Caroline M. Yoachim, author of Time to Say Goodnight, was born in Hawaii, but moved away at the age of 3 months without so much as a tan. She grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and now lives in Austin, TX with her husband, Peter. Caroline has a Masters degree in Child Psychology and attended the 2006 Clarion West Writers Workshop, both of which have come in handy for writing speculative fiction. When she’s not writing, Caroline spends the bulk of her time on photography (which she sells through various stock photo companies), graphic design, cooking, skiing, yoga, or just curling up with a good book. Time to Say Goodnight is Caroline’s first fiction publication, and she has a second story forthcoming in the final print issue of Fantasy Magazine.
Where do you get your ideas from?
I find the best strategy for getting ideas is to eat some dark chocolate, and then find yourself a giant spider. A spider the size of a baby elephant works best, but use whatever you can find. Get the spider drunk, and then —
Okay, not really. I don’t have a system for coming up with ideas, things just pop out at me while I’m going about my day. I think the real trick isn’t getting ideas, it’s recognizing a good one when you see it, and figuring out how to use it in a story.
What author do you admire and hope to be compared to someday?
There are many authors I’d be honored to be compared to, but if I had to pick just one, it would be Octavia Butler. I read several of her books when I was young, and came back to them years later when I started writing. I’ve always been impressed by the rich and diverse worlds she created, by her compelling characters and her well crafted storylines. She also did a beautiful job exploring the psychological issues her characters faced, which appealed to my interest in Psychology.
What author do you admire yet hope never to be compared to?
That’s a tough question. I suppose I’d have to say Charles Stross. I admire his work because the ideas completely blow my mind. Accelerando, for instance, takes readers beyond what we know of humanity and through the Singularity. But, as a result of the subject matter, it’s a pretty dense book. I want what I write to be more approachable. (That said, I wouldn’t really mind being compared to Stross.)
Is Star Wars science fiction or fantasy?
Tell me a little about Time to Say Goodnight. What was the first image or phrase or impetus that made you sit down and spin it out?
Time to Say Goodnight was a story I wrote at the Clarion West Writers Workshop. Oddly enough, my goal for the story was to write ‘something cheerful,’ since the overall tone of my stories had been pretty dark up to that point. The workshop is located in Seattle, near the University of Washington campus, where there are a fair number ducks (presumably because the students feed them). So I thought, what could be more light and cheery than the story of a girl and her mechanical duck? The story had its own ideas, though, and in the end it didn’t turn out particularly cheerful after all.
Do you find that your photography affects your writing?
I rarely write scenes that start from one of my photographs, but I do find it helpful to think about writing in photography terms. Say, for example, I want to emphasize a certain aspect of a scene. In photography, one way to do this is to use a small depth of field — the object in the foreground is in focus, but the background is blurred. In writing, I can do the same thing by not providing as many details about background information. The background is there, it affects the overall feel of the story, but it isn’t where I want to draw the readers attention. Other photos work better with a larger depth of field (which allows both the foreground and the background to be in focus), and some stories work better that way too.
To find more of Caroline’s fiction and see some of her photography, visit CarolineYoachim.com