Aliette de Bodard lives and works in Paris, where she has a job as a Computer Engineer. In her spare time, she writes speculative fiction: her work has appeared in Interzone, Clarkesworld and The Year's Best Science Fiction, and has been nominated for a Hugo, Nebula and Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Her trilogy of Aztec noir fantasy Obsidian and Blood is published by Angry Robot, and her Nebula-nominated On a Red Station, Drifting is out from Immersion Press. 

How did you know you wanted to become a writer? Why did you choose to become a writer?

I've always been an avid reader from a young age (as Damon Knight said, I was the kid in the library with a pile of books taller than me). I dabbled a bit in writing when I was 10 or so. It was an illustrated story about cat-people and the space emperor that proved two things to me: 1. don't do cat people, and 2. whatever else might be my strong suit, illustration wasn't it!

I didn't really get serious about it until I got to be a bored teenager in London; at which point I started reading "how to" books and slowly being inducted into the internet writing community--though I didn't get serious about it until 2004, and didn't get to cons until 2007.

You've said that The Weight of a Blessing is "one of those stories that took me a long time to write? Are you a fast writer? Tell us about your process.



I'm a fast writer... once I've worked out what the story is about. I generally brainstorm my stories for a long time without producing anything resembling a draft; once I've settled on a rough plot and an ending, I go on a writing binge. "Immersion", for instance, took about 3-4 weeks of intense and frustrating brainstorming, but the actual writing of the first draft only took 2 evenings (it helps that I'm a fast typist).

For revisions, I usually do a first pass of handing the story out to readers to get a sense of what's working and not working. I've learnt my lesson, and I try to have a reasonable variety of people, without being overwhelmed by critiques (I was on Critters once, and just couldn't deal with the sheer amount of crits. I prefer to ask 4-5 people I trust, and then collate their opinion). I then do a revision sheet: it lists all the points I think should be fixed. Once I have that, I tackle actual revisions, generally in reverse orders (smaller revisions first. I know it's not very logical, but it's how I tend to work). I'll go through anything from 1-3 rounds of revisions; but if it goes above 3 I generally need to stop and entirely gut the story, because it's a sign that something is wrong on a level that mere revisions can't fix...

This process, of course, has been broken numerous times as I saw fit.
If you weren't a writer what would you be? What was your secret teenage dream job?

My secret teenage dream job was archaeologist a la Indiana Jones. I would go to all those countries, discover ruins, foil bad guys and learn to cook all the world's cuisines! (about the only thing that survived was the cooking, though I discovered mastering one cuisine was already hard enough...)

You're stranded on a remote and isolated planet. You can have one comfort food beamed down to you. What is it?

Vietnamese beef noodle soup aka phở?. It's my one comfort food (and a hassle to cook so I don't eat it that often). It's a tie between that and Vietnamese pate (chả lụa) with steamed rice, though. I ate so much chả lụa when I was young that the taste of it in the mouth instantly reminds me of childhood.  

What do you wish you were reading but aren't, because it doesn't exist?

Zelazny's Amber series rewritten as the adventures of a Chinese/Vietnamese family (with Oberon replaced by the wily matriarch).

What should a reader do after reading this?

I'll avoid the first self-serving answer which comes to mind. But I can suggest looking at the World SF blog to get a glimpse of SFF that's beyond the "standard" Western Anglophone stuff that overwhelms much of the market. Alternatively, go get a good bowl of phở in a Vietnamese restaurant (the good stuff, the one where the meat comes thinly sliced and raw, and you let it cook in the broth; and where the broth has all the trappings such as meatballs, Thai basil, Mexican coriander, soy and sweet onion). Trust me. You'll have no cause to regret it.