Mozart is a character I drew for a role-playing game I was sketching out called Cats and Dogs Living Together. 

Mozart was raised as a potential show dog, but only competed once before retiring. At six pounds, the handsome eight-year-old toy poodle has gotten skinnier since his heyday, but he’s still meticulous about his floofy hairdo. He remembers his show tricks, and always strikes a pose before jumping. He’s very intelligent; with his smarts, age, and experience, he’s known for giving good advice.

This content was posted early for my patrons on Patreon! Thank you!

Silly Interview with Aliette de Bodard, Expert on Lovecraftian House Plants

Aliette de Bodard, Photo Credit: Lou Abercrombie

Rachel Swirsky: What is the best part of living in Paris?
Aliette de Bodard: The bread. Or possibly the éclairs. I have a weakness for coffee éclairs, and they’re just not the same abroad (I’ve tried!).

RS: What is the worst part of living in Paris?
ADB: We don’t really have snowy winters, snow melts before it hits the ground. Wait. Maybe that’s a positive.

RS: You do interesting combinations of fantasy and science fiction. What about genre mixing appeals to you?
ADB: It just happens I guess! I think of fantasy and science fiction as a large continuum of things, and I tend to pick and match the bits I like for a given project. I find it’s very helpful for atmosphere, but there’s also serious reasons: scientific rigour when world building a fantasy world helps a lot (even if there’s a lot of overt or hidden magic with fuzzier rules), and projecting science beyond, say, the 50-year-mark is always going to lead to technologies that feel like they’re breaking the current rules (aka seem like magic, as Clarke said).

RS: What is the tastiest part of living in Paris?
ADB: The Vietnamese grocery stores are only 40 minutes away (I live in the wrong area of town lol), which gives me the perfect excuse to grab a bowl of phở before going shopping.

RS: I kind of want to go back to Paris.
ADB: Everybody should! I grouch a bit, but I love the city. So many things to see (and so much food. I kind of always go back to the food).

RS: You’ve said your writing process when you were tackling “Immersion,” my favorite of your short stories, evolved out of anger, and that was unusual for you. How was that writing process different from your normal one? Have you written out of anger again since?
ADB: The issue with anger is that I can’t really sustain it for long (and that it takes a toll on me I’m not a big fan of). My writing process generally has its roots in curiosity: I have an idea and go research some more on details, and shape the plot that way.

I do get angry when researching stuff: for The House of Shattered Wings I had to research the Vietnamese diaspora in Paris, and there’s quite a few hair-raising tales of people being conscripted into making weapons and being used as indentured labour for years after the war was over. But there’s definitely no way I could write an entire novel fuelled on anger, it would be too painful.

RS: What is the most beautiful piece of art you’ve seen in Paris?
ADB: Uh, there’s a lot of them around! It’s a bit of a silly thing, but last time I was in Musée Cernuschi (the Asian Arts museum), there was this huge bronze statue of an (Asian) dragon leaping from the sea by the staircase. I’m not sure who made it or when it dates from, because there was no label on it, but it struck me as pretty amazing because the artist had captured the sense of flowing, arrested movement I associate with dragons.

RS: Can you describe what you call the Lovecraftian plants taking over your living room? Pictures more than welcome.
ADB: When we moved in, my in-laws gave my husband a cutting from a plant they had at home–it started as this really tiny handful of vines, and then it wouldn’t stop growing! It’s slowed down a bit today because we put it a little away from the light and decided not to water it quite as much (not being big fans of the plant invasion). At one point, when we moved out of our old flat, its roots had pierced the pot it was in and were busy trying to find some purchase on the parquet–it was a good idea to move the pot, or I fear we’d have had to tear the plant from its spot!

My colleagues gave me another one which is a kind of rubber tree, which also started as a tiny thing not much higher than my waist–over the summer it drank an entire bottle of water per day and made clusters of leaves every three days. It was double the size by the time I brought it home–same thing, we took it away from the windows and tried to water it a little less…

RS: If you were forced to enter one of the worlds you’ve written about, which would you pick, and what would you do there?
ADB: Uh. Probably the Xuya universe because a lot of the others are very bleak! I’d be a builder of Minds for spaceships and space stations, I suspect–I’d quite like to be like Lady Oanh in On a Red Station, Drifting, fixing problems with Minds and making sure everything runs smoothly.

RS: Anything else? Take it away!
ADB: Phở. Everyone should try phở if they haven’t already (ok ok, I’ll grant that you can try bi cuốn if not phở. They’re rice paper rolls with marinated pork rinds and fish mint, which is a herb with a very particular taste that I haven’t seen much outside of Vietnam. There’s very few ingredients in them total, but they taste *so* good).

(This interview was posted one week early for my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!)

Patreon Content for May & June 2019!

Patreon content went up this week! There’s a poem for all patrons: ” Silver Tree Day” which I wrote about the street where my grandparents lived. For $2 patrons, there’s an excerpt from an unfinished story about first business in space exploration titled “The First Spaceship I Ever Flew.” And for $5 and up patrons, there’s a reprint of my story for Chicks Unravel Time, a collection of essays about Dr. Who from a feminist perspective, “Guten Tag, Hitler.”

Last month, I posted a story for all patrons “The Station at the Corner of Enning and Pine” I was 16 in 1998, and the political details of this era are in my skin.  For $2 patrons, there’s a rough story, The Noodle Effect, that I started with a three word prompt and a commitment to keep writing no matter how weird it went. And for $5 and up patrons, there’s a first to last draft evolution of  “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”.

As always, thank you to all my patrons! You help make my writing possible and keep my head in one piece!