Writer & community organizer. YA & SFF. Fanperson. Trying unsuccessfully to curb my social media addictions. Graduate of the 2012 Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer's Workshop. Co-editor of Horror After 9/11 (University of Texas Press, 2011). Proud member of the incredible Altered Fluid writers group.
Every dress worn by every Best Actress winner to the Oscars, along with who designed it.
unknown Haida artist (Haida), Pipe, early 19th century, argillite
Portland Art Museum
I was tremendously proud to wake up this morning and find my story “The Beasts We Want to Be” included on Locus Magazine’s year-end recommended reading list!
Perhaps the most exciting thing about this is everybody ELSE who is on the list with me - including three of my Clarion instructors (Ted Chiang, Holly Black, and Jeffrey Ford) and tons of the best SFF writers working today - folks like Aliette de Bodard, Theodora Goss, Charlie Jane Anders, James Patrick Kelly, Carrie Vaughn, Ken Liu, Ken Schneyer, Paolo Bacigalupi, John Chu, Alaya Johnson, Matthew Kressel, Karen Joy Fowler, Indrapramit Das, Christopher Barzak, Amal El-Mohtar, and so many more.
So there’s no physical way you could go wrong by running out and reading every single thing on the list.
And then when you’re done, here’s a short interview that Electric Velocipede did with me, about the piece:
1. What inspired you to write this story?
I firmly believe that the universe sends me important messages via the shuffle function on my MP3 player. The germ of this story sprouted when the National’s song “Abel” came on while I was out for a run, and for years I’ve wanted to capture in fiction the relationship that song describes. It’s about two men, friends, one of whom makes the other want to be a better person. Really it’s about the function our friends serve in our lives, and what happens to us when they disappear. And I find friendships between straight men fascinatingly fraught and complex in general. At the time I was attending the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop, and learning so much from my teachers and classmates about the limitless palette that speculative fiction gives us to explore the human experience in the most ridiculous marvelous ways. So of course I immediately thought: post-Revolution/Civil-War-era Soviet Russia, monstrous human experimentation, magical painting, deceit, betrayal, love, revenge, death. Like you do. And then Ted Chiang read it and asked me like one question that turned my whole world on end and helped me turn the story into something way more awesome than anything I could have done on my own.
2. What’s your favorite thing about it?
I think the Pavlov Boxes are neat. I’ve always found Soviet history to be pretty fricking SFF, but I’m aware that FOR SOME REASON other people don’t get quite so excited about the subject. So if I captured that in a way other people can get into, I’m pleased.
3. What is your favorite color?
I love them all. You’d have to be more specific. For clothing I love dark greys, reds, blues. For food I love greens and reds. For nature I love a nice autumn palette.
The best way to get kids to read a book is to say: ‘This book is not appropriate for your age, and it has all sorts of horrible things in it like sex and death and some really big and complicated ideas, and you’re better off not touching it until you’re all grown up. I’m going to put it on this shelf and leave the room for a while. Don’t open it.
Philip Pullman (via abookblog)