Five Questions with Vylar Kaftan
Vylar Kaftan is a Nebula-nominated author who has published about three dozen stories in places such as Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and Realms of Fantasy. She has new work coming out in Asimov’s this year. She’s the founder of FOGcon, a new literary sf/f convention in the San Francisco area, and she blogs at www.vylarkaftan.net.
Since we last spoke with her, Vy has really been making things happen in the SF World and we’re excited to have her back in RSF!
1) So tell us about FOGcon. How does one just decide to make a Con?
FOGcon is a new literary science fiction convention in the San Francisco Bay Area. It takes place on the second weekend of March (“Time Change Weekend”) and our theme for next year is Law, Order, and Crime.
We’ve taken elements that we like from both WisCon and Readercon and created an event with its own personality. So far, the attendees have really enjoyed the event, especially the programming. You can find out more by signing up for the mailing list at fogcon.org.
How does one make a con? With _lots_ of planning and thinking ahead. I knew the Bay Area needed a convention with a literary focus, and I checked whether the community would support a new event. A lot of people agreed to help. The success of FOGcon is due to the amazing concom and the active help of dozens of volunteers, and I’m grateful to all of them.
2) The whole Nebula nomination. What was the coolest thing about being involved in the Nebula’s?
Knowing that my story touched people and meant so much to them. I was honored to be nominated for “I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno.” The event was fun of course, and I like wearing sparkly dresses. This isn’t directly related to the Nebulas, but when editor John Joseph Adams married writer Christie Yant, they asked me to write their ceremony “in the spirit of Reno”. I can’t tell you how amazing that was! I was delighted to be a part of that. You can read about the ceremony at http://inkhaven.net/2011/08/official-wedding-report/
3) What the heck have you been doing in Kansas?
I’ve been at Kij Johnson’s Novel Workshop, which is a two week workshop where we bash our novel outlines into shape. Everyone brings a sketchy outline, and we take turns brainstorming and solving each other’s problems. Kij calls it “a hive mind” sometimes. It’s definitely useful to run different solutions by a group to see how readers might react. Also, we block out scenes and movement with Sock Monkey Action Theatre. You can see more about the workshop at http://www.sfcenter.ku.edu/novel-workshop.htm
4) I erased about three or four different punny skin ideas for this question. To save us from that, please tell us about your story with us this month, Skin Deep, and what led you to the ideas behind this outstanding story.
Sure, I’ll give you the skinny. (Ed. Note: Nice.)
I wanted to explore what happens when our technology is better at war than we are. Even today, we have computers capable of making “smarter” choices than humans, because they are less vulnerable to stress and fear during battle. But sometimes the choice which makes logical sense to a machine has dire consequences for humans–even if the machine’s choice is arguably right. That’s what we see in Skin Deep.
5) What she we look for from you in the coming months?
I’ll be in Daily Science Fiction on Friday, July 13, with “The Suicide Witch,” about a witch responsible for keeping the ghosts of suicides from haunting the local village. I’ll also be on the Toasted Cake podcast in July with a reprint called “What President Polk Said” (text). In August, the new issue of Asimov’s comes out (the Oct/Nov issue), and I’m appearing there with “Lion Dance.” It’s about some young men who hold a miniature Chinese New Year parade during a major flu epidemic.
Awesome to have you back in Redstone. We look forward to reading (and listening to) more of your work! Thanks for your time.