Q. Tell us a little bit about your background, and your evolution as a writer. If you’ve taken more than one workshop at the Storied Imaginarium, what is it that keeps bringing you back?
A. I’ve always known I wanted to publish stories and novels, but I began to seriously pursue it in 2012, experimenting with style and genre to see what most appealed to me. My first short story was published in 2015, and two years later I got a publishing deal for my first novel. My recent evolution has been very much oriented towards feminism and bringing in some of the issues of our time to be reflected in fantastic settings.
I love taking classes from the Storied Imaginarium because of the unique set-up of the class. I almost always get inspiration from the subjects we study, and end up with stories I would never have written otherwise – but stories that are very much my own. I also get pushed to finish my stories! That is very important to me, as I struggle to finish short stories. These two things always make good reasons to take another class.
Q. Have you published any stories that have come out of the generative workshops at the Storied Imaginarium? If so, what inspired your pieces, and where can we read them?
A. I have one story that has been published, and one story yet to be published, both by Daily Science Fiction. The first, ‘The Velvet Castles of the Night’, is available here: http://dailysciencefiction.com/fantasy/fairy-tales/claire-eliza-bartlett/the-velvet-castles-of-the-night. It was inspired by the Monstrous Women class on vampires, and my own dislike of vampires, particularly female ones, and the way they are depicted in media.
The second story, ‘We Do Not Know What Happened to the Children,’ is forthcoming from DSF. It was inspired by Intersections of Science Fiction and Myth, the Hansel and Gretel unit.
Q. What advice do you have for writers working with fairy tales and myth as well as combining them with current science and social issues?
A. Read a lot! That way you’ll know where the rest of the market is, and what others have already covered – not to mention there will be plenty of ideas to steal. Go down rabbit holes of scientific and social interest, until something clicks. And if the fairy tale isn’t cooperating with you, change it.
Q. How did you come to writing and who are some of your influences?
A. Jane Yolen would be my primary influence – I read her book Dream Weaver (more accurately, my mother read her book Dream Weaver to me) and thought, “I’m going to do that.”
As a teen, reading Neil Gaiman really opened up my perception of what fantasy could be and do, beyond a secondary world, high fantasy noblebright extravaganza. Susanna Clarke combined my love of history and fantasy and showed me that it was possible to incorporate both in the same tale.
And more recently, great YA authors like Leigh Bardugo, Roshani Chokshi, Hanna Alkaf and more have taught me a lot about writing characters that you fall in love with from the first page, that you can’t tear yourself away from.
Q. Can you give us an insight into your writing process? Any habits when you sit down to write?
A. I am hyper productive in the morning, and only the morning – if I get started early and I’m focused, I can write 5,000 words before I stop for lunch. I won’t say they’re good words – for me, writing is rewriting and rewriting and rewriting – but I get them down, and for me the quantity is key. I like to give myself deadlines, and I don’t like to move from my desk until I’m done. Rewards don’t really work for me, so I tend to use the tough love strategy on myself. Once I stop for lunch, I switch to other writing-adjacent things, such as revising or answering emails.
Q. What is next in store for your readers?
A. At the moment I’m working on a proposal that I’m quite excited about, but I’m not sure I can say more! My novel, recently renamed to WE RULE THE NIGHT, will be released on April 2nd 2019, and has all the feminism and history-inspired fantasy that I worked with in the Storied Imaginarium! And of course, I’m still pushing those short stories.
Author Bio: Claire Eliza Bartlett is a US citizen who grew up in Colorado. She studied history and archaeology and spent time in Switzerland and Wales before settling in Denmark for good. When not at her computer telling mostly false stories, she works as a tour guide in Copenhagen, telling stories that are (mostly) true.
Author Website: www.authorclaire.com