Interview: Paul A. Dixon (FISH)

Paul Dixon Headshot

Name: Paul A. Dixon

Age: 40

Author of: “One Let Go”

Current Geographic Location: Seattle, WA

Original Hometown: The same

Twitter: @paul_a_dixon


Recent publications: “Planned Obsolescence”, published in July 2012 in IN SITU by Dagan Books, “Perchance to Wake”, published in March 2012 by Stupefying Stories; “Necrotopia”, published in September 2011 in CHILDREN OF THE MOON by Misanthrope Press; “Fluke”, published in May 2011 by Crossed Genres Quarterly; “Grand Opening”, published in July 2010 by Everyday Weirdness.

Which zodiac sign where you born under? I am a Sagittarius, which frankly isn’t that interesting, and also a Water Rat, which I find much more satisfying.

If a magic fish granted you one wish, what would it be? To still be able to run when I am old. I recently saw an article about a 100 year old man who became the first centenarian to complete a marathon. It was the most wonderful, beautiful, hopeful thing I’d read in a long time.

What inspired your story? This one drew heavily on memories of my grandfather, and my own childhood spent chasing salmon around Puget Sound. To no good effect, I might add.

Did you listen to music while writing it? Not this time. I plotted “One Let Go” on a road trip to the mountains, and then wrote most of the first draft by hand, on whatever scrap paper I could find, while hanging out at Norwescon.

How many rewrites did you do before submitting? Just one complete re-write, along with the usual obsessive line editing.

What is your favorite bit? There are two parts of the story where I got to have fun and simply describe the fish. Here is the first:

Smooth, slick skin, firm, strength that poured through. Silver scales below, black-green above, beautiful black spots. How can spots be beautiful? But they were; they conferred majesty. Gleaming black eye, jaw just beginning to hook. Sharp teeth. Slime on my hands. Curious, I lifted my fingers to my nose, breathed it in. Pure fish smell – clean, wonderful when a fish is still alive. Nothing rotten, no decay – this was life.

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Interview: Paul A. Dixon (IN SITU)

Name: Paul A. Dixon

Age: 39

Author of: “Requiem”

Current Geographic Location: Seattle, WA


Recent publications: “Grand Opening”, published at Everyday Weirdness; “Perchance to Wake”, published by Stupefying Stories; “Necrotopia”, in CHILDREN OF THE MOON; “Fluke”, published at Crossed Genres Magazine.

Do you think alien life exists in the Universe? Absolutely. However, there are reasonable arguments to be made that we will never find intelligent life in the universe.  If we are very lucky, we might find the remains of some other race someday – but at this point it seems more likely that it will be someone else that finds ours.

If you could travel off Earth, would you? Yes

What if it meant you could never come back? Not unless the alternative was extraordinarily grim.  I don’t care to imagine the set of circumstance in which I would walk away from everyone I know and love.

What inspired your piece? Generally, a desire to explore the idea that the success or failure of organized religions can be understood entirely in terms of their societal fitness value, without any preconceptions or beliefs about underlying universal truths.  More specifically, the desire to illustrate one possible degenerate endpoint of such a belief system, when deliberately exploited for a specific purpose.  Also, I’m fascinated by the question of whether it is possible for a sentient species to achieve an ecologically stable state.

What music or movies helped you to write this story? Although I often write stories based on how particular music makes me feel, that wasn’t the case this time.  If anything, this story is a nod to author Jared Diamond’s work (think Guns, Germs, and Steel, or Collapse).

How many rewrites did you do before submitting? Two complete rewrites, and lots of tinkering.

What is your favorite bit?

The following bit of Jel’s monologue, since it gets to the heart of what the story is about:

“…For reasons neither you nor I can guess, and that I do not care about.  Now they are degenerate post-sapients that somehow programmed themselves to mindlessly tend statues to their ancient gods.  If they accidentally created something of value in the process, then good for us.”

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Official Table of Contents for FISH

Table of Contents, FISH (due out February 8, 2012)

  1. Alexa, Camille “The Skin of Her Skin”
  2. Bennardo, Matthew “The Fish-Wife’s Tale”
  3. Blake, Polenth “Thwarting the Fiends”
  4. Darrach, Shay “I Know a Secret”
  5. Davis, Amanda C. “O How the Wet Folk Sing”
  6. Dixon, Paul A. “One Let Go”
  7. Duyvis, Corinne “The Applause of Others”
  8. Englehardt, Megan “Anansi and the New Thing”
  9. Fleming, Sam “What the Water Gave Her”
  10. Fuller, Andrew “A Salmon Tale, 2072”
  11. Fullerton, H.L. “The Fish Are There On Land”
  12. Gardner, Cate “Too Delicate for Human Form”
  13. George, Zachary “You, Fish”
  14. Hendrix, Sarah “Never to Return”
  15. Kane, Tim “Vanity Mirror”
  16. Kneeland, Andrea “Becoming Human”
  17. Kwak, Jessie “Needlepoint Fish of Azure City”
  18. L’Orange, April “Quick Karma”
  19. Lalumière, Claude “Xandra’s Brine”
  20. Liu, Ken “How Do You Know If a Fish Is Happy?”
  21. McBride, Tracie “The Touch of Taniwha”
  22. McIntyre, T.J. “How Did the Catfish Get a Flat Head, You Wonder?”
  23. Nakayama, Timothy “Fallen Dragon”
  24. Obedoza, Mel “The Fisherman and Golden Fish”
  25. Palmer, Suzanne “Lanternfish In the Overworld”
  26. Povey, Jennifer R. “Water Demons”
  27. Rambo, Cat “The Fisher Queen”
  28. Romasco-Moore, Maria “Fisheye”
  29. Ruby, Jacob “The Talking Fish of Shangri-La”
  30. Shvartsman, Alex “Life at the Lake’s Shore”
  31. Spencer, A. D. “Fish Tears”
  32. Wood, Mjke “The Last Fisherman of Habitat 37”
  33. Zup, Andreea “Maria and the Fish”

Please note the Table of Contents is currently listed alphabetically by author’s last name, and does not reflect the final order of stories.