Welcome back for the conclusion of our talk with Marian Womack, who is the editor, along with James Womack, of THE BEST OF SPANISH STEAMPUNK .
Read part one here
Read part two here
Airship Ambassador: What do you do to keep a balance between writing, publishing, and the rest of your life?
Marian Womack: It’s very difficult, and most of the time I feel like the balance is getting out of control. I don’t write as much as I would like to. It’s not helped by the fact that we work from home and so we can in theory get up at six in the morning and not ‘leave’ the publishing house until midnight. I am learning, slowly, that I need to force myself not to work as much as I think I have to.
AA: Do you get to talk much with other writers and publishers to compare notes, have constructive critique reviews, and brainstorm new ideas?
MW: The small-press and indie publishing community in Spain is very close: I am in constant contact with people not just in Madrid, but in Barcelona and the provincial cities as well. We share ideas and pool resources, and sometimes even publish authors between ourselves.
AA: How have you and your work grown and changed over time?
MW: I find that I work a lot more quickly, both in the publishing house and in my own writing. I’m much more pragmatic. I still need to learn what to ignore and what to insist upon.
AA: Writing can be a challenge some days. What are some of your methods to stay motivated and creative?
MW: The Spanish speculative fiction community is filled with ideas, I couldn’t stop being motivated if I tried: there’s not a week that goes by when I’m not asked to contribute to anthologies, discuss projects with other publishers etcetera. The publishing house helps as well: we’re only two people in the office, and we have to be talking to our immensely creative subcontractors as well.
AA: How is Madrid, Spain for writing and publishing? Does location matter for resources, access, publicity, etc
MW: Madrid is the capital of Spain and has all the advantages of a capital city, to a far greater extent than in other capitals, perhaps: the fact that Spain is so centralized means that everyone ends up passing through Madrid or Barcelona at some point. You couldn’t have a publishing house like Aix’s Actes du Sud in Spain: there just isn’t the infrastructure to support something like that in the provinces.
AA: Do people outside the regular reading, steampunk, and convention communities recognize you for THE BEST OF SPANISH STEAMPUNK? What kind of reactions have you received?
MW: This is still a young book. I think if we had recognition outside the normal circles it would probably be for our edition of The Master and Margarita that we published last year, the first Spanish translation of the finalized text, and still, I think, the major work we have produced. But watch this space…
AA: If you weren’t an editor and author, what else would you be doing now?
MW: I would be running a small farm, looking after my orchard, making collages and reading endlessly. For fun. Or else, I worked in libraries for seven years and would probably be a librarian.
AA: Most of the authors I’ve talked with have some type of day job and that writing is their other job. What has that situation been for you and how has it helped/hindered being a published writer?
MW: I work for the publishing house. I also translate, which is how I earn most of my money outside the publishing house. At the moment it’s a little complicated.
AA: What are the challenges and advantages in being a translator? What are a few interesting experiences that you’ve had in that role?
MW: Translation, Ezra Pound said, is the closest kind of criticism, you’re engaged with every word, working out exactly what it does. It teaches you a lot about structure, about what writing is and how it works. That said, I can’t immediately think of any interesting experiences: it is an intrinsically interesting activity, but most of the experiences happen inside me.
AA: Looking beyond steampunk, writing and working, what other interests fill your time?
MW: I have a three-year-old son, who is very, enjoyably, time-consuming. We haven’t had a holiday since 2010, and I miss travelling.
AA: How do those interests influence your work?
MW: Have helped make me faster, perhaps.
AA: There’s only so much time in a day – what interests don’t you have time for?
MW: I have artistic interests that I have had to let atrophy a bit. Already finding time to manage our literary activities is very demanding.
AA: What other fandoms are you part of?
MW: I like Doctor Who, but I don’t have the time to become really active in the fan community. I love Victoriana, Sherlock Holmes etc., but I can’t find the time for that either.
AA: Are there people you consider an inspiration, role model, or other motivating influence?
MW: Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, who taught me at Clarion last year and who have become very supportive of our projects. I have a long list of writers I admire, that probably wouldn’t fit here.
AA: What event or situation has had the most positive impact in your life? What has been your greatest challenge?
MW: Having my son has been both, I think.
AA: Three quick-fire random questions – what is your favorite way to relax, stone type, and flower?
MW: TV series, limestone, siemprevivas.
AA: Any final thoughts to share with our readers
MW: Thank you so much for this thorough interview, and this book was a huge effort that at times we thought might not make it, and it is great that it is out in the world now, and we hope you like it.
Thanks, Marian, for joining us for this interview and for sharing all of your thoughts. We look forward to hearing about your next projects!
Keep up to date with Marian’s latest news on her twitter feed.
Also, check out her page at The Steampunk Museum.