Interview with Marissa Lingen

Marissa LingenMarissa Lingen’s story, “Pirates by Adeline Thromb Age 8,” appears in the Summer 2007 issue of Shimmer.  She’s also been published in our Clockwork Jungle Book (Issue #11) with her story “Kay’s Box” (you can read her interview about that story here).   To read more about Marissa, please visit her website or write her an email!


Where did the idea come from?
Well, I talked to John Joseph Adams about the upcoming theme issue at World Fantasy Con. I walked away from the conversation thinking, “Neat. Too bad I will never have any pirate stories.” And then I got on the plane home and fell asleep, and when I woke up, there was the story.

How did the story change as you developed it?
Most of my stories do that, but this one didn’t. It sprang full-grown from my head.

How is this story like your other work? How is it different?
It’s like my other work in that I am allergic to taking myself too seriously. It’s different in…um…just about every other regard, I think.

Questions About Writing:

What writing projects are you presently working on?
I am alternating work on a space opera with work on a story from the Evil Regent’s point of view.

Are you satisfied with traditional labels for genre fiction? Do words like “speculative,” “slipstream,” and, for that matter, “genre” cover it? What would you suggest?

I think they’re circular: they cover it for the people for whom they cover it. Other people interact with fiction on orthogonal axes to these and get very frustrated with genre. Generally I think of my stories as much less interstitial than other people do. Perhaps this is because I am not very bright, but I also think it might be because I think fantasy can do a great deal, so it’s very hard to disqualify something from being a fantasy story, to my way of thinking. I am interested in things that are genuinely interstitial, but I don’t want it to come to mean “fantasy that’s a little weird,” because fantasy is allowed to be a little weird.

Do you have a specific food or drink that you consider a writing staple?
I often start writing at breakfast-time, and I usually have a flour tortilla spread with Nutella for breakfast, so that might count. Otherwise no.

Do you work with a critique or writers group?

Not a formal one at the time I’m answering this questionnaire. I have friends to whom I hand stories, and friends who hand stories to me. There was some conversation with a guy about a thing; by the time this story hits publication, that may be reality.

It’s been said that readers can be divided into two groups: those who like The Iliad and those who like The Odyssey. Which camp are you in?

I am in those who like the Kalevala and the Prose Edda. (Not that I have anything against the Poetic Edda.) I am not unfond of The Iliad and The Odyssey, but they don’t make my bones vibrate the same way.

Random Questions:

What is your darkest secret?

I fear the deaths of my loved ones. Wait, that’s not secret at all. Even less so now that I told you, because you’ll just blab it in your magazine. Oh, thanks a lot. Now I have to go find a new dark secret.

Have you ever eaten a crayon? Tell us about it.
No. Well, the last time I didn’t eat a crayon was about a minute ago. My tongue felt slightly bumpy and minty and devoid of crayon-like presence. Pretty much like the time before that when I didn’t eat a crayon, and so on back, pretty much as far as I can remember.

Fast food: Yea or Nay?

Not so much. Unless it’s pizza. Then maybe.

All-time favorite movie?
At this moment? Sneakers. At some other moment it will be something different.

What are some of your hobbies?
I bake things. I hike. I always have difficulty labeling things as hobbies, so I tell people I don’t have any, and then the people who know me argue with me.

Is there anything that you would sell your soul for?
Probably, but nothing is coming to mind. But that’s how it always works, isn’t it? You never think that your best friend is going to have her soul tied to a flea-bitten monkey in the lowest pits of hell, and then suddenly it happens. It’s a shame, too, because it’s the sort of situation you want to have thought through before you have to answer it, and yet it’s never the scenario you thought through. Now my friend will be safe from hell-monkeys and it’ll be something else like my great-aunt having severe winged-giraffe troubles. And won’t I feel foolish for having prepared for the monkeys.

Quiz: How many writers does it take to change a lightbulb?
At my house, zero. I am six inches shorter than the next shortest person who lives here. So he changes the lightbulbs.

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Speculative fiction for a miscreant world

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