The Writer’s Digest Podcast, Episode 6: Jeff & Ann VanderMeer on Anthologies, the Genre Fiction Divide, and Deep Reading


Welcome, welcome, writers! From fiction to nonfiction, whatever your genre persuasion—be it speculative stories with an ecological twist or weird tales that bend the laws of time and space—the Writer’s Digest podcast is for you.

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing writing and publishing power couple Jeff VanderMeer and Ann VanderMeer on the show!

Called “the weird Thoreau” by the New Yorker for his engagement with ecological issues, Jeff VanderMeer is a New York Times bestselling writer of several novels including Borne, which received widespread critical acclaim, and Wonderbook, the world’s first fully illustrated creative writing guide.

Jeff also co-edited several iconic anthologies with his wife, the Hugo Award winning editor and anthologist Ann VanderMeer.

Ann currently serves as an acquiring editor for Tor.com and Weird Fiction Review as well as the Editor-in-Residence for Shared Worlds, a Science Fiction and Fantasy writing camp for high school students.

She has edited several anthologies including The Big Book of Science Fiction and the upcoming The Big Book of Classic Fantasy with her husband.

Both Jeff and Ann will be speaking at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference this August in New York City, and you can get a sneak peak at what they’re planning for their sessions in the episode.

So listen in as Jeff, Ann, and I chat about the art and science that goes into crafting and editing anthologies.

This episode of the Writer’s Digest Podcast is brought to you by Writer’s Digest Annual Conference. For more info about the Writer’s Digest Conference this summer check out writersdigestconference.com. And don’t forget to use the coupon code mentioned in the episode to get $25 off your registration!

In this episode Jeff and Ann share:

  • Why being “in the cracks” of the literary and genre fiction divide aids your career.
  • Building an anthology the right way.
  • The art and science of deep reading.
  • Common pitfalls new writers make, and how to avoid them.
  • The benefits of deemphasizing critique when teaching writers.

Listen in to hear Jeff and Ann talk about all these things… and more!

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About Jeff VanderMeer

Jeff VanderMeer is a New York Times bestselling writer who has been called “the weird Thoreau” by the New Yorker for his engagement with ecological issues. His most recent novel, the national bestseller Borne, received widespread critical acclaim.

His prior novels include the Southern Reach trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance). Annihilation won the Nebula and Shirley Jackson Awards, has been translated into 35 languages, as well as made into a film from Paramount Pictures directed by Alex Garland.

Jeff’s nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Atlantic, Slate, Salon, and the Washington Post, and he has co-edited several iconic anthologies with his wife, the Hugo Award winning editor Ann VanderMeer. Jeff is also the author of Wonderbook, the world’s first fully illustrated creative writing guide.

Jeff served as the 2016-2017 Trias Writer in Residence at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He has spoken at the Guggenheim, the Library of Congress, and the Arthur C. Clarke Center for the Human Imagination. He is also going to be the closing keynote speaker at this year’s Writer’s Digest Annual Conference in New York City.

About Ann VanderMeer

Ann VanderMeer is an award-winning editor & anthologist. She currently serves as an acquiring editor for Tor.com and Weird Fiction Review. She is also the Editor-in-Residence for Shared Worlds, a Science Fiction and Fantasy writing camp for high school students.

Her latest anthologies include The Time Traveler’s Almanac, Sisters of the Revolution, The Big Book of Science Fiction and the upcoming The Big Book of Classic Fantasy.

Ann will also be giving a presentation at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference this August in New York City titled, “Adventures in Editing.”

Links and resources

Need another example of how authors and editors collaborate to create magnificent results? Learn about how an author-editor relationship works when publishing a novel from author Jenni Walsh and Tor editor Bess Cozby in their interview on DIY MFA Radio.

Want to gain even more insight into the art of deep reading and other writing techniques? There are some DIY MFA interviews that will help. Listen to this episode featuring the editor of The Paris Review Lorin Stein to learn how to really dig into literature and read like a writer. And for tips on how to get the most out of any writing class or workshop, check out this interview with creative writing teacher Ken Murray.


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