has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was a finalist for the John
W. Campbell Award. His stories have appeared in ZYZZYVA, Asimov's Science
Fiction, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Realms of Fantasy
and his non-fiction has been published in Boing-Boing, Wired,
and other venues.
with Daniel Marcus
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Daniel Marcus: These
stories were written between 1992 and 2007. Individually, the stories
took anywhere from a couple of days to a few years to complete. (One
example of the latter is Echo
Beach -- I couldn't quite get it right and went through
several iterations of the story before finding a home for it).
TSR: Did you
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
DM: Yes and no. I always
assumed that at some point these stories would be collected. Each
story, though, stands alone -- there is no deliberate attempt at common
theme, subject matter, or even genre. They are all speculative fiction
in some sense, but they run pretty much all over the map, from core sf
to horror to magic realism.
TSR: How did
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
DM: These stories
represent most of my output during this period. There are a half dozen
or so that I did not include. Some were published in mainstream
literary magazines and were not appropriate for a genre collection.
Others, the publisher and I agreed we would not include in order to
preserve a certain feel for the collection.
Choosing the order of the
stories was not easy. Ultimately, I decided to bookend the collection
with stories that I felt were particularly strong and echoed themes
that recur throughout. (I will leave it to the reader to determine what
those themes might be). As for ordering the rest of the stories, I
tried to create a rhythm and pace that would keep readers engaged by
choosing stories that varied in length, tone, and content. At the end
of the day, it was really a matter of developing a feel for the overall
structure of the collection.
TSR: What does the word "story"
mean to you?
this one has really been around the block, hasn't it? The best
definition of "story" I have ever read is by Bonnie Friedman:
"A story is a machne inhabited by a God."
I can think of no better or more accurate definition.
TSR: Do you
have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?
few of the stories were written by invitation for specific markets (Blue Period is one
example). Most have murkier origins. I wil begin usually with scene or
character sketch and develop that until something coherent emerges. In
the early stage, I am not really thinking about the reader.
I apply various elements of craft during the revision process, I begin
to think very consciously of my audience. There is a bit of sleight of
hand in writing fiction, a bit of smoke and mirrors. You are creating
an illusion for your reader to experience. It needs to simulate reality
in some sense, but not necessarily mimic it. So you have to be
selective in what details to include, what to disclose and when about
plot and character, how to use imagery to invoke certain emotions and
Beyond that, I don't really have a target reader in mind. I think these
stories are diverse enough that they would appeal to a wide range of
TSR: Is there
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your
anything at all?
DM: Sure -- what
were your most and least favorite stories and why? Just curious.
TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
DM: It feels great!
TSR: What are
you working on now?
DM: I am currently
circulating two novels -- one mainstream and one fantasy -- and I'm
working on a screenplay based on the mainstream book. It's
called Burn Rate
and it's the story of a couple who, unable to conceive, find a
surrogate via the Internet. She has some undisclosed history in the
form of an unhinged ex-boyfriend. Let's just say some bad things happen
to good people.
I am also gathering preliminary material and ruminating on a
far future space opera kind of deal -- lost colonies, inimical alien
races, an ancient galactic spanning civilization that's gone
post-singularity and left behind a network of wormholes and all sorts
of interesting toys. My current challenge is to put all that backstory
behind a few compelling character and narrative arcs. I am also doing a
little teaching and working on some new short stuff.
And there's my most important project, which is
spending time with my 11 year old son.
TSR: What are
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
DM: James Salter, Last Night.
I love Salter's work and I am surprised that he has not achieved more
widespread recognition. His stories are perfect, troubling, and
Gene Wolfe, Strange Travelers.Gene
Wolfe has been descibed as "the most important author in the SF field."
This collection of relatively recent work showcases a mature artist at
the top of his form.
Benjamin Percy, Refresh Refresh.
I was wandering around my local bookstore, Black Oak, and stumbled
across this book. I hadn't heard of the author, but I picked up the
book and started reading right there in the store. Twenty minutes
later, my wife called me from the restaurant where I was supposed to
meet her -- I barely heard the phone. These stories straddle mainstream
and genre without effort or pretense. They are beautifully written,
emotionally powerful, complex and direct at the same time. What a find.
I've got my eye open for more from this author.