Read Part One here.
Read Part Two here.
Airship Ambassador: What do you do to keep a balance between writing and the rest of your life?
Michal Wojcik: I don’t really have a set writing schedule, I just make time for it when I have an idea and set other things aside while it has priority in my mind. So it’s not so much a balance as a wildly swinging see-saw, depending on whether I’m obsessed with a project or not.
AA: Do you get to talk much with other writers and artists to compare notes, have constructive critique reviews, and brainstorm new ideas?
MW: I have small group of friends I exchange work with when we’re having trouble with something, some other people I invite over for tea or hit up on skype just to discuss stuff we’re working on. There’s nothing formal about it but it’s important to have regular discussions and give help and advice where you can. Writing itself is isolating and I live in an isolated area, I need to know other people are grappling with the same things I am.
AA: Even though you are somewhat isolated, it’s good that you still have a network of peers to call on. How have you and your work grown and changed over time?
MW: I’ve found I’m spending a lot more time exploring my cultural identity in my more recent stories, my Polish heritage and the whole experience of growing up in an immigrant family. There are a lot of aspects about that I wasn’t willing to touch when I was just starting, but it’s become a major driver for me as I grow older.
AA: I’m looking forward to seeing those experiences in your upcoming stories. Writing can be a challenge some days. What are some of your methods to stay motivated and creative?
MW: I wish I had some consistent ways to get out of my slumps, but the way out has always been something different. I have to chase down the spark that will keep me going, that ultimately leads to me sitting down and being productive.
AA: How is Whitehorse, Yukon for writing? Does location matter for resources, access, publicity, etc? Certainly I find the average April to October temperatures to be pleasantly cool (6C/43F – 20C/69F), while the rest of the months do seem a tad chilly (-19C/-2F).
MW: Whitehorse is a great city, but it definitely has its challenges. You’re so far away from the major literary scenes it’s hard not to feel like you’re staring out from the periphery and that it’s difficult to capture the attention of someone from, say, Toronto. Conventions are often out of reach, and just for another example, I wasn’t able to attend the book launch for Clockwork Canada because it was over in Ontario. On the other hand, we’ve got beautiful wilderness and long summer days, an excellent public library and used bookstore, and a lot of people who chose to live here have an adventurous attitude that can’t help but be infectious.
AA: Do people outside the regular reading, steampunk, and convention communities recognize you for Strange Things Done? What kind of reactions have you received?
MW: I really have no idea. Besides some reviews in some publications, it’s hard to gauge what impact the story has.
AA: If you weren’t an author, what else would you be doing now?
MW: At some point I chose writing as the main way to express myself; but I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. I’d probably dedicate myself to illustration if I wasn’t working on stories.
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 begin a published writer?
MW: I’ve had various day jobs and also gaps in employment; stepping back, I don’t think my output has been greater or lesser in either situation. The only time I’ve had my responsibilities push out time and energy for writing was when I was in grad school.
AA: Looking beyond steampunk, writing and working, what other interests fill your time?
MW: I fill up sketchbooks on a regular basis. I read lots of fiction and nonfiction, I have a podcast, I haunt used bookstores. Sometimes I play board and role-playing games.
AA: How do those interests influence your work?
MW: Art tends to happen concurrently with writing—map drawing, character concepts, and sometimes I just need another creative outlet before I can get back to typing. Having to think visually does have a definite impact on how I write, but it’s hard to articulate exactly how.
AA: There’s only so much time in a day – what interests don’t you have time for?
MW: I’ve always wanted to try my hand at animation, but I’m always daunted by the amount of work involved and wonder if I can fit that into my life.
AA: What other fandoms are you part of?
MW: I’ve been getting into anime and manga recently and catching up on all the stuff I missed. Other comic books too—Saga still gets my blood pumping, I fell in love with Mouse Guard and Bone, and the latest Ms. Marvel has been a lot of fun.
AA: Are there people you consider an inspiration, role model, or other motivating influence?
MW: Lloyd Alexander and Jane Yolen for writing. Howard Pyle might be the biggest one, just because his rendition of the Robin Hood legends ended up having such a huge impact on how I viewed the world when I was growing up.
AA: Three quick-fire random questions – what is your favorite decade of the twentieth century, summer picnic food or drink, and television show from your youth?
MW: 1930s, moose sausage, The Raccoons.
AA: Any final thoughts to share with our readers
MW: I hope they enjoy Strange Things Done if they get hold of a copy of Clockwork Canada. I have another story in an upcoming anthology from Exile Editions too (Those Who Make Us: Canadian Monsters, Creatures and Myths), which has me just as excited.
Thanks, Michal, for joining us for this interview and for sharing all of your thoughts. We look forward to hearing about your next projects!
You can support Michal and our community by getting your copy of Clockwork Canada here.