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07-02-10: A 2010 Live Interview With Sloane Crosley

We Did Not Mention the Title of Her Essay 'Fuck You, Columbus'

My days as a Cub Scout Scoutmaster will always serve me well. Here it was, Father's Day, 2010, and I'm preparing for two straight hours of live radio. I've got Sloane Crosley coming in to the studio to do The Agony Column, then right afterwards, Cabrillo Stage and Shakespeare Santa Cruz for Talk of the Bay. At the very last minute, as an afterthought, I think, "What if ...nah, not gonna happen, but.." And I throw together a sort of scratch show that I can play if anyone can't make it.

About half an hour before my live interview with Sloane Crosley is supposed to air, I get a call from her driver, who is as reliable as the Rock of Gibraltar. Those unfamiliar with my local geography may require a bit of explanation. There are exactly two ways to get from San Francisco and the "Bay Area" to Santa Cruz. This will serve us well in the zombie uprising, but can cause aggravations otherwise. You can travel down Highway 1, and hope that the Devil's Slide has not lived up to its name. Or you can travel over the four-lane deathtrap featured in such Highway Patrol classics as "Red Asphalt" and "Red Asphalt IV" that we call Highway 17.

It's better now that they put a concrete barrier in the center. In fact it's unimaginable they could have run this road without that. But still. Put say, a burning car in the left lane Northbound, and the whole shitaree comes to a grinding halt, which was precisely the case that day. The intrepid driver had hopes of making it, but I knew from the first call it wasn't going to happen. So when I was supposed to be sitting down calmly with the talented and lovely Sloane Crosley, I was instead madly improvising introductions to the Three Books with Alan Cheuse segment I had queued up on CD. That gave them just enough time to get to the studio, and a delightful conversation followed, which you can hear by following this link to the MP3 audio file.

06-30-10: Panel Discussion at SF in SF on June 12, 2010, with Seanan McGuire, Deborah Grabien and Terry Bisson

"Coke Black was just a horrible thing unleashed on an unsuspecting world."

— Seanan McGuire

...and while there was a wonderful discussion thread of the import and impact of soft drinks in the panel discussion with Seanan McGuire, Deborah Grabien and Terry Bisson, there was quite a bit more as well, and the sort of thing that those who are interested in getting published will want to hear. This was one of the most intense panels that has come out of this series.

Still, the soft-drink thing has a lot of memorable moments. But getting past them, to the moments when the panelists discussed the nits and bits of just what constitutes YA fiction was pretty stupendous. Grabien, working on her own publishing venture, is also still in the studio system so to speak, while McGuire also has a pitch in for YA.

So how exactly are both YA fiction and so-called adult fiction defined? There are specifics, rules sort of like the rules that genre writers themselves use to define faerie powers. McGuire and Grabien both had a lot to say about this, It was fascinating and seemed like it might be extremely useful. You can hear them talk by following this link to the MP3 audio file of their program.

06-29-10: Seanan McGuire Interviewed at SF in SF, June 12, 2010

"If I have my unbreakables, I can set my conditionals."

— Seanan McGuire

Happily, I can podcast my interview with Seanan McGuire, and the panel discussion as well. I'm not super-surprised by this. After all, these both give away nothing that's going out with this little anthology about speculative fiction barroom tales. Still, a word of caution is advised, and one cannot overestimate the persistence of those in the publishing world who regard the internet with fear and terror. And after all, I do talk to Seanan about the story in question.

I also talked to Seanan McGuire about the variety of titles she's writing. She has the faerie-meets-detective series in the bag, and another harder SF series about the aftermath of a zombie epidemic coming in from Orbit. One of the things that interests me about this sort of fiction is how authors set up and use "the rules" of their worlds, simply because the answers are all over the map.

And given that they are all over the map, I thought I'd heard everything until I talked to McGuire. But just to reinforce the notion that there are more things than are accounted for my philosophy, McGuire gave me the neatest, most up-to-date version of rules-keeping I've yet to hear. She's very organized; the quote above gives only a small portion of the picture.

Of course she's got to be organized. In addition to the series mentioned above, she also has a YA deal in the hopper. Who could blame her? It used to be true that everyone was writing a novel. Nowadays, everyone is writing a YA novel (with a feminine slant). And zombies. And vampires. And Zeppelins. In which, as it happens, George W. Bush turns out to in fact be a mutant, zombie/vampire preserved version of Queen Victoria, wearing a nano-bot George W. Bush skin. Is this the premise for McGuire's YA series? You can find out by following this link to the MP3 audio file.

06-28-10: A 2010 Interview with Jennifer Egan

"The characters and the action led the way... I was led into the future not so much because I was thinking, 'I want to write about the future,' but more because I wanted to re-visit this particular person."

— Jennifer Egan

Egan and I talked at KQED studios in San Francisco. She was raised here in part, and her ability to create for readers the fog-shrouded environs of Seacliff is, as H. P. Lovecraft put it, in "Pickman's Model," "'... a photograph from life!'" In this case, Egan's life, sans underground ghouls, but replete with humans who will do the job just fine. Frankly, we ran out of time to talk about all the aspects of the novel that interested me. It seemed to me that both of us had a lot left to talk about, including the relationship of what is now referred to (in what is usually a back-handed compliment) "experimental literature" to those novels that are indeed the origination of the novel itself.

Now, I must say I tried, I really tried, not to focus on the whole PowerPoint deal. It is not doubt a smart and effective and inventive piece of writing, but so is the rest of the novel. What I am frankly most curious about is how the novel will be received by the science fiction community. Indeed, it's quite uncertain whether it will be noticed. And Egan certainly did not take the typical approach to science fiction with regards to the creation of those portions of the novel set in the future.

Readers could easily argue the other side of the fence, that the portions of the novel set in the future are not science fiction, because they focus primarily on character. But Egan is quite adept at writing speculative fiction. Her instincts are fine. You can hear her talk about writing 'A Visit from eh Goon Squad' by following this link to the MP3 audio file.

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