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Author Spotlights

Jeannette Westwood, author of “The Banyan Tree”

Jeannette Westwood was born in Boston, but moved to San Jose when she was ten days old. She’s lived in the Bay Area for most of her life since then, and still finds herself there now despite attempts to go to college somewhere far away. She’s a student, undeclared, and her possible major changes every week or so.

If she had copious free time, she’d learn how to make paper, paint and silkscreen t-shirts, and build a 5’4″ multi-colored giraffe out of papier-mache. In reality, she steals time when she can, and relaxes, reads, writes, and attempts to be artistic in smaller, doable amounts.


Where do you get your ideas?

It’s a lot of what ifs and following thoughts and situations to see where they go. I get ideas while showering, while trying to go to sleep (very inconvenient, then I have to get out of bed, turn on the light, write it down, and crawl back into bed knowing in a minute I’ll have a new thought). I get ideas from pictures, from images I think are beautiful. From moments when life seems funny and more than a bit strange.

Author Spotlights

Puppet Strings: J M McDermott

J M McDermott, author of “Gods of the Spiderhole,” has very strong opinions about politics (and really, who doesn’t?). But how do authors who want to convey that nugget of political philosophy in their writing do so without turning their audience off? As the author says, “it would be about as effective as influencing change as a fart on a crowded bus.” In this week’s Puppet Strings: Behind the Story, J M McDermott meditates on how he accomplished it with his tale.

Author Spotlights

J. Kathleen Cheney, author of Masks of War

Masks of War was inspired by an article that ran in
Smithsonian Magazine last year called ‘Faces of War‘. It took several months for me to come up with the story I wanted, and I spent that whole time worried that someone else was going to write my story before I figured it out.

What are your favorite words?

Defenestration, penultimate, and lugubrious. Although tenebrous is really nice, too. And I’ve always wanted an excuse to use ‘antimacassar’.

Author Spotlights

Puppet Strings: Michael Greenhut

Watermark is actually a small drop in a very large pond, pardon the pun. Years ago, I wrote a novel called The Memory Graveyard and planned several more, all of which I still hope to publish one day. It was a pretty involved epic with quite a few character arcs and backstories. One of the supporting characters was Etinaye, who eventually became the protagonist of Watermark. So, I pretty much had her story down in my head, and some of it in words, before I told this part of it…

Author Spotlights

Chris Howard, author of Seaborn

Chris Howard loves to create, primarily with words. As an army brat, he grew up all over: Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Indiana, Presidio of San Francisco, France, Germany, and Japan. He’s now settled in coastal New Hampshire with his wife and two wonderful kids. He’s a writer who also paints, working in pen and ink, watercolor, and digital formats. Chris has blogged steadily since 2004, mostly on writing, art, Aristotle and technology. Seaborn is his first novel.

Author Spotlights

Puppet Strings: Rachel Swirsky

In 2006, as my friend Vylar Kaftan was planning her wedding, she kept having horrible visions. What if there was a storm? Or lightning struck the groom? Or she suffered spontaneous human combustion?

That summer, Vylar and I participated in the Clarion West Write-a-thon, a fundraiser for the workshop. Writers take pledges for marathon writing, much the same way that people take pledges for walk-a-thons. During the write-a-thon, Vylar organized an exchange in which several writers contributed first lines to stories they didn’t intend to write. I submitted “The trouble with claiming to be a shapeshifter is someone eventually expects you to prove it.” In exchange, I received the line Vylar had written: “The wedding went well until the bride caught fire.”

Author Spotlights

Puppet Strings: Darja Malcolm-Clarke

“The Holy Spirit’s ‘endless speaking’ seemed to me an apt metaphor for the patriarchal/phallocentric discourse in which Western culture is so embedded. It informs the basic assumptions about what it means to be a man or a woman…“ Over the next few weeks we’re rolling out some new features at Fantasy Magazine. One that we’re […]

Author Spotlights

Stephanie Campisi

I’m not so much into labeling things and dividing things neatly and slotting them in here and there and trying to align them as though they are pieces of something purchased from Ikea, but acknowledge that people are pretty reductive, as are marketing gurus, so it’s something pretty inevitable. Stephanie Campisi, author of Painting Walls […]

Author Spotlights

Nicole Kornher-Stace

I don’t seem to be able to write anything that isn’t intensely personal. I can’t detach myself that far. …in all my longer fiction I find the characters reach a point where they mutiny, take over, and sail off with the story, while I’m keelhauled in its wake. Nicole Kornher-Stace, author of The Promise, was […]

Author Spotlights

Rebecca Epstein

I miss the quick jaggedness of my beloved Ithaca, NY. I miss snow and sleet and sliding off the road into ditches and waiting for the tow truck while my nose freezes off. I miss old hippie ladies with long gray braids standing on street corners with sandwich boards proclaiming love. Rebecca Epstein, author of […]