Welcome to the Amazing Stories BLOG HORDE INTERVIEWS!
The ASM Blog Horde is a diverse and wonderful species. I have the privilege of talking with all of them, and I get to share those chats with you. In this long-running series, you will have the opportunity to peek inside the minds of the ASM bloggers to to see just what makes them tick.
I hope you enjoy the series as much as I have enjoyed preparing it for you. Please feel free to ask questions, or just let the Horde know you’ve stopped by for a visit.
Bloggers live for comments, so keep ’em alive!
DIANE SEVERSON is a professional singer and vocal teacher. She specializes in “Early Music,” and freelances mostly in Medieval and Baroque music. She is also a wife and a mother, a podcaster, a narrator and blogger.
After finishing her Bachelors of Music Degree in Vocal Performance in Madison, Wisconsin, Diane moved to Germany where she lived for twenty years. She recently relocated to Paris with her family—an Italian husband, and their 3-year old linguist son.
Fran Friel for Amazing Stories: Welcome to the ASM Blog Horde Interview Series, Diane. I’m thrilled to be here with you. So, let’s start with how you became interested in blogging for Amazing Stories Magazine.
DS: I saw Steve Davidson’s post calling for bloggers for Amazing Stories over on the StarShipSofa Facebook Page. Since I’ve been Science Fiction poetry’s self-appointed spokesperson for a while now, I thought blogging for ASM would be a perfect opportunity to expand that to a wider audience.
ASN: As you well know, Amazing Stories Magazine has quite a wide variety of blogging categories. In which categories will we find your blogs?
DS: I blog about Science Fiction and Speculative Fiction poetry. My main focus will be to review SF poetry – chapbooks, collections, anthologies, online poetry zines and the like. I plan to throw in the odd interview with a prominent or favorite SF poet every once in a while.
ASM: Diane, who are your favorite authors, and what keeps you coming back to their work? Any book recommendations for us?
DS: My favorite author within or outside of the genre is Ursula K. LeGuin. I haven’t read all of her work, not by a long stretch, but I’m trying to space it out, so I don’t run out of things to look forward to, if you know what I mean.
My favorite novels by UKL are The Left Hand of Darkness (SF), The Other Wind (part of the fantasy, Earthsea Cycle) and The Lathe of Heaven. Her short stories are also incredibly powerful, but there are too many which have affected me to name here. Long before I discovered SF poetry, I fell in love with UKL’s style. It’s slow and melodic and beautiful, just like poetry. I think that might be just what turns some people off of her work.
There are a number of other authors that have inspired me to read book after book: Octavia Butler, Ray Bradbury, James Tiptree, Jr., Lois McMaster Bujold, Robin Hobb, Charles DeLint, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Nicola Griffith, Marge Piercy, Anne McCaffrey, Sheri Tepper, Neil Gaiman, Philip K. Dick, and Margaret Atwood.
ASM: That’s a juicy list for sure, Diane. I would happily get lost in your bookshelves. Now, how about new or lesser-known authors? Is there anyone you would suggest to our readers?
DS: I’ve been introduced to so many authors through podcasts, specifically StarShipSofa and PodCastle, that I’m losing track of who is well known and who is not. However, I feel fairly confident that Lawrence Santoro, Matthew Sanborn Smith and Grant Stone might not be household names.
ASM: Discovering new talent is like finding buried treasure, so thanks for the recommendations. What are you reading now, and how is it so far?
DS: I’m reading way too many things all at once. I used to read only one book (novel) at a time. That was better. Now, my “currently reading” shelf on my GoodReads profile is up to 12 items. If you really want to know, have a look!
ASM: Well, that’s a fine GoodReads plug if I ever heard one. GoodReads, look out for the ASM Blog Horde and Company, here we come!
So, Diane, where on the planet (or off the planet) are you from originally? Where are you now?
DS: I’m originally from Madison, Wisconsin – but I never even knew about WisCon, the premier SF convention (and focusing on feminist SF to boot!) in Wisconsin, until after I’d left. At the moment, I live in Paris, and Hanover, Germany, but mostly in Paris.
I’ve been in Europe for over twenty years now, since just after I got my Bachelor’s degree. Most of that time I’ve been in various cities around western Germany, but I’ve also lived in London, and as a family we’ve spend lots of time in Italy, since that’s where my husband is from.
I think I might have a talent for making wherever I am, home. I lived in the same house from age two through eighteen, but I was a traveling gypsy in the summers when I was a teenager. That set the stage for my international lifestyle once I got out of college.
ASM: So, what’s your day job, Diane? How is your blogging influenced by your work, or is it a respite from your day job?
DS: I’m not sure how to answer that question, actually. I know what you’re asking, but I don’t have a day job, per se. I trained as a classical singer, and later I specialized in and perform mostly Early Music, which is anything roughly pre-Mozart. I freelance and I do quite a lot of Medieval and Baroque music, which I especially enjoy. I also teach singing. I’ve made a couple of CDs:
“Silence” – Me singing contemporary classical songs written and accompanied by baroque lute player, Meinhard Gerlach.
“Auvergne Chants” – my girl group, Elysium, now defunct. Cross-over Classical/folk.
“Cinema Italiano” – Elysium sings one track on this star-studded CD (Pavarotti, Sting, Debby Harry).
“O Jerusalem” – Music of Hildegard von Bingen performed by Vox Femina – Sequentia – ensemble for medieval music.
I see blogging at Amazing Stories as an extension of my passion for spreading SF poetry around the world, and that grew out of my pod-casting hobby.
ASM: Pavarotti, Sting and Debbie Harry? I’m duly impressed. Wow. Well, as if that weren’t enough, Diane, could you tell our readers something about yourself that most folks might not know?
DS: I think anyone who follows me on Twitter or has befriended me on Facebook knows that my husband and I share a passion for good food. We cook a lot. We often spend hours preparing a special meal on the weekend. And amazingly, our 3-year old son is extremely game to try everything we make, so long as it isn’t spicy hot or temperature hot (or even warm, for that matter, but he just has to wait).
Something that not a lot of people know, which I alluded to above is that I played a sort of tuba (a contra-bass bugle actually) in one of the Top 10 Drum and Bugle Corps in the USA when I was a teenager. A “drum corps,” if you’re not in the know, is a glorified marching band without the woodwind instruments. Our band, Star of Indiana, was based just outside of Bloomington where we rehearsed throughout the year. We went on two tours each summer, which took me to about forty out of the fifty States for competitions. I basically lived on a tour bus. And yes, that bugle was bloody heavy.
ASM: Now, can you indulge us once more and tell us what’s your “secret” pleasure or obsession?
DS: I have a passion for voice, chocolate, Muppets, SF poetry, and coffee. But I’m pretty sure none of that is a secret.
ASM: Diane, do you have any personal projects in the works that you would like to share with us? Don’t be shy.
At the moment, I’m working on a recording of music by John Dunstable, and Gregorian Chant with the Parisian vocal ensemble, Kantika. I’m also working on Mozart’s Requiem, and Bach’s Easter Oratorio, which I’ll be performing in Germany. My website, which fellow Amazing Blogger, Astrid Nielsch, designed for me, will be up soon. In the meantime, you can check out my personal blog, The Diva’s Divine Days, for up-to-date info on my projects.
DS: Well, not in the blogging business, but my long-time voice teacher, Cornelius L. Reid, who passed away five years ago, continues to be my mentor through the work of his other, more experienced students with whom I take lessons. His life’s work and his teaching have sent my career as a singer and a teacher in directions I never would have foreseen.
The lessons he taught me can be boiled down to “Engage your brain in real things that it can do (as in for singing: Regulating pitch, vowel and intensity), and otherwise trust your body (and your ear) to get the work done. This attitude really frees you up to express what’s in your heart, soul and mind, and to let go of being negatively judgmental, which is something that cripples a lot of creative types.
It also is really good for any sort of physical activity. The body is really a lot smarter than our brain would like to give it credit for being. If anyone is interested in this concept, Timothy Gallwey wrote a great book called the Inner Game of Tennis. Except for the chapter specifically about improving your tennis technique, you can pretty much substitute any physical activity for “playing tennis/tennis” and apply the concepts to anything (I used “singing/voice”).
The lessons Cornelius Reid taught me were ultimately about “Release.” I also sing a lot better than I did before I started working with him and his protégés!
ASM: Sounds like we could all learn a lot from Mr. Reid. And The Inner Game of Tennis is indeed a classic in the self-help field. I read it years ago, and it left quite an impression. Thanks for the inspiration.
Now, for my best segue ever…So, how about Podcasts? Do you have a favorite?
DS: Well yes, I do! Topping the list is, StarShipSofa.com , which I contribute to. It is a Science Fiction Podcast Magazine, which brings fiction, poetry, music, science movie and book reviews and a myriad of other topics to your ears each week. I produce a bi-monthly segment called Poetry Planet for the podcast.
ASM: As a beloved member of the ASM Blog Horde, Diane, which of your blog titles would you recommend to our readers to give them a taste of your work? And finally, where else might we find you on the Internet?
Many thanks to Diane Severson for the wonderful chat, and thank you, folks, for reading! Please come back next week for another featured blogger from the Amazing Stories Blog Horde Interview Series.
We’ll keep the light on for you!