It’s hard enough to write, much less get published, much less actually sell some books, much less get reviewed, much less get nominated for prestigious industry awards. Molly Tanzer has cleared all of these hurdles while keeping her professional integrity intact, largely because as a person, and as a writer/editor, borders for her are meant to be crossed, expanding her horizons and conquering new territory as she traverses any and all challenges thrust in her career path.
Among her many impressive credits, Molly is co-editor of the new flash fiction anthology Mixed-Up (read this interview with collaborator, Nick Mamatas, in my previous blog), to which I contributed a story. In addition to compilation duties, Molly provides her own unique spins on classic cocktail recipes, including my assigned subject, the Mai Tai, which I have yet to try, but trust me, it’s looming in my near future like an oasis on a barren horizon.
In this conversation, Molly reveals the strength of her conscientious convictions as both a passionate human being and an audaciously successful author:
Your social media posts are often brazenly political, and so is much of your work. Do you see this outspokenness on your own platform as a “responsibility,” artistically speaking, and do you ever fear you’ll alienate potential audiences?
At first I wanted to reply with "are they really so brazenly political?" and then I remembered the time someone blocked me after claiming they felt "compelled to remove [my] books from [their] shelf" over what they thought was me making fun of Jill Stein voters. (For the record, I wasn't; I was making fun of Gary Johnson voters.) Anyway, I'm not sure if I consider my outspokenness an artistic responsibility, I really just post things that are of interest to me on my social media, whether it's politics, nonsense, or news related to my work.
And no, I don't worry about alienating any potential audiences. I doubt anyone offended by my social media content would enjoy my novels, so, the problem tends to solve itself.
Do you detect sexism in the literary community, from fellow authors, editors, publishers, or even critics, and how dire a problem is it, in your estimation?
I decided to answer these questions today, after this came out, so... pretty dire. Women are obviously succeeding more than ever before in publishing, but I don't know a woman author/editor/agent/whatever without some awful story about being sexually harassed either physically or verbally on social or at a convention. I've certainly weathered my share of physical and verbal harassment. I'd like to think it's getting better but then a report like that comes out and I'm not so sure.
In addition to being an accomplished author and editor, you are quite the expert cocktail craftsperson. Do you drink when you write, and if so, are you basically guilty of a sedentary, stationary DUI?
I will sometimes have a cocktail while writing, but mostly I like to drink with friends or while reading/watching TV when I'm unwinding and letting my mind relax. I find my inebriated prose needs a lot more editing so it's really just laziness on my part that stays my hand reaching for the bottle when I'm composing. Better to save that cocktail as a reward for a productive day!
What are some of your influences, literary or otherwise (besides booze)?
My biggest early influence would be Roald Dahl, and his adult fiction also has had a huge impact on me, including my willingness to write about the follies of deeply awful people. Same could be said for Jane Austen, who generally treats her subjects with more compassion but subjects them to just as arch observations. P.G. Wodehouse too, and Douglas Adams. As for more modern influences, I'd say I've learned a lot from Lev Grossman, Amy Stewart, Carrie Vaughn, and Jeffrey Eugenides. In terms of "otherwise" I'd say the Blackadder TV show changed my life, as did The Draughtsman's Contract, a film by Peter Greenaway, and I find myself returning to those whenever I need a pick-me-up.
What’s next for you?
My next novel, Creatures of Will and Temper, is out this November from JJA Books, an imprint of Mariner/HMH. It's a retelling of Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray with fencing and demons, but really it's the story of two sisters, Evadne and Dorina Gray, who are very different people, but love each other very much. I am also working on editing a draft of its sort-of sequel, which is set on Long Island in the 1920s. Both are very personal projects to me, in different ways, and I'm excited to have the opportunity to put them out into the world!
MOLLY TANZER is the British Fantasy and Wonderland Book Award-nominated author of the forthcoming novel Creatures of Will and Temper, as well as Vermilion and The Pleasure Merchant. For more information about her critically-acclaimed novels and short fiction, as well as her editorial work, visit her website, mollytanzer.com, or follow her @molly_the_tanz on Twitter or @molly_tanzer on Instagram.
Molly Tanzer online:
PHOTO: MOLLY TANZER