A. Katherine Black

Dreaming Up Fairy Tales with Feral Bots, fiction, Issue 51, June 2020


A. Katherine Black is an audiologist and a writer. She adores multi-colored pens, stories featuring giant and/or friendly spiders, and almost anything at 2am. She lives in Maryland with her family, their cats, and her overworked coffee machines, surrounded by very tall and occasionally judgmental trees.  Find her at flywithpigs.com or on twitter @akatherineblack.


Get to know A. Katherine Black...


When I first wake up in the morning, pre-coffee, I feel like I was born in 1895. When I catch my second wind, around 11pm, I feel like I was born in 1995. So, I’m thinking the real date must be somewhere in between.

When did you start writing?

I knew in my early 20’s that I wanted to write, but I kept setting that dream aside and focusing on other things. Something finally clicked (or maybe snapped?) when I turned 40, and that’s when I began writing in earnest. I took several writing courses, had an excellent mentorship experience with Paul Witcover, and then attended the amazing Odyssey Workshop, run by Jeanne Cavelos. Today I can’t imagine doing anything else. I tell people this was the best kind of mid-life crisis - instead of emerging from it with a sports car or something, I’m reaching the other side of this strange phase of life with the tools to set my imagination down in words, and I couldn’t be happier about that.

When and what and where did you first get published?

My first published story is the only one I’ve published that doesn’t have a speculative element, that isn’t horror or sci-fi, that doesn’t have anything like a giant spider or a few lovable robots. The story, titled “Green,” grew from an assignment in a short story writing course. Published in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable in 2015, it’s about a woman visiting her mother’s house just after her mother has passed away. I was beyond thrilled to see that story find its way into the world.

Why do you write?

That’s a great question, and I have too many answers! My motivations seem to shift slightly as I make my way through the writing process. When I’m first imagining a story, building the world, defining the characters, I’m reveling in the escapism of it all. I just love exploring other places and times, real or imagined, and I find it so very satisfying to create new places in which one might escape. When it comes to the mechanics of writing the story, of building the plot, describing the characters and settings, and refining the narrative voice, there’s a sharp sense of satisfaction when it all finally comes together. I’d say it’s a similar feeling to reaching a really high score on Tetris. (Which I play every single day. Yes, I do.) When I’m fortunate enough to find a home for a story, a magazine or anthology where it will be published, my hope is that it will provide an experience the reader is looking for, whether that be escapism, excitement, or a tiny bit of happiness.

Who is your favorite author? Your favorite story?

So there’s this odd thing about me – I don’t really do favorites. When people ask what my favorite food is, my favorite color, tv show, or almost anything, my answer is usually, “it depends.” Depends on my mood or on the season, on the time of day or on how many cups of coffee I’ve had. But I can say one of the authors who left a big impression on me as a kid was Isaac Asimov. His books, “Caves of Steel” and “The Naked Sun,” both about a robot and a human working together to solve crimes, were early favorites. I especially loved his story “Bicentennial Man,” about a robot wanting to understand what it means to be human. Sometimes I even carried a photo-copy of that story around with me, as a teen.


If you could write your own epitaph, what would it say?

Jeez, how do people answer that question? I can’t even begin to summarize myself or my life in a handful of words. Where’s Hemingway when I need him?

Do you blog?

I do have a blog, but it’s received little attention in the past couple of years. I’m so impressed with regular bloggers, who are comfortable sharing their thoughts in such a direct manner with the world. I’ve discovered that I’m much more comfortable expressing myself through fiction. If I’m in a bad mood, for example, I’m less likely to write directly about how I’m feeling and more likely to write a little piece of horror, with a nice and scary monster chasing some poor person down a dark corridor or something. To be clear, I’m more likely to identify with the monster than with the person it’s chasing.

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