Craig Laurance Gidney is the author of Sea Swallow Me and Other Stories and the soon to be released Bereft (publication pushed back to February.)
This short bio from his Amazon page describes his talents.
Craig Laurance Gidney writes both contemporary, young adult and genre fiction. Recipient of the 1996 Susan C. Petrey Scholarship to the Clarion West writer’s workshop, Gidney has published works in the fantasy/science fiction, gay and young adult categories.
These works include “A Bird of Ice,” (from the anthology So Fey: Queer Fairy Fiction (Lethe Press)) which was on the short list for the 2008 Gaylactic Spectrum Award; “The Safety of Thorns,” which received special notice by editor Ellen Datlow in her 2006 Year’s Best Fantasy Horror summary; “Mauve’s Quilt” (from the anthology the young adult fantasy anthology Magic in the Mirrorstone (Wizards of the Coast)); and “Bereft,” included in the anthology From Where We Sit: Black Writers Write Black Youth (Tiny Satchel Press).
Gidney’s first collection, Sea, Swallow Me and Other Stories was nominated for the 2009 Lambda Literary Award in the Science. Fiction/Fantasy and Horror category.
And, here’s a chance to begin to know him personally!
Where did you grow up?
I am a native of Washington, DC.
Do you have any pets?
One tuxedo kitty, Cassie. She watched me write the book from her various perches.
What do you enjoy watching on television?
I do. I watch American Horror Story, some trash TV, and cartoons—particularly Simpsons, and Bob’s Burgers.
Meat or vegetables?
Both. I can’t quit meat!
Are there any books that stand out in your memory from your childhood?
The Secret Garden, A Wrinkle In Time, Bridge to Terabithia, the novels of Virginia Hamilton. Each of them opened my mind in a new way, and kindled my imagination.
What book(s) are you in the middle of reading right now?
The Devil In Silver, by Victor LaValle–a thriller about the mental health industry.
It seems that you are a short story/short fiction writer. What challenges you most in writing these?
The most challenging thing about being a short fiction writer is to make every word and image count. You have to create a world, an atmosphere and character in a limited amount of time. I love short fiction that has the density of a novel, but is brief. I often find that many of ‘failed’ short fiction is often the first chapter of a novel.
What drew you to write young adult fiction?
I’ve always read YA—they are kind of like my ‘popcorn’ books. I also think that YA books deal with pretty heavy and topical subjects. It’s an interesting audience to write for, as well.
Could you speak to the need for queer young adult literature written by authors of color?
I think that young adults—ages 13-18—need to see representations of themselves in fiction. I know that reading queer literature when I was young was a life altering event. And reading books by authors of color was the same. I was a very lonely teenager, with a deep dark secret. Reading Samuel Delany or James Baldwin helped me; they made me realize that I wasn’t alone.
In one of your interviews, you mentioned that your stories all begin with an image. What image inspired Bereft?
The image of a white mask over a black face inspired me. It’s the cover of a book by Franz Fanon—Black Skin, White Masks. My older brother had the book and I remember being spooked by it. When I sat down to write about Rafael Fannen, that image came to mind. A motif of masks runs throughout the book.
What is Bereft about?
It’s the story of a boy who wins a scholarship to a prestigious religious school. He must deal with the culture shock—he’s from a different class and neighborhood than the other kids, He’s also learning about himself and his sexuality. In addition, his life at home is less than stable. The book is written in a third person limited style—you get to see and hear and feel everything Rafe feels.
Is there a teacher, coach or librarian you’d love to have read Bereft? Why?
I would love my writing teachers to read Bereft—it would show them how much I’ve learned from them. I had to use various techniques to write the book, and I have them to thank for showing me how to construct a sustained work.
When did you know you were meant to be a writer?
Frankly, I was good at nothing else. I was always creating characters and stories in my head, and writing them down just seemed like a natural extension of that.
Did you make a resolution for 2013?
To finish at least one of the novels that are brewing in my brain!
Craig, thanks so much for the interview and I wish you much success!