rainy day by nilah macgruder

Originality #15: You Can’t See Them But They Can See You

I interview Nilah Magruder, who is a visual artist and a writer. Her two most recent books, a children’s picture book and a graphic novel, were both written and illustrated by her, which I find super impressive. Also, Nilah is amazing and smart. In this episode we talk about how some writers can benefit from thinking like artists and the origin story of Nilah’s book How To Find A Fox.

I also talk passionately about how important it is for young artists to not be told No or You Can’t Do That and what happened to me when I heard that kind of thing.

You can listen to the podcast below or on the episode page where you can see the show notes and also subscribe.

(art by Nilah)

BOMB magazine

Originality #14: Interconnected Art

This was the first episode recorded while I was at Surel’s Place. I talk a wee bit about the residency, but the majority of the ep is about how cross-pollination is essential to creativity. We get into it in terms of art, writing, music, of course, and also technology.

I mentioned the auctions we did to support the Interfictions anthologies and doing so made me long for the days of putting together artists and artisans with pieces of fiction and watching what happened. I also had an idea for the Interstitial Arts Foundation that we should try to foster this kind of thing on a consistent basis. If I had the time, if all the volunteers had more time… man.

Maybe I’ll make time at the end of next year when things calm down a bit.

Until then, you can listen to the podcast below or on the episode page where you can see the show notes and also subscribe.

10 Best Things about The Prince of Egypt

The 10 Best Things About The Prince of Egypt

When I hit my first funding goal on my Egypt Research Trip fundraiser I promised to do a livetweet rewatch of The Prince of Egypt and then make a video comparing it to The Ten Commandments. I’m still working on that vid, but I was inspired to make this one first!

I love PoE more and more each time I watch it. And I discover new wonderful, subtle things woven into it each time as well.

I hope you enjoy this (admittedly long) video and look forward to the next one. If I hit $1000 on my fundraiser I’ll livetweet while I watch Exodus: Gods and Kings. You want me to rip that movie to shreds, don’t you? Well, as of this moment I’m less than $200 from that goal…

sphinx and pyramids

Originality #13: I Need to Stand Next to the Pyramids

In this episode Aleen and I talk about the value of travel and research trips for creative people. About how getting outside of your normal life–even if you go just 2 hours away–can feed your muse. I talk about how my trip to Europe this year gave me unexpected inspiration, and about how I need to visit places in order to really know how to describe them.

And jumping off that, this is a tiny reminder that I am still trying to raise money to go to Egypt next year for research. If you want to support me and my work, you can donate to the fundraiser via YouCaring. You can also support me by supporting my Patreon. Even $1 a month helps.

You can listen to the podcast below or on the episode page where you can see the show notes and also subscribe.

Monica Valentinelli

Originality #12: Writing is Time Travel

In this episode I interview writer and game designer Monica Valentinelli and Aleen and I talk about creativity and role-playing games. Monica gets into some cool stuff about ways game writers can be creative within an existing system and franchise, and also about how she got into writing for games. It’s a really great conversation.

You can listen to the podcast below or on the episode page where you can see the show notes and also subscribe.

 

Podcast logo for Originality which has a 7 pointed star in pink and yellow with a dark pink and black background and the words Originality exploring the roots of creative genius

ORIGINality #11: Stuff Your Inner Critic in a Box

NaNoWriMo is now over, but it hadn’t yet started when we recorded this podcast. And honestly, I don’t think you need to be preparing for NaNo or even care about NaNo to engage with what we talk about here. There are all kinds of art challenges you can take part in, be they 1 week, 1 month, or 1 year. They don’t have to be the ones dictated by someone else’s rules, either.

I am still very much interested in hearing from artists across the spectrum about the challenges they’ve taken part in or set themselves and where those challenges have been successful and even where they haven’t been.

You can listen to the podcast below or head over to the episode page and do it there or even subscribe so that every episode shows up in your podcatcher.

 

Pyramids and Punk

Help Me Get To Egypt, Get Cool Stuff

If you follow me on social media you likely know that I am finally planning to go to Egypt to do research for my AfroRetroFuturist series in progress. I found a tour that’s going to all the places I need to go, including one that package tours rarely go to, and it’ll cost me about $6,000 dollars all told. Some of that will be taken care of by the money I get from my (amazing, wonderful) Patreon supporters, but I have to raise the bulk of it outside of that. Thus, I set up a page on YouCaring.com.

I’m really eager to get this series of books and stories right. With it I intend to challenge ideas about gender roles in the ancient world and explore what a matrifocal, technological, and unquestionably African Egypt could look like. I’m doing it with characters that exist beyond binary sexualities and beyond binary genders, and whose problems don’t arise from those identities. And I’m doing it with queer Black women as my protagonists.

I need to go to Egypt because experience has taught me that in order to capture the sense of a place, a structure, or a monument in my writing I need to experience it firsthand.

In college I traveled to England for a class, and our teacher was able to get us special access to Stonehenge. We were allowed walk among the stones instead of settling for only getting tourist close. All my life I’d seen images of Stonehenge, heard from experts and visitors about how impressive an achievement it is, read about the height and weight and makeup of the stones. But it wasn’t until the moment I was standing next to them, touching them, and craning my neck up to see the top that I grokked the magnitude of the accomplishment Stonehenge represents.

I had to experience the truth of those facts myself before I could begin to understand and then convey them. I need to stand next to the pyramids for the same reason.

If you’d like to support this trip and my work in general but don’t want to do the monthly thing via Patreon, now you can send me a lump sum. All donors will get added to my new monthly newsletter mailing list, and depending on how much you donate, you get some of the same content my Patreon supporters get each month.

$25+ gets you a 30 minute video chat ask me anything session, $50+ gets you a piece of (very) short fiction every month, $100+ gets you chapters from the work in progress once a month, $200+ gets you a critique of a short story. There are some more levels and more rewards Click over to the YouCaring page to see them all.

As of this blog posting I’ve raised over $600, but I’m not to $1,000 yet. When I hit $600 I promised to do a live rewatch of The Prince of Egypt and a vlog with my reactions to it. That is coming up this weekend. When I hit $1,000 I’ll do the same with Exodus: Gods and Kings. With every major goal I hit — $2,000, $2,500, $3,000, etc.–I will do a live watch of some movie set in Ancient Egypt and very likely rip it apart for being inaccurate, whitewashed, or nonsense. It’ll be a good time.

And yes, one of those levels will unlock a live watch of The Gods of Egypt, which I have never seen. I will suffer through it for money.

If you’re able to donate, thank you! If you’re not ale to but want to help, please share this blog post or the direct link to the YouCaring page via social networks, email, directly to friends. Anything and everything helps.

Description and the Other Sirens

I’m Teaching A Writing Intensive at Sirens Studio 2018

Four years ago I attended the Sirens conference for the first time and fell right in love with it. You can read a little about my experience here. The theme that year: Reunion. It was Siren’s 5th year and they were celebrating the fact that in those years a small but potent community had grown up around the conference.

I didn’t get to go to Sirens in 2014 or 2015 for financial reasons – it can be an expensive event – but in 2016 I got a scholarship to attend and this year I financed it in part via Patreon. I wanted to be there to celebrate my friends Kiini Ibura Salaam (one of last year’s guests of honor) and N. K. Jemisin (one of this year’s GoHs). And I missed that little but potent community of awesome people.

Next year, I get to go back! I’ve been invited to be a part of the Writing faculty for Sirens Studio, a workshop that takes place in the days right before the main conference starts. My workshop will be on description and writing inclusive fiction:

After characterization, the aspect of craft writers who aim to create inclusive, representational fiction are most anxious to get right is description. This can be particularly difficult for fantasy and science fiction authors, who must sometimes describe types of people who don’t yet exist. In this intensive we’ll use writing exercises to explore and practice the art of description, talk about bias language, and dismantle the idea of exposition as the enemy of good writing. There will be a mix of lecture, discussion, and exercises, and all participants will leave with a set of resources for further practice and deeper understanding.

I’m so pleased I get to go back, especially because next year’s theme is, once again, Reunion. This time it really will be a reunion for me. I’m also very excited about the guests of honor: Zen Cho, Kameron Hurley, Anna-Marie McLemore, and Leigh Bardugo. It’s going to be awesome.

If you are thinking about coming to Sirens, think harder! It’s still a small conference – this year they broke all previous records by having about 225 people all told – and it’s still more in the academic conference mold than the SF convention one. That’s what makes it great. There’s a concentrated amount of programming, there are panels and discussions and presentations, the attendees are all smart and love reading, and it isn’t primarily about writing and writers, it’s about reading and readers. If you love books, if you love fantasy, if you love fantasy books written by women, then then you will love Sirens. And you should come. Registration is open. See you there.

Originality podcast logo

ORIGINality #10: More Capable Spy Women

In this episode Aleen interviews Antony Johnston, author of The Coldest City, which was turned into the movie Atomic Blonde. We talk about the process of having ones art transformed into a different medium, women spies and why there weren’t enough of them in our childhoods, and how ideas come back around even after you’ve put them away for a while.

You can listen below or on the show page where you can also subscribe to the podcast.

 

Pyramids and Punk

Watch The #PyramidsAndPunk Reading from Surel’s Place

My month long residency at Surel’s Place is almost over, and on Thursday it was time for me to show off my work for the local Boise artist community. I read from three of my works set in AfroRetroFuturist Ancient Egypt — The Copper Scarab, the current novel in progress, and a short story in progress — all set in different times about 100 years apart. At the end I also took questions from the most excellent audience, who braved the cold to see me.

I livestreamed the event and trimmed the finished video so the boring parts are all gone.

If you enjoy the reading, you can support ore of the same either by becoming my patron on Patreon or by contributing to my Trip To Egypt crowdfunding campaign. With both, you can read more of the work in progress (depending on what level you donate) as I go.