Read Part One here.
Airship Ambassador: When people read Strange Things Done, what would you like for them to take away from the story and the characters that they could apply to their own lives?
Michal Wojcik: All the meaningful moments are packed towards the end of the story, so I’d rather not go into what I hope readers take away from that. But on a different level, there were quite a few important women involved in the gold rush (indigenous and from elsewhere) that got written out in the popular, romanticized image surrounding the event in Canada, leaving just the can-can dancers—which is the weirdest role to retain, because we didn’t even have can-can dancers during the gold rush. I’m hoping readers might come away want to learn more about them, because they really were amazing.
AA: At least there are can-can dancers today 🙂 How long did it take to write, and rewrite, Strange Things Done? What were the deadlines and publishing schedule like for you?
MW: I wrote the first draft in about a week and revised it over the course of, hmm, a month or so. The only deadline was the cutoff date for submissions, and I had enough time to spare by the end of the process that I didn’t feel crushed by the pressure of meeting that deadline. The main stress was just coming up with an idea that worked; this was actually the third story I wrote to fit the theme after the announcement went out, and it was a relief just to finally write a story within the parameters that finally worked for me.
AA: It’s nice to hear that not everyone wait until the last minute, like, um, some of us. What kind of research and balance, went into creating the Strange Things Done world?
MW: Most of the research was already done before I even started; a big chunk of the history comes from books I’d already read; places I’d already been. I had another summer job at the Yukon archives inventorying documents from the gold rush era and early twentieth century. A lot of the atmosphere came out of old newspapers printed in and outside of the Yukon that I spent so many hours rifling through.
AA: That great that you had that kind of opportunity and experience to learn so much. What elements did you specifically include so readers could feel the Strange Things Done history?
MW: I took many details right out of first-hand accounts. The biggest source was Martha Louise Black’s memoir My Seventy Years. She was a remarkable woman, crossing the Chilkoot pass while pregnant just after her husband left her, carving out a life for herself and really making the territory her home. Tessa uses some of the details from Black’s life as a cover for her own journey.
AA: What are some memorable fan reactions to Strange Things Done which you’ve heard about?
MW: Not many, really. There was a review on Tor.com calling it “an action story done right” that made me smile.
AA: With several works in print, what have your publishing experiences been like?
MW: So far, so good. Going in, I guess I didn’t anticipate how drawn-out the process would be from a finished draft to acceptance to publication, but I’ve never been disappointed in the final result. Three of my stories have even been illustrated, which was delightful and not something I ever expected would happen.
AA: How are new readers finding you – conventions, website, word of mouth, etc?
MW: I have a blog and a podcast, and I can only assume some people take a look at my fiction through those. Mostly, word just seems to spread when people like a story.
AA: For the aspiring writer, what lessons did you learn about having an editor, their feedback, and your writing?
MW: The editing process can vary wildly depending on the story and the editor. Some editors have a light touch; some really dive in deep and provide copious suggestions for changes. During the whole thing, though, you have to remember that the editing back-and-forth is more like a negotiation than a set of orders. Usually, suggestions have plenty of wiggle room. It can be a lot of fun, and the stories always come out better as a result.
AA: That good to know that it’s more of a negotiation. I have heard of several times that the authors stuck to what they believed in over the editor’s comments, and things turned out fine. Have you been on book tours and to conventions? What has that been like, and the fan reaction?
MW: I’ve never been on a book tour or been to a convention. For the last couple of years, the Yukon Comic Culture Society has hosted “Yukomicon” in Whitehorse, but other commitments meant I couldn’t go even when I wanted to.
We’ll break here in chatting with Michal. join us net time when he talks about life in the Yukon and other interests.
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