Edition 8: Interview with Cat Rambo
Interview by Sophie Yorkston
Who were your greatest female role models?
There’s a lot of them. Some of the more influential have been my grandmother, who wrote YA novels under the name H.D. Francis, a number of 19th century suffragettes such as Matilda Joslyn Gage and Victoria Woodhull, and the writer Colette.
What do you feel is your greatest achievement as a writer to date?
Finishing a novel that’s currently being looked at by my agent.
What are the challenges female speculative fiction writers face in today’s publishing environment?
I think one of the problems we run into is that many of the issues Joanna Russ talked about in How to Suppress Women’s Writing are very active but if we try to address them, we’re told we’re living in a world where feminism is no longer necessary. The constant grind wears you down after a while.
What do you think sets women writers apart?
I think sometimes they’re better equipped to address issues of power than writers who are less questioning of such issues. I’d rather not see them set apart, though – this morning I found news that wikipedia has irritated people by separating American novelists out into”American novelists” and “American female Novelists.” It’d be nice to be able to just be a novelist.
You’ve been a technical writer, teacher and editor. How has that improved your own craft? With your expertise, what would be the best advice you give to other writers starting out?
Absolutely—many of the nonfiction skills transfer to fiction. In either, you want sentences that are working efficiently and clearly. The best advice I could give to a newer writer is that butt in chair matters much more than anything else. The best way to be a writer is to write.
You’ve been engaged recently in discussions about the imbalance of women writers in publications. What do you think is the most interesting outcome of that discussion? What do you think readers and publishers can do to change that?
Hopefully, the most interesting outcome would be that the imbalance becomes less of one. Unfortunately sometimes it just seems like an exercise in listening to excuses. Some magazines have made a real effort to balance things more; others not so much, and when you look at those, you can see how much difference just a little effort makes.
Your work has been published in some very well recognized publications: Asimov, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, to name a few. Does it still give you a thrill? And what is it that you really enjoy about speculative fiction?
Yes! It is still thrilling to me that people like to read my stories, beyond any question. And I love speculative fiction because it can talk about what it means to be human in so many, many, interesting and entertaining ways.