When two different authors both recommended Harriet Goodchild as a fantasy author to watch, we thought it might be a good idea to ask the eternal question: Harriet Goodchild, who the hell are you? So … um … we did.
Let’s get to it then, who the hell are you? A woman of pairts*.
Why the hell should we care? Because complexity matters, in life and in stories. And because you’re old enough to realise that, no matter how much we leave behind, we carry our past selves with us into the future.
What the hell do you care about? Misinformation. Spurious statistics. Half truths. So much of the information we receive – from the press, from politicians, from the internet, you name it – is partial (in both senses), underwritten by undeclared vested interests, promoted by industry lobbyists or party interests, or else by people who are well-meaning, honest but simply wrong. It’s easy to spot deception when the lies are blatant or the message is aimed elsewhere but often it’s targeted at our biases and expectations, our pockets and self-interests, and so becomes far harder to recognize for what it is. So we listen to what we’re told, internalize it, use it to decide what to buy, whether to vaccinate, the merits of tidal barrages versus fracking versus nuclear power, whose lifestyles should be condemned, which regimes supported, which toppled… But, as misinformation is still misinformation, the world becomes ever more screwed up.
You are about to be castaway with the author or fictional character of your choice. You’re going to be alone with them for at a full year. Who would you choose? And why? Any author, any subject, any time? In that case I’ll forsake fiction and choose Charles Darwin. He had the relatively rare gift of looking at the world and seeing what is, not what people thought or told him. In doing so he changed the way we think about it forever. Which biologist wouldn’t want to spend a year with him discussing natural history, variation, his theory and its implications? But, beyond his brilliance, if I’m going to be alone with only one person for a year, I want to choose that person very carefully. I’d need someone who is level-tempered, adventurous, open-minded, practical and, I think, kind, otherwise the situation would quickly spiral into a claustrophobic hell. As a man, Darwin has all the right characteristics. He coped admirably with Fitzroy’s execrable temper in the confined conditions of the Beagle. He could eat anything (well, when he was younger, anyhow). He was competent at hunting and fishing and camping out in wildernesses. Between us, I reckon we’d manage the business of survival reasonably well and have time over for investigation and discussion of our surroundings.
I have seen the future of SFF and its name is … SL Huang, author of the Russell’s Attic series. Her heroine has maths as a superpower and no conscience or scruples holding her back, only loyalty to her friends. Huang is also an amazingly intelligent blogger about maths, gender, diversity, equality… good stuff that matters. Do check her out.
What is next for you? Right now I’m writing an encyclopaedia entry on plant clocks but I’ve a second novel coming out next year.
Tell us a secret. Sorry, no. My secrets are mine to know and yours to guess. Here’s a piece of trivia instead: my left foot is a size larger than my right.
*No, it’s not a typo. It’s a Scottish thing.
Harriet Goodchild was born in Glasgow and lives in Edinburgh. In another life, she’s a biologist interested in clockworks. In this life, she reads, a lot. She writes too. Fantasy, after a fashion. Oh, and she likes folk music, nearly as much as reading. You can find her on twitter (@HMGoodchild) and, sometimes, on her blog (https://hmgoodchild.wordpress.com). Her book reviews are published at Heroines of Fantasy (http://heroinesoffantasy.blogspot.co.uk/) on the first Wednesdays of even months.
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