It’s time for a two-part mega-podcast! I visited the 24th annual Readercon, conference on literary fantasy & science fiction (or “imaginative literature,” as it’s known) in Burlington, MA in July, and came back with a ton of interviews! Readercon is a fantastic (ha-ha) event, with great programming, a good booksellers’ hall, and lots of fun conversation; you should make a point of attending it if your tastes run toward the authors who come up in this and the following episode.
I (not-so-wisely) conducted five interviews in one day so, rather than make a 3-hour episode, I decided to split them up between boys and girls. This time around you get interviews with authors John Crowley and Scott Edelman!
“The big books I’ve written have never had a genre at all. They were certain kinds of fictional possibilities that interested and intrigued me and that I wanted to try to achieve. I wouldn’t say there’s an awful lot in Little, Big that’s realistic, but there’s plenty that was based on my daily experiences of life in New York City.”
John Crowley is the author of Little, Big (or, The Fairies’ Parliament), which I consider one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. I’d known about it for a long time, but only read it a few years ago, after learning that my wife has been re-reading it every year or two since it came out in paperback in 1983 or thereabouts. You should go read it now or wait for the deluxe edition from Incunabula Press! (He’s also written other amazing books, like the Aegypt cycle, Engine Summer, and more.)
I talked with Mr. Crowley about readers’ devotion Little, Big, the problems he faced in writing it and how surmounting them opened the doors to his subsequent books, how the fantasy genre developed during the course of his career, what his favorite imaginary books are, why I felt unprepared for our conversation despite having read six of his novels, and what it was like to write copy for Maidenform bras when he was starting out.
“One of the most amazing things about writing to me is that, even though you’ve read, and heard, and seen thousands of stories, when you sit down to write one, you have no idea how to begin!”
Even if you haven’t read Little, Big, you’ll find this a fascinating conversation about the writing process, literary reputation, and what it means to tell a story!
“You have to write the things you love. They have to be extremely important to you, to give you that tingle when you read them. Because if you’re not moved by it, I don’t see how anyone else is going to be moved by it. . . .”
Then I talk with Scott Edelman, a longtime writer, editor and Con-goer, about his zombie-fiction, being an editor at Marvel Comics in the 1970s, his storytelling tips and his pros and cons of workshops, whether he pays attention to literary markets, what Readercon means to him, and what it was like to move from one side of the convention table to the other.
“Why zombies? Because zombies are the closest we’ll ever see to what we’ll really become. Because there’ll be that day when we’re all walking husks without memory.”
- Theodora Goss, Valya Dudycz Lupescue and Nancy Hightower (Readeron part 2)
- Paul Di Filippo
- Michael Dirda
- Craig Gidney
- Kyle Cassidy
About our Guests
John Crowley lives in the hills above the Connecticut River in northern Massachusetts with his wife and twin daughters. He is the author of Little, Big, the four-volume Aegypt cycle, The Translator, Novelties & Souvenirs, Lord Byron’s Novel, and Four Freedoms. You can find out more about the special anniversary edition of Little, Big here.
Scott Edelman has published more than 75 short stories in magazines such as Postscripts, The Twilight Zone, Absolute Magnitude, Science Fiction Review and Fantasy Book, and in anthologies such as The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, Crossroads, MetaHorror, Once Upon a Galaxy, Moon Shots, Mars Probes, Forbidden Planets. His poetry has appeared in Asimov’s, Amazing, Dreams and Nightmares, and others. What Will Come After, a collection of his zombie fiction, and What We Still Talk About, a collection of his science fiction stories, were both published in 2010. He has been a Stoker Award finalist five times, in the categories of both Short Story and Long Fiction. He is the editor of Blastr at the Syfy Channel. You can find more about him at his site.
Credits: This episode’s music is Fairy Tales by Style Council. Both conversations were recorded in a room at the Burlington Marriott on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 mics feeding into a Zoom H4n recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Blue Yeti into my Mac Mini, at my Ikeahack standing desk. File-splitting is done on a Mac Mini using Audacity. All editing and processing was done in Garage Band. Photos by me.
It’s time for the last Virtual Memories Show podcast of the year! This time around, we interview Kyle Cassidy, an amazing photographer based in west Philadelphia.
As he puts it in his bio, “Kyle Cassidy has been documenting American culture since the 1990’s. He has photographed Goths, Punks, Cutters, Politicians, Metalheads, Dominatrices, Scholars, and Alternative Fashion, in addition to less prosaic subjects. In recent years his projects have extended abroad to Romania, where he captured the lives of homeless orphans living in sewers; and to Egypt, where he reported on contemporary archaeological excavations.”
Kyle’s work has appeared in the New York Times, Vanity Fair (DE), the Sunday Times of London, Marie Claire, Photographers Forum, Asleep by Dawn, Gothic Beauty and a ton of other publications. He recently published War Paint: Tattoo Culture & the Armed Forces. In 2007, he published Armed America: Portraits of Gun Owners in Their Homes. We spoke one day after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, so our conversation began with a discussion of gun culture(s) in America.
“Guns are a huge part of many people’s lives, and have been from the beginning. I think it’s going to be very difficult for someone to convince lots of Americans that this is something they need to stop.”
Trust me: the conversation moves on to lighter topics after that, including how he discovered his next big project, Where I Write: Fantasy & Science Fiction Authors in Their Creative Spaces. We also talk about roller derby, fan cultures, the breakdown of discourse, how he got started in photojournalism, his most hated digital photography tricks, and whether he owns a gun, among other topics.
There are a lot more bad pictures out there, but there are a lot more good pictures out there, and there are a lot more things being covered that weren’t covered before. It’s a very good thing.
(Also, you may notice a certain vibrating noise that rises and falls during the show. That would be the purring of Kyle’s cat, Roswell, who joined us for several stretches of the episode. She also horked up something like a hairball at one point. I found it difficult not to break out laughing when she crawled into Kyle’s wife’s microphone box to watch us.)
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As I wrote at the top, this is the last episode of 2012. I’ve got some good guests planned for next year, and I’m hoping to get the show up to a reliable twice-monthly schedule. Thanks for supporting the show, and drop me a line if you have any suggestions for guests or topics you’d like to see me cover.
Credits: This episode’s music is Gun by The Golden Palominos. I recorded the intro on a Blue Yeti mic into Audacity, and the conversation was recorded in Mr. Cassidy’s home in Philadelphia, on a pair of AT2020 mics, feeding into a Zoom H4N recorder. All editing and processing was done in Garage Band. Photo courtesy of Valya Dudycz Lupescu.