Excerpts from the interviews:
“The short form is the wellspring from which most of the genre emerged. Short fiction provides the ability to sustain a mood and not be tied down. I have nothing against trilogies, quadrilogies and the like, and I enjoy any number of them, but it's not for me. I'm very satisfied with where I am and where I'm going. A novel needs an outline, whereas a short story is an exploration. One of the cool things about writing a short story is how you may be thinking ahead in one direction but a story can reveal itself to you halfway through and surprise the hell out of you. For me, that's always been gold. When stories take turns that you didn't expect, those are the ones you see in Best of the Year anthologies or on award ballots. It doesn't happen every time, but when I sit down to write I'm hoping that will happen, that the story will speak to me or surprise me and show me something about itself or myself that I didn't know. When I see it, I have to follow that wherever it leads. Sometimes it takes me someplace scary, or neat, or that makes me very happy, and sometimes it takes me someplace very sad, but I'm always on the lookout for those turns. Burn revealed its subject about halfway through, whereas in stories it often happens almost at the end.
“One of the things that beginning writers should do, which took me a while to learn, is to reveal the evil djinn. In everyone there are impulses that you prefer not to show. As a young writer, you tap dance around those feelings and say, 'I don't want to show anyone that,' but later on you realize you have to be honest and lay everything out. You have to expose yourself. The best writers don't hold anything back. I've written things that I find very distasteful -- characters I didn't like, sexual situations I hope I never get into. I've had my characters do small evil and great evil, and in some ways the small evils are harder to write because they're closer to home. Beginning writers are sometimes afraid to let their good guys be bad and their bad guys be good. But as I often say to beginning writers, even bad guys love their moms. The bad guys are always the heroes of their own stories; unless you realize that, you can never capture life and achieve art's moral complexity.”
“Podcasting came on so quickly that when I started looking into it, it was already happening big-time. There are other people who podcast science fiction novels and other people who have podcast short stories, but I think I must have been one of the very first to podcast a book that was being published simultaneously -- I started podcasting Burn the day it was published. Cory Doctorow published the text of his novel on the web. I told my publishers, 'I'm not asking to do that, because I can understand how you would imagine that could be in direct competition with your version.' But my argument was, 'If I start podcasting Chapter One on the day the book is published, I might get a mention in Locus Online or BoingBoing, so there's publicity. Plus, if I do it every week, 16 weeks from now it will be over, and if somebody gets really bored waiting for the next chapter they'll go out and buy the book. At the very least, it will raise this small-press book out of the morass of other small-press books which get no publicity, just because it's this odd-duck thing.'
“I've taught Clarion (East and West) seven or eight times. I'm also the assistant chair of the Clarion Foundation's board of directors. So part of my latter career has been helping people find their voices as writers. Because I went to Clarion, I feel like I owe the workshop big-time for all the help I got. It's not the way, but it's a way to become a published writer, and to some extent it's got a better track record than any other. Clarion has become part of the field, of the genre, as much an institution as the magazines and the publishers and the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts. It's a community.”
“I am now chairman of the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts -- which is an interesting thing for a science fiction writer to be, because when I was appointed by the governor I think I was the first science fiction writer in the United States to be on a statewide arts council. New Hampshire may be a borderline red state, but they have a very liberal attitude towards the arts. It's been a real education to work with other kinds of artists, especially visual artists. Something I'd like to get into more panel discussions when I go to conventions is 'How comfortable are we, thinking of ourselves as artists?' There's no question that we're artists, but it's something we're uncomfortable thinking about because of the pulp fiction creation myth 'It Came From the Gutter.' We were raised out of the mud of the pulps and have yet to achieve the same status as Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, and all.”
“This is so chauvinistic I hardly ever say it, but I can say it to my tribe: I think science fiction is the most important writing there is today, because it tackles the largest issues fearlessly. These thought experiments get repeated, over and over again. Not that there isn't entertainment value in science fiction as well -- you've got characters and plots and beautiful writing, and I'm certainly not one who says the idea is more important than the story. The ideas are the story, and the story can't exist if there are no ideas to explore.”