Hi. My name is Greg Bossert. I write Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror under my full name, Gregory Norman Bossert, and I have been fortunate enough to have sold a few stories. Here’s more about me. Then again, you’re probably looking for more information on the fantastic artwork.
I’m writing this from my friend Dermot Power’s house in London, where I am recovering from a wonderful, if exhausting, weekend at the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton. The details of the WFC are a bit fuzzy now, what with jet lag, rivers of beer and wine, a bit of a sniffle, and many hundreds of extraordinary conversations with extraordinary people. But apparently, at some point I won the World Fantasy Award for best short story for my story “The Telling”. I’d assume that I had dreamed the whole thing, but I’ve been presented with proof, and the award itself seems real enough. Frighteningly so!
I’ll write more about the WFC weekend and the amazing folks I met soon. For now, many thanks to Scott Andrews and Beneath Ceaseless Skies for taking a risk on the story, and to Jenn Hsyu, Karin Tidbeck, Ann & Jeff VanderMeer, Olivia Do, Kai Ashante Wilson, Leah Thomas, Kali Wallace, Tom Underberg, Dallas Taylor, John Chu, and everyone else who read and commented on early drafts of the story!
Something I do with everything I write: switch the sex of the major characters. Not all at once: one at a time. How does the switch affect my sense of the character’s motivations? How about the relationships: is that other character still a lover, or is it now a friendship, or something else altogether?
And recently, I’ve tried temporarily switching the economic and social status of my characters as well. Would they still chase the bad guy down the sidewalk if they were likely to be shot by the first cop they encountered because of how they dress? Is their poverty a genuine part of their character, or is it just lazy motivation for the plot or an easy play for sympathy?
The goal here is not to create a statement about gender or status—that requires much more effort—but rather to shake loose my assumptions and received ideas & language. For me, anyway, the biggest obstacles to writing something really good is unstudied/implicit assumptions and received thinking & language, all of which are impediments to the precision of observation and language necessary for great fiction.
Dickens, at his best, writes his socially and economically challenged characters with dignity but a lack of any romanticism. They suffer, and that suffering doesn’t make them more noble or sympathetic than the aristocratic characters. Nor does it make them less so. Bleak House, for example, is a fascinating study of characters in/versus status.
There are many writers who set out to challenge the readers’ preconceptions of gender and status. But I’m talking about doing this temporarily on any story—even the giddiest action adventure—to challenge the writer’s preconceptions. Afterward, you’ll probably (but not necessarily) switch the characters’ sex back, but hopefully you’ll have caught those places where you were making lazy and uninteresting assumptions. Some visual artists will flip their work (or look at it in a mirror) or kill the color to shake up their viewpoint and catch problems they were overlooking. This is a writing equivalent.
It’s tricky in genre fiction, which is usually read in the context of its genre, and relies on/riffs off of tropes to avoid having to reinvent the entire universe each time. But for the most part, assumptions about gender and social/economic status are independent of these standards of setting.
My science fiction short story “Bloom” is out now in the December issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine.
Editor Scott H. Andrews and BCS are also up for Special Award—Non-professional. My friend and Clarion 2010 classmate Karin Tidbeck is up for her brilliant short story collection “Jagannath” from publisher Cheeky Frawg, and the wonderful Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (proprietors of Cheeky Frawg and my Clarion instructors, mentors, and dear friends) are also up, with managing editor Adam Mills, for Special Award—Professional for the fantastic Weird Fiction Review website.
My story “Lost Wax” is out now in the August issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction. It got a “Recommended” from Rich Horton at Locus Magazine, and Best SF says: “It’s inventive and clever, the characters are non-normative, and the ending rounds a great story off nicely.” You can buy it in bookstores or as an e-Book.
The audio performance of my story “Freia in the Sunlight” is out now on the Escape Pod website: click here to listen to it for free.
Shaelyn Grey did a fantastic job reading the story: many thanks to her, producer Mat Weller, Escape Pod editor-in-chief Norm Sherman, and the entire crew of Escape Pod.
There’s that time that photographers call the magic hour, when the sunlight goes amber and sideways and everything asserts its own common sense. And then there’s dusk, when the streetlamps try—and fail—to hold onto that amber and the stars check in for duty. But in between, there’s that moment that Magritte painted and Stevens called a rabbit-light, where both the sun and streetlamps are defined by where they are not: What I like about both those artists is that they didn’t use that moment as a metaphor for transition or being caught in between (don’t use the “T” word now, it’s lost to us for a while) but instead as the point of balance.