From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Interview: Locus Awards Top Ten Finalists, Part One

The Locus Awards are one of the few major awards that feature a range of novel categories, including Best Fantasy Novel. Awards inevitably reflect the tastes of the people who decide on recipients: the selections for World Fantasy Awards reflect the tastes of a given year’s jurors; each year’s Hugo Awards reflect the tastes of Worldcon memberships; Nebula Awards nominees and winners reflect the reading habits of voting SFWA* members.

The Locus Awards are a bit different. Ostensibly a readers’ poll, the Locus Awards are decided by an open vote: anyone can participate, and there are no requirements, other than the ability to cast the vote. This means these awards potentially reflect the tastes of a broader range of individuals—but presumably still folks who love genre fiction. So, who better to talk about fantasy fiction than the top ten finalists of the Locus Awards in the Best Fantasy Novel category?

We invited the authors of the top ten Best Fantasy Novels (according to the Locus poll) to participate in a brief collective interview, to discuss their work, their careers, and other things. We asked them all the same ten questions, with the request that they respond to at least seven of them, and let them pick whichever questions they want to answer. We are breaking the interview into two parts, across two issues, for space. We hope you find their responses as interesting as we did!

* The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association

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Locus Awards Top Ten Finalists, Best Fantasy Novel Category interview, Part One, featuring (alphabetically): Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette), Zen Cho, T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon), TJ Klune, Cadwell Turnbull

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Katherine Addison

Katherine Addison’s short fiction has been selected by The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and The Year’s Best Science Fiction. Her novel, The Goblin Emperor, won a Locus Award. As Sarah Monette, she is the author of the Doctrine of Labyrinths series and co-author, with Elizabeth Bear, of the Iskryne series. She lives near Madison, Wisconsin.

How did you get into writing narratives with fantastic elements? Was it something you always did, or was there a transition, or a moment of inspiration?

I have always and exclusively written narratives with fantastic elements. The first thing I wrote (age eleven) was a ghost story. The second thing I wrote was a Tolkien/Eddings mash-up of a quest novel. And I just kept going. I tried writing “realistic” fiction in grad school, just to see if I could do it, and I really kind-of couldn’t.

What, for you, are the most challenging craft elements in writing novels, and how do you deal with those challenges?

I find PLOT to be the hardest part of writing a novel. I very rarely know the plot when I start a book; I just put the other elements of the story together and vamp a little bit to see if anyone wants to sing. If I’ve got the right material for the story, this will at least get us started. But I spend a lot of time brainstorming for Things To Have Happen and figuring out how random cool ideas can be made to fit. Sometimes I know bits of plot going in, and those are always incredibly helpful, as they give me something to write toward. (I’ve tried outlining, but it kills the story for me.)

The Locus Top Ten Finalists is the result of a readers’ poll—readers voted your book as being one of the best books out there! (CONGRATULATIONS, by the way! = ) ) Please talk a bit about the way you use the fantastic in your book, and what you like most about the way you’ve utilized it.

The Witness for the Dead is a secondary-world fantasy populated by elves and goblins, so it’s pretty much wall-to-wall fantastical. I enjoy the world-building I get to do, with this culture that has lasted two thousand years (and counting), and I like the ways elves and goblins are different from humans. (There are no humans in the book.) After The Angel of the Crows, which took place in a version of Victorian London, I find being able to just make everything up is a great relief.

What was the main inspiration for this book, how did it develop, and were there a lot of changes from initial concept to final product?

What I wanted to do was write a fantasy city the way Raymond Chandler wrote Los Angeles. I don’t think I succeeded, but the city of Amalo did turn out to be more than just a backdrop for my protagonist to have adventures against. His daily life in the city is an important part of the book.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to readers, and separately, one piece of advice you’d give to writers who are just starting out?

1. Read as widely as you can.

2. Be kind to yourself.

For some of the authors on this list, this may be their first award nomination. For others, it’s just one of their recent awards nominations. Do you feel like awards make a difference in terms of writing fiction, or in terms of career?

I think awards are great in terms of external validation, which is something writers don’t get a lot of, generally speaking, and yeah, I have all my award stuff on the wall where I can look up and see it. But it doesn’t make me write different stories, and it doesn’t make me write stories differently.

What else are you working on? What do you have coming up that you’d like people to know about?

The Grief of Stones, the sequel to The Witness for the Dead, is out June 14th. I’m working on the last book in the trilogy, The Tomb of Dragons.

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Zen Cho

Zen Cho is the author of The Sorcerer to the Crown novels and a novella, The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water, as well as the short story collection Spirits Abroad. Her work has won the LA Times Book Prize (Ray Bradbury Prize), as well as the Hugo, Crawford and British Fantasy Awards, and been shortlisted for the Locus and Astounding Awards. Born and raised in Malaysia, she now lives in the United Kingdom.

How did you get into writing narratives with fantastic elements? Was it something you always did, or was there a transition, or a moment of inspiration?

It’s just what came naturally when I started writing original fiction. For most artists, I think your subject and medium choose you. I can pinpoint two major influences that have fed into my interest in the fantastic—the work of great British children’s fantasy writers like E. Nesbit, Diana Wynne Jones, and C. S. Lewis, whom I read growing up, but also growing up in Malaysia where the supernatural is part of the everyday, and pretty much everyone I knew had a real-life story or three of encounters with ghosts or hantu or gods.

What was “breaking in” like for you—did you sell stories or novels right away, did you have connections, was it random, or was there a period of submissions and rejections and trunked work?

It was a relatively slow build-up, over years. I’ve wanted to be a published writer since I was very little, but it was only in my mid-twenties that I really started writing original fiction for publication. Short stories, at first—my first pro sale was to Strange Horizons in 2011, about a year after I started writing and submitting consistently. Around the same time, I tried to figure out how to write a novel. I had to trunk two terrible novel-length manuscripts before I wrote the book that got me my agent and eventually became my debut novel, Sorcerer to the Crown, published in 2015. Since then I’ve published two more novels plus a novella, as well as rereleasing the short story collection that was my very first published book, but I still feel in some ways that I’m at the beginning of my career. I hope I’m closer to the beginning than the end, anyway!

What, for you, are the most challenging craft elements in writing novels, and how do you deal with those challenges?

Just that they are so long that you can’t hold the whole thing in your head at a time, as you can with short stories and (to a degree) novellas. But that richness and space is what I like about novels, too. Plot and pacing give me terrible trouble, but I’ve learnt a lot about those aspects with time, practice, and the help of my agent and editors. What I try to do nowadays is work out early the core question the beginning of the book is asking, and then make sure the rest of the book is built around answering that.

The Locus Top Ten Finalists is the result of a readers’ poll—readers voted your book as being one of the best books out there! (CONGRATULATIONS, by the way! = ) ) Please talk a bit about the way you use the fantastic in your book, and what you like most about the way you’ve utilized it.

Black Water Sister is in some ways the least fantastic of my novels to date, because the main fantastic elements arise from the book assuming that the things people believe, in the religious traditions in which I was brought up, are true. Gods are real and can possess people, and spirits are real and can appear to the living.

Because I was drawing from real-life contemporary religious practices, I wanted these elements to feel real—mundane and sometimes frightening. I wanted these beliefs to possess some of the power they have in real life. I do think I achieved that, so that’s the thing I like most.

What was the main inspiration for this book, how did it develop, and were there a lot of changes from initial concept to final product?

Black Water Sister came together out of two sources of inspiration. One was the word hagridden, which I came across in my research for Sorcerer to the Crown and its sequel. It immediately gave me the image of a young person haunted by a malevolent female spirit—a terrible auntie, riding on her back. Then I read The Way That Lives in the Heart by Jean deBernardi, an anthropological study of spirit mediumship in Penang, and I knew I wanted to write a book about that and it would be the same book as the one about the hagridden young woman.

As with all novels, there was a bunch of chopping and changing and various revisions, but the vision was relatively clear to me from the get-go. The final published version isn’t that far off the first draft.

For readers who haven’t read this book, who mainly have the cover and blurb to go by, what would you like them to know about this work? What is important or special to you about this book?

It’s a very personal book in a lot of ways, and I’m proud of how Malaysian it is. We’re lucky in the genre to have an increasing number of fantastic Malaysian authors and authors with Malaysian heritage, but it’s still very rare to find internationally published long-form fantasy that draws on specifically Malaysian settings and beliefs. I’m proud to have contributed to that small corpus with Black Water Sister.

For some of the authors on this list, this may be their first award nomination. For others, it’s just one of their recent awards nominations. Do you feel like awards make a difference in terms of writing fiction, or in terms of career?

As I understand it, most of the SFF awards don’t make a significant difference to book sales, even the major ones. But they are a concrete sign of appreciation from your peers or readership, so I do think they’re immensely valuable. Personally, for a long while I struggled to believe I was entitled to think of myself as a writer, even after I had published stories, and the thing that really knocked that on the head was being a joint winner of the Crawford Fantasy Award for my short story collection Spirits Abroad. Every time I found myself thinking, “I’m not really a writer, because . . . ” I’d remember that I’d won that award and I could only have won the award if I was a writer. It wasn’t like I’d won it for my charm or good looks or soldering skills. There’s something very reassuring about being able to put to bed an anxiety like that; it frees up energy for more important things.

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T. Kingfisher

T. Kingfisher is the vaguely absurd pen-name of Ursula Vernon, an author from North Carolina. In another life, she writes children’s books and weird comics. She has been nominated for the World Fantasy and the Eisner, and has won the Hugo, Sequoyah, Nebula, Alfie, WSFA, Cóyotl and Ursa Major awards, as well as a half-dozen Junior Library Guild selections. This is the name she uses when writing things for grown-ups. Her work includes multiple fairy-tale retellings and odd little stories about elves and goblins. When she is not writing, she is probably out in the garden, trying to make eye contact with butterflies. www.tkingfisher.com

What are some of your favorite works or authors that use fantastic elements (from the past or more recent, whichever you’d like to talk about), and what do you like most about them?

A book I really loved recently was Piranesi. The dreamlike imagery of the statues and the endless halls was so fascinating. I love things like that, that give us a glimpse of this inexplicable strangeness that just exists without getting terribly bogged down in rationalizing why it exists the way it does. Of course, that’s a balancing act—it’s so easy to break the suspension of disbelief, and then the whole thing collapses like a house of cards, as I go, “Okay, but where are they going to the bathroom?!”

One of my all-time favorites is Perdido Street Station, which has bizarre imagery in spades, but also explains a lot of practical things—here are your people with beetle heads, and here’s how they reproduce and here’s how they sculpt and so forth. Any time I read a book where I go, “Damn, I wish I’d thought of that!” every few pages, I know it’s good.

How did you get into writing narratives with fantastic elements? Was it something you always did, or was there a transition, or a moment of inspiration?

I always wanted to write fantasy, as early as I can remember writing. I think it was talking animals that were my gateway. I lived for Narnia, and finding Watership Down at a formative age was like finding the Rosetta Stone.

What was “breaking in” like for you—did you sell stories or novels right away, did you have connections, was it random, or was there a period of submissions and rejections and trunked work?

Oh lord, it was so random. I wrote a novel in my late teens, sent it out, got a very nice handwritten rejection with lots of notes, had no idea what that meant, and so thought “Aw, bummer,” and shoved it in a trunk. Then I started doing webcomics. Years later, a friend of mine who’s a romance author was telling a funny story at a conference about her artist friend reading her first romance novel. The agent sitting next to her asked, “Does your artist friend do graphic novels? They’re very hot right now.” My friend said, “Why yes, she does!” and called me up to ask if I wanted a literary agent.

My reply, which she has never let me forget, was “Yeah, sure, what the hell.” This is not how anyone gets an agent, but she went through my website and found all this art and weird little stories I’d written under the art, and asked me if I could write a children’s book. So I did, and she sold it, and then I had a career. Later on, I got a pen name so that I could write for adults, but I still have the same agent. I write a lot and much of it is very weird, so I started self-publishing stuff that didn’t quite have a home in traditional publishing. So far, so good?

What, for you, are the most challenging craft elements in writing novels, and how do you deal with those challenges?

I think each novel winds up with a different craft problem. My most recent manuscript, I was stuck between “I need to set up all these dominoes so they can fall, but setting them up requires all these different people talking to each other, and twenty thousand words of people just having conversations is going to be boring. I should probably throw in at least one murder.” I think a lot of my craft challenges come down to “How do I set this up in advance so that it doesn’t come out of left field?” Sometimes I fire Chekhov’s gun first, and then have to go back and write it onto the mantle.

The Locus Top Ten Finalists is the result of a readers’ poll—readers voted your book as being one of the best books out there! (CONGRATULATIONS, by the way! = ) ) Please talk a bit about the way you use the fantastic in your book, and what you like most about the way you’ve utilized it.

Heh! Paladin’s Strength is a fantasy romance novel, so I spend a lot of time in a quasi-early Renaissance world with gods and magic and shapeshifters and the undead. But I never want magic to become boring or mundane, or worse, to feel like I’m writing a novelization of a D&D campaign. So I try to use the magical elements sparingly, and to be practical about how some of them work. In Strength, for example, the hero is hunting the smooth men, which are freaky golem-like creatures made of clay. But it’s actually really hard to bake something the size of a human out of clay—you need a gigantic kiln to do it, you lose a lot of them to air bubbles and breakage—so I started thinking of how to make it easier. And it occurred to me that all you really need is the heads, and those are easily baked in a regular size pottery kiln. Once you’ve got a head, you can jam it in any old dead body—the neck has a spike—and it can animate the body. Okay, but now your dead body is still decaying, so you’re going to have to keep getting new dead bodies, which means you’re leaving a trail of freshly severed heads and badly decayed bodies behind you . . . errr . . . did I mention that this is also a romance?

What was the main inspiration for this book, how did it develop, and were there a lot of changes from initial concept to final product?

A million years or so ago, I started fiddling with a medieval mystery story. It didn’t go very far, because hey, mysteries turn out to be hard for my brain to write—all that keeping track of who was where at what exact time is not a thing I’m good at—but I rather liked the monastery I came up with. Their secret was that they were all were-bears. (Even then, I couldn’t escape the fantasy bits.) So I had this idea of a were-bear nun kicking around for ages, and suddenly in Paladin’s Strength, I knew where she belonged.

For readers who haven’t read this book, who mainly have the cover and blurb to go by, what would you like them to know about this work? What is important or special to you about this book?

This is a fantasy romance, and book two of a series. It’s also got a lot of severed heads, as I said above. But mostly it’s just fun. There’s a lot of snark and a lot of hilarity and two people who are really attracted to each other and really bad at acting on it.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to readers, and separately, one piece of advice you’d give to writers who are just starting out?

Heavens, I wouldn’t know what advice to give to readers! They’re way too varied a group of people. Uh . . . just buy like ten gardening trowels when they’re on sale, because you’ll lose them all the time, so having a bin full of them will make your life easier?

For writers starting out, I would say to write the book that only you would write. There is no real point in chasing hot trends—they’ll probably be cold by the time the book is ready for publication. Just write the book you really want to exist. And also, if you’re writing a genre that’s new to you, read that genre.

For some of the authors on this list, this may be their first award nomination. For others, it’s just one of their recent awards nominations. Do you feel like awards make a difference in terms of writing fiction, or in terms of career?

They certainly don’t hurt, let’s put it that way. I don’t know that most awards translate to sales to a significant degree, but anything that gets your name in front of people’s eyeballs, so that when they see your book later, they go “Oh yeah . . . I remember that name . . . ” is a good thing.

What else are you working on? What do you have coming up that you’d like people to know about?

My fantasy novel Nettle & Bone just came out in May from Tor, and I have a horror novella called What Moves The Dead coming from Nightfire in July, so there’s lots of new stuff out there. I’m always working on more.

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TJ Klune

TJ Klune is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling, Lambda Literary Award-winning author of The House in the Cerulean Sea, The Extraordinaries, and more. Being queer himself, Klune believes it’s important—now more than ever—to have accurate, positive queer representation in stories.

What are some of your favorite works or authors that use fantastic elements (from the past or more recent, whichever you’d like to talk about), and what do you like most about them?

One of my favorite works as a child—and still as an adult—is Diana Wynn Jones’s Howl’s Moving Castle. While there is something for everyone in her books, it’s Howl’s Moving Castle that I always come back to. From the prose, to the characters, to the fantastical world Jones created, I love every word.

How did you get into writing narratives with fantastic elements? Was it something you always did, or was there a transition, or a moment of inspiration?

I’ve found that writing fantasy allows me to explore more human, personal topics. Whether it be something poignant like grappling with grief, or finding a family where one should not exist. I love creating worlds that, while mysterious and potentially fearsome, still sound like they could be real.

What was “breaking in” like for you—did you sell stories or novels right away, did you have connections, was it random, or was there a period of submissions and rejections and trunked work?

I was on the indie publishing scene for a long while before I decided to try something different. I felt as if I was becoming stagnant. So I wrote a couple of different types of books, found the perfect agent who ended up changing the course of my career by signing me with Macmillan and Tor. Though I’m of the mind that talent can play a role in advancement, I think the idea of “breaking in” really boils down to luck, and getting your books into the hands of the right editor.

What, for you, are the most challenging craft elements in writing novels, and how do you deal with those challenges?

For me, the most challenging part is knowing how to say goodbye to characters. Some characters have multiple books required to tell their story. Some only need one, and it’s important to recognize that. But when you spend months—hell, even years—with certain characters, it can be hard to let them go. For those who only need a single book, I try and leave them in a position where their future is not known, exactly, but their path ahead is clear.

The Locus Top Ten Finalists is the result of a readers’ poll—readers voted your book as being one of the best books out there! (CONGRATULATIONS, by the way! = ) ) Please talk a bit about the way you use the fantastic in your book, and what you like most about the way you’ve utilized it.

Under the Whispering Door is an exploration of the effects of grief, but not just on those who are left behind after someone dies. With Whispering Door, I wanted to see if it was possible to grieve for yourself, for chances missed, opportunities wasted. But instead of a man alive learning he wasn’t a good person—like Ebeneezer Scrooge—what would happen if that same man died, and only then realized he hadn’t lived life to his fullest potential? What would that look like, with him being a ghost, unable to change the past?

What was the main inspiration for this book, how did it develop, and were there a lot of changes from initial concept to final product?

The main inspiration was Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. While I loved my time with it, I always wondered why the reader never got to see Scrooge actually doing the work to become a better person. For him, a switch flipped and everything was good! What would it look like if a person like Scrooge actually had to work to become better? And how would he go about it? That was the jumping off point for the book.

For readers who haven’t read this book, who mainly have the cover and blurb to go by, what would you like them to know about this work? What is important or special to you about this book?

This book is personal to me, perhaps more so than any other. I loved someone dearly, and they were taken far too soon from this world. In writing Under the Whispering Door, I wanted to put my own grief on the page to try and make sense of it. Grief is a tricky animal to write about. No two people grieve the same, yet we all experience grief in our lives: at the loss of loved ones, friends, pets. Loss of jobs, or opportunities, or homes. There is big grief and little grief, yet each one feels like death, in a way. But there is also catharsis to grief, and that’s what I wanted to show.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to readers, and separately, one piece of advice you’d give to writers who are just starting out?

The best advice I can give—and that I wish had been given to me when I first started out—is that you don’t have to write every day to be a writer. Some days, the words just won’t come, and to try and force yourself through that block might only make you angry. For me, when this happens, it’s best to walk away and focus on something different. The more you push, the harder it becomes. Be kind to yourself, and step back when you need to.

For some of the authors on this list, this may be their first award nomination. For others, it’s just one of their recent awards nominations. Do you feel like awards make a difference in terms of writing fiction, or in terms of career?

Awards are awesome! They tend to provide validation for the work of the author. Some books can take years to write, and to have the hard work be recognized is delightful. That being said, awards aren’t the be all and end all. Most of my books haven’t won awards, but I love them all the same.

What else are you working on? What do you have coming up that you’d like people to know about?

On July 19, Tor Teen is releasing Heat Wave, the trilogy capper in my series, The Extraordinaries.

This fall, Tor UK will release Wolfsong in hardcover, followed by the other three books in the series.

Next March brings In the Lives of Puppets, my queer retelling of Carlo Collodi’s The Adventures of Pinocchio about an inventor and the robots that make up his family.

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Cadwell Turnbull

Cadwell Turnbull is the author of The Lesson and No Gods, No Monsters. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s creative writing MFA in fiction and English and MA in linguistics. Turnbull is also a graduate of Clarion West 2016. His short fiction has appeared in The VergeLightspeedNightmare, and Asimov’s Science Fiction and a number of anthologies, including The Dystopia Triptych and Twelve Entanglements. His Nightmare story “Loneliness Is in Your Blood” was selected for The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018. His Lightspeed story “Jump” was selected for The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2019 and was featured on LeVar Burton ReadsThe Lesson was the winner of the 2020 Neukom Institute Literary Award in the debut category and was shortlisted for the VCU Cabell Award and longlisted for the Massachusetts Book Award. No Gods, No Monsters is the winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Best LGBTQ Speculative Fiction, is a current finalist for the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, and was longlisted for the PEN Open Book Award. Turnbull grew up in the US Virgin Islands and currently lives in Raleigh where he teaches creative writing at North Carolina State University.

What are some of your favorite works or authors that use fantastic elements (from the past or more recent, whichever you’d like to talk about), and what do you like most about them?

This is a hard question to answer because my favorite works (and authors) write across speculative genres, often borrowing from multiple genres at once. I’d say Kai Ashante Wilson’s Sorcerer of the Wildeeps is an example of how you can blur the edges of genre beautifully. Or Palmer’s Terra Ignota series. The Books of the Raksura by Martha Wells stay in my mind as what I’d call a purely fantastical premise (though I’d say that Wells was expanding genre-expectations quite a bit in that series).

How did you get into writing narratives with fantastic elements? Was it something you always did, or was there a transition, or a moment of inspiration?

I didn’t get into it at any particular moment. I wrote what came to me, and if a strange idea showed up, I made room for it. Categorization came much later, when I learned to think about genres as discrete spaces. Even so, I still don’t think about the genre until later in the process.

What was “breaking in” like for you—did you sell stories or novels right away, did you have connections, was it random, or was there a period of submissions and rejections and trunked work?

I started selling stories first, but by that time I’d been working on a novel for several years that I sold after publishing a few short stories. There are several trunked stories I want to figure out what to do with, though. And stories that I love and return to and still can’t make work. Each project has its own journey.

What, for you, are the most challenging craft elements in writing novels, and how do you deal with those challenges?

The most challenging craft element for me is plotting and the balance between what the characters want to do and what the story wants to do. I hope that makes sense. Sometimes the story, the themes, and the characters can be at odds. But honestly it is all hard. Novels are just hard to do.

The Locus Top Ten Finalists is the result of a readers’ poll—readers voted your book as being one of the best books out there! (CONGRATULATIONS, by the way! = ) ) Please talk a bit about the way you use the fantastic in your book, and what you like most about the way you’ve utilized it.

What was the main inspiration for this book, how did it develop, and were there a lot of changes from initial concept to final product?

(Answering these two together.)

The main inspiration for No Gods, No Monsters is my love of Urban Fantasy. I’d been reading a lot in the genre and I’d grown up watching shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed. I realized I’d never tried anything in the genre, despite loving it so much. It started out as being that simple, and then it got complicated. Quantum mechanics, clandestine organizations and cooperatives, meditations on processing trauma and surviving addiction. So, yeah, a lot of other stuff got in there. But I like that about it. I like that the fantastic elements are mixing with so many other ideas. For me, they all share resonances.

For readers who haven’t read this book, who mainly have the cover and blurb to go by, what would you like them to know about this work? What is important or special to you about this book?

I don’t want to prescribe too much about what folks should take from the book. But if I had to say something, I’d say that the book (and the series) is an exploration on how power obscures itself and how opaque structures cause harm to the marginalized. That, and the understanding that for the characters of the novel, being a monster is only one part of their intersectional identity. It isn’t meant to be a one-to-one metaphor for marginalization.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to readers, and separately, one piece of advice you’d give to writers who are just starting out?

I’d give writers the same advice I’d give readers: read broadly and with an open heart.

For some of the authors on this list, this may be their first award nomination. For others, it’s just one of their recent awards nominations. Do you feel like awards make a difference in terms of writing fiction, or in terms of career?

I don’t know if it helps the writing exactly, but I do believe awards have an effect on careers. An award win, or even a nomination, can go a long way for a writer, in terms of opening doors for new opportunities. But I think the community function is more important, showing writers and artists that they are valued by their peers and by readers. It is incredibly validating.

What else are you working on? What do you have coming up that you’d like people to know about?

I am working on the second book of the trilogy. Pretty close on that front. Publication date is set for fall 2023. I am also working on a collaborative project I am very proud to be a part of. It is called Many Worlds, and, put simply, it is a collectively-managed shared multiverse. We have an anthology coming out in summer 2023 and some other stuff we’re close to announcing. You can check us out at manyworldsforum.com.

Arley Sorg

Arley Sorg is a 2021 and a 2022 World Fantasy Award Finalist as well as a 2022 Locus Award Finalist for his work as co-Editor-in-Chief at Fantasy Magazine. Arley is a 2022 recipient of SFWA’s Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award. He is also a finalist for two 2022 Ignyte Awards: for his work as a critic as well as for his creative nonfiction. Arley is a senior editor at Locus Magazine, associate editor at both Lightspeed & Nightmare, and a columnist for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. He takes on multiple roles, including slush reader, movie reviewer, and book reviewer, and conducts interviews for multiple venues, including Clarkesworld Magazine and his own site: arleysorg.com. He has taught classes, run workshops, and been a guest for Clarion West, the Odyssey Writing Workshop, Cascade Writers, Augur Magazine, and more. Arley grew up in England, Hawaii, and Colorado, and studied Asian Religions at Pitzer College. He lives in the SF Bay Area and writes in local coffee shops when he can. Find him on Twitter @arleysorg. Arley is a 2014 Odyssey Writing Workshop graduate.