We took some time out with the creative artists from this issue of Waylines. Through their own words, find out the story behind their stories.

Beth Cato
AUTHOR OF "AN ECHO IN THE SHELL"



1. How did you come up with “Echo in the Shell?” What stages did you go through in the process of getting the idea down?

I created the story in response to a contest at Codex Writers. I was given the prompt, "the noise of bugs," and struggled to come up with a good story. After wrestling with ideas for a few weeks, I was reading Reader's Digest and came across a very moving article about how people cope with their parents with Alzheimer's--and how some can't cope. There was a reference to hollowness, and suddenly the story idea clicked for me: that void being filled with the terrible noise of bugs. In the revision process, the most difficult thing for me was deciding what Allison really wanted. It took me several drafts to hone in on the fact that the story revolves around Grandma but is really about Allison and her mom.


2. "Echo in the Shell" deals with the theme of change, of having to make a decision that will affect your entire future. It also highlights the pain of families that deal with family members who have debilitating illnesses such as Alzheimers, dementia etc. What other themes interest you personally in your writing or reading?

I've actually written a number of short stories on the theme of grandmothers and granddaughters (and realized this theme only in hindsight!), though "Echo in the Shell" is by far the most somber of the lot; my more positive published stories on the subject are "Blue Tag Sale" and "Toilet Gnomes at War."

I've been very close to my maternal grandmother my whole life and she's nearing ninety, and I only get to see her once or twice a year because I live out of state. I think I've been writing these stories as I prepare for that inevitable, awful loss. I definitely prescribe to the attitude of Allison as she is at the beginning of the story, though, and try to ignore that whole issue of death as I focus on happy things when I talk with my grandma. We seize every moment we have together.

3. What are you working on at the moment? Where can our readers find more Beth Cato?

I'm continuing to work on short stories--at least one a month, often more--and writing speculative poetry. Readers can find more of my work through my website, http://www.bethcato.com/, and quite a bit can be read online for free. They can also feel free to drop by my blog and say hi. On Wednesdays I post recipes, and I love sweets. I may be evil in my fiction, but my cookies will steal your soul--and waistline.

WE HAVE LOADS MORE WE ASKED BETH. FOR THE COMPLETE INTERVIEW, PLEASE CHECK OUT WAYLINES DIGITAL DOWNLOAD EDITION.

Jeremy Sim
AUTHOR OF "FLEEP"

1. How did you come up with “Fleep?” What stages did you go through in the process of getting the idea down?
I'm not sure myself! This was an experimental story for me in a few ways: it was my first attempt at writing humor, and the first time I've written Singaporean characters speaking somewhat like Singaporeans would: using 'Singlish.'

I wrote the first version of the story at Clarion West, where we had to write a new, complete short story every week. That week, our instructor Minister Faust suggested that everyone try writing humor, and prompted me personally to write a story about cooking. So I was trying my best over the space of a weekend to mash together cooking, sci-fi, and comedy. The cooking part got lost along the way, and I guess this is what I ended up with.
2. One of the themes of Fleep is that of cultural misunderstanding. What other themes interest you personally in your writing or reading?

I didn't set out to address any theme specifically, but I grew up hopping back and forth between countries, and I do think cultural misunderstandings are something that should be addressed more in our media. I just moved to Germany in August, and the culture shock is unexpectedly... shocking. We're all people, but we see the world so differently. We should compare notes more often!

3. What are you working on at the moment? Where can our readers find more Jeremy Sim?

Incredibly, two of my other Clarion West stories are also being published this year. One will appear in an anthology edited by Nisi Shawl called Bloodchildren. It's about a middle-aged MMORPG player who finds himself unexpectedly metamorphosing into a dog. Another will be published in CICADA magazine--it's about two brothers who live in a city besieged by flying crow demons.

I don't have the exact publication dates yet, but I'll update on my website (www.jeremysim.com) when I get more information. Also, I have to make my website first.

WE HAVE LOADS MORE WE ASKED JEREMY. FOR THE COMPLETE INTERVIEW, PLEASE CHECK OUT WAYLINES DIGITAL DOWNLOAD EDITION.

Grayson
Bray Morris
AUTHOR OF "THE MESSAGE BETWEEN THE WORDS"

1. How did you come up with the story? What stages did you go through in the process of getting the idea down?

I wanted to try a ‘harder’ science fiction story for my next entry into the Writers of the Future contest, where I was having only middling luck. So I started with ‘spaceship, out in space, nuts and bolts and PHYSICS, something happens!’ and let my mind wander while I folded laundry, showered, made dinner, and so on. The first draft incorporated a lot of relativistic ideas, and drew heavily on closed timelike curves, Wheeler’s “it from bit” idea, and Everett’s ‘many universes’ interpretation of quantum mechanics. So a lot of the initial draft was me explaining all that to myself and the reader in the guise of a classroom conversation. Yawn, eh? I also wasn’t happy with the original ending, which involved the actual physical transfer of Ankti’s atoms back in time—something I don’t believe in. But the contest deadline loomed, so I sent it in (it didn’t win). Then I got feedback from other writers and redrafted it into essentially its current form.
2. “The Message Between the Words” deals with the themes of regret, of choices, and the courage to make tough and timely decisions, among others. What other themes interest you personally in your writing or reading? (Please feel free to expand upon the themes listed above, as well as others, or not and mention examples of work by others if you wish.)

I’m a big fan of Ursula Le Guin and Octavia Butler, both of whom write (wrote, sadly, in Butler’s case) about diversity, tolerance, and prejudice. Those subjects fascinate me. You can’t grow up in the American South in the 1960s and 70s without being indelibly branded by those things. When I was younger I loved the “nondescript farm boy is actually heir to the throne” type of story, but as I’ve aged, I’ve become much more intrigued by the “ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances” story—such as Lilith Iyapo in Butler’s Xenogenesis trilogy, and Genly Ai in Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness. That said, I also have a very fond spot for Ender Wiggin.

3. What are you working on at the moment? Where can our readers find more Grayson Bray Morris?

I’m working on my first novel, which is scheduled to come out at the end of 2013. It’s set in a very recessional America, with a protagonist who’s searching for the meaning of life amid recurring outbreaks of some strange infection.

Other short stories of mine are available in anthologies, which you can find on my not 1 but 2 Amazon author pages (yes, I have two, vexingly, because not every editor has used the triple-whammy version of my name). There’s also a story you can read online for free in the Daily Science Fiction archives. I blog extremely sporadically at midnightkisa.blogspot.com, and my author website is www.graysonbraymorris.com.

WE HAVE LOADS MORE WE ASKED GRAYSON. FOR THE COMPLETE INTERVIEW, PLEASE CHECK OUT WAYLINES DIGITAL DOWNLOAD EDITION.

Christopher
Kezelos
THE WRITER/DIRECTOR OF "THE MAKER"
1. What was the inspiration behind The Maker, the story behind the story?

My friend Paul Halley is a talented music composer. I convinced him that he needed a video clip so his music could reach a larger audience and that he should bank roll it! I had also been aware of an amazing artist from Ohio, Amanda Louise Spayd. I knew her intriguing puppets would compliment Paul’s music perfectly and allow us to create a beautiful haunting world. Paul’s compositional piece Winter was so uplifting and dramatic and was used as the inspiration for the story. As the project moved forward it became clear the narrative was too compelling to be “just” a music video clip and before we knew it we had made another short film!

2. How big of a crew did it take to achieve The Maker? Are there any juicy production tales you'd like to talk about?

There were 28 dedicated and talented people who made up the crew for The Maker, all were volunteers or working for near nothing salaries. What happens on set stays on set! I will say that towards the end of production I had a bit of a meltdown when I couldn’t animate a scene due to technical difficulties, so I rewrote the whole scene to make it easier. It's when the male finishes making the female and shows her around the workshop, trying to wake her up. Originally I had him waltzing to the music with her limp body.

3. What are you currently working on?

We just started a web series we called Smooshies which can be found on our YouTube channel, which is NOTHING LIKE our previous shorts… warning it’s not for the faint hearted! The Smooshies are dirty little monsters that get into mischief around the home. It’s a bit of fun in between our bigger projects. I am currently in pre production for a our next short, which is more in the vein of Zero and The Maker and should be online in February/March 2013. People can subscribe to our YouTube channel to watch all our films, behind the scenes videos and catch all our new releases. Otherwise we continue to develop our feature film scripts.

WE HAVE LOADS MORE WE ASKED CHRISTOPHER. FOR THE COMPLETE INTERVIEW, PLEASE CHECK OUT WAYLINES DIGITAL DOWNLOAD EDITION.