You know someone writes a lot of short stories when their work covers multiple genres but they can still put together a story collection that covers just one. It’s what Tobias S. Buckell is doing with Shoggoths In Traffic And Other Stories (paperback, Kindle), a new collection of his fantasy stories. Though as he admits in the following email interview, he is using the term “fantasy” somewhat loosely.
To start, is there a theme to the stories in Shoggoths In Traffic?
It’s a collection of a number of my favorite fantasy stories that haven’t been collected before. They range widely. There are some classic second world fantasy stories, zombie stories, vampires, urban fantasy, and then just plain weird, but they’re all by me.
And why did you decide to put together a collection of your fantasy stories as opposed to some other genre or a mix of genres?
I realized I had enough stories that hadn’t been collected to put together an author collection where I got to piece it together like creating a mix tape (and that right there dates me, doesn’t it?). So there’s a progression through the anthology of fantasy in our world, to second world fantasy, to portal fantasy, to just plain weird, then I bring you back.
Unless I’m mistaken, Shoggoths In Traffic is your sixth short story collection. But you’ve also written nearly a dozen novels. Are there any connections between any of the stories in Shoggoths and any of your previous stories, short or otherwise?
The stories mostly stand alone, but I have at least one story related to the novel The Tangled Lands that Paolo Bacigalupi and I did together. I also have a few stories that bounce off each other, where I look at common themes in fantasy and riff off them.
Are there any writers, or maybe specific stories, that had a big influence on any or all of the stories in Shoggoths In Traffic but not on anything else you’ve written?
That’s such a big question, I don’t know how to pin down influences so specifically. I end up just naming all the writers I’ve ever read.
What about non-literary influences; are any of the stories in Shoggoths In Traffic influenced by any movies, TV shows, or other things?
Of course I’m not so above it all to say that those things don’t influence the stories, but again, a lot of it is buried pretty deep in the subconscious. I read and watch widely in the hopes that I create a sort of mulch in the lower brain, and you do that so that as you write, you find yourself drawing from these things without sometimes even realizing it.
Now, along with Shoggoths In Traffic, you also recently released an Audible Audiobook called A Stranger In The Citadel. What is that story about, and what kind of a world does it take place in?
A Stranger in the Citadel is about Lilith, a musketress of Ninetha. Ninetha’s a city in a world where reading is forbidden on pain of death. But Lilith begins to realize that the world around her isn’t quite what she’s been taught to believe, both in the city of Ninetha and the world, when a librarian arrives and is captured.
Some stories that are originally released as audiobooks come out in print later on. Is that the plan for A Stranger In The Citadel?
I hope it will be a physical book. I sold it to Audible with a contract that promises it will appear at Audible alone for six months.
We’re trying to find someone to do the print edition, but many publishers see not getting audio rights as a total non-starter, so it’s been a bit of a slog so far. Hopefully that changes soon. I love the story, and I would hope people enjoy it on the printed page as well.
Going back to Shoggoths In Traffic, Hollywood loves making movies out of short stories. Are there any stories in Shoggoths that you think could work as a movie?
Well, the title story “Shoggoths In Traffic” would make a fun movie, particularly if paired with the story “Brickomancer,” to be honest.
And if someone wanted to make a movie based on those stories, who would you want them to cast in the main roles?
I keep coming close but not cinching the deal when it comes to stuff like that, so, at this point anyone!
It’s been my experience that short stories are a good way to get to know a writer…though not always. Do you think the stories in Shoggoths In Traffic give people a good sense of what you’re all about?
I would hope it’s a good sense of what I can do as a writer.
Finally, if someone enjoys Shoggoths In Traffic, which of your other short story collections would you suggest they read next, and once they’ve read that, which of your novels would you suggest they read?
For collections, I’d try Tides From The New Worlds.
For novels, go check out A Stranger In The Citadel. It’s free if you have an Audible paid subscription, and then mash the “like” button.