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Frivolous Comma Podcast

Author: Frivolous Comma

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We speak with speculative fiction writers, new and established, to tease out what inspired them, how they work, what kind of beverage keeps them going, how they think about their work and their relationship to it, and much more.
5 Episodes
Episode Description: Diving between the worlds of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy, J. Dianne Dotson reflects on what inspires her writing, how she maintains confidence in her craft, and how loneliness grew into her passion for world-building. With degrees in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Dianne is currently a science writer. In this episode, she explains how she weaves scientific research into her books and how her childhood in Appalachia sparked her passion for ecology, astronomy, and writing. She also has helpful advice for writers struggling to commit to structure or stay consistent enough to finish their books. Show Notes:(00:48-05:37) Love of Horror: After revealing that she is currently working on a horror fiction, Dianne tells us how she got introduced to the genre through movies at a young age.  (05:40-09:13) Psychological vs. Physical Horror: How do both psychological & physical elements intertwine in horror writing? Dianne gives examples of both subtypes that she appreciates embodied in the genre.  (11:16-14:18) Dianne’s Diverse Writing Style: Dianne’s writing stands out for its versatility- she explains how she’s able to change styles, genres & storylines ranging from fantasy and sci-fi to horror. (14:20-15:10) Juggling Multiple Worlds: From her day-job as a science writer to her passion for art- she’s still managing to juggle multiple written projects in the background. Dianne tells us how she takes inspiration from one world into the next. (15:10- 16:50) Confidence in Storytelling: Confidence to finish & share a book can be difficult for some writers. Dianne explains how she embraces her writing, taking us through her early start in writing comics and how that influenced her creation of The Questrison Saga. (16:50-20:36) From Isolation to Inspiration: Dianne explains how loneliness led her to develop her own universe through writing. She recalls how she found her writing community later on and the impact collaboration has had.  (20:40-24:53) Heliopause & the Saga: The origin of the first book in Dianne’s saga is told...from rejections to what kept her on track. It’s also discussed how the books can be read independently but enlighten each other. (24:55-29:14) Tackling Structure Head on: Laying out her book before putting pen to paper, Dianne shocks us with the way she commands her writing structure all at once, before writing, to meet tight publishing deadlines. (29:15-36:18) Tales from Appalachia: The childhood inspiration behind Shadow Galaxy’s “Tales from Appalachia” are explained from outdoor adventures to the strange mix of wonder & horror that Appalachia evokes. (36:19-38:33) Background in Natural Science: Dianne explains her fascination with astronomy growing up and how passion for nature evolved and grew into adulthood, leading her to pursue degrees in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. How the subjects she learned inspired her writing including how Greek gods & goddesses inspired some characters in her books.(38:34-45:59) Research Heavy or Research Light(?): Using her knowledge and research of ecology is part of Dianne’s process in world-building a realistic world in her books— but she explains how it's not always necessary. She tells writers what they can ask themselves when they’re trying to decide: research heavy or research light? (46:00-46:48) Workshops: Dianne provides mentorship for other aspiring authors & writers through some videos she posts on her social media pages. She also has upcoming panels on Ecology and world-building that she is hosting soon. (46:49-48:48) Advice for Aspiring Writers: Dianne tells us the harsh reality writers must accept to get where they want to go. (48:49-50:38) Upcoming Book: The Inn at the Amethyst Lantern is a utopia cli-fi book being released this October by Dianne, we’ve linked where you can pre-order the book, under the list of publications below!Follow Dianne Dotson’s PublicationsThe Inn at the Amethyst Lantern (Expected Oct. 2023)The Shadow Galaxy (2023)“In the Wood of Frost and Shadow” Winter of Wonder: Fauna (2022)Luminiferous- The Questrison Saga Book #4 (2021)Accretion- The Questrison Saga Book #3 (2020)Ephemeris- The Questrison Saga Book #2 (2019)Heliopause- The Questrison Saga Book #1(2018)Follow Frivolous CommaNewsletter: https://www.frivolouscomma.comInstagram: https://podcast.frivolouscomma.comTwitter:
Episode Description: Piecing together a whole new world full of depth and creativity and making magic from the typical: Greta Hayer takes us inside her passion-filled process of weaving short stories from history, her studies and her travels to South Korea. Taking from history can get tricky, she explains the hardships and struggles of fantasy writing and the solutions she’s found along the way. A history graduate, she loves retellings and often applies that love to her own works. Greta Hayer is a fantasy author living in New Orleans. She has her MFA from the University of New Orleans and a bachelor’s degree in history from her studies of medieval medicine and fairy tales at the College of Wooster. Show Notes:(00:00-09:50) Background and Inspiration: Having turned to writing after winning a contest in 5th grade for her short story “Vivian’s Quest,” Greta explains how her writing developed in her early years through college. (9:50-12:00) Why Speculative Fiction: She doesn’t exclusively write speculative fiction but enjoys the creativity it provides. Greta explains her favorite aspects of the genre.(12:00-18:00) History in Sci Fi: Greta discusses different moments in science fiction writing where history is portrayed and woven into story-lines. (18:00-22:48) Stand Alone Short Stories: Taking us inside her process for short story writing, Greta reveals whether some of her short stories are connected to each other.  (22:48-27:30) A Father’s Influence: From magical lights to keys to the future and the past, much of this author’s inspiration has close ties to the way she was raised, she gives us more insight.(27:30-30:00) The Auger and Girl Left at His Door: One of Greta’s works “The Auger and Girl Left at his Door” is explained from the creative process to its influences gathered from her travels and other works. (30:26-33:58) Cultural Appropriation vs. Appreciation in Story Building: Greta and the host discuss an author’s role in portraying other cultures and histories and what is appreciation vs. appropriation. (34:00-41:52)  Written Inspiration from Reading: Greta takes us through some of her favorite books that helped enlighten her writing starting in her early years with the work of acclaimed author Tamora Pierce. (41:52-52:29) Connecting with Other Writers: Greta talks about her public writers group called “Third Lantern Lit” and how connecting in person with the writing community provides support for her writing process and that of others. (52:29-55:07)  Scrapping & Re-Telling: Greta walks us through her advice on re-working or re-telling your stories in a whole new way. (55:25-01:00:00) Dating your Readers (Metaphorically): For authors to be successful, they need feedback from people reading their work. But, that can be difficult. Greta gives advice on how writers can find balanced feedback that keeps authors developing in the right direction. Follow Greta Hayer’s Publications“More Real than Real” Andromeda Spaceways (2021)“Eight Steps to Enlightenment” Maudlin House (2021)“The Auger and Girl Left At His Door” Beneath Ceaseless Skies (2020)“The Cossmass Infinities” The First Year (2020)“Hashtag Buzzkill” The Daily Drunk (2020)“Into the Ruins” Winter (2018)“The Blinded God” Luna Station Quarterly Full List: Frivolous CommaNewsletter: https://www.frivolouscomma.comInstagram: https://podcast.frivolouscomma.comTwitter:
Shownotes:Quick Note: In the conversation, the host refers to this article on and incorrectly attributes it to R.F. Kuang.  The article is written by SL Huang, but was edited by R.F. Kuang.  Apologies for the error.Early Speculative Love [00:00-11:00]: PA reveals her early experience writing speculative fiction and the works that nourished her love for the genre. Short Stories Concepts [11:00-25:00]: To plan or not to plan? PA explains the inspiration and writing process behind some of her most popular short stories. Novella Baggage [25:00-31:40]: Pantsing a short story is easy. Pantsing a novella? Not so much. PA discusses how she switched gears in order to write her debut novella and what she learned from that process. Getting Her Foot In The Door [31:40-40:00]: Growing up, PA was always a lone writer, isolated from the Canadian writer’s community at large. All of that changed after she was invited to attend a writer’s workshop during college. Leveling Up [40:00-52:30]: What’s in store for the future? PA shares ways she has been challenging herself as a writer and why her current project is unlike any other she’s written so far. Advice For Other Writers [52:30-]: Should you write with a certain market in mind? How should writers deal with rejections? For the final leg of this episode, PA advises other writers on these questions and more. Follow P.A. Cornell’s Publications Frivolous CommaNewsletter: Instagram: Twitter:
Episode Description: Growing up a natural writer and avid reader, Kelly Robson has always known that writing was stamped into her destiny. However, it wouldn’t be until much later in life that Kelly would finally heed the call to adventure and treat her craft with the reverence that she does now. Her penchant for systems infuses her stories with recurring elements like infrastructure and nuanced character relationships that she unpacks with as much flair as she does with sensitivity. In this episode, Kelly walks us through her character crafting process, dissects the themes of her works–including her sci-fi novella Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach and short story Skin City–, and offers encouragement to budding writers. Lastly, she talks to us about her August 2022 novella, High Times in the Low Parliament, and what sets this one apart from all her previous works. (Hint: It involves stoned fairies and British politics.) Show Notes:Early Writing and Early Reading  [00:00 - 4:00]: Kelly discusses the impact reading and writing had on her childhood and her relationship with speculative fiction. Publishing Later in Life [4:10 - 9:25 ]: Kelly recounts how she began writing more seriously in her mid-30’s and why it’s never too late to get published.Conundrum of Characters and Problems [9:30 - 16:35]: Kelly shares the crucial piece of advice that helped her complete one of her first short fictions, “Waters of Versailles”. The Status of Speculative Fiction [16:40 - 23:00]: What constitutes speculative fiction? What about “core science fiction”? Kelly delves into these questions. Gods, Monsters, and The Lucky Peach [23:00 - 29:50]: Kelly contextualizes the worldbuilding and thematic elements found in her first book. Systems of Privacy [29:50 - 36:20]: Kelly uses her short story “Skin City” to discuss the fluidity of the concept of “privacy”. Character Building [36:20 - 41:00]: Figuring out the right characters for your story and crafting the right relationships can be one of the most challenging aspects of writing. Kelly offers some advice on how to overcome this hurdle. High Times in Low Parliament [41:00 - 44:20]: Kelly shares the premise of her new book High Times in Low Parliament as well as the subgenre that it takes place in. Finding Creativity in Everyday Life [44:20 - 50:00]: Code switching between non-creative tasks and creative tasks can be a challenge. Kelly shares some insights on how she keeps up her writing schedule among everyday responsibilities.  Short Stories, Novellas, and Novels [50:00 - 53:48]: Kelly drops a few hints on the direction of her future writing. Follow Kelly:Website: https://kellyrobson.comTwitter:’s Publications: Frivolous Comma:Newsletter: Instagram: Twitter:
Early Writing Inspiration [00:00]: Shingai discusses her early writing gigs and how her culture inspires her speculative writing.  Western vs. Nonwestern Storytelling [5:50]: “Stories are stories”. Shingai illuminates the pitfalls of boxing fiction within rigid categories and the advantages of genre-fluid storytelling.  Memory and Imagination [10:00]: Shingai explains the struggle and the importance of capturing national history—particularly traumatic history—through fiction.  Writing to be Seen [25:00]: Stories have the power to reflect society as much as they have the power to reflect the individual. Shingai discusses the importance of writing stories that affirms your own identity and makes others like you feel seen.  Cultural Representation of Magic [33:40]: Shingai explores how colonization led to the demonization of Non-Western style magic and how telling representative stories can change this stigma.  Cultural Representation of Time [39:00]: Shingai contrasts the way Kenyans view the relationship between time, relationships, and cultural values with the way Western society views these elements.   Living in a Grieving World [43:40]: From transitioning to life in the States to living through the pandemic to watching everyone else’s struggles through the internet, Shingai is no stranger to grief. She discusses how her stories deal with grief in both a real and speculative manner.   Voodoonauts [49:00]: Shingai recalls what inspired the founding of Voodoonauts, a free speculative fiction workshop for black writers, and the impact it has had on her life.  Advice for Aspiring Writers [54:50]: What are some key actions aspiring speculative fiction writers can take to succeed in the journeys? Shingai shares her wisdom.   Follow Shingai Njeri Kagunda Website: Voodoonauts: Twitter: Instagram:  Shingai’s Publications  Follow Frivolous Comma Newsletter: Instagram: Twitter:
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