Monday, June 25, 2012

Author Interview: Joyce MacDonald

Q: What sparked the idea for your story in Unearthed?
A: I was thinking about my student loans, and I started imagining a future where kids sign up for indentureships in space in exchange for their education. There were some other things spinning around in my mind: Cape Breton as Unamak’i, the difficulty of communicating with aliens when they are so very alien, unrequited crushes; and it all came together in Motion Words.
Q: What was the hardest part of writing your story for Unearthed?
A: Possibly it was putting all the diacritical marks over the z in Žarko’s name. I can never remember Unicode keyboard shortcuts, so all the carons were inserted the long way.
Q: Please tell us: one book you've read recently, one book you're reading now, and one book on your to-read list.
A: I recently finished Ben Aaronovitch’s Midnight Riot, about a young cop in London who is also a wizard, and who questions ghost witness and breaks up disputes between river spirits. It was a fun read. Right now I’m reading Na Beanntaichean Gorma, a collection of Gaelic short stories from Cape Breton, with translations by John Shaw. It’s slow going because I’m reading the Gaelic side of the book. In Gaelic, I’m very much a sound out the words aloud sort of reader. A lot of Gaelic stories have fantasy elements to them, come to think of it. The next book I’m waiting for is Carla Speed McNeil’s latest graphic novel, Finder: Voice, which is coming to me in the mail! She does science fiction in a strange and beautiful way.
Q: What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?
A: Kill your babies. I had a professor in journalism school who used to say this frequently, always in the sweetest, most cheerful voice. Sometimes a writer just has to take out that clever sentence or that beautiful phrase because it just doesn’t work. Letting go of things you love can make a story stronger in the end.
Q: What are you working on now, or what's your next planned writing project?
A: I’m working on a story about a person who is a fantasy-standard Destined Hero, who also is clinically depressed. How can you save the world when you can barely get out of bed?
Thanks, Joyce!