Bewildering Stories Interviews
Oonah V. Joslin
Bewildering Stories is a big operation, as our Information page shows. Our Associate Editors are an elite group. Their critiques of submissions not only make Bewildering Stories possible, they are essential to making it the best it can be. The Associate Editors necessarily work anonymously, “behind the scenes.” Now we express our appreciation to them with a series of personal interviews.
How did you become involved with Bewildering Stories and when?
Issue 267 (2007): “Clear and Cold the Rising Moon.” That title was the prompt in our flash forum. It was one of my first flashes.
Is there anything you’d like to tell Bewildering Stories authors to do or not do?
- read the magazine
- read your work out loud
- revise, revise, revise
What are your favorite and least favorite parts of working as an Editor for Bewildering Stories?
I enjoy reading the stories but I don’t have much time because of all the other things I do, so I employ specific criteria which are worth adopting when reading your own work:
CONTENT: Is the story interesting? Does it keep me reading? Does it make sense?
AUDIENCE: Is it what I would expect to read in Bewildering Stories? Is it intelligent?
LANGUAGE: Is the language used appropriate to the story? Grammatically correct? Non-repetitive?
LAYOUT: Has the writer taken care in presentation, punctuation and paragraphing? It lends structure to the process and ensures a fair reading for each story.
What do you do in real life?
In real life I’m travelling on a small planet round a sun on the edge of a system in the Milky Way. It’s quite exciting really.
What is your occupation?
I have the great privilege of being Managing Editor of www.everydaypoets.com
What do you like most and least about it?
Most – poetry is my job. Least – the occasional nasty e-mail.
What advice would you give to a young person going into your line of work?
You’re young, travel. Plenty of time to edit a poetry mag when you’re older!
What’s your favorite book?
The Waves, by Virginia Woolf, is one of them. It’s so poetic, it flows in thought from character to character and I find some truth in every line. I often dip into it.
Who are your favorite authors, and what about their works appeals to you most?
Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke (and the team of Star Trek). They all took me to new worlds.
If you could invite any other writer to dinner who would ask and why?
That’s a tough one. You can like a person’s work and not like the person and I’m not much into hero-worship. I have already met several writers from various forums and have not been disappointed thus far.
What’s the last book that you read and really enjoyed?
I can recommend Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson. His observations are spot on and affectionately funny.
If you could be any character other than one of your own from a book or movie, who would it be? Why?
One of those Star Trek characters who is trying to become more human — perhaps Seven or Q.
What made you want to start writing?
I’ve always written poetry but when I left teaching I joined www.writewords.org.uk and started doing the weekly challenges in their flash forums and I found that was fun.
Some authors have said that their parents were supportive of their efforts when young, and some have said they had to sneak around and hide. What was the case with you?
I think my mother would have loved to write. Her favourite thing in school was English. She appreciated what she saw of my poetry. I know she would have loved all I have written since. I had kind teachers who encouraged me.
Where do you get your ideas?
If I am given a prompt, I write to that but inspiration can come from anywhere — the ideas themselves — who knows? I think I have never quite ‘fitted in’ anywhere and I see elements of that discomfort in a lot of my work.
Where do you write?
At the computer mostly and at my writers’ group.
When do you write: at set times or as the mood moves you?
I write or revise something nearly every day. If I waited for the mood I’d never get anything finished.
Some writers say that they have to write a certain amount of words every day. Do you do this? Why or why not?
I just aim to accomplish something: begin a story, finish a story, revise a poem, send something off and I do it in between editing EDP and all the other stuff. Writing is sort of a reward for me.
Do you ever have a problem with writer’s block?
I never let it worry me. It’ll come, probably at 4 a.m. or when I’m in the pool and my mind is wandering.
Who proofreads and critiques your work?
I put most things in the forums in Writewords.
Do you have a favorite among your works?
I love “A Genie in a Jam” and in fact I haven’t finished with that yet. I am extending it and one day I would love to hold it as a book and maybe see it illustrated. DJ has a life of his own definitely. He’s real to me. Mostly when I have a character’s name, a story follows but I always need a name and if I read a story where the MC doesn’t have a name, I tend not to like that.
What do you consider the strangest thing you’ve ever written?
I always think it strange that I write horror and my NASA ekphrastic, “Aurora in Iceland” is pretty weird.
Almost every writer is inspired by someone or something else. What inspirations have you found?
Inspiration is everywhere. You just have to start writing.
What do you do in your spare time aside from reading Bewildering Stories submissions?
Gym. Swim. Write and read in 4 forums at writewords.org.uk. Update my blog. Attend my Newcastle writing group. Keep up with the writing of friends on Facebook. Answer e-mails. Housework, of course. Succumb to occasional panic attacks.
Where do you live, if you don’t mind saying?
Northumberland, England. It’s got castles but I don’t.
Where do you think you might like to live — either in reality or in your imagination?
I’d live in an ultra-modern, eco-friendly house on a private island with cool breezes, shady groves and white sands and I’d have my own lagoon to swim in. No cars. No flight paths. No noise but the sea. I’d invite the odd friend of course.
Copyright © 2012 by
Oonah V. Joslin
and Bewildering Stories