Episode 8

Hybrid genre novels and the world of artificial intelligence with Eli Lee

Eli Lee was born in Dorset and now lives in London. She writes fiction and non-fiction for a variety of anthologies, magazines and websites. She is the fiction editor and a contributor to the literary journal Minor Literatures and has also worked for Strange Horizons. Her debut novel, A Strange and Brilliant Light, has just been published.

Our interview begins at 15 minutes. 

Mini book club: Cultish by Amanda Montell

A thought-provoking  and compulsively readable exploration of how cult-ish language pervades our everyday life. 

*Note: Caitlin read a copy through her job with Harper Collins Australia. 

In this interview, we chat about:

  • Why Eli describes A Strange and Brilliant Light as a ‘non-traditional sci-fi’ novel and why this was the key to finally writing the book which felt right
  • The real-life relationship that inspired the novel
  • Why Eli wanted to explore sexism and class struggles in an otherwise ‘advanced’ society
  • Building the world of A Strange and Brilliant Light
  • Eli’s top tip for writers working in any genre
  • Exploring artificial intelligence and Eli’s research to make sure her alternate world was based on real AI possibilities
  • Representations of AI in fiction and film
  • How studying literature stole Eli’s confidence
  • The strange magic of choosing a new book to read and the pleasure of re-reading

Books and other things mentioned:

  • The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
  • The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
  • Her (movie)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (movie)
  • Mitchell’s Vs the Machines (movie)
  • Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
  • Alice Monroe (author)
  • Elena Ferrante (author)
  • Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  • The Folded Clock: A Diary by Heidi Julavits 
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Follow Eli @eli_lee_writes. A Strange and Brilliant Light is available now.

Follow us on Instagram @betterwordspod

Thank you to the team at Quercus Publishing for providing us with copes of A Strange and Brilliant Light. 

About the Podcast

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Better Words

About your hosts

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Caitlin Toohey

Hi, I'm Caitlin! I've been on bookstagram since 2016, a podcaster since 2017, and worked in publishing since 2019. So books and reading are my entire life. When I'm not reading, I like listening to Taylor Swift, watching sitcoms, and generally being a theatre kid.
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Michelle Gately

Hi, I'm Michelle! I'm an Aussie living in the UK, working as a bookseller at Waterstones. I'm obsessed with storytelling in all its forms – I spend as much time watching TV or listening to podcasts as I do reading. Other hobbies include bouldering, hiking and generally obsessing about my pug Percy.