Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Diana Comet Presents...75 Years of Fabulous Writers Plus An Interview with Sandra McDonald

Ensconced away in a secret lab, author Sandra McDonald (THE OUTBACK STARS) has been working on a classified, RILLY BIG project in the far reaches of the Andromeda Galaxy.

Okay, all kidding aside (it's really closer to Bode's Galaxy), I have the privilege of unveiling “Diana Comet Presents...75 Years of Fabulous Writers.” Below is Sandra McDonald's video about 117 of the most influential female science fiction and fantasy writers, editors, and publishers of the last 75 years:

You can read more about how the project came about in the author's own words here. Sandra McDonald also has her short story collection debut out today: DIANA COMET AND OTHER IMPROBABLE STORIES. In addition to sharing her Fabulous Writers project, the author granted me an interview so we could learn more about her recent work.

The Galaxy Express: Congratulations on your forthcoming short story collection, DIANA COMET AND OTHER IMPROBABLE STORIES. How did it come about? What kind of stories can readers look forward to?

Sandra McDonald: The first Diana Comet story appeared in Strange Horizons in 2009. Her world is a strange and fantastical offshoot of our own that I’ve been dabbling with for a few years in different magazines. Steve Berman at Lethe Press stepped forward to bring published work and new stories together into this one volume, and many thanks to him. Some stories are tongue-in-cheek, others more serious, but my goal was to dazzle readers with entwined adventures from colorful characters and backgrounds. I do hope the stories prompt people to re-think ideas about gender, race and history.

TGE: Tell us about your project, “75 Years of Fabulous Writers.” These names include the most influential female science fiction and fantasy writers of the last 75 years. What did you learn as a result of this endeavor? What surprised you the most?

SM: I learned that it’s really hard to put together a chart big enough for all the wonderful writers in the field! So many great names had to be left off simply because of room. Part of the project was digging up or re-reading classic works by authors like C.L. Moore, Leigh Brackett, Judith Merril and Joanna Russ: I learned a lot about what it was like to publish in sf/fantasy’s early years, especially from Merril’s biography. Some of the research, such as how many women have not been honored or recognized by SFWA, drove home how imbalanced the field can still be. In the end, my library is a lot bigger than it was a few months ago, and I like to think I’m a better reader and writer for it.

TGE: Given the long history of both the SF and romance genres, why do you think there aren’t more science fiction romance authors on the list?

SM: To compile the names I looked first to Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Award winners and nominees. Many of the sf romance authors that I like best – Linnea Sinclair, for example, or Rachel Caine – have not been recognized on the sf side of the fence. Which is a shame. I’d like to tear down that fence by mashing up Romantic Times magazine with Locus and the SFWA Bulletin each month. That would be fun.

TGE: SFWA has had 23 male Grand Masters, with only 3 women assuming that title. And of the organization’s 27 presidents, only 5 were women. Why such a skewed ratio? What needs to change in order to increase the presence and active participation of women authors in SFWA?

SM: Many women are active in SFWA, in varying roles. Our new vice president is Mary Robinette Kowal, who worked long and hard to bring the SFWA website into the 21st century. Grand Masters, however, are nominated by the SFWA president. The only time that women have ever been awarded Grand Master are when women are also presidents.

One remedy might be to get more women into that top slot, but just getting anyone to run seems difficult – it’s a position with few rewards and many headaches. Both Kowal and our newest president, John Scalzi, ran unopposed. I know that Scalzi is a smart and forward-thinking guy, so maybe next year we’ll see Lois McMaster Bujold nominated.

John, call me.

TGE: Your SF trilogy (THE OUTBACK STARS, THE STARS DOWN UNDER, and THE STARS BLUE YONDER) is a unique mix of military SF, romance, and Aboriginal mythology. Remind us of why they hold strong appeal for science fiction romance fans. Any chance you’ll return to stories that blend SF and romance?

SM: I like to think the trilogy appeaals to readers because of the strong heroine, dashing love interest, and the fun and dramatic background of Pacific Rim colonies in space. The third book just debuted in Kindle and should be coming out in paperback soon. The sadly-orphaned fourth book is on the table at a different publisher, and I hope it sees print – it’s an exciting spin-off adventure, what I like to call “Star Wars Meets South Pacific.” My plan is be writing SF and romance for years to come, along with other genres as well.

Ms. McDonald, Ms. Comet, thanks for your time, and for your art.

In other Sandra McDonald news, her short story “Watching” is in the Destination: Future anthology from Hadley Rille Books.You can also look forward to her free short “Seven Sexy Cowboy Robots” at Strange Horizons around September 2010. Additionally, THE OUTBACK STARS trilogy is available in print as well as on the Kindle.

Last year, Sandra McDonald was featured in a TGE Author Supernova:

Part I
Part II
Part III

And here are two TGE guest posts about the books:

Ode to THE OUTBACK STARS Trilogy by Tia Nevitt
THE OUTBACK STARS and Military Culture in SFR by Laurie Green

What did you think about the Fabulous Writers video?

Joyfully yours,