Today we welcome our first published author, E.M. Faulds to talk about her work and writing. Hi there!
Hi *waves*. It’s great to be here!
When did you first start thinking of yourself as a writer?
Ooh, must be back to since I was old enough to know there were such a thing! Probably six? I used to narrate my day to myself in my head in the third person so I guess I was doomed. Then ‘real life’ (read dream-crushing) asserted itself and I abandoned the idea of publishing for a long time until around ten years ago, when I decided to go for it. I wish I’d never listened to all the people who had said it wasn’t worth trying! I’m glad of my other careers, but they never felt true to my soul. If I’d started when I was younger, I might be a lot further down the road. But, better late than never!
How would you describe Under the Moon to an audience?
“A collection of fantasy and science fiction stories that have female or female-coded protagonists” is how it is summarized, but in more detail, I’d say it’s also about class, power, who gets to be the centre of the story. I’d say it is about people who resist.
My inability to stay in a lane means there is a lot of variety in style from literary and lyrical to commercial and cosy that most people should find something they like. And it’s for readers of any gender! A lot of character-driven tales but also some bigger ideas for those who love fiction that makes them feel as well as think.
The stories in Under the Moon range from speculative to science fiction to horror, but which story in your collection is closest to your heart?
Are you asking me to choose one of my babies as more special than the others?? But seriously, each was a labour of love so picking just one feels weird. I suppose I could say the ending of “Amelioration” (to give it its short name) makes me tear up every time for some weird reason, so that is special.
You’re part of the Glasgow Science Fiction Writer’s Circle –has that changed how you write, and would you recommend a writer’s group to new writers?
It has been a wonderful education on craft and I 100% recommend looking for a writers’ group for any aspiring writers. Apart from the technical detail you can glean, you also get emotional support, a crew when going to events, and more chances to speak and network with people who can really help you navigate the bewildering world of publishing.
You always have to choose your group carefully, make sure they will be giving you what you need. The GSFWC uses the Milford rules, which means that each attendee at the meeting is given a chance to present their critique without interruption, so there’s no shouting down. We read the work beforehand, so there’s time saved and you can really dig into your thoughts on a piece. Other formats may offer their own strengths and weaknesses. YMMV, as they say. The thing I like most about our setup is that it’s a circle of peers and not a hierarchy, which means everyone’s contributions are valid, no matter how long they’ve been working or how much they’ve published.
Finally, it’s important to remember that even with this input, your writing is yours and to try to keep your own work unique to your voice and talent.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m writing one novel and editing another! It’s all very exciting and difficult. In between each of these, I’m also always trying to write more short stories. I have a terribly low output for these. But I’ve learned we all write at our own pace and I have to live with that, though I’m always envious of people who’ve got tens of subs out at once.
Which writer has influenced or inspired your writing the most, and do you have a book that you’d recommend?
I’d be remiss to not mention my fellow imprint mate, Cat Hellisen, of course. They are inspirational and very good people!
But apart from them, I would say I’m a bit of a magpie, picking out pieces that are shiny from writers like Terry Pratchett, William Gibson, and Alistair Reynolds in the past, and in the present more women writers like Anna Smith Spark, N.K. Jemisin, Alix E Harrow, and Susannah Clarke. There is a wealth of talent out there.
And of course, all my fellow writers at the GSFWC constantly delight and challenge me.
Medusa vs. Phoenix?
I refute the premise! First of all, phoenixes are very cool and a symbol I’ve often looked to for personal resets. In life, sometimes you need to reinvent yourself as much as you can, and then old habits and thoughts and feeling creep back, so the idea of the reset button, burning away the old life to rise anew again is something I cling to.
On the other hand, Medusa is a fantastic feminist icon. Not for the later stories the classic period told about her being punished by Athena for being too pretty! (Seriously?) But older traditions placed her as a spirit of vengeance for women who had been assaulted, a symbol of protection and feminine power. Her face can still can be seen as a plaque on some Mediterranean houses as a protective talisman.
So, I think in my world they’re going to collaborate, melding into a fearsome, mythical bird made of wrathful snakes. ON FIRE.
Where can readers find out more about E. M. Faulds?
If you go to my linktree: https://linktr.ee/bethkesh you can see all my important links to my website, Twitter, Instagram, sign up for my newsletter and find microfiction and published stories and more!