Welcome, everyone, to the 4th Anniversary celebration of LongShortStories!
It is my pleasure to introduce to you my friend and fellow award-winning short story writer, novelist, blogger, writing and book publishing expert, and all around nice lady, Kristine Kathryn Rusch. You can find Kris and her books at her Web home http://kriswrites.com/. Her biography is so extensive that I have saved it for last.
A few weeks ago, I conducted an interview with Kris and asked her some very important questions about writing in general and short story writing in particular. What follows are my questions and her answers. I hope you enjoy it.
LongShortStories: Welcome, Kris! Please tell us how you came to be a famous short story writer.
Kris: Wow. Famous. Hmmmm. I guess I am a well-known short story writer. Dunno if I’d call myself famous. To answer the question, I have always liked short stories. I read them in all genres and I always have. So I learned the form, primarily through imitation and reading, but also in some early classes with the best in the business at the time: Damon Knight & Kate Wilhelm, Joe Haldeman, Michael Bishop, Elizabeth Lynn, Algis Budrys, Gene Wolfe, Frederik Pohl, and Jack Williamson. Their insights—especially Fred’s and Jack’s—really helped a lot.
LongShortStories: Most experts say that the short story form is the most difficult writing form out there to create. How would you respond?
Kris: I would agree. You have to do satisfying work in a small space. Sometimes that requires a lot of handwaving and “don’t look over here” writing.
LongShortStories: What is the state of the short story market today?
Kris: Spectacular. The best it’s been since the 1950s. There are a lot of great professional markets in all genres and some wonderful editors. Many of the new markets online pay well and have good readership.
LongShortStories: What impact have e-readers like the Amazon Kindle had on how and what you write these days, Kris?
Kris: E-readers have allowed me to finish some series, put up some short story series, and have convinced me I need to write more in those short story series. And now the readers can get those stories, rather than scrounge used bookstores for dusty anthologies. It’s all good.
LongShortStories: What story elements make up a great American short story?
Kris: If I could answer that, then we’d all write the same story. A short story needs to be a compelling read—at 500 words or 5000 words. And it takes different techniques to make the story compelling at different lengths.
LongShortStories: How long do your own short stories generally run (word count) and toward whom are they aimed?
Kris: My short stories are all over the map in length, and they aren’t aimed at anyone. I never write with a market in mind. That way lies mediocre fiction. I write to please myself, and when I’m done I market the story.
LongShortStories: How can folks learn about crafting their own great short stories that will have that “special something” that wins short story contests like those found here at LongShortStories?
Kris: Writers need to read, read, read, read, read. And they should not read critically. Readers don’t. Writers should read for enjoyment, so they know if a story works or not. I can pick apart anything. It’s easy to criticize something, harder to relax and enjoy it. And only in the enjoyment will a writer learn anything.
Also writers must read outside their own genre all the time. People say I do things “no one else does.” Well, if those people read mystery or mainstream or romance, they’d realize I do the things that other writers have been doing for decades. So read.
LongShortStories: What trends do you see presently or on the horizon that will affect the short story form?
Kris: Again, I don’t follow trends. Or write to market. So I don’t look for things like that.
LongShortStories: Would you say there is a resurgence in interest in reading short stories these days? If so, what is driving that?
Kris: I would say there’s a resurgence in reading short stories because of the e-readers and smart phones. It’s easy to read a short story while sitting in a doctor’s office or standing in line at your bank. If you forgot a book, download a free or a 99 cent short story and read it. So many people are doing that now. The market is expanding, which is a good thing.
LongShortStories: You are married to a famous short story writer, Dean Wesley Smith. How do you and your husband collaborate? Do you critique each other’s stories? Are there any challenges to having other writers in the same household?
Kris: We collaborate gingerly because if we do it wrong, we fight. He writes a plot and I “color” it, with setting and characters. We do critique each other’s stories. We’re our own first readers. The drawback to having another writer in the same household is that neither of us keeps track of the day or date very well, so scheduling anything is hard.
LongShortStories: What advice would you offer to a budding short story writer who has yet to get their work published traditionally or electronically?
Kris: Write a lot. Don’t rewrite. Mail everything, even the stuff you think fails. Write new words. And keep reading.
LongShortStories: It has been a distinct pleasure to have had you here today. This is our final question, Kris. If you could have any wish granted, what would you wish for as a short story writer?
Kris: More time. I never have enough time.
Thanks for asking me, Wayne. It’s been a pleasure.
Thank you so much, Kris! Your candid responses and professional friendship mean a lot to this writer and to his followers.
Now, here’s Kris’ Biography from her Web site:
Kristine Kathryn Rusch is an award-winning mystery, romance, science fiction, and fantasy writer. She has written many novels under various names, including Kristine Grayson for romance, and Kris Nelscott for mystery. Her novels have made the bestseller lists worldwide and have been published in 14 countries and 13 different languages.
Her awards range from the Ellery Queen Readers Choice Award to the John W. Campbell Award. In the past year, she has been nominated for the Hugo, the Shamus, and the Anthony Award. She is the only person in the history of the science fiction field to have won a Hugo award for editing and a Hugo award for fiction. Her short work has been reprinted in thirteen Year’s Best collections.
Pyr published her novel, Diving into the Wreck, in November of 2009. Her next short story collection, Recovering Apollo 8 and Other Stories, will appear from Golden Gryphon in spring of 2010.
In spring of 2011, she will publish City of Ruins, the next book in the Diving universe, and she will have a new Kristine Grayson novel, The Charming Way.
In 2009, her short story, “G-Men,” appeared in The Best American Mystery Stories and The Year’s Best Science Fiction, the first time the same story appeared in both a mystery and science fiction best of the year collection. In 2008, she won both the Ellery Queen Readers Choice Award and the Asimov’s Readers Choice Award.
In 2007, she became one of a handful of writers to twice win the Best Mystery Novel award given for the best mystery published in the Northwest (for her Kris Nelscott books). Her novella, “Diving into the Wreck,” has won the prestigious international UPC award, given in Spain to the best science fiction novella in English, French, Spanish or Catalan. That novella also won the Asimov’s Readers Choice award. Her critically acclaimed Retrieval Artist series has won the Endeavor Award and is currently nominated for the Romantic Times Book Review’s Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Science Fiction novel.
In 2001, her story, “Millennium Babies,” won the coveted Hugo Award. That year, she also received the Herodotus Award for Best Historical Mystery Novel (for her Kris Nelscott Series) and the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Best Paranormal Romance (for her novel Utterly Charming, written as Kristine Grayson). In 1999, her story, “Echea,” (available at Fictionwise) was nominated for the Locus, Nebula, Hugo, and Sturgeon awards. It won the Homer Award and the Asimov’s Reader’s Choice Award. In 1999, she also won the Ellery Queen Reader’s Choice Award and the Science Fiction Age Reader’s Choice Award, making her the first writer to win three different reader’s choice awards for three different stories in two different genres in the same year.
She is the former editor of prestigious The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Before that, she and Dean Wesley Smith, started and ran Pulphouse Publishing, a science fiction and mystery press in Eugene. She lives and works on the Oregon Coast.