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Aidan Doyle is a Clarion South 2009 survivor. Quotes for which he will be remembered are: “Bears are my unicorns”, “The zombies didn’t work for me from a programming perspective”, and “Needs more monkeys”. He is a traveller, writer, computer programmer and is publishing new stories at a rate of knots and working on a novel. I suspect an army of super monkey slaves. 

His work has been published in Fantasy Magazine, Weird Tales, Strange Horizons, Borderlands, Aurealis … and more!

1. If I wasn’t a writer, I would be …
In my high school careers class we had to compile a list of five jobs we thought might be interesting. I chose: computer games programmer, writer, actor, board games designer and security guard. I worked for a few years as a computer games programmer before moving into web site programming.  I don’t know why I listed security guard –
perhaps I was envisioning a life of foiling supervillains rather than patrolling cold warehouses.

I’ve visited several countries where for the purposes of filling in immigration forms, I am most definitely not a writer.  In those cases I list my occupation as pixel-pushing monkey wrangler.

2. Does every story really need 32% more monkeys?
Scholars have long debated the percentage of monkeys needed to provide a rich and satisfying tale.  Personally I think that adding 20% more monkeys after the first draft is the secret to crafting a literary masterpiece.  This excludes cases where you have zero monkeys in the first draft (20% of zero is still zero).  But if you were serious about writing, why would you have a zero monkey draft in the first place?

3. You get to be invisible for one day – where do you go, what do you do?
When I lived in Japan, I visited a ninja master who was training an army of monkey assassins in the art of stealth.  But the monkeys ended up just using their power of invisibility to play pranks on each other.  I suspect I would behave in a similar way to the monkeys.

4. My Snoopy Dance sale was …
When I was 17, I sold an article to my favorite magazine at the time – Dragon, the American role-playing magazine.  That was my first sale.

5. Donuts or danishes?
Donuts.  Is there anything they can’t do?

His revolution is here, but will not be anthologised … merely blogged.

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ZOMG

Have you seen this cover? Weird Tales rocks the house.

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Lisa Hannett survived Clarion South in 2009 (inspite of my cooking), and in the eighteen months or so since she’s published stories in (but not restricted to) Clarkesworld, Fantasy Magazine, Chizine, Weird Tales, ONSPEC, Midnight Echo, Scary Kisses, and Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s Steampunk Compendium. She is also working on finishing a PhD in Old Icelandic Literature (for which she went and learned Old Icelandic). She is, quite clearly, an underachiever :-P.

Lisa’s writing is wildly imaginative, beautifully rendered, and seemingly effortlessly crafted. She has stories coming out in Twelfth Planet Press’ Sprawl anthology, Tesseracts 14, and her collection of Blue Grass Opera stories must be read by those wanting their minds blown (someone should really snap it up, some smart, sexy publisher).

Here she takes time out from doing everything in the world to answer my random questions.

1)      I first knew I was a writer when…
… I got my first rejection. I mean, I’d been scribbling for years. Jotting down notes, working out plots, building worlds, creating characters. I had a totally lame epic fantasy in the desk drawer, and a stack of tragic poems (we all go through that tragic poetry phase, right?) but I was doing it all privately. Secretly, even. It wasn’t until I went through the process of sending out a story, waiting to hear from the editor, trying not to think about hearing from the editor, getting rejected – and then immediately setting myself up to do it all again – that I felt I was really a writer.

2)      A story can always be improved by the addition of…
… Pinkertons. And underground cities. And insane asylums. And bayous. And libraries with secret passages, trapdoors and revolving bookcases. And cemeteries. And peacocks. And haruspicy. Insane Pinkertons in an underground bayou searching for peacocks; finding them; gutting them; reading their entrails for clues; recording their findings on tombstones in a swamp library? Hmmmm. But, most importantly, stories are always improved by the addition of the ‘delete’ button. If I’d listened to my own suggestion, this answer would’ve been much more concise…

3)      Which sale caused you to Snoopy Dance around the room?
Every sale gets its own little dance. Sometimes I’m composed enough to do a little jig, but most of the time I jump up and down on the spot, often with arms flailing, kind of like a toddler not quite used to standing up. Any magazine or anthology willing to publish my stuff instantly becomes dance-worthy. But I suppose the biggest official Snoopy Dance™ I have done so far was when I sold a story to Clarkesworld last year. Honestly, reading that acceptance email launched me out of my desk chair so fast and so high, I think you can probably still see a dent in the ceiling.

4)      Who is your favourite fictional character, and why?
This is the most devilish question ever! So hard to choose! In fact, I’m incapable of choosing only one, so I’ll narrow it down to a few:

I usually fall for elusive, peripheral characters; the magical, trickster characters who tantalise us and then leave us wondering if we’ll ever see them again. When I was younger, it was Tad Williams’ ‘Sithi’ (pseudo-elves in his Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy) that captured my imagination, largely because they were different enough from Tolkien’s elves to unsettle me. I must still carry a fondness for characters like that because one of my favourites recently has been the Gentleman with the Thistledown Hair from Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (which, by the way, is a brilliant brilliant brilliant book.) He is amoral, self-serving, and oozes magic – and he only makes brief appearances in Clarke’s massive novel (and have I mentioned it’s brilliant?). I also frequently think about the Fool from Robin Hobbs’ first three trilogies. I love that the Fool’s gender is hard to determine, that he/she is almost colourless, and he/she has a quick wit and an even quicker tongue. I love that the Fool doesn’t seem to be bound by one reality; much like the tricksters in Charles de Lint’s early fantasy novels, who are also favourites of mine.

But I also adore characters that are emotionally repressed — like Stevens, the ageing butler and narrator of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day. His inability to express his feeling is absolutely heartbreaking, and utterly effective. It’s been a year since I read that book last, and I still think about it. And characters who are repressed for other reasons — like Robert Neville in Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend (the book! not the film!), or the father in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, who are both forced to deal with isolation, the end of humanity, and, well, not getting eaten — are the ones I find most intriguing.

I could go on forever, but I’ll leave it with one last, potentially favourite, favourite: Al Swearengen, proprietor of the Gem Saloon, from Deadwood. If I ever write a character as complex as Swearengen I’ll have reached nirvana. He is a greasy-haired, craggy-faced, foul-mouthed, ambitious, murdering son-of-a-bitch. His compassionate side involves performing mercy killings and working out his psychological issues while getting ‘serviced’ by his favourite saloon girl. And he frequently seeks advice from a rotting head kept in a box in his office. What’s not to love?

5)      Donuts or danishes.
Donuts all the way. Preferably Tim Horton’s (anyone who has been to Canada will know what I’m talking about). The best are Tim’s chocolate glazed – and by chocolate glazed I mean chocolate cake glazed with translucent sugar. Not white cake with chocolate icing, no siree. These are like fluffy mud cake rings dipped in deliciousness. And the best part about Tim Horton’s is the Timbits! Ever wonder what happens to the donut-holes? Well, they wind up in variety boxes of Timbits, sold in lots of 6, 12 or, for the serious sweet-tooth, 18. Yum yum yum and yum.

She blogs here

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The Third Bear by Jeff VanderMeer. It contains one of my favourite stories involving talking rabbits and Ariel Berg at the Sacramento Book Review says (among other things):

Lushly imaginative and thick with atmosphere, the meanings prove elusive while the stories brim with emotions, ranging from horror, alienation, and sorrow to humor, curiosity, and love.  VanderMeer’s stories are provocative marvels which collectively build into something colossally unforgettable. 

The rest lives here http://sacramentobookreview.com/poetry_short_stories/the-third-bear/

Oh, and what the hell, here’s a bonus VanderDrive-by, complete with the invention of a new kind of baked goods:

  1. All stories can be improved by the addition of … stealth and the reduction of speed.
  2. If I wasn’t writing I would be … hiking.
  3. My wife is smarter than me because … I am stupid.
  4. If I could be any fictional character for a day, with no consequences attached, I would be the protagonist of Alice in Wonderland, because I’ve never taken magic mushrooms.
  5. Donuts (or doughnuts) or danishes? Dannuts.

 

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