1. What was your first experience at a science fiction/fantasy con like?
The first time I ever attended a science fiction/fantasy convention was BayCon when my son was three months old. I had started writing science fiction and fantasy, but had no idea how to become a part of the community of writers. So I wore my baby in a front carrier and attended sessions about writing, stepping out to change him on the floor in the bathrooms when necessary! I spoke to authors after the sessions were over and got hooked into the writer's workshop for the following year. It was how I got my start!
2. From your own blog, it's clear that you have a particular interest in worldbuilding. For you as a writer, does the world come before the story? Or do you come up with the story and design the world around it? Or do the two evolve together?
I love worldbuilding, but I can't say whether world or story comes first. Sometimes it's one, and sometimes the other. Sometimes I'm thinking about some obscure linguistic phenomenon and a whole world and story build up around it. That happened with status language and the wolflike aliens of Aurru. Other times I'll have the kernel of a story appear in my head, and work outward from thematic issues or specifics about the character to create the world around them. That is what happened with my world of Varin, which grew out of the story of a political prisoner. World and story always, always evolve together - sometimes over periods of years. As I see it, a protagonist has a story to tell, and at the same time, that protagonist serves as an ambassador for the world she lives in - through the way she has been formed by her culture, her language, and her past experiences. I also think it's important to think of the setting of any story, fictional or nonfictional, in terms of worldbuilding. Drawing associations in a reader's head may be easier if you are working with a familiar environment, but the author needs to be in full control of which aspects of that environment come to the fore, because those will have enormous influence on the story itself. I had a very interesting time creating a vision of home life for a girl in Tokyo, thinking back to my own homestays and my time living there. It wasn't just about saying "Japan" to my readers; I wanted to place myself and them into the smaller details of home and family, like the shoe cabinet in the entryway or the formal room with its tatami mats or a special table called a kotatsu with a quilt built into it and a heater underneath, so as to make it feel intimate and familiar.
3. Are there any projects that you'd like to share with FOGcon fans and participants?
I'd love to share three stories I have coming out this spring. The first two are set in Japan. "Suteta Mono de wa Nai" is a fantasy set in modern-day Tokyo complete with Harajuku cosplay and yokai spirits, and it will appear in the March issue of Clarkesworld. "Lady Sakura's Letters" is a fantasy tale involving calligraphy and magic, set in Kyoto in the Heian era, and it will appear soon in the inaugural issue of the STRAEON anthology from Stupefying Stories. Finally, "Mind Locker" is a science fiction piece set in the slum of a near-future city whose residents use a Google-glass like internet in their heads. It will be appearing in the July/August issue of Analog, coming out in May.
Juliette Wade is a science fiction writer who has earned degrees in Anthropology and Linguistics.