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Interview: Steven S. Long on His GENIUS LOCI Story “Forest for the Trees”


Genius Loci is a new anthology edited by Jaym Gates that is due out in September. It’s currently on Kickstarter, and features stories by authors like Seanan McGuire, Ken Liu,  and more. In a special series of interviews, I asked the authors a few questions about themselves and their stories.

About Genius Loci (via Jaym Gates):

The concept of ‘genius loci‘ is indeed an ancient one, found in nearly every human mythology. Guardian spirits. Divine presences. Demonic powers. Ghosts. In GENIUS LOCI, the emphasis is on the locale as much as it is on the spirit inhabiting it.

We have a huge anthology of 31 all-new fantasy and science fiction stories drawing on the rich tradition of place-as-person. Within the pages of GENIUS LOCI, the authors present stories of sentient deserts, beneficent forests, lonely shrubs, and protective planetary spirits.

Today, I talked to Steven S. Long about his story “Forest for the Trees”

Steven S. Long is a writer, game designer, and all ’round great guy. According to the secret files of the KGB, he once singlehandedly defeated the Kremlin’s plot to attack America with laser-powered Godzillas.

Kristin Centorcelli: Will you tell us a bit about your story in Genius Loci and what inspired you to write it?

Steven S. Long: My story, “Forest for the Trees,” was inspired by a small patch of woods about two minutes’ walk from my house. As a boy I played there for hours at a time, and the story’s essentially an expression of my love for it. As “research” I went down there and walked around for the first time in decades, and learned that it’s not nearly as easy to get around in a hilly forest when you’re approaching 50 as it was when you were 10.

KC: What do you like to see in a good story, and what authors or novels have influenced you the most in your work, and your life?

SSL: I primarily look for a compelling narrative that hooks me in, and in Fantasy in particular I want that “sense of wonder” and “Fantasy feel” that the authors whose work I love the most — Tolkien, Dunsany, Vance, and more — evoke. For an extensive list of my favorites in Fantasy, see

KC: What would you say is the biggest challenge when writing short fiction?

SSL: As compared to novels (or even novellas), short stories have to be “tighter” — the central idea has to be strong enough to support the story, and you can’t waste any paragraphs developing it and moving the narrative forward. On the other hand, an idea that’s not broad enough to support a novel may make the perfect foundation for a short story.

KC: What do you enjoy most about reading, and writing, SFF?

SSL: In terms of reading SF&F, it’s that “sense of wonder” I alluded to before — the way that good writing, or even just a good turn of phrase or good character dialogue, can stir your heart and soul, or even bring tears to your eyes. For me, at least, Fantasy can accomplish that better than nearly any other type of literature. In terms of writing SF&F, it’s the hope that my work will entertain and inspire someone as much as my favorite authors have entertained and inspired me.

KC: What’s next for you?

SSL: My Master Plan for World Domination has reached Stage 66-Omicron, so things are proceeding nicely. As part of Stage 66-Pi, Osprey Publishing will release my first major nonfiction work, Odin: The Viking All-Father, in May 2015. I also have some other short stories slated to come out, am revising what will hopefully become my first published novel, and am continuing to work on a massive book on world mythology that I’ve been writing for over three years now. Stay tuned!

About Kristin Centorcelli (842 Articles)
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).
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