Q&A with Wendy Nikel

Wendy Nikel makes her Analog debut with a short story titled “12:20 Bus from the Basics.” She packs a lot into a few pages with this tight, thought-provoking story. Don’t miss it while it’s still on sale.


Analog Editor: What is the story behind “12:20 Bus from the Basics”?

WN: This story explores the concept of a universal basic income—a set income provided to each citizen in a country, which would allow for everyone to afford their basic needs. The concept was something that intrigued me, and I wanted to write a story about how something like this might change the world around us and change an individual’s life. No economic system is going to be a perfect solution, nor will it ever take the place of basic human decency and kindness.


AE: What is your history with Analog?

WN: I have been writing science fiction since 2013 and have been submitting stories to Analog for just as long. It took me a while to figure out what I was doing (my apologies to the slush team for all those truly awful early attempts), but I’m thrilled to finally have a story in its pages, and I hope for more to come in the future!


AE: How much or little do current events impact your writing?

WN: I follow a couple RSS feeds for science news and get weekly issues of Nature magazine, and I’ve found that both are great sources for story ideas. Although I was never particularly fond of science classes in school (I took the bare minimum of science requirements in college), I’ve found that, when I know I’m not going to be tested on it, I do really enjoy learning about the world around us and exploring its possible futures through fiction.


AE: Are there any themes that you find yourself returning to throughout your writing? If yes, what and why?

WN: One theme I find myself returning to is that those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. Humanity is constantly growing in its knowledge, and while it’s important to look forward to what could be, it’s just as important to look back at what’s already come so that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past.


AE: How do you deal with writers’ block?

WN: Often, if I’m experiencing writers’ block, it means that some element of the story isn’t working or that I’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere in the plot. I reread what I’ve written and mark the spot where I last felt like the story was really working well and delete everything after that point (or copy/paste to a different file, just in case). It’s a bit like time travel: if I can fix that linchpin, the rest tends to work out smoothly after that.


AE: What other projects are you currently working on?

WN: Right now, I’m preparing for the publication of my third time travel novella. The Cassandra Complex will be released by World Weaver Press on May 7. It’s the story of a young woman from an eco-friendly, solarpunk-esque 22nd century who goes back in time to the year 1914 with a well-intentioned plan to rewrite history. It’s part of a series that begins with The Continuum but can also be read as a standalone.


AE: What SFnal prediction would you like to see come true?

WN: I’m ready to see more varied, cleaner, and more efficient modes of transportation. As much as I love a good road trip, I’d also love to see more high-speed trains, space elevators, and solar-powered vehicles being developed in real life. Straight-up teleportation would be nice, too.


AE: What are you reading right now?

WN: In addition to short fiction, I just finished Richard Knaak’s ’20s urban fantasy Black City Demon, and queued up on my devices right now are Mary Robinette Kowal’s Calculating Stars and Mike Chen’s Here And Now And Then. I’m also rereading The Hero’s Guide To Being An Outlaw by Christopher Healy to my kids, and I have a nonfiction book about the survivors of the Titanic on my nightstand.


AE: Do you have any advice for up-and-coming writers?

WN: Don’t worry about a big break-out. The “overnight success” stories we’re told are the exception, not the rule, and most writers succeed through long hours of hard work over many years. Building a career up over time and seeing that gradual improvement can be incredibly rewarding if you take the time to celebrate the steps along the way.


AE: What careers have you had and how do they affect your writing?

WN: I’m a former third-grade teacher-turned-homeschool mom, so a lot of my story ideas come from things that I’m reading about and researching with my kids. I’m a bit of a history buff, so I love exploring historical “what if” questions: What if things had happened differently? What if people in the past had known what we know now? What if history were to repeat itself, with today’s technological advances? I love how there’s always more to learn and explore, especially in the areas of history and science; they’re both an endless source of story ideas.


AE: How can our readers follow you and your writing?

WN: My website is wendynikel.com. I generally post short story releases and news items on facebook.com/wendynikel or you can sign up for my monthly newsletter at http://eepurl.com/bkjwg5.


Wendy Nikel is a speculative fiction author with a degree in elementary education, a fondness for road trips, and a terrible habit of forgetting where she’s left her cup of tea. Her short fiction has been published by Daily Science FictionNature: Futures, and is forthcoming from Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Her time travel novella series, beginning with The Continuum, is available from World Weaver Press. For more info, visit wendynikel.com.

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