Amtrak Residency Writers Include Fables Creator Bill Willingham and Other Sci-Fi/Fantasy Authors

Amtrak has announced the winners of its inaugural Amtrak Residency Program. Over the next year, these lucky 24 residents will get a free Amtrak train ride during which they can compose their next (or, in some cases, first) great work.

While the full list includes a BuzzFeed editor and a former CIA agent, we took special note of the five writers representing for sci-fi/fantasy and geek culture. That’s about one-fifth of the writers—not too shabby. Read on to learn more about the Amtrak residents—one of whom has already decided what she’s writing about, and it sounds amazing.

  • Likely the biggest name you’ll recognize is Bill Willingham, creator of the long-running DC Comics series Fables. With Fables wrapping up in spring 2015, Willingham is already on to a new project for Image Comics: Restoration, about mythical gods returning to Earth to rule over the modern-day human race. Maybe he’ll spend some of his Amtrak residency working on Restoration scripts, or perhaps the next installment in the world of 2012’s Down the Mysterly River.
  • YA author Anna Davies has ghostwritten ten books for Alloy Entertainment and written three novels under her own name, including Wrecked, her contemporary, gender-swapped take on The Little Mermaid. Her last two books have involved murder over social media, so we’re interested to see if she continues the horror route or goes for another adaptation.
  • Representing the geek contingent is Glen Weldon, a book critic and movie reviewer, and regular panelist on NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour. His book Superman: The Unauthorized Biography chronicled the Man of Steel’s history; he’ll be tackling Batman (and the nerd culture surrounding the Dark Knight) in his next book, out in 2015. Will his Amtrak ride inspire him to profile another superhero, or maybe go more the novel route?
  • On the tech end of things, Stephen “Stepto” Toulouse is the Director of Community at Black Tusk Studios, working on the video game Gears of War. His book A Microsoft Life chronicled his 15 years at the company, and he’s a self-described “Geek culture comedian.”
  • We’ve already got a soft spot for Ksenia Anske, a fantasy author (the Siren Suicides trilogy) who has already decided she’s spending her Amtrak residency writing TUBE, a novel about a female flesh-eating train. Even better, she’s written out the opening for the book:

She heard it breathe. The train. She could’ve sworn it took a slow inhale. Her toes pulsed, reminding her that they hurt from practice. She cast a glance around the compartment and continued unwrapping her left pointe shoe. The right one lay sprawled on the mauve carpet like a squished moth.

“Bleeding again,” she sighed, carefully peeled the fabric off, and threw the stained shoe next to the first one. The carpet shifted imperceptibly, as if sniffing it.

YES. All of this.

Photo: Warner Bros.


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