Tell us how “We Take the Long View” came to be.
I came up with the POV first and fit the story into it. I love playing with POV and story structure, and I’ve always wanted to write a story in first person plural. Of course, I had to come up with a good reason to write the story in first person plural, which led to the creation of the telepathic plants and the Community. This then developed into a story about resistance and the colonizer becoming the colonized. I think it came pretty far from an exercise in weird POV!
You’ve written more than one story that explores alien consciousness and alien perspectives. What draws you to explore these ideas?
For me, aliens are a way to explore the concept of a completely different kind of sentience. I love the idea of writing about beings whose mindset is so different from anything any human society has come up with, because it forces both the writer and the reader to re-examine what they mean by morality, by family, by aesthetics. I hate alien stories where they’re just humans in rubber masks (or worse, stand-ins for a real human culture). Aliens let me get my weird on in a major way, allowing for an outsider perspective on humanity.
You’ve lived in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Portland, moving most recently from the right-coast to the left. Have these places had an impact on your writing? How?
Pittsburgh was where I first started to write seriously, and Baltimore is where I started writing fiction again. In Baltimore I experienced quite a bit of cultural shock – you wouldn’t think it’s that different from the Rust Belt, but it really is, and a lot of the stories I started writing when I moved there came directly out of the feeling of being plunged into a place that I wasn’t prepared for. Although I was uncomfortable enough in Baltimore to move 2700 miles away from it, Baltimore has one of the best, most supportive speculative fiction writing communities in the country and they really helped me get over the things that were keeping me from writing fiction. I’m not quite sure yet how Portland will affect my writing, except that I know my next novel will be set here.
The 24 Hour Zine Challenge in Portland! What is it about the ‘zine scene in Portland, and how were you involved in the Challenge?
I’ve been involved with zines since 2000, and have always admired the Portland zine community from afar. People here are very much into DIY, and there’s no place that exemplifies that quite like the Independent Publishing Resource Center (IPRC), where two dozen Portland zinesters met to work on their zines in the comfort of a slightly stuffy former warehouse in SE. My 24 hour zine this year (issue #6 of my Breakfast at Twilight series, and hell yes that is a Philip K. Dick shoutout) was a short one about my first three months in Portland. Unfortunately my computer broke while I was making it, so it wasn’t quite a 24 hour zine. I’m less involved with zines now that I’ve started writing fiction again, but I still like to keep up with it. Someday I’d like to publish a zine of my science fiction and somehow bring together these two very different types of writing I’m drawn to. Zines came out of science fiction, after all!
What’s in your CD player / iTunes / Spotify / 8-Track?
I am the worst with music. I still listen mostly to the same stuff I did a decade ago: Flaming Lips, the Mountain Goats, Elliott Smith, Daniel Johnston. There’s this new(ish) band Sleigh Bells that I think is really rad. Basically, I either like sad songs by amazing lyricists or upbeat dance songs with lots of keyboards in them. Nothing in between.