Today I’m happy to interview C. Stuart Hardwick, the science fiction author and witty coeditor of the recently released fantasy collection, Tides Of Impossibility. (I’ve been writing about this collection lately because I am thrilled to be experimenting with this new genre and to be included in this diverse anthology.) C. Stuart Hardwick is an L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future award winner who combines Golden Age optimism, adventure, and fun, combined with modern social themes. A southerner from South Dakota, he now lives in Texas with his family and dogs, and has been known to wear a cape.
So, what elements contribute to a great fantasy story?
The best stories are about interesting people in interesting circumstances changing in interesting ways. That’s what we tried to put into Tides. Even when the “people” are witches or fantastic creatures, you still look for recognizably human motivation and growth.
One of the things that drew me to scifi was how readily it skirts reality to act as a lens through which to view ourselves. Fantasy can fly further afield, as it were, and this can give the author even more editorial leverage, but storytelling isn’t just social commentary. Great stories can be heart rending, hilarious, or just plain fun, but what makes us care about them, I think, are characters, relationships, and struggle.
Who are your top three favorite fantasy writers?
I loved the Harry Potter books, and Tim Powers’s On Stranger Tides is one of my all-time favorites. Whether you loved or hated the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie, the book (on which it was only loosely based) is far better. And to that list I’ll add my friend Randy Henderson, who’s debut, Finn Fancy Necromancy is just plain fun.
What was the experience of coediting Tides of Impossibility like for you? What was the biggest challenge posed by the project?
The biggest challenge, really the only challenge, was finding enough time. The hardest part of editing an anthology is selecting the stories. Kyle was very organized and all the authors we selected were responsive and accommodating, so it was a real pleasure to put together.
Any reader can take something from a good story, but some people think, “Fantasy isn’t my genre.” What can the reader who is less familiar with fantasy fiction expect from this anthology?
I call that the Tolkien effect. So many people loved Tolkien and so many set out to imitate him, that the band of oddball adventures making plans over tankards of ale has become as hackneyed as the line “It was a dark and stormy night.” Well rest assured, modern fantasy isn’t just recycled Tolkien, D&D campaigns, and pixie dust. The Tides anthology offers a diversity of tales, from medieval to surreal, lighthearted to positively dystopian.
It’s a great collection and I’m honored to be a part of it. Thanks for discussing your experience with it. What other projects do you, as a writer and editor, have in the works for 2015?
Happy to discuss it!
I’m drafting a novel that’s a sort of City of Ember meets The Hunger Games, which I hope to have ready to market this summer. In the meantime, check out Galaxy’s Edge magazine, issue 14., where my story appears along with those of Robert A. Heinlein, Larry Niven, Nancy Kress, David Brin, and Alan Dean Foster, among others. Galaxy’s Edge is edited by the inestimable Mike Resnick and filled with scifi and unique and quirky fantasy far afield of the traditional fae and dragon fare. My story, “Luck of the Chieftain’s Arrow,” is a good example, about an elemental spirit that learns about love and loss as the copper it’s trapped in is passed down through human history.
I’ll be sure to check that out. Thanks again.
Tides of Impossibility will be for sale at Comicpalooza in Houston (5/22-5/25) and is available now from Amazon.com.