Why Ygor? [Vonda]

Dear master, good master,

It seems like I have a lot of questions and very little time. This is a painful contrivance. I’m sure I won’t get a chance to ask many of them tomorrow, a lot wouldn’t apply unless someone had read your letters and I don’t want to waste their time. I put some thought into these, though. Hopefully, the chance comes later this week, some time. I feel that this entire term (esp. working in the archives), we have been less learning and more developing questions about fiction and authors that yearn to be answered. I want to know.

In your early 20’s, you left your PhD program in genetics at UW and began writing in order to make a living. At that time, did you think writing would be your career, or something to do with your BA in Biology? At what point did you consider yourself a professional writer, as opposed to an amateur? What did that change mean to you?

How did your relationships with other members of the SF community change as you made the transition from fan to peer? (Esp. Russ, Le Guin, Tiptree, etc.)

Something Kelsie pointed out was the parallel between your apartment in Seattle getting robbed in college (and your files taken) and Snake having her journal stolen by the crazy in Dreamsnake. Did real life inspire fiction here? How do things in your own life inspire your writing?

So, as a young author, you didn’t hire/find a literary agent until after you won your first Nebula Award in 1973. Was this a conscious choice? … I also saw that you continued to handle a lot of business affairs as an anthology editor and workshop organized even afterwards. Do you like the financial management aspect of writing, or was this a bit of Northwest do-it-yourselfism?

As a long-time resident of the Coast Range, how were you affected by your experience living at the Le Guin Cabin in Rose Lodge? … Did you spend more time there after the mid-1970s?

You spoke a lot with Joanna Russ about your take on the feminist movement in the 1970s as a young woman. What do you feel has changed for women today, both at the university-level in general and in the sciences specifically? … What about for beginning female authors?

More so than a lot of the other authors we’ve read in our class, you have worked in Hollywood and in television. What motivated you to take your work in that direction? Was it your influence from Harlan Ellison? … Would you care to talk a bit about the upcoming production of The Moon and the Sun?

Speaking of Harlan Ellison, I was really surprised in one of your letters to see that you came up with the term “Speculative Fiction” to describe his work. Is that correct?

You seemed to collect a lot of hotel stationary. What was the best you’ve ever found?

Hopefully, the opportunity arises sometime soon.


Quintin Kreth.

2 responses to “Why Ygor? [Vonda]

  • cstabile

    These are your interview questions, aren’t they? You might want to review them in terms of relevance. For example, why ask about the coastal range and the Le Guin cabin? What does that have to do with the other questions you ask? And wasn’t McIntyre always a writer? I don’t think she started simply as a fan.

  • quintinkreth

    They are. I think the cabin leads into a line of questioning on writing and isolation. Many of McIntyre’s important early works, including Dreamsnake, were written there, since the remoteness allowed her to focus. She was always a writer, but many Sci-Fi fans are also amateur writers. The transition is significant, especially in an age when many female authors struggled to break into the scene.

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