AISFP 115 – Ferrett Steinmetz

At the recent World Fantasy convention, Brent caught up with Ferrett Steinmetz, author of a number of short stories including the recent As Above, So Below at Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Ferrett chats about what it takes to write a great short story (the guy should know, he’s s slush editor for Apex Magazine and up for the John W. Campbell Award as best new science fiction or fantasy author), how he tries to steer clear of his writer jealousy over Keffy RM Kehrli (who is also up for the Campbell) and Catherynne M. Valente and why his blog, The Watchtower of Destruction, helps him — and others — deal with life’s many tribulations. This includes his story about how he overcame being a target for bullies.

This episode is brought to you by Heart of the Ronin, a novel by Travis Heermann. Ken’ishi is just 17 years old and an orphan after the mysterious death of his parents. He dreams of training with a master who will some day help him become a samurai. Traveling with Silver Crane, a sword that belonged to his father, and a dog, Akao, for a sidekick, Ken’ishi’s adventures begin after he murders a policeman and must flee. Just when he thinks he has escaped trouble, he saves Kazuko, the daughter of an influential lord, from a group of bandits. In return, he is asked to live in the lord’s house, where he falls in love with Kazuko. Forced to flee once again, Ken’ishi goes on a hunt to discover his past while fighting off warriors and demons, not to mention worrying about the bounty that’s on his head. Will he find out if his father really was a samurai or why the sword he wields seems to be infused with magic? Read the novel and listen to the podcast on

Link: Dean Wesley Smith on Writing Speed.

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  1. Here’s the link to Dean’s blog post on Writing Speed (the one we mentioned on the podcast):

  2. Writing the best novel you can is something a prolific writer can do just as much as a slow one… Every story I write is practice so that I can master my craft and write better and better books. If I only practice by writing one book a year, that’s only one book’s worth of practice. If I write seven, that’s seven chances to hone my craft and that many more hours spent doing it.

    Slow doesn’t equal good. Slow is just slow, not bad or good. Same with fast. You can write a good book fast and a bad book slowly. Or the other way around.

    Practice is important. If you want to write the best books you can, then write. Period. 🙂
    (For the record, it wasn’t until I really sucked it up and started following Heinlein’s Rules for real, including rule 3, that I saw any success at all with my writing. So yeah, I’m biased because the Rules are working for me and I’m a prolific writer now that I’m following them instead of pretending that writing less made me a better writer)

    Anyway, great podcast and good discussion. Thanks! 🙂

  3. Outstanding interview. I could listen to Ferrett Steinmetz talk all day.

  4. Shaun Farrell says

    Thanks for your take on Heinlein’s Rules, Annie. Having not written much the past few years, I think I need to follow them (religiously) for a year or two and see what happens.

  5. Debs …

    Thanks for the kind words about the interview — and I could talk with Ferrett all day. If you ever get the opportunity to run into him at a con, make sure to stop him to say hello; he’s every bit as considerate a human being as he is an excellent writer.

  6. That really was a fantastic interview. The Shining example was a particularly good example that really got to the meat of what Ferrett was talking about. It certainly inspired me to go back to my good story and make it great!

    With regards to that tricky Heinlein rule, yes it’s difficult. My personal take is that it takes a hell of a lot of experience to be able to write a first draft that is basically publishable and just needs a going over for grammar/spelling. I am nowhere near there yet! I mean, I just read through one of my first drafts and it’s plain to see that it’s not ready. I wonder what he might say to someone like me.


  1. […] Interview with SFWA member Ferrett Steinmetz on the hour-long Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing podcast: here. […]

  2. […] been having a lot of discussion at the AISFP podcast about Heinlein’s rules for writing, particularly rule 3 and the merits (or lack thereof) of […]

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