Welcome back for the conclusion in our chat with Sarah Hans, editor of Steampunk World and Steampunk Universe.
Read Part One here.
Airship Ambassador: What would you like for readers to take away from the stories and the characters that they could apply to their own lives?
Sarah Hans: What makes steampunk so fun to read is the enduring optimism. Steampunk was born out of a response to cyberpunk—it’s optimistic where cyberpunk is bleak, and ornate where cyberpunk is streamlined. While not every story in Steampunk World or Steampunk Universe ends on a high note, a lot of them do, because I think that’s the way steampunk should be. If you want a bleak dystopia lit by LEDs, go read some cyberpunk (that’s nothing against cyberpunk—I love reading about bleak dystopias!). But if you want grand adventure and amazing contraptions, that’s what steampunk is for!
AA: Optimism, and the idea that one person can make a difference, are two of the many things i like about steampunk and the stories. If someone likes “X”, then they’ll like Steampunk World and Steampunk Universe. What is “X”?
SH: Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s awesome steampunk anthologies.
AA: For the aspiring writer, what suggestions do you have as an editor, regarding their submissions, your feedback, and general collaboration?
SH: First, follow the submission guidelines. Second, send your absolute best work. If you feel you need to apologize for your submission, don’t send it! It’s not ready. Make sure it’s free of typos and your name, contact info and the title are on the first page—you wouldn’t believe how many submissions I get that are missing that crucial information. I got two really good pieces of advice regarding writing short stories that have been very successful for me: 1. Start your short story as close to the end as possible. 2. Don’t write your first idea. Don’t write the second one, either. Write the third one. That one will be really unique and interesting and something the editor has never seen before.
AA: Ooohh, typos. I make plenty of them, and i completely agree with you. When I read resumes, nothing drops my impression, and interest, faster than simple but still negligent typos. If a job applicant feels it’s not worth their time to review their work completely and thoroughly, then perhaps it’s not worth my time to review their experience. You’re also a writer. What do you do to keep a balance between writing, editing, and the rest of your life?
SH: This question makes me laugh. In my day job, I’m a teacher. I frequently work 80 hours a week with lesson planning and such, so I clearly need some help on this work-life balance thing. Right now this is the only project I’m doing because during the school year I have little time for writing or anything else!
AA: I hope your students appreciate your work! Do you get to talk much with other writers?
SH: I have a writing group, and we have retreats once or twice a year that I find really wonderful for revving my creativity. I also find conventions geared toward writers really help with keeping the creative juices flowing. Just giving advice to other writers new to the scene can remind me of the things I need to be doing! So I find it’s crucial to interact with other writers.
AA: Some people might say that writers need to be readers, too. Do you agree with that, and what would you say your ratio of reading to writing is/was?
SH: I’m not reading much right now because of the day job, but I listen to audiobooks and podcasts quite frequently so I can get my fiction in during my commute or while doing housework. During the summer I read quite a bit, of course. I think it’s impossible to be a writer without being a reader. Or, at least, that’s the case if you write fiction. How can you know what makes a good story if you’re not reading stories?
AA: Three quick-fire random questions – what is your favorite 1960’s TV show, fictional location that you’d want to visit, and Kool-Aid flavor?
SH: I wasn’t alive in the 1960’s, I want to visit Pern, and grape
AA: Now, Sarah, there are reruns of those ’60s shows. Maybe readers can make suggestions where you can start. When you do interviews, what is something that you wish you were asked about but haven’t been?
SH: I have ADHD, Anxiety, Clinical Depression, and OCD, among other diagnoses. I’d love to be asked how my disability affects my writing and life in general. Disability is something we don’t talk about enough.
AA: Thanks you for sharing that. Any final thoughts to share with our readers?
SH: Please back the Kickstarter for Steampunk Universe! Tell your friends! I want to pay my authors! 😀
Thanks, Sarah, and best of success with Steampunk Universe. We look forward to hearing about your next projects! Even if it won’t be a third anthology 😦
You can support Sarah and our community by getting your copy of Steampunk World here. Be on the look out for Steampunk Universe!