Daniel Ausema

This is the last of our short interviews with our contributing authors. Thanks again to everyone who participated in SFFWorld.com’s 2017 anthology. We couldn’t have done it without you all!

Without further ado, meet…

Daniel Ausema

What inspired you to write a story about a map?

I’ve always been intrigued by maps. There’s a story in every line of a map, a narrative implied. In fact, when I begin daydreaming about a new long form story I want to write, all the world-building and plotting is often highly tentative…until I sit down and draw a map. That’s when the world begins to take shape in my mind, and the map itself suggests new twists and turns of the story. For this specific story, I wanted to have it take place in the same general region as the story I had in last year’s SFFWorld.com anthology, Ecotones: “Seeds by a Hurricane Torn.” Plant-based magic infuses that setting, so the pairing of that with my interest in maps and my love of the weird and strange out there led to this story.

Do you have a special place where you go to recharge your creative muse?

I live beside the mountains. Being up–anywhere–in the mountains is a huge boost for something inside me. To be honest, though, as a parent of young children, I don’t get nearly as much time to spend up there as I might like. Yet even being able to see the peaks as I drive my kids to school or rush around on errands has a similar calming effect on the chaos, which is key for creativity. I grew up far from the mountains, and back there, it was the stands of old growth trees that did it for me. Wandering in them, or even simply taking them in as I passed by, was a map to creativity for me.

Can you tell us about a time when you wished you had a map?

When I was a freshman in college, I was in a city I’d driven to and through all my life, but didn’t really grasp how one area I knew met up with another. I was preparing for my first collegiate track season–and was under-prepared compared to many of my teammates. So when we headed out for a run, I fell behind and ended up deciding I had to simply turn back early–a five-mile run instead of the six or seven miles the others were doing.
I got turned around.
After realizing I was lost, I asked someone for help as she was getting into her car in front of her house. Except…I hadn’t learned the street names of my college yet and could only tell her the college name, so she directed me to where the campus had been decades earlier. Which got me even more turned around. When I finally got back to my dorm, I looked on a map (!) and calculated that I must have gone twenty miles by the time all was done. Not all of it running…

For your story, Mapping the Buzz of Insects, you created a unique world that feels much fuller than this one short story. Do you have anything else written in this story-world?

In addition to the Ecotones story, I’ve written a couple of other stories about the spell growers of Ormenna and the surrounding lands. With each one I write, I see the setting grow richer and inch toward developing it more for a possible novel (or more!). So keep your eyes out for more stories that tie in with these.

A writer, runner, reader, parent, and teacher, Daniel Ausema has had stories and poems in Strange Horizons, Daily Science Fiction, Diabolical Plots, and many other places. His steampunk-fantasy trilogy Spire City is also available. He lives in Colorado, at the foot of the Rockies.

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