Author and interviewer Jean Marie Ward is a frequent guest at Dragon Con, appearing on panels covering a wide range of topics. She sat down with the Daily Dragon to discuss her varied interests.
Daily Dragon (DD): You’ve published numerous short stories. What do you find most challenging and most rewarded about writing short fiction?
Jean Marie Ward (JMW): The good part is that it allows me to sample a large number of genres and subgenres. Short fiction lets me do everything from a girl trying to save her best friend’s dog and willing to challenge the King of the Hunt to do that (“A Gap in the Fence” in the Athena’s Daughters anthology) to steampunk about alien academic politics that will be in the upcoming Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs Aliens anthology.
I love variety, and that’s the best thing about playing in these different worlds. I hate to get bored.
The less good side of writing short fiction is that it’s hard to build any kind of identity that way. Author identity tends to be tied to large series of novels. Writing is communication between you and the world, and of course you want to reach the greatest possible number of readers.
DD: What’s your most recent publication?
JMW: “A Gap in the Fence” in Athena’s Daughters is probably the most recent. I often work with small presses, and release dates can be fluid. Just before that anthology, I had a story in Hellfire Lounge #4: Reflections of Evil. I sent two schmoes back in time to the landing of the Hindenburg on May 6, 1937.
DD: Please tell us about Athena’s Daughters.
JMW: Athena’s Daughters is an anthology of stories about strong women, by strong women. It was also the most highly funded literary anthology in Kickstarter’s history. The breadth of fiction–and art–is amazing. It covers everything from kids in space to commando bats. And our illustrator, Autumn Frederickson, could be found in Dragon Con’s Artists Alley.
DD: You’ve done interviews for Buzzy Mag. What draws you to that, and what sorts of interviews have you done?
JMW: I try to strike a balance between folks I think other people will be interested in–the big names and the bestsellers–and folks I’m interested in. People I think have an interesting story to tell. My main focus is writers, but this trip, for example, I’ve talked to film producers and a robotics engineer.
DD: If someone were to go to your website to look up your interviews, which would you suggest they view first?
JMW: Connie Willis, Faith Hunter, Jim Butcher, George R.R. Martin, Nnedi Okorafor, and Neil Gaiman.
DD: Those who attend Dragon Con regularly may remember your involvement in Crescent Blues. Please tell us what that was.
JMW: Crescent Blues (crescentblues.com) was one of the first nonfiction websites devoted to the genre arts–movies, TV, books, and art. It was born at Dragon Con in 1998 and ran until 2005, when our webmaster got very ill. Think of it as a precursor to sites like the Mary Sue–which I have nothing to do with, but I love anyway.
DD: You’ve also written a novel, With Nine You Get Vanyr. Please tell us about it.
JMW: With Nine You Get Vanyr was my first novel, co-written with the late Teri Smith. It opened at Dragon Con and told the story of what happened when nine fangirls ran into a goddess in the old Exhibitors Room–I remember back that far.
DD: Your con schedule includes panels on everything from spies to mythology and folklore. Who is your favorite spy, and what types of folklore most interest you?
JMW: They’re all awesome. I love the variety. For me, the best panels are the ones where the panelists and the audience have a good time. Subject matter is almost incidental.
DD: What is Fantasy Art Templates?
JMW: Fantasy Art Templates is a book to help people who have little training create characters for games, personal projects, and tattoos. The artist is the amazing Indonesian, Rafi Adrian Zulkarnain. I wrote the text.
DD: What’s next for you?
JMW: There are a lot of exciting releases coming out in the next few years–a story about alien academic politics (with added Chihuahuas) in Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs Aliens, “Glass Transit” in Hellfire Lounge 4: Reflections of Evil, which tells what really happened on the Hindenburg on May 6, 1937, and a historical fantasy novella set during the burning of Washington, coming out in 2015.
DD: Thanks for your time.
JMW: Thanks for the interview.