Aimee Ogden’s “To Persist, However Changed” [in our May/June issue, on sale now] began with the question of what it felt like to touch the light. Long before that, Aimee’s writing career began with childhood novels about her Legos. Read on to learn more about Aimee’s evolution as a writer, her thoughts on accepting critiques, and the fiction that’s inspired her.
Analog Editor: What is the story behind this piece?
AO: This story was written for a contest in the Codex online writing group, with a prompt that asked what it felt like to touch the darkness or the light. My mind immediately went to the sort of life that might have a more intimate relationship with light that what we enjoy, and the Moon-Mind grew out of that.
AE: How did the title for this piece come to you?
AO: I am a terrible cheater when it comes to titles; I nearly always steal a snippet from within the story’s text itself, something that represents the core of what I wanted to express. The line where “To Persist, However Changed” comes from falls near the end of the story, but it was one of the first pieces of it that I wrote, and right now, in these strange and sad times, it means even more to me than it did then.
AE: What made you think of Analog for this story?
AO: Empathy for a sentient alien biofilm is a big ask, but I hoped that the hard-SF readers at Analog would be interested enough in the premise to buy in!
AE: Are there any themes that you find yourself returning to throughout your writing? If yes, what and why?
AO: I often seem to find myself coming back to stories about families and communities—even, perhaps, communities of bacterial space goo—as well as about resilience, and the power of unity and solidarity as a force for change.
Resist the urge to argue away negative feedback or to claim that critiquers simply aren’t understanding your story in the “correct” way. But also, resist the urge to revise away the character and heart of your story under the direction of conflicting sources of critique in an attempt to please every reader that, in the end, pleases none.
AE: How did you break into writing?
AO: I’ve been writing ever since I can remember, starting with epic novels about the exploits of the characters in my Lego sets when I was ten or eleven, as well as regular forays into fanfiction in high school.
AE: What inspired you to start writing?
AO: Although I’ve been writing since I was a child, I never wrote short fiction until I was in college. During a research project I joined, I discovered short speculative fiction for the first time, most memorably the works of Ursula K. Le Guin and Ted Chiang. Everything I’ve done since then has been in apish imitation of their talent and humanity.
AE: What other projects are you currently working on?
AO: Right now, my desktop is a graveyard of half-finished (or, worse, half-started) projects. I’m slowly hacking away at a secondary-world fantasy novel right now, as well as a hard-science-fiction novella about Moon colonization and a robot private investigator. It’s best not to speak of the dozen or so short story documents I probably have open in various states of disarray in Word right now.
AE: What SFnal prediction would you like to see come true?
AO: I would like to see a future something like the one in LX Beckett’s Gamechanger, where humanity realizes, albeit in the nick of time and at great cost, that life on this planet can be saved, and that it is so very, very worth the cost of the comfort of the haves to protect the have-nots.
AE: What are you reading right now?
AO: I’m reading and very much enjoying Premee Mohammed’s Beneath the Rising, which has a wonderful voice and a terrific plot that keeps me hurrying from page to page, and an aesthetic that feels like Tony Stark took a baseball bat to the Lovecraft mythos and built something out of all the good bits that fell out.
AE: Do you have any advice for up-and-coming writers?
AO: The first and most obvious is: don’t stop writing! Many people may try to convince you otherwise, not least of all yourself. The other, and perhaps more difficult, is to develop the skill of understanding critiques and knowing how to integrate feedback into the revision process. Resist the urge to argue away negative feedback or to claim that critiquers simply aren’t understanding your story in the “correct” way. But also, resist the urge to revise away the character and heart of your story under the direction of conflicting sources of critique in an attempt to please every reader that, in the end, pleases none.
AE: How can our readers follow you and your writing?
AO: I post on Twitter @Aimee_Ogden; my website aimeeogdenwrites.wordpress.com also has a complete list of my publications. With Bennett North, I also coedit the magazine Translunar Travelers Lounge, which you can find at @TranslunarTL and http://translunartravelerslounge.com.