Tuesday, May 9, 2017

#FictionFightsBack: the Civil Liberties Edition

Today you can read a new Gus story: Le lundi de la matraque (Nightstick Monday), now at Strange Horizons.  There is also a podcast of it, read by Anaea Lay, and a fantastic cover illustration by Matthew Filipkowski:


If you don't already know Gus Hillyard, she is a recurring character in my work.  She's semi-immortal and hungry for violence.  She walks the tightrope of her own nature, trying to do good with all the wrong tools.  It drives her to drink, and wreck things a lot.

This story, like most of the stories Gus appears in, is about choosing ideals over people, choosing people over ideals, and paying a price either way.  It's about an era of Canadian history that a lot of us don't learn much about: when I started the research I was surprised at how much violence I didn't learn about in history class.

Many people who lived through that history are still around.  And like most history, it isn't past: it's still unfolding around us, or beneath us, or through us.  I wrote this story well before the recent US election and the wave of massive protests that followed; I was thinking of the setting as an era of revolution that has since ended, but already my understanding has changed, and I have begun to think of the last hundred years as an era of revolution that still goes on.

To honour the spirit of resistance, the paycheque for this story has been donated to the ACLU, as part of the #FictionFightsBack initiative.


If you like Gus, here are some other places she appears:
Who in Mortal Chains, one of my earliest published stories, which takes place a couple of years before "Le lundi de la matraque"
Spells of Blood and Kin, my first novel, in which Gus is not the protagonist but steals a scene here and there

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Story birthday + #FictionFightsBack

Today you can read my latest short story, "Wooden Boxes Lined with the Tongues of Doves", at Beneath Ceaseless Skies.  You can also listen to the audio version read by the awesome Michael J. DeLuca.

This story's a dark one (I know: shocker).  The title was a gift from a friend of a friend: I don't even know the name of the person who thought of it, but that person told it to my BFF who gave it to me, and I wrote it on a scrap of napkin (as you do) and carried it around for years before turning it into this.  If the person who thought up this title ever reads this, I hope you like what you set in motion!

There's a fantastic initiative happening right now called #FictionFightsBack.  It was started by S.L. Huang as a way to combat authoritarianism and bigotry in the wake of the recent US election.  Huang writes:
The nutshell is simple: write stories that push back against bigotry, oppression, or authoritarianism in some way, and donate the proceeds to an organization that does the same.
"Wooden Boxes Lined with the Tongues of Doves" is about people being silenced, constrained and betrayed by those who have power over them.  The choices they make in response are hard, and have hard consequences.  I sometimes write about people resisting oppression gloriously and then thriving...but this is not one of those stories.  Just so you know.

I believe in compassion for people who have to do tough things to save themselves. I'm donating the entire payment for this story to Planned Parenthood.  Planned Parenthood provides a lot of valuable health services: birth control, reproductive health, LGBTQIA health, and yes, abortions.  I believe all of these services, including abortion, are essential and life-saving.  As a Canadian I have relatively easy access to this kind of care; I'm disturbed by how hard it already is for Americans, and it may be about to get harder.  If you're one of the many Americans worried about your health prospects as the Republicans propose to defund PP, my heart goes out to you, and so does the donation from this story.