Campbell Interview: Karen Lord

Today we have the fifth and final interview with the finalists for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. You can read them all by clicking the Campbell Award tag. Please welcome Karen Lord, who writes about trickster spiders and is therefore extra-awesome.


1) In exactly 26 words, who is Karen Lord?

Lover of paradox finding dreams in reality and reality in dreams, freedom in rules and order in chaos and now, as a writer, play in work.

2) Tell us about the kind of fiction you write, and where we can find some of it!

I write speculative fiction, by which I mean fiction that contains elements of science fiction and or fantasy. My debut novel Redemption in Indigo is mainly fantasy. The US edition was published by Small Beer Press and the UK edition by Jo Fletcher Books/Quercus. There is also an audiobook by Recorded Books beautifully narrated by Robin Miles (also on Amazon’s, Barnes & Noble, etc.) A list of bookseller and publisher links is available in the sidebar of my website.

My second novel, The Best of All Possible Worlds, is mainly science fiction and it will be published in February 2013 by Del Rey and Jo Fletcher Books.

3) What has been the best moment of your writing career thus far?

Winning the Frank Collymore Literary Award for the second time, two years running. I’d been terrified that the first win, which was for the Redemption in Indigo manuscript, had been a fluke. Hearing my name announced again for The Best of All Possible Worlds was a real ‘this is it’ moment. This is it, this is when I call myself a writer, without excuses or equivocation.

3b) And if you’re comfortable sharing, what was the worst?

There are always challenges, and while there have been one or two bad moments, it’s when several slightly bad moments pile up in a heap that I really stumble. It’s hard to be creative in the face of many small crises happening all at once, even more so when a portion of your work consists of thinking, which can too often resemble doing nothing to the untutored observer.

4) You won’t be at Worldcon this year, which makes us sad. Give us your best, most outlandish and creative excuse for missing the convention…

Sadly, the most outlandish and creative excuse I could give is that I’d be relaxing on a beach, sipping a cocktail and watching the sun sparkling on the waves of the Caribbean Sea. It could happen so easily, and it won’t. I’ll be closed up in my office chasing deadlines and forgetting that the beach even exists, as usual.

5) As a writer, where would you like to be in ten years?

Surprising people, including myself. I’d like to keep challenging myself and improving as a result. I want to try different forms of storytelling, varying the length, the style and the medium. I hope I will always be able to keep the ‘play’ aspect of writing in whatever I do and however long I do it. I think that’s where the core of my creativity lies.

6) A review of REDEMPTION IN INDIGO mentions the presence of trickster spiders. I’m very much pro-trickster spiders! Could you tell us more about these spiders and the other magical characters in the book?

A trickster spider, yes … also a godhorse, a ladybird, a beetle and various other insects! They’re disguises for the real troublemakers. Should we call them magical? They’re hard to explain or understand, certainly, and even harder to predict. Some are playful mites, easily swatted, and others are implacable forces. They belong to that part of the world which lies beyond the ken of our five senses, and at times they like to interfere in the part that we call ‘reality.’ That’s what creates the tension, the complication and the resolution of the story.

More on my Trickster – a nancy story deserves an Anansi character, and mine turns up early in the book – drinking in a bar (why not?), fooling two minor characters (of course!), and then weaving his way lightly in and out of the story until he gets himself tangled up a bit more than he expected.