Please welcome Andy Duncan to The Qwillery. “Santa Cruz” will be published in GENIUS LOCI: Tales of the Spirit of Place from Ragnarok Publications.
This is the twenty-sixth 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 reached the Deluxe format printed edition stretch goal! There are additional stretch goals! The Kickstarter ends tomorrow (April 2, 2015 at 11:00 AM EDT)!
TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery. What are the challenges in writing in the short form as opposed to the novel length? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
AD: Having never written a novel, only short fiction, I can’t compare the experiences.
I always have a plot, a premise, a structure in mind, and I always violate them whenever I need to, depending on the discoveries I make while writing. I urge my writing students to avoid simplistic “either/or” categories; a good writer has to be both plotter and pantser – or (another way of putting it) neither plotter nor pantser.
TQ: You are a teacher and a journalist. How does this affect (or not) your fiction writing?
AD: Much of what I know about fiction writing was learned during my 12 years of full-time journalism: characterization, dialogue, description, pacing, scene-setting, exposition – not to mention cutting, proofreading, working with editors, and meeting deadlines. My students challenge me and inspire me every day. If I have grown at all, as a writer and a person, since I started teaching in 1993, my students deserve much of the credit.
TQ: Which question about your writing do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!
Question: “May I write you a seven-figure check for Hollywood rights to one of your stories?”
TQ: Describe "Santa Cruz", which will be published in Genius Loci, in 140 characters or less.
AD: “Santa Cruz” accurately recounts one of the strangest nights of my life.
TQ: Tell us something about "Santa Cruz" that will not give away the story.
AD: I told Chris McKitterick what happened to me that night, and he said, “You really should write that down.”
TQ: What was your inspiration for "Santa Cruz"? Have you ever encountered a Genius loci?
AD: See answer above.
TQ: Give us one of your favorite non-spoilery lines from "Santa Cruz".
AD: “That is probably impossible, but it happened.”
TQ: In which genre or genres does "Santa Cruz" fit? In your opinion, are genre classifications still useful?
AD: Like every text, it fits multiple genres. It’s non-fiction; it’s also an anecdote and a short memoir. It counts as Forteana; it’s also a Jungian text, because it’s about apparently meaningful coincidence. It’s an example of what Roz Kaveney and John Clute (in The Encyclopedia of Fantasy) call the Night Journey story. And, because it’s being published in the middle of a fiction anthology, it’s also a short story – and, because it’s a fantasy anthology, also a fantasy story. Much of what we call genre, after all, is merely context. Genre classifications are most useful as finding aids and as tools for comparison, but they occasionally can be inspirational. I helped an undergraduate student with his story manuscript by saying, “There’s a name for this genre; it’s a Locked-Room Mystery, and here are some models for you.”
TQ: What's next?
AD: In summer 2015, I’ll teach the first week of the Clarion West writers’ workshop in Seattle.
My third collection, An Agent of Utopia: New and Selected Stories, is upcoming from Small Beer Press.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
AD: You’re welcome.
About Andy Duncan
Andy Duncan has won a Nebula Award, a Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and three World Fantasy Awards, most recently for the Tor.com novella “Wakulla Springs,” written with Ellen Klages. Upcoming is An Angel of Utopia: New and Selected Stories, from Small Beer Press. He’s a tenured associate professor of English at Frostburg State University in Maryland, where he coordinates the journalism minor and advises the student newspaper.