Cat Rambo’s short story collection Near + Far just came out this week, and as expected from this author, it’s a wonderful set of stories. I’ll re-post my Tor.com review of the book here next week, but for now I already have a double treat: an interview with author Cat Rambo, and at the end of this post a (US only) giveaway of three copies of Near + Far, courtesy of publisher Hydra House.
Far Beyond Reality: Cat, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Where did the idea of splitting the book into two sections come from? And, for the benefit of people who haven’t read the stories yet, why the titles Near and Far?
Cat Rambo: When I looked at the stories, I realized I had a LOT. They seemed to separate naturally into near future vs. far future and originally I’d thought about doing a two volume electronic only publication. Tod and I talked about Hydra House doing the print version and somewhere along the way, the idea of doing the tête-bêche format came to me, because I’d loved the Ace Doubles, and wanted the book to do something unusual. Doing that made me think about using the words Near and Far in the title, and when Tod McCoy suggested using + to hook the two words together, it seemed like a natural fit.
FBR: It’s clear that a lot of thought and effort was put into the design of the book. Can you tell us a bit about that process?
Cat Rambo: Designing the book was a terrific experience because of the other people involved. I’d wanted to use Mark Tripp’s art in a project for a long long time, and when I suggested it, Vicki Saunders, who did the book’s interior, did a beautiful job incorporating it and even used pieces of it to create the markers for section breaks. At the same time, Tod McCoy took Sean Counley’s gorgeous cover art and spent a lot of time looking at the Ace Double covers in order to incorporate some of their design elements. Everyone did such an amazing job, and I am so proud of the result. It really is a beautiful little book.
FBR: You mention in the book’s introduction that you feel you “leveled up” when writing some of these stories. After reading the collection I have my own favorites, but which ones are you referring to, and why?
Cat Rambo: “The Mermaids Singing, Each to Each” because I learned I could add a bunch of ideas together and still emerge with something coherent.
– “Amid the Words of War” because I learned so much about pov in writing that. I wanted Six to feel like part of a hive mind – that was crucial to the story, really – and yet I had to work within the constraints of what readers impose on the pov character.
– “Ms. Liberty Gets A Haircut” because I realized I could go back and plunder some of my favorite influences, Sorrentino and Barth and Calvino, and then throw in superheroes.
– “Bus Ride to Mars” because I learned a lot about modeling a piece on an already existing work.
– “Surrogates” because I played around with the language and had it pay off.
– “A Querulous Flute of Bone” represented a jump in language as well as plotting. And it remains such a weird world that it really amuses me.
FBR: How does your experience working as an editor affect your work as an author?
Cat Rambo: Editing other people’s work has made me much sharper about editing my own. I’m better now about avoiding the stuff that will just get cut later, the mess of adverbs and ands and other superfluous verbiage.
Being an author has influenced my approach not to the editing so much as my approach to the person being edited. I know it can be irritating to have someone mucking around with your words, so I try to let them know they can trust me and can push back on changes when they feel the need to.
FBR: Your bio mentions your involvement with Armageddon MUD. As a fellow MUDder who still spends some time on the Discworld MUD almost every day, I have to ask if you ever visit other MUDs? And, has roleplaying on Armageddon or elsewhere ever affected or been part of your writing process?
Cat Rambo: I had a lot of friends who worked with Discworld! I’m impressed you are still there. I had to stop logging into Armageddon, but I still visit their discussion board on a weekly, if not daily, basis because I like to see all the familiar names, and I’ve cruised through another one I used to be involved with, Dark Castle. Playing, though, would eat way too much time way too fast. 😦 Armageddon was great for my writing in that it forced me to learn how to write tight but evocative descriptions, and I’ve set several stories in that game world, including the title story from my collection, EYES LIKE SKY AND COAL AND MOONLIGHT.
FBR: What other projects and stories can we expect from you later this year and beyond?
Cat Rambo: I have a novella set in the collaborative world of the Fathomless Abyss coming out in October, as well as stories appearing in Escape Pod and a few anthologies. Beyond that, I’m finishing up what I hope is the last rewrite of a fantasy novel, the first of a trilogy, so perhaps you’ll be seeing word of that in 2013!
FBR: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview!
And now the giveaway! As mentioned above, I have three copies of Near + Far to give away, courtesy of the kind folks at Hydra House. At the request of the publisher, this giveaway is open to US residents only.
To enter, simply send an email with subject line “NEAR” to fbrgiveaway AT gmail DOT com with your full name and mailing address. One entry per person, please: multiple entries will result in immediate disqualification, but please feel free to tell your friends!
The giveaway will end on Tuesday, September 25th at 11:59 PM, and I’ll announce the winners the following day. Void where prohibited by law, rules are subject to change, harmful when swallowed.