FAQ about Mary Robinette

  1. How should your name appear in print?

    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.

  2. Is Robinette your maiden name?

    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!

  3. How do you pronounce your last name?

    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.

  4. Wait. Did you say puppeteer?

    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 http://www.otherhandproductions.com

  5. How did you get started in puppetry?

    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.

  6. You’re from the South? But you don’t have a Southern accent.

    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.

    1. 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.
    2. I also had a speech impediment and couldn’t pronounce the letter “r” or “f.” Speech therapy gave me very clean speech.
    3. Finally, I watched way too much British television.
  7. Do you record audio fiction for people?

    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.

  8. What typewriters do you own?

    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?

  9. How do I send you something to be signed?

    I love getting mail! Send it and a self-address stamped envelope to:

    Mary Robinette Kowal
    2817 West End Avenue
    Suite 126-382
    Nashville, TN 37203

  10. What's the difference between writing short fiction and writing novels?

    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.

  11. What advice do you have for budding writers in, say, 20 words or less?

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

  12. Will you read my manuscript?

    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.

  13. What if I’ve got another question that you didn’t answer here?

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

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