Aug 25 2016
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.
J.E. Frederick is an as yet unpublished writer, looking forward to seeing his first published story which is due to appear in the Clash of the Titles anthology. In his story, “Making the Grade,” a vanguard of reptilian aliens enslave Earth, slaughtering its men wholesale. forcing Earth’s women to participate in gladiatorial fights to the death. J. E. Fredrick shared with me his thoughts on his writing, the anthology and the excited anticipation at becoming a published author.
So, when did you know you wanted to become a writer? How long have you been at it?
I guess it depends on your definition of a writer. I write and have, since I was young. I did a 6 month high school co-op, writing a weekly column for a newspaper. I went to college for journalism but dropped out. I even stopped writing nearly fifteen years because I didn’t believe in myself. Currently, my writing is pretty non-existent because of an ongoing illness, but I decided that won’t give it it up again! It took me a long time to figure out, but I know it’s too ingrained in me to stop. “Making the Grade” will be my first published story, but I write, and I guess, I’ve always been a writer.
Why Speculative Fiction?
I just write what comes to me. I have no genre in mind when I write but it tends to fall into the SF categories, as well as action-adventure. I guess the brain creates what the heart loves.
So, who’s your favorite writer?
There are many…far too many, but without a doubt though, my all time favorite is Stephen King.
How did you find out about the anthology, Clash of the Titles?
I was joining a few new Facebook groups and stumbled onto Gil’s group. He sent me a message when he approved me to join and the rest just happened.
What made you want to submit to it? Would you do it again?
Fear I think. I was already sick when this came about and I think some part of me worried that if I didn’t try, there might not be a horse to get back on to when I can finally get better.
How did you come up with your story? What made you choose that title?
They went hand in hand. I wrote down a bunch of the titles Gil had listed and sat and stared at them. As I stared at Making the Grade, the bare bones of the story formed in my mind and I knew that was the one.
How is your story for the anthology the same and/or different from your other works?
This was the first time I have written a story without any male characters (wait…do the aliens count?). I had concerns there wouldn’t be an authentic female voice. Once I stopped trying to capture that voice and instead wrote a person trapped in an unthinkable situation, it felt right and I hope she feels true to everyone!
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 thought it was awesome! It may have been a bit of a pain for Gil though. My illness often left me unreachable for a time or unable to work on the story, even when he could reach me. To Gil’s credit as a person though, he stuck with me, worked around my limitations and gave me the time I needed to get the revisions back to him. He believed in my story and in me, when I had doubts that I couldn’t deal with the workload. Without his encouragement and help, I wouldn’t be doing this interview today.
What do you think is the most important thing that readers know about Clash of the Titles?
So many different voices and so many unique stories will provide the reader with a book they can’t put down. Besides, check out our headliners. Who wouldn’t want to read a book that includes them!
It’s said that the editor will make an anthology every year. Even if the “I pick the titles, you write the story” concept isn’t used again, would you work with the editor again? Why or why not?
I would work with Gil again and again, if he would have me!
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?
Two words — David Gerrold! If that’s not enough, I’ll see those two words and raise you a Mike Resnick. Still not enough? Well that’s just silly talk, but I’ll reiterate what I said earlier. So many different voices and an equal number of unique stories, all created through a unique process that brought out the best in all of us. That’s a book I want to read!
Would you recommend the process to other writers; how did you find working with this editor to be compared to others?
I don’t have anything to compare it to really, but I couldn’t have asked for a better experience for my first time. Gil has great ideas and an ability to help you with your story, without altering its path. He also has the ability to step back and let you run with it, when that’s the best thing to do. Absolutely I recommend this process, and working with Gil in general.
What excites you most about the process, and the anthology in general?
Getting to read it for one! From a selfish standpoint, and I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t feel this way but my first ever published story? I’m over the moon!
Did your story grow in ways you didn’t expect due to the workshop nature of the process? How?
I think my growth was in working with an editor for the first time. Until you’ve experienced that first hand, there will always be the tendency to believe you are the only one who knows best about your story. once you’ve worked with an editor, you finally see how invaluable that unbiased set of eyes can be. A good editor helps you trim the fat and figure out which are your best darlings to kill. It was exactly the experience I needed.
Please describe your favorite experience in working with Clash of the Titles.
Being accepted to the anthology! How can that NOT be number one. A close second though was working with Gil. My story is all the better for it. It probably sounds like I’m trying to blow smoke up his butt, but I’m already in the anthology so there’s no need. I believe in this anthology, the work Gil did and the work the writers did. This thing is going to blow the roof off when it publishes!
What other projects are you working on, besides Clash of the Titles.
At the moment? Not a thing. My brain hasn’t stopped though, and every good story idea that rolls through gets written down on a scrap of paper. Once I can get healthy, watch out!
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