Please welcome K. C. Norton to The Qwillery. “Reef” will be published in GENIUS LOCI: Tales of the Spirit of Place from Ragnarok Publications.
This is the eighteenth in a series of interviews with many of the authors and the artists involved in GENIUS LOCI. I hope you enjoy meeting them here at The Qwillery as much as I am!
I am a backer of GENIUS LOCI which is edited by Jaym Gates. You may check out the Kickstarter here. GENIUS LOCI has been funded and there is less $2000 to go to the Deluxe format of the printed edition!
TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery. What is the most challenging thing for you about writing? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
KCN: Pantser! I definitely revise later, but plotting doesn't work for me. When I plot, I write a boring storyline with a traditional plot structure. When I pants, I get something I wasn't expecting. The biggest challenge for me lately has been keeping focused. I'm working on about six pieces at the same time, so it feels like nothing is getting done. Maybe if I learned to plot ahead...
TQ: Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?
KCN: I'm a big fan of Philip Reeve, and I wish he would finish the Larklight series! Gaiman, Tolkien, Lewis, and Roald Dahl figure heavily in my list of influences. Also Kij Johnson, who is a genius.
TQ: Which question about your writing do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!
KCN: I wish someone would ask, "Do you feel comfortable writing characters of different ethnic backgrounds?" I'm always worried that I'm going to get something wrong, or come across as invasive or entitled. I really don't want to, but I also want to tell stories about all kinds of people living all kinds of lives, so I keep my fingers and toes crossed and press on.
TQ: Describe “Reef”, which will be published in Genius Loci, in 140 characters or less.
KCN: "Reef" is a story about a girl and a coral reef working together to protect each other.
TQ: Tell us something about “Reef” that will not give away the story.
KCN: I had to do a lot of research about dangerous animal life on the Great Barrier Reef and the surrounding ocean. One of the animals I learned about was the Crown of Thorns sea star, which is not something you'd want to touch. I went scuba diving this March, and I saw Crown of Thorns on every dive.
TQ: What was your inspiration for “Reef”? Have you ever encountered a Genius loci?
KCN: I'm a diver and a general ocean-lover, so I pulled a lot of the setting from places I've visited. When I heard about the anthology, I knew I had to write from the perspective of coral. Reefs have spirits, absolutely. I've visited a lot of places on land that have personalities, but in a reef, the landscape is actually a living organism.
TQ: Give us one of your favorite non-spoilery lines from “Reef”.
KCN: "No single living creature has a heart as unified as the uncountable hearts of a reef."
TQ: In which genre or genres does “Reef” fit? In your opinion, are genre classifications still useful?
KCN: I guess "Reef" could be called slipstream, although now that I think about it, if one of the humans were telling the story it might not read like spec fic at all. I think there is still a place for classifications on a very basic level, at least as much as there has ever been. Star Wars is set in a sci-fi universe, but (at least in the classic trilogy) the main characters use what amounts to a spiritual magic system. Genre tropes don't limit what can go on in a story, and they never really have. Genre tags pretty much exist to point people to the next thing they might want to reach or watch.
TQ: What's next?
KCN: I have a story coming out in Flash Fiction Online next month, and I'm working on a children's adventure novel about Bigfoot that features a few of the same environmental themes as "Reef." I have a few other short stories in the pipeline, almost all of which take place in the ocean.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
KCN: Thank you for having me!
About K. C. Norton
K. C. Norton's work has appeared in publications such as Writers of the Future Volume 30, Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, Galaxy's Edge, and Women Destroy Science Fiction! among others. She is an alumna of Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she studied children's writing. She is also a scuba diver, although she has yet to visit the Great Barrier Reef. You can find her on Twitter @KC_Norton.