catherineldf: (Default)



Airships and Alchemy


Helen Rochester has a dream: unveiling her airship at the Paris Exposition of 1867. It’s sure to make a splash. But her interfering father wants to chaperone the journey — and she has doubts about the Italian alchemist. He has promised a revolutionary new fuel but why does he need the winged Venetian lion?

 

From the author of the comic Gothic novel The Mangrove Legacy and the medieval Breton Lais series, Airships & Alchemy brings you magic, mayhem, mechanicals — and beasts of various sizes!

 

Airships are nothing new in steampunk, but in my latest novel I tried to add a slightly more surprising angle. I imagined a world in which alchemy was not dropped in favour of chemistry alone, but continued to develop as the primary science. No longer simply in search of the philosopher’s stone, alchemists in my alternate history work on mundane tasks as well deeper occult secrets. They bring their mystical expertise to practical problems—like providing interesting fuels for airships.

 

Attitudes from the past linger: Helen’s father always refers disparagingly to the alchemist with whom his daughter plans to work, often calling him a mountebank. As far back as Chaucer’s time, this image of alchemists as frauds seemed to be the norm. The poet’s Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale offers up a portrait of the alchemist as con man, passing off recipes for gold that required nothing more than sleight of hand tricks.

 

Alessandro Maggiormente, the alchemist in my novel, is most notable for his proclivity for explosions (although to be fair, most of them are fairly small) and for his familiar, a Venetian lion named Eduardo. Because he is so accustomed to the beast, Maggiormente seldom notices the stares his familiar causes. Of course, so deeply absorbed in his work, it might be more accurate to say he notices very little that doesn’t have something to do with his alchemy.

 

Eduardo, however, is very hard to overlook. Imagine: a large lion would always stand out in Paris. It is not their natural location. But a Venetian lion is something extraordinary beyond a mere lion, too, for it has a pair of wings that are prone to draw gasps of amazement even after the initial reaction to finding the king of beasts prowling the Parisian pavement. While mostly ornamental—being far too small to actually cause the lion to fly, a fact Eduardo is generally loathe to admit—the idea of an airborne lion unsettles even the most hardened denizen of the City of Lights.

 

The addition on many occasions of a jaunty fez to the lion’s head might undercut somewhat any sense of alarm, even if it is also likely to leave many confused. Surely Parisians would appreciate his sense of style. In the novel, many people are initially frightened by the sight of Eduardo, but when they realise his nature is mostly gentle (provided one is not a pigeon, a creature for which he has no tolerance) they are inclined to accept him as they do much smaller cats.

 

How does he help the alchemist? Here’s a good scene to illustrate it:

 

“We don’t have to move,” the lion said, looking a little too pleased with himself. He stretched his wings out to their full size and then folded them back down again.

The alchemist looked at him with an eyebrow raised. “What?”

“I said, we don’t have to move anymore.”

“We did before?”

“You were thinking it.”

“True enough. So why don’t we have to do so now?”

Eduardo grinned, showing his big teeth. While the alchemist was very accustomed to this display, many were understandably intimidated by the gleaming choppers, a fact Eduardo chose to be aware of only some of the time. “I solved our problems with the concierge.”

The alchemist had a momentary image of the lion eating the poor woman, but doubtless he would be lying down to digest a meal of that size and he was looking far too alert and pleased with himself for that—which was a relief to say the least.

He was not pleased with Mme. Gabor, but he would not wish her to become Eduardo’s supper.

“How did you solve our problems?”

“I reasoned with her.” The lion looked even more smug now, shaking his mane to emphasize his pronouncement.

“How exactly did you do that? You worry me, Eduardo.”

His familiar barked with laughter, which seemed an entirely unsuitable sound for a lion to make. “What can I say? I made her an offer that she could not reasonably refuse.”

Maggiormente did not like the sound of that. “What sort of offer? Did this involve pigeons?”

“Only as an example,” Eduardo said with a small growl.

“Eduardo!”

“What? She was trouble—and it was only likely to get worse. You need to work. I need to eat. It’s a fairly simple equation.” The lion coughed and a couple of pigeon feathers wafted out of his mouth onto the floor.

Maggiormente considered the situation. “Well, I suppose anything is worth not having to move again.”

Visit Kit Marlowe’s website http://kit-marlowe.com or find her on Facebook.

Buy Airships & Alchemy on Kindle or as a paperback.

 


catherineldf: (Default)
strangerHostage_Final



This series began with an image. Rachel saw a young guy running from bad guys, nearly getting eaten by a vampire cactus, and then get rescued by a female sheriff with one half of her face turned to bone.

 

With enormous effort, Ross kept his eyes open and watched her drop his knife inside his pack. As she reached for him, her hair swung back, revealing her entire face. On one side, he saw a warm brown eye and smooth brown skin, the strong-boned face of a striking woman in her thirties. On the other side, her eye was lashless and yellow, the pupil slitted like a snake’s, and her skin seemed to have melted into her skull.

 

He sighed in relief. She was Changed. She might have some power she could use to protect herself, and him, too.

 

Rachel asked me if I wanted to collaborate on it with her.

 

How could I resist that?

 

We went on to what we didn’t want: grimdark; “The government bans X, and teenagers are Y”; love triangles; rape.

 

The world has scary elements, but a sense of community was important to us, as well as awesome bits. As for the Scary Big Government that makes no logical sense, we got rid of it entirely! Towns are separate entities, and though there is the Gold Point empire, it’s a combination of towns, all fairly isolated.

 

As for the love triangle, we did end up with one. But the romance does not take up anyone’s entire life, nor is there any betrayal.

 

We got the idea of setting it in a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles after the power grids go down, and mutations proliferate. Technology has reverted back to Gold Rush levels—we came to describe the series as “Little House on the Prairie meets X-Men.”

 

Why did we go backward rather than forward for our setting? The real California of the Gold Rush was much more diverse than it’s usually portrayed. Our post-apocalyptic L.A. suggested to us the same sort of ethnic mixes of peoples and cultures that we find in L.A. today. Rachel’s initial image of Ross was of a young Hispanic guy. The female sheriff was Native American. We wanted a techy geek, but the opposite of the generic pencil-neck white guy. How about a small, cute Korean girl?

 

As for the alpha girl of the teens, she would be African American, a talented fighter—and she’d also be the teacher. Teenage teachers were very common in the old west. But not teachers who might have to lead kids to war . . .

 

Jennie watched motes of chalk dust swirl in rays of morning light over the pale wood of the new teacher’s desk, incongruous before the battered desks that had been old when the present students’ great-grandparents had been children.

 

 

If she didn’t have to teach, she’d be on a Ranger mission now, side by side with Indra.

 

Jennie stretched out her hand and pulled with her mind. The worn slate that used to be Mia’s spun through the air and smacked into her hand.

 

Her rival alpha was far more complicated than the typical Mean Girl. Smart, ambitious and determined Felicité Wolfe keeps plenty of secrets—the town’s and her own.

 

On her sixth birthday, Felicité had been allowed to play with a necklace of golden coins that her daddy had given her mother as a wedding gift. The sound of gold on gold made a lovely chime.

 

This was the sound that Felicité heard inside her head when she paid compliments. Each compliment was a coin of gold that would return as a vote when she was ready to run for mayor.

 

Those that took the most effort—that disguised how she truly felt—rang the sweetest.

 

From cultural diversity was an easy leap to the idea of a series that readers who weren't straight and white could read about people like them who were battling post-apocalyptic creatures rather than racism and homophobia.

 

LGBTQ characters are a particularly underrepresented category, especially compared to its representation in real life. Sexual orientation is complex. Teens are curious, experimenting, and both of us know teens who are far more accepting than the older generations realize. We wanted to reflect this, as well as the notion that sexual orientation is often more complicated than a simple label.

 

We wanted action, communication between generations, humor, and a sense of wonder. For a while we batted around various ideas about narrative voice, and finally settled on alternating multiple POVs. That seemed the best way to present a story about a community. We also loved getting into the heads of the five characters.

 

“It was an ‘aircraft carrier.’ Like a floating city. It came from a country called Japan, hundreds of years ago,” Yuki said. “We sailed in the deep ocean. Every day, we were somewhere different.” Yuki sketched kogatana in the air. “Kogatana. The first character is ‘small,’ and the second is ‘sword.’ Little sword: pocketknife.” His fingers reached up, drawing another pair of kanji: “Taka. That was my ship. It means ‘hawk.’”

 

Memories flooded his mind, washing away the desert, the bright-blue sky, and Ross’s curious face. He remembered the smell of deep-sea brine. He remembered riding dolphins and fishing with a spear gun. He remembered the lush greenery of the hydroponic tanks. He remembered the flavors of rice, of sweet red beans, of green tea. He remembered violins playing at twilight. He remembered stepping through the sacred gates to pray to the spirits of rice and wind and ocean. And he remembered his first mother.

 

He blinked, and the desert was back.

 

Yuki Nakamura, who was the prince of a floating city before he was shipwrecked on the shores of Las Anclas, has a very different POV from that of Mia Lee, the youngest town engineer in Las Anclas’s history.

 

She flung down her bow and yanked out her short sword. Ross was right. It had come to hand-to-hand. Exactly what she wasn’t good at! And thinking that she wasn’t good at something was a thought, which was what she wasn’t supposed to have. And thinking that thinking—

Something slammed into her, knocking her flat on her back. She stared up as a man loomed over her with a sword—

 

In book two, Hostage—where we spend time in Gold Point, the city ruled with an iron fist by King Voske, the villain of Stranger—we added a new POV character: Kerry, his daughter.

 

In it we have not one but two hostage situations, with all the danger, overt and implied threat, and moral dilemmas involved when enemies take prisoners into their lives.

 


Buy Stranger
Buy Hostage and here

Rachel Manija Brown
Sherwood Smith


And here's a link to an important piece of backstory on how this series came into being. Kudos to Rachel and Sherwood for persisting and getting these books out there!

catherineldf: (Default)
 I'm in an SF Signal Mind Meld on great openings to books and stories, curated by Paul Weimer​​ - happy reading and safe travels to those of you hitting the road today! http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2014/11/mind-meld-the-best-book-openings/
catherineldf: (Default)

 

"The Well-Mannered Woman’s Guide to Kicking Ass Whilst Wearing a Corset"

 

By Gail Z. Martin

 

Steampunk, which is by definition set in the Victorian era, creates an interesting dilemma for writers with female characters. Namely, how do you adhere to a degree to period sensibilities and enable your heroine to get out into the action?

 

During the Victorian era, society placed social restrictions on what activities were considered proper for women in the middle- and upper-class. The style of dress that was popular at the time, including corsets, hoop skirts, and voluminous dresses further restricted movement. Lower class women had a little more leeway since they had neither the means nor the time to take part in elaborate social rituals. Still, we’re talking about a time in which it was considered scandalous to catch a glimpse of a woman’s ankle, to the point where some buildings had separate staircases so that women did not have to worry about a man seeing their ankles or petticoats as they climbed.

 

And yet, despite the limitations, steampunk has quite a few rambunctious, rule-breaking female leading characters. Whether it’s Alexia Tarrabotti from Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, Eliza Braun in Philippa Ballantine and Tee Morris’s Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series or Veronique LeClercq in the Iron and Blood series I co-write with my husband, Larry N. Martin, these women get around the rules and social conventions with wit, wealth, and sheer determination.

 

The idea of Victorian women with opinions and the lethal force to back up their views isn’t actually so far from reality. The Women’s Suffrage movement in England saw high-born women chaining themselves to fences, marching in protest, and even attacking the king’s horse at the races. Or, as Mrs. Banks calls them in Mary Poppins, ‘soldiers in petticoats’. Hardly the shy and retiring stereotype!

 

Also remember that much of the Victorian era in England is what we think of as the Civil War era here. Women during the war spied for both sides, some disguised themselves and took up arms, and others farmed the land and took over ‘men’s work’ while the soldiers were at war. This is also the time period of the settling of the American and Canadian West. Pioneer women drove wagons across the prairie, handled teams of oxen in the field behind a plow, fought off bandits and attackers, and made a go of it in an often harsh and inhospitable landscape. Likewise, women in Australia during the Victorian era had no time to be shrinking violets as they stepped up to the challenges on a highly dangerous continent.

 

While it doesn’t fit the stereotype of the refined woman with her elaborate tea service, women in Victorian times worked in coal mines, factories, textile mills, and on farms. Some worked in offices and stores. It also became more accepted for women to participate in some sports and ride bicycles. In other words, our conception of the restrictions on Victorian women are sometimes more limited than the women actually were in real life.

 

This was the era of Susan B. Anthony, Emily Pankhurst, Florence Nightingale, Marie Curie and Nellie Bly, Clara Barton and Harriet Beecher Stowe. As the saying goes, ‘well-behaved women rarely make history!’

 

Busting those stereotypes—and playing against expectations—is one of the things that is really fun about writing female protagonists in a steampunk world. It takes an extra level of cleverness to circumvent social constraints and accomplish the mission, but like their real-world counterparts, Steampunk ladies have figured out how to use the system to their advantage, and when all else fails, be sneaky.

 

For a steampunk heroine, corsets can provide an unexpected level of protection if modified, somewhat like a Kevlar vest. And as modern-day attendees of conventions and Renaissance festivals know, a good corset can hold a lot, including Derringer pistols, dirks and other contraband. Women in the steampunk era also began to wear jodhpurs and breeches for riding. Times were changing, and that edge of old empire vs. new beginnings makes for a lot of rule-bending.

 

We’re having a lot of fun writing determined women characters in a steampunk setting who are clever and adaptable, willing to break rules or use the rules to their advantage, and intent on holding their own and proving their capability. Somewhere in the afterlife, I believe our great-grandmothers are chuckling and sharing a triumphant cup of tea.

 

My Days of the Dead blog tour runs through October 31 with never-before-seen cover art, brand new excerpts from upcoming books and recent short stories, interviews, guest blog posts, giveaways and more! Plus, I’ll be including extra excerpt links for stories and books by author friends of mine. And, a special 50% off discount from Double-Dragon ebooks! You’ve got to visit the participating sites to get the goodies, just like Trick or Treat! Details here: www. AscendantKingdoms.com

 

Trick or Treat: Enjoy an excerpt from Retribution, one of my Deadly Curiosities Adventures short stories from the Athena’s Daughters I anthology here: http://www.wattpad.com/story/10512852-retribution

 

And a bonus excerpt from Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn by my friends Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Day Al-Mohamed here: http://www.wattpad.com/46619659-baba-ali-and-the-clockwork-djinn along with insider’s secrets: http://dayalmohamed.com/wordpress/category/book-secrets/

And a bonus excerpt from my friend Maggie Allen’s story, Lunar Camp, also in Athena’s Daughters I: http://www.wattpad.com/77474063-athena%27s-daughters-anthology-lunar-camp-by-maggie

catherineldf: (Default)
Southard_QueenandCommander    Hive-Southard-ebooklg

 

I met Janine Southard (in an online sense) on Twitter when she was publishing her first collection of short stories under a different name. We stayed in touch and I found myself continually intrigued by her ideas. Her latest book, Hive & Heist, 2nd in her YA Hive Queen Saga, comes out in May. Her first ebook in the series, Queen & Commander, is marked down to $.99 until May 15 if you'd like to begin at the beginning-  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BRM2XVE)

Hive & Heist - by Janine A. Southard

Writers often hear: “If the book you want to read doesn't exist, write it yourself.”
 

Which is how I ended up with a multiple-POV young adult science fiction series about Druids on spaceships with no romance subplots.
 

At first I was supremely unsure about this. I mean, the market is really not looking for it.



·      Young adult is popular, yes, but without a romance plot? Never.

·      Spaceships are good, yes, but without a military angle? No one buys that.

·      Druids are lovely, yes, but only in medieval settings or paranormal contemporary. On a spaceship? Nope. Too much cognitive dissonance.

But I loved my clueless teenagers who try to make their way in the universe. I love that they’re Druids (except for the one Catholic guy who has some serious disparity with his majority-religion friends). I love my spaceships and space adventures that don’t have anything to do with fighting the alien hordes.

So I wrote the first book in the Hive Queen Saga anyway.

And it worked! Readers on Kickstarter read my sample chapters and backed my project. In less than a year from the publish date, Queen & Commander won an Independent Book Publishers’ Award (IPPY) for science fiction/fantasy/horror ebooks.

Now I’m releasing the second book in the series, Hive & Heist. It’s still gloriously unmarketable with its teenage ensemble cast working on a caper, instead of on romance. Worse, I’ve added an adult POV to this mix, a traveling law enforcement officer on the trail of a serial thief and murderer. Oh, and yeah, they’re still Druids... one of the characters even blesses a room on a space station.

Hive & Heist is a classic caper story mixed with a police procedural. Queen Rhiannon and her Hive (our heroes) have found safety on John Wayne Station, but with no way to pay their docking fees or medical bills, their debts are racking up quickly. When they revisit their ship to pick up personal belongings, they realize their ship’s engine has been stolen! If they ever hope to leave this foreign place, they must steal back what’s theirs. But far from home and among strangers, who can they trust?

If there was something that I probably shouldn’t write in order to guarantee commercial success, I did it with this book. For instance, the teenage heroes of Hive & Heist spend a lot of time hanging out in a brothel, and there are no messages about safe sex nor sob stories about staying away from a life on the streets. (Yeah, I don’t really believe in strong-arming readers with moral messages, even if they do sometimes work their way into my books. As far as the brothel is concerned, I think the message might be “learn your lines if you become an actor” or “consent is important” or “costumes make the character”.)

Hive & Heist is for all the readers who love for space-based adventures that are a little outside the mainstream.

About Janine A. Southard

Janine A. Southard writes speculative fiction and videogame dialogue from her home in Seattle, WA. She sings with a Celtic band and is working on the next book in her award-winning Hive Queen series. She’s also been known to read aloud to her cat.

The cat appreciates all of these things. Maybe.

Visit her on the Web: http://www.janinesouthard.com

Interact on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jani_s

Join the conversation on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jani_s

catherineldf: (Default)
38077-cover    37270-cover-200x309[1]   37264-cover-200x309
Hi, I’m Jennifer Lyn Parsons, editor in chief of Luna Station Quarterly. Thanks to Catherine for letting me natter on about my beloved magazine.

Luna Station Quarterly is a speculative fiction online and ebook magazine devoted to publishing and promoting emerging women writers. (Say that in one breath, whew!) LSQ just started its fifth year of publication with the stellar Issue 017.

I am also pleased to be starting this year off with a shiny new website. The spit polishing still needs to be completed before it goes live, but I'm really thrilled with how it came out. Rebuilding the site from the ground up was quite a chore! It will be worth it, though, and should be live for everyone to see soon. I’ll be sure to make announcements all over the place (mostly because I’ll be bouncing off the walls with joy).

Having a high-quality, usable website is important to me, partly because I build them for a living, but also because the reader’s experience is important to me. Presentation goes a long way in making me want to read something on my own time, and I aim to give the readers that same courtesy.

But wait, I should backtrack a bit and talk about LSQ's origins, shouldn't I?

It started about 5 years ago now, during a time when I was unemployed. I found a dearth of truly female-friendly short story venues out there and decided to step up and fill the gap. I focused on speculative fiction because it’s what I read, what I know best.

I focused on women writers exclusively because of the experiences I had while writing fan fiction a few years before. Fanfic is mostly female-authored and the stories that others were putting out there to fill in "canon" details were not only outstanding, but had a special something to them that I found missing in their male-authored counterparts. (And no, I don’t just mean the slash. LOL.)

So, combining those experiences with my web design/development skills, I suddenly found myself soliciting stories.

One of the most satisfying things about LSQ has been the consistent and universal support I've received. I was also delighted when we quickly gained global reach and, to this day, consistently receive submissions from as far away as Australia and as near as the town next door. It makes me really love the internet, trolls and all, because we can come together and support each other across any boundary. We can all cast such a wide net.

Over the years, the staff has grown from just me to a strong volunteer staff of four assistant editors plus an editorial assistant. (That would be Cheryl Ruggiero, Megan Kaleita, Iona Sharma, Andi Marquette and Danielle Perry, in no particular order)

The content has grown, too. I’m thrilled to say LSQ is a lot more diverse than it was when I started out. It’s always had interesting stories, but the breadth of style, subject matter, and the types of characters populating them now is truly diverse. It’s awesome to see these stories coming in and is very encouraging to me as a glimpse of what the future face of speculative fiction may look like.

After a few years of publishing LSQ, I decided to open up a small press to act as a parent company and home for some future projects I’ve got up my sleeve. Luna Station Press was born in 2012, continuing the Luna Station tradition of supporting women authors, but now with the ability to move beyond short stories and into poetry, non-fiction, and, of course, longer works.

It’s kind of an experiment and I get to be an explorer, navigating these new uncharted waters of the non-traditional publishing model. I’m grateful to the authors who have come along for the ride, even through the bumps and turbulence.

Right now the Press is on hiatus for submissions, but I’d love to see it have another growth spurt in the next year or so. I’ve always got great plans for expanding the Press and Quarterly, now I just need a windfall so I can quit my job and focus full-time on making them grow. Heh.

Anyone interested in checking out Luna Station Quarterly can find it at 
http://lunastationquarterly.com . All issues are free to read online, or you can help us pay our authors by purchasing an ebook edition from Weightless Books at http://weightlessbooks.com/category/format/subscription/luna-station-quarterly/

The press is located at
http://lunastationpress.com
if you’re interested in learning more about the books I publish as well.

Thanks again, Catherine!
catherineldf: (Default)

I have always had a fondness for historical fiction, especially the kind with swords and awesome women. Enter Heather Rose Jones and her new novel, Daughter of Mystery, which features my two favorite elements of historical fiction, plus magic and a lesbian romance. I am, of course, reading it now. I should also note that it's the beginning of a new series, set in Jones's fantasy European country of Alpennia. Read on...

dom   hrj

                                           "A Web of Women"

My goal for Daughter of Mystery was to write a ripping good tale of adventure, love, and intrigue. Set in the fictitious country of Alpennia in the early 19th century, Margerit Sovitre is resigned to abandoning her philosophical studies for the approved goal of making a good marriage. When her godfather unexpectedly leaves her a fortune--including a mysterious bodyguard named Barbara--the world opens up along paths she never expected. But those paths, as well as her developing talent for thaumaturgy thrust her into the center of Alpennian politics and soon she and Barbara must flee an accusation of treason.

 

Beyond the straightforward mind-candy of the adventure (though I like to hope it’s in the “artisanal dark chocolate” category of mind-candy) one underlying theme began to pervade not only Daughter of Mystery but the initial sketches for its sequels: the networks and communities that women build in the face of a society that excludes them from the formal structures of power and agency. Men’s actions may precipitate both Margerit’s hazards and opportunities, but it’s among women that she finds the allies to achieve her goals. The developing romance with Barbara is only the most obvious source of strength. A spinster aunt lends the orphaned Margerit the cover of her respectability, seeing in Margerit the opportunity to finally seize her own small measure of independence. In the capitol of Rotenek, Margerit is welcomed by a loose community of female scholars, from fashionable upper-class dilettantes to hard-headed working-class women hoping for a better life. Her inheritance gives Margerit entrée to a new social world in Rotenek, but it is the female allies she finds there who teach her how to use it for her own purposes. When disaster strikes, the nuns of Saint Orisul’s offer sanctuary both for body and mind, and in the final crisis Barbara’s ties to an ex-lover bring crucial assistance.

In the sequel currently in progress (The Mystic Marriage), we see this web of women woven ever more strongly: bound as colleagues, patrons, friends, lovers, and kindred both by blood and choice. Or rather, more of this web is revealed to the reader, for Margerit and Barbara and their friends are only dipping into a vast river that has always flowed through their lives.

Women’s ties and friendships often go overlooked, both in history and in literature. But because the very premise of my stories was to focus on women’s lives and their relationships to each other, it was easy and natural to bring these elements to the fore. Not that men have no place in the stories--far from it. They feature strongly as allies and adversaries. But the nature of early 19th century European society sets barriers between the lives of men and women that make the quality of the interactions distinct.

I didn’t consciously choose the setting of my story for this purpose, though my own historic interests made it a natural outgrowth. It’s hard to know who we are unless we know who we have been. So many aspects of the lives of women--and particularly of women who love women--have been dismissed or erased from the histories we are fed. Yet the traces and clues are there to follow and to build on. Although I write fiction, it is not necessary to invent whole-cloth to participate in the creation of a usable history of women’s lives and lesbian lives. Fortunately, the roads are better paved and more clearly marked these days than they were when I first started writing in the late ‘70s. My own preference is to ground my historic fiction in fact, not in wishful thinking. (Well, ok, except for the bits with magic.) And in this I am grateful to my own “web of women”: Judith Bennett, Lillian Faderman, Emma Donoghue, Barbara Hanawalt, Sahar Amer, Bernadette J. Brooten, Lotte C. van de Pol, Harriette Andreadis, Judith Brown, Valerie R. Hotchkiss, Carol J. Clover, Helena Whitbread, Edith Benkov, Jacqueline Murray, and so many others (whom I don’t mean to slight by this very partial listing, nor do I mean to slight the male scholars whose work has been useful).

One of the difficulties of writing the lives of lesbians--whether real or fictional--in history is to situate them in the context of a “community of the mind” of women-identified women. Without that context, it is hard to avoid an endless series of coming-out stories: “What is this thing I’m feeling? I must be the Only One!” That may have been the experience for many women, but when presented as the norm or as the only voice it becomes a dreary disempowering monotony. In writing the Alpennian novels, it was important to me to choose to write from that subset of stories where my characters operate within a history and a community, not only as women but specifically as women who love other women. Historic fiction has a great power to grant the reader a share in ownership of the past. Daughter of Mystery may be meant to entertain, but I hope it also helps claim that ownership.

 

catherineldf: (Default)
10742648974_74e8e4d63d_b

The Masque Books imprint of Prime Books is doing all kinds of interesting titles these days and I'm hoping to have the imprint editor in as my guest later on this month or next to talk about all the cool things they're doing now and hoping to do next. This month, my guest is a new author talking about her first book,
Trading Rosemary. Octavia Cade has had short stories published in Strange Horizons, Abyss and Apex and other venues and she tweets at @OJCade.


TRADING ROSEMARY BLOG POST

 

Writers are often told to write what we know. This can be difficult when what you want to write is science fiction and fantasy – no-one does know aliens, or vampires, or what it’s like to create a biosphere, to meet mythology at the coalface and know it for what it is. Those of us who write speculative fiction go ahead and do it anyway, on the grounds that imagination is there to be used and not stuffed into a teapot like the dormouse.

But imagination without knowledge is a very flat thing – there’s got to be something in it that the writer, that the reader, can recognise and hang on to. If not the alien, then the experience of being alien, of being outcast, of creating something out of yourself even if it’s only nightmares.

That’s where Trading Rosemary came in. I wanted to write something I knew, and see how far I could take it. I wanted to see what the world would be like if what I knew were all there was, and mutable. So there’s Rosemary, whose memories are mostly mine, and who lives in a world where memory can be transferred into coins and used as currency. And like any other coin – once you give it away, it’s not yours anymore. It’s not mine either.

This is something tangible for most of us, I think, something identifiable. We all know what it’s like to forget things, and how impossible some memories are to forget. How easy it is to forget the things we’d like to remember, and how each of these things change us, inform the person we are today, rather than the person who had our face but who lived five years ago. That person, that collection of memories, is different and they are gone.

Push that as far as it goes, and what kind of world do you get? What are its priorities? What are the really expensive memories, and what’s the loose change you pass over for a piece of fruit, for a bread roll? And what happens when you trade away part of yourself and regret it – what compromises are you willing to make?

That’s the position in which Rosemary finds herself. She’s got a library of memory, a good one, as much museum as library, a place of preservation, a public good. To improve it, she trades away the sole remaining memory of her grandmother’s final composition in exchange for a rarer coin, a better coin. And it seems like a good deal. But Rosemary’s got a daughter, Ruth, who’s a bit of a brat if ever there was one and Ruth wants it back. Well, these are things we do for children and for heritage.

 

But the person she’s sold it to doesn’t want to give it back. He wants something else – a collection of memories, taken from Rosemary herself. The foundations of her character, the defining points of her life. If Rosemary were to give these away, she’d be changed and changed irrevocably. In a world where memory is currency such change has value, but there’s change and then there’s gutting, and how much can one woman reasonably be expected to accept, and what happens when, if, she draws a line and will not cross?  

Trading Rosemary is a fractured little novella. Rosemary’s memories are contrasted with fragments of world-building, with what such a social and economic environment does to artists and environmentalists, to explorers and to parents. At its base, it’s a question of identity, and what we can do to lose it – and to keep it. And these are questions that we know. Questions that everybody knows.

#

I’d like to thank Catherine for letting me ramble on here. Thank-you very much!

#

Trading Rosemary is out now from Masque Books.

http://masque-books.com/titles/trading-rosemary/

catherineldf: (Default)

I've been reading and enjoying Laura's first book, Pantomime, and asked her to drop by and talk a bit about it and its sequel Shadowplay (due out in the U.S. 1/7/14). This is a really interesting series, and are amongst the few sfnal books I can think of featuring an intersex protagonist. Buy links are just below Laura's post - highly recommended!


 

Laura's post: The Micah Grey Series and Slipping through Society

I write the Micah Grey series, which is a young adult gaslight fantasy set in a pseudo-Victorian world of the Archipelago. My main character, Micah Grey, was born both male and female, running away from life as a noble woman’s daughter to join R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic. That’s the very short summary of the first book of the series, Pantomime, which came out in February, 2013. The sequel, Shadowplay, comes out January 2 (UK) and 7 (US), 2014, and moves from the circus to the magician’s stage, where two illusionists duel, with Micah and his friends caught in the middle. The world of Ellada, the country within the Archipelago where the stories take place, is a formerly great empire, now crumbling. They have rigid ideas of what constitutes proper society in the higher echelons, while poverty and corruption are rife.

Micah Grey is, in many ways, caught between the various levels of the world as he navigates his way from childhood to adulthood. It’s no coincidence that his last name is Grey. Micah begins as Gene, forced to try and fit the mould of a perfect noble family’s daughter, and the role chafes. After Gene leaves and transforms to Micah Grey, he finds himself at the bottom of society, on the streets, living hand to mouth. He lives afterward on the outside of society, such as in the microcosm of the circus and then the magician’s theatre, looking in and first observing the difficulties Ellada faces. And then, without quite knowing how, he finds himself drawn deep into Ellada’s troubles.

So, that’s my series in a nutshell. It has circuses, magic, mysterious blue domes, long-vanished civilisations, clockwork body parts, secrets, and romance. I hope you take a peek into the world of Micah Grey.
Info for putting the series together:

Website: http://www.lauralam.co.uk

Pantomime page (including ordering links): http://staticsplit.wordpress.com/pantomime/

Shadowplay page (including ordering links): http://staticsplit.wordpress.com/micah-grey-2-shadowplay/

Twitter: @LR_Lam

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lauralamauthor

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/micahgrey/

Tumblr: http://lauraroselam.tumblr.com/


Bio:
Laura Lam was raised near San Francisco, California, by two former Haight-Ashbury hippies. Both of them encouraged her to finger-paint to her heart’s desire, colour outside of the lines, and consider the library a second home. This led to an overabundance of daydreams.

She relocated to Scotland to be with her husband, whom she met on the internet when he insulted her taste in books. She almost blocked him but is glad she didn’t. At times she misses the sunshine.

Pantomime was released February 2013 through Strange Chemistry, the YA imprint of Angry Robot Books. The sequel, Shadowplay, will follow in January 2014.

catherineldf: (Default)

 

Devil's-Concubine-Cov-MDevil-Incarnate-Cov-M(1)

I've been reading and enjoying Jill Braden's work for many years under her various pseudonyms (she wrote a wonderful story for my anthology Haunted Hearths and Sapphic Shades: Lesbian Ghost Stories too). When she asked me to blurb her latest novel, The Devil Incarnate, I was immediately intrigued. She deals with the themes of imperialism and resistance in a rich brew of magic and sexuality and I look forward to reading more of these books.


"The Devil of Ponong series"

Thank you, Catherine, for letting me chat about my SFF political thriller series, Devil of Ponong.

In the first book in the series, The Devil’s Concubine, the titular character QuiTai* is blackmailed into helping her enemy Kyam find a secret bioweapon plantation. (That sounds terribly high tech. It’s a low tech world on the verge of massive technological and political change.) Devil Incarnate is more political thriller than action adventure. QuiTai’s people are pushed to the brink of revolt. She has to stop them before blood runs in the street, but first she has to figure out who is behind it.

While I’m a big supporter of diversity in SFF, I didn’t set out to write a story set on a tropical island with non-white characters. All I planned to do was write the kind of book I like to read. Then I had a vision. No, not a vision. That sounds too woo-woo artsy writer-ish. How about I call it a quick little mental movie instead? What I saw was the scene where QuiTai and Kyam meet, and even though the Devil of Ponong series is set on a different planet, the people I saw in that vision were strikingly similar to a Pacific Islander (QuiTai) and a southeast Asian (Kyam).

My first reaction to that scene was “Who was that woman?” because QuiTai was so vibrant, compelling and mysterious that I knew I had to find out more about her. My second thought was, “Huh. I guess she’s similar to a Pacific Islander. ” The more I reflected on what I’d seen of her, the more convinced I was that keeping her ethnicity intact brought a wealth of history that would enrich the entire story. Keeping her true to the vision gave me a tropical island setting that was a character in its own right, and economic, racial, and political conflict that intertwined like a parasitic vine slowly strangling its host tree. That’s like asking for a slice of bread but getting a banquet instead. How could I not go with a gift like that?

I’m white, so when I began to write QuiTai, I kept in mind Orientalism-- the fetishizing of a stereotype of Asian women-- and the Dragon Lady stereotype. It turned out it wasn’t that hard to steer clear of those depictions. QuiTai is a person, not a type. But that’s also true of her enemies, the Thampurians, who colonized her island. Once a character gets to act independently of the mold they’re poured into, they take on a unique personality. That’s what I enjoy the most about writing in this world. It’s interesting to see how racism manifests itself in individual characters, how it manifests collectively, and how people negotiate the difference between those. It’s interesting to see how similar QuiTai is to her enemies and how different she is from her people, although she’d never admit to such a thing. And on a larger scale, I’m fascinated by dynamics of the lush, fertile, almost feminine land of Ponong dealing with the invasion of hyper-masculine sea dragons who forcibly subjugate it.

In real life, no one thinks of themselves as a villain. That’s how my characters act. From the viewpoint of the Thampurians, QuiTai is the villain. Ruthless and brilliant, she runs the Devil’s criminal network of smugglers, blackmailers, drug peddlers, and informers.

Her people split on how they feel about her. Some, who witnessed or took part in mob justice (Oh yeah, forgot to mention that my indigenous people aren’t placid virgins waiting in a tower. They sometimes do terrible things. They can also be wonderful. In other words, they’re people. ) hate QuiTai because she encouraged them to act in a way that later shamed them. They generally don’t accept responsibility for their actions that day because it was so horrible. Instead, they blame her. This is how people are. It’s not how we want them to be, but it’s truth and showing that is more important to me than enforcing a simple vision of noble savages (an annoying racist meme in its own right) versus evil invaders. Those people who weren’t involved in the mob justice seem to feel QuiTai was a hero that day but are ambivalent or negative about her ties to the Devil. The rest of the population has no idea who she is and have no opinion one way or another. This isn’t hive mind. Everyone in this culture is an individual.

As far as QuiTai is concerned, the Thampurians who colonized her island, stole the land, and enforce injustice are the bad guys. She makes a slight exception for Kyam, but she’s more than willing to blame him personally for everything his government and people do, individually and collectively. The animosity is so intense that even when faced with a common enemy, she won’t willingly work with him.

Kyam thinks of himself as a hero. He’s from a privileged background and a culture that constantly reinforces his sense of superiority. QuiTai challenges every aspect of that. I’ll give this to him, no matter how uncomfortable it makes him, he’s willing to examine his privilege. That’s what makes him heroic, although I’ll never allow him to be the one to save Ponong, because I am so tired of the narrative that says the appointed savior for indigenous people is always the privileged guy who decides to play out his daddy issues by rebelling against his own culture. (Not that I’m pointing fingers at Avatar or The Blind Side or any of the other thousands of Hollywood versions of that same old trope.)

While the common belief is that science fiction starts with the question, “What if?” my favorite stories seem to ask, “What does it mean to be human?” Some people think science fiction only means space ships. Anthropology is a science too, and just as fascinating. I’m not only exploring racism and feminism, but also gender identity and sexuality as I search for the answer to what it means to be human. But feel free to call my stories fantasies. I’m more interested in dialog than labels.

Thank you, Catherine, for the chance to talk about the ideas behind my series.  

The Devil’s Concubine and The Devil Incarnate are available as ebooks and in print at your favorite online bookseller.  

Find me at JillBradenWriter.Blogspot.Com - http://jillbradenwriter.blogspot.com/

·     * I’ll admit to picking her name because I liked the sound of it. That’s one tiny step from picking random kanji for a tattoo. I’m waiting for someone to send me an email asking, “Did you really mean to name her ‘No Parking Between 12AM and 5PM?’”   

Purchase The Devil’s Concubine and The Devil Incarnate in print or ebook:
Wayzgoose Press
The Devil’s Concubine at Amazon  
http://goo.gl/5xXoa3
The Devil Incarnate at Amazon
http://goo.gl/ZgrVoT

And at Barnes & Noble
http://goo.gl/fp7r4e

catherineldf: (Default)
on author Joel Arnold's blog. Which was quite fun. Check out the other posts too - Joel interviews a really interesting range of publishers and authors.
catherineldf: (Default)
This month's guest blog is by new novelist Jacqueline Koyanagi, whose novel Ascension, was recently released by Masque Books. This is definitely going on my TBR list: a starship engineer protag who's queer, disabled, and a woman of color? Count me in! Ascension is on sale in ebook format now but you can also preorder the print version, which is due out in December, here and here. And you can read more about Jacqueline here and see her lovely jewelry at HelixChainmaille.

cover_resized

Guest blog:
I’m delighted to talk about my science-fantasy queer romance, Ascension, and its characters, the crew of the Tangled Axon. At its heart, it’s a story about found family and the lengths people will go to self-actualize, so I thought I’d focus on the characters for this post.

The main character, Alana, is a sky surgeon (starship engineer) who makes plenty of mistakes on her way to finding her place in the world. Because the novel features her emotional journey through chronic illness, poverty, the trauma of loss, and falling in love, I chose to write it in first person and focus entirely on what’s subjectively important to Alana.

That turns out to be her undeniable passion for starships, the Tangled Axon in particular—a passion that borders on sensuality. In fact, she’s so taken with the Tangled Axon that her desire to be on the ship gives her a case of tunnel vision. Still, her innate talent for connecting to the suffering of ailing starships lends her an ability to diagnose and repair them that’s half-mystical in nature.

We learn that this talent is connected to the abilities of her “spirit guide” sister, Nova, who makes a living lending her psycho-spiritual talents to clients. Anything from serving as muse at a writer’s retreat to divining paths to large profit margins at Fortune 500s. She finds Alana’s obsession with starships tiresome and pointless in a world where the need for engineers is becoming obsolete. I’ll let you read the book to find out why!

Alana’s love interest, Captain Tev Helix, has her own traumatic history to contend with in addition to supporting herself and her crew from transport job to transport job. Her initial impression of Alana is that she’s immature and unrealistic, but Alana’s determination and passion turn out to be the very qualities that pluck at Tev’s heart.

Tev’s main concern, however, is saving her beloved pilot, Marre, from disappearing—literally. Marre’s body flickers in and out of existence, layer by layer, piece by piece, and the crew of the Axon is trying to find a way to save her. Even her mind straddles the line between coherent and seemingly psychotic as she tries to hold onto herself.

Alana’s connection to her chronic illness, Tev, the Tangled Axon, Marre, and her sister make up the connective tissue of her journey in Ascension. My hope is that the book reaches readers who want a story about pursuing eudaimonia through a cultivated sense of kinship with people who have struggled to feel safe in broader culture.

The book’s digital edition is currently available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but the trade paperback releases in December of this year.

Thank you to Catherine for giving me the opportunity to talk about the book!

catherineldf: (Default)
Have I mentioned today how utterly awesome SF Signal is? Pleasant to work with, interested in promoting diverse voices and discussions in the genre, nicely designed - what's not to love? Which leads me to the part where they just posted my new guest blog on "Monstrous Females and Female Monsters," plus, you know, my relevant work. Please read and signal boost, and comment if so moved. There's a lot I couldn't cover in 600 words or so.

On a side note, awesome
Google Doodle today on Maria Mitchell, the astronomer.

Once more, with feeling, I'll be reading and signing at DreamHaven Books tonight with Jack McDevitt and Roy C. Booth as a kickoff for
Diversicon 21. 6:30. It'll be fun!

Unrelated: Saw Pride and Prejudice at the Guthrie last night (half price tix - huzzah!) and found it kind of meh. Austen may not have written for "dull elves," but lordy, most modern interpretations seem to be. You really can't do P&P with an unsympathetic Lizzie. Just doesn't work. Sets were nice, costumes were great, actors perfectly fine. But the writing and directing was off -  unnecessary explanatory speeches, pointlessly abrasive behavior, mugging. So not a thumb's up from me.

Saw Red 2 a week or so back. Because Helen Mirren. Several laugh out loud moments, good performances, tighter ploting and pacing than the first one. Recommended if you can enjoy shoot 'em ups, which are not everybody's speed. Plus, Dame Helen = awesome, as always.

Saw Pacific Rim at the end of last Hell Saturday. and found it entertaining. I like a lot of things about it and was glad I went. Big robots smash Cthulhu. Might go see it again at the Riverview. We'll see.


catherineldf: (Default)
I met Rachael while working at the SFWA table at the 2012 Chicago Worldcon and have been enjoying her company on social media ever since. She's working on a series of 5 steampunk novellas for Musa Publishing which feature a bisexual Latina protagonist and her male sidekick. I've just started reading these and am looking forward to enjoying them all. She's also very interesting and you should follow her on Twitter at @katsudonburi. And, of course, buy her books! Welcome, Rachael!

Rachael Author Photo small murderonthetitania-200 theuglytinorrery-200



curiouscaseofmissclementinenimowitz-500



Guest Blog -
Sherlock Holmes is always a white guy.

To be fair, that’s how he was written over one hundred years ago, by someone who was also a white guy. White guys, as one might expect, have a long and glorious history in Western literature as both writer and subject. They’re everywhere. And there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that (hey, some of my best friends are white guys!) but I don’t think I’m alone in thirsting for a deeper taste of the glorious rainbow that is human existence.

Does Sherlock Holmes always have to be a white guy?

Consider another hallowed canon of Western: all of the great Shakespearean heroes were white guys (with the sole exception of Othello, who was normally until modern times played by a white guy in makeup) as well. But that’s beginning to change. In Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing, Don Pedro was played by Denzel Washington. In the recent BBC production of Richard II, the Bishop of Carlisle was played by Lucian Msamati (who has played Pericles on stage, by the way). Roles traditionally played by white actors have been played just fine by those of other races, and the world hasn't ended.

What about male roles played by women? Well, in Joss Whedon's new Much Ado About Nothing, Conrade was played by Riki Lindhome. It can be done, and I hope more and more major roles will see that willingness to bend gender. It's not Shakespeare's fault he lived in a time where they thought only white guys had adventures and stories worth telling. Perhaps theater has the advantage because every production is unique; every time a play is staged, it’s a new opportunity to tell the story from a different perspective, in a different tone, and let it be born anew.

Which brings us back to Sherlock Holmes. It’s beloved literature, but not so hallowed as Shakespeare. If Shakespeare can bend into something fresh and new without breaking, why not this as well? And the proof: the television series Elementary, with John Watson turned to Joan Watson and played wonderfully by Lucy Liu. (And Moriarty is a woman as well!) While in some quarters of the internet you'd think the world was about to come to an end, the series is clever, interesting, and has been renewed for a second season.

What about Sherlock Holmes, the Great Detective himself? Why can't it be, 'the Great Detective herself?'

In less enlightened times (or, sadly, in modern day in some dark, terrifying recesses of the internet) perhaps people would have argued that the qualities that made Holmes great as a detective were the purview of white men--intellect, logic, cool rationality. But we know that's not the case. I think what keeps Sherlock Holmes a white guy is the same thing that made some people complain when the Bishop of Carlisle was black--the sheer weight of tradition. But art is supposed to be a living, changing thing. We can appreciate the historical context, but it should also reflect something about who we are today.

And we're finally at a today where Don Pedro can be black, where Conrade can be a woman, and where John Watson can be an Asian-American woman. Some people might not like it, but we're doing it anyway and giving beloved stories new life. So why not? Why not reimagine Sherlock Holmes a woman?

I’ve never been the sort to stop just as that though, and I ran wild with the idea. Captain Ramos isn’t a faithful copy of Holmes, but rather a reimagining of the Great Detective written from my own more modern frame of reference and placed in a steampunk universe full of adventure and intrigue. Captain Ramos is first and foremost, a creature of intellect and logic, fueled by observation, quite similar (I hope) to Sherlock Holmes. I was tired of female investigators (successful as they are) being so often set up with intuition as their primary weapon, as if logic is something only men can do.

I’d recently become fascinated by the punk bit of steampunk; a pirate captain is in a good position to be anti-authoritarian and non-conformist. Perhaps in my own small moment of punk, I wrote the Captain to challenge the established stereotypes from movies and books that I've come to loathe.

The decision to make her Latina (as far as such an identity goes in the strange, alternate America in which she lives) was a subconscious one, I think a contrarian reaction to Latinas being so often stereotyped as "fiery." While there's a lot of life to the good Captain, a lot of humor and even passion, beneath it all she's cool and calculating ice.

I gave her a male sidekick that she would never in a million years have any sort of romantic or sexual interest in because I was so tired of hearing that men and women "can't be friends" and similar nonsense. And I made her part of the LGBTQ family because, well, damnit I'm a bisexual woman and I want to see more bisexual characters.

It’s the 21st century; high time for a glorious rainbow of Great Detectives.

There are currently three ebook novellas out about Captain Ramos: Murder on the Titania, The Ugly Tin Orrery, and The Curious Case of Miss Clementine Nimowitz (and Her Exceedingly Tiny Dog), with two more set to come out this year from Musa Publishing. I hope you'll have even more fun reading them than I had writing them!

Order links:

All of these books can be found nearly wherever ebooks are sold, but here are the links for direct purchase from Musa!

Murder on the Titania: http://musapublishing.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=6&products_id=567

The Ugly Tin Orrery: http://musapublishing.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=6&products_id=590

The Curious Case of Miss Clementine Nimowitz (and Her Exceedingly Tiny Dog): http://musapublishing.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=6&products_id=598


catherineldf: (Default)
I'm pretty excited to have Susan Jane Bigelow as my guest blogger this month. Susan's already the author of the Extrahuman series - Broken, Fly Into Fire and The Spark, all from Candlemark & Gleam Press. The Daughter Star is book 1 of her new science fiction series and it looks like another excellent read. Check out what Susan has to say about it below and preorder the print version on Kickstarter.

The-Daughter-Star-web-cover-298x450


Hi everyone! I’m Susan Jane Bigelow, and I’m here today to talk about my new book, The Daughter Star. It’s the story of trade ship pilot Marta Grayline as she tries to care for her sister Beth, get answers to her questions, figure out her relationship with her long-distance girlfriend, and find the freedom she so desperately craves against a background of interplanetary war and alien intrigue.

 This book is the first of three focusing on the three Grayline sisters, Marta, Violet and Beth, and their roles in changing and shaping their world. It’s also about truth, tenacity, faith, growing up, family, love, and a whole host of other things. It’s been an amazing and challenging series to write so far, and I still have the third book to write!

 This story started out as a “pace book” to The Spark, which is the third book in the Extrahumans series. See, The Spark was a very stressful and emotionally draining book to write for me, and every once in a while I felt like I needed a break. So I started working on a fun space adventure story to distract myself when I felt burned out on The Spark. I created the character of Marta, who so enthralled me that I soon found myself lost in her world, and the character sketching I was doing soon began to stretch into a full-fledged novel. I worked on both books concurrently, and actually finished the first draft of Daughter Star before I finished The Spark.

 However, it turned out that The Daughter Star needed a ton of work. This was partly because of the somewhat odd and offhand way in which I’d written it. I wrote at least five different endings before I found one that really worked for me, and led into the next book in a way that made sense. I eventually tightened the story up, made it more serious in places, and gave both Marta and her world a lot more depth.

 I learned a lot while writing this book. I’d probably never do the “pace book” thing again, though it was fun and gave me a real sense of accomplishment. I also learned that there’s nothing like a massive load of revisions and a looming deadline to focus my creativity. But what I learned that I value the most is that I can still write the kinds of books that I really want to read and share with everyone else.

 The book releases on 5/28, and will be available on Amazon, BN.com, the Candlemark & Gleam website, and retailers both electronic and physical worldwide. I hope folks check it out!

 Thanks to the amazing Catherine Lundoff for having me on!

catherineldf: (Default)

This month's guest blog is by author Warren Rochelle. Warren is a Professor of English at the University of Mary Washington and the author of several novels which have been published by Golden Gryphon Press, including The Called (cover below) and a number of published short stories. He shares my fascination with werewolves (yay!) and has stopped by to blog about his current work in progress. Follow the link to Warren's website to see what else he's up to and where he can be found and check out his posts on the Great Traveling Roundtable Fantasy Blog Tour which he does with authors Deborah J.  Ross, Carole McDonnell, Sylvia Kelso, Theresa Crater and others.

http://www.goldengryphon.com/called-large.jpg


First, thank you to Catherine Lundoff for this opportunity to talk about my novel-in-progress, The Werewolf and His Boy, and to share some of my thoughts on werewolves and why I am writing about them.

 

Werewolves and Godlings

The Werewolf and His Boy (yes, the title is a homage to C.S. Lewis’s 5th Narnian novel, The Horse and His Boy) grew out of a short story, “Lowe’s Wolf” (published in Icarus 4, Spring 2010). That story was inspired by a dream my partner had, of a monster hiding at Lowe’s, a store he has frequented for various home improvement projects. This monster became Henry Thorn, a 19-year-old who initially doesn’t know he is a werewolf—just that he is having some very odd dreams. He finds himself falling in love with another boy at the same Lowe’s (in Short Pump, just outside Richmond, Virginia), Jamey Currey. Jamey has his own problems. His dad caught him kissing a boy and threw him out of the house and cut off his financial support, forcing him to drop out of Virginia Commonwealth University. Jamey is also having odd dreams: of flying, of walking through walls, of seeing supernatural beings. Henry learns he is a werewolf; Jamey learns he is a godling, a descendant of the old ones, who once walked the Earth as gods—Loki, Vulcan, Apollo, Hera, and the rest. These powerful beings made the werewolves and other Pets, such as selkies, centaurs, and mers, and various monsters. Their hybrid descendants, the godlings, have powers. These old ones also made the Watchers, devil-like monsters who were given one task: protect the Pets and the monsters at all costs. Keep them secret; keep magic a secret. Witches, who have always been a variation of humans, have, as a result, lived lives in hiding and secrecy, helping out Pets who get in trouble.

 

When Jamey and Henry fall in love their powers wake up. This gets the attention of the Watchers. The two boys are in serious trouble, even with the well-meaning help of local witches. The Watchers want them dead, as a warning to any other Pet or godling who dares risk disclosure. To stop them, Jamey and Henry must find an ancient key and solve a riddle Loki left behind—which could set the Pets free and end centuries of secrecy. To make things more complicated, they also have to learn how to love each other. So their quests begin. Complications ensue.

 

Why werewolves? I find shapeshifters—werewolves in particular---fascinating. They are creatures who live in liminal space, between human and animal, neither one nor the other, and yet both. As someone who often feels he lives in the in-between areas, I find this territory to be creative and powerful, a generative place, sometimes chaotic, but always rich in meaning, in myth, in metaphor. This is territory where many gay people find themselves. Wolves, are capable of violence, and yet, can be gentle and kind. They are, in many ways, metaphors for being human.

 

Fantasies often are set in a secondary reality, some of the most famous including Oz, Prydain, Narnia and Middle-earth. I set The Werewolf and His Boy in Richmond because it is a place I know, where the magical and the mundane can and do intersect, a human place. I find such intersections rich in story and I believe we all live in such intersections whether we know it or not.

 

The Werewolf and His Boy is a love story and it is a story about family—the ones we are born into, and the ones we make ourselves. It is a story about being gay in a homophobic world and in a world where being gay is like having red hair or blue eyes. It is about being living between worlds, and being between worlds. It is a story about identity and self and how we must find and love ourselves and thus be able to love another.  Ultimately, for my reluctant heroes, Jamey and Henry, it is a story about what it means to be human.

catherineldf: (Default)

Wrote 600 words on Blood Moon yesterday, which isn't bad for a vacation day with museuming, family and all. This morning, I heard about a call for GLBT werewolf tales (romance) from
Musa Publishing and am contemplating writing a novella, possibly a prequel. I'm toying with the idea of a historical (in the sense of earlier than contemporary) werewolf novella set in Wolf's Point, but with a different cast of characters than the current book/novel in progress. Characters from Silver Moon and Blood Moon may be walk-ons. Writer brain is noodling.
catherineldf: (Default)
http://lyricalpress.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/wolfatthedoor333x500.jpgObsidian Moon, Obsidian Eye by J. Damask

I "met" Joyce, who writes YA as J. Damask, on Twitter through a mutual friend and was immediately intrigued by the premise of her books. I'm thrilled that she agreed to do a guest post for me on Chinese werewolves and her books. Signal boosts and link backs encouraged!
Her
website
Her
blog
Where to buy her books:
Amazon.com 
Barnes &Noble
Lyrical Press
Gumroad

"Chinese Werewolves in the writings of Joyce Chng/J.Damask"

When Catherine Lundoff asked me to write about the Chinese werewolves in my urban fantasy series set in Singapore, I actually rummaged through my head for things to write. Many people are curious about the Lang and desire to know more about them. I often reply that they were Chinese wolves, not the typical werewolves-doomed-to-change-during-full-moon, but wolves in human bodies. Some readers have said that they are more like spirit wolves. These wolves walk side by side their human counterparts, by all means Singaporean Chinese and indistinguishable. But like wolves, leery of strangers, of the crowd and of cramped spaces.  So, as I rummaged through my head, what should I write about the Chinese werewolves?

And, why Singapore? Because I was born and grew up on this island-state. I wanted to see an urban fantasy set in a familiar place. Of course, I have read about New York, London and other non-Asian places, and my heart hankers to read about a place I know. So, in 2009, I wrote the story out of a challenge to myself: write an urban fantasy novel/series set in Singapore. In actual fact, the story (and its background) had been simmering nicely in the back of my brain before I sat down to write. Nanowrimo gave me the impetus. I had also just given birth to my little girl. People thought I was nuts, writing a novel when I should be 1) resting and 2) focusing on baby girl.

I wanted to see a story about wolves who were also migrants in a foreign land. Wolves whose ancestors settled down in Nanyang (a term for Malaya for the migrant Chinese in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries) and sank roots down, carving their own niches for their packs/families. My grandparents were such migrants. The wolves too found a new home on a tropical island close to the equator. Like their human Chinese counterparts, they too have a rich culture and traditions.

Now, the wolves. I have always loved wolves and even my self-persona is a wolf. When I set out to write the novel(s), I wanted to see proper wolves, not the half-wolf, half-man raging monster made popular by Hollywood. The Lang have their own term for this monstrous state: ren lang (literally: man-wolf). For them, achieving this form twists the mind and renders the individual insane, a total antithesis to what a wolf is. The Lang, like their wild wolf cousins, desire to hunt, love their pack members and will do anything to protect pack territory. They love their freedom and green spaces so that they can run and hunt. They are also human in that they mingle with other Singaporean Chinese and work in human environments.

I like to examine the concept of duality, the idea of straddling two worlds. The main character/heroine, Jan Xu, is mother and pack leader, daughter and sister, wife and free soul. She leads the pack, and yet she is also a wife to a human man who loves her. She loves her children, and yet she has to be a purposeful and strong alpha to her pack. And she has to straddle between wolf and human – something that she struggles daily with in modern urban Singapore. A wolf would rather run and hide from the crowds and traffic.

There you go – my Chinese wolves distilled into a few paragraphs. I have high hopes for the Lang and the other non-human groups (the Myriad). Perhaps you might just see another series in the future.

 


Profile

catherineldf: (Default)
catherineldf

July 2017

S M T W T F S
      1
2345678
910111213 1415
1617 18 19 202122
23242526272829
3031     

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 23rd, 2017 08:50 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios