Rebecca Stevenson, still catching up on her sleep from Taos, settled down to answer a few questions for us. Rebecca is fluent in many genres and uses a lot of them at once, which this reader likes!
Tamago: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Rebecca: Like a lot of people, I started writing very young, but I think I would pinpoint 2008 as the year of decision. That’s when I decided to stop messing around and take the endeavor seriously, started trying to learn more about the craft, find beta readers, and set concrete goals.
Tamago: What are you working on right now?
Rebecca: I am writing the first draft of an urban fantasy novel set in Boston, which includes a lot of Arthurian mythos and Lord Byron. I’m also doing final revisions on a kitchen-sink science fantasy — AI ships, magic, nanotechnology, and shapeshifters saving the universe!
Tamago: Which writers are your influences?
Rebecca: Early on, my outlook was heavily influenced by Barbara Hambly and Tanya Huff. Later on, Guy Gavriel Kay and Walter Jon Williams are two of the big ones.
Tamago: I know you write both fantasy and science fiction. How important do you consider the concept of genre in speculative fiction?
Rebecca: I come to this question as a technical writer — it’s important to understand the audience, to understand their expectations. Genre helps set the guidelines for both writers and readers, and provides a context in which they have a conversation.
Naturally, one doesn’t have to live by those guidelines, but it gives you a sense of where you need to signpost for the audience that you *are* diverging. With my science fantasy, I tried hard to get a number of cross-genre elements onto the first page, so that readers wouldn’t think they were getting one flavor only to trip over elements from a different genre later.
Tamago: You are a very busy person, with a full time job and 3 kids. How do you find time to keep writing in your every day life?
Rebecca: I set small goals and try to keep to a routine. I’ve recently adopted a 500 new words/day primary goal and created a spreadsheet that tracks my projects. That’s far from ambitious, but almost always something I can manage to do. Being able to make measurable progress every day is a huge boost. Tracking *everything* I write is also helpful; the numbers tell me if I’m spending more time than I want to on side projects. I am very distractable. 🙂
Tamago: At Taos, you seemed to blossom. What did you learn at Taos that you think will make you a better writer?
Rebecca: It was the first time I’ve really been able to hang out with other writers for an extended period. Just being surrounded by people with the same enthusiasms was a huge lift. I feel like I came out of it with a better technical understanding of the writing process, a greater degree of trust in myself, and some wonderful friends. I’m looking forward to hearing about everyone’s future successes.
Tamago: What advice would you give an author about to enter a workshop?
Rebecca: Pack light. Be open to the unexpected. Bring a camera. You can catch up sleep when you get home.
Tamago: Where do you hope to be in 10 years as a writer?
Rebecca: I hope that by that time I’ll have something published, and that I’ll continue to grow. No matter what, I’ll still be writing–the part of my brain that comes up with stories never turns off, so I might as well write them down.
Tamago: What is your dream project?
Rebecca: That’s difficult to answer, since whatever book I’m working on at the moment tends to be the one that I most want to write. I do have an idea for a project that would absolutely require me to spend a lot of time in the south of France to do research, so probably that one!
Tamago: Where can people find your work?
Rebecca: My hard drive. I have some fan-fiction on Archive of Our Own, but no published work. Yet.