Introducing Sarah Salcedo and Speculative Seattle

Image by Town Hall Seattle.

Sarah Salcedo is a Pacific Northwest-based author, filmmaker, and illustrator, and is currently a Writer-in-Residence at Town Hall Seattle. Her recent interview with local writer and editor Isabela Oliveira via podcast is now available on our YouTube Channel.

Clarion West is excited to be partnering with Sarah on “Speculative Seattle,” a storytelling project documenting the speculative genre’s ties to Seattle, and Clarion West’s evolution.

In her own words:

I was chosen as Town Hall Seattle’s Spring 2022 Writer-in-Residence for the work I’ve been doing on my first short story collection, The Prodigals, a blend of literary and speculative stories that revolve around themes of outcasts finding, fleeing, and creating home, often through the lens of neurodivergence and disability. 

As part of my tenure, I created two community events centering around the themes discussed in my work. On April 26, I asked John Wiswell and Ross Showalter to join me for an evening of sharing our fiction and talking about writing about disability. On May 23 at 7:30pm, Nisi Shawl, Seanan McGuire, and Shiv Ramdas will join me to discuss speculative fiction in Seattle: a UNESCO City of Literature and a huge mecca for all things speculative from our rockets and tech to our mist-combed forests that inspire so many stories of the weird, wild, and mythic.

It was the latter of these events that brought me into communication with Clarion West.  We quickly got excited about a project spinning off from the event: documenting Seattle’s history and present-day connections with the SFF world, including Clarion West.

I’m delighted that my writing career has led me to a new documentary project because filmmaking led me to short fiction. I am both a writer and a filmmaker because I am driven by curiosity. I love research and talking to people, finding out what makes them tick. While I’ve always written, I hadn’t written anything speculative until after completing our first feature documentary to fight my way out of a period of massive burnout. 

I started with short stories, a fairy tale format specifically, writing “once upon a time” and then seeing what came next. It became a way of figuring out what was in my heart, a form of therapy, while I was on the film festival tour. But it grew into something more — a new way of writing about neurodivergence, disability, and trauma — that I could not get enough of. Filmmaking was put on hold by the pandemic, and in that time, my primary artistic focus was short fiction and two new novels. 

This residency with Town Hall Seattle has not only affirmed my writing, but it’s allowed me to create conversations about the things I care about, and in doing so, it’s connected me to an organization I admire so much and, of all unexpected things, it’s led me back to a documentary. I’m so excited to share all the things that come out of my partnership with Clarion West, exploring these things that make me curious. I’ll be sharing these conversations about “speculative Seattle” and other topics I find interesting here as I dive into this new project. I’m so thankful for Clarion West’s involvement and support. I hope you all enjoy what will come out of this.

The first part of Sarah’s latest story Our Memories Are What We Fear Most is available now at Uncharted Magazine.

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