I’ll keep evanescent things in my head, because either I’ll be so excited that the story starts on a train platform that I’ll remember it, or it can go. I’m a very excitable composer, usually playing music to block out ambient sound. I only wrote “Wet” to silence because it was the middle of the night and nothing else was awake to make noise.
Just saying, John... 
LM: Do you use alpha/beta readers?
JW: Absolutely! It’s too easy to get too familiar with my own intentions, to experience the structure I expected. I’m blessed with both some very eager readers, and some very critical writers, who can look at my work from any angle I’m wondering about. “Wet” was actually only gone over by Michelle Ann Fleming (@Makani on Twitter), who talked me into seeing that it was close to done. Typically I’ll have more eyes on a project. Do you use alphas and betas?
LM: Always. My wife first. After her, some come from collegiate workshops, others from online communities (like LitReactor). And, of course, there are the other members of my Clarion West cohort. As a graduate of Viable Paradise, you’ve had some experience with by-audition workshops, too. Can you tell us a little about that?
JW: VP is an intense week-long writing workshop. It’s organized by James MacDonald and Debra Doyle. Everyone lives in the same hotel, eats together, and often winds up writing and sobbing together. You give a writing sample, and like most applicants I went with a novel excerpt, which gets critiqued in a roundtable with two pros and three of your peers. Being a peer, you’re also critiquing people’s work a good deal. Most days are packed with lectures; in addition to MacDonald and Doyle, we had master editors from Tor, Teresa and Patrick Nielsen Hayden, as well as Steve Brust, Steven Gould, Elizabeth Bear and Scott Lynch, all of whom put on some lengthy demonstration.
LM: What was the workload like?
JW: You are always going to something while working on something else, which is a bootcamp aspect a lot of emerging writers need. The beautiful thing, at least for my class, lies in how students wound up supporting each other. The staff – Mac, Chris, and Bart in particular for me- are very supportive, and will outright feed you if you’re losing your mind. But throughout, you’d catch a lot of students sharing ideas, helping let off the stress. It’s the best writing group I’ve ever had, and luckily it’s rolled over into sharing critique over e-mail. Our group still calls each other for crits.
It’s an intense week. With my health, I was only able to do half of what I wanted, and always hit bed far before most of my peers. It’s not easy if you have hard medical conditions, though they are very attentive and flexible. Coming away, I knew I was physically incapable of a Clarion-length workshop of any such intensity. But VP is also attractive for people who can’t take the month off for other big workshops. I couldn’t recommend it enough, for the luminaries you can learn from, and the wonderful people you’ll be working with for years after.
LM: Any parting advice for aspiring urban fantasy writers?
JM: My advice is the same for any aspiring authors: write as much as you can, finish everything you can, and be unafraid to write an idea terribly, because you can always write another take on it afterward. The worst thing I did in my career was writing so little for two years until I had the “great” idea. That novel stunk because my writing stagnated in the interim. You get ready by consistent practice, and by finding people at your level or above it to help and work with. Then, a time of writing and critiques later, the ideas you wouldn’t have thought were great start making readers laugh or cry or sleep with a nightlight on. It’s worth all the work.
To read more of John’s work, check out his blog: The Bathroom Monologues or follow him on twitter at: @Wiswell. For more information on the workshops mentioned above, check out these websites:  Clarion West,  Viable Paradise.

This interview was originally published on the Urban Fantasy Magazine blog