Alexandra Duncan’s first novel Salvage is soon to be published by Harper Collins's Greenwillow Books this Fall, but you don’t have to wait until then to get your hands on some of her thrilling fiction. Her novella “Rampion” appeared in the May/June issue of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and it was so fantastic that it’s being reprinted in Rich Horton’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy, 2012. There are plenty more of her stories throughout other issues of F&SF, and she’s even written flavor fiction for the RPG book, World of Darkness: Changing Breeds.
Mega nerd points? Oh, yes!
Now, Duncan gives us the scoop on her characters’ strange bodily functions, the importance of girls in the geek world, and why professors are not always right!
If you have weird writing quirks, you’re not alone.
“I don’t really do anything all that odd or eat anything all that odd while I’m actually writing. But I do always tend to make my characters throw up at some point. In everything I’m writing, someone’s always vomiting. And I really don’t know why! I mean, it’s not like I throw up all the time. It’s not like I’m drawing that from my own experience, it just keeps happening! So I have to watch out for that when I have a vomiting scene and try to edit myself.“
Playing RPGs is awesome, and writing for them is too.
“I don’t know how typical my experience working on an RPG was. For one thing, I got called in at the last moment after another writer dropped out, so I had to write like the wind! It was sort of a trial by fire situation. It was really good, because it just forced me to write a lot very quickly, and to meet a deadline. So it was a good experience for me when I was first starting out writing. I love playing role playing games, so writing for them was really an interesting experience too.“
There is an important place for women in the genres of fantasy and science fiction, and it should continue to grow.
“Geeky girls need to own it as both writers and readers. Science fiction and fantasy are awesome, and there need to be more women out there writing it and more women out there willing to read it.“
Professors don’t always know what they’re talking about.
“I took a writing workshop, and got the worst writing advice I have ever gotten. My professor told us that we should all just resign ourselves now to the fact that we were going to get divorced and probably be alcoholics if we wanted to be writers. And he was not joking. I didn’t want to be an alcoholic. There’s alcoholism in my family. That was not funny to me. And I was also seriously, seriously in love with boyfriend at that point who is now my husband. I didn’t want to get divorced, that sounded horrible. So, I went through this really dark time of the soul where I thought, ‘Oh my god! If I’m going to be a writer, I don’t to have to give up love and sobriety!’ But, you know, that was just that one guy’s awful life experience. That doesn’t mean that all writers have to end up this certain way. So I just tell myself to chill out, don’t worry. Love writing. Love reading. Just keep doing it and improving.”
What's the best writing advice you've ever heard?