I was tagged by Claire Weaver (http://claireweaver.blogspot.co.uk/
) so do go and read her posts, too. 1. What am I working on?
I’m currently writing a number of short stories, both for private subscriptions and for magazine consideration. The final (for now) Chen novel will be announced shortly and I’m also working on a new book, which is a sort-of fantasy, set here in Somerset. I rarely write so close to home and using the folklore of my current county is proving interesting. 2. How does my work differ from others in my genre?
I’m not sure what my genre is. I mix and match a lot: I’d say that a lot of of what I write is old school science fantasy. I don’t like using standard tropes, and I try to take a hard look into the forms that societal change would actually take (whilst I understand where a lot of 1970s matriarchal utopian writing came from, for instance, I’m by no means convinced that an all-female society would be any kinder or less corrupt than its male equivalent, hence the Mars of Banner of Souls
). My writing is sometimes described as ‘difficult’ and I think people have a hard time figuring out my agenda: story, worldbuilding, prose and ideas are important to me. If it helps, I’m more likely to criticise my own politics than other people’s, and quite frequently won’t do either. Both novels and short fiction are varied. Ghost Sister
was a critique of the extremist end of the environmental movement; Empire of Bones
was written as an attempt to address first contact stories that are always set in the West, and Nine Layers of Sky
was based on living and working in Central Asia. 3. Why do I write what I do?
I like telling stories and exploring ideas. Gender has often been an aspect of my work, but it’s irritating to expect female writers to be solely concerned with gender. When I first started reading – Bradbury, Vance, LeGuin, and fantasy writers such as Julian May and Lloyd Alexander – my primary concern was worldbuilding rather than gender. I’ve never particularly been concerned with whether ‘I’ was represented in fiction, because the point of reading, to me, was to have the experience of becoming someone else. I read a lot of William Burroughs at one point, and his concerns are very much not my own, but I learned a great deal from what was to me a very alien point of view. For me, the purpose of reading SF is not to learn about myself, but to learn about others (that’s obviously problematic if the genre becomes too uniform in who it depicts and I do think that it would benefit from increasing its diversity as much as possible). I’ve always been more interested in reading about aliens rather than humans: I think it increases the scope and depth of understanding, and it’s a great challenge for the writer. The work of Gwyneth Jones, Hal Clements, Mary Gentle, C J Cherryh, and Jack Vance, to select but a few, are cases in point.
I’m also a fan of occult fiction, which tends to get neglected when people talk about fantasy, but which has been a domain of female writers since at least the Golden Dawn and the big esoteric societies in the late 19th century: Edith Nesbit, Dion Fortune, Ithell Colquhoun, and Joan Grant, for example, tend to get left out of analyses of fantasy, but are highly regarded by occultists. 4. How does my writing process work?
'Process,' eh? I write what I can, when I can. I run a business and teach as well as being a writer, and I can’t afford to be particularly precious about when and how I work. You just have to get on with it!
Nominated next on the blog tour: Neil Williamson, author of recently released The Moon King
, and David Clements (davecl.wordpress.com), who has a non-fiction book on Infrared Astronomy coming out near the end of the year.