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.


Looking for a holiday gift? Buy You Are Here now and help out desperate animals. While at our low introductory price of $2.99, all proceeds will be donated to the Humane Society.

Available here:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon Canada
Smashwords
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
iTunes
Advertisements

Lynn Rushlau

A short interview with another (new and undiscovered) author and contributor to You Are Here – Tales of Cartographic Wonders.

Lynn Rushlau

What inspired you to write a story about a map?

I was reading a book years ago that got into a section on cartographers and where they got their information (afraid I can’t remember what the book was on, but pretty sure it wasn’t just about maps). I’ve always loved maps and that section sent the wheels turning.

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

Most frequently, I head outdoors. I love walking outside and that always helps whether I’m working through my current work in progress while I walk or just letting my thoughts drift. I’m lucky to have a couple of walking paths near my home with lots of trees and some (artificial) waterfalls.

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

A few years ago I flew into Tokyo and was confident I could walk from the train station to my nearby hotel based on the map I looked at online before I left. I didn’t realize there’d be no street signs & was quickly turned around and confused. I wandered the streets, getting more and more lost and frantic before the nicest woman ever stopped and asked if I needed help. She and her mother whipped out their phones and had a battle between Google & Apple Maps. Not sure which we followed, but they actually escorted me several blocks directly to the door of my hotel.

In  your story, Safe Haven, you protagonist reveals a secret ability. What’s your secret talent?

Hmm, don’t think I’ll be admitting to any psychic gifts here. I’ll just say this is the first and only steam punk story I’ve written to date.

Lynn Rushlau graduated from the UT Austin with a degree in Anthropology and minor in Sociology—which seem like awesome planning for a life creating worlds, but she admits she wasn’t thinking that far ahead. She lives in Addison, Texas with two attention-needy cats, and is on Twitter @lrushlau.


Looking for a holiday gift? Buy You Are Here now and help out desperate animals. While at our low introductory price of $2.99, all proceeds will be donated to the Humane Society.

Available here:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon Canada
Smashwords
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
iTunes

Kate Coe

 

There are many writers out there; self-publishing their stories and creating fantasical worlds for readers to discover. But finding them can be hard. We like to think that these anthologies help readers discover new-to-them authors. We know we did with Kate Coe! Though she started writing reviews for SFFWorld.com earlier this year, we had no idea she wrote her own fiction as well. We were quite surprised by her imaginative story and hope you will be, too.

Kate Coe

What inspired you to write a story about a map?

I loved the idea of a map not being a piece of paper; a map being something that gives you a trail, a place-marker, a path on which something else runs… maybe life or fate. And somewhere in the Otherworld, in the depths of Fairyland, is there someone who can map out fates?

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

I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky…although I haven’t sailed for years, the sea winds always recharge me.

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

This was a time when we did have a map, but we just didn’t pay enough attention to it! They’re only useful if you actually use them…I was on Dartmoor (a moorland area in the UK) with a group of fellow-teenagers. We were being overly optimistic with our route from one campsite to another, and we somehow went the wrong way. Hey, it happens…except this time, our route took us over some suspiciously marsh ground. The sort that squelches worryingly under your boot. The sort that moves as you step on it. The sort that leaks water into your footprints and you have a cold realisation that you’re walking over a weed-and-bog-covered-lake…we got out of there, very fast, and took our map’s polite warnings of ‘marshy land’ a little more seriously after that!

In  your story, Mapping Out the Future, your spunky protagonist, Ghost, feels as if she’s part of a larger world. Can we expect to see more of her?

Ghost is part of a wider world and story, so if you like her or want to know more about her world – or the nagging feeling that someone was watching her – then keep an eye out!


Kate Coe is a writer of fiction and fantasy, and blogs at writingandcoe.co.uk. She writes the GreenSky series of novellas, is a librarian in real life, and fills her spare time with web design, reading, cross-stitch and DIY (which may or may not involved destroying things).


Buy You Are Here now and help out desperate animals. While at our low introductory price of $2.99, all proceeds will be donated to the Humane Society.

Available here:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon Canada
Smashwords
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
iTunes

Andrew Leon Hudson

Today’s featured author has a history with SFFWorld.com and the short story anthologies we put together. He even took over last year’s editing duties to produce Ecotones – Ecological Stories from the Border Between Science Fiction and Fantasy (it’s got award-winning authors in it – go read!).

But this year, he simply helped with story selection and when we begged, offered his own story.

Andrew Leon Hudson

What inspired you to write a story about a map?

I wasn’t, at first. I’ve recently read some great sf that had a strong focus on geo-political issues, but “maps” weren’t really on my radar until the anthology theme was announced. In the end I wrote two completely different map stories, and the one in YOU ARE HERE has inspired me to start some new stories in the same world. So it seems Maps have inspired me to write about other things.

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

The answer is probably “bed”, I tend to tick over ideas while I’m waiting to fall asleep. For me the bigger challenge is to push aside distractions so I can actually write, so the “special places” for me are where I work. At the moment I hide myself in cafes or bars around my city and make sure I don’t have the WiFi password!

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

I’ve rarely got lost, even before I had a smart phone in my pocket. I’m terrible with street names, but I’ve always had a good grasp of my general location: no matter how I arrived some strange part of my city, I can always walk straight home, even if I don’t know where a particular route will lead. However, I used to work a delivery job that meant I was driving all around Yorkshire, and sometimes the destinations seemed to magically slide away from where they were supposed to be…

 


Andrew Leon Hudson is an improper Englishman who writes, edits, designs and publishes books for people, himself included. If you’d like one, drop him a line sometime. He lives in Europe, and plans to spend as much time there as he can before the doors close once and for all. Visit andrewleonhudson.wordpress.com to learn more.


Buy You Are Here now and help out desperate animals. While at our low introductory price of $2.99, all proceeds will be donated to the Humane Society.

Available here:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon Canada
Smashwords
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
iTunes

Robert A. Francis

When we chose this year’s map theme, we hadn’t thought it would inspire very many horror stories, but the internet proved us wrong.

Today’s You Are Here featured author decided to map his way to hell. Let’s learn a bit more about why (for pete’s sake!) would anyone want to do that.

Robert A. Francis

What inspired you to write a story about a map?

As a geographer, I work with maps a lot, and am interested in how they link to our geographical imaginations of space and place. I thought an anthology of stories around maps was a great idea, and wanted to explore how realms beyond ours might be mapped, and what is might mean to do so. So I started working on The Final Atlas.

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

Recharging my muse is a luxury I don’t usually have – I do most of my creative writing longhand on the train to work and type it up in the small hours of the morning – but generally liminal places feed creativity for me, especially riverbanks, beaches and lake shores. The boundary between land and water has great profundity.

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

Many times. I seem to get lost in cities I visit all the time and have an appalling sense of direction. Smartphones are a godsend.

Your story evokes a wonderful, and terrifying, sense of place. Was there a specific location the story is set in?

Venzone (where The Final Atlas is set) is a beautiful Italian town that I spent some time in as a doctoral student many years ago. It was knocked down by an earthquake in 1976 and rebuilt in just the same style as before. It is well worth a visit and even has mummies!


Rob Francis is an academic and writer based in London. He has published numerous scientific articles and books, and started writing short fiction in 2014. His stories have appeared in various magazines, including SQ Mag, SpeckLit, Swords & Sorcery Magazine, The Lorelei Signal, The Fable Online and Every Day Fiction.


Buy You Are Here now and help out desperate animals. While at our low introductory price of $2.99, all proceeds will be donated to the Humane Society.

Available here:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon Canada
Smashwords
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
iTunes

Joseph A. Lopez

Getting a chance to watch fellow authors grow and improve as writers is inspiring and humbling. It never fails to impress just how dedicated we are to our craft.

That is no exception with today’s featured author. His story, The Memory Monster, explores how memories can be maps to our lives. Once lost, what does that leave us?

Joseph A. Lopez

What inspired you to write a story about a map?

To be honest, what really inspired me was the idea of inclusion in the sffworld.com anthology. I’ve been a fan of the website and a member for a few years now. It has a vibrant community and is run by a dedicated group of admins who love the genre. As discussion forums have gone the way of the dinosaurs, made extinct by rampant social media, sffworld.com has continued to thrive. Previous forum anthologies have been of high quality and I think that’s a testament to the editors, N. E. White and Andrew Leon Hudson, as well as the passionate contributors in the forum community. So I’m honored to be included among such esteemed company regardless of the topic.

Having said that, I think maps have long played a crucial role in speculative fiction. Especially with respect to epic fantasy where a group of companions often go on journeys requiring them to travel long distances. How many times have we read such a story and, in the middle of the text, flipped to the front of the book to use the map as a point of reference? While I find their inclusion to be less common in science fiction (perhaps because the scope of exploration there is often broader and can encompass solar systems or even entire galaxies), obviously the idea of exploration nonetheless plays a large role in many a sci-fi story.

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

Several, but perhaps the most interesting one is a stairwell! There’s an interesting stain on the floor of this stairwell that takes the shape of a bird. Or at least, that’s what it looks like to me, similarly to how people sometimes spot images in the clouds. This stairwell is remarkably quiet, but for the gentle hum of elevators going up and down on the opposite side of the wall. I can’t recall exactly when it happened, but at some point this stairwell became my “dreaming room” where I could get away from all the noise of a busy city and gather my thoughts. Sometimes that took the form of the personal, or professional, or creative. Often times, those thoughts quickly became intertwined!

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

It’s hard to remember a time before cell phones and GPS, isn’t it? I remember an Emilio Estevez movie from 1983 called “Judgement Night” where the story consists of a group of friends getting stranded in a bad neighborhood and having to hide from a gang of drug dealers. These days that premise probably wouldn’t work so well, what with everyone having cell phones with tracking devices and multiple methods of instant communication!

But coupled with this technological convenience comes an over reliance that can handicap us. There have been quite a few instances while traveling across the vastness of California that I’ve lost cell phone or satellite reception. Sometimes this even happens while traveling through the mountains in Los Angeles!

One time in particular, I was driving to a meetup at a “dog mansion” (yes, it’s a mansion for dogs where they hang out and play… these things actually exist in L.A.) and I took a wrong turn. GPS recalculated, but unfortunately we were way up in the mountains and it couldn’t locate any of the roads. A good old fashioned Rand McNally physical map – the type we used for family vacations back in the 1980s – would’ve been useful right about then! Fortunately, I was able to load Google Maps with location turned off and figure out where we were. I got my pooch to the dog mansion in time for him to live a lavish lifestyle for the day.

Your story concentrates on memories as a living map. Where did that idea come from?

I wanted to try a different approach to the traditional inclusion of a map. My short story, The Memory Monster, straddles the line between urban fantasy and horror. It takes place largely in our own reality, or within one person’s representations of that reality. I won’t say more to spoil the story. Nonetheless, the theme of memory should be apparent from the title. I wanted to use maps in both the real and metaphorical sense to guide us on a journey down one man’s memory lane, and use that to explore the larger theme of regret that we may have when reflecting on the totality of our lives.

I want to thank the editors for keeping an open mind and not only accepting stories that went beyond the traditional notion of “maps,” but also encouraging their submission. I hope that readers enjoy The Memory Monster and the anthology as a whole.


Joseph A. Lopez is a practicing attorney in Los Angeles, California. He fell in love with speculative fiction at a young age and has been an avid reader and writer in the genre ever since. His short story “The Memory Monster” included in this anthology is his first published work. Joseph is an active member of the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society (“GLAWS”). Online, he can be found on Facebook.


Buy You Are Here now and help out desperate animals. While at our low introductory price of $2.99, all proceeds will be donated to the Humane Society.

Available here:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon Canada
Smashwords
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
iTunes

Lee Blevins

It’s amazing to find out that writers are people, too. They have lives and often do things as interesting as rocket science, engineering, or stand-up comedy.

Today, our featured author holds that final occupation. But don’t be fooled. His story, The Bronze Man and the Second Son, isn’t funny at all. It is a quiet study of the dangers of reaching beyond the edges of the world.

Let’s meet You Are Here‘s comedian turned writer…

Lee Blevins

What inspired you to write a story about a map?

Growing up, like many fantasy fans, I always loved the maps in the fronts and backs of books. I started drawing my own world maps when I started writing fantasy stories.

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

My special place is music on my earbuds and cigarettes. No one said it was healthy.

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

Anytime I’ve ever had a crush on a girl I had wished I had a map towards realistic expectations.

Your story, The Bronze Man and the Second Son, focuses on the journey of an indigenous person showing a newcomer his world. I found the text contemplative, practical, and haunting. What inspired the setting?

The Bronze Man and the Second Son is inspired by “Nanook of the North” as much as anything else. Or, rather, my hazy memory of “Nanook of the North”.

Lee Blevins lives in Lexington, Kentucky. He’s a stand-up comic and a sit down tragedian. He’s on Twitter @BleeSevens.


Buy You Are Here now and help out desperate animals. While at our low introductory price of $2.99, all proceeds will be donated to the Humane Society.

Available here:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon Canada
Smashwords
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
iTunes