Highlights from Three ConFusion Reddit AMAs

Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal Fiddlehead by Cherie Priest American Craftsmen by Tom Doyle

In case you missed it, ConFusion was last weekend! Reddit took advantage of having so many authors gathered in one place to conduct some fun, possibly alcohol-fueled AMAs.

Here are the highlights from three of those AMAs, featuring authors Cherie Priest, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Tom Doyle.

Mary Robinette Kowal: I’m here at ConFusion doing panels on fiction, costuming, and carrying two flasks of scotch with me. Ask me anything. No. Really. I might lie to you, but I will answer.

Howard Taylor said to me at the San Antonio World Con that your presence on Writing Excuses made the podcast worthy of a Hugo win, and them muttered something about herding cats being your super power. What’s the biggest challenge you face as a cat herder on Writing Excuses?

Realizing that I just need to let the cats sit wherever they want.

What kind of pie would best accompany The Glamourist Histories?

This is tricky, since the pie as we know it is a conspicuously American invention. I think we’d have to go with a pie relation, the tart.

Apricot and chocolate seems most appropriate as it combines tart sweetness with a dark, bitter underlayer.

You did a tour with Marie Brennan for your books recently, if I recall correctly. What was that like? You guys are my two favourite authors that do Austen-esque fantasy novels.

It was SO MUCH FUN. We both wear costume and have a bit of additional stuff that we do, in addition to reading. Tor actually put together a video that shows sort of what it’s like. AND we’re touring together this year.

Cherie Priest: They’ve given me rum. Let’s do this.

Clockwork Century—Done for good or something you could go back to someday?

Done with Jacaranda, which comes out in a week or so. Jacaranda is sort of an epilogue to that series…and I’m very fond of it, but—barring fat sacks of unforeseen cash American—this is where it stops.

I’ve got needy pets (and a new needy baby), and it’s really hard to get stuff done. How do you structure your writing day around your pretty beasts?

Wake up and walk the dog. Come back and get dressed. Spend the hour or two before lunch answering business emails and doing Writer Business Stuff. Lunch. Write until supper. Husband goes and walks the dog for the afternoon/evening. Play video games and/or watch TV and have a drink and tweet.

That’s more or less how it goes, most days. My pets are kind of low-maintenance; the dog is big and lazy, the cat is elderly and sleeps about 20 hours a day. So I’m lucky, there.

I was wondering about working in the Wilds Cards universe. If you use another writer’s character do you need to get permission from the writer or do you just need to run the story idea by the editor(s)? Also do you plan on revisiting the Wild Cards universe and or Kilgore Jones?

It’s a little hard to explain—you can use other writers’ characters, but you talk to them first, and get their permission for anything major (killing them off, marrying them off, etc. etc. etc.)…it depends on the project, really. In the end, the editor is always GRRM. He’s the only one whose approval you really need. It’s nice, really—it’s not like working in oh, say, video games—where everything happens by committee. There’s just one person ultimately in charge, and if he’s cool with it, you’re good.

I hope to keep writing in WC, but lately I’ve been pretty busy. I have four books coming out this year, if that tells you anything—thought I did do a novelette on Tor.com last year called “The Button Man and The Murder Tree.” And Kilgore Jones turns up in the Rogues anthology (coincidentally, also via GRRM)—in a story called “Heavy Metal.”

I love KJ and will probably continue to tell stories about him 🙂 (He’s based loosely on an old friend of mine, who finds the whole thing hilarious.)

Tom Doyle: I’m the author of American Craftsmen (Tor 2014) and its sequel, The Left-Hand Way (August 2015)—contemporary fantasies of military intrigue that imagine Poe and Hawthorne wrote thinly veiled nonfiction.

What are you working on now that you would like to share?

Finishing the galley proofs for my 2nd book, The Left-Hand Way, and working hard on book 3, tentatively titled War and Craft.

Modern military fantasy is something I hadn’t even known existed, and was something I had no idea I’d love, until I read Myke Cole’s trilogy. I know that his trilogy was highly informed by his time in the service. Do you have a similar background in the military? What inspired you to join this (thus far) incredibly niche genre?

I haven’t had the honor to serve, but I spoke at length with a friend from grade school who served in Special Forces in the First Gulf War for sensory and technical details. My initial thought was that I wanted to write a fantasy with a distinctly American mythos grounded in American literature, history, and folklore. I wrote the military scene first, and my first reader (Stephanie Dray) said that should be my focus for telling the rest of the story.

What more can you tell us about your novels? Style of writing and what readers can expect? What process did you go through to get published and what advice could you provide? What are your go-to book recommendations and why?

The style is a combination of fantasy and technothriller, with lots of allusions to American classics and history. Getting published was one of the most difficult things in my life—years of hunting for a good agent, and then getting a publisher. I recommend attending the SFWA industry reception in NYC whenever possible to contact agents and editors. Lately, I’ve been recommending Leviathan Wakes just so friends can get ahead of the new TV series. I recommend China Mieville and Paolo Bacigalupi frequently.

What does success mean to you?

Writing is the pie eating contest where the prize is more pie. If I get to keep doing this, that’s success.

If you were forced to sing karaoke, what song would you choose?

Force isn’t necessary. I have a weekly rock jam at my house. My go to karaoke song in Japan was “Jumping Jack Flash.”