Interview with Flights of Foundry Guest of Honor Ken Liu

In case you don’t know, we’re hosting a virtual convention this weekend, May 16th and 17th, called Flights of Foundry. We’ve got a ton of great content lined up that will be going almost 24 hours a day, including panels, interviews, seminars, workshops, and more. If you want to check out our schedule, go here. And when you decide you absolutely have to attend, you can register for the con using this link.

We have a plethora of Guests of Honor that we’ve invited to attend the convention to give you insight into the world of professional writers, artists, translators, and editors in the speculative genres. And today we have a special treat, because one of our Guests of Honor, Ken Liu, is here to do an interview in advance of his appearance!

Cover of The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu featuring a silver helmet and a dandelion.

Dream Foundry: You’re an accomplished writer of both short stories and novels, do you prefer one format over the other? How does the process of writing those differ for you?

Ken Liu: I describe short stories as mosquitoes and epic fantasies as elephants. They don’t differ just in scale, but in fundamental structure. I like short stories for experimenting with form and also as a way to develop a single idea in isolation. Novels, on the other hand, are better for delving into the intricacies of a layered world, either external or internal.

DF: How do you ensure that you continue to grow as a writer and stay excited by your craft?

KL: I don’t consciously strive to make writing interesting for me—it always has been. I think stories are how we encode our most important values, and as writers grow and move through the different stages of life, the values that they are moved by and the stories they tell naturally evolve. So long as you are excited by the world around you and its endless wonders, I don’t think writing can ever lose its appeal.

DF: If you could write a letter to past you, what are two pieces of advice you would want to give yourself as a nascent writer? How about advice on preparing as a creative for the strange times we find ourselves in now?

KL: First, don’t despair if techniques other people have found useful don’t work for you—we all have different journeys as creatives. Second, learn to ignore feedback that doesn’t resonate with you because only you can tell the stories that you want to tell.

Book Cover for the Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu that features the image of a woman surrounded by multi-colored pokadots.

As for the present moment, I think we should remind ourselves that people need stories now more than ever. Art isn’t a luxury; it is the very means through which we enact our humanity.

DF: You are going to be sent on a long space journey and you can only take three pieces of entertainment (let’s assume weight is no issue). What are the three items to pass the time that you can’t live without?

KL: Civilization, Moby Dick, and a drawing kit.

DF: If you could invite anyone (alive or dead or fictional) to tea, who would it be? What kinds of conversations would you like to have with them? What sort of scones would you serve?

KL: My grandparents, for sure. There was so much about their extraordinary lives that I never got to find out, and I’d want to ask them all the questions. Neither of them is a scones person, but I suspect they’d both love the cookies their great-granddaughters now bake.

DF: Where can our readers find your work right now?

KL: My newest collection of short fiction is The Hidden Girl and Other Stories, and I’m wrapping up the conclusion of my epic fantasy series, The Dandelion Dynasty, in which engineers, not wizards, are the heroes.

Ken Liu, American Science Fiction AuthorKen Liu ( is an American author of speculative fiction. He has won the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy awards, as well as top genre honors in Japan, Spain, and France, among other countries.

Liu’s debut novel, The Grace of Kings, is the first volume in a silkpunk epic fantasy series, The Dandelion Dynasty, in which engineers play the role of wizards. His debut collection, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, has been published in more than a dozen languages. A second collection, The Hidden Girl and Other Stories, followed. He also wrote the Star Wars novel, The Legends of Luke Skywalker.

He has been involved in multiple media adaptations of his work. The most recent projects include “The Message,” under development by 21 Laps and FilmNation Entertainment; “Good Hunting,” adapted as an episode in season one of Netflix’s breakout adult animated series Love, Death + Robots; and AMC’s Pantheon, which Craig Silverstein will executive produce, adapted from an interconnected series of short stories by Liu. “The Hidden Girl” and The Grace of Kings have also been optioned for development.

Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Liu worked as a software engineer, corporate lawyer, and litigation consultant. He frequently speaks at conferences and universities on a variety of topics, including futurism, cryptocurrency, history of technology, bookmaking, the mathematics of origami, and other subjects of his expertise.

Liu lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.

Coral Moore

Coral Alejandra Moore has always been the kind of girl who makes up stories. Fortunately, she never quite grew out of that. She writes because she loves to invent characters and the desire to find out what happens to her creations drives her tales. She is a 2013 alum of the Viable Paradise writer’s workshop and she has been published by Diabolical Plots, Zombies Need Brains, and Secrets of the Goat People. Currently she lives in the beautiful state of Washington with the love of her life and a dangerously smart Catahoula Leopard Dog where she rides motorcycles, raises chickens, and drinks all the coffee.