I was checking out what the fantasy and science fiction market was like, one day, when I happened upon "Seagull Girl's Butterfly Tongue" by Sara Genge in magazine. This story was not like the other stories in the magazine. It was surreal--dare I say, even a bit psychedelic. It dealt with zombies, but not like any zombies you've ever met before. The only thing I could I even think to compare this amazing writing to was the work of Kelly Link, which also subverts my expectations about zombies.
So, with the help of my local library, I was able to track down a few more of her stories in anthologies. And with the help of facebook, I was able to locate Sara herself. She indulged me by answering a few questions, in between her saving the world and learning yet another language.
GAB: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
SG: I'm a Spanish-American neurologist living in Stockholm. I am currently learning Swedish (willingly) and forgetting French (involuntarily). I have moved more than eight times in the past year and a half and would really like for it to stop now.
GAB: How long have you been writing?
SG: I started writing speculative fiction during my fifth year of medical school in Paris, France, where I was an Erasmus student. My neurology residency got in the way and I have been writing very little for the last couple of years. Although writing scientific papers takes the edge off things, the craving for writing fiction is still there.
GAB: Why do you write?
SG: Because it's totally different from anything else I do, it opens my mind to new worlds and it's fun. Also, if you're as busy as I am writing is a form of transgression, you take this time that you have and you use it to do something that's not directly applicable to your life or objectives. I hope my writing is equally challenging to the reader: the function of good speculative fiction is to confuse you a little and help to lever you out of your standard mindset if only a little bit.
GAB: Do you consider yourself a genre writer?
SG: I barely think of myself as a writer, much less one with adjectives. I'm a neurologist who writes, or a writer who does neurology, or a language student, or someone with very poor command of Swedish inverted word-order. All these things happen at the same time, or flash after each other in rapid succession. Some days I can barely write in any language and have to think hard to figure out how to say something in my mother tongue, whatever that is.
GAB: Who are some of your biggest influences?
SG: Ursula LeGuin, Scott Card, Frank Herbert. I've also been compared to Octavia Butler although I hadn't really read much of her stuff until after I was a published writer. I think critics tend to compare female writers to other female writers, so LeGuin and Butler get dragged out a lot.
GAB: Who are some of your favorite authors?
SG: See above. And Shakespeare is God, of course.
GAB: Do you have anything new coming up?
SG: Not coming up, but I've actually started writing again and have a story in the works (I'm back, baby!). It's set in France but the society is going to be sustainable and very Swedish. Except that the food will be good.
GAB: Can we find any of your writing online?
SG: All over the place. The Daily Cabal page is still up, even though the project has been terminated: it published microfiction five days a week and I contributed to it for some time. My stories are still up there. Drabblecast has podcasted some of my fiction. "Godtouched" is available in the Strange Horizon's archive
http://www.strangehorizons.com/2007/20070115/godtouched-f.shtml, Transcriptase has two of my stories
http://transcriptase.org/about/sara-genge/. Family Values is in Cosmos Online http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/science-fiction/family-values/. And of course, if you want to build your own anthology, there's always Anthology Builder.
GAB: What’s your favorite film?
SG: Apart from Spanish films which you probably never heard of? (Sorry, still need to mention one: Amanece que no es poco, get it with subtitles everyone. If you don't understand anything it's ok: surrealism, nobody does).
GAB: What’s your favorite musical artist or type of music?
SG: I love Ben Harper. Lisa Ekdahl has a great voice and sings in Swedish, which is great practice for me. Nina Simone makes me shiver. Leonard Cohen's last album was absolutely spectacular and also recommend going to the concert, the best I've seen from anyone over 70 (honestly, from anyone ever). Yeah, I'm not very hip or literate as far as music goes.