EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Cat Rambo on Shared Worlds and “The Fathomless Abyss”

Cat Rambo lives and writes in the Pacific Northwest. Her latest collection, Near + Far, appears this month from Seattle-based Hydra House Books.

SF Signal had the opportunity to talk with her about shared worlds and The Fathomless Abyss, a shared world anthology featuring stories from Cat, Mike Resnick, Jay Lake, J.M. McDermott, Mel Odom, Brad Torgersen and Philip Athans. In The Fathomless Abyss, a bottomless pit opens who-knows-when onto who-knows-where, just long enough for new people from a thousand different worlds and a million different times to fall in and join the fight for survival in a place where the slightest misstep means an everlasting fall into eternity. In this world, the laws of physics work against you, there’s no way out, and time means nothing…


CHARLES TAN: Hi Cat! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. First off, how did you get involved with The Fathomless Abyss series?

CAT RAMBO: I came into the project a little later than the rest of the collaborators, as a substitute for Ken Scholes, who’d had to drop out. Ken thought it’d be nice to have a female author in the mix.  Because I’m conscious of that, I actually have been having a little fun by creating titles with Freudian implications. First A Querulous Flute of Bone, and now the two novellas, A Seed on the Wind and A Cavern Ripe with Dreams.

I was a little dubious about the world at first, because it’s such a crazy idea. But I was so pleased with how A Querulous Flute turned out that I’ve become a convert.

CT: You’ve worked on shared world settings before. What’s the appeal of this one for you, and what were some of the challenges writing for it?

CR: It’s such an unlikely world that it presents a certain challenge because to me the economics just don’t work. I have to firmly put my more logical side on the shelf when working in the Abyss. Which is weirdly freeing, however.

There’s also the challenge of keeping track of what other people are doing and have established in the world. Luckily Phil Athans has been carefully recording such things and putting them in our “bible,” the document that contains everything that’s been established. But one thing I did with the latest was go back and reread everything written in the world so far and then go over the manuscript to check details and add tie-ins wherever I could.

CT: What was the collaboration process like?

CR: It’s conducted by e-mail. Since we’re collaborating on the overall project and not the individual pieces, it’s actually been pretty painless.

CT: As an editor, what was your approach to writing fiction for this series?

CR: I wanted to make sure that what I wrote “fit” – that it added to what other people had written rather than contradicting it. That’s a little nerve-wracking, actually, because I’m always convinced I’ve overlooked some crucial detail.

CT: What can you tell us about your upcoming novella?

CR: I got carried away by the project and actually ended up creating a pair of novellas, because I got so intrigued by my story, which is heavily influenced by William S. Burroughs’ work Junky, Joe R. Lansdale’s Drive-in Chronicles, and H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dreams in the Witch House. I think I’ve done some new and interesting things in the first novella, so I’ll be eager to see what happens.

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