Magic Moon Eclipse, flash fiction, Issue 20, September 1, 2012
The Bramble Wolf and the Hunter, fiction, June 1, 2008
Birthday? February 9.
When did you start writing? There's no simple answer to this question. I began making up stories when I was quite young and would enact them with my brothers, down in our basement. At the time I called that writing stories, though in truth I would at most draw a map and write a list of character names, maybe draw a few pictures with crayons and cut them out as two-dimensional action figures. My writing progressed from then, I suppose, with some training in poetry writing and journalism along the way.
When and what and where did you first get published? In 2001, at roughly the same time, I had a poem in the online Red River Review and a story in the social-justice-focused print magazine Out of Line. My writing repertoire at the time was very small, and my submitting very scattershot, so it wasn't until some five years later when I started selling more stories and poems (and began focusing more, though not exclusively, on speculative genre venues).
What themes do you like to write about? The pair of immigration and exile come up a lot in my stories. The idea, which plays out in "Moon Magic Eclipse," of righting a wrong, even at personal expense...that pops up in a lot of guises, often with a sense of the characters wanting to do so but not knowing how. I also deeply enjoy evoking a strange and imaginative place, a city or culture or landscape that's as far from bland as I can make it.
What books and/or stories have most resonated with you as an author? Why? How do these stories and their characters find expression in your work? Oh, so many. Probably the current writers who most interest me are Jeff VanderMeer and Catherynne Valente. I definitely try to check out any stories and books they come out with. City of Saints and Madmen by VanderMeer remains a touchstone in my reading, ever since I stumbled across it at a local library about a decade ago. I loved how it managed to meld a deeply imaginative setting with a variety of narrative approaches that seemed much more nuanced than a lot of the more straight-forward stories I was more familiar with in fantasy at the time. And Valente's two-book Orphan Tales is simply such a perfect blend of fairy-tale beauty and power with a playful, nesting structure that fit so wonderfully.
Outside of current writers, I always cite Italo Calvino as a favorite. My college adviser recommended him to me--she was surprised that I hadn't already read him, given the other writers I enjoyed--and I immediately fell in love with his books, starting with Invisible Cities and If on a Winter's Night a Traveler. There's a playfulness to his writing that underlies a keen examination of things. Playfulness, it would seem, is a key part of what draws me to some works. It isn't the only thing, and a lack of playfulness won't drive me away, but it does certainly catch my attention. A favorite quote for a while now has been from writer and musician Stephan Nachmanovitch: "There is an old Sanskrit word, lîla, which means play. Richer than our word, it means divine play, the play of creation, destruction, and re-creation,the folding and unfolding of the cosmos." Many of my favorite works have this sense of play--not mere silliness (though they may or may not be silly on one level), but a sense of Nachmanovitch's divine play.
Daniel Ausema has a background in experiential education (play!) and journalism (and sometimes play as well...) and is now a stay-at-home dad (hmmm). His fiction and poetry have appeared in dozens of publications, including New Myths, Daily Science Fiction, Penumbra, and Kaleidotrope. He lives in Colorado at the foot of the Rockies (and their wildfires). Author's Website: http://danielausema.blogspot.com