Thursday, August 3, 2017

In Which I Explain Everything There Is To Be Explained


I've been interviewed for Reach. The interview covers a lot of territory from what The Iron Dragon's Mother is about to how I plot, my favorite blurb, what there is to be learned from James Branch Cabell, etc., etc. Here's a fairly typical call-and-response:

REACH:  Is your writer workspace a permanent location and do you subscribe to Einstein's opinion about messy desks: “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”  

Can you send us an image of your writer workspace?  Do you even have one of those outdoor workshed style writer workspace or do you have the old school, extended library office?  Writer's workspaces are a kind of a popular fetish for making into a man-cave or princess-room that all wannabe writers and fans want to see what their favorite authors look like in their natural habitat.  What are your most important work tools and reference books or inspirational favorite sci-fi authors in your personal workspace?

MS: I have an extremely cluttered home office – photographer Kyle Cassidy uses it as the standard of untidiness – filled with memorabilia (a bundle of rope samples from a factory in Kolomna, a West African sword, globes of real and imaginary worlds, trophies, Swanwick-brand soup cans that Jason Van Hollander made for me, and so on), drifts of paper from dozens of projects, various tools of the trade, and of course shelf upon shelf of books – most of them double-stacked and almost all non-fiction. (Fiction and poetry are shelved elsewhere.) Marianne calls it a wizard’s den.

Basic reference works kept by the desk are a thesaurus, a standard dictionary, Barlett’s Familiar Quotations, and the Oxford English Dictionary – the condensed version that you have to use a magnifying glass to read. Close to hand are various foreign dictionaries and specialized reference books on fairies, saints, demons, and so on. Plus lots and lots of books on the sciences, religion, folklore, whatever. A pretty standard batch, really, for a writer.

I also have a “devil stone” that a Siberian shaman gave me, to unlock my powers he said. When I don’t feel like working, I hold it in my hand to remind myself of all the things and experiences my writing has brought me.

You can find the entire interview here.

Above: My favorite author photo ever. By Beth Gwinn. You can find her home page here.



DRickard said...

You explain everything there is to be explained? Okay: Why are hot dogs sold in packages of ten but hot dog buns are sold in packages of eight?

Michael Swanwick said...

They changed that. Hot dog buns are sold in packages of eight now.

Dan Dan the Party Man said...

So you have a Devil's Stone eh? That will come in useful for the sacrifices to come...

HANNAH'S DAD said...

Your mention of the interview in Reach is as good an opportunity as any to say how much I enjoyed the Coode St Podcast where you and Kij Johnson discussed Tiptree's work. It was one of the best discussions of SF and of writing that I've heard and was an absolute delight. I thought that both you and Kij were at the top of your form.

It distresses me that I can't think of any other analogous conversations I've heard- surely "two good writers discuss a third" should be as enduring a genre as "cat solves murder mystery"?

(For those who haven't heard the talk, it's Coode St Podcast #282)

Michael Swanwick said...

Kij was in good form and I didn't try to hog the mike. So that worked out pretty well.