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 going to aerial classes.
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Michelle Gately

Hi, I'm Michelle! I write words and tell stories for a living as a journalist and marketer. So it makes sense that in my spare time I'm devouring more words and talking about books, right? I've been podcasting since 2017 and now also work in radio. When I'm not thinking about words, I can be found cuddling my pug Percy and dreaming about moving back to England.