Paul Weimer: Readers at SF Signal are familiar with you and your novels. So why a collection of shorter works, for which you aren’t so well known?
KE: Jacob Weisman at Tachyon Publications approached me to ask if I had ever considered publishing a collection of my short fiction. I was brought in as part of the Tachyon “THE VERY BEST” series, which also includes volumes from Charles de Lint, Tad Williams, and Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine.
As it happens the stories in the collection are indeed “the very best” of my short fiction because they constitute ALL of the short fiction I have ever written with the exception of two stories too tied to the Spiritwalker Trilogy to work without prior familiarity with that series (one available for free on my web page and one — with fabulous Julie Dillon illustrations — available for purchase) and two (never published) short stories I wrote as a teenager. Over the course of my life I have written twice as many novels as short pieces.
PW: I didn’t expect the non fiction essays to be included along with the stories. How did you come to choose these to be included? How do you see the dialogue play out between the essays and the themes of your own stories?
KE: I don’t write in a vacuum. While my chief goal when writing is to create a narrative that entertains the reader and keeps them reading (if I can’t keep my readers reading then it really doesn’t matter what other theoretically fabulous things I do, does it?), I do churn a lot of themes and questions through my stories as a way to examine, take apart, and consider from multiple sides issues and thoughts I have about the world, life, people, history, culture, and so on. Writing science fiction and fantasy is my way of trying to understand how humanity works and how I feel about that.
Writing a more substantive essay takes a lot of time so I don’t do it often, and generally I write such essays about subjects that I’ve wrestled with for a long time, often through my fiction. I asked for these essays to be included in the collection, and wrote an introductory essay as well, because the concerns reflected in the non-fiction resonate throughout my fiction.
Read the rest of Weimer’s conversation with Kate Elliott at SF Signal.
For more on THE VERY BEST OF KATE ELLIOTT, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art by Julie Dillon.
Design by Elizabeth Story.