PLC interviews Amy McLane
Bios, bios. It’s the ultimate bloggy homework assignment, and it’s tricky business. Professional, or witty? Short, or detailed? Yuck. You can see why none of us has dared to fill in our bio page yet. Instead the PLC decided to do something easier. So we interviewed each other. As Mondays are McLane days, I’m up first.
(This is not me. Surprise! But it is my Wave and Twitter avatar, so I’m using it in lieu of a real picture.)
-Do you remember the the first story you ever wrote? The first one I remember writing was about a Cat and Dog adventure team. I believe the Cat was named Chester, but I don’t recall the Dog’s name. Kangaroo-like aliens were involved somehow. The aliens slimed President and Mrs. Bush. I admit I was a tiny treehugging tot, but also I think I just wanted to draw someone covered in ectoplasm. I really liked Hi-C Ectoplasm Coolers at the time.
-How long have you been actively seeking a writing career? Actively? There’s a loaded adverb.
-Is there a book you find yourself re-reading whenever you get the chance? Not one in particular. If I like a book I will reread it. If I don’t, it’ll eventually be donated or sold.
- If you could pick one book to rewrite yourself, what would it be, what would you change, and why? I would rewrite the dictionary to include cromulent, because it’s a perfectly cromulent word.
What was the first story you wrote? As I already answered this, let me recite for you my first letter instead, as preserved in my baby book.
“DEAR TOOTH FAIRY.
25 years later and I am still trying to write for smoe moey.
Who are you reading right now? I just finished The Name of the Wind. Some Diana Wynne Jones is next on deck. The third Chrestomanci volume, to be precise.
What do you do to charge your writing batteries? Read books on writing. Drink coffee. Talk to my Reader. Meet with my critique group.
Do you introduce yourself as a writer? How does that make you feel? Hell no. It makes me feel silly. I don’t like to talk about myself.
What one short story had the greatest impact on you and why? Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. It made me realize you could use fantasy to talk about society, the nuances of what it means to be human, not just to Take A Stand Against Terrible Evil. Really, all of The Wind’s Twelve Quarters is essential reading for any young speculative fiction writer.
What advice would you give a writer just starting out? Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Keep your mind open to change and possibility. And brace yourself for failure, because you will fail, many many times, before you succeed.
Who in the literary world have you always wanted to meet? What would you say to this person? I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and speak with many of my literary heroes. The late Mr. Thompson is not among these ranks. Much of what I would say to him would be illegal or obscene, but this at least is printable: Thank you for being a truth teller. Thank you for showing that blind obedience is not the same thing as patriotism, that the world is full of horrible hypocrite b*stards, that there is a reason I sometimes want to run foaming and screaming into the desert, and that I am not alone in that terrible need. Thank you, you beautiful freak.
Why do you write the genre you write? What draws you to that genre? I write fantasy because I am functionally unable to write anything else. Not that I want to write anything else. (I have a hard time understanding why other people want to write anything else, but I usually keep that to myself.) The old saw is that science fiction is about the possible, and fantasy is about the impossible. Why then, do I write about impossible things? I find my drive is primitive in nature. Fantasy lets me poke at what I refer to as the lizard brain. The stem. The impulse. Fantasy allows me to say things that would be met with resistance in the “real” world, it allows me to remove the polarization of modern politics from my fiction, to build a society, to take a society apart, to examine these things in turn. And best of all, fantasy allows me to play. And while I do try my hand at other genres, fantasy is what I always come back to.
What is your favorite word? Eldritch.
Do you have any neurotic rituals you do before you sit down to write? Nope.
Where do you write? Usually at my desk. Sometimes on my laptop, in the backyard, but my laptop is fritzy which makes it a dangerous game. Very occasionally at a friend’s house, library, or coffee shop. When I write, I vant to be alooooone.
Do you write by hand or on computer? Computer, mostly. But world building, character interviews, nuts and bolts usually by hand.
How do you decide a story is ready to show others or send out to journals? When I feel it is both saleable and the best that I can make it right now.
What is your writing dream? Have you really thought through the ramifications of this dream? How will things change if it comes true? I want to be a novelist. Period. I don’t ever see myself churning out novels quickly enough to earn my bread by writing alone, so hopefully I could parlay my sales into a part time position teaching writing to other adults. Or hopefully I will be wildly successful enough that my speed won’t matter. While we’re talking dreams, of course.
Ramifications- Yes. Original answer was longer, but also boring, so I baleeted it.
Change- How about getting several solid hours to write a day, instead of whatever I can eke in on the sides? A paycheck would turn a hobby into a profession.
What’s your day job? Will it be easy to give up for full-time writing one day? My day job is toddler wrangling. It’s a temporary gig.
Where do you see yourself in five years? Grinding away.
What are you doing today to advance your writing career? Doing this joint blog, for one. Mostly focusing on the writing itself, though.
What’s your favorite quote? The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
What’s the worst piece of writing advice you ever received? “Stop wasting your talent on writing junk.” (“Junk” meaning genre fiction instead of Serious Literature.)
What cocktail best describes you? Grey Goose and Tonic. Don’t forget the lime. Simple. Quiet. Effective.