Our featured author for issue 3 is Mary Robinette Kowal, a Campbell and Hugo award winning author, who has just released the third book in her Glamourist History series, Without a Summer. When she's not writing, she's quite often busy doing voice acting, having recorded for authors such as Kage Baker, Cory Doctorow, and John Scalzi. She's also a professional puppeteer.

We caught up with her during her recent book tour and asked her about her thoughts on everything from puppetry to pod-casting.
You recently released the 3rd book in the Glamourist History. Please tell us a bit about the series, and the new book.

This is an historical fantasy series that's set in the early 1800s in England. The first book was often described as being like Jane Austen with magic. The magic system is called "glamour" and it's an illusionary system of magic that young ladies of quality are expected to learn as part of the womanly arts such as painting and needlepoint. I worked very hard to create a magic system that wouldn't break history.

Each book stands alone, although there is a long character arc for my main character, Jane. While the first book is very much in the Jane Austen plot mold, the subsequent books get progressively more swashbuckling.

In Without a Summer, I take Jane and her husband to London on a commission to create a glamural for the Baron of Stratton. While there, they uncover a plot involving the Luddite rebellion and proverbial chaos ensues.
Before writing success, you were, and still are, a puppeteer. What stories would you love to translate to puppetry, or vice versa?

I've always wanted to do an adaptation of Michael Ende's Momo into a puppet play. It's such a wonderful story and there are so many beautiful images in it that would really lend themselves to a production. Brave New World is also on my "someday" list. I want to use overt puppetry, where you can see the puppeteer, and use identical twins. I know a surprising number of them in puppetry.

You've been a host on the Writing excuses podcast for a few years now. How did you get involved, and what's it like working with the others?

I started off as a guest on the show in season 3. Unbeknowst to me, the fellows were secretly auditioning female hosts. They'd realized that, being an all male cast, led to some blind spots in certain discussions. In the fifth season, they asked me on again as a guest, which was apparently my call-back. Later that same day, they asked me to come on board as a regular for season six.
It's a wonderful experience. Since they all live in the Salt Lake City area, I fly in a couple of times a year and we record the episodes in chunks. We also try to get some guest authors on when we're at conventions. I am always exhausted after these sessions because it's like being on panels all day long. Since the episodes are only 15 minutes long, there's no room for fluff. You have to be sharp and on for the entire episode. I love it.
You were also VP of SFWA for a while. How was the experience?

It was very rewarding. It's nice to be in a position where you can not only see the things that need to be improved, but actually be in a position to help make the industry a better place for writers. At the same time, it takes energy and, though everyone recognizes that career comes first, it was a little bit of a relief to get out of office and realize that things were no longer my problem. I had so much free time that it was a little confusing.

That’s one of the things I emphasize in my Building An Online Presence for Writers class – how to do things efficiently and get the most use out of the time one spends poking around on the web getting distracted by cat pictures.

What books or authors have you read recently that have got you really excited, whether genre or not?

I just read Marie Brennan's A Natural History of Dragons and really loved the book. It feels like an adventure memoir from the middle of the 1800s, but it's a secondary world fantasy. She nails the historical tone beautifully, while delivering a rollicking adventure. I loved it and fully expect to see it on awards ballots next year.

What can we expect to see from Mary Robinette Kowal in the near future?

I'm currently working on a novella for Audible. It's part of the shared world Metatropolis anthologies. It's an interesting change of pace to write for audio after being primarily focused on printed fiction.
Mary Robinette Kowal is the author of Shades of Milk and Honey, Glamour in Glass, and the 2011 Hugo Award-winning short story “For Want of a Nail.” Her latest novel, just out, is Without a Summer. Her short fiction appears in Clarkesworld, Cosmos and Asimov’s. Mary, a professional puppeteer, lives in Chicago. Visit her online at maryrobinettekowal.com.