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Tesseracts 17 Interview: Dwain Campbell

Dwain Campbell, Tesseracts 17, child protagonist, aliens, Roswell, Hermione

Dwain Campbell writes a home invasion story with a mix of madcap adventure and genius.

I have only a few more interviews to do with the authors of Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast to Coast, available through EDGE. Today, I bring you Dwain Campbell, from St. John’s, Newfoundland, whose wild tale gallops through the pages of the anthology.

CA: “Hermione and Me” is a madcap adventure.  Wherever did you come up with this idea?

Having been a school teacher and guidance counselor for thirty years, I have worked with many a child who struggled with his or her uniqueness. Not surprisingly then, coming of age stories have a certain appeal for me.  Of course, in this story the protagonist Meredith is more unique than people can possibility imagine, and her adjustment, her growth as a result of one evening’s adventure, is central. Madcap? It sure is, but anything less than “out of this world” would not challenge two powerhouses like Meredith and Hermione Granger. And as for the home invaders, what can I say, I’m a Roswell conspiracy nut.

CA: In your tale you link genius, imagination and creations of magic.  Do you feel that science and magic may be closer together than we imagine?

Definitely. In quantum physics alone theorists are generating pretty scary stuff. Computer chips three atoms wide, where two bits of information can be housed on one sub-atomic thingamajig because it can exist in two states at once, are being actively explored.  That will look like magic to all intents and purposes. The psycho-physics interface between brain and mind is getting serious attention too. Perhaps one day the mind can materialize imagined people (as Meredith does) even as computers now do with 3D printing.

But to answer the question more directly, I do believe certain minds can negotiate corners oftime and space that is beyond 99% of us. Magic, or a so far unknown psychological phenomenon that transcends space-time, who is to say?

anthology, speculative fiction, SF, fantasy, Canadian authors

Tesseracts 17 is now out with tales from Canadian writers that span all times and places.

CA: Some paintings are for beauty, others for messages. It’s the same for fiction. Which would you say you story is?

Hermione and Me is likely more satisfying on the message level.  Growing up is hard to do; it’s no walk in the park. Fears and insecurities abound.  Meredith has them in spades, but she is capable of moving beyond them. It all gets sorted out in the end. That is a message of hope most young people would welcome.

CA: If you could, would you rather meet an alien, or conjure up your own special and real companion?

Alien. In my mind they do exist, and I suspect they are a lot more fascinating, in physical form and sentience, than your basic Klingon or Romulan. The nature of alien cognition and culture is to me an endless source of speculation. I like the David Brin Uplift novels which handle these questions with imagination and intelligence.

CA: What other works do you have on the go or what ideas are you exploring?

I’m writing a series of stories called The Crazy Eights ( nickname of the Princess Louise’s 8th New Brunswick Hussars regiment) following the supernatural adventures of Sergeant Cecil (Plug) Danfield and Captain Tallingate during World War Two. The stories should appeal to Canadian military buffs and those fond of fantasy-realism. I have a few stories of Meredith from “Hermione and Me” as a high school teenager. And, I submit stand alone fantasy stories here and there.

Dwain Campbell is originally from Sussex, New Brunswick. After his university years in Halifax, he journeyed further east to begin a teaching career in Newfoundland. Twenty-nine years later, he is a retired teacher in St. John’s. He hopes to devote more time to his first love, storytelling. Contemporary fantasy is his genre of choice, and Atlantic Canada is a rich source of inspiration. Neil Gaiman is his hero of the moment, though he will reluctantly admit to a lifelong fascination with Stephen King.

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Tesseracts 17 Interview: Catherine MacLeod

anthology, speculative fiction, SF, fantasy, Canadian authors

Tesseracts 17 is now out with tales from Canadian writers that span all times and places.

Today I interview Catherine MacLeod, who lives in Nova Scotia. Tesseracts 17 is available in bookstores and through the internet.

CA: Pique Assiette deals with a secret and a fear, and how they twine together. Yet your character does not succumb to the darkest parts of either of these. Why did you choose not to go down that path?

Mostly because it would’ve been too easy. Myself, I’ve taken the easy way out too many times. I wish I could say I’m better than that, but I’m not. But it makes me feel better if my characters are.

CA: The technique of pique assiette was fascinating to read about and it parallels the mosaic aspect of your character’s life as she pieces together her destiny. Where did you first come across the craft and the idea for this story?

I first read about it in an old “Martha Stewart’s Living” at the Laundromat. The photo accompanying the article showed a patio table topped with pieces of smashed pottery. Beautiful. I wasn’t interested in trying it, but I liked the idea of it enough to keep researching.

CA: Do you think most peoples’ lives are mosaics, where some pieces take longer to assemble, like a puzzle before they’re truly understood?

Absolutely. Most of them never get finished. I use this theme a lot in my stories. Every choice, idea, stroke of luck, is a piece of the big picture.

CA: Your story could have been a tale of redemption or revenge, yet it is one of acceptance. Is this what you set out to accomplish or was it a

horror, fantasy, speculative fiction, mosaics, Tesseracts 17

Catherine MacLeod writes of mosaics and murder in Pique Assiette.

natural evolution?

It felt natural to me. I’m come to an age where I’ve realized that the best thing about banging your head on a brick wall is stopping–if you can’t fight something, you have to find a way to live with it. But I think this is a revenge story, too–things aren’t likely to end well for Diane’s latest customer.

CA: What other pieces are you working on that you care to share with us?

My story “The Attic” will be in Ellen Datlow’s anthology Fearful Symmetries, coming out next spring from CZP. That sale meant I could cross quite a few things off my bucket list.

Nova Scotian writer Catherine MacLeod’s short fiction can be found in On Spec, Solaris, Black Static, TaleBones, and several anthologies, including Horror Library #4, Tesseracts Six, Tesseracts Fourteen, and The Living Dead 2. She is haunted by Astor Piazzola’s music, Andrew Davidson’s prose, and Derek Jacobi’s voice.

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Tesseracts 17 Interview: J.J. Steinfeld

poetry, satire, horror, dread, fantasy, Canadian writers

J.J. Steinfeld harkens from PEI, where he chases his muse. Photo by Brenda Whiteway

Happy New Year’s, everyone. The year, as is every day, full of promise and possibility. I fell behind in finishing all the Tesseracts 17 interviews before the old year ended. But the good thing about books and stories is that they don’t go bad. Without further ado, I bring you J.J. Steinfeld.

CA: “Unwilling to Turn Around” speaks to that dread that horror movies build on. It’s a very human feeling. Why do you think it is we sometimes don’t want to see what’s following us?

Whether it is in the dark of night or in the darkness of an wavering mind, when we are going through unfamiliar or unchartered terrain, physical or psychological, vulnerability of one’s body and senses became amplified, more apparent,  and perhaps we are frightened to confront something following us that might  be strange and out-of-place, and potentially dangerous. In a frightened state, seeing something we may not be able to thwart or cope with, makes confronting our fears all the more potent.

CA: Your piece speaks to a very human part of us, yet is also as a sly, light note, make it more satirical than horrific. Why did you choose this angle?

There is a fascinating world just outside our everyday reality and comprehensible definitions, and that world is often mired in the absurd and the incomprehensible. Attempting to confront or chart that absurd reality pulls me strongly to the satirical as to the horrific.  In the attempt to either deal with or break free from the absurd and the incomprehensible, the satirical somehow becomes a little more muscular than the horrific.

CA: Would you rather know what lies ahead, no matter how wonderful or terrible, or you would prefer the surprise, no matter the outcome?

I would prefer to be wandering in the cinematic land of surprise and infinite possibilities,

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Tesseracts 17 is now out with tales from Canadian writers that span all times and places.

rather than see the film’s ending beforehand, especially if the special effects tamper with my sense of the absurd and wonder and baffling existence.

CA: What do you think is your most effective tool, or technique, when it comes to writing poetry?

 I don’t know if I have any effective tools or techniques for writing poetry, unless you want to count lively synapses and a curious psyche as creative tools.  Actually, it’s more a strategy of speed, that is, going outside and walking quickly after my sometimes elusive and too often mischievous and cantankerous Muse. The attempt to grab hold of that fleeing Muse, whether the attempt is successful or not, often leads to new ideas and the start of a poem, which will be developed and written when I get back to my hidden-away writing room.

CA: What other projects do you have in the works?

I’m always working on something creative, whether it’s poetry or fiction or plays… My imagination tends to bounce from one creative “project” to another and after a period of time, I start to gather together creative pieces that adhere to my synapses and psyche and put them together into a collection or then attempt to find someone who might want to put on one of my plays. Currently I have two short story collections and a poetry collection, products of my bouncing imagination, that are looking for publishers, and several scripts in search of a theatrical home. As I wait to hear from publishers or theater companies, I polish up and tinker with the contents of these hoping-to-see-the light-of-literary-day manuscripts and stage plays.

 Fiction writer, poet, and playwright J. J. Steinfeld lives on Prince Edward Island, where he is patiently waiting for Godot’s arrival and a phone call from Kafka. While waiting, he has published fourteen books, along with five chapbooks, including Forms of Captivity and Escape (Stories, Thistledown Press), Disturbing Identities (Stories, Ekstasis Editions), Anton Chekhov Was Never in Charlottetown (Stories, Gaspereau Press), Should the Word Hell Be Capitalized? (Stories, Gaspereau Press), Curiosity to Satisfy and Fear to Placate (Short-Fiction Chapbook, Mercutio Press),  Would You Hide Me? (Stories, Gaspereau Press), An Affection for Precipices (Poetry, Serengeti Press), Where War Finds You (Poetry Chapbook, HMS Press), Misshapenness (Poetry, Ekstasis Editions), A Fanciful Geography (Poetry Chapbook, erbacce-press), and A Glass Shard and Memory (Stories, Recliner Books). His short stories and poems have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies, in every Canadian province and internationally in fifteen countries, including in Tesseracts Fifteen, Sixteen, and Seventeen, and over forty of his one-act plays and a handful of full-length plays have been performed in Canada and the United States.

 

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Tesseracts 17 Interview: Ben Godby

anthology, speculative fiction, SF, fantasy, Canadian authors

Tesseracts 17 is now out with tales from Canadian writers that span all times and places.

Ben Godby’s tale takes us to the farthest reaches of the universe and a man with a dark mission.

CA: “Star Severer” was one of the bleaker stories in Tesseracts 17. In one sense it signals the end of everything. Stories like this can be depressing, yet you presented more depth. What were the important elements you were exploring in this piece?

I think I’ve benefited from living in a peaceful time in a peaceful place. I can’t remember who wrote it, but a sentence which recently struck me with its veracity and import was, “Make no mistake, we are living in a golden age.” Not surprisingly, it’s always been hard for me to understand war—or, more generally, the very idea of having “enemies.” On the other hand, I’ve grown up with video games, board games, role-playing games, books, movies, and all other sorts of media that make me—on a visceral level—love war, and love killing, and love having some brute-obvious object of ethically appropriate hatred.

SF, speculative fiction, Tesseracts 17, science, deadly machines

Ben Godby loves games and fantasy, but Star Severer is science fiction with a dark vein.

This tension has caused me to write a lot of stories that explore violence and its necessary ambiguity. In “Star-Severer,” I needed that footchase scene, and I needed Odashi and his soldiers to violently board Mueller’s vessel, because in a lot of ways, violence is what makes stories worth telling and hearing for my narrative consciousness. But intellectually, I abhor violence and don’t understand it—which is why my protagonists are usually unwilling, unwitting, or unhappy soldiers.

CA: This story literally takes us to the far reaches of the universe. Do you write in this universe or these worlds often?

It’s hard for me to write anything that’s anything but fantastic. I have three distinct universes I like to write in, although two of them—one which is decidedly fantasy, and another which is a sort of fantasy-cyberpunk fusion—have begun a sort of mental meld over the last six months. I like reading contemporary, modern, and realistic fiction, but I get bored writing about the mundane world.

This universe, by the way, is the “Children of the Earth” universe, which is marked by conflict between the Children of the Earth, who believe in Terran orthodoxy (Earth’s universal primacy), and “Terretics,” usually colonists of far-flung worlds who have ceased to care for Earth and its imperial ways. “Children of the Earth,” published online in Kaleidotrope, also takes place in this universe. http://www.kaleidotrope.net/archives/summer-2012/children-of-the-earth-by-ben-godby/

CA: The story  harkens some to our human condition; that of being a violent species sometimes determined to commit genocide. Do you think we will every move beyond this flaw?

I think humanity is slowly become “gooder,” if I may be permitted such a silly word. At least, the developed nations of the world are becoming less and less willing to kill each other. But, there are still horrible wars committed across the globe every day, and whenever the nuclear stalemate is resolved, large, powerful countries will almost inevitably go to war once again. I hope we move beyond the need to fight each other, but I think this will require the elimination of acquisitive ideologies like capitalism, competitive ideologies like free market economics, and a lot of great science to solve the environmental problems that are creeping up on us and creating more cause for conflict.

CA: Science fiction isn’t as popular as fantasy fiction these days. Do you think it’s too realistic and we wish to escape any sense of reality?

I’ve heard this before, but I actually find that SF is really popular. What’s interesting to me is that SF has evolved a lot more than fantasy. There’s a lot of people who are upset that SF has become really dark and pessimistic, but at least it reflects evolving trends in the psychology of writers and readers. I can’t believe how many fantasy books are, for all intents and purposes, identical to each other minus a few special details: magic works this unique way in such-and-such a world, but it is still a romantic 13th century medieval world with kings and emperors, subjected women, racism, some kind of orc or goblin analogue (e.g. sranc [R. Scott Bakker's fantasy series] or the shanka [Joe Abercrombie]), and a hero quest. I like fantasy, but I want to see it do more, and outside of China Miéville, Jeff VanderMeer, Steph Swainston, and a clutch of other New Weird writers, I don’t see much “evolved” fantasy getting very popular.

CA: What else are you working on now?

An MBA and a rather successful Dwarf Fortress. http://www.bay12games.com/dwarves/ I hate to say it, but with my studies, work, and volunteerism as they’ve been the last year and a half, I’ve barely written anything. I’m hoping to start a new AD&D campaign (which I consider to be a sort of creative writing) in the new year, and once I graduate in August 2014, hopefully I’ll get back on the writing horse. The plan, though, is to write novels rather than short stories. Writing short fiction was always meant to be “practice” for writing novels, although I kind of fell into loving it.

Ben Godby writes mysteriously thrilling pseudo-scientific weird western adventure fantasy tales. He lives in Ottawa, Ontario with a girl, two dogs and a cat. Ben is part of the Codex Writers’ Group and his book reviews have been published in Strange Horizons. He is a business communications specialist, a videogame addict, and a heavy metal enthusiast. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy from McGill University and is a part-time student in the University of Ottawa’s French MBA program.

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Tesseracts 17 Interview: Costi Gurgu

alien worlds, world building, speculative fiction, science fiction, Tesseracts 17

Costi Gurgu’s “Secret Recipes” is both alien and sensual.

Today, I interview the last Ontario author in Tesseracts 17, but not the last author by far.

CA: Of all the tales in Tesseracts 17, “Secret Recipes” was perhaps the most alien. You use the senses in such a unique way that makes the story poetic. How did this idea come about?

A few years back I had a conversation with my Romanian agent about an article he just read, concerning the North American Science Fiction rules—One cannot write a story that happens in an alien world, having only a cast of alien characters. So, not having at least one human character to give the readers the human perspective on the alien world.

I told my agent I can break that rule and make it work. And so it started.

I wrote that year a short story that did just that. I sold it immediately to Anticipatia Magazine (major SF magazine at the time).  It has been awarded and reprinted four times.

After its success, I wrote my first novel, Recipearium, breaking the same rule. I sold it several years later; critics and reviewers wrote about it in numerous genre and literary magazines, and it brought me three awards.

The story in Tesseracts17, “Secret Recipes,” takes place in the same universe as the novel, breaking the same rule. In fact it is a prequel to the novel, introducing the main character and his quest.

CA: The story is quite complex, dealing with betrayal, familial honor, and individual accomplishment. Was there one strong ingredient in this recipe or was it a gradual blending that was a natural evolution?

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Tesseracts 17 is now out with tales from Canadian writers that span all times and places.

I thought that no matter how “alien” the world and the characters, there have to be some things that are common to our civilization. That’s what should make the story work in the end—the fact that we can identify some of our values with some of their values and eventually understand and empathize with their struggles.

Family is one of those values. And yes, in their world the notion is quite different from here, but in the end that sense of belonging to a certain group of people and a certain place, to a certain system of values that one is exposed to within that group, the mutual feelings that grow inside the relationships of a family, all these are and have been for most of our history intrinsic to our way of living and shaping the reality around us.

So, it all starts with where my main character comes from. Who is he and why does he make the choices he makes?

CA: Do you think that if we ever met an alien species, even as diverse as the ones in David Brin’s Uplift universe, that we would be able to emotionally relate to them?

 To be honest, no. At least not in the beginning. And when I say in the beginning, I don’t mean the first year or so, I mean probably the first century or so.

Although when one says “emotionally” we think of this non-rational, spontaneous instinctive reaction, it is not completely so. That “instinctive” reaction is given to us by our system of beliefs, by the way we are educated to react to different stimulus.

“Alienness” is one of the toughest tests we always had in order to pass as civilized people. There are still humans who cannot emotionally relate to other humans of a different religion or ethnicity, which in a way goes back to a certain definition of alienness.

So imagine relating to beings anatomically different from us. Who have completely “alien” and questionable physiological needs. And that means only scratching the surface. Because then we’d have to cope with their spiritual and intellectual needs. And as we struggle to accomplish that, we’d encounter their philosophical and legal system. Their moral code and cultural code.

So, I think the answer is no. We’d need centuries of contact before some of us could really emotionally relate to them.

CA: What would you consider  as being your most difficult story to write in terms of worldbuilding and/or alien perspectives and perceptions.

You know when “they” say that one of the biggest problems of Science Fiction stories is that their characters don’t seem to have common human needs? They do not need to eat, use the washroom, make love, drink a coffee or do the laundry?

Noticed that I said make love and not have sex? It sounds nicer somehow. But truth to be told, sex is one essential component of human life and why not presume of any intelligent organic life out there in the universe. And most SF writers have really avoided the subject either by completely ignoring it, or by starting with a kiss and ending with “and after that they made sweet, sweet love.” But that’s a subject for another day.

Well, you could do all that in terms of worldbuilding and it would be fun, especially if there are aliens involved. But now imagine writing an alien love scene and I’m not talking about one of those poetic scenes that have nothing to do with sex. Like oh, the aliens were these giant butterflies and they loved each other flying majestically through a night sky full of spectacular moons.

No, love making that involves real sex organs and secretions and orgasm and the eventual transfer of fluids. All in the name of love… and procreation, hopefully.

It is hard enough to write a human love scene that avoids all that detail and gives the sense of emotional connection as well as physical pleasure. Then, what do you do when your aliens are not humanoids and not even cute little animals or plants, or birds for that matter. When they are really alien and seriously constructed creatures.

An alien love scene could be really difficult to write from any perspective or perception, without alienating your readers. So I could say…Recipearium, my alien only novel.

CA: What other stories are you cooking up?

New beginnings for me this year.

I’m in the middle of a Science Fiction comedy.

Now, this is also difficult to write as humor is so different depending on so many factors, that sometime one would think this should be the true test of emotionally relating to alienness.

I’ve been also trying my hand at screenwriting. Right now I’m working on a short Sci-Fi drama and a long Sci-Fi thriller.

So all things new to me and therefore so exciting that I feel this year was one of the best I had in a long time.

Costi Gurgu is an art director, illustrator and writer living in Toronto with his wife. He worked as the art director of Playboy Magazine, the French fashion magazine—Madame Figaro, and the women’s life-style magazine—Tabu. Costi was also the art director and illustrator of ProLogos Imprint, where he designed their visual identity and illustrated some of the book covers.

As a writer, Costi has published three books and over fifty short stories in Romania, Poland, Hungary, Denmark, England, United States and Canada. He has won twenty-four awards for his fiction. His latest sales include the Danish anthology Creatures of Glass and Light, the DAW Books anthology Ages of Wonder, the Wildside Press anthology The Third Science Fiction Megapack, The Millennium Books anthology Steampunk—The Second Revolution, and Tesseracts 17.

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Come to Bitten By Books for Chilling Tales

horror, dark fiction, specualtvie authors, Canadian writers, EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy

Chilling Tales 2, edited by Michael Kelly, is out this month from EDGE.

Hi everyone, I was traveling in Europe and didn’t have time to do more blog posts. I’ll be posting more Tesseracts interviews in the next few weeks and the book is now available. Coming up next week on Wednesday, November 13, however, is an interview with the authors of  Chilling Tales 2 at Bitten By Books. My story “Gingerbread People” is one of the selections and I would love to hear what people think of this, as I worked very long and hard at it.

The interview session is a 24-hour real time interview so you can check it out at any time. The event runs from noon central standard time November 13, 2013 through to noon November 14, 2013. If you go to http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=66049 and RSVP before the event you will get an additional 25 entries into the contest for a $50 Amazon gift card, which you can then use to get a copy of Tesseracts 17 and Chlling Tales 2, both from EDGE. :)

You can ask questions of the authors and as they come online they will answer. This is a chance to get a little more depth into the stories, the authors or the writing process and philosophies. It’s free to do, so stop by. Here are the list of authors and stories, and for once I know every author:

  • In Libitina’s House by Camille Alexa
  • Gingerbread People by Colleen Anderson
  • Meteor Lake by Kevin Cockle
  • Homebody by Gemma Files
  • Snowglobes by Lisa L Hannett
  • The Hairdress by Sandra Kasturi
  • The Dog’s Paw by Derek Künsken
  • The Flowers of Katrina by Claude Lalumière
  • Goldmine by Daniel LeMoal
  • The Salamander’s Waltz by Catherine MacLeod
  • The Slipway Grey by Helen Marshall
  • Weary, Bone Deep by Michael Matheson
  • Black Hen A La Ford by David Nickle
  • Day Pass by Ian Rogers
  • Fiddleheads by Douglas Smith
  • Dwelling on the Past by Simon Strantzas
  • Heart of Darkness by Edo van Belkom
  • Fishfly Season by Halli Villegas
  • Road Rage by Bev Vincent
  • Crossroads Blues by Robert J. Wiersema
  • Honesty by Rio Youers

    demons, anthologies, horror, fantasy, Demonologia Biblica

    Available through Amazon. This is my favorite cover of all three.

Other books in which I have stories, that you can find online are Demonologia Biblica, Bibliotheca Fantastica, Artifacts and Relics, Deep Cuts and ReadShortFiction.com, which is free online. The holiday season is coming up so what better way to expand the mind than with reading.

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The Book With No End, is in this anthology just out from Dagan Books.

Deep Cuts, horror, editing, dark fantasy

Deep Cuts is published by Evil Jester Press

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Tesseracts 17 Interview: Rhea Rose

anthology, speculative fiction, SF, fantasy, Canadian authors

Tesseracts 17 will be out this fall with tales from Canadian writers that spans all times and places.

Another BC author, Rhea Rose’s story “The Wall” graces the pages of Tesseracts 17. It is a disturbing tale of love, obsession and loss.

CA: Rhea, your story “The Wall”  is a classic descent-into-madness story, or is it?

I think you can definitely describe this story as a classic descent-into-madness tale.  It’s also a horror story. When I wrote it I was playing with both those aspects of storytelling, madness and horror. I asked myself, “Is she crazy” or “Is this really happening?” I decided at some point that the “Wall” needed to be more concrete, more of a real creature rather than an imagining on the part of the main character. At that point, when I made the wall more of a creepy little character, was when the story turned from a one-dimensional descent- into- madness story to a more multidimensional  horror tale, as well.

CA: The disturbing imagery both draws the reader in and repulses at the same time. What made you explore such a strange world, and have you ever seen the Wall?

Nope.  I’ve never seen the Wall, and I hope I never do, except perhaps in the movie version!  When I’m trying to write something scary, I ask myself what are the things that disturb me, and when I figure out what those are, I try to put at least three of them into a story.  In this case I wanted to play with the fear of being a mother, the pressures of being responsible for a baby, combined with a fear – the Wall – of something you can’t get rid of, or control.

CA: What do you think it is about madness that fascinates people?

Rhea Rose, Canadian writers, horror, fantasy

Rhea Rose taps into the vein of madness in her tale. If you’re at VCon this weekend, look for Rhea.

Hmm,  madness goes hand in hand with creativity and a connection with genius, so madness can be the negative extreme of both those conditions. The mad scientist is a genius with wondrous creations that are also destructive. The mad woman may have moments of lucidity when wisdom issues forth, losing control of paradigm is terrifying and exhilarating, a kind of madness.  Of course real madness, as in the case of diagnosed schizophrenia is just plain terrifying.

CA: Have you dealt with this theme in other pieces of your work?

Only in a meta sense.  Descent into story writing is a form of controlled madness, but I can’t think of another story I’ve written that deals with any form of “crazy.” It’s a difficult place to live in even for a short time, which is what you have to do when you’re writing the story. Generally, my characters are trying to deal with the madness that others have foisted on them.

CA: Many of your stories have involved children from their POV. In this case, the child is both peripheral and integral to this piece. Are you done exploring tales which put children into strange dilemmas?

I doubt I am done with children in strange dilemmas, as you say.  That seems to be my psyche’s theme, but I do consciously work to move away from those stories, although if a really good one pops into my head I won’t hesitate to write it down.  I find children’s responses to the world both fascinating and frightening. It’s such a scary ordeal to have to figure out how the world works when you can’t yet read the instructions.

Rhea is a Vancouver, BC writer and a teacher. She’s a graduate of UBC’s Creative Writing program and a Clarion writer. Most of her work has been published north of the 49th parallel. Her short stories and poetry have appeared in the Tesseracts anthologies. Many of her pieces have been nominated for awards, including the Rhysling award for poetry, and a nomination for an Aurora award. There were a couple of preliminary nominations for Nebula award nominations. A short story of hers appeared in a David Hartwell’s, Christmas Forever anthology. TaleBones has published a short story and poem. Rhea’s Big Foot story (not her foot) was published in NorthWest Passages: A Cascadian Anthology, and a horror tale made it into Tesseracts 10 from EDGE Press, which received honorable mention in  BHOTY, as did her latest story in the first Evolve anthology.  Look for her most recent poetry at Chizine. http://www.chizine.com/authors/davidclink.  All of these stories and many of her poems can be found in her collection, Pandora’s Progeny, at Amazon.  Her latest works appear in Masked Mosaic, Dead North and Tesseracts 17.

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Writing: Demographics of Tesseracts 17 Part III

anthology, speculative fiction, SF, fantasy, Canadian authors

Tesseracts 17 will be out in October, with tales from Canadian writers that spans all times and places.

I’m sorry that I’ve been so busy that I’ve had little time to write. In about a month I’ll be on my way to Europe and before that, Tesseracts 17 will be released. We’ll be doing a promo interview session on Bitten by Books so stay tuned for more information there. Plus, a reading is scheduled at Bakka Books in Toronto on Oct. 19 and David Jon Fuller, one of our authors will be reading at the Chi Reading Series in Winnipeg on Oct. 9.

Now, I’ve spent a great deal of time working out the demographics of Tesseracts 17, mostly because I was curious. Should I edit another anthology I would track from the beginning. Here I’ve tried to map the genres of the submissions. This is the most subjective list of all. One, I didn’t track all of the stories  so I may not remember what the story is about from the title and the notes. On top of that, every reader and writer will see a story differently. Is a zombie story a horror story, a science fiction story or fantasy? In fact, it can be any of those and sometimes more than one. And I don’t remember all of the stories that well, so the table has an added inaccuracy.

I found as I was starting to list the stories that I couldn’t just say “fantasy.” That’s far too broad a genre umbrella, so I started to list what type of fantasy.  Some of these are tropes more than genres. Was it fairies or mind control or shape shifting?  What about the steampunk wendigo story? Fantasy and SF or just fantasy? And yes there were a few themes that showed up more than once. While the wendigo stories could fit under the subgenre of mythic creatures, they are a specific type of beast, like zombies and vampires, and because there was more than one, they deserved their own heading. Interesting to note, of the three specifically Canadian mythic beasties (wendigo, sasquatch, ogopogo–and there may be more I don’t know about. Maybe Steve can fill in others from the opposite coast) only wendigo appeared in the submissions. ,You, dear reader, can add up the numbers yourself, because yes, I’ve probably spent over a dozen hours on all of the demographics.

This table could have been bigger or smaller. For instance, tales involving gods got shoved under mythic beings/other creatures. I didn’t single out the three tales that involved wine though you’ll read Claude Lalumiere’s tale of wine in the anthology. There were Western flavored tales and hillbilly talk, several brutish husbands with chickenshit wives (these were too cliche), cartoons, historical/alternative histories, Jewish and Asian fantasies, dragons, winged cats, chickens and cows. Yes, even vengeful cows. We do have a historical fantasy with Patricia Robertson’s beautiful tale, and a couple end of the world stories. If anyone is interested I will break down the stories in the anthology into the genres I think they are. It would be interesting to see how Steve would classify them.

The table is read from the left column first. So if I thought a story was predominantly bizarre or metaphorical with a dollop of descent into madness, it went in the left-hand spot for bizarre. If I thought it was descent into madness with a dollop of bizarre it would go into the left-hand spot for madness. Rhea Rose’s story fits in that second category. I’ve colored the table to differentiate the categories: yellow=SF, green=fantasy, blue=horror. So Rhea’s story is colored horror.

WordPress is not easy for inserting tables and spredsheets,  so I’ve attached it. Click on  Genre chart and you’ll be able to see the list. Remember, the numbers won’t match the original demographics because I didn’t include the poems, nor about 35 stories where I couldn’t remember if they were SF, horror or fantasy.

I’m done with the demographics and will be starting to put in short interviews with the authors that will probably span the next few months. I’d like to say I’ll get two in a week but it all depends on time. So in the meantime, enjoy the demographics and look for Tesseracts 17 in October.

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Writing: Demographics of Tesseracts 17 Part II

anthology, speculative fiction, SF, fantasy, Canadian authors

Tesseracts 17 will be out this fall with tales from Canadian writers that spans all times and places.

Sorting out the demographics for Tesseracts 17 has been time consuming, and WordPress truly sucks when it comes to inserting a table in any format. It took me over four hours to generate the table below so if you’re curious about other breakdowns, you’ll have to pay me.

Each breakdown becomes more subjective. In this case, I had to guess at the gender of some people because names like Chris, or Terri, or initials don’t tell me if they’re male or female. I knew the names of many writers submitting so even if one had a male or female sounding name I knew where they actually belonged. The most accurate numbers are those of writers from different territories and provinces. We never received anything from Nunavut so it is the only part of Canada not represented. And while Newfoundland and Labrador prefer both names to be used to represent their province, the writers themselves indicated they were from Newfoundland, so we had no one from the Labrador part.

These numbers could be a bit different from the ones I displayed the other day because it’s difficult to accurately count a mile long spreadsheet, especially for Ontario with 193 submissions. It’s no surprise that the majority of submissions came from there, when a good part of Canada’s population also resides in the province. I was actually surprised that the Quebec numbers were so low, because that province has the other large chunk of Canadian population. I know of several Francophone speculative writers who write in English, but none of them submitted, for whatever reason. And while Claude Lalumière is Francophone he was counted under BC as that is where he is living part of the time and no longer in Montreal. I’d be interested to hear why we didn’t have more Francophone submissions.

Nova Scotia probably had more submissions due to Steve Vernon residing there and spreading the word. And while it turned out we didn’t take any of the expat stories, we have several authors whose place of birth was in another country. Not everyone listed where they were born so I didn’t really include any stats on that. As well, Steve and I pretty much read stories and poems first, and worried little about place or gender later. Only when we started to narrow down our selections did we have to pay attention to where the author was from. And last, we looked at gender, which as I mentioned before, just happened to work out with a nearly even split. If we had had 20 great pieces by women and 10 by men, we would have probably kept those pieces. As long as there was a representation of both genders, keeping it even is pretty hard.

As to the genres of the tales we received, I’m going to list those in a separate post as this one is long enough. It will be even more subjective because I didn’t list genres with the earlier ones and while some I remember or can figure out, I’m not going back to read them. I welcome any questions anyone has. It was interesting to see how Canada is represented in terms of speculative writers.

Provinces/

Countries

Total Submitted

No. of people

 Accepted

Female subs/ accepted

Male subs/ accepted

Alberta

67

51

4

30/3

21/1

Arizona (Ont. born)

1

1

0

0

1

Bali (Alberta)

1

1

0

0

1

BC

65

43

4

21/3

22/1

Boston (BC)

1

1

0

1/0

0

Germany (expat)

1

2

0

0

1/0

Manitoba

17

13

1

3/0

10/1

New Brunswick

2

1

1

0

1/1

Newfoundland

7

5

2

1/0

4/2

Nova Scotia

21

17

3

9/2

8/1

NWT

1

1

1

0

1/1

Nunavut

0

0

0

0

0

Ontario

193

122*

5

49/1

74*/4

PEI

16

1

1

0

1/1

Quebec

21

17

4

10/3

7/1

S. Korea (Ontario)

1

1

0

0

1/0

Saskatchewan

16

15

1

6/0

9/1

Spain (Ontario)

1

1

0

1/0

0

Switzerland (Ontario)

1

1

0

1/0

0

Taiwan (Quebec)

1

1

0

0

1/0

Texas (Ontario)

1

1

0

0

1/0

Thailand (expat)

1

1

0

1/0

0

UK (expat)

1

1

0

1/0

0

US (3 Ontario/1 Que.)

4

2

0

1/0

1/0

Yukon

9

9

2

3/2

6/0

Total

450

309

29

138/15

171/14

NOTE: expat means they’re Canadian but they did not specify from which province. Birthplaces outside of Canada (as opposed to place of residence) included New Zealand, Israel, France, Caribbean, UK, Scotland, Mexico US, Syria, Estonia, Greece, Bulgaria, Tunisia, Germany, Singapore, Romania, Poland. *One story was a collaboration so each author is listed. In the case of the three translations, only the author’s gender was listed; the translator was female.

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Writing: A Trilogy of Books About Books

horror anthologies, writing, horror, speculative fiction, fantasy,

“It’s Only Words” opens this anthology.

While I’m working on the second half of the demographics about Tesseracts 17 I thought I would do a little catch up on my own writing. It’s been a awhile and there is a lot happening. Read to the end for the Easter egg.

Over the past year and a bit I’ve been in three anthologies that have to do about books. The first was Des Lewis’ The Horror Anthology of Horror Anthologies, and out of England. The theme was that an anthology had to be mentioned in some way and part of the story. Out of this idea came my story “It’s Only Words.” Right now, Des is offering a three in one deal that includes this title, as well as Horror Without Victims and The First Book of Classical Horror Stories.

demons, anthologies, horror, fantasy, Demonologia Biblica

Available through Amazon. This is my favorite cover of all three.

The second story to come out was earlier this year. Dean Drinkel, also from England, but teaming up with Western Legends Press in the US, edited the Demonologia Biblica. Like an encyclopedia it contains 26 stories that go through the alphabet of demons, real or imagined. My tale “P is for Phartouche: The Blade” graces those virtual pages. This story had its genesis in a writing exercise of giving an inanimate object a personality and in my fascination in the past with the Elric of Melnibone stories where a noble prince was forever linked to a sword that had to drink blood once it was pulled. I look at it from a slightly different perspective.

Third, and just out, is my story “The Book With No End,” which has just come out in Dagan Books’ Bibliotheca Fantastica. Edited by Claude Lalumière & Don Pizarro, I’m not really sure how this tale formed but again a book hand to be integral to this tale. All these books are available to order online though the first is only in paper and the second is only an ebook. Check them out.

writing, fantasy, horror, speculative fiction, anthologies

The Book With No End, is in this anthology just out from Dagan Books.

Now, I have a poem titled “Don Quixote’s Quandary” which should be out in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly by the beginning of August. I will be featured on Polu Texni, also sometime in August with three poems titled “Father’s Child,” “Illuminating Thoughts” and “Heart of Glass.” All the poems are fantastical, with the first two at Polu Texni being Greek revisionings about Athena and Psyche respectively. (Both magazines are free to read online.)  A third poem in that series, “Visitation,” about Leda and the swan, will be coming out in Bull Spec but I still do not know when.

story collection, fantasy, horror, SF

Look for the Easter egg below for a free copy.

Now, I’ve been very bad about promoting my collection Embers Amongst the Fallen. It is mostly a collection of stories published elsewhere, and two stories not seen before. So here’s my Easter egg. If you leave me a comment by Sunday, July 28th, I will give you a code so that you can download the ebook for .99 (your choice of Amazon or Smashwords) or order the hard copy for $4.99  from Amazon. These are regularly listed at $8 and $16.95. Please specify which you would like. The first person who can tell me what my first published story was will get an ecopy for free. Yes you can find it somewhere on this blog. Okay, maybe this wasn’t an Easter egg so much as just a treat. Stay tuned for a few book reviews to come and more breakdowns on Tesseracts 17.

Aug. 2: I got busy and forgot to list that DangerDean is the winner of the free ecopy. He noted that my first published sale was Phoenix Sunset. This tale is in the collection and has been published three times before, my most successful story to date.

For the rest of you, I will be emailing you the code for the promo priced ecopy and the hard copy by the end of the weekend. I ask that anyone who gets a copy, please do a review and post it in GoodReads, Smashwords, or Amazon (or all three). Thanks for playing. Check the blog for further promos.

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