Holly Schofield travels through time at the rate of one second per second, oscillating between the alternate realities of city and country life. Her short stories have appeared in Analog, Lightspeed, Escape Pod, and many other publications throughout the world. Find her at hollyschofield.wordpress.com.
How did you become a writer?
I waited until I retired in 2012 (don’t be me!). At that time, I began to realize that writing SFF (science fiction and fantasy) short stories (I’m not a novel writer) involved a very large amount of very small techniques. I attempted to piece together a toolbox of craft skills, but I only had the vaguest idea of what those techniques were and how to apply them. So, after some successes and a lot of failures, I applied to the six-week Odyssey workshop and was lucky enough to be accepted–that led to faster progress up the maze-like slope that is a writing career.
What are the benefits of writing for anthologies?
For me, it usually starts with the anthology theme–it has to be something that intrigues me or challenges me. So, in essence, the submission call serves as a writing prompt. Even better, given how my brain works, it comes with a built-in deadline.
What is one piece of advice you would give to a young writer?
Learn to find joy in the revision process. That gush of the first draft is always a thrill, but the real pleasure can be in polishing and polishing and polishing until the story gets closer to that impossible goal of perfection and says what you want it to say.
How did you become interested in writing about climate change?
I’d been experimenting for a few years, writing in various SFF subgenres as well as doing mashups. I knew that I was interested in writing about feminism and marginalization, and about the natural environment, choosing wilderness settings whenever possible. When I challenged myself to write a story for a clown-themed anthology called Coulrophobia (I despise clowns!) in 2015, I ended up writing about feral clowns in Canada’s Rocky Mountains (why, yes, I do write humor!). Although this story has its funny moments, it turned into a somewhat wistful tale that’s partly a lament and partly a clarion call for the protection of endangered species. And that felt really good to get down on paper. I knew then I was going to make the climate crisis a strong focus in my work.
How intentional is your work in choosing specific regions of Canada to write about?
Although I do write stories with settings on exoplanets and spacecraft, a lot of my stories tend to take place in Canada. The SFF I read the first few decades of my life (all that was available at the public library) almost exclusively featured American settings and confident extroverted able-bodied white American males of privilege. That…gets tedious after a while. Like many writers these days, I want to go beyond those tropes and viewpoints, and examine other types of characters in other settings and cultures. And Canada is what I know best.
What is Eco-Fiction and Climate-fiction?
Eco-fiction has the setting as a character; the natural world is part of the story. Just as a story is not science fiction if the science element can be removed and leave the plot intact, the equivalent is true for eco-fiction: if it can take place in a bland artificial setting, it has not met the definition.
Climate fiction takes that one step further and is an examination of how humans affect the world around them–the good, bad, and ugly of it all.
Do you think cli-fi will help spread awareness and further people’s interest in the climate crisis?
I think humanity has a very difficult task ahead, to pull back from the brink, and fiction can instill the radical optimism that is the starting point. That’s one of the reasons I volunteered to be a fiction co-editor at Solarpunk Magazine.
How has writing about climate change affected what you already know about the climate crisis?
In order to verify the science in a story, I do intensive research. I have learned a lot about the ongoing devastation of intertidal life, the severe impact of extremely intense forest fires, and a host of other topics that are both interesting and alarming.
How can writing about the climate be used to help the climate?
The slow-pocalypse of the climate crisis is the worst kind of wicked problem: difficult to track, difficult to resolve, difficult to even think about. While SFF is not usually intended to be predictive, cli-fi can show us plausible techniques, new approaches to contemplate, and perhaps new narratives to aim towards. The future is all we have.
Interviewed by Evan Mardell
Edited by Hope Latta
The Canadian Writers’ Exhibition
Showcasing Canadian writers from coast to coast