Welcome to another in this series of interviews with the people behind the science fiction and fantasy blogs, podcasts and zines.
Today I am talking with Aidan Moher, Hugo award-winning editor of A Dribble of Ink.
SCy-Fy: Aidan, you’ve been blogging since 2007. What has been the most popular piece you have published so far?
AM: Far and away the most popular article published by A Dribble of Ink is Kameron Hurley’s We Have Always Fought: Challenging the ‘Women, Cattle and Slaves’ Narrative. It won the Hugo Award for ‘Best Related Work’ in 2014 (the same year that A Dribble of Ink won for ‘Best Fanzine’) and has become a touchstone in the discussion of the portrayal of women in fantasy fiction and other related fields.
SCy-Fy: It certainly has. How do you structure your own writing for the site?
AM: Every day is different. Writing a long form piece, like a review, an essay, or an end-of-the-year roundup requires a lot of time and preparation. I’ll begin by laying out a skeleton of what I want to say, and then over several days continue to add meat and fat to the piece, turning it from an outline to a full-fledged blog post. Then, edits. Finally, layout and publishing.
News and art posts are often more spur of the moment. I’ll find something that’s interesting or relevant, and usually put a blog post together on the spot. Some of my meatier news pieces, which involve interviews with authors/editors/publishers/artists/etc. take a bit longer to assemble, but, being time sensitive, are assembled as quickly as possible, usually via email conversations.
A lot of this happens while I eat a bowl of porridge for breakfast, or during my lunch break at work.
SCy-Fy: Porridge! So that’s the secret. What are your future initiatives for the blog?
AM: To continue to evolve enough to keep things interesting for me and my readers. This means more diversity of content, continuing to improve my approach to writing, casting my net wider when curating content from other people. These are the same values that have been driving A Dribble of Ink forward for several years now.
SCy-Fy: Looking forward 3-5 years, what do you think will be the major challenges for SFF blogging?
AM: I fear that the days of the small, independent blog are drawing to an end. Sites like Tor.com and io9, big multi-author blogs with corporate money backing them, are slowly-but-surely eating up a lot of fandom’s best writers and bloggers. Justin Landon, one of my favourite fan writers, closed down Staffer’s Book Review in 2014, Niall Alexander’s The Speculative Scotsman is a ghost town, and Liz Bourke writes prolifically for Tor.com and Strange Horizons. The future of the fan writer looks bright, and the potential is endless for the diversity and utter intelligence of the fan community, but it’s going to be happening in these large venues and on Twitter, with the mid-size blog left on the wayside.
SCy-Fy: Advice for bloggers? For reviewers? For writers?
AM: Write. That’s the best advice for any type of writer.
The second best piece of advice is to be honest, even when you’re telling lies with your fiction.
SCy-Fy: What is your most useful resource?
AM: Twitter. It’s like a 24/7 fan convention with all of your favourite authors, editors, bloggers, actors, artists, etc. Everything happens on Twitter these days.
SCy-Fy: Any particularly tricky issues in SFF blogging?
AM: One of the most difficult aspects of blogging is managing the personal relationships that you inevitably form with authors, editors, publishers, and publicists in the field. I don’t believe that blogging has to create an inherently antagonistic or moral-shakingly friendly relationship between the blogger and the industry folk on the other side of the fence, but it’s important to always consider your position as a writer/reviewer/critic with a responsibility to put the integrity of your work ahead of your biases.
It’s entirely possible to be friendly with creators and still be an insightful and sharp critic. But only if you take the time to do so.
SCy-Fy: Things that have kept you going in hard times?
AM: I can’t really say that there have been ‘hard times’ for me as a blogger. It’s a hobby, first and foremost, and I make sure to keep that in perspective whenever frustration arises. Burnout occurs, of course, but when it does I see it as an opportunity to move my energies from creating content to consuming content. So, I read more, blog less.
SCy-Fy: Let’s finish with the bottom line. The best books of 2014?
AM: 2014 was a very strong year. My favourites include Robert Jackson Bennett’s City of Stairs, which is a fantastical murder mystery set in the decaying beauty of Bulikov, one of the finest fantasy settings in years; Emily St John Mandel’s Station Eleven is a beautiful post-apocalyptic novel that’s more interested in examining the socio-cultural impacts of the apocalypse than the event itself; Ancillary Sword is a fantastic follow-up to Ann Leckie’s award-winning debut, Ancillary Justice; and, Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor is a light in the darkness that currently blankets fantasy fiction.
SCy-Fy: Which upcoming releases are you most looking forward to reading?
AM: Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie, Empire Ascendant by Kameron Hurley, The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson, and The Spider’s War by Daniel Abraham are all high on my list.
SCy-Fy: Any last words?
AM: Thanks so much for having me! If you’re interested in following up on any of these conversations, you can find me on Twitter: @adribbleofink.
SCy-Fy: Thank you, Aidan.