Q&A with Robert Reed

Rumored to be the most prolific Asimov’s author, Robert Reed is back in our pages (and here on our blog!) with a delightfully despicable character in “Love Songs for the Very Awful,” in our current issue on sale now!

Asimov’s Editors: What is the story behind “Love Songs for the Very Awful”?

Robert Reed: “Love Songs for the Very Awful” began as a title, which I found intriguing, and later, the presence of a predatory man and the various women who can accept him for what he is. At least temporarily.


AE: How did this story germinate? Was there a spark of inspiration, or did it come to you slowly?

RR: Most of my stories produce a rain of sparks. Inspiration is rarely in short supply with me, and quite a lot gets thrown away before the piece feels done. One advantage about doing this for so many years . . . I usually recognize when things aren’t working, and I escape before too much time has been wasted.


AE: How did the title for this piece come to you?

RR: I don’t remember writing the title. I was playing with future works and must have written down those words, and then it got put away for several months before I came back to it.

AE: What is your history with Asimov’s?

RR: My history with Asimov’s? Extensive and long lasting, and I am rumored to be the magazine’s most prolific author. I won a Hugo with a novella first published here: “A Billion Eves.”

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

RR: Several of my earlier Asimov’s stories involve characters who should be considered sociopathic or even psychopathic. “She Sees My Monsters Now” is one of those beauties. What makes this story different, in part, is that my protagonist is self-absorbed but not particularly dangerous. I mean, I wouldn’t shy away from him on the street, and most of humanity wouldn’t have any trouble chatting with him.


AE: What inspired you to start writing?

RR: Writing sounded like fun, and I thought I would be good at it. But it took a decade of hard labor and rejection slips to give me any hope about either motivation. I liked writing, even when the stories flopped. And I was getting closer to making sales, which kept me in the hunt for making this into my profession.


AE: What other projects are you currently working on?

RR: I am finishing up the next novel set in my Marrow universe. My intention is to hire a copyeditor and then put it up for sale as a Kindle book. Why that route? Because I have more books to write, and I’m 61, and publishing has changed radically, and I don’t relish the opportunity to sit across from an editor who tells me that this is great or that is wonderful, but I should have more relatable characters in my stories. (The future Marrow novels will be as bizarre as anything that I have ever written. If I live to finish them.)


AE: If you could choose one SFnal universe to live in, what universe would it be, and why?

RR: My Marrow universe seems pretty fun. But really, on my most creative day, I couldn’t have imagined one tenth of the last several years living inside this SFnal universe of ours.


AE: What are you reading right now?

RR: I just finished Daniel Ellsberg’s The Doomsday Machine, which has led me to the conclusion that all of us who were alive in the early sixties also died in the early sixties. There was no reasonable way to escape nuclear annihilation. And everything since has been an illusion produced by kind or evil aliens. I’m not sure which yet.


Robert Reed is the author of nearly 300 stories and novels. He won a Hugo for the novella, “A Billion Eves,” published in the October/November 2006 issue of Asimov’s. His novella, “Truth,” has been made into a small, intense film called Prisoner X. Among Reed’s recent efforts is a giant alternate history novel in four pieces. The Trials of Quentin Maurus can be found only on Kindle Books and Amazon.


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