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Bewildering Stories

Bewildering Stories Interviews

Bill Kowaleski

Bill Kowaleski is a Bewildering Stories Coordinating Editor.
We’re very glad to be able to add his interview to our distinguished list of interviews.

I. Personal Questions

Where do you live, if you don’t mind saying? — Milwaukee Wisconsin most of the year, Tucson Arizona for two months or so in the winter.

Where do you think you might like to live either in reality or in your imagination? — Where I live now, plus maybe New Zealand.

What is your occupation? What do you do in real life? — I’m retired now, but my career was in the computer industry, first as a techie, then as a consultant, and finally as a manager.

What advice would you give to a young person going into your line of work? — For the computer industry it would be “never stop learning.” As soon as you do, you become obsolete.

Has your occupation influenced your writing? — It’s allowed me to create some realistic scenes about computer security, and especially in my story “Knots” I could relate something very similar to a real-life event.

How did you come in contact with Bewildering Stories? — A Duotrope search.

What do you do in your spare time (aside from reading BwS)? — I teach English to immigrants at an agency that is a part of Catholic Charities. I also take Spanish lessons, which are vital for my teaching, as almost all my students are Spanish-speaking. I bicycle in the summer and hike in the winter. I also love to take care of my garden.

Is there anything BwS does particularly well? Is there anything in particular you’d like to see added or changed? — BwS is unsurpassed at giving useful feedback to authors. Nobody else does it as well.

II. About Reading

Is there anything you’d like to tell BwS authors to do or not do? — Thoroughly parse your stories for errors, and for logical inconsistencies.

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of working as an Editor for Bewildering Stories? — I like communicating with the other BwS people, getting frank feedback on my own work, and reading a lot of really good work by other authors. There’s no downside.

What would you like readers to learn or gain from what you write? — I write to entertain. That’s all.

How long have you been writing? — Five years. Though I wrote stories as a teenager also, I never tried to publish those.

What made you want to start writing? — In spare moments I would find myself thinking through story plots. I decided to write them down.

Do you have a favourite among your works? — The short stories “Knots” and “Intelligent Design”

Do you have a favourite character in your own stories? In some other writer’s? — Cindy Johanssen is my favorite self-created character. Lizbeth Salander of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy is my favorite literary character.

What’s your favourite book? What’s the last book that you read and really enjoyed? — There are many books I love, but the big three have to be Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina; Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and its companion book, which tells the same story from another point of view: The Year of the Flood; and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. Close behind is Paul Theroux’s Millroy the Magician. More recently, I read Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora which I really liked, though I wouldn’t list it among my all-time favorites.

Who are your favourite authors, and what about their works appeals to you most? — Tolstoy for the sheer beauty of his prose and for his characters, and Margaret Atwood for her great characters and ideas.

If you could be any character — other than one of your own — from a book or movie who would it be? Why? — Dr. Eleanor Arroway in Contact, because she got to travel on that incredible interstellar highway.

III. About Writing

Almost every writer is inspired by someone or something else. What inspirations have you found? Where do you get your ideas? — Ideas just come into my head, almost like dreams.

In composing a story, which do you think of first: the plot or the characters? — Both at the same time. a plot is only meaningful in terms of the characters.

Where do you write? — All over my house.

When do you write: at set times or as the mood moves you? — I’m very streaky; nothing for weeks and then intense bursts.

Do you ever have a problem with writer’s block? — Not yet.

Some writers say that they have to write a certain amount every day. Do you do set a quota? — Never!

Most writers have a particular audience in mind, although it may change from one work to the next. Who are your audiences? For whom do you write? — I write to please myself.

Do you use the Internet or the library to check facts? — Sometimes

What do you consider the strangest thing you’ve ever written? — A story called “Just a Little Firmware Upgrade” published on Quantum Muse. To say that it got “mixed reactions” would be an understatement!

What do you consider the most revealing thing you’ve ever written? — I wrote two versions of the same story, one published on Quantum Muse as “Two-Edged Sword,” the other on Bewildering Stories as “The Paradox Principle.” I did consider suicide when I was in college, as described in those stories, though I was never visited by my older self.

Does anyone else proofread or critique your work? — A good friend proofreads everything I write.

Do you have any favourite authors at Bewildering Stories? Have you found there any works you’d recommend to a friend? — There are quite a number; I don’t have just one favorite.

Some authors have started writing later in life. If that’s the case with you, what brought you to writing rather than to some other activity? — I did start later in life and it’s just one of several things I’m doing. I never had the time to do it before, and that’s why I’ve waited until now.

Copyright © 2016 by Bill Kowaleski

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