Blog Miscellany

Interview: Suzanne Palmer | Absolute Write

Suzanne Palmer, AW’s personal zanzjan, gained 2018’s Hugo Award for Greatest Novelette for “The Secret Life of Bots.” Her brief fiction has gained readers’ awards for Asimov’s, Analog, and Interzone magazines, and been included within the Locus Advisable Studying Listing. Palmer has twice been a finalist for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award and as soon as for the Eugie M. Foster Memorial Award. Her debut novel Finder shall be released by DAW on April 2, 2019.

What’s your elevator pitch for Finder?

Fergus Ferguson is an interstellar repo man who has gone off to a backwater, deep area settlement to seek out and take again a stolen spaceship, and will get caught up in the midst of an escalating feud between a crooked junk service provider and a family of lichen farmers. Plus: mysterious marauding aliens!

Did you will have a playlist for Finder?

I want very totally different music once I’m engaged on a first draft versus whereas revising, and the primary draft of Finder looks like ages in the past now and I can’t keep in mind what I was listening to again then, but definitely something high-energy like Florence & The Machine, Snow Patrol, and so on. My go-to music in revision is often Bonobo, along with Euphoria, Thievery Corporation, and different pretty mellow, largely instrumental music.

Have been there any surprises for you as you wrote Finder? Character developments or plot twists that you simply didn’t anticipate?

Hahaha, the whole thing? But critically, I am not much of a planner, and once I begin a new undertaking I often solely have a number of tiny “seeds” of what I would like — a personality, or a setting, or a small scene — and I simply throw it down on the page and see where it goes. I can often inform within a couple of paragraphs from how the story language needs to tempo itself, and from how shortly extra concept bits are accumulating onto the growing mass how massive it’s going to be, and with Finder I assumed early on I was heading into novella territory, however I was nervous about letting it go longer. In the long run, the story insisted, so I went along with it.

What’s your writing process like?

First drafts are an absolute chaotic mess, with a number of forwards and backwards and dead-end alleys I have to again out of and find a higher path forward, and I typically have solely a obscure concept the place I’m going till I get there. The enjoyment of discovery, of finding that you simply left your self good breadcrumbs without even realizing it, is for me not solely considered one of my favourite elements of the experience, but a needed a part of it. If I do know too much concerning the story I get bored making an attempt to put in writing it.

As soon as I get to the precise end, and I’ve the large image of what the story is and I start to revise, if it’s a longer piece I’ll often build an overview retroactively as I work my method by means of, which then provides me a useful roadmap for lots of the fiddly but crucial work making the whole thing come collectively.

What’s your writing setting like (your work area and instruments of selection)?

I do virtually all my writing at house, in a small residence workplace the place my chair appears out over the woods within the again yard. I’ve seen moose, barred owls, coyotes, and a variety of wild turkeys on the market, though I’m perfectly proud of just the clouds and timber. Inside, my writing buddies are a pair of lovebirds named Beetle and Boo, who are noisy as hell however lovable. I do my writing on a Mac, utilizing MS Phrase, because regardless of its sometimes aggravating flaws it’s just easier for me. (I write very linearly, so extra complicated instruments which are sometimes fantastic for other writers don’t do a lot for me.) I may also typically depart myself notes or doodle parts from no matter I’m working on, be it aliens or ships or maps of where things are, so there tends to be bits of paper all over the place and up on the bulletin board behind my monitor. I don’t write a lot longhand because my handwriting is horrible and gets exponentially worse the extra I’m making an attempt to put in writing directly.

Back in 2012 your story “Mandrake’s Folly” was revealed in Absolute Write’s Absolute Visions anthology. I really liked the characters and world constructing. Any plans to return to any of it?

Truly, rather a lot (though not all) of my science fiction is about in the same contiguous universe, and there are characters and/or locations that drift by way of a number of stories. “Mandrake’s Folly” has a number of connections of that sort with different tales, although the closest tie is to “Surf”, which was my first sale to Asimov’s (additionally in 2011) and which has a character in widespread, although there’s a time hole between them.

I think about it so much just like the pointillist paintings of Seurat, one dot of colour at a time, besides in all probability I work in a way more ADHD means than Seurat did. As a viewer/reader, the dots perhaps don’t connect but in apparent ways, but *I* know that, dammit, those two dots are part of a tree and that dot is a monkey, and that informs the place the subsequent “dot” goes.

One of many things I beloved probably the most about Finder was the world-building. It’s very clear that you understand a lot more concerning the peoples and locations you’re writing about. How are you retaining monitor of all you realize about your universe?

I’ve a wiki! Significantly, as soon as I had written enough stuff with shared universe parts that I found myself having to dig by means of previous manuscripts to remember how I described one thing or when something occurred or where, I made a decision it was simpler to only begin retaining particulars in my very own private wiki. It’s not a perfect answer as a result of I’m not all the time positive what *is* an necessary element except in hindsight, or how in the long run I would like issues to attach, and typically I’m lazy about retaining it updated, however I do ultimately manage to maintain up. I even have lots of sketches and maps, some scanned in, some in notebooks, that I can go back to when needed. Do you might have plans to put in writing more about Mattie “Mother” Vahn and the Vahn clan? I might like to revisit Mattie Vahn some day, and I’m open to the thought, but to date the suitable story for her hasn’t come my means. There are different Vahns we will certainly see again. I’ve received about half a brief story set in the Sunshields, as a result of I fell in love with the Shielders and needed to spend somewhat extra time with them on their own phrases, and hopefully I’ll have that completed this spring. I feel for me one of many ways I do know a character is working is once they start demanding their own stories, and there have been fairly a number of secondary and minor characters in Finder which are still making an attempt to get my consideration — too many to get to, and their numbers maintain going up, but I’d never say never on any of them.

I know that you simply constructed an unimaginable “book alley”. Would you tell us just a little about that?

The E-book Alley! I have, unsurprisingly, means too many books, and I made the mistake of buying a house the place the whole downstairs is an open floorplan full of windows — nice for daylight and searching on the gardens in the summertime, however completely depressing for making an attempt to put bookshelves in. So I constructed the Guide Alley, a 10′ broad room the length of the again of the house, and for the primary time in my life all my books and magazines are shelved and out and there every time I need to curl up in a snug chair and skim. Which I don’t do almost typically sufficient, however I’m making an attempt.

Entry way to the book alley The E-book Alley entrance Image: © Suzanne Palmer

The ebook alley with books in place Image: © Suzanne Palmer

Book alley with shelves and furnitureThe Ebook Alley in use Picture: © Suzanne Palmer

What have you ever learn recently (within the last yr or so) that you simply actually favored?

It’s a really unhappy thing that writing comes immediately out of my studying time, so I’m all the time behind the curve on what’s new, particularly novel-length stuff. However final yr I discovered and totally fell for Martha Wells’s Murderbot collection, which I simply can’t advocate highly enough. Proper now I’m studying Charlie Jane Anders’s The Metropolis in the Center of the Night time, which is sensible to date.

Do you might have any specific favorite books about writing?

This will likely appear an odd selection, however Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics. Whereas it’s ostensibly targeted on visual, sequential narrative, there’s a lot info in there about storytelling and pacing and interesting together with your material that it’s an outstanding useful resource for nearly any type of artistic pursuit, and positively taking a look at comics by means of that lens has impacted how I strategy and have interaction with many other forms of narrative as properly.

You’re a Viable Paradise graduate (VP IX 2005). What recommendation do you might have for prospective VP college students?

Once I attended VP, I used to be in a place where I wasn’t positive if I was critical about writing, or more importantly, if I was brave enough to be critical about it. Imposter Syndrome has all the time been a gentle (and super-clingy) companion, and I feel I spent an excessive amount of of the primary few days of the workshop feeling like I couldn’t probably belong there. And that’s the thing about VP — should you’re there, it’s because they consider you belong there, after which it’s up to you to ensure you don’t get in your personal means taking full benefit of what the expertise has to supply. Even with my own hangups getting in, it was a life-changing expertise for me, and I wish I’d been extra centered in it from the beginning. So depart the insecurity (or overconfidence!) behind, loads of time for these later (-:

What’s your favourite charity?

I help my local animal shelter, because they’re actually good individuals, and my native library which is teeny-tiny and making an attempt to boost funds to broaden. I additionally donate often to Médecins Sans Frontières, aka Docs Without Borders, as a result of I can’t think about harder or extra very important work.

Is there a question that you simply’ve never been asked that you simply’d really wish to answer?

Why “zanzjan” ? (My nickname virtually in all places.) The very first thing I wrote, as an grownup, was a novel that was set on a planet named Zanzjan Minor. Although that novel never quite made it, it was the central hub of much of my subsequent story world, and it has showed up in small ways and in the background of a bunch of stories. Going again to my Seurat analogy earlier, there’s a clean area within the cluster of dots of my worldbuilding the place that novel initially fit. Sometime — probably once I’m carried out with Fergus Ferguson — I’m going to take aside that previous manuscript, steal back the essential bits and parts, and build an entire new novel to slot in that area.

Having read Finder, I can inform you it is a funny, bodacious area opera with quality world constructing and characters. Palmer has simply turned within the sequel, and I can’t wait to read it.

Suzanne Palmer has a Website, and is lively on Twitter and Facebook. You’ll find her debut SF novel Finder at your local unbiased bookstore, buy it from Amazon.com | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble  iBooks | Kindle | Kobo | Powells.

This submit accommodates Absolute Write affiliate hyperlinks.