WiPA – Interview with Crystal Lynn Hilbert


So if you’ve followed my last few posts, you’ll know that I’ve got a story in the Women in Practical Armor anthology from Evil Girlfriend Media. This project is being funded by a Kickstarter and runs through the end of the month.

I had the opportunity to interview Crystal Lynn Hilbert, author of “Stone Woken.”

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I was around 12 years old. My first attempts were all rabid enthusiasm and perfect, purple-eyed women. I’ve grown a lot since then, but I’ve still got a heck of a soft spot for that kid and her Valkyrie daydreams.

What drove you to write speculative fiction?

Honestly, it never occurred to me to write anything else. I grew up watching The Labyrinth on repeat and wearing out the binding on a dozen Bruce Coville novels. The second-hand magic you get from stuff like that is crazy—burns right into your bones.

Favorite authors?  Why?

Off the top of my head: Octavia Butler, Catherynne M. Valente, Rachel Swirsky, Elizabeth Bear, Genevieve Valentine, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Patricia A. McKillip, Patricia C. Wrede, Diana Wynne Jones, and a bunch of others I’m probably forgetting about.

All of these women have different styles, but they all build characters with a skill and dexterity I fiercely admire. If I can wheedle my way into company like this, I’ll be a very happy writer.

Is writing your part time passion or full time job?

It’s more like a compulsion. I can’t call it a full time job—it’s not even close to paying off my towering pile of student loans—but I’m always writing, even if it’s only in my head. Heck, sometimes narrating the crazy crap that happens to me is the only way I get through my work day with sanity intact.

What stories have you sold and where?

There’s a full list of my sold stories over on my blog: http://cl-hilbert.tumblr.com/post/28699438987/original-publications

Two of my favorite pieces are “Soul of Soup Bones” at Apex and “Duplicate” at Betwixt. And for those of you wondering what you’re in for with “Stone Woken”—my piece appearing in Women in Practical Armor—I recommend taking a peek at “The Many-Named” over on Betwixt. Both stories revel in a distorted tangle of Norse mythology that I cannot get enough of.

So what makes being a part of Women in Practical Armor so important?

Female voices in the fantasy industry are not loud enough.

Stories about and by women are routinely undervalued in western culture. You can’t spend any amount of time in this industry without running into a sad and pervasive undercurrent of sexism. Just pick up any anthology of fantasy short stories and open to the table of contents. Count the women authors. Count the stories about women.

Disappointed? I usually am.

But now, with Women in Practical Armor, we have a whole book full of stories about women. And not just female characters decorating the background in chain-mail lingerie, but realistic women—women allowed the complexity and competence of their choices.

Women in Practical Armor gives us stories about women of color, stories about disabled women, stories about queer women—all of them stories about warrior women, and all of those warriors in functional armor. It is the book I’ve been looking for since that twelve year old girl sat down with her perfect, purple-eyed Valkyries.  I cannot tell you how proud and excited I am to be a part of it.

Did you have an idea immediately when the submission call came out or did you have to think about it?

The stars aligned for me. I finished “Stone Woken” the same week I heard about Women in Practical Armor, two unrelated events destined to intertwine.

Can you give us a very brief summary of the story?

Two sister-kings struggle to protect their people from Níðhöggr, the world-eater, freshly woken in the belly of their mountain kingdom.

Do you see any other stories in this universe?

I love to play in disassembled Norse mythology. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say “The Many-Named” (published in Betwixt, October 2014) exists in this universe, as well as another I’ve written, as of yet unpublished.

What kind of message do you think Women in Practical Armor sends to the public?

Women in Practical Armor proves that stories about women are valuable and vibrant and wanted. Frankly, I’m not sure anyone realized just how badly we needed it until the Kickstarter went live.

Anything else you’d like to say about the project?

I wish I’d had this book growing up. Seeing primarily male characters in the media I enjoyed, I spent way too long convinced that women were uninteresting by default. I want to shout this book from the rooftops—I want everyone to see how glorious a woman’s battle can be—but I especially want to share it with girls still growing. I want them to see themselves in the stories they love and know that they’re warriors, too.

Where can we find you at? 

I’m on Twitter @CL_Hilbert; I keep something like a blog over at http://cl-hilbert.tumblr.com/; and if you’re looking for a read, my two novellas are free on Smashwords since their original publisher went defunct: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/Cyprith

I also have a Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/crystal.lynn.336717 but I’m admittedly terrible at Facebook and apologize in advance for all the statuses I will accidentally put on other people’s pages.


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