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Doorways Interview/Bruce Boston & Marge Simon




Marge Simon is a past president of the Science Fiction Poetry Association (www.sfpoetry.com/) and is currently the editor of its journal Star*Line. Besides penning poetry -- “Variants of the Obsolete” won the long category Rhysling Award in 1996 -- and fiction, Marge is an artist and illustrator whose creations have graced the covers of more than 100 publications. Her most recent books include Vectors: A WEEK IN THE DEATH OF A PLANET
*, a poetry collaboration with Charlee Jacob (Dark Regions Press, 2007), the flash collection Like Birds in the Rain (Sam's Dot Publishing, 2007), and Night Smoke, her collaboration with husband, Bruce Boston (Kelp Queen Press, 2007). Marge Simon’s website is: hometown.aol.com/margsimon/

 

When it comes to the who’s who of speculative poetry, Bruce Boston’s name tops the list. Not only has he won an unprecedented seven Rhysling Awards from his peers at the SFPA, but was also awarded their first Grand Master Award in 1999. In addition, he has received the Pushcart Prize, five Asimov's Readers' Awards, and two Bram Stoker Awards (most recently for his poetry collection Shades Fantastic, Gromagon Press, 2006) from the Horror Writers Association. Besides Night Smoke, Bruce’s most recent publications include the dystopian novel The Guardener’s Tale and the flash collection Flashing the Dark, both from Sam’s Dot Publishing (2007, 2006). The Nightmare Collector, a new book of Bruce’s poetry, is forthcoming from Doorways. Bruce Boston’s website is: hometown.aol.com/bruboston/

 

Bruce and Marge live in Ocala, Florida.

 

 

Stephen M. Wilson: The most obvious question to open with is: How did the two of you meet?

 

Marge Simon: We “met” in the early 1980s when I was editing various publications of the Small Press Writers/Artists Organization.  I loved Bruce’s work, and he added me to his list of fans. In person, we met when I was president of the SPWAO and he was GOH at our first and only conference in Albuquerque, 1989.

 

Bruce Boston: I’m afraid Marge’s memory is slipping.  She’s older than I am, you know?  We first met in an extended dream sequence when we were twenty-two and twenty-two-and-a half-years old respectively.

 

Stephen: What is your take on conventions? Do you attend more for business or pleasure? What do you learn at these events?

 

Marge: I like conventions. I went to a couple a year until marrying Bruce -– and 9-11 restrictions made air travel less than pleasant. In Florida, we have friends and fellow poets who attend and it’s great to get together with them at Oasis and Necronomicon. Of course, we also want to promote our books and the Science Fiction Poetry Association.

 

Bruce: I can’t stand the bloody things.  A bunch of geeks in funny costumes.  Others singing silly songs.  And still more of them maniacally playing childish games that most intelligent twelve-year-olds have outgrown. Lots of surplus population there, for sure.

 

I go to genre conventions because for some inexplicable reason, a number of my friends are also in attendance at these ridiculous events…and you can sometimes encounter other writers who actually have something to say.

 

Stephen: This has been a busy year for the two of you with Bruce’s second Bram Stoker Award win for poetry (Shades Fantastic), Star*Line’s 30th Anniversary and the release of Night Smoke, The Guardener's Tale, Like Birds in the Rain, and The Nightmare Collector. How do you find the time?

 

Marge: I thrive on multi-tasking. I like to have several things going at the same time and I function best that way, always have.

 

Bruce: Time is elastic in its periodicity,

             evanescent in its flight,

             elongated in its articulation.

             Ka-ching!   

 

Stephen: What are your day jobs?

 

Marge: I retired from teaching art two years ago. Not that I was any less busy then than now!

 

Bruce: I’m also retired.  To get to this point, I’ve worked as a bibliographer, a computer programmer, a college professor, a technical writer, a copywriter, a furniture mover, a gardener, a retail clerk, a movie projectionist, a book buyer, a ghostwriter, and a reference book writer.  That’s right, I couldn’t hold down a job.  I figure that in another six months I won’t remember any of this.

 

Stephen: Marge, as a past president of the SFPA, and current editor of its journal, Star*Line, as well as the poetry columnist for the HWA Newsletter, what do you think the importance of organizations such as the SFPA and HWA are for writers?

 

Marge: I think the SFPA has far more to offer to poets of the fantastic (sf/h/f and speculative) than the HWA, but you asked specifically about writers. Many poets (like Bruce and me) are also writers. Many of us worked hard to get poets accepted into the HWA, and even though previous powers in office have tried to get poetry voted out of Stoker competition, or qualification for membership, it survives. I can’t address how the SFPA helps writers because it is for poets. I can say that I have a column in the HWA Newsletter for Dark Poets, which showcases essays by guest poets. If you want to improve your writing, you might explore what the SFPA has to offer. If you know something about genre poetry, it will open up new avenues for your creative exposition.

 

Stephen: Bruce, your thoughts on that?

 

Bruce: Writers organizations, manned mostly or entirely by volunteer labor, stumble along, generally take two steps forward, one back, and an occasional step sidewise.  They often change directions completely when a new crop of volunteers takes charge. They are often rife with pointless tempest-in-a-teapot conflicts.  That said, SFWA, SFPA, and HWA all serve writers and poets, such as setting pro rates of payment, auditing publishers whose honesty is in question, and promoting the fields they represent. (Stephen, where did you get these questions?) 

 

Stephen: You’ve both collaborated in the past with each other, most recently on the poetry collection Night Smoke (Kelp Queen Press, 2007), as well as with other writers [Bruce’s 1989 collaborative poem with Robert Frazier, "Return to the Mutant Rain Forest", was voted “Best All-Time SF/Fantasy/Horror Poem” in a recent Locus Poll]. How do you decided on when to collaborate and who with?

 

Marge: When the mood strikes me. Perhaps I’m working on a poem or flash fiction and not making any progress. I’ll share it with Bruce, if he’s up for it. Or someone else whose work I think would mesh with my ideas. This also goes for art. For example, I’d done a series of paintings of otherworldly creatures that seemed very real to me. I don’t know where they came from. I shared some with Malcolm Deeley, and the next thing we knew, we had started a saga with his responses to my artwork. Both of us took off writing short fictions and poems to match the voices of the characters. We hope to have Legends of the Fallen Sky completed by the end of this year.

 

Bruce: Marge has collaborated far more and with more different writers than I have.  Many of my collaborations have consisted of taking a story or poem that is incomplete by another author, finishing it, and making it work.  My truest collaborations, in which both writers pass a piece back and forth, making changes and additions until they are both satisfied, have occurred on occasion with Marge, but most often with Robert Frazier with our poetry and fiction set in the world of the Mutant Rain Forest.     

 

Stephen: As a married couple, are the collaborative processes easier with each other than with other writers you’ve each worked with, or harder?

 

Marge: Piece of cake. I write, Bruce writes, Bruce edits. Works for us!

 

Bruce: She got that one right!

 

Stephen: And what about that Locus Poll? Where either of you surprised that “Return to the Mutant Rain Forest” beat out Poe?

 

Marge: I’ll let Bruce answer this because he speaks for both of us -– we’ve already discussed it.

 

Bruce: I put about as much stock in electronic voting in most online polls as I do in the results of our last two Presidential Elections.  Less than one hundred people voted in the Locus Poetry Poll, and on top of that, Locus, by its own admission, somehow managed to lose two-weeks worth of votes.  And Locus isn’t even in Florida or Ohio!

 

On the other hand, “Return to the Mutant Rain Forestis a brilliantly realized SFnal vision.  Check it out for yourself. http://chizine.com/return_to_the_mutant_rain_forest.htm  

 

Stephen: If I ever happen to be in Ocala, where do you suggest I go to get a bite to eat?

 

Marge: Certainly you’d be welcome to visit, but then we’d take you to Rhondo’s, Harry’s Bar & Seafood, or Reno’s for southwestern fare. Rhondo’s is privately owned by a giant, and he serves giant portions from a huge selection. I always get a take-home box.

 

Bruce: I always head straight for the Golden Arches, unless the Forest People are having a possum roast.  Some mighty-good-eatin’ possum here in North Florida.  Matter of fact, I think I can smell some cooking right now.  Sorry, gotta run.

 

 

 

 

*Winner of the 2008 Bram Stoker Award for Poetry Collection (tied with BEING FULL OF LIGHT, INSUBSTANTIAL by Linda Addison).

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