Interview: with Toni Wi
Toni Wi is a speculative fiction writer from New Zealand. She has a Master’s degree from the University of Canterbury and an interest in science and policy. Her flash pieces have been published in Sponge, Mayhem and Regeneration: New Zealand Speculative Fiction II. She is part of the Hagley Writer’s Institute in Christchurch, where she is working on a novel. You can find her on Twitter.
Hi, Toni. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi, I’m Toni. I live in New Zealand and I write speculative fiction. I’ve always been a big reader and I’ve been writing since as far back as I can remember. My first ever short story was about a brother and sister who helped a time travelling knight, and my teacher read it at our school assembly (it was a very small school). Nowadays I’m working on a novel, a short story collection and a novella in flash for NaNoWriMo. When I’m not doing geeky things I’m doing nerdy things in the realm of biodiversity, biosecurity and conservation.
Do you have any particular writing rituals you are comfortable sharing?
I wish I did. I love rituals. If I’m really motivated I will make a bullet point list of everything I need to write in that scene. But I usually just stare at a blank document for a while until something happens. Or I make a cup of tea. Tea! That is my ritual.
Are there any horror/fantasy/sci-fi tropes or sub genres which you feel are played out? And vice versa, what tropes would you like to see more of?
I’m not sure what’s played out or not, because I’m a very selective reader. The stories I’m loving at the moment have characters that are traditionally under-represented in genre fiction. In this way, classic tropes take on a new light. It’s not so much the tropes that are played out, but perspectives that need to change and develop. Diversity is key, in life and in literature.
I want to see more indigenous fantasy and science fiction, different types of gothic horror, genre mashups, gender fluid characters and societies, different kinds of bodies and voices and experiences exploring, or upturning, classic themes and tropes.
There’s a million ways to write a vampire story, for example. Put them in space, make them saints, tribal legends, literal gods, only women, or allergic to blood. Change the perspective, experiment, and take risks. Speculative fiction is the perfect vehicle for new voices and old stories.
What books are beside your bed right now?
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. Uprooted is one of my favourite books, so I’m really looking forward to this one.
Published or unpublished, what's the hardest scene you've written?
Probably this action scene in my current WIP that took me a solid few days to write. I wrote parts of it a paragraph at a time, and I had to keep re-reading what I’d done to remember who was where and holding what and which parts were injured. I’d either make a very good, or very bad, continuity editor, considering how long it took me to write a fight scene.
How important is social media to you as an indie author?
It’s not terribly important, but it is cool. I like connecting with other writerly folk on Twitter, and social media is great for staying motivated and accountable for stuff. I use Instagram a lot for sharing what I’m reading, so mostly I just use social media for the social side of things. Community building. Which I guess for a writer is pretty important after all? On that note, feel free to follow me on Twitter and Instagram to chat about books and whatnot.