Here's Writefest panelist, Sim Kern
WS: What genre do you write in? Why?
SK: Speculative Fiction, Climate Fiction
WS: What is your favorite book or writing craft book? Why?
SK: I can't possibly choose, but some recent obsessions of mine are Xiran Jay Zhao's Iron Widow, Nicky Drayden's Escaping Exodus, and Kai Cheng Thom's Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous and Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir--all SFF books that grab you by the front of the shirt and shout, "Get in, loser, we're doing crimes."
WS: What fears do you have about your writing?
SK: My biggest fear is that I'll unknowingly write something that is hurtful, that perpetuates stigma towards a marginalized community. So I use lots of beta readers to gain multiple perspectives. I try to be very circumspect when 'writing the other' and seek out a sensitivity reader if I'm out of my depth.
WS: If you could have dinner with any famous author (dead or alive) who would it be?
SK: Honestly? Sometimes it's best not to meet your heroes. I idolized a certain famous short story writer in college and meeting him was extremely gross, as he drunkenly tried to coerce me to his hotel room after telling me earlier in the night that I "reminded him of his daughter." So. Definitely not a cis dude. Maybe Ursula K Leguin, but let's be real--she was born in 1929, so she'd inevitably say something super cringey, probably about my transness, and it'd ruin her work for me.
WS: What's the best (or worst) writing advice you've ever received?
SK: In college one of my creative writing professors handed back my "senior thesis"-type story, basically the culminating work of my college career, with no feedback on it but a slash drawn halfway down the first page. He said, "That's where I got bored and stopped reading." I was devastated, convinced I'd never make it as a short story writer, and gave up writing for ten years--for a whole bunch of reasons that weren't the fault of that one comment. Recently, while we were reconnecting over a blurb he was writing for my book, I reminded him of that slash-mark. He was so embarrassed and apologetic. He'd been going through some truly terrible life stuff at the time, had no memory of doing that, and was appalled he'd done it. And I mean...it's NOT good teaching, I don't endorse anyone taking that approach with a student. However, now whenever I'm reading over the first page of a story, I have that slash-mark in mind. I make sure to grab my writer early on and drag them into the plot kicking and screaming, because they don't owe me jack squat. So in some ways that was the best piece of feedback I ever got, even though it nearly broke my spirit.
WS: What inspires your writing?
SK: Everything I write concerns climate change and environmental decay, because we live in a dying world and most people are doing their damndest not to notice. The sky is truly falling, and my stories are my way of standing on a soapbox and screaming about it. They're also how I process the grief and trauma I feel from living and raising kids in a world that often feels futureless. And sometimes I write optimistic, utopian, solarpunk stories because even imagining a world beyond extractive capitalism is an act of rebellion. Plus it's just nice to escape from the awfulness to somewhere better, even if those worlds can only exist in my mind.
WS: Drop any links or promos for your recent work, include your social media links.
SK: You can find links to all my stories, and pre-order links for my upcoming books will be available soon on my website:
I have a YouTube channel where I share what I'm reading and writerly updates: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_GKrR9P-1KNi0B-0MrP6pA
And on a daily basis, you can find me screaming into the void on twitter: https://twitter.com/sim_kern