Interview by Helen Stubbs.
Julia Rios is a writer, editor, podcaster, and narrator. Her fiction, non-fiction, and poetry have appeared in several places, including Daily Science Fiction, Apex Magazine, and Goblin Fruit. She was a fiction editor for Strange Horizons from 2012 to 2015, and is currently the poetry and reprints editor for Uncanny Magazine and co-editor with Alisa Krasnostein of Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories, and the Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction series. She is also a co-host of the Hugo-nominated podcast, The Skiffy and Fanty Show, and of Walkthrough, a podcast about exercise and general geekery with Amal El-Mohtar and Layla Al-Bedawi. She has narrated stories for Podcastle, Pseudopod, and Cast of Wonders, and poems for the Strange Horizons podcast.
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now I’m working on getting the Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction 2015 volume out into the world. Alisa Krasnostein and I have chosen a great group of stories and we’re working with authors on the final round of proofreading. I’m also reading for the 2016 volume. Those are my big projects with Australian collaborators, but I’m also editing poetry and reprints for Uncanny Magazine (http://uncannymag.com). In podcasting, I’m still a co-host of The Skiffy and Fanty Show, and I just started a new podcast called Walkthrough (http://walkthroughpodcast.com) with Amal El-Mohtar and Layla Al-Bedawi where we’re playing through and reacting to every episode of the immersive phone app game The Walk. Finally I’ve also got a little brainstorming going for a collaborative short story, which may have Australian connections! I don’t think I can say more about that right now, though. It’s too new!
When you look back on yourself starting out as a proto-writer, editor and podcaster, are there any tips you would give past-you?
I would tell younger me to follow my heart and investigate any opportunities that seemed interesting. I had no idea when I started writing and submitting SF stories and poems that I would become an editor and a podcaster who worked with people all over the world. I’d also tell younger me that editors are actually really cool and friendly, and not intimidating monsters who want to eat writers for breakfast! That seems like such a silly thing now, but I remember it feeling really big and scary to interact with an editor when I was new to this community. I think this is why I spend a lot of time telling newer writers about what editors do and think. I think transparency helps, and so does a little reassurance that really editors like writers!
Can you tell me about a piece of work coming up for publication?
The Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction 2015 is coming very soon! It’s a collection of short stories from all kinds of different magazines and anthologies. Several are by Australian authors, and all of them feature teenage protagonists. Reading for the Year’s Best series is always an interesting adventure. I pick up things I might never have realized existed if I weren’t on a mission to find all the young adult material I possibly can! Some of the final selection is happy and some is sad, but every story is beautifully written and balances against the other pieces in the volume perfectly. I really hope the book finds its way into the hands of teens who will fall in love with the characters and be gripped by the plots!
What Australian work have you loved recently?
I really loved Letters to Tiptree, the collection of letters and essays about James Tiptree Jr. that Alisa Krasnostein and Alexandra Pierce curated. I found some great Year’s Best pieces in Insert Title Here (edited by Tehani Wessely) and Hear Me Roar (edited by Liz Grzyb). I also loved Defying Doomsday, the anthology of stories featuring disabled protagonists that Holly Kench and Tsana Dolichva edited. I’m also always delighted by the artwork that Kathleen Jennings creates, and I was thrilled to meet her in person at Readercon. She’s not only talented, but also very nice! Oh! And since it’s been a while between snapshots, I just realized that Mad Max: Fury Road is a major Australian thing that just about everyone I know was really excited about (including me!). And of course there are the usual Podcast suspects: Coode Street, Galactic Suburbia, The Writer and the Critic… Australia has a lot of great SF media!
Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?
My default answer is probably Jane Austen because I’ve always loved her work, and I’d love to have a chance to talk to her, but! Since we’re talking about Australia, I think I’ll choose Kerry Greenwood today! I devoured all of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries on Netflix (Essie Davis is fabulous, and OMG the clothes!), and then I picked up some of her books. I’m delighted by her feminist mystery solvers, and I have a feeling she’d probably just be really fun to hang out with.