Charlie Jane Anders is the author of All the Birds in the Sky, editor in chief of io9.com and organizer of the Writers With Drinks reading series. Her stories have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Tor.com, Lightspeed, Tin House, ZYZZYVA, and several anthologies. Her novelette Six Months, Three Days won a Hugo award.
COG: As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I totally wanted to be an actor, but tragically I was terrible at it. Just the worst. I could not get into character or do method acting or do the other thing that's not method acting, I had no acting talent whatsoever. It was tragic.
COG: How did you become you instead?
I decided I wanted to become a writer so I could make up adventures and dramas in my head instead of having to act out someone else's stories.
COG: Fave lesser-known hero (personal or fictional)?
Off the top of my head, I'm going to go with Ms. Tree, who's a hard-boiled detective character from the comics of the same name by Max Allan Collins and Terry Beatty. She's amazingly violent and has almost no self control, but she's also super-smart and always gets to the bottom of every case. She's sort of a weird 1940s-1950s throwback, but she's also a great badass female character.
COG: What’s the most enjoyable aspect of your work; the least?
The most fun is probably when you are on a roll and ideas are just pouring out and you're making up the craziest nonsense you can possibly come up with. It doesn't happen nearly often enough, but when it does, it can be a huge rush. The worst is when you have to go back later and make sense of those cool ideas, and you're spending hours and hours staring at a computer screen trying to edit the stuff that all made sense when you were putting it down.
COG: If you were a hybrid, what would your two halves be?
Wow, that's a tough one – I guess I'm sort of a superstitious rationalist. So I'd be half uber-skeptic and half wacky New Ager, sort of.
COG: Describe a teacher, student or colleague you hated (or hate, you big meanie); why?
I got bullied pretty badly when I was younger, especially in middle school – some of that comes across pretty clearly in my novel All the Birds in the Sky, I guess. And there were one or two bullies who were especially heinous and awfuI. I wrote a whole essay about how the anime TV show that was called Star Blazers in the United States saved my life back then.
COG: In desktop publishing, a character tag is embedded code defining the style of a word or phrase. But in the literary lexicon, “character tags” refer to fictional characters’ habits, catch phrases or other distinguishing marks: Yoda’s syntax. Hello Kitty’s bow. Clint Eastwood’s rugged squint. What’s your character tag?
I'm guessing at this point it would be my bright pink hair. With all the touring and book appearances I've been doing lately, I've been barely awake half the time -- so it's good that my hair has a personality even when I don't.
COG: What’s the last thing that made you laugh, cry or cuss?
I have been catching up on Parks and Recreation. It's screamingly funny and it reminds me of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, which is the highest praise I can give.
COG: Describe your ideal road trip.
Me, a magical talking elk and a robot comedian traveling around the world on a flying train, with a trolley that comes past every once in a while dispensing those weird British flavored crisps. .
COG: What problem, large or small, are you hell-bent on solving.
Right now, I'd just like to figure out the ending of this story that mostly came to me in one exhilarating marathon writing session... followed by an excruciating year of trying to figure out how to make it all work.