Refossileer Spotlight, Day 24 — Deborah Walker

Deborah Walker welcomes us on a visit to a quaint coastal town with “The Sea Is In My Blood” … pick up some souvenirs, but be sure to stay safe!


This was the reason tourists came to Shipsdown. They came in bus loads, to see the infected men of the docks, to buy their strange shells and to listen to their stories. If it wasn’t for the men of the docks, there would be no tourist industry. – “The Sea Is In My Blood,” by Deborah Walker


* What inspired your piece in The Refossiling?

DW: Many of my stories are inspired by real life (I don’t make this stuff up, you know). I took inspiration for ‘The Sea is In My Blood’ from the real life Jenny Hanivers: ray fish cut and carved and dried to resemble a fantastic creature. Apparently sailors would bring a Jenny Haniver back from their voyages and convince everyone in the village that this was a very, very ugly mermaid. Another strand to my story was zoonotic diseases contracted from animals. We had a swine flu scare here in the UK when I wrote this story, which made me think about what kind of disease we might catch from an ocean creature.

* Favorite undersea or freshwater critter and why?

DW: I use Earth animals as a riffing point for many of my aliens. My favourite is the vampire squid, a fascinating, elusive deep sea animal. My vampire squid-inspired alien can be found in ‘Pure and Without Savour’ a story published at the Chinese venue, SF Comet.

I’m also rather found of lichen and fungi. I wonder if you get them under the sea.

* Where can readers and fans find more of your work?

DW: Thank you for asking. Here’s a list of free to read stories: http://deborahwalkersbibliography.blogspot.co.uk/p/secience-fiction-alms-race-interstellar.html

* What’re you working on, what is your process/routine like?

DW: My process is odd. It involves doing a lot of research, too much research. Oh, it is so time consuming. But process is process.

I cut and paste great swathes of research from the internet into my working document. As much as 100K. Sometimes, I buy a book and read it for to give me the background for a short story. (Bit excessive) Then I read, deleting the research as I go along. As I work through the research, ideas come to me. Usually.

* Most useless advice you’ve ever seriously given or been given?

DW: Write what you know. I absolutely don’t do this in terms of subject matter. I don’t know any aliens or godchildren or prophets or monsters. Even on an emotional level, I often write about emotions are not mine.

Hey, it does work for some writers, so great. But I’ve never really understood that particular bit of advice.

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