Mary E. Lowd writes stories and collects creatures. She’s had three novels and more than sixty short stories published so far. Her fiction has won an Ursa Major Award and two Cóyotl Awards. Meanwhile, she’s collected a husband, daughter, son, and bevy of cats and dogs. The stories, creatures, and Mary live together in a crashed spaceship disguised as a house in Oregon.
1. How long have you been writing and what got you started?
I’ve been writing my whole life. My mom used to write down stories I told her before I could read — the two that have stayed with me are “Sally Cat and the Six Magic Balls” and a story about how I found a salamander in a creek. In second grade, I wrote an epic story about polar bears escaping from a zoo. In middle school, I started a novel about a rabbit — every chapter opened up a new plot line, and there was never any end in sight. In high school, I wrote a third of a novel about tigers on a spaceship. After college, I began writing seriously for publication. Basically, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing stories, so I don’t know what got me started — it’s just the way I am.
2. What is the best piece of advice you have for new writers?
Honestly, I avoided advice until I figured out what worked for me on my own. For writers who want advice, there’s already lots of it out there. But if you need to find your way on your own, that’s okay too.
3. Are there any writing resources, such as books or websites, you’d like to recommend?
If you have any interest in writing about talking animals, check out the Furry Writers’ Guild: http://furrywritersguild.com/ There’s an active, supportive community on the forums that’s open to everyone.
4. What is your favorite type of fiction and who are your favorite authors?
My favorite types of fiction are sci-fi and furry fiction. (Furry fiction features anthropomorphic animals.) Many of the authors I’m most excited about are still emerging, so I’ve only seen tastes of what they can do. I was given the opportunity last year to edit ROAR 6, a furry anthology published by FurPlanet, and I’m editing ROAR 7 next year. I was blown away by some of the stories that were submitted, and I’m really hoping to see more stories from those authors in the future. So, I guess, if you want to see the kind of fiction I’m excited about, a lot of it is in ROAR 6.
5. What tips do you have for finding time to write?
I’ve written short stories with a baby on my lap and Sesame Street playing on half of my monitor. I’ve written short stories (well, parts of them) on my phone. Finding time to write can be hard, but I think for me it’s actually harder to find time to let my brain decompress and figure out what it is that I really want to write. For that, the best thing seems to be getting enough sleep.
6. Do you prefer to outline a story in advance or write on the fly? Why?
I prefer outlining — but I mostly don’t do it. Outlining is a different skill from writing, and it’s a skill I’m still developing. When I started out, I didn’t outline anything at all. At this point, I’m pretty good about outlining flash fiction and short stories, but I still end up writing novels mostly on the fly. I’m hoping that once I develop the skill necessary to outline novels that writing them will involve less aggravation.
7. How do you deal with rejections?
I record them in my spreadsheet, and then I look for a different market to send the story to. After 900-some story rejections, most of them don’t hurt so much.
8. What are your writing goals for the next twelve months?
I’m trying to finish my current novel, Otters In Space 3: Octopus Uprising.
9. For the next five years?
Write more novels.
10. Is there anything you’d like to plug? Feel free to share a link.
Lots of my short fiction is available for free online, so if you’re interested check out my web-zine Deep Sky Anchor: http://deepskyanchor.com/
I also have three novels published by FurPlanet — Otters In Space, Otters In Space 2: Jupiter Deadly, and In a Dog’s World. Learn more about them here: http://marylowd.com/novels.html