Tuesday, May 26, 2009

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The History of the Science Fiction Romance Newsletter, Part III

Today, we're heading deeper into the annals of science fiction romance by continuing this week's feature about the SFR Newsletter.

If you're just catching up, you can read the first two parts here and here. The second illustrious author to helm the Science Fiction Romance Newsletter was Jody Wallace.

Here’s her bio:

Jody WallaceJody Wallace grew up in the South in a very rural area. She went to school a long time because she couldn't find a job and ended up with a Master's Degree in Creative Writing. Her resume includes college English instructor, technical documents editor, market analyst, web designer, and general all around pain in the butt.

She currently lives in Tennessee with her wonderful family: her amazingly tolerant husband and amazingly intelligent children. One of her many alter egos is "The Grammar Wench", which should give you an indication of her character. She is a terrible packrat and likes to amass vintage clothing, books, Asian-inspired kitchenware, gnomes, and other items that threaten to force her family out of the house. She also likes cats. A lot.

Ms. Wallace's approach to writing is to tell as many outlandish lies as she can get her readers to swallow. Her dream is to be moderately well-paid for this service. When her stories end up spicy, she releases them as Ellie Marvel.

Ms. Wallace is active in RWA, serves as webmaster for her local RWA chapter as well as VP, and conducts training sessions for contest judges.

And now it’s time for…

An Interview with Jody Wallace

The Galaxy Express: Please tell us how you became involved in the Science Fiction Romance Newsletter.

Jody Wallace: When I first started writing fiction with the intent to publish (rather than to amuse myself), I researched various opportunities for cross-genre stories and stumbled across the SFR Newsletter, then helmed by Jennifer Dunne. In June 2000, I applied to be her assistant editor, and a year or two after that, she asked me if I wanted the whole shebang. Jennifer had been editing the newsletter since 1995 and was definitely ready for a vacation.

TGE: What was the most fun about being involved with such a project? The most challenging?

JW: The fun part was the research, I think, observing cross-genre fiction and electronic publishing right when they began to bloom. Since I was editing the newsletter instead of just trying to get published, it gave me a broader perspective of the industry's metamorphosis--perhaps a more academic one? Not that writers aren't academic, but I don't know that I'd have kept the same extensive tabs on the market had I not been handling the newsletter. I would have written more fiction...but I would have researched less and met fewer interesting people. The newsletter was no sure-fire stepping stone to SFR stardom for me (obviously), but I don't regret my involvement one smidge.

TGE: I read that the Science Fiction Romance Newsletter evolved into Speculative Romance Online. Please describe how that change came about.

JW: I edited the newsletter until April 2005 when it passed to Joyce Ellen Armond. She felt the new name better represented the types of fiction the newsletter addressed. As there was a lot less "pure" science fiction romance available at the time, particularly from the major publishers, the newsletter included romances with other speculative elements like paranormals and fantasies. Yet the flavor of the newsletter didn't become overly generalized because it wasn't that easy to find "our" type of books in the 1990's and early 2000's--particularly not in mainstream publishing.

In today's market that is no longer the case. Speculative romance, as we all know, underwent a massive explosion that was just beginning when the newsletter changed editors for the last time. Paranormals and urban fantasies in particular boomed like gold in them thar hills. I like how the Galaxy Express has zeroed in on just science fiction romance. That way you (Heather) can keep tabs on the whole subgenre without driving yourself bonkers.

Zircon AnthologyTGE: Maintaining a project like the newsletter and Speculative Romance Online is a job in and of itself. Its also not easy given adverse market conditions. What factors contributed to the demise of the newsletter, the Sapphire Awards, and Speculative Romance Online?

JW: I believe Joyce had time constraints that affected her ability to pour so much of herself into the newsletter and the awards, as well as the Zircon Awards for short fiction we tried for a few years. I seem to recall the newsletter went on hiatus in March 2007, right before the anthology (SUM3) featuring some of our Zircon winners was released. My own time constraints were certainly the reason I passed the newsletter to Joyce in 2005.

TGE: What advice would you like to share for aspiring science fiction romance authors?

JW: When you get published, please let me know so I can go get your book. Wait, that's not advice, that's just self-serving. I would recommend getting a knowledgeable critique partner like, I don't know, Cathy Pegau, but you can't have her, she's spoken for. I time-share her with Sharron McClellan.

Secrets 22TGE: Is there any news or information about your current project(s) that you would like to share?

JW: I have two erotic science fiction romances with Red Sage -- "Heat" in Secrets 22 and "Megan's Choice", which has a choose your own romance structure. I still can't believe they let me do that! My novels with Samhain are not science fiction romances. As for future projects, I'm juggling some manuscripts, but I've got nothing in the pipeline right now, alas.

Ms. Wallace, thanks for such a fabulous interview. I’m humbled by your accomplishments.

Learn more about the author and her work by perusing the following links:

* The author’s Meankitty’s blog, Writer and Cat

* Jody Wallace is interviewed by Jess Granger

* Jody Wallace’s list of futuristic romances pre-2004 at Beyond The Veil

* Another recent interview with the author

* Samhain weblog article by Jody Wallace: Fantasy Romance, Finally!

Joyfully yours,