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The Apex Book of World SF 4 Interviews: Elana Gomel, Isabel Yap, Johann Thorsson, and Natalia Theodoridou

Lavie Tidhar, the series editor for The Apex Book of World SF series has kindly asked us to share a series of interviews with the authors that have stories in the newest installment, The Apex Book of World SF 4.

Here’s the synopsis:

Now firmly established as the benchmark anthology series of international speculative fiction, volume 4 of The Apex Book of World SF sees debut editor Mahvesh Murad bring fresh new eyes to her selection of stories.

From Spanish steampunk and Italian horror to Nigerian science fiction and subverted Japanese folktales, from love in the time of drones to teenagers at the end of the world, the stories in this volume showcase the best of contemporary speculative fiction, wherever it’s written.

You can also check out the table of contents here!

Now on with the interviews!


ELANA GOMEL

Elana Gomel is an Associate Professor at the Department of English and American Studies at Tel-Aviv University. She has been a Visiting Scholar at Princeton, Stanford and University of Hong Kong. She is the author of six academic books and numerous articles on subjects such as, narrative theory, science fiction, and Victorian culture. Her fantasy stories have appeared in New Horizons, Aoife’s Kiss, Bewildering Stories, Timeless Tales and anthologies People of the Book and Dogstar and Other Science Fiction Stories. Her fantasy novel A Tale of Three Cities was published in 2013.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

EG: I am a Professor of English Literature who always wanted to write fantasy and science fiction. And now I do!

Q: Tell us a little about the story selected for the anthology & what this story means to you & what it’s inspiration was.

EG: The story called “The Farm” is based on my family history in the former USSR. So it’s personal; but I believe it also speaks to everybody because the horrors of the last century are still with us, haunting the world we live in today.

Q: Why do you write in the genre that you do?

EG: All my life I have explored what the 19th-century British writer Rider Haggard called “the empire of the imagination” – and I’m still only beginning. The imagination is limitless; and imaginative literature helps us to navigate its infinite expanse. Fantasy and science fiction are our guides not just to what is, but also to what may be – and perhaps some day will be.

Q: What are you working on now & what do you have coming out next?

EG: I am finishing a dark fantasy novel called “The Hungry Ones” about a living city attacked by dead men. I am also working on a non-fiction book about cities inspired by my recent stay in Venice.

Q: Who are some of your favourite writers?

EG: My favorite classic writer is Charles Dickens who I believe to be the greatest fantasy writer of all times. Among contemporary writers, I really like Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Adam Roberts, and Alastair Reynolds.

Q: What or who do you want to be in the next lifetime?

EG: In my next lifetime…well, I guess I want to be a science fiction writer again. But if I have to change, I’d opt for biology or theoretical physics, since I wrote about both in my academic books.


ISABEL YAP

Isabel Yap writes fiction and poetry, works in the tech industry, and drinks tea. Born and raised in Manila, she is currently based in California. She graduated from the 2013 Clarion Workshop, and her stories have appeared in The Year’s Best Weird Fiction Volume 2, Tor.com, Interfictions Online, Shimmer, and The Best of Philippine Speculative Fiction 2005-2010. She is @visyap on Twitter and her website is isalikeswords.wordpress.com.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

IY: I’ve been writing stories and poems since I was seven, and fanfic since I was eight. The earliest books I remember reading are the Minnie and Me series (thank you mom!). I grew up in Quezon City, Philippines, but moved to the California Bay Area in 2010 to finish my studies. I’m a Marketing major and work in the tech industry. I like ramen and sweets.

Q: Tell us a little about the story selected for the anthology & what this story means to you & what it’s inspiration was.

IY: “A Cup of Salt Tears” is a dark fairytale about a woman who bargains with a kappa to save her husband’s life. I wrote this story in Clarion 2013, and it means a lot to me because of my classmates and teachers really believed in the piece. I’m thrilled that it was published at Tor.com, especially because of the gorgeous cover art by Victo Ngai (thank you, Carl and Irene!).

This story was inspired by my fall term abroad in Japan, where one of my highlights was visiting the onsen. I wanted to capture that feeling of winter in the story’s imagery, and also share some of my favorite things about Japan. Since I was writing outside of my own culture, I was concerned about messing things up. I did my best to research carefully and be respectful, while telling the story as well as I possibly could.

Q: Why do you write in the genre that you do?

IY: I used to write original fiction (as opposed to fanfic) only when there was a call for submissions, and it was the Philippine Speculative Fiction series where I first sent in a story. I’ve always loved fairytales, myths, manga, and videogames, so using speculative elements came quite naturally. I’m not genre-exclusive, though – I like trying everything, from fantasy to sci-fi to horror to realist.

Q: What are you working on now & what do you have coming out next?

IY: I’m primarily working on a secondary world fantasy novella, as well as “Hurricane Heels,” a short story series for the Book Smugglers that will be out in 2016. But there are always ideas I’m poking – including steampunk Noli me Tangere, and something I’ll just call Bishonen in Space. 😀

I have stories forthcoming at Tor.com, Apex Magazine, and Uncanny Magazine…and hopefully more, down the line!

Q: Who are some of your favourite writers?

IY: All time favorites include Diana Wynne-Jones, Kelly Link, and Gregory Maguire. Recently I’ve really enjoyed the short fiction of Zen Cho, Yukimi Ogawa, Seth Dickinson, Alyssa Wong, Alice Sola Kim, and Nikki Alfar. My favorite book so far this year has been Elizabeth Knox’s The Vintner’s Luck – it’s phenomenal.

Q: What or who do you want to be in the next lifetime?

IY: It’s a bit cheesy but I’d still want to be a writer. Though I’ve always been impressed by dancers and artists, especially mangaka. A space pirate doesn’t sound bad either, especially if I get my own ship and a cool weapon. So maybe a creative space pirate? 🙂


JOHANN THORSSON

Johann Thorsson is a writer of fiction with a supernatural slant, mainly short stories, mainly in English.

He was born in 1978 in a small town in Iceland (dark and cold, close to the sea). When he was nine (am I speaking about myself in the third person?) he moved to Israel, and later to Croatia. He now resides in the Reykjavik area with his beautiful girlfriend and two little kids (that’s his son Atli Valur he’s reading to).

His work has appeared in numerous publications, including Every Day Fiction, eFiction Magazine, eFiction Horror and Fireside Fiction.

Most recently, a story of his was selected for in the forthcoming anthology Apex Book of World SF 4.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

JT: I am a native of book-loving Icelandic who fell in love with literature reading Astrid Lindgren and Tolkien as a kid and the English language while living in Israel. I’ve lived in Croatia, London and Vermont but now reside in Reykjavik, Iceland, where I write fiction when the world goes quiet.

Q: Tell us a little about the story selected for the anthology & what this story means to you & what it’s inspiration was.

JT: My story in The Apex Book of World SF 4 is a little tale of autocannibalism and addiction. It was written in a flurry of inspiration after I dreamt of a chocalate woman eating herself, and after a bit of polish it sold to Fireside Fiction.

Q: Why do you write in the genre that you do?

JT: I write fantasy (or magical realism) because it allows for great freedom. It is also both what I love to read and the ideas that come to me are usually in the fantasy genre.

Q: What are you working on now & what do you have coming out next?

JT: I am working on an urban fantasy YA novel now (who isn’t?) that tells the story of a group of children that accidentally, and reluctantly, have to face the nightmares that have taken over the world of dreams and are threatening to break through into the real world. Next, however, I have a strict gore horror story coming out in an anthology of monster stories from Bloodshot Books.

Q: Who are some of your favourite writers?

JT: Some of my favorite writers? How much space to I get? First, I’ll have to name Michael Ondaatje. I am in endless awe of his style. George Orwell’s 1984 opened my eyes to just how good genre could get. Shirley Jackson is another who writes in a way that I love, a great mix of genre and what is most often termed “literary”. Toni Morrison and Margaret Atwood, though I fear I’m more a fan of their most popular books than the authors themselves.

Q: What or who do you want to be in the next lifetime?

JT: Me again, but knowing everything I know now. I’d love to be prepared with witty comebacks a whole lifetime.


Natalia Theodoridou is a media & cultural studies scholar and a writer of strange words. Originally from Greece, she has lived in the US, UK, and Indonesia for several years. Her fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Crossed Genres, Interfictions, and elsewhere, while her poetry has received a Rhysling nomination. You can find out more at www.natalia-theodoridou.com, or just say hi @natalia_theodor on Twitter.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

NT: I recently completed a PhD in Media & Cultural Studies, with a focus on Balinese performance practices. I am also the dramaturg of Adrift Performance Makers, a relatively new theatre company that brings together international artists to work across disciplines. As a fiction writer, I enjoy looking at my academic and theatrical experiences through a speculative lens.

Q: Tell us a little about the story selected for the anthology & what this story means to you & what it’s inspiration was.

NT: “The Eleven Holy Numbers of the Mechanical Soul” was first published in Clarkesworld in early 2014. It was inspired by Theo Jansen’s work (check it out here: http://www.strandbeest.com/), but it also brings together some of my long-lived fascinations: my love-hate relationship with the sky and stars, as well as my suspicion that we have a very skewed idea of what counts as life in the universe. What if we’ve been looking for the wrong thing all along?

What if we’ve been looking for the wrong thing in the wrong place?

Q: Why do you write in the genre that you do?

NT: I don’t consider myself as writing in a genre. I just say what I feel I need to say, using what tools are available at the time. Besides, I think “genre” is more useful as a reading tool rather than a writing tool.

Q: What are you working on now & what do you have coming out next?

NT: My first foray into interactive fiction is coming out in a new venue called sub-Q. I am sure this magazine will bring us many exciting things, so I hope you will give it a shot.

Q: Who are some of your favourite writers?

NT: Vajra Chandrasekera. Kuzhali Manickavel. (Imagine my excitement about being in the same volume as some of my favourites!) Helena Bell. Carmen Maria Machado. So many more.

Q: What or who do you want to be in the next lifetime?

NT: I don’t believe in next lifetimes, except in the inevitable sense. So, dirt. Grass. A tree. Maybe a bird, if I’m lucky.
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About Kristin Centorcelli (842 Articles)
<p>Kristin Centorcelli is the Associate Editor at SF Signal, proprietor of My Bookish Ways, a reviewer for Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly, and has also written for Crime Fiction Lover, Criminal Element, and Mystery Scene Magazine. She has been reviewing books since late 2010, in an effort to get through a rather immense personal library, while also discussing it with whoever will willingly sit still (and some that won’t).</p>
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