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Odyssey Podcasts

 

Welcome to the Odyssey Podcasts. These podcasts are excerpts from lectures given by guest writers, editors, and agents at the Odyssey Writing Workshop.

Every month or two, we release a new podcast. Each one is ten to fifteen minutes long. You may download a particular podcast, or you may subscribe to the podcasts so you automatically receive them when they are released. To subscribe, you will need RSS reader software on your computer. There are many free RSS readers.

XML Subscribe using RSS

Or use your RSS reader's "subscribe" feature to add our URL:
XML http://podcasts.odysseyworkshop.org/odysseypodcasts.xml

If you have iTunes, you can subscribe on the iTunes page for Odyssey Podcasts.

Or see below to download and listen to individual podcasts. To access more options, right-click on the mp3 links.



PODCAST #113

MP3 Download the mp3 File
E.C. Ambrose was a guest lecturer at the 2018 Odyssey workshop. In this excerpt from her question-and-answer session, students ask her about setting and research. Elaine explains that her story "The Burning" is a prequel to her Elisha Barber series, so she knew it would be set in the rural English village where Elisha grew up, and it would be set when he was a child. Once she knew those basic facts, she figured out which elements she needed to include to convey the setting to the reader effectively. Asked about her research process, Elaine says many of her projects have started from research. This started back when she attended Odyssey as a student. One assignment required she research a setting. Doing that research made her a research junkie. Now she reads widely in nonfiction in areas she's curious about. When she finds something exciting, she dives deeper. Her current novel-in-progress, about a clockwork doomsday device, was inspired by a nonfiction book about an ancient Greek eclipse predictor found in a shipwreck. The footnotes led her to additional sources, and she drilled back to the most detailed source she could find. She's fascinated by material culture, by learning how people make things and what they make those things from. Asked how she budgets time for research, Elaine explains that when she finds a rabbit hole she wants to dive down, she may put it off until she's done with her current project. At that point, she researches until she has a person in a place with a problem. This visionary moment is the start of a book. Then she needs to develop a more refined notion of the milieu of the story and what things she needs to know, broadly. In a Medieval fantasy set in England, she needs to know what London was like at that time, how people lived, what the hierarchies were, and specific information about medieval surgery. Once she knows those things, she needs to stop reading and start writing. If she needs a detail, she just plugs brackets into the manuscript and makes a note to research later. After she finishes a novel, she needs to find a new rabbit hole. Asked whether she uses research for characterization, Elaine says she looks for information on how people lived and thought. Sometimes it's hard to be completely realistic; readers may not relate. But as much as she can, she tries to make her characters fit in the setting where they live.

E. C. Ambrose E. C. Ambrose, writing under the name Elaine Isaak, is the author of The Singer's Crown (Eos, 2005), and its sequels The Eunuch's Heir and The Bastard Queen, as well as the "Tales of Bladesend" epic novella series. As E. C. Ambrose, she writes The Dark Apostle series of dark historical fantasy novels about medieval surgery. The Dark Apostle started with Elisha Barber (DAW, 2013), described in a starred Library Journal review as, "beautifully told, painfully elegant." Additional volumes Elisha Magus, Elisha Rex and Elisha Mancer followed, with the final volume, Elisha Daemon, just released in 2018. Her short fiction has won the Tenebris Press Flash Fiction contest and appeared in the New Hampshire Pulp Fiction series, Fireside magazine and Uncle John's Bathroom Reader.

In addition to her novels, she has written how-to articles for The Writer magazine, nonfiction at Clarkesworld, and authored the Lady Blade fantasy writing column at AlienSkin magazine for three years. Her speaking engagements have included local chapters of Romance Writers of America as well as other writing groups, the World Science Fiction and World Fantasy Conventions.

Elaine attended the Rhode Island School of Design for three years, and studied speculative fiction at the Odyssey Writing Workshop, where she is pleased to return as an instructor. A former professional costumer specializing in animal mascots, Elaine lives in New Hampshire with her family where she works part-time as an adventure guide. In addition to writing and teaching, Elaine enjoys taiko drumming, rock climbing, and all manner of fiber arts.

Elaine's research interests include the history of technology and medicine, Mongolian history and culture, medieval history, in particular medieval medicine and the history of England. Her research and travel has taken her to Germany, England, France, India, Nepal, China and Mongolia as well as many United States destinations. In order to write the best books she can, Elaine learned how to hunt with a falcon, clear a building of possible assailants, pull traction on a broken limb, and fire an AR-15. She is eager to see where writing will take her next.

Visit www.TheDarkApostle.com or www.ElaineIsaak.com to find out why you do not want to be her hero.

The text of this recording is copyright © 2018 by E. C. Ambrose. The sound recording is copyright ℗ 2018 by Odyssey Writing Workshops.



PODCAST #112

MP3 Download the mp3 File
As a Skype guest at Odyssey 2018, Nisi Shawl answered student questions. In this excerpt, the second of two parts, Nisi discusses her writing process. She writes for 90 minutes, takes 30 minutes off. Asked how she connects characters to the political concerns that inform her work, Nisi says the personal is the political. She doesn't have to stretch far to find the political in the personal characteristics of a character. Authors can avoid didacticism but showing a political point in an unusual way. When authors have a wall in their hearts between what they think and what they feel--that's when a story can feel didactic. Asked when a writer should write the other and when the writer should leave the story for others to tell, Nisi advises thinking about what you have in common with the protagonist. Is the story being told from the point of view of an outsider at some sort of disadvantage in the culture? Is it the story of someone who is deeply invested in culture? Or of someone clueless about it? How do you align with your protagonist? Is he acting the way you would? Who else has been telling this kind of story and who else has been talking about the kind of difference you're hoping to represent? How do they align with that difference? If this kind of difference has always been represented from the outside and you want to change that and represent it from the inside but you're not an insider, you've got a lot of work to do and may end up making the differences exoticized even more than they have been, misrepresenting the situation by errors on your part. Nisi recommends writers look at the questions asked by Hiromi Goto in her speech at Wiscon.

Nisi Shawl Nisi Shawl wrote the 2016 Nebula finalist and Tiptree Honor novel Everfair, an alternate history in which the Congo overthrows King Leopold II's genocidal regime, and the 2008 Tiptree Award-winning short story collection Filter House. In 2005 she co-wrote Writing the Other: A Practical Approach, now considered the standard text on diverse character representation in the imaginative genres, and the basis of her years of online and in-person classes of the same name. She is a founder of the inclusivity-focused Carl Brandon Society and has served on the Clarion West Writers Workshop's board of directors for nineteen years.

Shawl's dozens of acclaimed stories have appeared in Analog and Asimov's Magazines, among many other publications; most recently her "Everfair-adjacent" story "Vulcanization" was selected as one of twenty offered in Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy. She has edited and co-edited several fiction and nonfiction anthologies such as Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany; and Strange Matings: Science Fiction, Feminism, African American Voices, and Octavia E. Butler; both finalists for the Locus Award. Currently she's in the final stages of editing New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color, to be published this fall by Solaris.

The text of this recording is copyright © 2018 by Nisi Shawl. The sound recording is copyright ℗ 2018 by Odyssey Writing Workshops.



PODCAST #111

MP3 Download the mp3 File
Nisi Shawl answered student questions as a Skype guest at the 2018 Odyssey Writing Workshop. In this excerpt, the first of two parts, Nisi discusses the problems she had to overcome to improve her writing. She was a "plot-challenged" writer and had to practice by distilling the spines of plots she admired. This technique involves summarizing a story so you can understand where each plotline comes from and drawing a graph of each character's experiences. Nisi also found readers unable to understand her stories. She used to be too elliptical and have characters talk around things. She needed to learn to throw readers a bone--explain things to them and more than once. It can sometimes feel like she's hitting readers over the head, but that's what works. When a student asks about situations where the author wants to maintain ambiguity, Nisi says that ambiguity should not be about what happens but about what story means. You need to be clear about what happens, but you can leave up to interpretation what events mean. Those two big things--plot and clarity--improved her stories a lot. Asked about a story she wrote based on a prompt, Nisi explains how she went from prompt to character and situation.

Nisi Shawl Nisi Shawl wrote the 2016 Nebula finalist and Tiptree Honor novel Everfair, an alternate history in which the Congo overthrows King Leopold II's genocidal regime, and the 2008 Tiptree Award-winning short story collection Filter House. In 2005 she co-wrote Writing the Other: A Practical Approach, now considered the standard text on diverse character representation in the imaginative genres, and the basis of her years of online and in-person classes of the same name. She is a founder of the inclusivity-focused Carl Brandon Society and has served on the Clarion West Writers Workshop's board of directors for nineteen years.

Shawl's dozens of acclaimed stories have appeared in Analog and Asimov's Magazines, among many other publications; most recently her "Everfair-adjacent" story "Vulcanization" was selected as one of twenty offered in Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy. She has edited and co-edited several fiction and nonfiction anthologies such as Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany; and Strange Matings: Science Fiction, Feminism, African American Voices, and Octavia E. Butler; both finalists for the Locus Award. Currently she's in the final stages of editing New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color, to be published this fall by Solaris.

The text of this recording is copyright © 2018 by Nisi Shawl. The sound recording is copyright ℗ 2018 by Odyssey Writing Workshops.



FOR PODCASTS #1-22, CLICK HERE.

FOR PODCASTS #23-44, CLICK HERE.

FOR PODCASTS #45-66, CLICK HERE.

FOR PODCASTS #67-88, CLICK HERE.

FOR PODCASTS #89-110, CLICK HERE.

 

 

 


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