Thursday, 20 August 2015

Interview with Vanessa Fogg

Our guest today for the blog carnival is Vanessa Fogg, author of the story “Disconnected” published in issue #32 of TFF. We asked her about her work as a writer of both fiction and science, and about the stories she likes the most.
Illustration for "Disconnecetd" by Miguel Santos
The Future Fire: Where did the idea of “Disconnected” come from? Was there an event, a word, an image that triggered the story?

Vanessa Fogg: Most of my stories do start out as images, or as a character voice. This one was different in that it started out as a vague collection of ideas. A sense of being fed up with our hyper-driven, hyper-speed, productivity-obsessed modern lifestyle. I think I read one too many of those “10 Things the Most Productive People Do Before Breakfast” click-bait listicles. This sense of frustration combined with some articles I’d been reading in neuroscience, and then I knew that I wanted to apply those ideas to a "have/have-not" type of critique of our own society, and where it may be going.

TFF: What is your favourite TFF story?

VF: So many good ones! I confess that I haven't read all the stories in the latest issue yet, but from the issue previous to that, I was very taken with Sean R. Robinson's “Rustsong.” Francesca Forrest’s “Seven Bridges” also sticks in my mind as a lovely, lyrical piece. I LOVED Victor Fernando R. Ocampo's “I m d 1 in 10”—I thought it was stunning. And I find stunning Benjanun Sriduangkaew's “Courtship in the Country of Machine-Gods.” She's published a lot since that story, of course, but her first publication in TFF remains one of my favorites.

TFF: There is quite a lot of science and technology in “Disconnected”. Do you have a background in STEM? If not, the knowledge of which branch of science would you like to have instantly implanted in your brain?

VF: I do actually have a STEM background. I have a Ph.D. in molecular cell biology, and I spent many years working as a research scientist in academic labs. I've also worked as a staff science writer at a cancer research institute, and I currently work as a freelance medical and science writer. I do mostly very technical writing for the pharmaceutical and biotech industry, so fiction writing is a nice creative release. Writing "Disconnected" was an utter blast for me—I loved researching the science and incorporating it into this story! Much of it is indeed based on real-world science. For readers who are interested, I wrote about that science (with links and references!) in a blog post on my personal blog here.

TFF: You write both gritty cyberpunk and magical fantasy stories. Do you see any commonalities between these apparently very different genres?

VF: That's a really good question and it's one that I've been wondering myself! I think I am drawn to very different things about these genres. In fantasy, I am currently most drawn to the mythic—to archetypes, fairy tales, stories of transformation, universal themes that transcend place and time. But what I love about cyberpunk and near-future science fiction is the way it can be used to critique specific social issues in our own contemporary world. And while I read all kinds of sci-fi, I have a particular fondness for the "hard" sci-fi that attempts to at least semi-plausibly ground the story in real science (and thus, the real world). So. . . yeah, I'm not sure what commonalities I find in these two genres! I think writing in them just fulfills two different needs in me.

TFF: What are you working on now?

VF: I haven't written as much fiction as I'd like this summer. I am just now finishing another cyberpunk-type story, and then I think I'll be taking some time to read furiously and refill the well.
You can read more about Vanessa and her work on her website.You can also support our authors and artists by pre-ordering our tenth anniversary anthology, or picking up other perks at our crowdfunding campaign at: igg.me/at/tffx.


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