it's a great life, if you don't weaken (matociquala) wrote,
it's a great life, if you don't weaken

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Look, more questions! (The place to ask yours is here.)

42.) Do you think the growth of D&D and other games has been a good or bad thing for fantasy/speculative literature?

I think D&D and other FRPGs owe their existence to Tolkein. I'm not prepared to make a value judgment on whether they've been good or bad--they certainly haven't hurt the fantasy authors making a living there. But I suspect the gateway more often swings from books to RPGs than the other way around. (I've been a D&D player since 6th grade. And a fantasy reader and writer for somewhat longer. Let's face it: I bought it because there was a dragon on the box.)

Shockingly, tabletop FRPGs are even more of a niche market than fantasy novels.

43.) How sure (or unsure) were you of 'All the Windwracked Stars' before you set it aside and worked on the other 16 stories you sold before coming back to it? ...I guess I'm just interested in knowing what you saw in your first completed novel, what it took for you to put it down, and what made you come back?

I'm never very sure of anything, honestly. I still have a huge case of imposter syndrome, though it's starting to wear off a little.

What I saw in it? Hmm. I dunno. A story I desperately hoped was worth telling, I think. I came back to it because I still liked the story and the world and the characters, and I felt like it was worth trying again. Putting things down is easy: there's always something new and shiny I could be working on. *g* But again, I am a writer who likes finishing things.

44.) I just read A Companion to Wolves for the second time. It's one of my favorite of both your and Sarah's. It's been described as subverting "the telepathic animal companion subgenre" and I was hoping you could explain that a bit. I do see a subversion of tropes in most of your other books, but I may have read this one with too much glee to catch it.

Boy. I'd be hard-pressed to find something about the book that I wouldn't consider a subversion of some common fantasy trope. We've put a straight male character in a traditionally feminizing role (the Arranged Marriage). We've taken the typical wish-fulfillment ego-gratification yes-man companion animal and made her the dominant partner in the relationship. Also, there's no perfect communication and understanding between man and animal: instead, it's all struggle and approximations and failures, as you might expect between two different species. There's no instant sacred bond: the bonds have to be built and maintained with effort. 

We've also taken a bunch of high-fantasy tropes and rewritten them with beard lice and mud and backbreaking domestic labor. We've taken the trope of companion-animal-mediated-best!sex!evar! and turned it kind of horrific and nasty and very, very unpleasant and humiliating for the protagonist. There's the usual trope of "Once you join the elite society of those with companion animals, you will be vindicated in your adolescent angst and life will be much better and so will the food," and frankly our protagonist's life is an awful lot nicer <i>before</i> he joins the wulfcarls. He doesn't find true love or contentment: instead, his personal relationships suffer greatly because of the demands of his job, and he winds up making huge compromises he's not really happy about. know. Like that. There's more, about the trolls and svartalfar (and I mean, if the svartalfar aren't a bit unlike yer usual fantasy elf, I've been reading books imported from another universe), but for a mostly nonspoilery overview, it'll do.

45.) Have you read any of Bujold's Sharing Knife books? What did you think of them?

Have not. Bujold is an excellent writer, but the focus of her work doesn't hit my narrative kinks very well. And a primary romantic element is pretty much a guarantee a book won't work for me. (I don't really enjoy either romance or horror plots. I'm much more a fan of thriller and detective plots.)

46.) Do you think that being too introverted/hermit-y hurts one's writing? I.e., is there a certain amount of time one should spend among real people to be able to write characters that seem like real people?

"Should"? I hate that word so much. *g* I think you should do whatever works for you. My writing partner is pretty much an anchorite, and she seems to do pretty well. *g* (Hi, Sarah!) I actually got amazing amounts of writing done when I was living in Vegas and almost never saw anybody. But I'm an introvert, and I get stressed out if I have to spend too much time around folks. It's draining for me.

I figure you should do whatever works for you. And if it's not working, do somebody else. I know writers who have to have a social environment to work--they go to libraries or coffee shops. Me, I like to wall myself up with a cask of Amontillado and a laptop.

47.) How did Cat come to live with you?

The PC is a volunteer. She showed up on my doorstep about fourteen years ago, six months old, terrified, and suffering from the beginning stages of distemper. She'd obviously been abused (she used to duck whenever you reached or moved toward her, and she still hates being picked up). My then-cohabitant adopted her, and when he moved out, she stayed behind. Since then, she's moved across country with me, and generally been the single constant in my life.

48.) What's the most interesting bit of trivia or odd knowledge you've learned this week?

Cholera bacillus in liquid culture will form a scum on top of the culture medium that can be observed writhing with the naked eye.

Yeah, gross, huh?

49.) I have a question: I know alot of authors will go out and do book signings, make appearances, do publicity stunts etc. to make contact with the legions known as "fans" and to promote their books to promote sales for proftit so everyone's happy. Have you ever made any appearances at book shops for signings or other shiny things? (I'm not counting conventions here.)

I cheerfully do signings when I'm in the neighborhood of a specialty book store. (Mysterious Galaxy, Pandemonium, Uncle Hugo's, Bakka, etc.) But I've never been an important enough writer for a publisher to send me out on a book tour, and I am unconvinced there's any point in financing little mini book tours on my own: it seems like a great deal of expense and stress and it seems to me, from observation, that return for midlist authors on such efforts is pretty marginal.

My legions of fans usually amount to the, oh, fifteen or twenty people (Sometimes fewer. *g*) who turn up for any given signing. Many of whom are usually personal or internet friends who took pity on me.

50.) This is prompted in large part by your SU work but also by conversations we've had on a number of occasions about television. But I have wondered, would you contemplate ever writing for that medium?

I guess subsidiary questions to that would be 1) any currently airing or previously aired show you wish you could have written for and 2) if you could design a television show that would perfectly suit your narrative kinks, what would it be?

It is easily possible that somebody could wave money under my nose, and I would cheerfully go write for TV if that happened. However, I admit, I don't have the energy or patience for dealing with trying to break into a new market from the ground floor, or for dealing with networks and producers, or for pursuing the market. (etc etc etc.) Also, I don't want to live in California.

And it's absolutely possible that the bottom will fall completely out of the novel market in my lifetime, and I'll have to go find another way to make a living telling stories (television, video games, whatever). In which case, you know, I'll suck it up and do what I need to do. But writing for TV is not a driving passion for me the way writing novels is.

A TV show that suits my narrative kinks perfectly? Shadow Unit, of course. *g* Except if Hollywood did it, I bet even money that they'd whitewash and straightify the cast something fierce.

That said, I'd totally love to have written for The Man from UNCLE, Farscape, or Criminal Minds. I would love the chance to play with those characters and situations.

51.) Why do bad things happen to gay characters? Specifically, why is it a lot more for sexually related bad things to happen to gay characters (well, gay males) than straight male characters?

Well, it depends. I mean, I think the character of mine to whom the most sexually-related trauma occurs is a straight male, Funny thing is, because of some of that trauma, a lot of readers refuse to identify him as a straight male. Which I'm not sure has bearing on your question, but I'm also not sure it doesn't.

That's a really good and complicated question, too, and it's hard to answer in the nuanced fashion that it deserves in a forum like this.

I think that there's a trope whereby gay characters get killed off tragically a lot to reinforce the Tragedy Of Their Gayness And Evoke Pathos. (It's related to Brothers Never Make It Out Of The Horror Movie syndrome: because the gay guy or the black guy isn't usually the protagonist, you can kill 'em off to make the protagonist suffer. I suspect that's a form of unconscious rather than conscious racism, in that the writer is probably trying for diversity and instead winds up reinforcing the trope. Alas!) I think there's a lot of people who have been programmed by exposure to all these stories where the gay guy dies with Pathos Of Being Gay that they never stop to think about it.

The story goes that way. And they never stop to deconstruct it.

(Also, there is the simple fact that most perpetrators of domestic sexual violence are male. Which, you know, means that the victims are either going to be women or men who are in relationships with men.)
Tags: talk back & ask questions

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