I have two interviews this month in Clarkesworld Magazine. Mary Robinette Kowal is a puppeteer, voice actor, and fiction writer. Her long-anticipated novel, Shades of Milk & Honey, came out in August and it blends Regency England with magic. Jay Lake is the author of more than 240 short stories and seven novels, including the astounding Green.
Below, Kowal and Lake talk about two topics near and dear to them: short stories and speculative fiction. When you’re done here you might want to swing by Clarkesworld for more.
The short story isn’t dead, it’s just _________.
Jay Lake: The short story isn’t dead, it’s just dozing quietly in the corner while waiting for the next bus. We will never tire of telling stories, but fashions change. There’s always another bus.
Mary Robinette Kowal: Badly maligned. Honestly, the shorter a work of fiction is, the harder it is to write. Long works may take more time but that doesn’t necessarily make them harder.
What can a writer who doesn’t usually read speculative fiction learn from reading within the genre? What is the value of speculative fiction?
Jay Lake: My feeling is that a writer coming from outside can learn certain specific tics of craft from us – precision of language is key in a genre when any metaphor might be literalized, for example. More to the point, they would learn a new perspective. Which is exactly why I read outside genre from time to time. To broaden my own perspective.
Mary Robinette Kowal: Speculative fiction allows one to turn the world to the side and look at it a different way. Doing so gives us multiple layers with which to consider reality.
Jeremy L. C. Jones is a freelance writer, editor, and teacher. He is the Staff Interviewer for Clarkesworld Magazine and a frequent contributor to Kobold Quarterly. He teaches at Wofford College and Montessori Academy in Spartanburg, SC. He is also the director of Shared Worlds, a creative writing and world-building camp for teenagers that he and Jeff VanderMeer designed in 2006.