Alumni News


Spring has arrived in full force in Seattle, and at Clarion West we’re getting ready for the Six-Week Workshop, the Summer Reading Series, and the Write-a-thon. We have a busy and wonderful season ahead! If you’re local to Seattle, please join us for the Summer Reading Series on Tuesday evenings during the Workshop. The last reading, by our Petrey fellow Cory Doctorow, is a special event that we hope everyone makes time to attend.

The Clarion West Write-a-thon signups are open! This is our yearly fundraiser, and you’re invited to join us. You don’t need to be an alumnus of the workshop to participate. Whatever your writing goals are this summer, the Write-a-thon can help you get there—and you can help keep Clarion West strong now and into the future.

We still have spaces left in our last One-Day Workshop of the spring: Paul Park’s workshop on Point of View. Paul Park is a wonderful instructor, and we’re so pleased to have him teach for us. Join us on May 24 for what’s sure to be an inspiring workshop.


Ann Leckie (CW ’05) has been nominated for a Hugo Award for her novel Ancillary Sword. Congratulations, Ann!


Publication News

Alison Wilgus (CW ’14) has had two pieces published recently. Her story “Noise Pollution” appeared on Strange Horizons both as text and as a podcast read by Anaea Lay. She has also had a story called “The Last Wild Place” reprinted in Fantastic Stories of the Imagination—a story that she credits with putting her on the road to Clarion West.

Usman Tanveer Malik (CW ’13) has had two stories appear recently: “The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn” at, and “Ishq” reprinted in Nightmare Magazine. Both have had several favorable reviews appear since their publication.

Flavorwire published a wonderful review of Robert Guffey’s (CW ’96) new book Chameleo. Visit the site for the review and an excerpt from the book.

Indrapramit Das’s (CW ’12) story “Weep for Day,” first published in Asimov’s and anthologized in several year’s best collections, is now available in its entirety online, in this month’s issue of Clarkesworld Magazine.

Kelly Sandoval (CW ’13) had a story appear in April in Escape Pod: “In Another Life.”


Alumni Updates

From Karen Allendoerfer (CW ’87):
For the past two years I have been working in the field of science education for middle-school-age students. I teach molecular biology and neuroscience to gifted and talented students and homeschoolers at an educational start-up, and I also work with an organization that brings scientists into public schools to provide hands-on science curriculum and enrichment. This work has gotten me very interested in the role of science fiction in engaging young people in science. I’ve been editing and revising a novel called Hallie’s Cache that I first wrote during 2012’s NaNoWriMo that takes place in the year 2074 with a young adult protagonist.

I have also discovered the activity of geocaching, with my husband who recently found his 10,000th geocache. Geocaching is a “high-tech treasure hunt” like letterboxing but using a GPS. I go along with my husband for the ride, and am finding that it is fun to write and blog about it, even if I’m not as hard-core as he is about finding every cache in a given area, and have found only about 1/10th as many caches as he has. On the occasion of my 1000th cache find, I started a regular blog ( and recently had a short story about geocaching accepted to an anthology called “Geocaching GPS,” coming out in May 2015 at Geowoodstock (an international geocaching get-together). This is my first publication that isn’t a scientific paper!


Alumni Interview

Interview with Henry Lien, Class of 2012

AN: What are you working on now?
HL: I am done with short fiction for the next five years or so. I sold all the short stories that I wrote at Clarion West in 2012 and I will be concentrating exclusively on novels for the foreseeable future. I am finishing up revisions under the supervision of an agent on my novel The Taming of the Pearl. It is a YA Asian fantasy about a sport I imagined called Wu Liu, which is essentially kung-fu on figure skates. It’s the first of a trilogy. I wrote two precursor novelettes in this world at Clarion West, “Pearl Rehabilitative Colony for Ungrateful Daughters” (written for Chuck Palahniuk, published in Asimov’s in December 2013, and nominated for a Nebula) and “The Great Leap of Shin” (written for George R.R. Martin, published in Analog in January 2015). The first few chapters of the novel constituted my Clarion West application writing sample. A couple of my Clarion West classmates described it as “Harry Potter Meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” and that is pretty apt.

AN: Tell us something we don’t know. (Could be personal or could be something about SF, technology, science, or anything else)
HL: I devised a logical, working system to continue communicating with my former partner after he died of cancer; I wrote about it as my Clarion West personal essay; I turned the essay into a story at Clarion West; and Sofia Samatar bought it for Interfictions.

AN: What’s your favorite part of writing? Least favorite?
HL: I squirm a bit to say this, but my favorite part of writing is reading my own stories once they’re written. I try to write only stories that I have been wanting to read my whole life but have never been able to find. So for me, on a scale of 1 – 10, getting a story published is like a 3 – 4. Getting a story nominated for a major award is like a 4 – 5. Having a reader really respond to my work is like a 5 – 6, and it’s got a bit more lasting nutritional content. But writing a story that I have been trying to find my whole life, that’s a 9 – 10. It’s liberating because I know that even if I release a story into the world and the world says, “Eeew,” I still get to read something I’ve been dying to read.

AN: What’s your creative process like?
HL: I seal myself in a cocoon spun from my own saliva and the Songs of Dolphins and emerge with my naked body covered in a complex birthmark that forms the words of the story. Also, I use a combination of the “architect” and “gardener” approaches to writing that George R.R. Martin talked about. “Architect” type writers plan everything out. “Gardener” type writers let things grow organically. I take a hybrid approach. I do a lot of research and outlining, which constitute the architecture portion of the process. Then I put away all the notes and begin to write while referring to the notes as little as possible. I make up certain aspects of the worldbuilding as I write, relying mostly on sound to produce an image to sketch in the worldbuilding. And I let loose with voice in this stage, which is one of my favorite parts of writing. So that’s the gardening portion of my process.

AN: What one piece of advice would you give to the members of the incoming Clarion West class?
HL: I’ve got three pieces of advice.

  1. If you think you’re going to do a piece at Clarion West that involves research (and I personally would urge you to consider doing at least one piece that requires research), do as much of your research ahead of time as possible. You won’t have time to write, critique, bond, drink, sleep, and research while at Clarion West. Only one of these things can be pre-accomplished.
  2. I would challenge students to try as hard as they can to choose concepts for stories that only they could have written. Be mercilessly selective in deciding what story you choose to write. Ask yourself hard questions like, “Does the world really need another story about [insert popular magical creature or scientific theory or genre trope]? What am I adding to make this worth my time and my reader’s time?” And be constantly brainstorming in the months ramping up to Clarion West so that you will have options if you find that examining your story idea in this light makes it collapse into a pile of ashes.
  3. You should expect there to be a significant risk of Clarion West changing you profoundly. Re-entering civilian life afterwards, especially if you have a partner or spouse, can be difficult after such a life-changing experience. Thus, it’s best to break up with them beforehand. Just kidding. Sorta.



The Alumni News, April 2015Spring has finally made its way to Seattle, and at Clarion West we’re busy getting ready for the Six-Week Workshop. This year’s class has been announced, with students hailing from all across the United States and all over the world. We’re looking forward to meeting the class of 2015 and welcoming them into our community.

If you would like to help support the workshop this summer, we will once again be running the Clarion West Write-a-thon concurrently with the Six-Week Workshop. The Write-a-thon is our yearly fundraiser that helps us keep Clarion West strong now and into the future. More information will be available in the coming months.

We have a few more One-Day Workshops left this spring: Muse Management and Production in the Story Factory with Ken Scholes on April 19; Flash Fiction with Cat Rambo on May 3; and the newly announced Point of View workshop with Paul Park on May 24. Join us in Seattle’s University District for these workshops—they promise to be excellent!

We have a new feature in this edition of the Alumni News: an interview with one of our alumni, Tina Connolly. You can find the interview below, and be on the lookout for more interviews in coming months.

As always, Clarion West wants to hear from you. You can send your news, both professional and personal, to


The Seventh Week

The Seventh Week, Clarion West’s newsletter, is now available to download from our site. In this issue, you’ll find:

  • an interview with writer Cat Rambo
  • an update on the 6-Week Workshop from Workshop Administrator Neile Graham and Workshop Administrator Huw Evans
  • an introduction from the new chair of the Clarion West board, Vicki Saunders
  • a guide to convention-going from writer Cynthia Ward

Find this edition as well as our archives on the Seventh Week page.


Community Announcements

On May 20th, join MIT Enterprise Forum Northwest for a deep exploration of the fascinating intersection between science fiction and reality.

The evening begins with a fireside chat featuring Jason Pontin, publisher of MIT Technology Review’s special science fiction edition, Twelve Tomorrows. Along with award-winning authors and visionaries Greg Bear and Nancy Kress, Jason will explore science fiction’s awe-inspiring vision of the future and its impact on reality. Following will be a brief talk from prominent University of Washington scientist, Paul Yager, who credits science fiction with influencing his work. The evening will conclude with a presentation by Microsoft’s Chief Research Office, Rick Rashid, about executing the vision and turning science fiction into reality.



Craig L. Gidney’s (CW ’96) book, Skin Deep Magic, is a finalist in the Lambda Literary Awards in the SF/Horror/Fantasy category. Congratulations!


Publication News

Fabio Fernandes (CW ’13) has had his story “Eleven Stations” accepted for publication in the tribute anthology “Stories for Chip,” edited by Bill Campbell and Nisi Shaw (CW ’92), due for July.

N. Lee Wood (CW ‘85) has a short story called “Scapegoats” in Ellen Datlow’s Nightmare Carnival anthology, which has been getting good reviews. Lee is currently teaching undergraduate level Creative Writing at the University of Massey in New Zealand while working on her PhD in Creative Writing from the same university, as well as writing a historical novel.

Julie Steinbacher (CW ‘14) had a story come out in Escape Pod’s Artemis Rising special in February, called “Chimeras.”

Waking Up Naked in Strange Places cover by Julie McGalliardJulie McGalliard’s (CW ’06) first novel, Waking Up Naked in Strange Places, will be published by Per Aspera in April 2015.

David Herter’s (CW ‘90) short story “Islands Off the Coast of Capitola, 1978,” will appear at in July. He’s completing Fiery Angels, sequel to Cold Heavens, currently making the rounds via agent Matt Bialer. He’s also writing a fantasy/horror novella set deep in Seattle’s history, called “Standard Records & Hi Fi.”

Alyc Helms (CW ’12) has a story out now in Beneath Ceaseless Skies called “A Screech of Gulls.” It appears both as text and a podcast, and can be read and listened to at the Beneath Ceaseless Skies site.

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction published an interview with Henry Lien (CW ’12) discussing “Bilingual,” his story in the March/April issue. He discusses how something that happened on the plane ride up to Clarion West made him write this story; the complexities of writing a story in tweets; how dolphins see with their teeth; why a middle-aged gay man with a receding hairline felt compelled to channel a teenage girl; how his friends offered their baby to be raised with dolphins; and how the ghost of his dead partner compelled him to write this story.

Aetheria, by S. Hutson BlountS. Hutson Blount (CW ’05) has a new book out called Aetheria. “Aetheria Peregrine set out for a career as a merchant spacer—a career cut short in a whirlwind of events. Caught up in the tumult of planetary empires set against each other, she must by turns become a pirate, doctor, ice miner, drug dealer, vagabond, mystic, spy, secret policewoman, pilgrim, fugitive, heiress, scholar, and diplomat.”

Shannon Peavey’s (CW ’13) thought-birds story “A Beautiful Memory” is out at Apex Magazine. “On Thursday, a windsor-knotted businessman paid Anna three times her normal asking price for a quartet of thought-birds. She normally sold two at a time because their growth was so slow. But he insisted. A bird of each flavor: contentment, melancholy, joy, fury.”

Marlee Jane Ward (CW ‘14) will have her story “Clara’s” published in the anthology Hear Me Roar in June.

Robert Guffey (CW ’96) has a new book out called Chamelo. “A mesmerizing mix of Charles Bukowski, Hunter S. Thompson, and Philip K. Dick, Chameleo is a true account of what happened in a seedy Southern California town when an enthusiastic and unrepentant heroin addict named Dion Fuller sheltered a U.S. Marine who’d stolen night vision goggles and perhaps a few top secret files from a nearby military base.”

Rhiannon Rasmussen (CW ’14) has a story out in Sockdolager called “Charge! Love Heart!.”


Interview with Tina Connolly (CW ’06)

Portrait of Tina ConnollyAN: What are you working on now?
TC: So, my first YA book, Seriously Wicked (a lighthearted book about a high school girl who lives with a seriously wicked witch) is coming out May 5th from Tor Teen. (It has been SO MUCH FUN to do.) Anyway, I’m working on the sequel to that now. The witch always has crazy schemes to take over the world, so it’s been fun plotting out her next set of evil plans.

AN: What superpower would you most like to have?
TC: I would pick flying. Also maybe invisibility, because I don’t want a lot of people pointing at me while I’m flying.

AN: What’s your favorite part of writing? Least favorite?
TC: My least favorite part of writing is getting started on the blank page. Conversely, my most favorite part is revising. I love fiddling at a sentence level, and I even love restructuring and moving big pieces around (even when I’m sure that THIS time, it’s not going to work.) There’s a whole swath in between those two extremes that’s totally fine where I at least have something to work with. But when there’s nooooottthing at all…ugh.

AN: What do you do when you need inspiration?
TC: Take a walk. I do all my best plotting while pushing the baby toddler to the library and back.

AN: What one piece of advice would you give to the members of the incoming Clarion West class?
TC: Know your physical limits and make peace with them. You literally cannot go on every outing, be at every conversation. Sometimes you just need to sleep.

Tina Connolly is the Nebula-nominated author of the Ironskin trilogy from Tor Books. Her next book, Seriously Wicked, comes out May 5th from Tor Teen. Her stories have appeared in Women Destroy SF, Lightspeed,, Strange Horizons, and more. Her narrations have appeared in audiobooks and podcasts including Podcastle, Pseudopod, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and more. She runs the Parsec-winning flash fiction podcast Toasted Cake.



Carol Severance (CW ’84) passed away on February 19th, 2015. She was the author of The Island Warrior trilogy and the Compton Crook Award winning Reefsong. She did anthropological fieldwork in the remote coral atolls of Micronesia and eventually settled in Hawaii. She is survived by husband Craig, daughter Linina Pfeffer, son Maui, brothers Dick and Alex Wilcox, sister Mary Gibbons and two grandchildren.






Looking for news from past months? You can find it at the Alumni News Archive.

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