TOD A31 Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward: Midwifing the Other: Nurturing Diversity in Weird and Spec Lit


In this archival podcast Scott Nicolay interviews Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward, creators of the Writing the Other workshop/book. It originally aired on February 17, 2016. The broadcast also includes an exclusive new review of Nisi Shawl’s novel Everfair by author/editor Milton Davis (Dieselfunk, From Here to Timbuktu) and co-founder of the State of Black Science Fiction Convention (SOBSFC). In News From the Weird, Richard Thomas provides an exclusive sneak peek at the exciting plans for his highly anticipated new neo-noir spec-lit fiction magazine Gamut,

Show Notes

In this very special show focusing on diversity in Weird and speculative fiction, authors/editors Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward recount the origins of their Writing the Other workshop/book (next online course Nov. 20-Dec. 18 with Nisi and K. Tempest Bradford), its connections to Clarion West, its impact on spec-lit writers over its 25-year history, and their hopes for an updated book to reflect new language and examples. The conversation proceeds to positive directions with diverse characters, how writers need not to be afraid to write what they don’t know but they do need to research, the concept of “parallax” and W.E.B. DuBois, writing the other as a collaborative process, why treating equally or fairly doesn’t mean not seeing color, gender or other differences, the good example of Joe R. Lansdale, and midwifing works by Sarah Smith and South African writer Nick Wood (Azanian Bridges, NewCon Press). Cynthia and Nisi also talk about some of their own written and edited works. Cynthia discusses her edited anthology Lost Trails: Forgotten Tales of the Weird West, which features stories about non-white characters on the frontier, a second volume on the way, and several novels in progress, including Night Rising, which she calls a “cozy catastrophe.” Nisi reveals some of the back story about Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delaney, which she co-edited with Bill Campbell (Rosarium Publishing), as well as contemplating her interaction with horror and exploring a different relation to death and the status quo in the African diaspora in her 2008 James Tiptree Jr.  Award-winning collection Filter House, confronting steampunk’s embedded imperialism in her upcoming Belgian Congo set novel Everfair (Tor, Sept. 2016), encountering ghosts in her middle grade novel Speculation, and much more. The conversation concludes with their recommended writers including Bill Campbell, J. Comer (Planetary Stories), Ayize Jama-Everett ( whose works include The Liminal War and The Entropy of Bones), Australian feminist writer Sylvia Kelso (The Blackston Gold and The Amberlight series), Aqueduct Press’s L. Timmel Duchamp (The Red Rose Rages BleedingThe Marq’ssan Cycle, and more), Nigerian writer Tade Thompson (Making Wolf and Rosewater, Sept. 2016), Matt Ruff (Lovecraft Country) and Amy Wolf (The Misses Bronte’s Establishment).

News from the Weird

(01:35:15) Special Guest Richard Thomas provides an exclusive sneak peek of new neo-noir spec-lit fiction magazine Gamut, which launched in 2016 and features a who’s who of writers, artists and staff.

Special: A Review of Everfair

(01:54:00) In an exclusive new segment, author/editor Milton Davis (Dieselfunk, From Here to Timbuktu) reviews Nisi Shawl’s latest novel Everfair and talks about the first State of Black Science Fiction Convention (SOBSFC), which he co-founded with Balogun Ojetade, last summer in Atlanta. Also: his recommended reading including Ojetade, Phenderson Djeli Clark (A Dead Djinn in Cairo), and Steamfunk. The Outer Dark will be presenting recordings of several SOBSFC panels in the near future.

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Additional Links

Bert and I

Stagecoach Mary

King Leopold’s Ghost

Review of Lovecraft Country by Nisi Shawl

Dark Horse Press

Black Speculative Fiction Reviews

Show Credits

Host/Executive Producer: Scott Nicolay

Co-Host, News From the Weird: Justin Steele

Associate Producer/Show Notes: Anya Martin

Logo Design: Nick “The Hat” Gucker

Music: Michael Griffin

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