Some people wonder if it makes a differences whether you submit to a publisher at the beginning of an open subs period, or at the end. We’ve already met a writer who submitted her novel in the dying hours of our open subs window (Jessica Rydill), and now I’d like you to meet Lindsey Duncan, whose Scylla and Charybdis was one of the first submissions we received, and she waited very patiently for us to say yes!
Lindsey Duncan is a chef / pastry chef, professional Celtic harp performer and life-long writer, with short fiction and poetry in numerous speculative fiction publications. Besides her forthcoming novel with Kristell Ink, her contemporary fantasy novel, Flow, is available from Double Dragon Publishing. She feels that music and language are inextricably linked. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio and can be found on the web at http://www.LindseyDuncan.com
Hello! Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hello from the other side of the pond! I live in the American midwest – Ohio, for those savvy to the States. I graduated culinary school last year with an Associates in Culinary Arts and a Diploma in Baking and Pastry (my first love and specialty). In that capacity, I currently work for a catering company. When cooking for myself, my favorite cuisine and “home base” is Indian.
I’m also a professional performer and teacher with the traditional lever harp – sometimes, though it’s not entirely accurate, known as the Celtic harp. (You don’t want to get me started on the nomenclature.) Though I specialize in Celtic music, I also play Renaissance, show tunes / contemporary, a little classical, and seasonal selections … and I’ll sing when you don’t stop me.
I’m a hermit, living in the company of two spoiled Bichon Frise pups – Lexi and Peri. I also foster for a rescue organization, so they are (temporarily) joined by Ami, a chihuahua-miniature-pinscher-?? mix … in other words, an adorable little mutt.
Another tidbit that has influenced who I am and how I write: I was homeschooled from my early years through my highschool graduation.
(I also have an unhealthy addiction to parentheses.)
Could you please tell us a little bit about your book, Scylla and Charybdis – no spoilers please!
Scylla and Charybdis follows Anaea, who has lived her entire life on an isolated, female-only space station, and never quite been able to find her place. As far as she knows, the rest of civilization collapsed into chaos in the wake of Y-Poisoning, a genetically engineered disease that affected only males. That assumption – and the rest of her existence – is challenged when, on a salvage mission, she helps to rescue a young hypermental named Gwydion. He pleads with her to help him go home … but what is there to go back to?
Far more than she ever imagined …
There’s a bit of a story behind how Scylla and Charybdis ended up being written. I’ve always been a novelist; I started writing short stories from a purely mercenary impulse, knowing that a) they were easier to sell; and, more importantly, b) short story writing credits were helpful in attracting the attention of editors and agents. I quickly learned to love short stories in their own right, both as a writer and a reader.
What does this have to do with Scylla and Charybdis? It started as a short story, ending after Anaea’s first glimpse at the governments (very very minor spoiler: there are two) that developed in the rest of the universe. The question – how do you choose? – was left open-ended in the story. Editors responded favorably to the story, but the main critique in rejections was that it seemed more like the opening of a novel. Well, I flailed: I had plenty of novel ideas, and I didn’t need another!
Years later, though, the story crept up on me again. I realized those pesky editors were right: I had the potential for a much longer arc in my hands (or rather, my hard drive). So I got to work.
What are you most looking forward to about working with Kristell Ink?
I’m impressed by how friendly and supportive everyone is, so I’m looking forward to being part of that community. Writing can be a lonely business, the publishing side even more so: it often feels as if you’re shouting into a void. With Kristell Ink, I feel as if I have resources to turn to without being a tiny, tiny fish in a massive pond.
I also have to admit I’m excited about the cover design process. There’s such a wide range in the current releases.
What was it that drew you to SFF in the first place, and what made you want to become a writer?
Always a tricky question to answer for me, because I can’t clearly recall a time when I wasn’t devouring fantasy novels or writing. I do remember the first fantasy series I ever read, though, which was Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles. I adored those books; I think I read them dog-eared. They might also have something to do with my ongoing fascination with all things Welsh, although I didn’t realize at the time how closely they were inspired by Welsh mythology. I read science fiction and fantasy almost exclusively for many years, and gradually expanded into other genres. Nowadays, I particularly enjoy historical mysteries.
Similarly, I’ve been writing since I had to dictate to my mother – a stirring opus about multi-colored talking sheep. I always wanted to be a writer, and I wrote more pages of sprawling cliché epics than I ever want to think about. (We don’t talk about those days.) But it was always a compulsion, something I simply had to do. I remember vividly going to a sleepover once with my writer brain whirling. I ended up starting a story on the family’s chalkboard.
What is your favourite part of writing?
I enjoy something different about every aspect of writing – I even find the line edit stage soothing. But I have to admit I really love worldbuilding, both the conceptual stages and working it into the storyline. Infodumps are the bane of speculative fiction writers everywhere; I try to avoid them by giving details double or triple duty. The way a character looks at a historical building can tell you not only about the building, but about the character’s personality and outlook.
I also love writing character interactions and I have a weakness for banter. Sometimes, I have to shake myself (and the characters) and get on with the story, or my characters would just lounge about tossing quips at each other for pages.
Who are your favourite SFF writers, and can you share some of your favourite books and movies of the past few years?
I am one of those people whose favorite is invariably whoever she last read and loved. Some of my SFF highlights, in no particular order: Jasper Fforde, Jane Lindskold, Esther Friesner (mostly short work), Lois McMaster Bujold and Dave Duncan (no relation). I know Fforde is famous for his Thursday Next novels, and I really do love them, but I have to highlight his Shades of Grey (not to be confused with a certain dreadful erotica novel), where each person can only see certain natural colors and society is arranged around the type and amount of this perception. Fforde has a rare knack for making a bizarre, apparently illogical setting feel completely plausible, and the characters and storyline roaming through this madness are excellent.
For excellent short fiction, check out Songs of Love and Death (edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois), one of the best anthologies I’ve read in recent years. Even the (few) weak stories in this anthology are entertaining, and there’s a huge amount of variety within the genre.
With the craziness of my life over the past few years, I’ve watched only a very few movies, so I can’t speak to the genre in film, but it has also been a wonderful time for television, too. I’ll avoid the obvious (though I am a hopeless Game of Thrones addict) and point to SyFy’s Killjoys, a fun series with an awesome amount of character banter, a genuinely platonic M-F friendship that doesn’t feel the need to devolve into sexual tension and a grounded but intricate setting. I also enjoyed the television version of Minority Report, but since it appears to have been canceled on a cliffhanger, I can’t recommend it.
Any links you’d like to share with us?
My website is http://www.LindseyDuncan.com – check it out!
A list of my other work can be found there, if you’re so moved: contemporary fantasy novel Flow, lengthy short stories Taming The Weald, Xmas Wishes and Fatecraft, along with anthologies I’m proud to be a part of. Also publications available for free, for the stingy among you. 😉 Not on the writing front, but my CD and sample clips are also available. (If you’re interested, though, please message me, as I’d need to look at international shipping options.)
I blog over at: Http://LindseyDuncan.blogspot.com
Also feel free to connect with me on social media:
(This is my personal account, but I never mind people connecting with me there!)
@LindseyCDuncan on Twitter
GoodReads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2915866.Lindsey_Duncan