The day I read Edmund Schluessel’s short story, Trumpet Voluntary, in my submissions inbox, I had to quit early. It was the sort of story that had such an impact, I knew right away I needed to include it in Coppice & Brake. Take a look at what Edmund has to say about writing, and about horror, and then go check him out online.
Q (Crone Girls Press): What do you write? How long have you been writing? What are your preferred genres and why?
A (Edmund Schluessel): For the past three years I’ve been writing short fiction, mostly hard SF. I’m currently working on my first novel, a Marxist dieselpunk action-adventure spy story. I mostly read Golden Age SF when I was growing up and that plus my inclination toward the sciences has had a big impact on what I write but I also want to show a more human side to these technological marvelscapes.
Q: What draws you to the genre of horror/dark fiction? What do you find there that you don’t find anywhere else?
A: We live in a terrifying world–one founded on violence, exploitation and oppression. If I’m going to write about the world we’re in, I’m going to end up writing horror. And SF, to be plausible, has to either engage with this fact or talk about how it could be overcome.
Q: What do you find the most challenging about the writing process, and how do you meet that challenge?
A: I usually build outward from a single image or single moment when I write. Creating a world where that moment makes sense is the hardest point of writing a story. I outline a lot when I write and I research heavily to find small details that can be stretched wide open.
Q: What was the worst writing advice you ever received? The best writing advice? Why, and how did it affect your writing?
A: The worst advice I ever got was “write a set number of words every single day, no excuses.” That’s good maybe if you want to crank out a series of boilerplate novels. Something I like about the short story form is there are so few restrictions on structure or emphasis. The best advice I ever got is, don’t write to fit a particular length — make the story as long as it needs to be.
Q: Of the characters you’ve created, who is your favorite, and why?
A: Colonel Xie, the protagonist of an unpublished short piece set in a world where China has become the dominant power on Earth and conquered space. Xie is someone who ends up having to choose between the wonder of the frontier and the survival of her civilization. She makes the right choice for the wrong reason–she gets overtaken by anger while maintaining the guise of professionality.
Q: If someone asked you to recommend books/stories similar to what you write, who/what titles would you be giving them? And, why?
A: What I’m trying to do is combine Stephen Baxter or Greg Egan’s marvel at the intricacies of a rational, material universe with Judith Merrill’s heart. I would point at Baxter’s Vacuum Diagrams collection but also, going way back, to Olaf Stapledon’s Star Maker.
Q: What’s next in your writing journey?
A: I have a collection, _Infinite Metropolis_, coming out at the end of January 2020 that I co-wrote with my friend Mikko Rauhala. (CGP Note: That work is now available!) I’m continuing to work on the novel with a goal of finishing the first third of that, a standalone novella tentatively titled “Robo Luxemburg,” by springtime.
Edmund Schluessel is an author and mathematics teacher. His first book, Infinite Metropolis with Mikko Rauhala, came out in January 2020. He’s also known for giving “the nerdiest con talk ever” at Worldcon 77 as part of his ongoing series of popular mathematics & popular science lectures. He holds a PhD in gravitational waves. An avid socialist activist, he helped organize Finland’s largest demonstration against Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in his adopted home city of Helsinki, Finland.