Jun 21 2016

Interview with Keith P. Graham

Published by at 1:23 pm under Interview,Uncategorized

Part of a series of interviews with the writers for the upcoming speculative fiction anthology, Clash of the Titles. the anthology is the brain child of Glen Bavel, who conceived of an endearing conceit: he provides a list of titles and the members of his Facebook workshop, Writing the Short (SF) Story, use it as a starting point for a short speculative fiction story.

Keith Graham2

Keith P. Grahm first started writing when he was a teenager, and even boasts rejection letters from Ed Furman at F&SF in 1968. But, then, like so many of us, Keith got married, and started a day job. Family and responsibilities kept Keith away from the pen for thirty-five years. Not only hadn’t he written anything, he had read very little Science Fiction in that time, finding it, in his words, “mostly lousy.” Then in the late 1990’s, Keith picked up a copy of John Shirley’s Eclipse from a used book store, and everything changed. He was a programmer and a hacker in real life at the time, a the themes spoke to him. Suddenly, Keith P. Grahm became a Cyberpunk. He started writing again.

He sold my first story to J Erwine at SamsDotPublishing. He has since sold about fifty stories to most of the online magazines.

Keith P. Grahm’s latest story, “Into Her Own,” is featured in the upcoming anthology, Clash of the Titles. I, recently, had an opportunity to talk with Keith about Cyberpunk, the future, his writings, and the upcoming anthology.


So, why Speculative Fiction?

SpecFic is what I read and know best. I also read Hard-Boiled detective from the 1930s and 40s, but writing that is harder for me. I have also published nonfiction programming articles.

Who’s your favorite writer?

One word: Ray Bradbury. I read and reread Golden age SF by Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke and others. I keep William Gibson’s complete audio works on tape in my car. I also eagerly await Neal Stephenson’s next book.

How did you find out about the anthology, Clash of the Titles?

Shaun Lawton at Freezine turned me on to it.

What made you want to submit to it?

It seemed like Gil was dedicated to the idea. His vision and enthusiasm made it hard not to join in.

How did you come up with your story? What made you choose that title?

I have a list of plot outlines that I want to write when I get the chance. One of the titles just screamed at me. It was a better title for the story idea than I could have come up with, so I grabbed it and wrote the story.

Is your story for the anthology similar to your other stories? How so?

The character comes from a series of stories where I use an android to help analyze the nature of the human soul. It is different because it is the first story where I extensively use explicit sex.

A lot has been said about the workshop process wherein the editor takes a video meeting with the writers to help offer instant feedback and share the editing process along the way. How did you find this process; what are your feelings about it?

I am a programmer and a technical boy, but I do not own a device with a camera for video. My tech is found on the side of the road and refurbished. My phone flips. I do not video chat.

What do you think is the most important thing that readers know about Clash of the Titles?

That those involved have passion for what they are doing and it is reflected in the quality of the process and the product.

It’s said that the editor will make an anthology every year. Even if the “I pick the titles, you write the story” conceit isn’t used again, would you work with the editor again? Why or why not?

Gil is the best. Whatever he does will be outstanding. I will send him whatever he wants.

What do you think is the most important thing for booksellers, libraries and other outlets to know about Clash of the Titles that they don’t know?

I would like them to know that Gil put his own blood into every story and made it the best it can be. I can see the anthology walking away with some awards at the next Worldcon.

Would you recommend the process to other writers; how did you find working with this editor to be compared to others?

Most editors have to read 500 stories a month, at least. They reject each story based on the first sentence or paragraph – they have no choice. Because of the way this collection was developed, the writers received feedback from the first sentence up until they typed “the end”. It made better writers out of all of us, and the stories reflect this.

What excites you most about the process, and the anthology in general?

I will love sharing a TOC with the other writers in the anthology, some of them are big names in SF. I feel that my story will be read, which is what an author really wants.

Did your story grow in ways you didn’t expect due to the workshop nature of the process? How?

When a story works I feel that I am reading a story as I write it, and I am not very aware of the craft involved. This was one of those stories. I was eager to finish it so I could see how it came out.

Please describe your favorite experience in working with Clash of the Titles.

Usually I write a story and then, not knowing what else to do, submit it. Being caught up in the creative process, you don’t see the forest for the words. Working with Gil broke me out of that mode so I could see the whole story from a viewpoint outside of the writer’s narrow focus. As a result, I edited and rewrote more than I normally would have.

What other projects are you working on, besides Clash of the Titles.

When my current programming gig ends in a month or so, that will be IT for a day job. I will officially retire and live on my Social Security. My first project is to finish two novels that I started over a decade ago. I also have a dozen short stories outlined or started that I need to get to. My goal is to follow Fred Pohl’s example and write 2k words a day until I am 90, and then go to 1k words a day.

If you’d like to see more of Keith P. Graham’s writings, check out his website.

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