Q: Today I’m joined by Randee Dawn who not only writes quite a bit of fiction and nonfiction as well! Randee, if you can, please share a bit about yourself and what types of stories you enjoy writing as well as which genres you write in?
A: Certainly! I’m a Brooklyn-based writer, originally from Maryland. I don’t see a need to limit myself to one genre – so I write in many! I’ve written everything from weird horror to tales with a twist at the end to lighthearted fantasy. But I find the common theme in what I write is taking the ordinary world and finding a way to inject a twist – either with something unexpected happening, or mythical creatures taking over, or sometimes both. I have nothing against hard science fiction or high fantasy, but those are not the areas I generally write in. Other themes I tend to play with are tormented love relationships and musicians/the music scene. I currently write non-fiction about TV and movies primarily these days, but I got my start covering music – and I still have a warm spot in my heart there.
Q: Your first novel is being released in 2022 by Solaris/Rebellion and is called ‘Tune In Tomorrow’. What can you tell us about it?
A: My first real magazine job was with Soap Opera Digest, where I covered several soaps for about five years. I loved the milieu – such characters and big, sweeping stories. I also have huge respect for the actors – they get very little prep time, hardly any rehearsals and can have dozens of pages of dialogue to enact daily. Eventually, I moved on from that, but always thought it’d be great to do some kind of genre story within that universe. Eventually I focused on our modern-day soaps – reality TV shows. Because let’s face it, Real Housewives is just as scripted as a soap, and just as frothy and full of the storylines we love! Plus, there’s a lot of nonsense going on behind the camera, too. So I started thinking: What if I married my interest in urban fantasy with the reality TV show world? What if there was a soap – or reality TV show – that was put together by mythical creatures … but starred humans? And that’s where the idea came from. Tune In Tomorrow is about an aspiring actress who gets “discovered” by these very unusual creatures, and is plunged into the nutty backstage (and on camera) world of a mythic-run reality show called … Tune In Tomorrow! There’s magic, and a high-strung diva, a possible murder mystery and a tormented romance, or two!
Q: Outside of writing fiction, you also write for a slew of amazing magazines! How is it to switch between the worlds of fiction and nonfiction?
A: One of my mantras is you never know where the next good idea will come from. This applies for fiction and non-fiction. Obviously, I don’t fictionalize my profiles or feature stories, but being a fiction writer has taught be how to be curious about real-life people: Humans are so complex and contradictory, far more than any character we could make up on a page. I can only hope to bring a little of what I know from one side of things into the other. Writing for magazines keeps my brain sharp for the next good idea – for an article, or a story.
Q: Do you have a recent piece somewhere that you’re rather proud of and would like to share?
A: Well, there are a bunch of options, so here’s a small selection.
- Headline: Slavery stories take a back seat as diversity breaks into awards season in new ways https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/awards/story/2021-01-19/diversity-films-minari-david-copperfield-first-cow-sound-metal
- Headline: Fran Lebowitz’s top ‘Jeopardy!’ category and why Scorsese is angry about ‘Taxi Driver’: https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/awards/story/2021-06-15/fran-lebowitz-documentary-pretend-its-a-city-martin-scorsese
- More from me: https://randeedawn.com/article/
Fiction: Most of my work is not available online, but in 2019 I set myself a task:
- Write a 100 word scary story (for October/Halloween) each day for a month. Here they are, collected: https://randeedawn.com/11-01-2019-31-ways-to-say-i-scare-you-the-collected-100-word-drabbles-of-october/
- More from me: https://randeedawn.com/books/
Q: You’ve also written quite a few short stories. Which is your current favorite and where can we check it out?
A: Definitely “Cat Person,” from Horror for the Throne: One-Sitting Reads. I’m a fan of the twisty tale type story popularized by Alfred Hitchcock, Saki, The Twilight Zone and Roald Dahl (his adult stories). Here’s a page of information about it, and a link to buy the book on Amazon.
Q: Have any of the characters or worlds that you’ve written called out to you to return to them? If so, which one(s) and why?
A: All the time! I have two novels and a third partially written that all take place in the same “umbrella” universe – they’re not quite sequels but they all exist in a big story I’m trying to tell about what might happen if the divide between the mythical world and the human world dissolved. I’ve had two short stories published that use characters from that umbrella world – “The Way Is Clear” (available in Another World: Stories of Portal Fantasy) and “Can’t Find My Way Home” (available in Children of a Different Sky), two anthologies you can find links to on my page. I really love the wide idea of examining what it might be like for multiple sets of characters to experience what that dissolving of the border between worlds would be like, and it echoes in part because of the real-world border crises we’re experiencing these days. Statelessness, being torn from your roots, being a refugee: These are all big stories that deserve to be heard. I’m hoping to find homes for those two novels (or even the full ongoing series) at some point.
Q: Where were you born (and/or are you from) and how has that affected your writing?
A: I was born in Virginia, raised in Maryland. Hard to say how it affected my writing – except by way of the people I grew up with, who encouraged (or didn’t) my early stories. I do find my characters wandering back to Maryland from time to time – it happens in Tune In Tomorrow, and the fictional town that the reality show takes place in is named after a housing development I grew up in – but I’m not sure I could say my writing is steeped in some kind of local culture. I grew up very suburban in a planned community, and it doesn’t fire my imagination the way spending much of my adult life in a city has. But I do regard Maryland as “my” Maryland, a place where a big part of my heart still resides.
Q: You received a degree in broadcast journalism from Boston University. Clearly, this has to help play into writing for magazines and journals but did it have any impact on writing fiction?
A: Not really. I did write some fiction while in college, but only took one class for it. I wasn’t courageous enough to share my fiction publicly with many people, and that’s on me. I had a bright idea to see if I could wrangle an independent study class where I’d have time to devote to a novel, and figured I had a great idea for an advisor: a known author whose class I’d taken – and who’d given me positive feedback on the work I shared there. I tracked him down after class and he barely grunted at me. I managed to squeak out my request and he answered with a curt, “No.” And that was it. I was cowed, and never asked another teacher. Sometimes that courage you screw to the sticking place comes unglued. That said, my freshman English teacher was encouraging of my essays, and that led me to becoming a columnist on the school paper.
Q: You’ve also appeared on quite a few panels and conventions. How did you get into that and what do you love and/or hate about appearing on them?
A: I met a bunch of incredibly interesting people at some parties near Boston, and they were heavily in the science-fiction and fantasy literary scene. There are a lot of great conventions in the New England area, and with a little help I was encouraged to check them out. I think those who haven’t been to a con may think they’re all enormous signing sessions with thousands of people and long lines for panels – but the ones I went to like Readercon, Arisia and the (now defunct) Lunacon were smaller affairs, with welcoming people and lots of opportunity to participate. I started out helping some friends from the parties in the Green Room for panelists, then became a panelist myself, and made a whole lot of friends along the way. I love going into these hermetically sealed bubbles where the world is geek and fandom and writing and genre for three or four days at a time. It’s self- and life-affirming for me. What I tend not to like is they’re all outside of New York City and require time and effort to get to! I do wish we had the equivalent of an Arisia here in the city.
Q: Do you have any upcoming panels you can share details on?
A: I expect to be on panels at Arisia in the new year – I’ve either been on or helped run the TV Year in Review panel for several years now, and always bring industry swag to give away there – and I’m hoping to have a role at DisCon III in December, but as of right now I don’t have any panel specifics I can share.
Q: Anything else?
A: Absolutely! I’m curating and hosting the Rooftop Readings at Ample Hills in Brooklyn reading series. We feature three authors each month sharing their works at this ticketed reading – where you get two scoops of Ample Hills’ delicious ice cream along with your ticket – and it’s been going gangbusters. We read outdoors while the weather is good, but there’s an indoor space if necessary for those who’ve been vaccinated. We started in May, and I’m actually reading this month for the first time there along with C.S.E. Cooney and E.C. Ambrose. More information can be found here:
And we can always use more authors who want to read! I’m booking for 2022 now. Just sign up here:
Finally, if I’ve managed to talk you into being interested in my work, do please visit my page and maybe even sign up for my (approximately once a month) newsletter! You’ll get a free book if you do….
Newsletter link: https://randeedawn.com/newsletter/
Main page: https://randeedawn.com/
Thanks for making the space for me to jabber on!
— Randee Dawn