Over the past two months, I had several great opportunities to talk about writing on other people’s platforms and launch a column at the same time. These pieces have been out there for some time (no novelty value here), but it’s only now I had the time to sit down and collect them in a post as a reminder.
First, I sat down, metaphorically speaking, with authors Sunil Patel and S.L. Huang to discuss how we write novels and short stories coming from the experience of writing one form first. Sunil and I talked about dealing with novels as short fiction writers and Lisa shared her experience with short stories after having written novels first. We spent a good four months collaborating on this piece, available at The Book Smugglers. Here is a good except:
QUESTION: Let’s jump off what Haralambi said about needing room to breathe in a novel and taking those pauses for connective tissue. What was it like to move from the more precise form of a short, which doesn’t allow for anything extra, to this more expansive structure? For Lisa, what was it like to move from the more sprawling structure of novels to the more intense, concise nature of shorts?
HM: In one word—interesting (with some terror sprinkled in for good measure). With short fiction, I tend to pack paragraphs with a lot of information as I condense what’s happening and that’s not a viable method to sustain a novel-length narrative. In drafting The Mythology of Us, I had to ask myself am I condensing too much? How long should crucial scenes be compared to those that are not as vital? What should be dramatized versus omitted? How can I justify these quiet scenes that I call connective tissue?
The answers also depend on what I’m trying to accomplish with this novel. Do I want it to be very fast-paced and action-heavy? Do I want it to slow down and carry itself like a myth that is told over an open fire? Those answers re-adjust these settings.
With novels, I think there’s unlimited freedom to do whatever you want. You just have to pass 40,000 words for your work to be technically considered a novel and beyond that, you can do everything with structure, length, pacing (as long as it works). I find that I easily get lost in this freedom.
For Adele at Fox Spirit Books, I ruminated a little about the business side of writing, talking about valuable skills to have. Here’s an excerpt geared towards international writers publishing in the US:
International writers who target US markets will also come in contact with the W-8BEN form – a means to avoid double taxation, since short story payments are subject to a 30% flat tax in the US. Bulgaria mercifully has an Income Tax Treaty with the United States, so filling out the W-8BEN form saves me from this 30% rate and my income is only subject to Bulgarian tax rates.
Has your country signed such a treaty? Is the W-8BEN applicable in your case? How do you fill out this form (you’ll be thankful to know it comes with thorough instructions)? All great questions to answer before you get to sign your first contract, but even if you don’t, the good thing about our field is that people are helpful and patient. I wouldn’t learn as much without a published friends reading my first contracts to check, if they’re all right, and helping me make sense of forms.
Author Simon Bestwick was kind enough to invite for a flash-round interview on his blog called The Lowdown. It’s short and fun with a lot of introductory question. I think my favorite to answer was this:
Which piece of writing should someone who’s never read you before pick up first?
“When Raspberries Bloom in August” published at Weird Fiction Review serves as a good introduction on the balance between the tender and horrific in my work. It’s a relationship I explore in all my fiction, but this is where it’s most joyous and light. It’s also a love letter to my summers with my grandparents in rural Bulgaria.
Last but not least, I launched my column Innumerable Voices at TOR.com, which is aimed at profiling speculative short fiction writers who are most likely to be lost between the cracks. I’m targeting new and emerging voices. Behold the introduction:
Short fiction is where experimentation and innovation happens in genre, and it’s served as a stepping stone for many a beloved writer’s career. At the same time, it’s easy for good work and strong viewpoints to fall through the cracks and not receive the recognition they deserve. This column will signal boost these voices and guide you through the rabbit hole to discover some new favorite writers…
As this serves as the introduction to the Innumerable Voices column, I’ll hover a bit in the beginning to lay down the rules by which I’m playing. Short fiction writers without collected works are often a one-piece experience in the context of a magazine or anthology where their story/novelette/novella converses with the rest. It’s not enough of a foundation to formulate a distinct opinion about a writer and their fiction. This column will provide an overview of an author’s existing body of work as if it’s published as a collection, to give you a better understanding of each month’s featured author. Links to magazines and anthologies for each story are available as footnotes. Chances are I’ll discuss the stories at length, and mild spoilers will be revealed.