Wendy N. Wagner grew up in a town so small it didn’t even have its own post office, and the bookmobile’s fortnightly visit was her lifeline to the world. Her short fiction has appeared in magazines and anthologies including Beneath Ceaseless Skies,The Lovecraft eZine, Armored, The Way of the Wizard, and Heiresses of Russ 2013: The Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction. Her first novel, Skinwalkers, is a Pathfinder Tales adventure. An avid gamer and gardener, she lives in Portland, Oregon, with her very understanding family. Follow her on Twitter @wnwagner.
Kristin Centorcelli: Will you tell us a bit about your story in Genius Loci and what inspired you to write it?
Wendy N. Wagner: My story in Genius Loci is inspired by a drive home from my parents’ house in Eastern Washington. It’s a very gray landscape, very severe, and some people find it boring. But it was all shaped by the Missoula Floods, a sequence of cataclysmic floods that reshaped the face of what is now the Pacific Northwest. My family has lived in the area for generations, and on the surface, we’re pretty boring, too. But I think every family has its secrets, shaped by the great cataclysms of society.
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?
WNW: I really like literature that tries to dig deeper into what culture means. I think two of my favorite books right now are The True Meaning of Smekday, by Adam Rex–which is a funny kids’ SF novel that somehow manages to be a scathing criticism of consumerism and American expansionism–and The Great Gatsby. I’m particularly interested in issues about the American West, so I think I’m drawn to authors from the area, especially if they address social and environmental issues. My biggest heroes are probably Molly Gloss, Edward Abbey, and David James Duncan.
KC: What would you say is the biggest challenge when writing short fiction?
WNW: The biggest challenge of writing short fiction is cramming in enough worldbuilding to make the piece make sense while still conveying anything of relevance.
KC: What do you enjoy most about reading, and writing, SFF?
WNW: I like reading and writing SFF because it lets me bring elements of the world into focus that would normally be hard to see under all the layers of normalcy. You can artificially manipulate society and the environment to force people into impossible situations, and that lets you explore people in an exciting way. Also, it’s just really fun to be able to think about monsters and space ships and magic. I am pretty much all about fun.
KC: What’s next for you?
WNW: I’m wrapping up my second novel for the Pathfinder Tales series, which will hopefully be out by the end of the year. I’ll also be editing Nightmare Magazine’s Queers Destroy Horror! special issue, which should be a terrifically scary experience.