Saturday, July 31, 2010

Blogathon Interview: Kathryn Sullivan

Kathryn Sullivan is an award-winning author, a fellow Doctor Who fan, and animal lover who loves horses and was absolutely enthusiastic in supporting the Blogathon.  She recently finished her term on the Broad Universe Motherboard and as our excellent web maven.  Check out her books through her information below.

How do you want people to contact you (website, e-mail, Facebook, blog, Twitter, address, storefront, etc.)? 

Thank you so much for returning to the Blogathon, this year, Kathy!  Since last year, you've had an essay come out in the most excellent Chicks Dig Time Lords. What else have you been working on that we should know about?  (And how can we purchase more stuff from you?)

I also have a short story in the 2009 FenCon program book about a strange eaglet a raptor center employee rescued. I’m still working on my YA space colony story and space agent story.  My books are available for purchase from Amber Quill Press, Amazon and Fictionwise.

In Chicks Dig Time Lords, your essay talks about your own adventures within the Doctor Who Fandom and the fan zines.  It’s a fun essay to read, but it also has a lot of lessons for fans and writers about networking and taking advantage of opportunities in fandom.  While everyone should read the essay for the full effect, what are a few things you can share here about how being active in fandom has helped you as a writer?

The advantage of attending conventions as a fan and later working as a volunteer was that I knew the best ways to make the concom and volunteers’ jobs easier when I began attending conventions as a panelist and guest.  Showing up on time, knowing my topic, thanking people for their work, helping to make sure things run smoothly – common sense, yes, but sometimes that gets forgotten when people get rushed.  And because I had worked as a volunteer, some Midwest conventions already knew me and were willing to invite me as a pro when my first book was published.

I met a number of authors who wrote fanzine stories around the same time I did – some stayed as fanzine writers, but others moved on to become professional authors and editors. In some cases because an editor or an author knew my fan work he or she was willing to look at my professional work, or let me know about an opportunity in an anthology, but nothing was guaranteed.  I had to prove my worth as a writer each time.  Which is as it should be. 

I had already written a number of original short stories before I found out about existence of fandom.  Fanzines provided a home for some of them because there wasn’t as many professional magazines publishing science fiction and fantasy at that time as there are today.  Now, with market guides such as and Duotrope's Digest, beginning writers can find more markets (both semi-pro and pro) for their stories.

Last interview you brought up the characters of the Fleet Ones and Elin, your 'horse' wizard.  Can you introduce some of the blog readers to those characters who are so cool?  What does a 'horse' wizard do? 

Elin is beginning to learn what he can do as a wizard without hands (just four feet).  The story of how he learns to control magic will be next in the series, though there are a few hints of what he has learned so far in Talking to Trees.  Some of the short stores in Agents & Adepts are about how Elin become an apprentice to the Loremaster.  He loved to listen to stories of magic, but then ended up having to learn all those stories. Because of that, in The Crystal Throne, after the witches invaded and killed the Loremaster and other defenders, Elin was the one who remembered many of the useful spells, though he had never used them.  His best friends are Hahle, a rather stubborn colt, and Renw, who teamed up with an elf to spy on the witches.  When Jeanne Tucker entered the Lands, they became great friends because they both loved stories about magic. While Peter Burns and Hahle found they had a common bond in their distrust of magic.

Can you also tell readers about your "talking horses" from Crystal Throne and Talking to Trees?  What is the culture of them?  In real life, what are some things you wish horses could or would say?

The “talking horses” are the Fleet Ones in The Crystal Throne and Talking to Trees.  They are very distrustful of magic, and Elin finally decided to leave the herd because they didn’t like him talking to wizards or elves. Their leader, the Windrunner, is able to talk to the winds, which brings him (or her) messages from around their country.

The Fleet Ones are the descendants of several different horselike folk, among them horses previously owned by elves or humans.  They are a proud people with a very long oral history saved by their MemoryKeepers. They live on the prairies between the dwarf strongholds and the elfin groves and constantly patrol their territory. I had a lot of fun thinking of expressions they might use (“Windspin” for confusion, “No need to twist my tail”), what would be considered polite manners, and their legends and fairy tales.

In real life, it would be interesting to carry on a conversation with a horse.  Though I would hope it wouldn’t only be about food, the weather, that cute stallion down the road…

You also have two very cool birds in your life.  Who are they, and how have they affected your life?
Bayla is a Moluccan cockatoo, very salmon-colored, who is about 24 years old.  MacGyver is a Jenday conure (20 years old), very much smaller than Bayla, and is able to turn any household item into a bird toy.  He’s my guard bird, who alerts me to strangers halfway down the block, the neighbors outside on their deck, and birds at the bird feeder (whether I want to know about them or not). His favorite thing to do is hang upsidedown by one talon. Next is either destroying his toys or harassing Bayla. Bayla likes to sit on people and be admired and petted.  She also plays catch – and has a pretty accurate pitching beak. They both talk, so when I come home I’m greeted by “Hi guys!” from Mac and “Hello” from Bayla. 

I’ve always had birds. My father didn’t like cats or dogs and I was the one in the family who was able to train our parakeets to do tricks. Parrots (like horses) are prey animals and most times their reactions are different from that of a dog or cat or humans.  Putting myself in that different mindset also helps me write about aliens or fantasy creatures.  Sure, some space farers might be predators, but not all.  And it’s interesting to think what a society based on a flock or herd mentality might be like.

Some of my friends write about aliens based on dogs or cats.  I write about birdlike aliens and talking horses.

Thank you very much, Kathryn, for your support of the Bay State Equine Rescue with this interview!

If you liked what you read, definitely check out Kathy's books, and consider donating to the BSER by clicking on the apple below.

Click the apple to donate now to help the BSER horses!


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