Meme Day 1

Feb. 28th, 2015 02:06 pm
jen_qoe: (Default)
Crikey, have not blogged for an age.  In my defence, this last module for the degree is a bit of a mare so I'm in hyper-focus mode until June when it will all be over.  (Hurrah!)

But! Until then! Am tiptoeing gently back to blogging with a meme thing nicked from the ever fabulous [livejournal.com profile] la_marquise_de_

The meme post things:
Day 1 - Ten random facts about yourself
Day 2 - Nine things you do everyday
Day 3 - Eight things that annoy you
Day 4 - Seven fears/phobias
Day 5 - Six songs that you’re addicted to
Day 6 - Five things you can’t live without
Day 7 - Four memories you won’t forget
Day 8 - Three words you can’t go a day without
Day 9 - Two things you wish you could do
Day 10 - One person you can trust

So! Ten random facts about yours truly...
1 - At age (about-ish) 10 I became a published poet as a teacher at school submitted a poem I wrote about the mail strike to a Berkshire Young Poets competition thing.  Which got me publication in an anthology, my picture in the paper, and me and a dozen other of the prize winners had to read our poems out at a posh do at the Council buildings.  At which I wore the shortest skirt imaginable and spent the whole evening tugging it down...
2 - When I was 9 I broke both my arms by falling off a lo-lo ball but no one realised until a week later when my occassional complaining was getting annoying. My mum, a trained St Johns ambulance bod, could see no swelling or signs of injury and thought I was just making a bit of fuss, and the GP was clueless and thought it might possibly be sprains.  It was only on going to A&E that anyone realised one arm was broken bad enough that I need to be knocked out so they could rebreak it and the other was just a green-stick fracture. The next year when I broke an arm roller skating I was down to A&E within the hour.
3 - I was utterly convinced for a very long time that space fighter pilot was a viable career option.  For this I blame the original Battlestar Galactica.
4 - Given the time and money I would take every course imaginable and do umpteen degrees just for the fun of learning new things.
5 - I have always wanted to speak multiple languages fluently.  I've got a GCSE in Spanish and a few words in French, Italian, Greek and Japanese.  Though I always tend to do the French and Italian in a Spanish accent and get easily confused on simliar words across the different languages.
6 - I'd also like to be able to fluently understand every ancient language in existence.  Alas, my brain has not managed to retain the Ancient Greek I tried learning a couple of years ago. Still, never give up, never surrender!
7 - Given the time and money and vaguely reliable health, I would visit every ancient site in the world.
8 - I've always wanted to have/ride a motorbike - but I've seen my driving and that's just asking for trouble...
9 - I've had a milder form of M.E. since I was a teenager but generally try to ignore it except for spoon budgeting.
10 - I can read music and play drums, keyboard and guitar to varying degrees though it's been a while so I'm rusty on all.  My attempts at playing saxophone were doomed to failure as I couldn't manage the right kind of puff to get a single note out of it.
jen_qoe: (Default)
Author of "Death and the Weaver" in Urban Mythic 2, we asksed Lou Morgan a few questions!

Tell us a little about yourself and your writing.

I’m a novelist and short story writer, and I bounce infuriatingly between any kind of genre that takes my fancy. So far, that’s urban fantasy and horror for both adult and teen readers, because at the end of the day, I just like telling stories.

My first novel, Blood and Feathers, was an urban fantasy involving hellmouths and sarcastic angels with drinking problems, handguns and secrets, and which was nominated for British Fantasy Awards in both the best newcomer and best fantasy novel categories. The sequel, Blood and Feathers: Rebellion, picks up the story, and has also been nominated in the best fantasy novel category for this year’s BFAs. I’ve also written short stories for people like PS Publishing, Jurassic, Fox Spirit and Solaris – and Alchemy Press, of course.

And I have two cats, because that’s the law if you write fantasy.

What is at the root of your Urban Mythic story?

The idea behind “Death and the Weaver” came from Breton folklore. I spent a lot of time in Brittany growing up, and still go back most summers, so I know the stories pretty well. My favourite was always the Ankou,  a skeletal Grim Reaper figure whose role was to collect the souls of the dead from each parish. On the face of it, it doesn’t sound that unusual, but the interesting thing about the Ankou is that he is always one of the parishioners himself: the soul of the last person to die in the year serves as the Ankou for a year and is then replaced. I love the idea that this could (and probably would) mean it was someone you knew – and I started to wonder how that would change your relationship with death.

Bringing the Ankou up to date was a lot of fun. I read as many versions of the legend as I could, which stretched my French about as far as it could go! In most of them, the Ankou is very tall and usually has long white hair and a head which constantly revolves (so no death escapes him). He carries a scythe with the blade pointing forward and rides a cart pulled by two horses – one fat and one thin. Not all of these would work in a modern setting … but the C in a Citroen 2CV originally referred to “chevaux” (horses), so…


You’re known for having soundtracks for your work – did “Death and the Weaver” have a soundtrack or particular song?

Funnily enough, it did! Along with the Breton folklore, I love Breton music and I have quite a lot of it. I started out having some of the more traditional songs playing in the background, but even modern Breton music still has strong folk roots so there’re lots of bagpipes and accordions in there. I ended up with two songs pretty much on a loop, both by Anthony Chaplain. One was “Marie de la Dondaine” (click here) and the other was “Bzh” – basically a mash-up of several different traditional songs. The title is the abbreviation for the Breton name for Brittany: Breizh. Those two songs between them probably came to feel like a part of the story.

How has the transition between writing adult and YA fiction been? Is there anything you can do with your YA work that you couldn’t do with your adult work? Or vice versa?

I’ve probably been very lucky in that the kind of books I want to write hover around the border between YA and adult fiction. I’m always interested in the idea of identity and responsibility, which are two of the biggest themes in YA and still incredibly relevant beyond that. I mean, who gets to 18 and says, “Yes, that’s it. I know exactly who I am. This is me.”?

I love having the opportunity and freedom to work in both fields and I hope I don’t treat them that differently (although, in fairness, I try to swear a bit less in YA!). The one big change I’ve found, though, is that I feel there have to be more consequences in YA. Not in a judge-y, lecture-y sort of way, but the Blood and Feathers books have, for instance, a fair amount of casual violence in them … and I don’t think I’d be comfortable writing that into a YA.

Room 101 time: what one genre cliché would you get rid of?

Every genre comes with its own set of clichés; they’re what help us identify them as a particular genre, aren’t they? I think I’d rather get rid of the idea that there’s “literary” fiction and “genre” fiction and never the twain shall meet. There’s a fair amount of snobbery in either direction, and that utterly infuriates me. There are as many different stories in the world as there are ideas and not all of them will appeal to everyone … and that’s OK.

What inspired you to run a marathon next year and where can people go to sponsor you?

If only it were a full marathon! I’m actually running a half-marathon (although that’s still 13 miles which is enough to make me weep at the moment): the Bath Half, in March 2015. I’ve thought about it for a couple of years now, and never managed to talk myself into it, but I did one many years ago (the Moonwalk, which takes place at night through central London) and I loved the challenge. I am, clearly, a glutton for punishment.

As part of that, I’m hoping to raise some sponsorship money for Kids Company, who operate centres in both London and Bristol to provide practical, emotional and educational support to vulnerable inner-city children. You can find out a little more about them on their website.

Their work is amazing and incredibly worthwhile, with the potential to make an enormous difference to so many children’s lives, but they need at least £13.5 million a year to keep doing it. Even the tiniest donation helps towards that and is incredibly welcome, so if anyone would like to sponsor my months of running (which, believe me, is something you won’t hear me saying very often) to train through the winter, and for the race itself, you can find my sponsor page here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/runloumorgan

What are you up to next?

I have a couple of stories I’m really excited about which should be surfacing in the near future. Besides “Death and the Weaver”, there’s a story about Oliver Cromwell’s other head which will appear in Fox Spirit’s Missing Monarchs issue of their Fox Pockets series, and I was thrilled to be asked to contribute to the third volume of the Zombie Apocalypse! anthologies. Zombies have never been my favourite monsters, so the chance to create one that interested me was too good to pass up.

The beginning of 2015 also sees the paperback release of Sleepless, my first YA book for Stripes Publishing as part of their Red Eye horror series, which follows a group of friends who take an unlicensed study drug they find on the internet. It’s all set around the Barbican and Smithfield meat market in central London, because ever since I lived there I knew I wanted to set a horror story there! And it’s probably not giving too much away to say that for it won’t end well for everyone…

For more information, check out loummorgan.wordpress.com or @LouMorgan
jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)
geekylogo
Short version: OMG!OMG!OMG! That! Was! Awesome!

Longer version:
Well gosh, that was fun. And if ever there was a convention that needs a lot of photos taking during it, it's Geekfest.  Alas, I took none. So you'll just have to take my word for the fact that there were so many cool costumes!  Harley Quinn, Dr Who and Ace, baby in a flying saucer pram, Judge Dredd, assorted manga type people, Daenerys, a Sharknado...!

And panels.  Good lord, were there panels.  About a million of them, with a handy digital programme thing to make it easier to sort personal scheduling out.  Missed a load I wanted to go to because they clashed with other ones I wanted go to a bit more.  I need a Time Turner for next year, I think, so I can see all the things.

But what I did see - well, there was the Urban Fantasy panel, of course, which I live tweeted due to the perplexingly small amount of women being mentioned as having written urban fantasy and/or city based fantasy.  There'll be a blog forthcoming on that shortly, I think, as there's a lot of thinky thoughts bubbling in my head about urban fantasy, cities and visibility of women.  Though, apart from the issue with forgetting women authors, it was a good panel with some intriguing points made and the panellists were excellent.

I also made it to the Time Travel panel; the Mythology and Fairy Tales panel; the Writing LGBTQ+ Characters in SFF talk by Laura Lam; the Rule 63: Gender and subversion in History, Popular Culture and Fandom panel; the 'It's A Man's World...': Where Are The Women In The Creative Industry? panel; the Looking Backwards panel, which was a cool history thing; and the podfic vs podcasts thing - which I somehow managed to not realise would be about fan fic, despite the fact it was in the fanfic track! But it was a fun one, and very interesting.

And I may have gone a bit mad shopping in the dealer room. And that's before the post-con book binge of buying up stuff recommended on panels and mentioned by lovely random people. And talking of people, I saw many, in that ships that pass in the night kind of way, and big hugs to Alasdair and Marguerite and Adrian and Adele and Ian who were particularly lovely and made the con just that bit better!

Definitely need to book up for next year.
jen_qoe: (pirate girl)
Woohoo! Wicked Women contents time! Ahem... (also, tadaaa!)
Wicked Women
Edited by Jan Edwards and Jenny Barber

Presenting twelve stories of women who gleefully write their own rules, women who’ll bend or break the social norms, who’ll skate along the edge of the law and generally aim to misbehave.

Contents:
(in alphabetical order, final order TBC)

A. R. Aston –  No Place of Honour
Stephanie Burgis – Red Ribbons
Zen Cho – The First Witch of Damansara
Jaine Fenn – Down at the Lake
Juliet E. McKenna – Win Some, Lose Some
Christine Morgan – The Shabti-Maker
Tom Johnstone – Kravolitz
Gaie Sebold – A Change of Heart
Sam Stone – The Book of the Gods
Adrian Tchaikovski – The Blessed Union
Jonathan Ward – A Change in Leadership
Chloë Yates – How to be the Perfect Housewife

Due to be published late 2014 from Fox Spirit Books

jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)
Darlings! Hello!  We have a launch date for the ever marvellous Urban Mythic 2!
We will be unleashing the Anthology of Awesome at Fantasycon in York, on Saturday 6th September at 2pm.  Hurrah!

Not only that, we have cover!  Well, prelim cover.  Slight changes may be made to the font-y bits, but, hey, look... pretty picture from Edward Miller!


um2 prelim2

And! Final order of contents!

The Mermaid  - Tanith Lee
For the Memory of Jane  - K T Davies
Where the Brass Band Plays  - Adrian Tchaikovsky
How to Get  Ahead in Avatising -  James Brogden
La Vouivre -  Sarah Ash
Trapped in the Web - Pauline E Dungate
The West Dulwich Horror  - Carl Barker
The Cupboard of Winds  - Marion Pitman
Blood*uckers -  Chico Kidd
High School Mythical: Asgard -  Christine Morgan
Paradise Walk  - Andrew Coulthard
Death and the Weaver - Lou Morgan

Are you excited? I'm excited! ;-)
jen_qoe: (pirate girl)
Oh what news we have for you my lovelies!

First, Urban Mythic #1 was kinda sorta nominated in the British Fantasy Awards.  Oh yes! Our very own Adrian Tchaikovsky made the Best Short Fiction short list with his story 'Family Business'.  Massive congrats to Adrian!

Our publisher overlords at Alchemy Press also made the short list for Best Small Press and Best Non Fiction (with Doors to Elsewhere by Mike Barrett); and with our loyal Fox Spirit editor hats on, we're also rather pleased that Fox Spirit Books also made the shortlists in Best Small Press, and Best Anthology (with Tales of Eve edited by Mhairi Simpson).  So epic glee all round!  (Not least because so many women made the BFA short lists this year as well. Hurrah!)

Now! Urban Mythic #2 news!
Yes, my darlings, we have contents!  In alphabetical order, with proper order to follow anon, here be our fabulous people...

Sarah Ash – La Vouivre
James Brogden – Avatising
Carl Barker – The West Dulwich Horror
Andrew Coulthard – Paradise Walk
K T Davies – For the Memory of Jane
Pauline E Dungate – Trapped in the Web
Chico Kidd – Blood*uckers
Tanith Lee – The Mermaid
Christine Morgan – High School Mythical:Asgard
Lou Morgan – Death and the Weaver
Marion Pitman – The Cupboard of Winds
Adrian Tchaikovsky – Where the Brass Band Plays

And! There will be a cover by Les Edwards - to be revealed at a later date.

Aaaaaalllll the awesome!
jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)
So here’s the thing… I love books (and really, what sane person doesn’t?) More specifically, I love e-books and will quite cheerfully buy vast quantities whenever funds allow, because, what’s not to love?  They take up no space, can be instantly downloaded, I can cart my entire library around in one e-reader which is a big bonus for travelling, and are also handy when I want to be lazy and not actually muck around with boxes stored under beds to find the book I fancy rereading.  I can read them on my kindle, on my iPad, on my laptop or on my iPhone if I squint a bit, so there’s also the bonus of back up options if one device gets a bit glitchy - which is why I very rarely buy dead tree versions of books these days.  Fiction reading and buying, for me, is always e-book format – oh there’s the odd exception if I’m at a convention and have a mad moment of buying something at a launch, or if there’s no e-book version available and I really-really want to read it (though if I don’t really-really want to read it I’ll not bother, and just make a note to keep an eye out in case it ever does get e-bookified.)

So then the Amazon/Hatchette thing happened.  Marie Brennan does a summary here with handy linkage - so where does this leave the average e-book buyer if they want to keep feeding their habit but would kind of like to not screw over their beloved authors by their shopping choices? 

Happily, as far as the indies and smaller presses are concerned, there’s the option of buying direct from the publishers or from the lovely online Indie stores.  This is something I’ve been trying to do for the last couple of years – not so much because of Amazon’s policies (because I’ve not dug deep enough into them to make a fully educated decision and explain exactly why big corporate = bad), but more because I’m not a huge fan of the file format they do.  I want to have my e-books in DRM free epub or mobi formats that I can keep copies of on my own storage devices and easily chuck at whatever reading device I happen to be using.  I don’t want to be locked into Amazon owning my books or fiddling with them or generally losing them if I use a device without the kindle app. I want control of my books.

Previously I’ve bought smaller press books from Smashwords, Weightless Books, Book View Cafe, and Spacewitch, and also the sadly missed Wizards Towers Books when it was up and running.  I also buy direct from the Angry Robot Trading Co. who do a few indies as well as their own books; and I keep meaning to try out the Rebellion Publishing store for all things Solaris/Abaddon and the Tor Books store for all things Tor!

All of which is great, but if you want something from one of the bigger publishers, Amazon has always been the easiest go-to.  But after the AmaHatch grudge match, I decided to finally get around to checking out some of the other options for e-book buying – Nook and Kobo I’d heard about, and discussions on one of Juliet E. McKenna’s facebook posts brought Waterstones Online and Google Play to my attention, so I’ve been book-buying and downloading reading apps and here’s my not-very-technical-and-has-a-short-attention-span results!

The books: The first four books in The Mysteries of the Greek Detective series by Anne Zouroudi (buying 1 per venue!) – available from Amazon UK for £1.54

Comparison points: Price of book, file formats available, reading apps available, readability on the app-readers

General notes: At minimum I want to be able to read the e-book on either my kindle or iPad, and also my laptop as a back up if possible.  Therefore a downloadable and accessible file format I can convert to mobi is going to be preferable.  I’m not that bothered about the look of the store - so long as it has a basic search widget I can find my way to what I want.  And if there’s too much hassle in downloading reading apps or syncing content between devices I’m done with that venue.

Kobo
Price of Book: £2.63
File Format: Adobe DRM epub
Reading Apps: Kobo app for PC – easy to install and use; Kobo app for iPad – easy to install, a bugger to use and still hasn’t synced up to my account after 3 hours so no book has appeared in my library; iPhone – auto installed when I picked up the iPad app and the purchases sync up! Yay!
App Readability: PC - short pages but readable.  Bit like a landscape PDF.   iPad – still hasn’t synced with my Kobo library so have no book to test it on!  iPhone – if you don’t mind the titchy screen with not a lot of content per page then definitely readable.
Will I use it again? Probably not.  No auto sync to the iPad or quick solution to fix that is a big turn off.

Nook
Price of Book: £1.54
File Format: Erm.. Adobe DRM epub?
Reading Apps: PC – need Windows 8.0/1 – which I don’t have; iPad – app easy to install and instantly syncs to purchases; iPhone – auto installed when I picked up the iPad app and purchases sync up nicely.
App Readability: iPad - Very readable, like it.  iPhone – again, if you don’t mind the titchy screen with not a lot of content per page then definitely readable.
Will I use it again? Probably.  Easy to shop, easy to read on the iPad but the lack of compatible PC app is annoying, and I’d quite like an open file format.

Waterstones
Price of Book: £2.99
File Format: Adobe DRM epub licensed for 6 devices
Reading Apps: PC – uses the Adobe Digital Edition – easy to install and use; iPad – uses Overdrive Media Console – easy to install, total bugger to actually use as it’s not syncing to my account; iPhone - ditto the iPad comments.
App Readability: PC – readable, like the Kobo app you get that squashed landscape page feel but it’s clear and easy to use.  iPad – still hasn’t synced to my account and there’s no easy way to work out why and fix that.  iPhone - ditto the iPad comments.
Will I use it again? No.  Twice the price of the other stores and the mobile device sync failure is a pain in the ass and will take too much time and fiddling to sort out.

Google Play Books
Price of Book: £2.48
File Format: erm? Dunno. Kept in the google cloud.
Reading Apps: PC - online via Google Play website; iPad – easy to install and use; iPhone – auto installed when I picked up the iPad app
App Readability: iPad – very easy to read with easy navigation and easy typeface alteration options.  iPhone – easy to read, like it.
Will I use it again? Actually, probably.  Though the cloud access only thing will be a problem next time my internet connection goes down so it’s not ideal, but can see it as a good one for phone reading.

In conclusion – it’s likely that given time and further investigation the Kobo/iPad app problems and Waterstones/Overdrive app sync issues can be fixed but for a quick and easy option I’m erring towards Nook apps or Google Play.  Would still prefer a store that lets you download actual DRM free epub/mobi files though, so neither the Nook or Google Play are completely ideal.
jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)
Darlings! The awesome team of Jen & Jan are doing a Fox Spirit anthology and we are open for submissions!

Official blurb type thing -
Wicked Women
Edited by Jan Edwards and Jenny Barber

Regular readers of Fox Spirit books know that women are pretty bad-ass - be they evil queens, goddesses, super-villains or anti-heroes, warriors, monsters, bad girls, rebels, mavericks or quietly defiant - so with that in mind, we’re looking for stories of women who gleefully write their own rules, women who’ll bend or break the social norms, skate along the edge of the law and generally aim to misbehave.

Genres: any variation of fantasy, SF, horror and/or crime.
Length: 4000 – 8000 words
Format: doc/docx/rtf files – see the Fox Spirit house style guide for formatting requirements
Email as an attachment to: wicked@majorarcana.demon.co.uk
Please put ‘Submission: Wicked Women/story title’ in the email subject line
Deadline: 30th June 2014
Payment: £10 on publication, copy of the paperback and profit share for two years.

Odd notes -
[1] Yes, we're accepting stories from men too! Just make sure your lead is a woman.
[2] A leading woman can be cisgender or transgender or any person who chooses to self identify or present as a woman in the space of the story.
jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)
So, yes then, we're doing Urban Mythic #2!  Can I get a woohoo?  (Woohoo!)

Official Blurb!

We are seeking contemporary tales with all the magic and wonder of myth and legend, blending modern life with the traditions of folklore from around the world. Whether lurking in dark alleys or brash shopping malls, ensconced in upscale riverside penthouse lofts or humble suburban semis, we want to see the fantastic woven into the everyday. We want fiction that entertains but also pushes beyond the usual urban fantasy boundaries – action, folk tales re-imagined, mythic creatures adapting to the urban environment – be it noir, humour, dark, literary or light, there must be a recognisable mythic thread. Fully realised characters are a must and solid plots extremely desirable.

We don’t want: secondary worlds, steampunk, SF, zombies, human sacrifice, magic help-lines, paranormal romance love-triangles, erotica, religion, gore, and absolutely no poetry.

Electronic submissions only to Jan Edwards and Jenny Barber at tapboum@gmail.com. Send manuscript as an email attachment in standard manuscript format (in RTF/doc/docx). Both the email subject line and the manuscript file name must include: submissions – title – author’s name – word count (e.g., Submissions – My Great Story – Jane Doe – 5000 words). Full contact details must be included on the manuscript’s front/first page as well as in the email. Submission window closes 30 April 2014. No acceptances/rejections will be made until after this date.

We are seeking original fiction between 3,000 and 8,000 words. Payment is £10.00 for the first 5,000 words, then 0.2p per word on publication, plus a copy of the book. Payment is made via PayPal or UK cheque (overseas’ contributors must have a PayPal account).

The Alchemy Press intends to launch this book at FantasyCon in September 2014.

-x-
Right, official stuff having been said, here's the extra editor Jen bit that I said last year, and mean doubly this year.

Do not assume the guidelines don't apply to you. Seriously. The wordcount is firm (I repeat, the wordcount is FIRM.  Don't ask, just rewrite to fit.) and we're really serious about those things we don't want to see because, honestly, some of them don't apply to the theme, and some of them are things we've seen so many times in the slushpile our brains automatically shut down as soon as we see a story with them in.

So - to repeat, this is not an anthology for your poetry, secondary worlds, steampunk, SF, zombies, paranormal romance or erotica. We don't want to see human sacrifice, magic help-lines, heaven/hell as a corporation, mythic-beastie love triangles or relentless gore.

Also - do not send us fan fiction with the serial numbers filed off, main characters who spend the entire story in denial of the supernatural elements around them, anything remotely resembling a mid-life crisis, someone in the midst of writer's block (or other artist's block), anything with an obvious twist or dream endings (they rarely work). In fact, check out the Strange Horizons page on what they see too often, that pretty much covers a lot of the stuff that makes us cringe too!

And avoid anything vaguely epistolary. Due to excessive experience in multiple slushpiles, I can't read any story that's set out as letters/emails/diary entries/tweets etc.

Don't go overboard with the covering email - keep it short and to the point. If you use Word, don't forget to turn off your track changes and accept all changes before you send the doc, because it is very distracting when it all shows up. :-)

Don't waste your first page. Open strong, don't waffle, don't smack us in the face with an epic infodump on your story's version of the world or the complete history of your protagonist. We can work these things out as we read. Give us an interesting character and situation to make us keep reading.

Diversity is good.  No, scratch that. Diversity is awesome.  We're actively encouraging diversity in all elements of the anthology and are particularly interested in settings and cultures not traditionally covered in urban fantasy - just make sure they're well researched and not exoticised. Picking a location just because it looks shiny is a no-no - give us depth and a respectful understanding of the local culture and folklore. Likewise with your choice of protagonist - we're very open to diverse perspectives and hearing the stories of people who are traditionally underrepresented in urban fantasy.  See the Resources page for links to useful articles on avoiding cultural appropriation etc.

I like humour and satire and generally fun stories. A bit of subtle social commentary never goes amiss so long as it doesn't get overbearing or preachy. I like stories that are fast and to the point, with plenty of plot-related action. I like things that introduce new concepts and that mash up genres. I also like stories that are slower and create an atmosphere, things with a decent plot that are also mood pieces. I've a soft spot for a gorgeously turned phrase, though watch out that it doesn't go purple.

Mainly it's all about the characters. I can forgive a lot in a story, but if the characters are thin or cliche or generally unpleasant assholes with no story logic behind their personality, then I lose interest. I have very low tolerance for obsessively racist/sexist/homophobic characters, even if they meet a grisly end. I like characters whose choices move the plot along, characters who have a strong voice and obvious personality. I prefer characters with a bit of experience in their profession and/or with the mythic element of the story, as I've read far too many stories where a newbie is just discovering the weird things and spends the whole story having everything explained to them.

But other than that, we're flexible.  ;-)
jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)
And lo, there were many funky stories read in 2013....

Though I didn't read nearly as much online fiction as in previous years, recommended shorts from the year-that-was include:
Abyssus Abyssum Invocat by Genevieve Valentine - Lightspeed (February 2013)
As Large as Alone by Alena McNamara - Crossed Genres (July 2013)
The Crimson Kestrel by Leslianne Wilder - Beneath Ceaseless Skies (February 2013)
Death Comes Sideways to the Mall by William Alexander - Apex Magazine #46
Dreams of Peace by Dana Beehr - Beneath Ceaseless Skies (May 2013)
The Drowned Man by Laura E. Price - Beneath Ceasless Skies (May 2013)
A Family for Drakes by Margaret Ronald - Beneath Ceaseless Skies (March 2013)
Forgiving Dead by Jeff Stehman - Daily Science Fiction (May 2013)
From the Book of Names My Mother Did Not Give Me by Christine V. Lao - Expanded Horizons (April 2013)
In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind (part 1) (part 2) by Sarah Pinsker - Strange Horizons (July 2013)
In Metal, In Bone by An Owomoyela - Eclipse Online (March 2013)
A Little Sleep by Melissa Mead - Daily Science Fiction (May 2013)
Mermaid's Hook by Liz Argall - Apex Magazine #46
Of Ash and Old Dreams by Sarah Grey - Daily Science Fiction (June 2013)
The Princess and Her Tale by Mari Ness - Daily Science Fiction (May 2013)
Pythian Games by Tom Doyle - Daily Science Fiction (March 2013)
Singing Like a Hundred Dug-up Bones
Swan Song by Melissa Mead - Daily Science Fiction (April 2013)
With Tales in Their Teeth, From the Mountain They Came by A.C. Wise- Lightspeed (January 2013)
Town's End by Yukimi Ogawa - Strange Horizons (March 2013)

Anthologies:
There were some cracking anthologies published in 2013, if you haven't already picked them up, go check out:
Glitter and Mayhem, John Klima & Michael Damian Thomas (eds) (Apex Book Company)      
Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond, Bill Campbell, Edward Austin & Edward Hall (eds) (Rosarium Publishing)      
Noir Carnival, K. A Laity (ed.) (Fox Spirit Books)      
Tales of Eve, Mhairi Simpson (ed.) (Fox Spirit Books)      
Terra Nova: An Anthology of Contemporary Spanish Science Fiction, Mariano Villarreal (Editor), Sue Burke (Translator), Lawrence Schimel (Translator) (Sportula) (First English translation edition in 2013)      
The Book of the Dead, Jared Shurin (ed.) (Jurassic London)      
The Other Half of the Sky, Athena Andreadis & Kay T Holt (Candlemark & Gleam)      
We See a Different Frontier: A postcolonial speculative fiction anthology, Djibril Al-Ayad and Fabio Fernandes (Futurefire.net Publishing)      
What Fates Impose, Nayad Monroe (ed.) (Alliteration Ink)      
Winter Well: Speculative Novellas About Older Women, Kay T. Holt (ed.) (Crossed Genres)      

Collections! (Because you can never have enough short stories!)
Across the Event Horizon, Mercurio D. Rivera (Newcon Press)
Conservation of Shadows, Yoon Ha Lee (Prime Books)      
How the World Became Quiet, Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Press)      
Kabu Kabu, Nnedi Okorafor (Prime Books)
This Strange Way of Dying, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Exile Editions)

Artists who did beautiful beautiful art!
Alexandra Knickel (Assorted covers, including this Lightspeed one)      
Amy Mebberson (Pocket Princesses web comics)  
Edvige Faini (assorted covers, including this Lightspeed one)
Halil Ural (this Lightspeed cover)
Julie Dillon (assorted covers - I am an unashamed fangirl of her work!)      
Mats Minnhagen (assorted covers)      
Renee Nault (assorted illustrations and web comics)      
Sarah Anne Langton (assorted covers)      
Sara K. Diesel (cover of This Strange Way of Dying)      
Sutthiwat Dechakamphu (assorted covers, including this Lightspeed one)      
Tina Marie Lane (assorted covers)      
Zack Fowler (assorted covers)      
Zsófia Tuska (assorted covers, including this Beneath Ceaseless Skies one
jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)
... because why not.  ;)

Sooo (as all great blog posts are wont to start...) 2013 then.  That was a year.  Quite a good one for me actually.

I had two short stories published in two very excellent Fox Spirit anthologies:
Past Lives in Piracy - this one being a spin off of the mermaid-pirate stories I keep writing, though it's more about the human pirate that's hunting them and how that is a very bad idea...

To Fox Tor Mire in Shapeshifters - this one being a Maddy Cain story where the sins of the mother come back to bite the daughter on the ass... (one day I will finish a novel length urban fantasy thing with my beloved fox-mage trickster girl, until then, there will be many shorts...)

Speaking of - there's another Maddy Cain story due out at some point from Elektrik Milk Bath Press in their Urban Fantasy anthology - no idea when though, probably sometime in late 2014.

With my editor hat on (it has sparkles and feathers and room for spare red pens) the big one was The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic which I'm well chuffed about. I always have a lot of fun co-editing with Jan Edwards, and Urban Mythic managed to get a fantastic line up and launched quite well too.

In fact, so well did it go, that we're doing Urban Mythic 2 in 2014!  Full guidelines will be up shortly for that!

Oh, and, Alchemy did a quickie interview with us about the anthology here.

And, not only that, but we'll also be doing a rather wicked little anthology with Fox Spirit Books towards the end of the year.  More news on that lovely thing another time...

Convention wise, there was, of course, WFC.  Which was all work.  And as mentioned previously, 2014 is going to be convention play year - I'm  definitely going to Nine Worlds Geekfest and Fantasycon (unless next-cousin-to-be-married picks that weekend for the festivities), and am hoping to get to BristolCon and EdgeLit, depending on time and finances.

With my academic hat on (extra pockets for emergency chocolate) I started my penultimate module for the history degree - Myth in the Greek and Roman worlds - which continues to be an awesome course.  Oh, and there's also the book keeping course thingy I'm doing alongside it as the family business keeps inventing new ways to challenge me and generally drive me insane and someone needs to understand the all new complicated numbers stuff...

Cool fiction read I'll cover in another post, because the short fiction list will probably go on a bit... and according to Goodreads I read 104 books last year.  ::blinks::

Other than that, there was little sister's wedding, of which I'm just about over the trauma of wearing a bridesmaid dress, though the psychological scars from being trapped with that many relatives in one go will likely last a while longer...  ;-P
jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)

Have recently been catching up with the mountains of programmes lurking on the Sky planner thingy, so here’s the most squeeful of the bunch:

(Warning! There will be spoilers!)

Orphan Black

Seriously though, what is not to love about Orphan Black? It’s smart, fast paced and has some fantastic characters.  Most of whom are played by Tatiana Maslany, because, clones!  Look, there is no way you can’t mention the clones, as they’re a thing from the first episode when Sarah Manning sees someone who looks just like her jump in front of a train. And then she discovers there’s more women who look just like her.  Shenanigans inevitably ensue.

And each clone has very distinct personalities (science-girl clone is definitely my favourite!) with the added fun of the odd clone having to pretend to be another of the clones as and when plot-reasons rear their heads.  And, of course, there’s conspiracies, and shocking plot twists all over the place and with exception of a couple of draggy bits involving Paul the boring boyfriend, the storytelling is fantastic with never a dull moment.  Also any scene with foster brother Felix in is a delight.

But even better than all of that, it’s a female led sci-fi thing! A bloody brilliant female led sci-fi thing.

Elementary

In my ever so humble one, Elementary has blown Sherlock away and left it lounging bitter and twisted in the dust.  Joan Watson, people! Joan Watson is so many kinds of awesome. And this version of Holmes is definitely a fun one. And their working partnership is fabulous. Oh, and the Moriarty reveal!  While it would have been nice to have Irene Adler as a seperate entity, maybe even being team villain with a Mrs Moriarty, Moriarty being Irene Adler was a rather neat twist.  And I’m loving the brotherly rivalry between Sherlock and Mycroft.  And the relationships Holmes has with the local cops is pretty good too.

But mainly: Joan Watson, people!

Dracula

I freely admit to being sceptical about this one.  I’d seen a trailer with Meyers doing the terrible southern accent and immediately thought the worst.  Except, it turns out there’s a plot related reason for the dodgy accent and he switches it off given the company.  Oh, and Mina is now studying to be a doctor. And Renfield! Best version of Renfield ever! (Jonathan Harker remains a boring sod, which is a thing that is constant in every adaption I’ve ever seen.)

Am currently only 4 episodes into the series but so far it’s both deliciously bizarre (epic battle for coolant and the overthrowing of the evil fossil fuel magnates, who also hunt vampires!) and gorgeously presented. 

Then, or course, there must be squeeing about Doctor Who, but what with the Night of the Doctor, Day of the Doctor and Five Doctors(ish) Rebooted, that’s going to have to be another post!

Pics:

Cosima/Orphan Black from http://www.bbcamerica.com

Elementary from www.digitalspy.com

Dracula from www.radiotimes.com

jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)
View from my window - the only bit of Brighton I saw!


Well, except for this bit of Brighton, also seen from my window! If you squint you can see the pier in the distance!

 Phew. World Fantasy Con then. That was a thing. An exhausting thing, for the most part, given the whole working rather than con-ing, but the work was extremely enjoyable.  I'd probably have to say that's the most fun I've had yet working a con.  Most of which is down to the awesome Team Red Coat and the con-com who remained relentlessly cheerful and friendly and efficient throughout.  Lou Morgan especially deserves a whole swimming pool of gin. ;-)

And the mass of people we saw through the doors added heaps to the buzz of the thing.  (Is it weird I actually liked being swamped on the Reg Desk.  Over 1400 people we checked in! 1400!!! Egads! And most of them on Weds & Thurs! I seriously could not even stand up, let alone walk both those nights.)  We'll pass quickly over that thing where I checked in one of the GoHs and completely missed the fact that they were one of the GoHs.  Or the famous SF author of very long standing who I totally didn't recognise at all and who was very amused when I asked him his name and couldn't quite believe I was seriously needing to be told. Or the well known ghost story anthologist who I got chatting to about anthologies without realising who he actually was.  Um, yes. Brain went splat many times.

And one of the perks of Reg Desk duty is getting to say hi to the many-many folks I follow on twitter and facebook and various blogs, though in the rush of the check in, mostly all I could manage by way of conversation was something like 'oh, you're X, brilliant/awesome/excellent!' which possibly saved multiple bouts of fangirling and 'OMG! I loved your story/book/blog post!' followed by the inevitable utter panic that goes with total brain-freeze as I then forget everything I ever knew about why they're awesome.

And I did, amazingly, manage to get out to a couple of actual con-events too.  The Urban Mythic Launch, of course, was the essential go-to event.  And we sold books, many books, and many more than we sold of Ancient Wonders last year, which is very cool. (There may be an Urban Mythic #2 next year, we're in talks...)

I also did the Fearie Tales launch party and brought an actual hardback book (shock! horror! Didn't-wait-for-the-ebook-scandal!) and got it signed by all the peeps that were there.  Which is not a thing I usually do.  (It's a fab anthology, btw, only a couple of stories I wasn't keen on but all the rest rocked!)

And doing the FT party introduced me to the merits of chairs! Which there weren't any of. Which there really needed to be as there was no way I was going to be getting up again if I sat on the floor like many other people did.  Luckily there was this little stage thing that was perfect for perching on... But yes, con organisers of the future -  more chairs please! Many more chairs. Whole rooms of them. Chair-con! That's what we need!

Um. Yes. Right. Anyway. Else?  There were a million free books on offer, which I somehow managed to not get around to getting any of. Got hugs off all my favourite people as well as some shiny new ones! Had to rush off Sunday morning so I missed the awards and wind down parties and sudden appearance of a wibbly-wobbly portal that let loose strange beasties from another dimension that no-one is talking about (conspiracy!) but totally happened, honest...

And if you want to take a gander at what else went on, the inexhaustable Stephen Theaker has compiled a list of pre and post WFC reports on the BFS forum here.

Am now looking forward to not working any cons next year so I can doss around and gossip with allllll the people at Fcon and Nine Worlds, and possible Edge Lit and Bristol Con too...  ;-)
jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)

And today!  Here's Urban Mythic author Kate Griffin to entertain you!

Tell us a little about yourself and what you like to write.

I'm Kate Griffin - well, no, I'm actually Catherine Webb, but I write urban fantasy as Kate Griffin.  I usually write a series set in London, in which I do my very best to update the stuff of 'traditional' magic to a more modern vibe.  Thus, vampires are registered with the NHS blood banks, curses are sent by text and the most powerful spells around are written on the back of travelcards.  I love London and always had this nagging suspicion that 'magic' should harken to its older sense of 'wonder' rather than 'speaking old words in a dead language', and I guess the city has always given me that sense of delight.

What was the idea behind "An Inspector Calls"?

Have you ever had to deal with your local council?  The hours I've wasted dealing with bureaucracy - the hours listening to the same hold music on the same loop, of banging your head against an officious wall as you try to explain, to implore someone to understand that what you're asking won't bring down the government, and may actually improve the quality of life for yourself if not others, but no!  Because there's just... one... more... form!

And I guess that I've always felt that it'd be interesting to extend this idea into the realms of wizardry.  I'd love to see how Merlin reacted to negotiations with the department of work and pensions.  It'd be genuinely fascinated to see how long it takes an angry necromancer to summon an undead hoard after spending an hour queuing at the post office.  I guess I thought it'd be fun to combine magic with the least magical experience of modern life.

Also, the weekend the brief came through, I had a friend round, who sat still and not only listened, but also got excited by the whole idea, and let's face it, both those make a world of difference.

How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?

Um.  I'm not sure I know the answer to the first part of that.  I know that I think 'urban' fantasy shouldn't necessarily involve reciting spells in Latin or summoning a unicorn (unless it's petrol-powered) as that to me just seems like traditional fantasy in a city, rather than urban fantasy using modern things.  But other than that... I'm not sure I can really give a truly sagely reply...

Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman kinda go without saying.  I love everything Roger Zelazny ever wrote ever.  It's not fantasy, but Raymond Chandler's also always on my must-read list.  I wish I'd got my shelves built at the time of answering this question, as then I'd be able to actually browse my books and give a better reply, instead of crawl through the piles on my floor....

Has your involvement with background stage-craft influenced how you write scenes?

Um.  Consciously: no.  When I work as a lighting designer, it's an entirely different discipline, full of numbers, angles, three dimensional shapes and colours.  The rhythms of stories are still the same on page and on stage, and as an LD it's useful to be able to get a handle of the shape of a play and the direction it takes, but that's more of writing influencing lighting rather than visa versa.

Unconsciously: probably.  Tom Lehrer said that a good mathematician plagiarised everything but called it 'research'.  In the world of scribbling I think it's probably fair to say that very few indeed set out to consciously plagiarise anything, but that no one can go through life without being influenced by what they see, hear, feel and do.  I'm not consciously aware that, as a technician, I'm changing how I'm write.  I'm fairly sure I am, in much the same way that if I were a lawyer or shark tamer I'd probably be influenced by my work.

What are you up to next?

Let's think... well, I have a Top Secret Book being published early 2014 about which I am barred from saying anything at all for reasons which I'll explain in two years time when I'm permitted to say something.  I'm writing another book at the moment which is also a Top Secret Something, and have a final book on submission about which... you guessed it... I'm still forbad from saying a word.  I've got a play on at Riverside Studios in spring 2014 which I was asked to write for after a director ran some devising workshops, but that's under yet another name - Kate McCormick, although isn't top secret.  In the other job I've got a few more shows to light before the year is out, as well as a couple of gigs.  I'm also working towards yet another exam in a martial art called escrima which is one of the most relaxing outlets I've ever encountered.  So.  In a cryptic, very unhelpful way... lots happening.

[Kate Griffin is the name under which Catherine Webb writes fantasy books for adults. First published when a teenager, she’s been writing for just long enough to have started to forget her early plots and characters.  She likes big cities, urban magic, Thai food and graffiti-spotting.  To keep herself occupied between chapters, she works as a theatre lighting designer, in the happy expectation that two artsy careers create a perfectly balanced life. Find her at www.kategriffin.net]

jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)

Last seen in our very own Ancient Wonders, give it up for Urban Mythic author James Brogden!

Tell us a little about yourself and what you like to write.

I'm afraid that I am a disappointingly normal human being; middle-aged, middle-incomed, living in middle-England in a happy marriage with two kids, a cat, and a decent lego collection. To pay the bills I teach English, and in the meantime I'm trying to cut it as an author - so, living the cliche there. My theme tune, if I had one, would be Huey Lewis' "Hip to be Square". As a result, I write stories about When Ordinary Things Go Weird, which means it tends towards the horrific - monsters in garden ponds, MOT inspections which lead to satanic sacrifices, teddy bears that breathe with the souls of dead children. The kind of things which would terrify me in my safe suburban bubble. I'm trying as hard as I possibly can to avoid standard horror tropes, which also means that what I write veers into the darkly fantastical as often as not. I did fall off the wagon and write a story with a zombie in it recently, but she was reanimated out of hatred for her husband's obsession with DIY, so I can live with that.

What was it that inspired "The Smith of Hockley"?

The image of the Midas Scorpion has been kicking around in my head for years, looking for a story to appear in, and Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter was the perfect setting, but I couldn't square that with any mythology which wasn't uniquely English so I did a bit of hunting around and re-discovered the legend of Wayland Smith, which, in turn, tied in nicely with the discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard. I find that there's hardly ever a single inspiration for a story - images and ideas constellate together and reinforce each other organically, for the most part.

How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?

Urban fantasy is what I like to write because it stems from my own anxieties and hang-ups, and I find it easier to find emotional hooks for my characters in the world that I know. It also allows me to be a bit lighter and more whimsical in what I write, as I basically can't take anything very seriously for long and I don't think I could sustain the seriousness of an out-and-out horror novel. In terms of what I read I'm a lot more wide-ranging. I like a bit of high fantasy, and I'm also quite loving Stephen Baxter's Northland trilogy at the moment because it incorporates a lot of my interests in archaeology and alternate history - plus it's a cracking story, which helps.

I've also been reading Edgelands by Michael Symmons Roberts and Paul Farley, which isn't fiction at all, but more travelogue-cum-poetry about the marginal areas of Britain's urban areas. I understand why London looms large in the urban fantasy genre, and I have no problem with that, but for myself I want to explore the fantastical potential of where I live, which is the Midlands. Writers I keep coming back to for inspiration are Robert Holdstock, Neil Gaiman, Graham Joyce, Christopher Fowler, and Clive Barker. My new discoveries are Sarah Pinborough and Robert Shearman, both of whose work I'm currently devouring.

What is Den of Eek!2 and how are you involved?

Den of Eek 2 is the sequel to - wait for it - Den of Eek, which was a story-telling event last year hosted by the pop-culture website Den of Geek in order to raise money for cancer research. I became involved when they had a competition for new writers, and I was one of three winners. I went down to London just like it says in the fairy tale and had the most awesome evening in a pub reading my story to an audience alongside established novelists and screenwriters, and feeling massively out of my league. Still, it must have gone down okay because they invited me to write another story for this year's event. I demand that everybody reading this go and buy a copy of the Den of Eek anthology from Amazon immediately - every penny goes to charity. After they've bought Urban Mythic, of course.

What will you be up to next?

By the time Urban Mythic is launched I will have released my second novel, Tourmaline. It's urban fantasy again, with elements of steampunk in an alternative world intersecting with our own. I'll also have a short story about a road-kill restaurant in an anthology called The Last Diner by Knightwatch Press. Con-wise I have two big dates coming up: London Film and Comic Con in October, where I'll be signing copies of Tourmaline, and I'll be appearing on a panel at Andromeda One in Birmingham on September 21st, which is very exciting as it's my first. Other than that, the new school year begins soon, so I'm going to have to start thinking about the real world soon. Which brings us nicely full circle. I like the symmetry of that.

[James Brogden is a part-time Australian who lives with his wife and two daughters in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, where he teaches English. His stories have appeared in various magazines and anthologies such as the Big Issue, the British Fantasy Society’s Dark Horizons, Urban Occult, and the Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders, and he was a winner of Den Of Geek’s new talent showcase with his story The Phantom Limb. His new urban fantasy novel Tourmaline is published by Snowbooks in September of 2013. Blogging occurs at jamesbrogden.blogspot.co.uk, and tweeting at @skippybe.]

jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)

Today my darlings, we at Urban Mythic towers bring you the fabulous Zen Cho!

Tell us a little about yourself and what you like to write.

I'm a lawyer and writer living in London. The two main things I write are Malaysian fantasy (i.e. speculative fiction featuring Malaysian characters or settings or both), and a made-up subgenre I like to call "fluff for postcolonial booknerds".

What was the idea behind "Fish Bowl"?

I had a maths tuition teacher once who had a fish pool inside her house in which she reared koi -- quite an extraordinary thing to find in your standard suburban house. The idea for the story grew out of that. It also ended up being about the pressure on kids, especially girls, in a certain kind of middle-class, high-achieving household to be perfect. (That's obviously a stereotype associated with Asian families, but I think it has as much, if not more, to do with socio-economic background as culture.) When I wrote the story I was thinking about how it is possible to be very, very sheltered as a teenager, but very, very unhappy.

How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?

I’m more into suburban fantasy than urban fantasy -- I’m quite interested in what happens inside people’s houses, and like speculative fiction with a fairly intimate, domestic scope. Edith Nesbit and Diana Wynne Jones spring to mind.

You’ve curated a list of Malaysian SFF writers on your website – do you have any particular favourite stories or authors?

I’m a bit hesitant to play favourites – there’s a lot of interesting stuff on my list and everybody should go check it out for themselves! So I’m going to cheat and name someone I haven’t even mentioned in the list yet, Zedeck Siew. As far as I know Zedeck hasn’t had any speculative fiction published, but he’s active in the Malaysian arts scene and has put out a lot of work of various kinds over the years. Currently he’s working on a compilation of short speculative stories which I’m really looking forward to. In the meantime you can check out his Tumblr (http://zedecksiew.tumblr.com/) for examples of his "small fictions".

What are you up to next?

Besides "Fish Bowl", I’ve got short stories in three other publications coming out this year: LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction from Singaporean publisher Math Paper Press, The End of the Road from UK press Solaris Books, and Love in Penang from Malaysian indie press Fixi Novo.

I'm also working on revisions to what might be my first novel (if my agent can persuade someone to publish it!). It's a Regency-set fantasy of manners about England’s first black Sorcerer Royal. It's basically a mishmash of everything I like from Georgette Heyer and P. G. Wodehouse, plus magic, written with a postcolonial sensibility.

[Zen Cho is a Malaysian writer living in London and a 2013 finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Her short fiction has appeared most recently in Esquire Malaysia, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, and Prime Books anthology Bloody Fabulous. Find out more about her work at http://zencho.org ]

jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)

Urban Mythic author Mike Resnick is not at WFC, alas, but he is right here instead!

Tell us a little about yourself and what you like to write.

I'm been a full-time freelancer since 1969, with 74 novels, 25 collections, 275 stories and 3 screenplays to my credit. I've also edited 41 anthologies, and am currently the editor of Galaxy's Edge magazine and the Stellar Guild line of books. I am the winner of 5 Hugos from a record 36 nominations, and according to Locus I'm the all-time leading award winner for short science fiction. I love writing science fiction, and I've recently sold some well-received mystery novels as well.

What was the idea behind “The Wizard of West 34th Street”?

I like urban fantasy, and I've always liked the notion that being at the top of one's field isn't quite the cakewalk that it may appear from the outside.

How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?

"Good" is far more important to me than "urban" or "fantasy".

As both a writer of short and long fiction, and editor of many publications, do you find yourself drawn to one of those things more than the others, and are there any fiction forms you want to try your hand at but haven't yet?

I prefer writing short fiction. My creditors, who have expensive tastes, prefer that I write novels. So I split my time between them. At one time or another, I've done just about every fiction form. If I had to chose one I've never tried, it's be as a lyricist for a musical play.

What are you up to next?

The Trojan Colt (a mystery novel) just came out;. The Worlds Of Edgar Rice Burroughs, an original anthology I co-edited with Bob Garcia, and The Doctor And The Dinosaurs, a science fiction novel, are due out in October and December of 2013. Next year will see the publication of Cat On A Cold Tin Roof, a mystery novel; The Fortress In Orion, a science fiction novel; and about a dozen stories that I have in press. Eric Flint and I have signed to write The Gods Of Saggitarius, a collaborative novel, and I'll be doing two Stellar Guild team-up books, one with Tina Gower, one with Lezli Robyn. And of course I'll keep editing the magazine and the book line.

[Mike Resnick is, according to Locus, the all-time leading award winner, living or dead, for short fiction. He is the winner of 5 Hugos, a Nebula, plus other major awards in the USA, France, Spain, Poland, Croatia, Catalonia and Japan.  Mike is the author of 71 novels, over 250 short stories, and 3 screenplays, and is the editor of 41 anthologies.  He is currently editing the Stellar Guild line of books and Galaxy's Edge magazine, and was the Guest of Honor at the 2012 Worldcon. Find him at mikeresnick.com]

jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)

For those of you at WFC, you can find Urban Mythic author Alison Littlewood in multiple places such as:  Noon-1:00 pm - Panel - When the Fairies Come Out to Play (Cambridge); 3:00-4:00 pm - Launch - Constable & Robinson (Hall 8/Signing Alley) and 11:00 pm-12:30 am - (mysterious unknown funky thing) (Chartwell)  We don't know exactly what the midnight mysterious funky thing is but we're sure it'll be a bit spooky and well worth popping into!  For those of you not at WFC, here's a wee interview with Alison instead!

Tell us a little about yourself and what you like to write.

I’ve been around in the indie presses for some time writing horror and dark fantasy, with publications in magazines like Black Static, Dark Horizons and Shadows and Tall Trees. I had my first novel, A Cold Season, published with Jo Fletcher Books back in January 2012, and that got picked for the Richard and Judy Book Club, which was a terrific experience. Path of Needles, a twisted fairy tale meets crime novel, came out in June.

What was the idea behind "The Song of the City"?

I researched various mythical figures when I was thinking about the theme for the anthology. Once I’d come across banshees I had an immediate image in my mind of an eerie cry drifting across a Brutalist city-scape, and I knew that was what I wanted to write about. Once that connected with another image, of a woman alone walking through a deserted multi-storey car park, I had the makings of the story.

How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?

I like fantasy and horror with a strong sense of place, whether it be in a rural or urban environment. Having said that, one of my favourite books is Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, which is set in a fantastical world under London. Another excellent read is Un Lun Dun by China Miéville, which again takes the capital and turns it upside down. I really enjoy books by Dan Simmons, and he uses settings as diverse as Calcutta and the Arctic. My must-read authors would also include Stephen King and Joe Hill.

You've written stories in the crime and horror genres so far, are there any other genres you want to explore?

I think exploring the ones I’m fascinated with already will probably keep my hands full! I do have ideas for the next novels and they tend to be in my usual territory of dark fantasy and horror. I think I’ll always return to those areas – I like stories that have a little bit of magic hidden away in them somewhere, whether light or dark.

What are you up to next?

A Cold Season has its launch in the US this month, so that’s really exciting. I’m also busy working on book three, which is a ghost story looking at the fates of different generations of a family living in a rather dour house in the Yorkshire countryside. I’ll be taking a break for the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton around Halloween, so really looking forward to that. No doubt there’ll be the odd walk on the beach and trip to the Haunted Hotel on the pier in between the panels and readings!

[Alison Littlewood’s latest novel, Path of Needles, is published by Jo Fletcher Books. Her first novel, A Cold Season, was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club, where it was described as “perfect reading for a dark winter’s night.” Alison’s short stories have been picked for the Best Horror of the Year and Mammoth Book of Best New Horror anthologies, as well as The Best British Fantasy 2013 and The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime 10. Her work has also featured in genre magazines Black Static, Crimewave and Dark Horizons. Visit her at www.alisonlittlewood.co.uk ]

jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)

Woohoo! Brighton, we have launch!

If you're at WFC, drop by to the Signing Alley (between the reading rooms and the art show) because we will be there today at Noon! Noon, people!   With Jaine Fenn, Christopher Golden, Alison Littlewood, Anne Nicholls, Gaie Sebold, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Jonathan Oliver, Ben Baldwin & Ian Whates (in spirit, as he's off on a panel at the same time, but drop by the Dealer Room later and he'll sign anything for you. Annnnnything!)

There will also be authors from Alchemy Press' Pulp Heroes 2 & Astrologica: Tales of the Zodiac.  And Publisher Pete.  And yer 'umble editors of course!

Come see us, do!

x

jen_qoe: (akima_san Croft)

Happy Halloween!  For those of you at WFC today, hello! And if you're not there, here's Urban Mythic author Christopher Golden for you!

Tell us a little about yourself and what you like to write.

I've been a full time writer for twenty years.  I had the best job in the world, working at Billboard magazine in New York, but when I sold my first novel back in 1992--at the age of twenty-five--I jumped ship and never looked back.  I write horror, fantasy, mystery and thrillers for adults and teens, as well as comics and graphic novels.  I've also edited more than half a dozen anthologies.  My latest novel, Snowblind, will be out in January.

What was the idea behind "Under Cover of Night"?

I have an abiding love of folklore.  When the story was originally written, my task was to write three unrelated pieces all of which revolved around folklore in some way.  I've also always been…fascinated is the wrong word…let's say concerned by the way the United States conducts its relationship with Mexico.  The situation at our southern border is not healthy for either nation's people.  Finally, I just loved the idea of El Chupacabra preying on those who prey on those desperate enough to cross illegally into the U.S.

How urban do you like your fantasy and who are your must-read authors?

There are two definitions of urban fantasy to me.  One is the more common modern definition, and of that class I love Charlaine Harris, Stacia Kane, Kelley Armstrong, and many others.  But the older version of urban fantasy is where I find myself going when I think about writing anything fantasy-related.  Charles de Lint, Emma Bull, Tim Powers…that's a whole different corner of urban fantasy.  De Lint has been a huge influence for me and is one of my favorite writers.

You’ve collaborated with Amber Benson, Tim Lebbon and Mike Mignola among others – what’s the appeal of joint authored projects and is there anybody you’d like to work with (living, dead or totally fictional!)

I always say writing is a solitary business and I'm not a solitary person.  I find myself chatting with friends and a lot of those friends are writers.  Invariably, some crazy-ass idea will come up and one of us will say, y'know, we should write that!  If it's an idea we like enough, then we do.  As for anyone else I'd like to write with, living or dead?  Larry McMurtry.  It'll never happen, but boy, I could learn a lot from that guy.

What are you up to next?

This January, my latest novel, Snowblind, will be out in the US and UK, as will Cemetery Girl, the first in a trilogy of graphic novels I'm writing with Charlaine Harris.  My anthology Dark Duets also hits that month.  It's weird when everything you've worked on for 18 months all comes out at the same time.  This November I'll be at World Fantasy in Brighton, UK, and I can't wait!

[Christopher Golden is the New York Times bestselling, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of such novels as Of Saints and Shadows, The Myth Hunters, The Boys Are Back in Town, and Strangewood.  He has co-written three illustrated novels with Mike Mignola, the first of which, Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire, was the launching pad for the Eisner Award-nominated comic book series, Baltimore.  As an editor, he has worked on the short story anthologies The New Dead, The Monster’s Corner, and 21st Century Dead, among others, and has also written and co-written comic books, video games, and screenplays.  His novel Snowblind will be published in January, 2014.  Golden was born and raised in Massachusetts, where he still lives with his family.  His original novels have been published in more than fourteen languages in countries around the world.  Please visit him at www.christophergolden.com ]

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