Author K. Ceres Wright joins us for the final Black Sci-Fi Book Club discussion of 2017 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 26 on Twitter! We recently caught up with her to talk about her writing journey, her reading habits and how to reach your dreams. (Click here to read the story we’ll be discussing and use the hashtag #blackscifibookclub to add your thoughts!)
Midwest BSFA: Tell us about yourself.
Wright: I’m a Christian, mother, and writer/editor with self-diagnosed ADD. I love Star Trek, cyberpunk, reading, writing and learning new things.
Midwest BSFA: How did you get into writing?
Wright: I once worked at an insurance company that was slowly going bankrupt, and they were laying off people every week. No one really knew if they were going to be the next one fired, so that engendered a tense atmosphere. Everyone was stressed out, including me. To help reduce my stress, I began writing. I wrote a short story about the people in my group, the Agency Perpetuation Program. I changed it to the Planet Perpetuation Program, where newly terraformed planets would apply for loans from banks on Earth and loan officers would visit the planet to ascertain their credit worthiness. It was just a bit of silliness to channel the stress, as I didn’t know much about character development back then. I later took a creative writing course to improve my nascent skills.
After I returned to work after my second child, I discovered Star Trek role-playing games (RPGs) online, and began writing interactive stories with other writers. That practice improved my skills. One day, I came across a copy of William Gibson’s Neuromancer and absolutely fell in love with the story. I wrote my own cyberpunk story and posted it online for comment. People seemed to like it, so I decided I wanted to write a book. I applied to genre-based creative writing programs, and got accepted at Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction program. My thesis was my book, Cog.
Midwest BSFA: How did you come up with the idea for the story we’re reading for Black Sci-Fi Book Club?
Wright: I was on my menstrual cycle and had to grab a handful of tampons on my way to work and yelled out, “Fist full of tampons!” Then I wondered what if it equaled a fist full of dollars, and what denomination the various tampon sizes would be. So I set my story in a dystopic society where women had to go to menstrual clinics and real tampons were a scarce commodity. I also played with stereotypes of men and women in a tongue-in-cheek way.
Midwest BSFA: What do you do when you aren’t writing?
Wright: I’m either watching television, reading, hanging out with friends or getting stuck in traffic. Rush hour in the DMV (DC/Maryland/Virginia) is a nightmare.
Midwest BSFA: What is your writing process?
Wright: I’ll form an idea in my head from research on a particular topic or by looking at images. I’m a visual person so I really like Pinterest. They have a lot of science fiction and fantasy images, whether they be of cities, fashion or characters. I’m a pantser, so I write my stories organically. If I try to plan out a story with a detailed outline, I get stuck but I do need a general idea of the plot before I start.
Midwest BSFA: What would you do if you weren’t a writer?
Wright: I have many interests. I used to be a credit analyst, then a research assistant, then an editor, now a writer/editor. If I had the time and money, I would be many things for a little while: actress, archaeologist, carpenter, locksmith, mechanic, photographer, professor, etc. There are so many fields to study!
Midwest BSFA: Were you a voracious reader when you were growing up?
Wright: Yes, I read a lot, especially science fiction and comic books. Some of my favorites were The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet and the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series, then I grew into the Robot series by Isaac Asimov and The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. I didn’t read Neuromancer until I was in my 40s – about 20 years after it was first published – but I was enthralled with the cyberpunk world, so that’s what I began writing in earnest.
Midwest BSFA: Do you think you have to have that kind of enthusiasm as an adult to be a writer?
Wright: Definitely. Your reading tastes will change over time, as they should. The best writers will have a broad knowledge of many fields and bring those elements to their writing. Right now, I find myself reading more nonfiction than fiction, on a variety of subjects, archaeology, economics and politics, for example.
Midwest BSFA: What projects do you have coming up next year?
Wright: I am working on a series of short stories leading up to a novel that I’m writing with Les Brown, a fellow writer on past Trek RPGs. I was also invited to contribute to a hip-hop and temporality anthology, and I will be the featured Author of the Month for the 2018 Uniontown Public Library Author Series in October, which is Black Speculative Fiction Month!
Midwest BSFA: Anything else you want to tell our readers?
Wright: Go for it! Whatever your dream is, work toward it. If you’re working in a different field, do some volunteer work in the field you want and learn how to do it. If you need a degree, apply for scholarships and grants. Read, read, read about your desired field and contact those in the field for advice.
If you’re an introvert and hate public speaking, I highly recommend joining a local Toastmasters (go to Toastmasters.org to find a club near you). It really helps with being able to give speeches as well as being able to handle impromptu speaking.
If you want to write, I would suggest writing in an RPG to improve your skills. There are many RPGs that will fit whatever genre tastes you have; you can write about space ships, werewolves, vampires, witches, mages, assassins…the list is endless. Just go online and search. If you don’t have home access to the Internet, go to the library. If you’re not near a library, ask local church congregations or community centers if they have continuing education programs that are Internet based.
Keep searching for ways to achieve your dreams. Don’t give up!
For more information about Wright and her work, visit http://kcereswright.com.