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Fyrnux was used to maintaining self-control — but not in front of royalty. No teacher had taught how to properly enter the court of a queen. That was something for the people of the Malvin-Jullian Empire, not the Simmerian-Phi Alliance. Fyrnux hadn’t even known what to wear, but decided on a student uniform. The third-year student wore grey regulation pants and jacket, the latter with three silver pips on the left shoulder and underneath a brown and green plaid blouse. The grey-skinned Fyrnux had long straight black hair flowing freely overall, as was proper. Fyrnux had thought about marching in, but remembered this was not to be military formal, so tried walking in normally–but respectfully. “Be yourself,” Fyrnux thought, nervously.


Character Questions

Is there something you are willing to die for?

Oh my goodness, your Majesty, I really do not want to die, not yet! I am still a young student, studying to become a counselor.

I want to help people, like my new friend Oystra, who is starting as an exchange student on my world, Vonyai. Oystra is from Gepra, and is what is called a “female.” They have people there called “males,” too. I do not know how they are different, but want to live to learn! And I cannot counsel people if I am dead!

Which is more powerful – a wish or a curse?

Your Majesty, I believe a wish is for something you want that is good, a curse is for something bad. So I believe the more powerful would be a wish.

Tell us about the main religion or spirituality of your society.

Many generations ago, people on my world, Vonyai, were different, your Majesty. They had different skin colors and different genders, two, I think. Of course they did not get along with each other. After the Great Race War, people were all made the same so we could live in peace. We all have grey skin and black hair, and are all genderless. And people reproduce properly now, not like beasts do. Oh, I did not mean that as an offense to Oystra’s people!

We do have different eye colors, Yellow and Indigo, so of course we are raised separately. But both colors are allowed at my university so we can learn about each other. My world treats people fairly, so Yellows and Indigos live separate, but equal.

Author Questions

Who would be your ideal reader?

Would it be too obvious to say someone who likes what I write? That said, I like to challenge people’s thinking, and strive to challenge my own.

Most of my professional writing has been journalism in the much too rare “tell the truth and nothing but the truth” tradition. In fiction, I go back to my roots, which are tangled and interlocking. While I’m classified as a non-Hispanic Caucasian male, my three closest friends before I started school were all girls. As a boy, I learned Native American dancing on an Indian reservation and performed locally. I ran a computer lab at a school that was 80% Hispanic, tutored international students, and have a minor from my university’s Ethnic and Women’s Studies Department. So my ideal reader is one who is willing to seriously consider other points of view.

How much do you plan ahead of time, vs. following the story where it leads?

I don’t always construct a story or play in the same way. Most of the time, I create interesting characters, put them in an interesting situation in our or another world, then “record what they say and do.” My main characters are very real to me, so I know them well. I’ve even taken online personality tests as my characters to get to know them better. But even then, sometimes they do things I didn’t expect–which are almost always more interesting than what I planned.

Do you have any writing superstitions?

If I believe in them, I won’t think they’re superstitions!

Seriously, I have had the reverse, superstitions about my writing. This is probably primarily due to three things. One, I treat my characters as if they’re real people; two, I’ve written under several pen names; and three, I’ve shared pen names with others.

As a result, there are those who are convinced that a number of real people are all me. Ironically, the accused have included at least two people who were making the allegations! I supposedly have dozens of “sockpuppets.” They admin dozens of wikis and other websites, composed dozens of poems, edited dozens of magazine issues, authored dozens of books, etc. I wish I could do all that, especially when during much of the “sockpuppet” period I was working fulltime offline.

The thing that bothers me the most about it is that innocent people have been targeted in “The Loveshade Sockpuppet Conspiracy.” Fortunately, none of my friends have blamed me for the false accusations. But I still feel really bad about it. My hope is the conspiracy theorists are finally getting bored with their “theory,” and will move on to something that’s less destructive.


Exchange Students

Alden Loveshade is the author of “Orange Sun, Grey Sky,” in the anthology Exchange Students, edited by Sheila Hartney.

Study abroad! See new places! Meet new people! In our exchange student program, you can literally study anywhere or anywhen you can imagine. We’ll send you to new planets. We’ll send you to new dimensions and realms of existence. We’ll send you through time itself! Read this exciting anthology packed with twenty-two tales of science fictional and fantastic exchange students.

The Author

Alden Loveshade is a journalist, graphic designer, photographer, fiction writer, and personist. He’s enjoyed tutoring–and learning from–students of India, Mexico, Russia, Thailand, and the United States. He has degrees in humanities and theatre and a minor in ethnic and women’s studies, and has studied a wide variety of subjects including astronomy, biology, physics, psychology, and sociology. When not designing star systems for stories and GURPS roleplaying games, he enjoys historical recreation, walking in the woods, tending ponds, and trying to understand cats. http://alden.loveshade.org

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Once again I’m helping out a friend. This time it’s David Lee Summers, who acted as publisher for the Exchange Students anthology. Please welcome the editor, Sheila Hartney!


Editorial Itinerary

I’ve been reading science fiction ever since I learned to read. My older brother belonged to the Science Fiction Book Club back in the 1950s, and I got to read all of the wonderful books that were published then. We lived in Utica, NY, and at the time they put all their science fiction books in a separate room which was off limits to little kids. I’d sneak in, and sometimes a kindly librarian would let me check out what I wanted. Otherwise I had to persuade my older brother or my mother to do so for me. That policy just made me want to read science fiction all the more. 

And write science fiction. When I was about ten I wrote my first s-f story that I called “A Voyage to Antwerp” and I’m horrified by what little I can recall of it. Thankfully it has not survived. 

Some years later, living in Boulder, Colorado, I took two writing workshops and a science fiction class from Bruce Holland Rogers. One evening he ended class a bit early, then read us a story of his and said, “I just found out today that this was the first place winner in the current quarter of the Writers of the Future Contest.” He was almost incoherent with joy. Right then I decided if he could do it, I could do it. 

A couple of years later I attended Jim Gunn’s short story workshop in Lawrence, Kansas. From it came my own Writers of the Future story, “Kidswap”. Over the years I’ve attended other workshops, notably the one that came with being a Writer of the Future, and more recently the Taos Toolbox, team taught by the wonderful and amazing Walter Jon Williams and Nancy Kress.   

Alas, I haven’t written as much as I should have in the years since. I do hang out at some s-f cons, and have become friends with any number of wonderful people who write in this genre. 

Several years ago I was chatting with David Lee Summers at a con, and knew that he both wrote and edited s-f. I rather casually mentioned that I had some ideas for anthologies, and he encouraged me to submit them to him. I offered six different possibilities, and the one he chose, the one that was my favorite in the first place, was “The Exchange Students”.   

Working on the anthology has been rewarding. At first I was a bit concerned that I’d know what I was doing, but all those workshops helped me a lot. Plus, David made it clear that while I could reject stories on my own, any and all acceptances must go through him. I’m so glad he insisted on that. Especially in the early months, when I felt very uncertain about certain stories, and his critiques and insights helped clarify if a particular story should be accepted or rejected. 

In the end we accepted 22 stories, including the one that I had written several years ago which was my inspiration for this anthology. At the outset I’d been a bit concerned that reading and editing and rereading the same stories multiple times would make me start to hate them, but exactly the opposite happened.  I got to like them more and more. Even a couple that I’d original thought of as marginal, grew on me. 

I’m just a couple of days from actually holding a copy of the anthology in my hands, and I can hardly wait! Sheila. 


Exchange Students

Study abroad! See new places! Meet new people! 
 
In our exchange student program, you can literally study anywhere or anywhen you can imagine. We’ll send you to new planets. We’ll send you to new dimensions and realms of existence. We’ll send you through time itself! 
 
Don’t believe me? This exciting anthology contains many tales of our thrilling and educational exchange student program. You’ll read tales of aliens coming to earth and humans traveling to alien worlds. You’ll meet a denizen of Hell who travels to Heaven. Some students will discover their super powers on their journey. Other students will have encounters with the undead. You’ll meet a law enforcement officer who travels to the realm of the fae to help solve a crime of truly interdimensional proportions. 
 
Featuring twenty-two amazing stories by Roze Albina Ches, Jaleta Clegg, Ken Goldman, Paula Hammond, Sheila Hartney, Chisto Healy, Joachim Heijndermans, Sean Jones, Tim Kane, Alden Loveshade, Tim McDaniel, J Louis Messina, Jennifer Moore, Brian Gene Olson, David B. Riley, Katherine Quevedo, Holly Schofield, Jonathan Shipley, Lesley L. Smith, Emily Martha Sorensen, Margret A. Treiber and Sherry Yuan. 

Now available for Kindle or in print from Amazon.com. Other formats can be had at Smashwords.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web site, Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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