15 Questions with Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Interviews with Contest judges, past winners, current winners, and entrants
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Brad R. Torgersen
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15 Questions with Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Postby Brad R. Torgersen » Tue Jan 04, 2011 1:56 pm

Like her husband Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch's connections to the Contest go all the way back to the beginning.

"...Kristine Kathryn Rusch is an award-winning mystery, romance, science fiction, and fantasy writer. She has written many novels under various names, including Kristine Grayson for romance, and Kris Nelscott for mystery. Her novels have made the bestseller lists worldwide and have been published in 14 countries and 13 different languages.

Her awards range from the Ellery Queen Readers Choice Award to the John W. Campbell Award. In the past year, she has been nominated for the Hugo, the Shamus, and the Anthony Award. She is the only person in the history of the science fiction field to have won a Hugo award for editing and a Hugo award for fiction. Her short work has been reprinted in thirteen Year’s Best collections."


http://kriswrites.com/

Brad R. Torgersen wrote:1. Algis Budrys was integral to the Writers of the Future contest for many years. Are there any nuggets of wisdom that Algis passed on to you, as a mentor, which you think are equally valuable for all new writers?

Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote:Algis said, “Just keep doing what you’re doing. Don’t try to do what someone else wants you to do.” I think that’s really good advice.



2. What is it like, having been participants in the original Writers of the Future workshop, as "ground floor" people, now coming back and being judges?

Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote:It’s hard to believe on some level, because that original workshop changed my life. I met Dean there in addition to all the benefits the workshop gave to my writing. So coming back—particularly 25 years later—is a bit of a surprise, as well as an honor.



3. In your time as judges for the Contest, are there any shared themes or particular qualities you're seeing in the stories you like best?

Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote:I haven’t seen enough stories to answer this one. We’re only just getting involved.



4. What do you think winning The Contest doest best, for people who have never been published before?

Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote:It makes them realize that their writing is important. It’s legitimate. It’s not something friends and family can shrug off and say, “Well, now that you got that out of your system....”



5. Back to Algis Budrys, were there any warnings or other things he suggested you shy away from, which have proven true since the very first workshop?

Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote:Not really, no.



6. What are some of the best habits or truths you think beginning or aspirant writers need to focus on?

Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote:Write new words. Stop rewriting. Write a lot. Mail everything, even the stuff you believe to be bad. Write, write, write.



7. What are some of the worst habits or myths you think beginning or aspirant writers need to jettison?

Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote:They need to stop paying attention to peer workshops. Other unpublished writers know as little about writing as they do. They need to spend less time socializing (including on the internet) and more time writing. They need to read for enjoyment and stop critiquing everything. Readers read for enjoyment, and if writers don’t know what readers like about a book, there’s no way to replicate that experience in the books you write. The more critical you become, the less creative you’ll be. So stop critiquing everything now.



8. In your time as editors, what are some of the most painful mistakes you've seen new writers make?

Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote:Thinking they have it made after only one or two sales. Writers must learn all the time.



9. Does judging for the Contest mirror at all your time spent editing for anthologies and magazines?

Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote:No. It’s very different. I don’t have slush for one thing. We get the manuscripts that are already at the top of that quarter.



10. What kind of "homework" reading would you recommend for people entering the Contest?

Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote:Read outside your genre. Read romance, mystery, mainstream, and nonfiction as well as science fiction/fantasy. And read a lot.



11. For people scoring regular Honorable Mention or Semi-Finalist, how best might they "amp up" their future entries so as to put themselves into the coveted Finalist circle?

Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote:They can’t. Once you’re an Honorable Mention, you’re good. You’re just not to the first judge’s taste. I never made it past Honorable Mention, and at least one of my stories that received an Honorable Mention became a major story the year it was published, ending up in two Year’s Best anthologies. So never think something’s “wrong” with your work because it didn’t win. It just wasn’t to the judges’ taste.



12. Another Algis Budrys related question -- what kind of legacy do you hope to leave for future writers just coming in, or about to come in, or who might come in during the next couple of years?

Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote:I hope that these new writers, once they succeed, pay forward and help other new writers. I learned that from Algis, and I hope the new writers will learn that from me.



13. What are your thoughts on the emergence of electronic self-publishing? Are new writers jumping too soon, or not soon enough?

Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote:I’m writing an entire series on my blog about that. I think rather than trying to answer in 100 words, I recommend that they look at the series at this link: http://kriswrites.com/business-rusch-ta ... ng-series/



14. Should new writers "target" stories to markets, or find markets to fit their stories?

Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote:No writer should ever target a story. Ever. They should mail their stories and let the editors edit their own magazines/book lines. If you target, you dumb down your work from the concept, and hurt your writing.



15. Are there any last thoughts, messages, or ideas you want to plant into the brains of all the entrants and other aspirant writers who are reading this?

Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote:Just keep writing!


Last year Kris did her on-line advice book, The Freelancer's Survival Guide. It's got boatloads of great advice and commentary on how to navigate in the world as a freelance fiction writer. Please pay her web site a visit and give it a look, as she's continuing on with a business-focused sequel called, The Business Rusch. Because writing *IS* a business as much as it's a creative project. Successful pros learn how to treat it as such.
Coming up: "Life Flight," in Analog magazine
Coming up: "The Chaplain's War," from Baen Books
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Patty
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Re: 15 Questions with Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Postby Patty » Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:04 am

Mail everything, even the stuff you believe to be bad

I'm listening. Guess what I'm doing right now?
This Peaceful State of War - WOTF 27 (1st place second quarter 2010)

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izanobu
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Re: 15 Questions with Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Postby izanobu » Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:39 am

big gems of information here, as always. Thanks for doing this, Brad! :)

My favorite bits of her advice are #6 and #7. So important.

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Alex Kane
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Re: 15 Questions with Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Postby Alex Kane » Wed Jan 05, 2011 9:34 am

Yeah, I agree. I need to find a Net-killswitch for my laptop. I do like performing the occasional Google query mid-draft, but there are so many distractions on the internet.

I also agree with her advice to stop critiquing everything, and just read for pleasure. So difficult to do, now that I'm a writer. I read at a much slower pace, absorbing details about syntax, word choice, and style instead of just consuming what really matters: the story.

Guess that's just something I'll have to work on. Maybe a reread is the time for critting, while the first time you should be seeking the thrill of fiction.
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Brad R. Torgersen
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Re: 15 Questions with Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Postby Brad R. Torgersen » Wed Jan 05, 2011 10:11 am

My recreational reading skills are shot. It's weird, I am having to teach myself to read fiction all over again. The critical thing has absolutely killed my reading.
Coming up: "Life Flight," in Analog magazine
Coming up: "The Chaplain's War," from Baen Books
www.bradrtorgersen.com
Nebula, Hugo, and Campbell nominee.

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kyle
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Re: 15 Questions with Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Postby kyle » Wed Jan 05, 2011 10:13 am

Brad R. Torgersen wrote:My recreational reading skills are shot. It's weird, I am having to teach myself to read fiction all over again. The critical thing has absolutely killed my reading.

Yeah, I have to make a conscious effort to turn off the editor when I'm reading. My attitude is, read it for pleasure. Then, if I think it worked, re-read it for analysis. (If I think it didn't work, I rarely have to re-read it to decide why.) I just wish it were easier to follow my own advice. :)

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Re: 15 Questions with Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Postby Grayson Morris » Thu Jan 06, 2011 12:53 pm

Alex Kane wrote:I need to find a Net-killswitch for my laptop. I do like performing the occasional Google query mid-draft, but there are so many distractions on the internet.

One of my infant resolutions is to stay off the Web until evening, to avoid the massive suck of the place. (I do check e-mail two or three times during the workday, but I'm only allowed to read and answer client mails when I do.) I implement this by turning off my wifi connection and closing all programs except my text editor. I'm finding that I'm getting a heck of a lot more done, writing-wise and otherwise, and my mind is much less chaotic.

I read an interview with Cory Doctorow in which he said, "Writing is not research, and research is not writing. Just stick 'TK' in when you don't know the details, and keep writing. Do the research in one shot later." I've been doing that recently, and it works a charm. Turns out I really *don't* have to know exactly how many light-years away Betelgeuse is right this very instant in order to write my next sentence. ;-)
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Patty
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Re: 15 Questions with Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Postby Patty » Thu Jan 06, 2011 1:18 pm

Brad R. Torgersen wrote:My recreational reading skills are shot. It's weird, I am having to teach myself to read fiction all over again. The critical thing has absolutely killed my reading.


I was like that for a while, but the critical reader goes away, if you let it.
This Peaceful State of War - WOTF 27 (1st place second quarter 2010)

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Ambassador Series, Icefire Trilogy, Return of the Aghyrians series, ISF/Allion word

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kyle
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Re: 15 Questions with Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Postby kyle » Thu Jan 06, 2011 1:54 pm

Grayson Morris wrote:I read an interview with Cory Doctorow in which he said, "Writing is not research, and research is not writing. Just stick 'TK' in when you don't know the details, and keep writing. Do the research in one shot later." I've been doing that recently, and it works a charm. Turns out I really *don't* have to know exactly how many light-years away Betelgeuse is right this very instant in order to write my next sentence. ;-)

This is great advice, if it's the sort of research that won't break the story. I was working on a time-travel piece once, and as I did a bit of meaningless research to fill in one small detail, I discovered that my entire premise was flawed. I had two choices: write a story that the Titanicphiles would rip to shards, or re-think the concept from the ground up. I chose the latter, and am glad I did, because the resulting story is much stronger than the original would have been (and has gotten very nice, personal rejections from a couple of the top markets). My advice is, do your homework while you're still in the "mulling it over" phase, and then don't worry about the minor bits of research until you're in the revision phase.

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Re: 15 Questions with Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Postby RobFlumignan » Sat Jan 08, 2011 7:17 pm

Brad R. Torgersen wrote:11. For people scoring regular Honorable Mention or Semi-Finalist, how best might they "amp up" their future entries so as to put themselves into the coveted Finalist circle?

Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote:They can’t. Once you’re an Honorable Mention, you’re good. You’re just not to the first judge’s taste. I never made it past Honorable Mention, and at least one of my stories that received an Honorable Mention became a major story the year it was published, ending up in two Year’s Best anthologies. So never think something’s “wrong” with your work because it didn’t win. It just wasn’t to the judges’ taste.


Now this I like to hear. I made honorable mention for the 3rd quarter. Kristine Kathryn Rusch says I'm good. Woot! :lol:


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