Please welcome Laura Anne Gilman to The Qwillery. “Heartbeat” will be published in GENIUS LOCI: Tales of the Spirit of Place from Ragnarok Publications.
This is the fifth 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.
TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery. What are the challenges in writing in the short form as opposed to the novel length?
Laura Anne: It's very similar to the difference between running down to the store for something, and taking a week-long road trip. For the first, you have a pretty good idea of what you're going to get (say) and where the store is, but sometimes you get there and you discover oh, I needed to say that, too, and pick up this and... and sometimes you get delayed by traffic, but you're pretty sure you'll get home in time for dinner.
For a novel, you've got to make sure you've got your shit in order. Is the car gassed up? Do you have maps? Your AAA card? Music playlist? Idea of where you're going to stop each night, even if only a vague area, and a list of things you want to do along the way? And you're pretty sure you know where you're going but are aware that if something catches your eye, you can take another day or so to follow up on it, and oh hey, look at that, we thought we were on a road but we're actually driving across a field in the middle of the night light only by the headlights, let's try to get back on the road, and who ate the last protein bar?
That's the difference, pretty much.
TQ: Which question about your writing do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!
Laura Anne: eeeek. Um... the magic systems in your book seem to have, at heart, a logical, almost scientific origin - the "electrical base" of the Cosa Nostradamus, the agricultural magic of the Vineart War trilogy. Why is that?
Everyone, when they try to create a fantasy world, they know to build the magic into the culture, the daily lives... but a lot of times people forget to build it into the science of the world, too. So when I work on a magic system, I start with the natural sciences, and build up. It's fun for me (geeky research!) and I've found that once I have the scientific basis for something, my research keeps turning up new, cool things that fit within that world...
I am all about the geeky researching.
TQ: Describe “Heartbeat”, which will be published in Genius Loci, in 140 characters or less.
Laura Anne: Out in the middle of nowhere, some things look too closely at the human soul...
TQ: Tell us something about “Heartbeat” that will not give away the story.
Laura Anne: Geology buffs might get an extra kick out of it. And by kick I mean a shiver down the spine.
TQ: What was your inspiration for “Heartbeat”? Have you ever encountered a Genius loci?
Laura Anne: The inspiration was a road trip I took through Kansas last summer. A spur-of-the-moment side trip took us down a long dirt road....
I can't swear that I ever have encountered one... but I'd lay good money I've been in the presence of a few, if you see the difference. There was a pine forest where I went to summer camp; it was entirely human-planted and maintained, but there was a sensation there, especially late at night, that wasn't human at all. And I'm convinced that there's something very old, and very angry, deep in the sands under Jerusalem. The city, beautiful as it is, gave me the spooks.
TQ: Give us one of your favorite non-spoilery lines from “Heartbeat”.
Laura Anne: "Only the curious come down here, past the chestnut-red bulk of cows and the narrow ditches, down the long long road."
TQ: In which genre or genres does “Heartbeat” fit? In your opinion, are genre classifications still useful?
Laura Anne: Oh.... ghost story, a little. And yeah, classifications are useful - it's like any classification system, it gives you a general area to start looking. But I don't take it seriously, beyond that. Most of my work, it straddles categories, sometimes it square dances with a bunch of them. Swing your partner, do something new.
TQ: What's next?
Laura Anne: Next up.... my alter ego, L.A. Kornetsky, has a mystery coming out this spring - Clawed. The series is set in a Seattle bar, and they're a lot of fun - and had a lot to do with me moving to Seattle last year. and then in October, there's SILVER ON THE ROAD, which is something new for me - playing with North American history, divergent history, and a touch of what I've been calling magical practicalism, about a young woman in a world where the fantastic is completely entwined with the pragmatic. There have been a couple of short stories set in this world, the Devil's West, but this is the first novel-length work, and I'm really rather obnoxiously excited about it...
Laura Anne is the author of the popular Cosa Nostradamus novels and novellas, and the award-nominated The Vineart War trilogy. Her next project is SILVER ON THE ROAD, the first in the Devil’s West series from Saga / Simon & Schuster, beginning in October 2015.
She has also dipped her pen into the mystery field as well, writing as L.A. Kornetsky (Collared, Fixed, Doghouse, and the forthcoming Clawed).
A member of the writers’ digital co-op Book View Cafe, she continues to write and sell short fiction in a variety of genres, selling most recently to the anthologies Genius Loci and Temporally Out of Order (2015).