Meet Andy Hodges

Every Friday, we meet a member of the BFS and peer deep into their soul (or, at least, a form they filled out). Want to be featured? Email us: online@britishfantasysociety.org

Name, including preferred pronouns:
Andy Hodges (he/they)

Which region are you based in?
West Lothian, Scotland

If you write, which genre: 
Sci-fi and fantasy.

If you don’t write, what do you do?
I’m a full-time fiction developmental and line editor who writes on the side. I used to be a cultural anthropologist, and I’ve published three nonfiction books: one on youth subcultures in Croatia, another on a Croatian shipyard, and an anthropology study of an astronomical observatory in Serbia.

Are you drawn to any specific SFFH sub-genres?
high fantasy, dark fantasy, literary fantasy, subterranean fantasy, social science fiction, cosmic horror, fairytale retellings, queer fantasy romance. I love YA for the immediacy and for shorter books.

Your influences

Tell us about the book/film/thing that got you into SFFH: What was it? How old were you? What impact did it have on you?

Dr Who was my main childhood influence. My uncle is a massive Whovian and every time I visited his house, I’d take a Dr Who video home with me. I was six or seven when I first started watching it and used to imagine the school picnic benches were a Tardis taking me on different adventures each playtime. LOTR was a big influence too, but that came later. I read it cover to cover in my first year of high school.

How does that early influence show up in your work now?

Bits of that imagination and those stories emerge in my own fiction writing, for sure. My current novel, The Firecaves, is subterranean YA speculative fiction, and I can see an influence in some of the action scenes, climbing up ducts, etc. The Tom Baker episodes set on Skaro are subtly present. Oh, and my novel protagonist, Ollie, shares some qualities with Ace – the best Dr Who companion of all time. Smoke bombs instead of Nitro-9.

(Pictured: Character art of Ollie by Nate)

And then with editing and coaching, well, I get to experience different worlds and characters vicariously, much like a trip in the Tardis.

Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?

My style is at the sparse end of commercial, and I use bits of poetic imagery, mixing imagery and metaphors linked to light with the other senses in the dark Firecaves setting. 

My inspiration is pretty much a mixture of the Scottish countryside, Central Eastern Europe (where I lived for ten years), with social dynamics and themes mixed in from my involvement and interest in queer, feminist, and antifascist initiatives. 

Who do you look to as a genre hero? Why?

I’m a big fan of Ursula Le Guin and explore culture, gender, sexuality and environmental themes in my writing. I used to work as a cultural anthropologist, so there’s a shared background to Le Guin that shows up in my writing and developmental editing, too.

Your work

You’re stuck in an elevator for 60 seconds with that hero, and they want you to describe your work. Give us the pitch.

In the distant future, imagine a society where Renaissance natural magic and alchemy traditions have become popular, and people’s bodies adapt fluidly to the biomes they live in. 

Now, imagine a group of fossil fuel technology revivalists who hate this new status quo. Ollie (he/they) from the boreal biome gets on the wrong side of them, and when war breaks out, they must prevent an alchemical substance that could fix and stop everyone’s adaptations from falling into the wrong hands. Ollie goes on a quest into the Firecaves to destroy this substance, meeting cave society and adapting to the cave biome and society on their way. So basically an alchemical heroine’s journey.

What are you working on right now?

My main writing project is The Firecaves. I’m at the self-editing/revising stage and have a developmental editor booked (yes, I’m a developmental editor and editors need editing, too; we’re just too close to our own stories).

Thinking about all the stories/work you’ve done, what sticks out most in your mind? Why?

Of all the books I’ve edited, I Am the Swarm stands out – it’s a novel in verse about a teenage girl whose emotions manifest as swarms of insects. I love the poetry. I copyedited it, and it’ll be out with Viking next year.

Where and when do you create/are you at your most creative?

I create mostly at home. Writing is less linear than editing. For writing I thrive off the buzz in a café or airport (I have a thing for liminal spaces). But for editing I need my two-screen setup and the quiet of my home office. I’m most creative first thing in the morning and often write for an hour before starting paid editing work. By the evening all I have the energy for is audiobooks or Netflix.

(Pictured: Andy’s bookshelf at home)

What’s the best advice you’ve received about creativity?

Haha, I like Roberto Bolaño’s advice … but this routine doesn’t suit everyone:

“Write in the morning, revise in the afternoon, read at night, and spend the rest of your time exercising your diplomacy, stealth, and charm.”

What’s your writing soundtrack?

I’m a big fan of ambient music and minimal techno. Stars of the Lid, Biosphere, Boards of Canada, Gas – all these influences show up in my writing, too; they make me think about texture.

The quickfire round

Sci-fi, fantasy or horror?
Fantasy

Quiet or loud?
Quiet

Dark or light?
Dark

Strict lines or genre blend?
Genre blend

Awards or bestseller?
Awards 

Fiction or non-fiction?
Fiction

Poetry or prose?
Prose

Plotter or pantser?
Pantser

Reading or listening?
Listening 

Notebook or computer?
Computer

Favourite SFFH book of all time?
LOTR

Last book you read?
All That’s Left in the World

Any SFFH author on auto-buy?
Tracy Fahey’s (pictured) folk horror books

Favourite podcast?
Mythcreants podcast

The home stretch

What’s the best thing about being part of the SFFH community?

Fiction is such a free form. I just did a short course on game writing, and it drove home for me just how much I love the flexibility of short stories and novels. And how lucky I am to get paid to give authors feedback on their work!

Time to plug your stuff! Where can we find you and your work? What have you got coming up? Consider this your advertising space.

Check out my website: The Narrative Craft

Especially the blog and my courses on worldbuilding and POV. You can sign up for weekly tips on speculative fiction and literary fiction here. And here’s my author page with details of ongoing projects, short stories and some of my favorite books I’ve already published.

Just send me a message if you want to chat – I’m doing a free Worldbuilding Q&A and often write new blog posts on topics that come up. And I regularly run workshops on worldbuilding and developmental editing … I was at SFeraKon in Zagreb, Croatia, in May, and then will probably be at Worldcon in Glasgow.

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