Say hello to Laurie Boris! She responded to my call for speculative fiction interview participants last week after someone I follow on Twitter let her know about it. I hope you all enjoy reading her responses and getting to know her as much as I did.
What was the first speculative story you ever remember reading?
Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. It was fascinating, and so different from the rest of the stories I was reading at the time.
Who is your favourite author? Why?
That’s always such a difficult question. But in this area, I’d choose Margaret Atwood, not just for The Handmaid’s Tale but for her underrated and underappreciated treasures like Oryx and Crake. I love her imagination and foresight.
What is the most unusual or interesting way you’ve come up with an idea for one of your creative works?
“What if?” is my usual starting point. The Kitchen Brigade began with a flash fiction story I wrote as a writing exercise for JD Mader’s 2-Minutes-Go, about a group of kitchen slaves plotting to poison their captors. Then that blended with a what-if mashup of Russia’s suspected role in cyberattacks against Crimea and how George Washington’s spies were able to transmit their intelligence. What if the US was attacked and had to live without the electronics and connectivity upon which we’d grown so dependent? And I went off from there.
More and more authors seem to be writing cross-genre stories these days. How do you feel about this trend?
I love it! I don’t know if that’s because I personally like blending and changing genres, but I like the creativity coming out of the cross-genre work, especially among indie authors.
Sometimes characters don’t do what their creators want them to do. If this has ever happened to you, how did you deal with it?
I try not to make my characters do things that aren’t organic to them. In my experience, forcing a character into anything almost always backfires and almost always results in the motivations sounding false.
What fictional world would you never want to visit?
I have absolutely no desire to visit the world of The Hunger Games. May the odds ever be in your favor.
What fictional world would you want to visit?
Dune. Just so I could see a sandworm. I read the original books while commuting on Boston’s Green Line, and the creaky subway cars coming out of their tunnels always made me think of sandworms.
Sharing spoilers with people who haven’t read the book or seen the film/show is a hot topic on Twitter and across many fandoms. How do you feel about sharing or overhearing spoilers?
Ack! Warn me first! Seriously, you can’t stop people from talking or sharing, but if a book or movie has been out for a while, it’s on me if I see/hear a spoiler.
What is your favourite trope?
I’m fascinated by human nature and how we learn/don’t learn how to interact with people different from ourselves, and what results from that. I like to see a broken character seeking redemption in nearly any book I read or write, and this crosses over to my preferences in speculative and science fiction. I’m drawn to first contacts, countries occupied during wars, and how humans cope with losing their power or status. Like nearly all schoolchildren in America, I was introduced to Brave New World and 1984, and while the bleak ending of 1984 infuriated me (spoiler alert! ☺ ) I like the trope of the one meek person who figures out what’s going on then tries to destroy the system.
What tropes do you try to avoid in your stories?
Because others have done it so well (and I do like reading them), I’m not interested in writing about pandemics or post-nuclear apocalypses. Let them have at it!
About Laurie: Laurie Boris has been writing fiction for thirty years and is the award-winning author of eight novels. When she’s not hanging out with the imaginary people in her head, she enjoys baseball, reading, and avoiding housework.