Much of the conversation around women, or rather the lack of women in stories and storytelling, centers around having people in place to make it happen. The team at Silence in the Library is choosing to create the reality they want in speculative fiction, and FANgirl Blog is choosing to highlight some of them.
FANgirl Blog: Welcome, Jordan Frederick
Jordan: Hello! It’s awfully nice of you to interview me. A little about myself – I’m a teacher living in North Carolina who’s been writing her whole life. “As Far as Death…” is my first piece of published work (aside from my university thesis), and it’s all very exciting!
FGB: What speculative fiction stories were your inspirations?
JF: I’m an obsessive reader, so it’s difficult to pick out which specific stories have inspired me. I believe I’ve been affected by everything I’ve read, in good ways and bad, but I suppose I’m particularly inspired by the writings of Neil Gaiman who also ventures pretty far into the realm of the supernatural. I should probably mention Markus Zusak, as well: I first read The Book Thief in college and I’ve had the opportunity to teach it since, and the idea of Death as a narrator and central figure was really appealing to me.
FGB: What led you to the Athena’s Daughters 2 project?
JF: I am proud to be friends with a few of the writers and editors from the original Athena’s Daughters. When I heard that they were putting out a second anthology, I knew that this was the opportunity I had been waiting for. It’s been ages since I’ve written any original fiction, and Athena’s Daughters 2 was the perfect impetus to push me back into it. I’m so glad that it did!
FGB: You are a teacher. Do you believe that what we teach is informative to the next generation? Do you try to bring more diversity, or points of view, to your curriculum?
JF: Oh goodness, yes! It’s one of the most daunting things about being a teacher, knowing that what you present in the classroom, how you present yourself, makes such a difference in the lives of your students. I can’t speak for my kids, but I know that I was very much influenced by my high school teachers who were there for me and supportive of me during what was a difficult period of my life. As for diversity, I’ve definitely become more aware of the lack thereof in our curriculum material since I started teaching, and I do try to work as much awareness of diverse authors and characters into our lessons. Unfortunately, teaching British Literature doesn’t afford many opportunities – the novels we focus on are almost exclusively written by dead white men. However, there are chances to work in the writings of authors of all sorts of cultural backgrounds from across the British Isles in between units!
FGB: Why is a project like Athena’s Daughters 2, which provides opportunities for new authors to be published, important?
JF: There are so many amazing writers out there in the world who have yet to be discovered and who, like me, are too afraid or self-conscious to put themselves and their writing “out there.” It’s projects like this that give up-and-coming writers a chance to both display and improve their work, and for me, that’s been an incredible thing.
FGB: The summary of your story in Athena’s Daughters certainly caught my eye.
My story is about an “angel of death” character who is sent to Earth to collect the souls of humans; this particular story is the account of the angel collecting the soul of an old, Irish immigrant woman.
Why the angel of death and an old Irish immigrant?
JF: As I mentioned before, I really was enamoured of the idea of Death personified in Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief and I’ve wanted to write a narrator Death for a while. Writing this story also came a few weeks after losing my grandmother which was a blow to my family. We had to watch her succumb to a combination of dementia, diabetes, and heart disease – suffice it to say, it wasn’t the best period of my life, but writing about it in the form of this story (without giving anything more away) was immensely cathartic. As for the old Irish immigrant, my grandmother’s family came over from Ireland before she was born, and I love that country very much. It just made sense for me to make Louise Murray Irish.
FGB: Thanks, Jordan, for taking the time out of your busy schedule. Where can people find you?
JF: Thank you for interviewing me! Folks can find me on Livejournal as dozmuffinxc and on Tumblr under the same handle. On Twitter, I’m @extermiteach. Anyone who’s interested in finding out more about what I’m doing in the classroom and possibly supporting my students can check out my Donors Choose page at http://www.donorschoose.org/missfredenglish.
Please do check out the Athena’s Daughters Kickstarter – $7 will get you an eBook and a ton of extras, and we have paperbooks and art prints and other things specially available. It runs until midnight on Thursday, January 15.
Tricia Barr’s novel, Wynde, won the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Ebook. She was also part of Silence in the Library’s successful all-female creator science fiction and fantasy anthology Athena’s Daughters, which is available now. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to TriciaBarr.com.
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