Hello and welcome! E. Catherine Tobler was kind enough to drop by to talk about, among other things, her new novel, which is available today(!). If you happen not to be familiar with Ms. Tobler, tsk tsk, but allow me to introduce you.
E. Catherine Tobler was born on the other side of the International Dateline, which either gives her an extra day in her life or an extraordinary affinity when it comes to inter-dimensional gateways. She is the senior editor of Shimmer Magazine and lives in Colorado, which has a distinct lack of inter-dimensional gateways, but an abundance of mountains, which may prove mad indeed. Her first novel, Gold & Glass: Rings of Anubis Book One will be published by Masque Books in July 2013.
As if you needed further proof of Ms. Tobler’s fabulousness, she even wants you to win things! Beautiful, mysterious, and wonderful things. The kind of things one can only find at the end of a treasure hunt. Click on the link to find out more.
And now, without further delay, I present E. Catherine Tobler…
Thank you for being here! First, congratulations on being a finalist for the Theodore Sturgeon Award for your wonderful story (To See Each Other) Whole Against the Sky. Where were you when you found out, and what did you do to celebrate?
The entire notion of being a Sturgeon finalist remains baffling and surprising and humbling! I was on Twitter when I found out, oddly enough, because Christie Yant posted “congratulations!” to me, and I had no idea what I had done to merit such. When I asked her, she said it appeared I was a Sturgeon finalist. I looked up the list on Locus and that’s when I fell over. Of course there was a cupcake to celebrate, chocolate with raspberry buttercream. Not homemade, alas, the cake was a little dry.
Social media is a wonderful thing. I often wondered whether authors ever found out about their award nominations there first. Now I know. Onto the second round of congratulations… Congratulations on the publication of your first novel! Could you tell us a little bit about Gold & Glass?
I predict the muse would like you to know Gold & Glass is an opium-drenched adventure that spans the steam-fogged skies from almost-turn-of-the-century Paris to Cairo and back again, parchment airships bearing howling wolves hither and yon, while ancient Egyptian gods survey every mortal folly with a sterling snarl! The muse would not be incorrect. It is a story about acceptance, redemption, and letting the past go even as you try to preserve it (ah, contradictions!).
What was your process like for writing Gold & Glass versus writing short stories?
Gold & Glass was a much slower process than working with short stories. A novel obviously gives you more room to sprawl out, to really get inside your characters and your setting and break each apart as needed. Other than speed, the process wasn’t too terribly different: open notebook, write something down, cross it out, write something else down, cross it out, ad infinitum. I find that every story is a puzzle.
Beyond writing beautifully lyrical stories that make me want to weep with envy, you also have a talent for coming up with incredible titles to go with said stories (not that I’m jealous). Do you usually write your stories first, then come up with a title to match, or come up with a perfect title, then eventually find a story to go with it, or some combination of the above?
Every work is also unique. Sometimes, I have the title in hand and have to wait for the proper story to show up. Lately, on the last handful of short stories I’ve written, the title has been last to come. Sometimes they come from a line in the story, sometimes I flip through quotation books looking for phrases that suit my theme. Titles also often change—sometimes if I start with a title, it doesn’t always suit the work once finished. Random titles litter my notebook.
In addition to your own writing, you’re also the Senior Editor for Shimmer Magazine. Has your editorial work informed your own writing at all? What is the best part of being an editor?
My work at Shimmer completely informs my own writing. You hear the advice (a lot) that if you want to write, you should read slush at some point, and I agree with that notion. The more stories you read, the more you start to process what works when it comes to storytelling. It’s amazing how much you can learn simply from reading, reading, reading.
The best part of being an editor is working with the writers. It’s gratifying to put together an issue of Shimmer, to find stories that balance and contrast each other, to seek out new voices, and new civ—Wait, that’s Star Trek! But working with the writers, that’s it. I love talking with them about their stories, sometimes clarifying the theme they were aiming for; I love getting to know them, where they come from, what pulled this specific story out of them.
Now, for the really hard-hitting question the people have been waiting for you to answer… What is your favorite flavor of cupcake? If it’s homemade, can you point us toward a recipe? If it’s store bought, where can we find it?
The story goes that when I was a kid and we would venture to Baskin Robins, I would make the person behind the counter read the entire menu of 32 ice cream flavors, before I chose, without fail, vanilla. For all the wonderful flavors in the world, there is something that brings me back to vanilla time and again. Vanilla cake with chocolate buttercream, fresh fruit on the side? Yes please.
My favorite basic cake recipe comes from Smitten Kitchen (http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2009/07/best-birthday-cake/) and I usually double the vanilla. Because!
What’s next for you? Is there any chance of a collection of your circus stories (the interviewer asks selfishly)?
I would really love such a collection, too. Silver & Steam, the sequel to G&G, will be out in August, and this fall I have a bunch of stories poised for release. It may also please you to know that I am working on a novel set in my circus universe.
Thank you for dropping by, Elise! And dear readers, thank you for dropping by as well. On a closing note, I leave you with the gorgeous cover art for the above mentioned sequel, Silver & Steam. Now, let’s all go get ourselves a cupcake to celebrate the release of Gold & Glass!