Today’s post is a transcript from a recent conversation with author Alyson Grauer over tea. Miss Grauer is a prolific author, and blogger, and acquaintance of mine through Xchyler Publishing. Enjoy:
J. Aurel: Hello Miss Grauer? Would you care for some Tea?
Alyson Grauer: Hello! Yes, indeed, tea would be lovely, thanks.
J. Aurel: I am so glad you were able to come (Sugar?) I understand that you have a new work of fiction. Can you tell us a little about your story?
Alyson Grauer: It’s my pleasure, honestly. Thank you for the invitation. (Sugar? Hm. Is it green tea or black?)
J. Aurel: Black of course.
Alyson Grauer: Black tea, then yes, a spot of sugar, thanks. At this time of the year I suppose it’s hardly considered ‘new’ now, my dear Aurel, but how kind of you to ask about it. It’s called “Lavenza, or the Modern Galatea,” and it can be found in the anthology MECHANIZED MASTERPIECES. It’s a sort of alternate subplot pulled from Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” describing the peculiar history of Elizabeth Lavenza, Victor Frankenstein’s adopted sister and wife-to-be, and how her tale intertwines with that of her Victor and his monstrous creation.
J. Aurel: Any cream with that? How delightful, where ever did you find the inspiration for such a charming tale?
Alyson Grauer: (Oh, why not. But only a splash, mind.) I have loved Shelley’s novel since high school, when my much beloved English teacher forced me to read it for an assignment and annotate the text while reading. While I initially turned up my nose at scribbling in someone else’s work, I learned to like the techniques and the deeper understanding of the text that came along with it. By the end of the novel I was quite enamored and ever since have ardently defended its merits both as a pioneer work of science-fiction as well as a pillar of inspiration in the history of female authorship.
J. Aurel: Ah, I see, is it not amusing how retrospect changes ones view of the institution of education? Now tell me Miss Grauer, How is it that you came to be published by Xchyler Publishing? (Sardines?)
Alyson Grauer: No sardines for me, thank you. Oh, are those cucumber sandwiches over there?
J. Aurel: Everyone loves those cucumber sandwiches for some reason.
Alyson Grauer: Well, when Oscar Wilde tells you something is in fashion, then it stays in fashion, doesn’t it? I like to keep on the up and up with anthology call for submissions and contests and the like. Mostly I use Twitter to keep an eye on opportunities like that and I caught a glimpse of Xchyler’s call for this anthology a few months before the deadline. It seemed just the thing, you know; a delicious challenge that was right in my area of interest. I battered a few ideas about for a while, and then a month or so before the deadline I sat down and began to tell Elizabeth’s story.
J. Aurel: The twitter machine strikes again! How interesting. Has your work been published elsewhere?
Alyson Grauer: Of a sort, yes. I had a non-fiction opinion piece published in Lamaze International’s Journal for Perinatal Education in 2012, and also that following summer I had a short story published for Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine’s Tales from the Archives anthology, Volume 2, regarding their Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, which are terribly exciting and rather riveting, if you’ve not read them. My short tale, “A Trick of Strong Imagination,” is available on BN.com and Amazon.com as a 99-cent e-book and also available for free download as a full-cast audio presentation on MinistryOfPeculiarOccurrences.com. Additionally, my story for Tales from the Archives came about through Twitter also. It’s a wonderful platform for chatting with other writers, finding new opportunities, and making connections. I like to think of Tee and Pip as my steampunk fairy godparents, thanks to that short story.
J. Aurel: I’ll certainly have to search those out. Can you tell us about some of your most favorite authors?
Alyson Grauer: Oh, goodness. Neil Gaiman rather goes without saying, I suppose? Mary Shelley, Gail Carriger, Lauren Willig, Peter S. Beagle, Tee Morris, Philippa Ballantine, Cory Doctorow, Delilah S. Dawson, Erin Morgenstern and Ray Bradbury of course. And I grew up on Tamora Pierce and Jane Yolen… Oh! And in the comic books category, Gail Simone and Kieron Gillen and Matt Fraction.
J. Aurel: What is it that inspires your writing?
Alyson Grauer: I love the fantastic and the strange, as do we all. I love tales of destiny being recognized, and allusions to mythology. I also love drawing deep from the foggy memories of childhood imagination, that place where things could be real but probably weren’t… or couldn’t be real, but probably were. It’s no surprise too that dreams are very prominent both in my writing process and in the tales themselves.
J. Aurel: The subconscious is a rich harvest to be gleaned, I quite agree. Do you have any words of wisdom for the burgeoning authors reading this interview?
Alyson Grauer: Embrace social media and seek out your opportunities where you don’t expect to find them. There are excellent connections to be made online, and lessons to be learned, and advice to be had. Also read a LOT. And read willingly of things you may not generally read.
J. Aurel: Very good then, what is next for you?
Alyson Grauer: Next? My dear Aurel, I’ll be continuing to work on a novel which should be out with Xchyler in the next year I hope. A steampunk retelling of a tale by Master Shakespeare which may or may not involve an extraordinary storm, a shipwreck, magic, an airy spirit, and love at first sight. It’s darker than the strange comedy Shakespeare penned, but it’s got some of the same earmarks, and it’s another delicious challenge I’m ready to take on.
J. Aurel: Fantastic, I shall be greatly looking forward to it! Lastly, if you had the choice between Atlantean Aqua Polo, Warp Gate Croquet , or a Plasma Pistol Duel, which would you choose?
Alyson Grauer: Oh, la. If I must choose, Atlantean Aqua Polo, certainly…. But I should tell you, there’s a new form of bocce ball that will be all the rage by spring. It involves an antigravity field which randomizes the settings, so not only does the pallino ball generally not stay where you’ve thrown it to start with, but it randomly allows the other balls in play to hover in mid-air within the confines of the field. Terribly clever, you see, and involves a great deal more strategy than simply dealing with boring old gravity. They’re calling it Stella-Bocce, or ‘star bowling,’ as it resembles the way planets and stars hang in the heavens. I’m rather addicted myself.
J. Aurel: Good heavens! I just received a Stella-Bocce set in the morning post, would you care to teach me?
Alyson Grauer: My word! You have a Stella-Bocce set that hasn’t even been activated yet and we’re in here having tea? It shall not be borne. I suggest you don your goggles and bowling helm. We must play a round this instant!