You’re comfortable with a lot of unanswered questions in your stories: Do you ever worry there are too many?
Maybe yes, maybe no.
In one exchange, I recognized my impulse to try to make sense of your storylines even though I know sometimes they’re “just about weird shit happening.” There’s no way to avoid that, right? Do you ever think about the timing of when you’ll make it clear that a story is about the ride, not the why?
Generally, in stories where the intended explanation is not foregrounded, the story is not about the intended explanation. An example would be that other Lightspeed story, “The Thing About Shapes to Come”( bit.ly/304Gn00). I have been accosted by readers who wanted to know why children were being born in the shape of cubes, and it strikes me as the least interesting thing about that story, which is about a mother devoting herself to a child who may not even be able to feel her love. For readers who must know the cause of the phenomenon, I shrug my shoulders and say, “If you insist. It was radiation from space.” You will note that it doesn’t add anything.
How much do you think about your specific word choices and the rhythm of your lines? I was struck by the jarring use of “junk” between two more circumspect synonyms.
As you were meant to. Glad it worked.
I want to know more about the piercing question about character motivation and the Nebula nomination.
Okay. This is the actual behind-the-scenes drama between my wife, before she was my wife, and myself, following the first draft of that other story ultimately reprinted at Lightspeed, “Of A Sweet Slow Dance in the Wake of Temporary Dogs” (bit.ly/3jEXg9r). She maintained that story did not quite work and that I needed a section dramatizing the inner life of the female lead. It was her input that got that section written, and later, that story was a jury pick for the Nebula. (Because this was indeed us, telling the story underlines that this is not some hypothetical author and author’s wife. It is explicitly us.)
You’ve been nominated for/won a number of awards: Which meant the most to you?
I am unabashed about wanting a few more of them statuettes, to go along with the kudos already collected. I have that acquisitive gene, and I don’t mind who knows it. But I have to tell you, the biggest nachas (joy) came from some of my interactions with the kids who read my Gustav Gloom novels for middle-graders. Hearing from a problem reader that they worked their way through the whole series and are better at this book-absorption thing, or being sent a photograph of a potato that’s been painted to resemble my protagonist as school project, is an award of a whole different color.
Spread the word!