In Episode 33, we talk to award-winning author Kat Howard about doing research for fantasy fiction, retelling familiar stories from new perspectives, collaborating on a comic series, learning from different genres, digging into the revision process, finding inspiration in poetry and nonfiction, and much more!
Kat Howard is a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and horror who lives and writes in New Hampshire. Her novella, The End of the Sentence, co-written with Maria Dahvana Headley, was one of NPR’s best books of 2014, and her debut novel, Roses and Rot was a finalist for the Locus Award for Best First Novel. An Unkindness of Magicians was named a best book of 2017 by NPR, and won a 2018 Alex Award. Her recent short fiction collection, A Cathedral of Myth and Bone collects work that has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award, performed as part of Selected Shorts, and anthologized in year’s best and best of volumes, as well as new pieces original to the collection. She’s currently the writer for The Books of Magic, part of DC Comics’ Sandman Universe. Her next novel, A Sleight of Shadows, is the sequel to An Unkindness of Magicians, and will be out in 2020. In the past, she’s been a competitive fencer and a college professor. You can find her @KatwithSword on Twitter and on Instagram and learn more at her website.
This episode was recorded on October 26. Because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod.
People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode
An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard
A Sleight of Shadows by Kat Howard
A Cathedral of Myth and Bone by Kat Howard
Books of Magic (DC Comics) by Kat Howard (writer), Tom Fowler (penciler), Marissa Louise (colorist), Jordan Boyd (colorist), Brian Churilla (inker), Craig Taillefer (inker), Todd Klein (letterist), Molly Mahan (editor), Amedeo Turturro (editor), Chris Conroy (editor), Maggie Howell (assistant editor), and Kai Carpenter (cover artist)
“I never really grew out of that grad school research urge, so even though I write fantasy fiction and things like that, I’m always like, let me make a huge stack of books that I can read and take notes on before I start writing this novel.” @KatWithSword
“All the things that I really loved about reading the works of literature and studying the literature of the medieval period or myths, fairy tales, all the stuff like that, I feel like it’s in my writerly DNA, so it keeps popping up back in my work even when I’m not necessarily doing it consciously.” @KatWithSword
“As the writer, you figure out how to tell the story to your artist. And then your artist figures out how to tell the story to your readers…It’s very much a collaboration in the effort of how do we get this on the page in a way that’s interesting and effective and that takes full advantage of the fact that this isn’t just a written medium…Starting to think in different dimensions of story…was really interesting.” @KatWithSword
“There are definitely still things I do [in short fiction] because it [offers] different possibilities than long form fiction. I think it’s a lot easier to experiment with voice or style…It’s a way to be adventurous.” @KatWithSword
“I find that there’ll be ideas in the nonfiction that work for fiction…I think of it as like being a magpie, collecting a bunch of shiny things…that fit in the back of my head until I need them for stories.” @KatWithSword
In Episode 32, we talk to sci-fi and fantasy author Marissa Lingen about writing speculative fiction and how to decide which shape a story should take. Marissa also shares advice for how to submit to short fiction markets, how to discover your process and fix a story that’s stuck, and what not to do with the world’s abundance of concrete. Be sure to check out her latest short story, “Grief as Faithful as My Hound,” out next week in Asimov’s. You can also find more of her work on her website.
This episode was recorded on October 19. Because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod.
People, Texts, and Magazines Mentioned in the Episode
“One of the things about science fiction that I like is that you can do all the things you can do in other genres, but also then you have this kind of extra wiggle room to play with…You can tell stories about love and grief and the human heart, but you can also tell stories about: what if things were different? And I think that’s important for trying to make things different in the world.” @MarissaLingen
“I think one of the things that appeals to me most about science fiction and fantasy is that there’s just that little bit of extra that’s not nailed down that sometimes gives me another angle on what I’m seeing in the real world, so that I don’t have to take on problems head-on; I can kind of come at them sideways.” @MarissaLingen
“Flash [fiction] is usually just one crystalized idea…and it doesn’t have any moving parts really. Whereas when I’m writing a longer short story, it’s less, hey look at this cool thing, and more, let’s move through an arc of this cool thing.” @MarissaLingen
In Episode 31, we talk to author and professor Ellen Wayland-Smith about her new book, The Angel in the Marketplace. We also talk about teaching students genre expectations and boundaries (and how to step beyond them) as well as how to incorporate voice and personal experience into academic writing.
Ellen Wayland-Smith is an associate professor of Writing at the University of Southern California. She is the author of Oneida: From Free Love Utopia to the Well Set Table (Picador, 2016) and of The Angel in the Marketplace: Jean Wade Rindlaub and the Selling of America (University of Chicago Press, March 2020). Her essays and reviews have appeared in Signature Reads, Catapult, The Millions, and Longreads.
This episode was recorded on October 12. Because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod.
People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode
The Angel in the Marketplace: Adwoman Jean Wade Rindlaub and the Selling of America by Ellen Wayland-Smith
Oneida: From Free Love Utopia to the Well-Set Table by Ellen Wayland-Smith
The Blithedale Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
“The Devil’s Bait” by Leslie Jamison (from The Empathy Exams)
“Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister” by Robert Browning
Paterson by William Carlos Williams
The California Poem by Eleni Sikelianos
“That’s one thing that I found interesting in my research was seeing just how much roleplaying there really was [in the 1940s and 50s] and how almost conscious they were themselves that these were not in any way sort of biologically predetermined or predestined roles. They were very much a fiction that they were constructing.” @EllenWaylands
“Exploring different genres and talking about academic writing as opposed to other kinds of non-fiction writing…has made me much more creative, I think, in my approach to [Writing 340] and has helped me expand the kinds of writing that I see as useful…and as something I want to introduce students to.” @EllenWaylands
“There isn’t good writing and bad writing. There’s writing that meets its rhetorical aim and the genre expectations of the audience that you’re aiming it to. And there’s writing that doesn’t, or that does it less well.” @EllenWaylands
“Your voice is part of your argument. Just because you have a voice doesn’t discredit your case. You can use your voice in order to weave a much more compelling and evidence-packed narrative. You can draw on different kinds of evidence. You can draw on the evidence of your body and your experience… That’s going to be actually a more compelling case than just doing this disembodied thing in which there’s no sort of identification between reader and writer.” @EllenWaylands
For our 30th episode, we reflect on what we’ve learned from this podcast thirty episodes in and what podcasting as a genre offers academia in terms of embodied scholarship and archived, accessible knowledge production.
This episode was recorded on October 5. Please be aware that, because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @writingremixpod.
“When you publish an essay or when you give a conference talk, you’re coming to that piece having already formulated your ideas, and you’re then sharing them with a public…What I’ve discovered through the course of doing this podcast is that because we’re having conversations…I’m actually formulating those thoughts in the moment, and that dialogue is helping me refine my ideas. So I may come to the episode with some ideas in mind, but it it’s in the course of having that conversation that I can arrive at new ones. I love that collaborative aspect of it.” @KatieARobison
“That’s what I love about having these discussions and having this dialogue in the moment…I can then incorporate that into my praxis immediately. My pedagogy has changed fundamentally as a result of doing this podcast.” @KatieRobison
In Episode 29, we talk to novelist Amy Meyerson and editor Natalie Hallak about Amy’s latest book, The Imperfects. Along the way, we chat about writing research-based fiction, the author-editor relationship and the collaborative nature of publishing, balancing writing and reading with other responsibilities, writing what you want to know, and when to use the F-word.
Amy Meyerson is the bestselling author of The Bookshop of Yesterdays, which will be translated into 11 languages. She has been published in numerous literary magazines and teaches in the writing department at the University of Southern California, where she completed her graduate work in creative writing. Originally from Philadelphia, she currently lives in Los Angeles. Her new novel, The Imperfects, was published in May 2020.
Natalie Hallak is an Editorial Assistant at Park Row Books. Prior to joining Harlequin in 2015, Natalie honed her editorial skills during internships at Touchstone, Putnam, and Writers House Literary Agency. She is building her list in literary fiction with commercial appeal across a variety of genres, as well as select narrative nonfiction.
This episode was recorded on September 28. Please be aware that, because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @writingremixpod.
“My role [as an editor] is constantly advocating for the book and for Amy in house and just getting people really excited about it…kind of like an in-house champion, if you will. But it’s really a matter of overseeing every step of the process.” @NatalieHallak
“Editors do not read all day. They read on their own time and on weekends, whenever they can. During the day it’s a lot of that in-house advocacy, a lot of talking to the other departments and talking with authors and making sure that [they’re] happy..and that I’m representing [their] needs.” @NatalieHallak
“It’s very validating when a book that you put so much time and effort into…when all of that work really pays off and the book takes off and does super well. It’s one of the best feelings.” @NatalieHallak
In Episode 28, Dan and Katie talk about self-care and how important it is to prioritize our mental and emotional well-being, especially in the current moment.
This episode was recorded on September 21. Please be aware that, because we recorded via Zoom, there are occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @writingremixpod.
“Carving out some time that is protected–for yourself, for you to be with your family or friends, or to walk your dog, or whatever it is–that’s a baby step that can help a lot and is really important…The work will always be there.” @KatieARobison
“Now, more than ever, it’s so easy to get burned out. We’re in the middle of a crisis the likes of which we’ve never experienced. I don’t think we even fully comprehend how emotionally draining this is and all the uncertainty that we’re facing and trying to process every day. I think we just need to be kind to ourselves as well as our students, and I think that’s what will make us better professors and more able to actually help our students. If we’re not taking care of ourselves, how can we help anyone else?” @KatieARobison
“We are not just teachers. We are sometimes a therapist. We’re sometimes a social worker. We’re sometimes a shoulder to cry on. We’re sometimes an activist. We take on so many different roles.” @ddissinger
In Episode 27 we talk to Professor Taiyaba Husain of the USC Writing Program about recent incidents of racism in our community and how to empower students to challenge racism in the classroom, the university, and everywhere they find it.
This episode was recorded on September 14. Please be aware that, because we recorded via Zoom, there are occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @writingremixpod.
“I’ve always said to my students, you know, part of this process, if we’re going to do this together, actually is forgiveness…We are going to maybe speak in ways that are unintentionally oblivious, that maybe are unkind or unknowing…If we are to keep having these difficult conversations, there has to be some ability to forgive.” @TaiyabaHusain
“If we are, from semester to semester, class to class, if we’ve been complacent…dropping the same joke, doing the same thing, this is an opportunity…to actually do new things, to respond to the moment.” @TaiyabaHusain
In our first “Office Hours” episode, we discuss questions, comments, and concerns from our listeners about teaching and learning online this semester. Thanks to everyone who submitted a question. Keep them coming on Twitter @writingremixpod!
This episode was recorded on August 31. Please be aware that, because we recorded via Zoom, there are occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @writingremixpod.
Texts Mentioned in the Episode
Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire
“Should Writers Use They Own English?” by Vershawn Ashanti Young
In Episode 25 we talk to Professors Michelle Meyers and Ryan Leack of the USC Writing Program about the issues facing part-time/contingent faculty–especially during a global pandemic and a time of tremendous economic uncertainty.
Michelle Meyers is a lecturer in the Writing Program at USC and a member of the Diversity Committee and the Community Engagement Committee. She teaches creative writing for the Prison Education Project as well and received her MFA in Fiction from the University of Alabama.
Dr. Ryan David Leack teaches in the Writing Program at the University of Southern California, and received his Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Riverside. There he studied the productive intersections between rhetoric, quantum mechanics, philosophy, composition, and poetry. Ryan’s academic work has appeared in Composition Forum (2019), and in the edited collection Romantic Ecocriticism: Origins and Legacies (2016). His creative work has appeared in journals such as Chiron Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, Pif, and Westwind, as well as in Pomona Valley Review, where he served as Editor-in-Chief for seven years. His music is available on Apple Music, Spotify, and like services, and is featured in films available on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and like services internationally.
This episode was recorded on August 4. Please be aware that, because we recorded via Zoom, there are occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @writingremixpod.
Texts Mentioned in the Episode
Pandemic!: COVID-19 Shakes the World by Slavoj Žižek
The Year of Dreaming Dangerously by Slavoj Žižek
“I think a lot of people don’t understand how the neoliberalization of the university has impacted the tenure-track position…It’s more competitive now to get a tenure-track job at a community college than it was to get a tenure-track job at an R1 thirty to forty years ago.” -Ryan Leack
“I can’t help but care about whatever institution I’m involved with, and I want to be part of it. I want to be doing things that I think are important…I think [service work] also gives me more knowledge and more opportunities to then bring to my students and to improve their learning experience as well ” -Michelle Meyers
“At the end of the day, what keeps me going when all of these external stresses are happening, is that I do love teaching, and I do love trying to create the best classroom environment for my students.” -Michelle Meyers
This episode was part of the 2020 Big Rhetorical Podcast Carnival: “The Digital Future of Rhetoric and Composition.” Be sure to check out the other episodes in the round-up here!
In Episode 24, we talk to Dr. Rochelle Gold and Dr. Liz Blomstedt of the USC Writing Program about the democratizing potential of multimodal and online writing assignments, embracing new citation practices, navigating inequities on online platforms, and letting students lead the way in digital spaces.
This episode was recorded on August 17. Please be aware that, because we recorded via Zoom, there are occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @writingremixpod.
“Online teaching…gives [students] experience writing in digital environments, which I think is something they are going to be asked to do in their future lives and careers, as so much of our existence occurs online these days.” @lizblomstedt
“As much as I really like to see the students who have their cameras on…we need to be really conscious of those kinds of biases we have toward certain students. And so today, on syllabus day, I found myself articulating that it was okay if we weren’t able to do those kinds of ideal sets of practices and maybe we should even quit calling them ideal because of how they privilege certain students over others.” @lizblomstedt
“Citations…are a really kind of interesting space for re-inventing how we think about writing and having conversations about credit that are important not only in academic in writing but that are important in all forms of communication… Students are always so surprised that a bunch of people just come up with these [style] guides. There’s nothing inherent about them…This is something that’s transforming.” -Rochelle Gold
“One of the benefits [of writing in digital environments] is I think that students often get to determine their own purpose to writing in those environments…and that they have more freedom to think about what their purpose is in this assignment and perhaps even shape that purpose for themselves…And in my experience it has led to some students embracing the opportunity to write in other Englishes or in a kind of a hybrid of English and whatever their home language is. So that’s another, I think, benefit of thinking about writing in digital environments specifically.” @lizblomstedt
“I think…that there’s a lot of fear of the kind of democratizing quality of digital media. At the same time, I would say my concern, and the concern of many others, is that it’s not democratizing enough.” -Rochelle Gold
“I think that the other part of the digital future of composition/rhetoric is keeping the critical thinking piece there. I would argue that multimodal writing does nothing to counteract critical thinking and that it can enhance critical thinking, but I do think that there’s this kind of fear that we’ll get too stuck on that stuff that looks good and kind of miss the depth…Critical thinking has to be a key component.” -Rochelle Gold
“Most of our writing happens online these days. And, not to be dramatic, but the future of our democracy is at stake, essentially, and the future of our society is at stake. It’s absolutely essential that our students get comfortable reading and writing online and that they develop their savvy and they hone their skills…Wherever they’re writing, they can really have an impact, much more so than if we try to silo their writing in other ways or if we feel tied to old traditions. I assume we all do this because we think that writing can change the world, and we hope that it will, and so I think that the future of rhetoric and composition has to be digital because that’s where these things are happening.” -Rochelle Gold
“[There’s] power in letting students be experts in the digital space…[and] feeling like they’re bringing that kind of knowledge to the table…It’s really vital that we embrace that kind of digital future for our field. ” @lizblomstedt