I wanted to follow up on our gorgeous Lost Gods anthology, a book of SFF short stories, by interviewing some of the authors (okay, whoever was willing). I hope you will find these interviews interesting, and enjoy their stories.
What’s your writing name?
What’s your story called (in Lost Gods) and what was your inspiration behind it?
My story in Lost Gods is entitled “Hunting Fire,” and it began as a one-hour free write exercise on the theme of unseasonable weather. As usual with these things, I didn’t finish it in that hour, but I developed the threads that would carry the story forward. Also as usual with these things, I took the prompt and turn it on its ear. I decided to write about a warm spell in cold terrain from the perspective that this surge of warmth was a bad thing, even a catastrophe. The idea of making a bitter, wintry environment into something hospitable fascinates me; it’s not the first (or last) time I’ve written a story in this kind of setting.
But I knew that humans would struggle in such a place, so the Glaciads came into being. I always try to avoid the “humans in fuzzy suits” approach to creating nonhuman peoples, so that led to different mores, social structure … and a daughter for the main character, who turned out to be integral to the story’s resolution. The Glaciads have their own gods, of the core, of the ice, of the winds … and something else.
Why do you write fantasy?
I write fantasy because I adore creating worlds, playing with what-ifs, and mixing up real world facts to suit myself … and also because it’s habit. I have been writing fantasy since my fingers first touched keys, so I suspect that even if I tried to write a mainstream tale, magic would sneak in by the back door. History and mythology have wonderful wells to draw upon, but I love the freedom to take it in a different direction. Something I particularly enjoy is taking an absurd idea and playing it straight, often to the point that the comic origins disappear. My story in another Grimbold anthology, Unexpected Heroines, involves the concept of a tree who operates as a spy in enemy territory.
I’m still working on a way to play “it’s raining men” as a serious story.
What’s your writing routine?
I write most days, but there isn’t a particular time or amount of time set aside for it; it depends on how tired I am after work, how many other things are going on, and whether I’m grumpy enough to want to stab all my characters and leave them for dead. (Granted that I love writing about the afterlife and spirits, so that might make the good *start* of a story.)
I usually cycle between 2-3 projects, stopping at a set point to switch to the next. I’m an incubator, so that gives me the opportunity to let things simmer on the backburner … and I’m incapable of doing one thing at a time, anyhow. These projects are usually of different types / different stages of process: for instance, I might write in a novel WIP while editing a short story.
How has coronavirus affected your creativity?
My day job is in catering, so there was a lot of stress and anxiety about the survival of the business, coupled with the necessity of changing tactics to stay afloat … a move away from the elaborate desserts and appetizers we specialize in, and where most of the creative joy in cooking resides. Add to that I also play the harp professionally for parties and events, and that business understandably dropped off a cliff. I very much felt like I was creatively useless. Sometimes, I was overwhelmed and just had to hibernate for a while. Overall, though, it didn’t harm my writing: if anything, it focused me, because it was the one thing I could still do, a creative escape that no one could cancel.
Which three books would you recommend everyone reads?
Everyone’s reading tastes are so different, I couldn’t begin to suggest a book (or three) for everyone. Good fantasy anthologies are hard to find, though, so I thought I would suggest three to check out:
Fantastic Companions – edited by Julie Czerneda
Not just traditional familiars and talking animals, but a wide variety of companions, including ancient gods and constellations personified
Murder by Magic – edited by Rosemary Edghill
Stories merging magic and mystery, written both by fantasy and mystery writers. Surprise: some of the best fantasy comes from the mystery professionals.
Beyond The Woods: Fairy Tales Retold – edited by Paula Guran
A wide spanning anthology that takes fairy tale inspiration from dystopian science fiction to urban fantasy and even historical fiction. The first few stories were too dark and tenuously connected for my tastes, but the quality climbs steadily throughout.
What’s next for you?
I don’t have any major projects about to come out, though you can check out my forthcoming short story and poetry at my website: http:///www.lindseyduncan.com I’m currently shopping a fantasy-mystery novel called Unnatural Causes, in which a snarky familiar tries to unravel the secrets behind the death of her enchanter.
My soft science fiction novel, Scylla and Charybdis, is still available from Grimbold Books: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07B54QJYL/