A.C. Wise is an award winning writer of fiction as well as a regular contributor to The Book Smugglers where she showcase diverse authors. She was kind enough to share a little time with Paper Phoenix Ink.

You have done a lot of short story works  and recently a novella with Catfish Lullaby ,  do you prefer the shorter fiction or do you plan to start working on a novel sometime?

I really enjoyed my first foray into longer fiction with Catfish Lullaby, and I actually do have a completed novel which is currently making the rounds, looking for a good home. That said, I still love short fiction, and even as I do move into working in longer formats, I imagine I’ll always have various short fiction projects on the go.

You do work as Editor, reviewer and write your own  original material, which do you find the most fulfilling and do you have any time management techniques that let you keep up with all the work?

I find writing, editing, and reviewing all satisfying in completely different ways. Even though I’m no longer actively editing, I learned a lot in my time working on Unlikely Story. It gave me the opportunity to work with so many amazing authors, and even though Unlikely Story isn’t publishing new issues anymore, I’m proud of everything we published over the years. I hope the stories we published will continue to find new life as reprints, translations, and as part of authors’ collections.

As for reviewing, it allows me to shout about work that I love, and hopefully it helps others discover new-to-them works. I really enjoy  recommending short fiction in particular, as there aren’t as many venues providing short fiction reviews, though there are more than there used to be, which is really wonderful to see.

In terms of time management, I don’t have any special techniques. I do have a long train commute to and from my day job though, which helps!

I saw that you have a regular columns about women and non-binary authors to check out at the book smugglers, could you provide us with a couple of your all-time favorites  we should start out with?

Picking all time favorites is hard, so I’ll cheat and throw out some recent favorites instead! 

Gamechanger by L.X. Beckett, and Pet by Akwaeke Emezi are two books that I read and loved within the last few months, and both are highlighted in my November/December 2019 Non-Binary Authors to Read column. Going back a bit further, I also adored An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon, which I reviewed in my June 2018 Non-Binary Authors to Read column. It’s not an easy read, given the brutal subject matter, but it is gorgeous and powerful.

Another favorite read from this year is The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling, which I reviewed in my August/September 2019 Women to Read column. An older title featured in that same column, which I read earlier this year and adored is The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. The first is a tense, claustrophobic sci-fi horror about an isolated caver relying on her handler to keep her alive; the second is a moody, gothic ghost story set in a decaying English manor house. For all their seeming dissimilarities, they have a lot in common – isolation, unreliable characters, manipulation, and ghosts. Plus they’re both fantastic reads!

You are the editor of  Unlikely Story, is it true that it started out as just whole anthology about bugs? How do you decide the other topics that you put out journals about?

Unlikely Story did indeed start out as The Journal of Unlikely Entomology, an online magazine which published roughly three regular issues per year focused entirely on speculative fiction about bugs. As we started to expand our scope, we did mash-ups, like a Valentine’s Day issue of romantic/Valentine’s/loved-themed bug stories. After a while, we decided bugs might be too narrow a focus, even combining them with other themes, and we changed the overarching name of the publication to Unlikely Story, with subheadings, such as Unlikely Story Presents: The Journal of Unlikely Architecture. In terms of picking themes, my co-editor Bernie Mojzes and I basically went back and forth tossing out ideas for topics that interested us and that we thought would make for good stories until we settled on a theme we both liked for a given issue.

Where would you like to see yourself and your writing in five years?

I would love to see my novel out in the world by then, maybe more than one, if I’m really lucky. Hopefully I will still be regularly publishing short fiction and reviews at that time as well. I’d love to do another short fiction collection, and maybe even another novella.

If I’m dreaming really big, I would love to see something I’ve written adapted for the TV or movie screen, but that’s really pie-in-the-sky, long-term dreaming, and I’m certainly not holding my breath for it to happen.

What is your next project and where can people find out more information about your work?

I have a few short stories slated to come out in various anthologies in 2020, and I’m starting off the year with a queer, sexy mermaid story, which should be available from GlitterShip in January.  More about me and my work can be found at www.acwise.net, where I also post reviews and interviews with other authors.

Final four questions –we ask everybody

Q) When the zombies take over the world where will you be?

Probably cowering somewhere. I’d be useless in a zombie apocalypse. If the apocalypse comes in the form of a robot uprising though, I’m set. I tend to cause weird failures in computers just by interacting with them. 

Q ) How do you identify Jedi, lesbian,   Ninja, gay, vampire, bisexual, were-wolf, transgender,  pirate, asexual,  fairy, aromantic, sith, intersex,  Spartan, non-binary, wizard, genderfluid,  time lord , queer,  …?  ?

I’d love to say Jedi, but I don’t think I have enough discipline. Maybe a Time Lord, but one like the Doctor who runs away from all the bureaucracy and rules and largely figured things out as they go along.

Q) What piece of art, be it in the form of music, a book, a film or picture, do you think people must experience before they die?

Picking just one thing is really not my strength. Besides, art, music, books, etc. are so personal. I’d say, so seek out art in whatever form appeals to you. Drink in as much as you can, wherever you can. It doesn’t matter what it is, whether it’s considered a “must-see masterpiece”, or whether you’re the only one who loves it. If it speaks to you, that’s the most important thing.

Q) Give one fact that most people would not believe about you?

Hmm. I don’t know if it’s unbelievable or not, but a thing most people probably don’t know about me, and might not expect given my general lack of athleticism, is that I have a (non-Olympic) gold medal for rowing.

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