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Author Interview: Ellen Klages

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Today I am interviewing Ellen Klages, Nebula and World Fantasy Award winner, and author of a new novella from tor.com, Passing Strange.

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*Please note that this interview was originally done over Skype and was then transcribed and edit to what you are reading now. This was a spoken interview and thus does not necessarily represent the author’s prose.

DJ: Hey Ellen! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 

For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Ellen Klages: I’ve been writing science fiction and fantasy for about 20 year now. I won a Nebula for the novelette, “Basement Magic,” and a World Fantasy Award for “Wakulla Springs,” a novella collaboration with Andy Duncan. I’ve written two historical children’s books, Green Glass Sea; and White Sands, Red Menace.

DJ: What is Passing Strange about?

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Ellen: Passing Strange is set in San Francisco in 1940. It’s about the cities within the city, and six women who are all unconventional is one way or another. It’s set in the bohemian parts of the city: in the only gay women’s bar in San Francisco, and in a nightclub in Chinatown. The “hidden parts” of the city. 

It was inspired by pulps, noir, screwball comedies, and historicals, with a little bit of magic thrown in! Some people call it “genre-bending”, but I think it’s more “genre-blending”. Like a good stew — a little of this, a little of that.

DJ: What were some of your influences for Passing Strange

Ellen: I moved to San Francisco right out of college from the Midwest where the cities are not nearly as interesting. Forty years ago, in 1977, I started writing a short story about women in a gay bar during the World’s Fair in 1939/1940. I wrote about four scenes, and never did anything with it. But it’s stuck with me and I’ve always wanted to tell that story.

I came back to it a couple years ago and did a bunch of research on the city of the time and the Worlds Fair, and kept getting more and more excited. So finally, after 40 years, I wrote the whole story.  Continue reading

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