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I'm always thrilled when Melissa Scott has a new science fiction novel coming out and this time around, it's the first book of a trilogy. Finders is due out from Candlemark & Gleam in December of 2018 and is based on Melissa's stories in To Shape the Dark and The Other Half of the Sky. No cover art yet, but looking forward to that as well!

   You have a new science fiction novel, Finders, coming out from Candlemark & Gleam in December 2018. Can you tell us a little about it?

 

Cassilde Sam is a barely solvent salvage operator, hunting for relics in the ruins left by the mysterious Ancestors—particularly the color-coded Elements that power most of humanity’s current technology, including the ability to navigate through hyperspace. Cassilde is also steadily fading under the onslaught of Lightman’s, an incurable, inevitably fatal disease. She needs one last find big enough to leave a legacy for her partner and fellow salvor Dai Winter.

When their lover and former colleague Summerlad Ashe reappears, offering them a chance to salvage part of an orbiting palace that he claims contains potentially immense riches, Cassilde is desperate enough to take the gamble, even though Ashe had left them both to fight on the opposite side of the interplanetary war that only ended seven years ago. The find is everything Ashe promised. But when pirates attack the claim, Cassilde receives the rarest of the Ancestors’ Gifts: a change to her biochemistry that confers near-instant healing and seems to promise immortality. 

But the change also drags her into an underworld where Gifts are traded in blood, and powerful Gifts bring equally powerful enemies. Hunted for her Gift and determined to find Gifts for her lovers, Cassilde discovers that an old enemy is searching for the greatest of the Ancestral artifacts: the power that the Ancestors created and were able to barely contain after it almost destroyed them, plunging humanity into the first Long Dark. Haunted by dream-visions of this power whispering its own version of what happened, Cassilde must find it first, before her enemy frees it to destroy her own civilization. 

 

   Your stories, “Finders" and “Firstborn, Lastborn " in the anthologies The Other Half of the Sky and To Shape the Dark are, on the surface, very different from each other. One is about tech scavengers searching for scraps from an ancient interstellar civilization, while the other is about AIs at war with each other, using humans as pawns. You've mentioned that they inspired your new novel - can you talk about these stories and how they relate to the novel?

 

The novelette-length version of “Finders” that appeared in The Other Half of the Sky was very much a direct inspiration for the novel—the first three chapters are essentially a reworking of that story. (Keeping the novelette anywhere near Athena’s word limit for the anthology was like wrestling an octopus into a very small tin can. It could be made to fit, but there were lots of waving tentacles and much effusion of ink. The version that is in the novel is nearly double the size of the original novelette.) It also finishes the story, which by the time I’d finished the novelette I was determined to do. I’d gotten very fond of the characters, and I wanted very much to work out what happened to them after the events of the novelette. 

“Firstborn, Lastborn,” on the other hand, was a very late submission to To Shape the Dark—I think it went in literally on the last possible day. I had been poking at the idea for a while, wrote a draft in a frenzied 3 days, and then looked at it in despair and decided I’d have to tell Athena I wouldn’t have a story for her after all. However, I was too tired to write that email at that point, and when I looked at the story again the next morning, it was better than I’d remembered. I poked at is some more, and sent it in and was delighted to have it accepted. But the characters kept nagging at me, and I started making notes on the larger story of the relationship between the two women and between them and the AI. As I worked on it and on expanding Finders, I realized that the world of “Firstborn, Lastborn” was in fact the world of Finders’ mythical Ancestors—that “Firstborn, Lastborn” was the “real” story behind one of the foundational myths of the salvage culture 

 

   Will Finders be part of a series? 

I sincerely hope so! As I said above, the short story “Firstborn, Lastborn,” turned out to be the non-mythical past of the Finders universe, and there is a third book, Fallen, that deals with the intermediate culture, the Successors, that lies between the two. I’m actually writing them in reverse chronological order, with Finders coming first and set in the last iteration of this society, when most of the ultra-sophisticated, AI-mediated technology of “Firstborn, Lastborn” has been lost and the survivors have rebuilt their society by scavenging the wreckage of the Ancestral worlds. Fallen, which is the next book I hope to work on, jumps back to the Successor period, when the Gifts that are so rare and mysterious in Finders are the commonplace basis of a glittering and terribly fragile society. And then the third book, Firstborn, chronologically the earliest, will tell the “real” story of Anketil and Irtholin and the AI War—the myth that underlies both the previous novels. 

 

   Does Finders have any relationship, such as setting or time period, to any of your earlier work? 

There’s no concrete relationship, though I think Finders touches on many of the same themes as my other work—like them, it’s about working people with jobs and lives who choose to get involved in something bigger than themselves. A couple of the early readers have commented that it reminds them of my early Silence Leigh trilogy (Five-Twelfths of Heaven, Silence In Solitude, and The Empress of Earth), and I can see that. Both deal with a peculiar technology that often acts like Clarkean magic, and both involve a complicated three-way relationship.

  

   Most of your work has LGBT or Q protagonists; is this true of Finders? As a writer, can you talk a little bit about why queer protagonists are important to you?

The main character of Finders, Cassilde Sam, is involved in a longtime polyamorous relationship with her two working partners, Dai Winter and Summerlad Ashe. The men are certainly bisexual, and in my head, Cassilde is as well, though there’s little chance to show that in the novel.

I suppose I write queer characters for the simplest and most fundamental of reasons: I’m queer myself, and want to read and write characters who share that core nature. On a broader level, though, SF/F offers opportunities to tell queer stories that aren’t necessarily about today’s immediately contested issues. It’s possible to imagine a world in which queerness is not an issue, for example—to draw a picture of what we might want society to become. This is not to say that stories that draw directly on contemporary conflicts aren’t valuable and important, but SF/F lets us tell both, and I think it’s important to take advantage of that. 

And also… As we progress (and as a society the US has made enormous progress in the last 30 years, despite the recent setbacks), I want to celebrate and retain the things that I loved about the old queer community. They were things forged by oppression, virtues by necessity, and yet they made a world that gave me a home when I most needed it. The playfulness, the multiple masks and names and costumes, the acknowledgement of sex as a legitimate and valuable choice even in the face of AIDS, the willingness to act to protect each other—all of these things shaped me and my writing, and I want to carry them forward as part of what it means to be queer

 

   What else are you working on?

Let’s see… I seem to be incapable of sticking to any one project or even one type of project! Besides Fallen, I’m very nearly finished with a medieval fantasy, Water Horse, about the queer king of a beleaguered kingdom and his struggle to twist free of his prophesied fate. I’ve just finished the fifth Points mystery, Point of Sighs, and have started plotting the next, Point of Graves; I have an on-going space opera serial on Patreon with Don Sakers, The Rule of Five, and Jo Graham and I have begun plotting the next book in our 1930s occult aviation adventure series, Fire Season (The Order of the Air). After that, I have some thoughts about rural cyberpunk in a world after the seas have risen; bootleggers and the fae in Depression-era Arkansas; and manmade monsters fighting Martians in a steampunk AU. And, with a bit of luck, I may have a new project in an entirely new genre!

 

Weblinks: blog melissa-scott.com

                 LiveJournal mescott.livejournal.com

                 Astreiant Patreon patreon.com/astreiant

                 Rule of Five Patreon patreon.com/ruleof5

                 Twitter @blueterraplane
 

Bio:

            Melissa Scott was born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, and studied history at Harvard College.  She earned her PhD from Brandeis University in the comparative history program with a dissertation titled “The Victory of the Ancients:  Tactics, Technology, and the Use of Classical Precedent in Early Modern Warfare.” She has published more than thirty original novels and a handful of short stories, most with queer themes and characters, and is known for her expansive and effective world-building. She has also written authorized tie-ins for Star Trek: DS9, Star Trek: Voyager, Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and Star Wars Rebels. 

She won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1986, and Lambda Literary Awards for Trouble and Her Friends, Shadow Man, Point of Dreams (written with long-time partner and collaborator, the late Lisa A. Barnett), and Death By Silver, written with Amy Griswold.  She has also been shortlisted for the Tiptree Award.  She has won Spectrum Awards for Shadow Man, for the short story “The Rocky Side of the Sky,” Death by Silver, and Fairs’ Point.

            Lately, she has collaborated with Jo Graham on the Order of the Air, a series of occult adventure novels set in the 1930s; the fifth book, Oath Bound, was published at the end of 2015.  She has also continued the acclaimed Points series, fantasy mysteries set in the imaginary city of Astreiant, most recently with the forthcoming Point of Sighs.  In addition, she and Amy Griswold have begun a series of gay Victorian fantasies with murder, starting with Death By Silver, and continued in A Death at the Dionysus Club.  Her most recent short story, “Firstborn, Lastborn,” is in the Athena Andreadis-edited anthology To Shape the Dark, and she is co-author, with Don Sakers, of the serial space opera The Rule of Five, which can be found on Patreon.  She is @blueterraplane on Twitter.

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 Author Anne E. Johnson interviewed several members, including me, of Broad Universe, an organization which promotes women writing science fiction and fantasy for the website WomenArt. We talk about some of the issues we've made in the field and some of the things we need to move forward on. Good stuff! 😃
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http://twincitiesgeek.com/2016/02/author-catherine-lundoff-and-peak-queer-lycanthrope/ Local author T. A. Wardrope interviewed me for Twin Cities Geeks and we talked about queer lycanthropes and Queen of Swords Press and other fun things. Plus, bonus picture of me trying to get Shu, the 20lb Wonder Cat, to pose with me ala "Bell, Book and Candle." 

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Congratulations to Athena Andreadis, new publisher of Candlemark & Gleam!


Athena Andreadis Interview by Catherine Lundoff

 

 

You’ve recently taken over as the publisher of Candlemark & Gleam, an established small press with an eclectic speculative fiction catalogue. What inspired you to acquire the press?

 

When I was putting together The Other Half of the Sky, my first science fiction anthology, I searched for a publisher – and, in hindsight, unknowingly dodged several bullets. The only person who gave me fair terms (without prompting on my part, yet) was Kate Sullivan, the founder of Candlemark and Gleam (C&G). I owe Sam Montgomery-Blinn of Bullspec many craft beers for suggesting Kate to me and doing the introductions.

 

Kate proved an ideal collaborator: discerning, meticulous, conscientious, professional and results-oriented. She carefully and lovingly prepared The Other Half of the Sky for what became a triumphant publication arc: the anthology went on to win unprecedented awards and accolades (including a Nebula for one of its stories) way before the “X Destroy Y” mode became safe to attempt – achievements that are even more momentous when one considers C&G’s infinitesimal PR budget.

 

Kate ran C&G single-handedly in addition to a full-time day job. On my side, I had long wanted to nurture science fiction that combines quality craft and three-dimensional characters with a non-triumphalist sense of wonder, awareness of scientific principles, and original universes. When the heroic effort tired Kate and she was contemplating closing down C&G rather than see her vision and standards compromised, I told her of my own vision – and here we are!

 

 

C&G published a number of first time authors and several series, such as Anne Johnson’s Green Light Delivery and Blue Diamond Delivery; do you plan on continuing with some of the same authors and series?

 

Indeed, we will continue to publish several of the authors who are already part of the C&G family. In the past, C&G published a wide variety of speculative fiction subgenres and showcased many new authors. Although that big-tent policy will continue, I’m eager to have science fiction become the major tributary stream of C&G – especially stellar talents whom I consider neglected due to the publisher/editor stampede to be “edgy” (if only).

 

 

Will you be open to author submissions?

 

C&G will henceforth publish primarily by invitation and referral. This will allow us to pay close attention to each work, from editing to divider ornaments. However, we will also respond to queries with one-page synopses and a representative sample of the submission, ten pages maximum. Those who wonder what I’m likely to consider and like can look at The Other Half of the Sky or the (invariably large-context) reviews of SFF works at my blog.

 

 

What are your immediate and long-term goals for C&G?

 

My immediate plans are to publish the half-dozen projects in the C&G pipeline and solicit new work. Already about ten SF authors whom I deem major talents are willing to show me completed or in-progress work. It's a fitting symbol and a good omen that To Shape the Dark, the younger sibling of The Other Half of the Sky, will be the first book brought out by C&G under its new astrogator. It’s also flattering and exciting that some of the novels in progress are expansions of stories in The Other Half of the Sky or To Shape the Dark.

 

My long-term goal is to make C&G a beacon that elicits work that doesn’t fit cookie-cutter molds. We’ll be looking for novels or collections of linked stories (plus the occasional anthology), primarily science fiction. Cross-genre/interstitial and SF/F hybrid works are fine, ones with mythic/historical echoes even better. My own taste is eclectic, flexible and unibrow and I will freely confess a weakness for evolved space opera. I want to see nuanced swashbuckling, works whose universes, societies and inhabitants are unusual and diverse beyond lip service (Anglophone SFF is far more parochial that it likes to think).

 

Originality of concept and quality of craft will be the paramount selection criteria. I consider the process of sculpting a work a dialogue between author and editor. Having read across genres in four languages, I’m impervious to glitz du jour and what I call “rediscovering black holes”. A related aspect of this is that C&G will be a no-primadonna guild. We will be professional while being nurturing, and I’ll expect our collaborators to match this mindset.

 

Of course, “it may be that the gulfs will wash us down” as is the fate of many small presses with limited resources that must at least stay solvent, unlike bigger presses that can run semi-infinitely at a loss underwritten by the parent company. I don’t underestimate how strenuous and risky such ventures are, including the defection of successes to venues that can pay them more. But I ran a research lab on soft money for two decades. In many respects, this is very similar. Kate will stay with me for at least a year, so I’ll get the benefit of her experience and expertise; others have generously rallied to my call for some help with managing. I hope to take the small but sturdy C&G starship on many journeys.

 

“…for my purpose holds

To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths

Of all the western stars, until I die.”

 

 

Relevant links

 

Candlemark & Gleam Site

 

The Other Half of the Sky

 

To Shape the Dark TOC and Teasers

 

To Shape the Dark TOC and Cover

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2013's upcoming event and writing-related activities. I'll be adding more as they get finalized and linking as soon as there are things to link to.

January
  •  Lesbian Fiction Appreciation Event, throughout the month of January. I'll be doing a guest post on host author K.T.Grant's blog on writing lesbian and bi characters in historical fiction, 1/12/13.
  • Guest blog on author Cathy Pegau's blog on the topic of  "In Person Events for Writers."
  • Author reading on Wednesday, January 23rd at 7PM at Subtext: A Bookstore in St. Paul

February
  •  GCLS Conference Blog - guest blog on my experiences at the GCLS Conference. TBD
March
  • Marscon -  March 1-3, Minneapolis. Attending professional.
  • Portland Lesbian Book Salon - March 3. Q&A by phone, since I can't make it to Oregon, alas.
  • Quatrefoil Library - March 16th, Minneapolis. Quatrefoil's new location - annual women's fiction reading with several other authors.
  • Hour of the Wolf Radio Show, WBAI, NYC. Tentatively scheduled for March 19th. Reading and interview.
April

May
  • WisCon, May 24-27th. Attending professional.
June
July
AugustSeptember
  • S.E. Wisconsin Festival of Books - September 20-22. I'm scheduled for a panel called "OUTspoken and OUTfront: LGBTQ Writers Moving Beyond Binaries" on Saturday, 9/21 in the afternoon. 
October
  • North Country Gaylaxians Book Club - October 8th, Discussion of Silver Moon at Quatrefoil Library, St. Paul 7PM.
  • Minneapolis Lesfic Book Club - October 30, Discussion of Silver Moon, 7:30PM (not generally open to the public - contact me for details if you want to attend).
NovemberDecember

Somewhere in here, I'm signed up to do some mentoring for GCLS and a few other things which are very much TBD. All in all, I'm hoping to keep it a lighter year than 2012 so I can get in more writing. We'll see how that goes.
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My interview at Outlook Columbus just went live - http://outlookcolumbus.com/2012/11/bookmark-november-2012-2/
Pretty excited about this one, since it's my first magazine profile. :-)
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Author Roxanne Bland was kind enough to interview me at her blog, Of Werewolves and Other Strangers.

I'm off to a jolly morning at the MN Arboretum with a friend, then running errands, then taping a
Cocktail Hour podcast with the redoubtable and wildly entertaining Cheri and Megan. And that is very nearly the end of my  scheduled appearance/interview/podcast dealies for 2012. I actually have a couple of weeks off from publicizing, then it's Gaylaxicon 2012 followed by the Twin Cities Book Festival and I'm actually done for the year, barring additions. Whatever will I do with myself? Oh yeah, write another book and start all over again!

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This is part of my efforts to get organized so I can do some archiving this week.

2012 Guest blogs:

"
Do's and Don'ts of Author Self-Promotion" -  on Morgen Bailey's writing blog.

Lesbian Fiction Appreciation Event  I did a guest post on host author K.T. Grant's blog on lesbian protagonists in science fiction and fantasy.

Whatever: The Big Idea: Silver Moon

"Writing Silver Moon and Menopausal Werewolves" at the Skiffy and Fanty Show
Blog

Good Lesbian Books  - post on my favorite "starter" books with lesbian protagonists/themes.

"
Adventures in Marketing: Promoting My First Novel"  on author and editor Deborah J. Ross' blog.

"The Highs and Lows of Promoting Lesbian Fiction" on The Scarlet Letter ezine.

"Genre and Border Crossings" at Lisabet Sarai's Beyond Romance

SF Signal Mind Meld - "Directions that SF Hasn't Taken" (with Kelly McCullough, David J. Schwartz, Michael D. Thomas/Damien Taylor and Ayleen the Peacemaker)

2012 Interviews:


Menopause and The Single Werewolf: Ten Questions with Catherine Lundoff, author of Silver Moon on author Tracy S. Morris' blog.

Werewolf blogger extraordinaire David Jon Fuller interviewed me about Silver Moon at his blog, As You Were: Metal, Monsters, Mayhem.

Author Roxanne Bland interviewed me at

2012 Podcasts:

Skiffy and Fanty Show - "Influences on Modern Fantasy"


Reading from Silver Moon, Broad Universe Broadpod
Podcast for Pride Month.

Alternate History - Broad Universe Broadpod Podcast, includes a reading from my collection A Day at the Inn, A Night at the Palace and Other Stories.

Readings Goes to the Wolves - multi-author interview and reading on lesbian werewolves, includes a short reading from Silver Moon

"Exploring Beyond the Borders: Breaking the Conventions of Genre in SF/F/H." Broadly Speaking Podcast with Larissa Niec, Julia Rios and Kris McDermott.

Episode 49 of the Cocktail Hour - "Catherine Lundoff and SIlver Moon"

2012 Radio:

KFAI, Write On! Radio, interview and reading from Silver Moon (second half Rachel Gold)

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Author Tracy Morris interviews me about "Silver Moon," menopausal werewolves and related topics - http://tinyurl.com/ckejugn
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Writer Gavin Atlas interviews me at Out in Print - http://tinyurl.com/cugy4bw
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Donna George Storey interviewed me for her fabulous blog Sex, Food and Writing and said such lovely things I'm actually blushing. :-D

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