Interview with Samantha Henderson

Samantha Henderson’s story, Route Nine, appears in the Winter 2006 issue of Shimmer.

Questions about Route Nine

Where did the idea for Route Nine come from?
For various reasons I’ve found myself driving up and down California’s Central Valley many times. Route Nine is my collective impression of many small towns along that route, taken a step further.

Do you work with a critique or writers group?
I work with a ten-member online critique group.

How did the story change as you developed it?
It became decidedly weirder.

Questions about writing:

Who do you write for? Yourself or someone else?
I write for myself and hope that others will like it.

How long had you been submitting before you made your first sale?
Hmmm. I had a period of writing and submitting in my twenties, with a few sales to small markets and many rejection slips, and I really don’t remember the timelines. Then I took time out for kids and career. I started writing and submitting again seriously about three years ago, and almost immediately made a sale to Strange Horizons, which surprises me a lot more now than it did then. So you could say about 15 years or two months, depending on how you define it.

How did you celebrate your first sale?
That is between my husband and myself. (grins)

What writing projects are you presently working on?
I’m working on two young adult novels — one is a collaboration, and on the other I am the sole author.

Does popular culture or entertaiment influence your writing?
I’m sure it must.

What time of day do you prefer to do your writing?
Ideally, early afternoon. But I have to grab time as I can get it.

Favorite short story read this year?
Neil Gaiman’s A Study in Emerald from the Shadows Over Baker Street anthology.

Favorite book read when you were a child?
Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising

Random Questions

If you could trade places with anyone, who would it be? And Why?
Oh no. That’s like wishing for a million dollars and losing your child and getting a million dollar cashout on an insurance policy. I’m not qualified to play that game.

Do you believe in ghosts or the supernatural?
No — which leaves me conflicted, because my house is haunted.

What’s your day job?
I am a church secretary. No, really.

Fast food: Yea or Nay?
In moderation? Good Lord, yes.

Favourite food?
At the moment, I have to say sushi.

Favourite restaurant?
The Blue Nile, an Ethiopian restaurant in Berkeley, California. No idea if it’s still there.

What are some of your hobbies?
Horseback riding. Used to be embroidery, but my fingers have gotten rough and clumsy lately. Does reading count?

Cat or dog person? (or something else, like birds, iguanas, or even evil robot monkeys?)
I am hideously allergic to cats, so by default a dog person. All my current dogs are from Corgi rescue. I’m very fond of snakes, but I can’t keep them anymore because overnight, it seemed, I went from being indifferent to the plight of various feeder rodents to really being squicked at the sight of their little paws going down the gullet.

Is there anything that you would “sell your soul” for?
Nah. See the “trading places” answer above.

All-time favourite movie?
Favorite in terms of craft? The Third Man. Favorite in terms of gosh-wow fun? Raiders of the Lost Ark, which was recently given a run for its money by National Treasure.

If you had a working time machine what advice would you give a younger self?
Damn. Buy at $1 and sell at $100.

Do you have a secret skill that you never get to show off? (i.e. ambidextrous writing, blood-curdling screams, double-jointed, badmitton champion…)
I can toss various food items into the air and catch them in my mouth.

Quiz: How many writers does it take to change a lightbulb?
Depends on whether it’s an interstitial, slipstream, new weird or dark fantasy light bulb.

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