All posts by katherinequevedo

Podcast and poetry announcement: “Exchange (A Coral Study)” and “On Shining in the Darkness”

I’ve been a fan of Tina Connolly for years, so I’m super excited that she’s narrated one of my stories for her podcast, Toasted Cake.  “Exchange (A Coral Study)” is available to listen to now.  This story, which first appeared in Factor Four Magazine, came about when a member of my writing group shared a challenge to incorporate 6 specific words in a story.  I took some memories of visiting the Galápagos Islands and mixed it with my dad’s experience as an international student in college.  I hope this tale helps show how an open mind can create a ripple effect. 

In other news, my latest poem at Sidequest is up, a Spencerian sonnet about an old SEGA Genesis dungeon crawler called Shining in the Darkness.  In the poem it may sound like I’m disparaging the game, but I’m actually very fond of it.  I’ve always loved the storybook graphics, endless pathways forking at right angles, and over-the-top monsters.  It’s just that the game’s title and premise of wandering through a maze set it up so beautifully for symbolism, I couldn’t resist.

Poetry announcement: “Lava Reef Cooldown”

Sidequest has published another of my poems, this one inspired by Lava Reef Zone from one of my all-time favorite video games, Sonic & Knuckles.  This level always stood out to me for the stark difference between Acts 1 and 2, from the colors to the music, the rapid change from fiery to crystal cool. 

This poem was originally going to be about the narrator waiting for the other person to cool down, but I decided I wanted it to be more about shared culpability and recovery, so I changed it.  For research I looked up terms for various cave formations, and once I started reading them the poem practically wrote itself.  Like I mentioned with “The Geologist Speaks,” science can provide so much poetic terminology.

Poetry announcement: “That One Time I Drank the Potion from Super Mario Bros. 2

The first of my gaming poems is available now at Sidequest.  Earlier this year I set a goal to write more free verse, since I tend to gravitate toward formal verse.  As I was on a video game poetry kick, I brainstormed characters, settings, items, and moments from games that stood out to me from childhood.  My mind fell upon the magic potion bottles from Super Mario Bros. 2.  I always liked their sleek, bubbly design, and the bizarre place to which they transported you—Subspace, with its striking color palette. 

But perhaps strangest of all was how you used the potion.  Just throw it.  That’s right, chuck the glass container of liquid onto the ground.  How counterintuitive is that? 

A few years back, we held a Mario themed birthday party for one of my sons.  I labeled all the food and drinks with puntastic names and pictures.  We had “Mix Your Own Magic Potions”—lemon lime pop, grenadine syrup, and maraschino cherries.  While reminiscing about that a few months ago, I started wondering what it would be like to actually drink the potion in the game.  And since this was during what’ll hopefully be the height of the COVID-19 shutdown in my area, travel and escape occupied my mind.  As I said at Worldcon, sometimes the poem finds you. 

Now, as wildfires rage across my state and others, the sky bears the rusty yellows and purples of a bruise, and yesterday’s afternoon sun looked like the moon during a lunar eclipse, an eerie pink dot.  Plus, my power was out this morning until about 10 minutes ago.  Kind of feels like I’m in Subspace right now.  I hope everyone stays safe.

My author interview on Maggie Slater’s website

Want to find out the connection between my writing process and movie trailers?  Or what industry the Siguenza sisters in “Sasha’s Pattern, Sonia’s Edge” were originally going to work in before I changed it to VR?  Or what was the very first part of “Desert Locks” I ever wrote?  You can find all that and more in my interview with Maggie Slater, in which we talk short story vending machines, COVID-19, and the power of visualizing a table of contents.

An interview and a poetry series coming soon

I’m super excited to share two pieces of news:  First, author and editor Maggie Slater will be publishing an interview with me on her website early next month.  If you haven’t read Maggie’s work, do yourself a favor and go check it out.  It’s often gritty and always poignant. 

Second, the fine folks at Sidequest will be publishing a series of my poetry in their Game Enjambment column.  My video game themed poems will appear over the course of several months, one poem every couple weeks.  You’ll find a mix of free verse and formal structures, focusing on games from my youth that I played on Nintendo and SEGA systems, plus a few others thrown in there for variety.  I’m glad these poems of mine have found a home at a place that amplifies underrepresented voices in the gaming community.

Following up on speculative poetry

I enjoyed getting to be a panelist, moderator, and Q&A wrangler at Worldcon this week.  But in my last panel, the one on speculative poetry, I didn’t have a chance to chime in on one audience question because we were almost out of time.  Normally that wouldn’t be an issue, but I’m not convinced we fully answered the submitter’s question.  I’ll try to address it here. 

What do you look for in a good speculative poem?  (I think that was the phrasing.) While I agree with my fellow panelists that it’s highly subjective—indeed, what makes a poem good even if it’s not speculative, or for that matter, what makes a poem a poem in the first place?—I don’t think that’s a satisfying, complete answer.  I believe that through the lens of one’s subjectivity, one can still pinpoint a few criteria that others may find helpful. 

When filtered through my own subjectivity, I look at the following:  1) imagery, 2) word choice, and 3) format.  And these apply to any poem, speculative or not.  When a poet creates striking, memorable images (often constructed from concrete details and engaging multiple senses), using beautiful language (often employing words in unexpected yet effective ways), and arranges it all on the page in a presentation that feels cohesive to what the poem is intended to be (making the poem feel even more like something that only this poet could have created), that combination is most likely to stick with me.  That’s what gets me sneaking back to the poem to revisit that moment, that impression, that alchemy the poet has crafted. 

And yes, what “checks the box” for me will be highly subjective.  When I talk about beautiful language, that can take so many forms.  Horror, humor, despondence, wonder.  It depends on what I interpret to be the poem’s intended effect.  It’s part of the poem’s synergy, how the whole transcends the sum of its parts.  I wish we’d had more time to really do this topic justice.

My Worldcon 78 panel schedule

The schedule for CoNZealand has been posted, and you can find me on these three panels:

Future Economics

In NZST:  29 Jul 2020, Wednesday 1:00pm – 1:50pm

In PDT: 28 Jul 2020, Tuesday 6:00pm-6:50pm

Will we ever fully disentangle from the physical? Blockchains, cryptocurrency, differently organic sentience. Will economic concepts of supply, demand, money, resources hold up? Evolve? Or be completely different?  And what might they look like?

Panelists:  Karl Schroeder, Katherine Quevedo, Eli K. P. William, Jesper Stage

Why We Read/Write/Edit Anthologies

In NZST:  1 Aug 2020, Saturday 6:00pm – 6:50pm

In PDT: 31 Jul 2020, Friday 11:00pm-11:50pm

In a world of Netflix, podcasts, and video games, where the most lucrative advances are from novels at big five publishers, are anthologies still viable? A panel of authors share why they still edit/write for anthologies, list their favorite “good reads” and invite the audience to share their recommendations.

Panelists:  Dr. Jack Dann, Mimi Mondal, Katherine Quevedo, Aidan Doyle

Speculative Poetry 2020 The Rhyme of the SF Mariner

In NZST:  2 Aug 2020, Sunday 11:00am – 11:50am

In PDT: 1 Aug 2020, Saturday 4:00pm-4:50pm

What’s the state of play with science fiction, fantasy and horror poetry in 2020? And how much of a distinction is there between speculative poetry and poetry overall?

Panelists:  Ryn Yee, Brandon O’Brien, Joyce Chng, Katherine Quevedo, Hester J. Rook

Two virtual events coming up

If you’d like to connect with me online, you’ll have two opportunities over the next few weeks. 

First up, on July 18th, I’ll be co-teaching a workshop for writers on Creating Non-Human Characters.  Elizabeth Beechwood and I will be covering how to delve into animal and object characters to make them resonate with readers.  We’ll incorporate discussion, writing exercises, and lots of examples.  Whether you have a particular character in mind or you want to learn a new technique, we’d love to have you join us. 

Later on, I’ll be participating in this year’s Worldcon as a panelist.  This online con will take place July 29th through August 2nd (New Zealand time, so dates may vary depending on your time zone), with tons of programming to check out.  More information on my schedule to come!

Free ebook on Amazon today

After Dinner Conversation is offering the ebook of my story “Venom in the Cloud Forest” for free today and tomorrow, as well as “Two-Percenters” by CJ Erick

I completed the first draft of “Venom in the Cloud Forest” about a decade ago, well before it found its original home in the Guardbridge Books anthology Myriad Lands Vol. 2: Beyond the Edge.  At the time when I wrote it, social media was prevalent, but the landscape looked somewhat different than it does today, and “fake news” was less of a household term although it’s been a longtime issue along with historical negationism.  

I’m simultaneously pleased and dismayed that my story continues to be relevant.