My story Two Things About Thrand Zandy’s TechnoThèque is out now in The Journal of Unlikely Cryptography, with original art by Dermot Power!

Here’s an excerpt from an interview that will be appearing at the Journal soon:

I wrote the first draft of Two Things About Thrand Zandy’s TechoThèque in the final sixth week of the 2010 Clarion Writers’ Workshop.  Though, overall, Clarion was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, this story was a struggle.

My fifth week story had not gone over well, and so I was determined to nail my sixth and final draft.  I was determined all that week…to no avail:  by the end of the week, with a Sunday night deadline, I had no ideas and no words.  So Saturday morning I took refuge in a local cafe with Kai Ashante Wilson and just started frantically dumping whatever came to mind onto the page.  I worked pretty much continuously right up to and a little past the deadline the next day: thanks goodness Kai reminded me to occasionally eat and drink.

I usually do most of my real writing in revision, but this one went raw into the Clarion grinder… and came through it pretty much unscathed, and with some encouraging comments.  I’ve done a fair amount of revision since, for the most part in understanding Halo and clarifying her voice.  The comments of my Clarion-mates have been invaluable during that process, particularly in helping me avoid the pitfalls of my writing a female character.  But at a plot and paragraph level, this is pretty much what I wrote that weekend.

Before the Nebula Awards last year Sheila Williams, editor-in-chief of Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, and brilliant fantasy writer Lisa Goldstein visited me to take a tour of Skywalker Ranch and ILM.  Here’s Sheila’s Asimov’s editorial on that visit, and Lisa’s account.  What a wonderful day that was, ending with a reading by two of my favorite authors, Connie Willis and Gene Wolfe!

Here’s my first interview as a writer, courtesy of the excellent, intriguing Schlock Magazine:

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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.


I did the animation and music for this trailer for Jeff VanderMeer’s remarkable writing guide “Wonderbook“, featuring the illustrations of Jeremy Zerfoss.  I also have some illustrations in the book itself, based on this Myster Odd video.

My science fiction short story “Bloom” is out now in the December issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine.

My story “The Telling”, published by Beneath Ceaseless Skies #109 last November, has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award.  I am flabbergasted.

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.

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