Interview: Tony C. Smith

Tony C. Smith is the co-founder, editor, and host of the podcast fiction magazine StarShipSofa. The Sofa offers everything that a print magazine would: poetry, science fiction stories (both classic and recent), science fact articles, interviews of the biggest names in the industry, reviews of comics, movies, and books, and more.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, last month StarShipSofa became the Hugo Award Winning StarShipSofa, the first podcast to be nominated OR to earn that honor. Not only is their award great news for Tony and the Sofa, but for the other fiction podcasts I enjoy, as this will hopefully help make the voters more likely to vote for podcasts again in the future.

And the anthology StarShipSofa Volume 2 has just been made available, with stories by China MiÒ ville, Neil Gaiman, Ted Kosmatka and other science fiction/fantasy superstars. Check it out for some great fiction!

And without further ado, here’s the interview:

David Steffen: Why did you decide to start Starship Sofa?

Tony C. Smith: I started StarShipSofa (notice how it’s written , I’ll let you off this time) back in late 2006 for two reasons: to talk about science fiction and to talk about science fiction with my friend Ciaran O’Carroll. Is that two reasons, or still just one? Anyway†before we started the “original” StarShipSofa shows, every week we’d phone each other up and see what the other was reading, if we liked it and so on†the usual stuff. Then I got myself an iPod for Christmas. It wasn’t long before we were sitting down to record our very first show.

David: In just a few short years , your podcast has gone from startup to Hugo award winning. That’s quite an accomplishment! Where will StarShipSofa be a few years from now?

Tony: I’m not really sure. It’s still hard to get my head around the fact that I’ve won a Hugo Award. StarShipSofa set out to talk about those writers who’d won a Hugo and here we were, only a few yearsÂlater, winning one ourselves. As to where do we go from here: we don’t stand still , that’s for sure. I’m always looking to embrace new ideas. The beauty of StarShipSofa is it’s not just me. The Sofa has a global science fiction community of fans out there who have the most amazing ideas and skills. Each and every day I get emails from people wanting to share their skills with StarShipSofa. So who can tell where StarShipSofa will go? But one thing’s certain: it will be fun getting there.

David: Do you have your Hugo on display? Do you carry pictures of it in your wallet to show to people in the elevator and on the train? (I ask because I know I would)

Tony: It’s hereâ€. just to the right of me as I type this up. I smile and blow kisses to it many times throughout the day.

David: How DO you manage to get all those prestigious authors on the show (both fiction and interviews)?

Tony: Oh, this is a really big secret. I shouldn’t say. Honest†it’s a code we editors keep. Oh right†Well, I’m only going to say this once†so†get ready†here it comesâ€â€â€â€â€â€â€ I ask! Now don’t tell anyone, or they’ll all be doing it.

David: When you’re not working on your podcast, and you’re not reading, what do you like to do?

Tony: I’ve worked it out†that leaves around 3 mins and 37 seconds each and every day. I’ll give you a clue: it involves toilet paper!

David: What mythical creature would you most like to eat?

Tony: I’ll eat anything. Well, anything that doesn’t taste like fennel. I used to pride myself in the fact that there was not one kind ofÂfood I didn’t like. Then I grew fennel last year in my allotment. My god†that stuff is vile. Mind you, I don’t suppose there areÂmany baby winged unicorns out there tasting of fennel but if there was, then this bad boy would walk on by without the hint of remorse at missing his supper.

David: How many roads must a man walk down?

Tony: Never mind walking, just driving down! It’s a ninety-mile round trip to my day job and back. That sucks the life out of you, that’s for sure.

David: You’ve mentioned on the show that you’ve tried your hand at writing in the past. Do you still pen a story from time to time?

Tony: I’m not a brave man. I hate heights, I’m claustrophobic, fairground rides scare the [that toilet paper I mentioned three questions up would come in handy here] out of me, but it takes a brave man to say his writing sucks. My writing sucks , Big Time. So†do I still pen a story from time to time? No.

David: Are there any upcoming features or guests that you’re particularly excited about?

Tony: I’m trying to get my hands all over Moorcock.ÂWhether Moorcock wants this is another matter.

David: What was the last book you read?

Tony: I haven’t got time to read. I’m too busy reading. That answer is actually true. I’m really a short story reader now, though I do dip my toes into the waters of novels once in a while.

David: Your favorite book?

Tony: There’s two, and I can never decide: The Forever War and Flowers For Algernon. But always hot on their heels is A Canticle For Lebowits.

David: Who is your favorite author?

Tony: Oh I don’t know. I’m so fickle. I change after every story†though I am partial to the short stories penned by Will McIntosh.

David: What was the last movie you saw?

Tony: The Ladyboys of Bangkok! Crap copy , lent the original out , never got it back. Oh, bugger. You mean science fiction? Damn and blast! (Blushing profusely) Sorry. Can we cut that bit? That would beÂBruce Willis’s Surrogates. It was okay, nothing grand or anything, but itÂgave me my fix of SF, I guess.

David: What is your favorite movie?

Tony: Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

David: Thanks for taking the time for the interview Tony. Here’s to your continued success!

Tony: Errâ€. Right. Thank you. Is that it? Great. Can I go? Excellent stuff. Oh, do you mind†can I have my copy of Ladyboys of Bangkok back? You’ve hadÂit forÂa month now.

David: What was the last book you read?

Eugie: The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature by Steven Pinker. One part psychology, one part language (two of my favorite subjects) and a big ole dollop of “ooo!”

David: Your favorite book?

Eugie: *Wail!* I can’t pick just one! Um, here’s some of my favorites: Candide, The Lord of the Flies, Cyrano de Bergerac, The Silver Metal Lover, Winnie-the-Pooh, Fahrenheit 451, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault, Journey to the West, and The Velveteen Rabbit.

David: Who is your favorite author?

Eugie: See above regarding *wail!*Â Some the ones that have influenced me the most as a writer include Ray Bradbury, Tanith Lee, and Ursula K. Le Guin. ÂThe lush prose and vivid imagery in their stories is so evocative; I can lose myself for days on end in their writing. ÂI also adore Neil Gaiman and A.A. Milne,Winnie-the-Pooh remains one of my all time favorite books,as well as Roald Dahl and George Orwell.

David: What was the last movie you saw?

Eugie: I saw Inception the week it came out and found it disappointing. For being the big SF film of the year, it was terribly predictable with uninteresting characters and lackluster FX. The main conceit which everyone is oohing and aahing over, being able to enter other people’s dreams, is an old SFnal one. It’s not even the first time that Hollywood has explored it. Inception did introduce a few clever premises, but the main one was an obvious plot device and when it became inconvenient, the filmmakers broke their own rules.

David: What is your favorite movie?

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David Steffen

David Steffen is an editor, publisher, and writer. If you like what he does you can visit the Support page or buy him a coffee! He is probably best known for being co-founder and administrator of The Submission Grinder, a donation-supported tool to help writers track their submissions and find publishers for their work . David also writes articles here and edits the fiction. He is also the editor and publisher of The Long List Anthology: More Stories From the Hugo Award Nomination List series. David also (sometimes) writes fiction, and you can follow on Twitter for updates on cross-stitch projects and occasionally other things.

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