General FAQ

Any of these variants are fine: Mary Robinette, Mary Robinette Kowal, or Mrs. Kowal. It should never appear as Robinette-Kowal or Mrs. Robinette Kowal. Robinette is my middle name, not my maiden name. And I go by Mary Robinette, not Mary.

No, actually, it’s my middle name. Though it is tempting, it should never be hyphenated with my last name. Robinette was my grandmother’s middle name, and her father’s middle name and the last name of the minister who married his parents. If you could eavesdrop on my family in Chattanooga you would hear a number of them calling me Mary Robinette in the Southern tradition of double-names. To reclaim that part of me, and honor my grandmother Robby (where the name is from), I’ve recently been going by Mary Robinette instead of just Mary. You can read more about that here!

Co-wall, with the emphasis on the first syllable. It’s like Kowalski, without the ski. As I understand it, my husband’s grandfather Americanized his name when he came over from the Ukraine to make it easier to pronounce.

Yes, I’ve been a professional puppeteer since 1989. For more information about the kinds of work I do, swing by to my company’s website

The short answer is that I was one of those kids who wanted to do everything and puppetry combined them all. When I was in college, a professional puppeteer came to see a production of Little Shop of Horrors, which I was in, and I realized that people would actually give me money to do puppets. Instant change in career plans. The long answer is in a post, here.

A. My answer to that depends on my mood. When I’m cranky I say, “This is a southern accent.” When I’m garrulous I offer the long form. The lack of accent comes from three factors.

I lived in Raleigh, NC where most of the people I knew were transplants who came to the South to work for IBM so I really wasn’t exposed to the southern accent that much.

I also had a speech impediment and couldn’t pronounce the letter “r” or “f.” Speech therapy gave me very clean speech.

Finally, I watched way too much British television.

Absolutely. Drop me a line if you’d like to talk about getting some audio fiction recorded. I prefer to do stories with female POV characters, but I also work with very talented actors at Willamette Radio Workshop.

Groma Kolibra

Royal Sterling Portable

Underwood Portable


Oliver No. 5

Blickensderfer No. 8

Corona No. 3

Royal (1930s?)

2 Woodstocks of unknown vintage

Royal Deluxe 1937

Royal Duotone 1932?

What an audience wants out of a short story is different to what one wants out of a novel. In a novel you want immersion. You want to sink into the world, you want it to completely absorb you. Short fiction readers tend to want a swift punch to the gut.

It’s like watching the Olympics. You can either say ‘I’m gonna watch the Olympics!’ watch the opening ceremony, the ‘road to the olympics’, watch the training, watch the warm up. If you’re into gymnastics they do the compulsory exercises. Eventually, your favourite comes up and they do their flippy-flippy thing, and you’re like ‘This is amazing!’ and they come up, and you wanna be with them, and their coach comforts them, and wait for the scores… That is watching a novel in many ways. But a short story reader is watching the YouTube clip. They wanna see the clip where it begins right before the flippy-flippy starts, and ends when she sticks the landing.

Finish the story. You can’t make a sale until you finish the story.

Alas, no. Don’t feel singled out, there are days when I don’t have time to read my own fiction, either. I also don’t have the time to read all the fiction my close friends write. Sorry.

The easy response is anywhere you want! However, the place that supports me the most and will support your local bookstores is and if you buy it from my ‘shop’ there not only will it be purchased from either a small local book store, but I’ll receive a very small extra percentage on top of the general revenue.

That’s what the handy comment form below is for. Ask and I’ll try to answer.

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