Friday, September 5, 2014

Walking Alone

I have a new story up at Strange Horizons: "Four Steps to the Perfect Smoky Eye" is about "girls and the men who claim to protect them" (in the words of @sarahbbrand, who summed it up better than I could!)

It is strongly rooted in my own experience.  In a way, all stories are, but this one has some pretty literal moments.

I've spent ages labouring over this post, trying to describe the experience of growing up in St. Catharines, in the years when Paul Bernardo was hunting girls my age.  Trying to describe a taxonomy of fear.

There was the killer, but there were also boyfriends who got demanding, classmates who got pushy, teachers who got handsy.  There were men in the library who made casual conversation and then wanted to know where I lived.  There was that friend who got drunk and held a knife to my face that time.  There was that guy in our class who murdered his girlfriend.

And there were our fathers, some of whom offered protection in some traditional ways (rides to school, threats to keep boyfriends in line) but in exchange, demanded control of our wardrobes, reading habits, friend choices, sexualities, our going to sleep and our waking up.

We had to learn, for ourselves, which dangers were real, and which were spectres designed to keep us powerless.  We had to look to the women in our lives to see how they were navigating this world.  Some of their answers didn't satisfy us.  Some of them compromised happily, some less so.  Sometimes it felt like all we could do, as girls and women, was choose which dangers to suffer.

I chose the dangers of freedom over the dangers of control.  I don't know if I was right.  I know what it felt like for me, and a lot of that went into this story.

And I know I have never regretted it.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

My Detcon1 Schedule

Two cons back to back: the life of a writer is never dull (except for the parts where it's ass-in-chair for twelve hours straight and you're researching population data from 1883... never mind). I'm doing lots of panels at Detcon1--come say hi!

Thursday, July 17

The Very First Thing: Story Titles
Nicolet A

Friday, July 18
Current Voices: LGBT Authors & Artists
Ambassador Salon 2

Gender Roles in Genre Fiction
Ambassador Salon 1

Saturday, July 19
The Classics: Written SF/F/H
Mackinac West

Disabilities in Genre Fiction
Ambassador Salon 1

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Readercon and all things Long Hidden!

Readercon is all about Long Hidden for me this year!  Wondering where to find me, editors Rose Fox and Daniel José Older, and many of the other authors?  Here are a whole bunch of places you can meet us, get books signed, ask questions and celebrate:

Friday, 3pm, Embrace Room: Group Reading
Rose Fox (leader), Claire Humphrey, Michael Janairo, Ken Liu, Sunny Moraine, Daniel José Older, Sarah Pinsker, Sofia Samatar, Sabrina Vourvoulias
Come and watch me read from "The Witch of Tarup", which begins, "Every town has its witch, or so the Midsummer Ballad says, but I had only lived in Tarup a fortnight and I did not know who the witch might be."

Saturday, 3pm, Enliven Room: Editors Rose Fox and Daniel José Older will delve into their work editing the Long Hidden anthology.

Saturday, 9pm, Envision Room: Long Hidden Party! Open to everyone, and there will be food, including vegan and gluten-free snacks.

Where else you can find me: catching up with all the amazing people at this amazing con.  It's become one of the high points of my year for as many reasons as there are attendees.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Writer Blog Hop

Fellow writer Nicole Winters tagged me in this blog hop--the idea is to have a chain of writers all answering questions about our process and tagging other writers we know to do the same.  Nicole's post is here--thanks for tagging me, Nicole!

1) What am I working on/writing?

I always have some short fiction on the go.  At the moment, I'm revising two stories, which are both very dark--one is about magicians who cut the tongues out of doves, and the other is about a dishonourably discharged soldier waiting out the war and anticipating her army's defeat.

I'm also putting the finishing touches on my second novel, which has been through several drafts; it's so close to being done that I'm now planning my third novel, which will either be the one about lesbian railway gunners, or the one about the immortal alcoholic badass Gus Hillyard.

2) How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?

I have a foot on each side of the mainstream/genre line: I almost always include an element of magic or the fantastical, but I don't focus on it as fully as some other speculative writers, choosing instead to centre on the emotional journeys of my characters.  Sometimes the magic runs away with me, and other times I get really involved with the kitchen sink.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I'm still trying to figure that out.  Some stories--some characters, some images--have this intense aura around them in my mind.  I recognize them as stories I absolutely must explore.  But I don't know where that attraction starts.  It's been with me all my life.

4) How does my writing process work?

My stories usually start with a few things: a character plus an image plus an emotional change I want to evoke.  I feel my way through by asking myself why this character would be in this place.

Sometimes I have a sentence that arises in my mind, and I build a story around that.  (I've had the final sentence of the disgraced-soldier story in a file for a decade now, and I finally realized what story I wanted to lead up to it.)

I'm a pantser on the surface--both of my first two novels were written without a clear sense of what the plot would be, and I discovered through the first draft where my interests and the characters' natures would take the story.  But I also find that I now have a pretty strong unconscious sense of structure, which guides the major beats of the novel.  Now that I've realized this, I am hoping to make it a bit more conscious for the next book, and spend a bit less time lost in the weeds in the earlier stages.

Now it's my turn to tag another writer to answer the same questions!  Marko is taking up the challenge. Marko Kloos is the author of the bestselling military science fiction novels Terms of Enlistment and Lines of Departure.  You can also find him on Twitter at @markokloos.

And here are some other recent posts in this series, from Heather Jackson, Stephen Geigen-Miller and Charlene Challenger

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Release day for Long Hidden!

Long Hidden is one of the most amazing projects I've had the pleasure to participate in.  I'm honoured to be in the company of such great writers--and so excited that the book is finally available to purchase.

I can't be at the launch party in New York tonight, but maybe you can--it's at Alice's Arbor, from 4-6 pm, and a number of the other writers will be there!

Check out this gorgeous Julie Dillon cover:

My story is called "The Witch of Tarup".  It's set in Denmark in 1886.  I was lucky to have a fantastic primary source: a memoir written by my great-great-grandmother, and translated by one of her sons.  (Disclaimer: none of my family are witches, as far as I know!)  Here's how it begins:
Every town has its witch, or so the Midsummer Ballad says, but I had only lived in Tarup a fortnight and I did not know who the witch might be.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

In which we have art!

Look at this beautiful illustration--by Richard Wagner, for my story "A Brief Light" in Interzone #252.  I love the mood of it: I want to say "haunting", which is a metaphoric word usually, but in the context of this story, it's literal.

This is my second story for Interzone, and like the first, it has ghosts in it.  It's also about love, loyalty, family, unfinished business, inheritance, and creepy birds.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A post I have been planning for ages

...yet now that it's here, I still haven't thought of a way to sound clever at it, because I am just too damned cheerful.

I have just signed with Connor Goldsmith of Foreword Literary.

A writer's relationship with an agent is incredibly important, and there are a whole lot of variables that go into making the right choice, on both sides.  I'm confident that we have, and I'm so excited about working together.

The last couple of weeks have been interesting and volatile ones for me, with major changes on several fronts.  But saying "changes" makes it sound like I'm talking about single events, like lightning strikes or lottery wins.  I should rather say "fruitions".  Change has been happening for a long time.  It is always happening, under the surface, and only sometimes does it come to light.

This particular fruition, I greeted with some dear friends, some extremely loud music, and some Death in the Afternoon.  (Hemingway's advice on this recipe is "Drink three to five of these slowly."  I maintain that drinking three to five of them quickly is also worthwhile.)

It's been an excellent couple of weeks on the short fiction front, also--a couple of sales that haven't been announced yet, and one for which I signed the contract this morning ("Four Steps to the Perfect Smoky Eye", to Strange Horizons).

Right now it feels like quite a while since the days of grocery store markdown pie for breakfast, army boots with the steel toes scraped bare, and all my writing done in the back pages of coffee-stained spiral notebooks or on the ancient Smith Corona given to me by a writer friend.  (Past self: it gets better!)  Here's hoping for even greater fruition to come.