Writer Igniter Sci-Fi/Fantasy Summit

by Lori Walker
published in Community

In case you’ve somehow missed the announcement, DIY MFA is currently hosting our Sci-Fi/Fantasy Summit! Gabriela recently sat down and interviewed 11 top Sci-Fi/Fantasy authors on topics related to the craft of writing and the process of getting published. This event began yesterday, but it’s not too late to sign up! You can sign up here until Sunday, December 6. Replays for the interviews will be available for one week after they go live.

Did I mention this event is totally free? 

The Sci-Fi/Fantasy Line-Up

We worked really hard to put together a diverse and interesting set of interviews that covered all aspects of writing and publishing science fiction and fantasy. But even if Sci-Fi/Fantasy isn’t your jam, you can still get a lot of good information and advice from these interviews.

Here is our line-up and little bit of information about each interview:

Introduction to Speculative Fiction: Interview with Ada Palmer

In this interview, Ada and Gabriela discuss why human beings need and want an origin story. They also developed a working definition for sci-fi, fantasy, magical realism, and horror. They talk about the role and influence of history in speculative fiction. Ada explains what she means when she says history doesn’t repeat itself. Ada also talks about why she believes sci-fi and fantasy are great tools for galvanizing activism.

Story Structure in a Time Travel Narrative: Interview with Constance Sayers

In this interview, Constance and Gabriela discuss why she wrote in a linear manner as opposed to interlocking the narratives and how she avoided getting overwhelmed when writing multiple storylines. Constance talks about the writerly devices she used to connect her characters as they developed. She also explains her decision to use multiple points of view to create closeness. Constance and Gabriela discuss ways her book differs from a pure time travel narrative. Lastly, they talk about Constance’s intentional use of different locations throughout her novel.

Whose Story Is It? Point of View in a Dystopian Tale: Interview with Rob Hart

In this interview, Rob and Gabriela discuss how his start in journalism helped his later career as an author. They also talk about correlations between a smash Broadway musical and matters of storytelling. Rob explains his method for playing three point of view characters off each other and why fiction can be a more powerful vehicle for tackling heavy concepts. They discuss what happens when the speculative aspects of fiction meet reality. Lastly, Rob talks about his method for collecting and organizing ideas for future Sci-Fi/Fantasy projects.

The Politics of Voice: Interview with Curdella Forbes

In this interview, Curdella and Gabriela discuss how a relative’s storytelling style influenced her approach to her writing and what books and stories were a large part of her formative years. Curdella reveals which Nobel-winning author she is often compared to (and why she doesn’t mind!). They talk about why the Caribbean provides such a rich background for telling stories. They also discuss how magical realism has elements of sci-fi and what question they have in common. Curdella shares her advice for seamlessly using vernacular throughout her story.

Creating Dynamic Characters through Conflict: Interview with Fonda Lee

In this interview, Fonda and Gabriela talk about why speculative fiction is more character-driven than many people think and how dynamics between characters can ripple in or ripple out to create conflict. Fonda explains the advantages (and challenges) of writing multiple points of view in fantasy. Fonda talks about what role status can play in creating three-dimensional characters. They discuss why you should put your characters in situations where there are no good choices. Lastly, they talk about the differences and similarities between antagonists and villains.

World Building in Noir Fantasy: Interview with Dan Stout

In this interview, Dan and Gabriela talk about how similes and metaphors can become more powerful in fantasy novels. They discuss the importance of small touches in world building and how to use them effectively, and why world building is like going down a Wikipedia rabbit hole. Dan gives advice on ways to balance the fantastical and common elements of a mixed-genre plot. Dan also shares how he created a non-episodic sequel to his noir novel. Dan gives his take on writing book two and avoiding the sophomore slump.

Cracking the Code of Middle Grade Sci-Fi: Interview with Nicole Valentine

In this interview, Nicole and Gabriela identify the intersection between sci-fi and fantasy and the difference between hard and soft sci-fi. They explore how writing for Middle Grade readers differs from writing for adult readers. Nicole explains the research process for her book and the ways it resembled planning a bank heist. Nicole and Gabriela also talk about why being a programmer prepared her for becoming an author. Nicole shares her thoughts on the healing powers of wonder and awe and how to provide that in books. Finally, Nicole talks about what she is doing to close the gender gap in Upper Middle Grade fiction.

Crossing Boundaries and Managing Reader Expectations: Interview with Leanna Nicole Hieber

In this interview, Leanna identifies which classic author was her gateway to spooky, paranormal fiction. Leanna and Gabriela talk about how she juggles being at the intersection of multiple genres. Leanna shares her method for managing reader expectations. Leanna and Gabriela discuss why it was so important to create a diverse cast set in a historically repressive period and what she does to create an immersive world without creating an info dump. Lastly, Leanna talks about how she balances multiple jobs, how they interrelate, and why that’s useful.

Race, Capitalism, and the Multiverse: Interview with Micaiah Johnson

In this interview, Micaiah shares her writing process—and whether she is a planner or a pantser. Micaiah and Gabriela discuss why she likes her secondary characters more than her main characters. They also talk about how an outsider status can provide clarity through increased observation. They also discuss what made her focus on the haves and the have nots in her novel. Also, Micaiah reveals why she chose to break her world’s rules by the end of chapter two. Finally, they discuss genre harvesting and how that helped her create some great plot twists.

A Publishing Imprint of One: Interview with Glynn Stewart

In this interview, Glynn and Gabriela discuss why he shifted his thinking about self-publishing and how that made all the difference. Glynn shares what it means to write as creative versus as commodity and the third path he chose. They share tips on how to connect with your ideal readers, even ones who aren’t able to find you easily. Glynn reveals his process for doing due diligence when he writes diverse points of view. Glynn and Gabriela talk about the possibilities for creating unexpected non-human characters in your stories. They also discuss how he manages to be so prolific, while also maintaining the quality of his work.

Craft Your Career and Build a Body of Work: Interview with Chuck Wendig

In this interview, Chuck and Gabriela discuss how his latest book ultimately broke his writing process—and why that’s good. They share tips on what writers can do to create a separate space for their writing if they can’t leave home. Chuck talks about why social media doesn’t actually help make sales and what it does instead. They talk about the need for writers to take more ownership of the business side of their career. Chuck reveals how he stays informed on the latest in publishing and how to discern what is worthwhile. Lastly, they talk about why it’s important to evolve and modulate your voice throughout your Sci-Fi/Fantasy writing career.

Whew! That was a lot of ground! So many awesome Sci-Fi/Fantasy writers! I hope you’ll sign up one or more of those interviews. Again, you can sign up by clicking here. But don’t delay—sign-ups close on December 6. If you have any questions about the summit, don’t hesitate to email support@DIYMFA.

Lori Walker

Lori Walker is the Operations Maven at DIY MFA. Though she’s fallen off the wagon as a writer, she’s hoping to return to writing essays (perhaps even a novel!) through her involvement with DIY MFA. She also teaches yoga part-time in Smalltown, Oklahoma, where she lives with her husband and their cat, Joan Didion. You can follow her on Instagram at @LoriTheWriter.

Enjoyed this article?