LSQ Year 10 Special — blogger interview: meet Beth McCabe

We’re almost halfway through Year 10, but we still have plenty of staff and bloggers to chat with. Today we talk with twofer Beth McCabe, one of our bloggers and authors!

LSQ: Tell us about how you got involved with LSQ’s blog — how long have you been a blogger, how did you first learn about LSQ? What made you want to join the blog?

Beth: I did a blog on my own a few years ago, but it wasn’t a regular thing. LSQ was totally on my radar for story submission, and “The Mercenary” was accepted in 2017. That led to the wonderful editing staff of LSQ including me in the invitation for authors to join the blog staff. I took a closer look at the blog and didn’t hesitate.

I am still impressed every week by the quality of posts. Hard to find a more thoughtful, well- educated (in all senses of the word), well-read, fearless crew. Also, it’s super helpful to blog as part of a community rather than trying to do it on one’s own. And the monthly deadline is great. I like knowing that however busy I am, I need to string 700 or 800 words together in a quasi-readable fashion every month.

LSQ: Tell us about your monthly column, “Breakfast Anytime.” What topics and themes do you explore? How do you curate fresh subject matter? Does any of what you cover relate to your own writing?

Beth: It’s all been sort of a surprise to me. My first post was about time travel, hence the name of the column, but I don’t think I ever wrote on that topic again. (I still like the name, though.) I thought I would talk a lot about challenges in my own writing, which I find helpful in others’ posts. But I rarely mention that either.

I’ve had an enormous amount of fun talking about space exploration in fiction, early women spec writers, and bookstore cats. Who knew? I write what I’m passionate about, and that seems to do the trick for coming up with fresh ideas. Every now and then my daughter Mikah collaborates with me on a post, which is delightful. Talk about nerd mom-daughter bonding activities.

LSQ: What do you see as “hot topics” that writers and readers of speculative fiction are encountering right now? Have these sorts of issues changed over the past 5 or 10 years?

Beth: That’s a really good question. I would like to see more women writing hard sci-fi, which loosely defined is fiction based on current science fact. I feel like we are very comfortable in our hut in the woods with our herbs and cats. I’d like us to get out and claim more of the universe. And not just space travel – biology, neuroscience, environmental science. It’s a stretch if you don’t have a science background, which I don’t. But I don’t think any of us are afraid of some hard work and research.

Gender is obviously a hot topic these days, and spec fiction lends itself well to exploring it. On the feminist side, I love reading LSQ’s younger bloggers and authors. No crumbs for these women. They demand a seat at the table! It’s a joy to older feminists like me to see.

LSQ: What are some of the most interesting topics for you that you’ve enjoyed writing about for the blog? What are some themes you’d like to delve into in the future?

Beth: I mentioned some of my favorites above. To be honest, I’m not sure what I’m going to delve into in the future. When I finish my current series something will bite me on the ass and off I’ll go.

LSQ: Can you tell us a bit about your own writing? Are you working on any other writing projects at the moment? If so, can you tell us a bit about them?

Beth: Like most writers, I’m sort of solitary and prickly about talking about this. We’re a superstitious lot. The answer is yes, always, although I tend to take over-long hiatuses sometimes while my next round of characters beat on the inside of my skull to be let out. I’m revising three stories for submission right now, and feeling a bit at odds because I don’t know what my next new story will be about. There’s no one beating on the inside of my head, and I’m lonely.

One thing I’m happy about is that after a string of rejections in the literary market (and a few hard-won placements) I returned to my spec roots. I realized that adding a spec element, whether it is a light touch of magic realism or hardcore space opera, only enhances the emotional content and arc of a story. I have had more success in this market, not to mention a lot more fun.

LSQ: Lastly, have you pickled any unusual vegetables lately?

Beth: See, this is what I love about the awesome LSQ staff! Up close and personal. The answer is no, I’ve been sticking with cucumbers. Boring, right?