Author of “The Great Scientist Rivalry on Planet Sourdough”
(Soft Science Fiction)
How long have you been writing? Do you write genres other than speculative fiction?
When people ask me this question, I usually say that I started writing in late 2014, but the full answer is a little more complicated. I’ve written poetry since I was a kid, and I took a few creative writing classes in college, but I didn’t start writing short stories with the intent to publish them until 2014. For a couple years before that, I read some writing books, and looked at guidelines for magazines, but I hadn’t actually done that most important of things–write a complete story.
In 2014, I became a parent, and everything changed. I started to write. Perhaps this wellspring of creative energy came from the feeling that if I could be a parent, I could do anything, or perhaps the extreme sleep deprivation kept the more sensible part of my brain from stopping me. Whatever the reason, I started writing with vigor in my few spare hours, and I kept going.
So far, I’ve only written speculative fiction, but once in a while I’ll get an idea for a mainstream story. One day, I may actually write one.
What are some of your literary influences?
I’m influenced by everything I read, but I find that many of the works that have a strong hold over me are ones that I read in my formative years. Among my literary influences, I’d name Ursula Le Guin, Douglas Adams, and Kurt Vonnegut.
What’s on your to-be-read list right now?
I have an ever-growing list of books to read, split into categories based on genre and non-fiction topics. I want to pick up All Systems Red by Martha Wells, because I hear that there’s a robot who names themselves Murderbot, and how could that not be awesome? I recently read the first story in Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties, which was amazing, so I definitely want to read the remainder.
The list goes on and on. I’ve got some classic science fiction on there, like Silverberg and Zelazny, mixed with a ton of contemporary works. I have yet to read a book by Kate Elliott or V.E. Schwab, which I hope to fix soon, and there’s a collection of Raymond Carver on my kindle right now.
Currently, I’m reading Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope, so I know I’ll eventually want to finish up the Chronicles of Barsetshire series.
Are there themes that you find recurring in your work?
Perhaps some authors have themes that touch on the essential questions of life, like what it means to be human, but I find that the most common theme in my work is food. I’m constantly writing about food, from vegetable-themed amusement parks to tea time to ice cream simulators. Even the story for this anthology prominently features sourdough starter. If I’m writing a story with a humorous bent, it’s a good bet that there’s going to be food.
What is your typical writing process? Outline or seat-of-the-pants? A quiet room or a lively café? Music and coffee or tea and silence?
My writing process seems to change for every story. When I started writing, I was a discovery writer, but now I tend to make outlines. I like to know where I’m going, even though the story often takes a detour and I end up in a completely different place.
Often, a story is sparked by a cool science idea, a fragment of a character, a first line, or an image. From there, I build out the rest.
I prefer complete quiet when I write, but sometimes I’ll go to coffee shops for variety. However, I’m always more productive if I’m at home or somewhere really quiet, like the library. I have a great love of libraries.
You can read Beth Goder’s story in Metaphorosis Magazine, “To the Eggplant Cannon,” for free online.
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