A Bigger Tent Is Always Better: How Ryka Aoki and Andrea Hairston Approach Genre Writing
This Week from Tor Presents: Voyage Into Genre
Tor Books, in partnership with Literary Hub, presents Voyage Into Genre! Every other Wednesday, join host Drew Broussard for conversations with Tor authors discussing their new books, the future, and the future of genre. Oh, and maybe there’ll be some surprises along the way…
ITINERARY: September 22, 2021
Ryka Aoki talks about why Light From Uncommon Stars blends genres, how writing poetry helps with writing food, and why Lindsey Stirling is awesome.
Andrea Hairston talks about finding hope in Master of Poisons, the genius of Michael Ende, and how theater (and physics) affect her writing.
Tor Books Editorial Director Claire Eddy talks about the past and the future of the genre and why a bigger tent is always better.
Subscribe and download the episode, wherever you get your podcasts!
Ryka Aoki on finding harmony through de-tangling:
One thing I did notice though, you learn how to work with longer hair. If I have a tangled hair and if I just kind of do that with the brush and try to get rid of that all at once, I’ll rip my hair out. What I have to do is I have to take it from the end and just work it a little at a time all the way up. And actually the tangle works itself out. This is how I write and this is how I want to live, where we can’t get this all the way. But we can steadily, with a sense of purpose, work the little things out and slowly work it up and things will eventually even themselves out. For example, right now, the Taliban in Afghanistan is doing some horrible things to women. And I can use my platform here to say we need to be aware of this.
Even as writers thinking—and here we are, privileged writers in science fiction and fantasy—we have to be aware that there are women just like us who can’t ever learn how to write or read or write a book simply because of where they were born. That’s really a shit lottery, and nobody should have to play that one. There’s a lot tangled down here that I can start with, that we can work together, that we can agree on that will come out. And if we keep working, eventually, I believe in harmony.
So this work, what we’re doing here is part of that tangle. The fact that I have a really nice cup of iced coffee that I actually bought from a little Japanese market as opposed to the swill that I usually make for myself—all of the stuff we do untangles a little bit, and that’s the only way, because it helps us see our life as a whole. I write about this a little in the book, about being able to play a piece of music, play this measure, but being aware of the entire piece and where it might go.
Andrea Hairston on how writing is like theater rehearsal:
Writing is a rehearsal. I’m the playwright writing. Editing, I’m the director. I’m like, okay, it is all great, but you got a lot of pages here. You got an audience. We got butts in the seat that are going to get like, what are you doing? The director is not ruthless but very clear, and I have to go all that. Theater has taught me many of those lessons and I use them all the time when writing. I trust the directors. When the director says solve this and then I desperately try to solve it and then the director goes that way. So I work with that. And this is almost a theater game where you just let yourself be different personas to allow access to different parts of what you can do. I am a director, so I have that whole skill set, and it’s a very different skill set than being a writer. And I also act, so I can I decide, okay, I’m going to be the tree, I’m going to be the ant or the bee, and I just go there.
Claire Eddy on why the joy of a larger tent:
Any time I see people reading, I’m happy. The bigger thing that makes me over the moon, insanely happy, is the fact that in the last five, six years, our tent has gotten larger. Other voices, voices that should have been heard all along, and again, I come back and back again to stories, the story’s always here, but people weren’t being heard. And the more we do it and the bigger the tent gets, the better it’s going to be for everybody. I know there are some people who are unhappy, and you and I can kind of figure out who they are, but I’d like it if they can understand that a larger tent doesn’t mean less for that person, it’s more for all of us.
Tor Presents: Voyage into Genre is a co-production with Lit Hub Radio. Hosted by Drew Broussard. Studio engineering + production by Stardust House Creative. Music by Dani Lencioni of Evelyn.