I have wandered dazed and lost through a German forest to find Nicolette Stewart, co-editor of the speculative fiction blog Book Punks, which has just celebrated its first anniversary.
SCy-Fy: Nicolette, you are still wearing your pyjamas. Have I arrived too early, or do you think the end of the world will be here before you can get changed?
NS: Actually, I think my pyjamas would probably make pretty good survival gear. Funny you should mention the end of the world… . The end of the world and the way each new generation of writers imagines the end of the world is one of my obsessions and something I find absolutely fascinating. I am currently trying to read all of the apocalypses ever written, and I write about the experience every Thursday on my column 1000 Ways to End the World.
SCy-Fy: But why the PJs? Is that what you wear on a typical blogging day?
NS: As I am a freelance writer by trade, there are no typical days. So sometimes that means writing or doing admin for Book Punks between research and writing on a non-fiction project. Sometimes that means sitting in an office running other people’s blogs and social media, writing and editing and sneaking a glance at the Book Punks comments on my breaks. And sometimes it means having an entire day to waffle between housework and coffee and reading and writing.
There are a thousand book-related blog posts constantly churning and bubbling in my brain, so that is where most of my free writing time goes. The only constant is that I almost always work from bed. If my internet connection starts acting up, I might change out of my PJs and work from my favorite stuffed chair at the local vegan cafe.
SCy-Fy: What are your future plans?
NS: Building a time machine so that I can manufacture the time I need to read all the books and write all the things is my top priority. Until that’s finished, we’re just going to have to rely on overcoming our poor business sense in order to one day make enough money to hire authors to write the columns we don’t have time for but that we would love to see on Book Punks.
Both News From the Future and News From Dystopia are series we initially planned to include regularly (talking about science fictional- and dystopian-sounding items from the news and connecting them with related fictions) and are something that I would really like to see come to life in the next year.
SCy-Fy: What have been the most popular posts in the site’s first year?
NS: My advice on How to Write a Sexist Character Without Being Sexist is still one of our most popular posts and the battle between Gandalf and Dumbledore my co-editor Erika wrote is pretty epic. We do a series profiling independent publishers that has gotten great feedback, and I personally love Erika’s book recommendations for Arya Stark which is part of our Character Book List series.
SCy-Fy: Which future releases are you most looking forward to?
NS: Well, now that Speculative Fiction 2014 is out, I’m most looking forward to Nnedi Okorafor’s The Book of Phoenix. At the moment, however, I’m more focused on reading old classics and conquering my to-read shelf than in keeping up with new releases.
SCy-Fy: What have been the best books you have read recently?
NS: Holy shit – The Fictional Man by Al Ewing!! The book that broke books. I’m pretty sure that Ewing wrote it just for me as it has all of my favorite things: science fiction asking questions about what it means to be human, large dose of meta, social commentary, page-turning plot, writers writing, and a large dose of meta. That book. !!! Please, I’m begging you all, just go read it. It is amazing.
I’ve also recently intensely enjoyed Life on the Preservation by Jack Skillingstead, Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz, Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes, and Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett.
SCy-Fy: What do you think will be the major future challenges for SFF blogging?
NS: I could see a lack of net neutrality destroying the blogging world. If only big corporate sites were fast and easy and free, well, small businesses and individuals running blogs would suffer…and would one by one disappear.
SCy-Fy: Tips for bloggers? For reviewers? Writers?
NS: Take everything seriously. Take nothing seriously. Do the things you love the way you love to do them. Don’t be an asshole. Laugh a lot. Always carefully credit your photos.
SCy-Fy: Just between us – your secret list of useful resources?
NS: HA. Thought you had me there, didn’t you?
SCy-Fy: You’re the first interviewee who has seen through that clever trick. Other than interview questions, what other traps are there in SFF blogging?
NS: That we think blogging has “traps.” This is fun. Take it as seriously as behoves your happiness. Leave the rest behind as you ride off into the dying sunset pulling a moving, sentient library behind your robot horse.
SCy-Fy: Things that have kept you going in hard times?
NS: Whiskey, song, and sunlight.
SCy-Fy: Thank you, Nicolette – no, don’t get up.
NS: Don’t worry, I almost never do. Thanks for having me, PJs and all.
SCy-Fy: Ah, that forest is really big – do you think I could borrow your robot horse?
NS: *telepathically communicates with horse*
Just promise you’ll send her back.