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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: A Few Free Reads

writing, Canadian anthology, Steve Vernon, Colleen Anderson, Tesseracts 17, Edge Publications

Get writing and send us your best.

I’m still compiling the third part of the demographics on Tesseracts 17 but it’s very time consuming and I’ve been far too busy. So, in the meantime, I have several pieces up on different websites this month and they’re free for you to read. I was paid for all of these so it’s a bonus both ways.

Heroic Fantasy Quarterly has my poem “Don Quixote’s Quandary.” Yes, it is about tilting at windmills.

At Polu Texni, I’m the feature poet for August so you will find three poems; “Heart of Glass,” “Father’s Child” and “Illuminating Thoughts.” The last two are Greek revisioning poems and the other is about that age-old dichotomy between stepmothers and the fairy tale princess. There is also an interview where you find out a bit more about what drives me.

Newest is my story “The Driver” featured at ReadShortFiction. Go and read it, and leave a comment.

Don’t forget, you can still pick up a copy of Deep Cuts, Bibliothecha Fantastica or Demonologia Biblica on Amazon. If you do read any of these,

CZP, Chizine, dark fiction, women in horror, Canadian writer, female authors

Colleen hosts the ChiReading Series Vancouver, full of dark and disturbed things.

leave a review. Let us know what you think and what you like.

Reviews from Deep Cuts:

  • Another story that really spoke to the artist in me is “Red is the Color of My True Love’s Blood” by Colleen Anderson. I love that this story is so raw feeling, and so very drenched (pardon the pun) in colors, particularly red (hence, the title).
  • Other stories I really enjoyed included “Hollow Moments” by R.S. Belcher- a chilling tale bent on striking fear in those of us who spend much of our lives thoughtlessly plodding through the routine and not really living, “Red Is the Colour of my True Love’s Blood” by Colleen Anderson – a vividly frightening story that blends colours and associated emotions and states of mind with unpleasant events,…
  • Colleen Anderson’s “Red is the Color of My True Love’s Blood” stands out by showing us that women can be as cold, calculated, and methodical a killer as men without dipping into stereotypes, but overall it’s a collection of brutality against women, dominant/ violent males, motherhood cliché, and weak females. Very disappointing.

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Writing: Demographics of Tesseracts 17

anthology, speculative fiction, SF, fantasy, Canadian authors

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

Okay, I said I would give a breakdown of the types of stories and the areas that people submitted from for Tesseracts 17. Since this was a open theme, stories could be any subgenre of speculative fiction or poetry. From what I could tell we received more stories than most Tesseracts anthologies of the past. The submission window was six months long, which was  a bit too long in my view.

Steve Vernon and I live on opposites coasts and have never met, though we’ve co-judged before and I asked him to do an introduction to my reprint collection Embers Against the Fallen, so we communicated through Facebook as well as using Dropbox to record entries and leave our comments. And let me tell you, some of them will be kept in lockdown in a tight metal box until the very Earth explodes. You see, when we’re leaving comments and have read the fiftieth submission of the day and are tired and have seen yet another timid wife and brutish husband tale or yet another zombie munching its way through humanity, we tend to leave snide and very cutting remarks that we would never forward to the author. (I did once do so by accident while editing for Chizine and I was mortified. The author took it with good grace and luckily I wasn’t that horrible–I apologized though.) But some are very funny, and that Steve, he’s downright hilarious and sardonic.

Anyways, (cough) I would like to think that Steve is still speaking to me though I believe I drove him crazy with my highly organized, extremely color-coded (colors!), tab-enhanced Excel spreadsheet. I’m very visual and I like being able to find the Alberta entries at a glance or the Quebec ones. Steve was probably left spinning in a psychedelic haze more than once. But in the end, we worked fairly well together and were probably about 80% unanimous on our decisions. The closer we got to the final choices the more we varied in some ways. If I was editing alone, not all of these tales and poems would have been my final selection, nor Steve’s, but we compromised.

On top of that, we had to balance between provinces and territories (for those not from Canada, we have ten provinces and three territories). Other aspects to watch for were making sure there weren’t all male or all female authors, that we had some new authors as well as experienced. In that regard, it was relatively easy to get a balance of genders as the final pieces we chose were already pretty evenly divided. And while we would have needed to re-balance if all the stories were fantasy and only one or two SF, it turned out we could live with what we had though it wasn’t half and half, but then, more fantasy is published in general these days than SF. Last, but not least, we also had to consider how the stories and poems fit together. We had some very good ghost stories but then it’s a popular trope and this wasn’t a ghost anthology. We also had some very good (and not so good) werewolf stories, as well as vampires, zombies and other reanimated creatures, but again, it wasn’t an undead anthology.

There were stories that were brilliant but we just couldn’t take too many fairy, or alien, or wendigo, etc. tales. Some of the pieces we rejected made me weep at having to let them go and I would have loved to do a subsidiary anthology of all the ones that got away (that would be a great title). Brian allowed us 100,000 words for the anthology. We scrimped and squeezed and hardcore edited some submissions down to their extra tasty, crunchy essence. I held two poems past the bitter end but Brian said, no room at the inn. In fact, we probably went over the word limit since we never included the author bios in our final count. That final number, including my introduction and Steve’s afterword, came to 99,441 words, more or less.

All of these factors made it trickier to edit than, say a theme-anchored anthology on dumptrucks or space dumptrucks. But in a way, it was interesting to see what Canadian (meaning born here, living here now, or born here and living abroad) writers would send if they could send anything at all. Tesseracts 17 paid close to (even a little more than) what other anthologies pay so it was on par there. The nice long submission window meant that some people sent us their trunk stories right off the bat. The early birds got a chance to send in rewrites, if we were holding the stories, or could try again if we rejected.  Those that came later in the final flood month didn’t get that luxury unless we were holding into the third round of reading.

I’ll start with the easy demographics. These may not be completely accurate. I became too busy to do this earlier and a couple of months have passed. But here we have the totals. I will try to give a breakdown of types of stories on another day. We received:

  • 449 individual submissions
  • 104 individual poems (The poetry number might be slightly off because I can’t quite tell if some were poems or not.)
  • 340 stories of varying lengths

Further breakdowns:

  • 4 poems were accepted
  • 25 stories were accepted
  • 14 accepted pieces were by women
  • 15 accepted pieces were by men
  • 305 individuals submitted
  • 139 women submitted (approx. as some names began with initials or could be male or female, additionally one translation was writer and translator were female)
  • 166 men submitted (approx. as some names began with initials or could be male or female, additionally two translations were male writer, female translator, which I included here but could be part of the women [141])
  • 5 was the highest number of stories submitted by one person
  • 15 was the highest number of poems submitted by one person
  • 16 was the highest number of individual submissions by one person
  • 3 translations were sent (female translator; 2 male, 1 female writer)
  • 4 collaborations were sent (including the 3 translations)
  • 1 story was rejected unread because it came in near to 10,000 words, far past the specifications on the guidelines
  • 2 stories came in that were not speculative: 1 was a history of Wounded Knee. The other was excellent and we would have taken it if we could have found one speculative element. It was very Canadian too. (You know who you are.)
  • 1 submission was neither read nor rejected because the person did not read the guidelines, sent us a story chapter,  wanted our address to send us buckets of other chapters and when we said to reread the guidelines, he said “reread my submission.” Sorry, buckaroo, in this case you pissed off the editors.
  • 2 people submitted far more than the allotted number of stories/poems allowed at one time. While the guidelines stipulated no more than 5 poems or 1 story, and although we were pretty grumpy about this, we actually read them all. The authors who did this should have known better because they were pros but hey, I’ve made mistakes as well.
  • 1 author got to submit just past the window closing because she had sent an email querying and saying she thought something had gone wrong.
  • 1 author did not get to submit past the submission window because it was over two weeks past the deadline and we just couldn’t .
  • 1 author sent a submission without the story attached. Since it was past the closing deadline, we rejected the non-submission (included in the above numbers)
  • 3 authors sent in stories with track changes and their editing included. This certainly did not put them onto the winning track. Writers, yes, edit and proofread your stories but get rid of track changes when you’re submitting.

We also had a few first time authors. In some cases these stories take more editing to polish them but we had a mandate to have some new or first time writers. We had chosen one story and sent an acceptance, conditional upon working with us and rewriting. We never heard from that young author. If this was me, even at the stage of having published stories and poems,I would have seriously worked with and responded to the editor.

We asked for several rewrites early on, when we were still holding stories and poems but the deadline hadn’t been reached. Of the rewrites, we did take a few pieces. Other writers, once we had accepted the pieces, had to do rewrites or edits. We did at least three edits on some pieces as Steve and I would each go over them, thus catching things that were missed or didn’t quite flow. One poet chose not to go with a second rewrite, which was unfortunate. Authors should remember that they do not have to take every edit an editor suggests but they then have to argue why they don’t think the edit makes the piece stronger. There is leeway for discussion and when that far along the track, an editor isn’t asking for two rewrites if they plan on rejecting the piece.

Still, we all have our own ways of dealing with writing and editing. I will try to come back with a second post that will delve into the breakdown of writers by province and territory, and the types of stories we received. Again, it’s been a while since I read these so this will be the least accurate and most subjective breakdown of all.

Tesseracts 17 is due for release on October 1.

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Writing: Tesseracts 17 Unveiled

File:Tesseract.gif, tesseract, speculative fiction, SF,

This is a tesseract that’s hard to wrap your mind around. From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Tesseract.gif

We are pleased to announce the official Table of Contents for Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast to Coast.

This anthology of speculative Canadian writing will be out this fall from Edge Publications. It was no easy task choosing from the over 450 submissions and we had to turn away many a good tale. In the end, we have a representation of Canada that spans all provinces and territories (with the exception, alas, of Nunavut). The tales themselves reach far into the past and much farther into the future.

Creative Commons: thisfragiletent.wordpress.com

Creative Commons: thisfragiletent.wordpress.com

Including Steve Vernon and myself, we had 16 men and 15 women in this anthology. The gender balance worked out without much issue. Of the 29 pieces we have 4 poems (can you spot them by the titles). There are two Daves, two Catherines and a wide range of other names, with people who were born in Canada and those who moved here. I will be giving a full demographic breakdown of all the submissions over the next few weeks. And while this anthology has more fantasy than SF, a good third fall comfortably into the science fiction model with only a few being horror or weird, as in bizarro fiction.

TESSERACTS 17: SPECULATING CANADA FROM COAST TO COAST TO COAST

  • Introduction: What is a Tesseract? Colleen Anderson
  • Vermilion Wine: Claude Lalumière
  • Night Journey: West Coast: Eileen Kernaghan
  • The Wall: Rhea Rose
  • 2020 Vision: Lisa Smedman
  • Why Pete?: Timothy Reynolds
  • Bird Bones: Megan Fennell
  • Bedtime Story: Rhonda Parrish
  • Graveyard Shift: Holly Schofield
  • Path of Souls: Edward Willett
  • Sin A Squay: David Jón Fuller
  • Hereinafter Referred to as the Ghost: Mark Leslie
  • Anywhere: Alyxandra Harvey
  • Secret Recipes: Costi Gurgu
  • Star Severer: Ben Godby
  • The Lighthouse Keeper’s Wife: Dave Beynon
  • Graffiti Borealis: Lisa Poh
  • My Child Has Winter in His Bones: Dominik Parisien
  • Team Leader 2040: Catherine Austen
  • Sand Hill: Elise Moser
  • The Ripping: Vincent Grant Perkins
  • Unwilling to Turn Around: J.J. Steinfeld
  • Pique Assiette: Catherine MacLeod
  • Leaving Cape Roseway: John Bell
  • Everybody Wins: Rachel Cooper
  • In the Bubble: William Meikle
  • Hermione and Me: Dwain Campbell
  • Blizzard Warning: Jason Barrett
  • M.E.L.: Dianne Homan
  • The Calligrapher’s Daughter: Patricia Robertson
  • Afterword: Editing Anthologies Made Easy: Steve Vernon

    Steve Vernon, Tesseracts 17, Canadian fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, horror, SF

    Nova Scotian Steve Vernon co-edited Tesseracts 17, a collection of Canadian speculative fiction.

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Liz Strange Writes About the Strange

Hello, World. I’m back. Sorry about the absence but I’ve been swamped. I’m spotlighting Liz Strange today while I ease my brain back into writing. www.lizstrange.com

fantasy, speculative fiction, Liz Strange, Rachel Armstrong, Wales, Welsh mythology

The Fair Folk in Knob’s end, released in March..

Fair Folk in Knob’s End is about a 16-year-old girl who moves in with her grandma after the death of her mom. At her new school she makes friends with a girl who turns out to be one of three magical sisters from the world of Annwn. She’s in hiding while the people of her land try to find the solution to a terrible curse that’s been placed upon them. Sophie (a human girl) gets swept up in the adventure after it’s discovered she has Tylwyth Teg blood in her ancestry, and in Annwn she has some magical affinity.

It’s a quest-adventure-mythology story, not bogged down by too much romanticism. It’s a fun story with a spunky heroine, and it’s not too preachy, with a unique take on the genre by using Welsh mythology as the foundation for the tale.

I’m often asked where the inspiration for my novels come from, and for the most part I don’t have a clear-cut answer. I’m a voracious reader, a pop culture junkie and a self-confessed nerd. I also have a deep love of horror/sci-fi/action movies and am fascinated with ancient history and world mythology, and I tend to absorb and store away juicy tidbits, images, and phrases from all these sources  to drive and influence future writing. I will also freely admit that I tend to be drawn to the dark side—I love my vampires, ghosts, demons and even the occasional hit man.

So how did a fun, quirky tale about a teenage girl and her involvement with the Tylwyth Teg come about? Like most things it came from a variety of influences and interest; my (admittedly) fanatic devotion to Torchwood (British sci-fi cult fave TV show), my desires to travel through historic Great Britain, and the draw of the unique history/culture/folklore of the often disparaged and overlooked Wales.

fantasy, Canadian writers, fiction, novels

Liz Strange

In this pursuit to find my own story with a Welsh mythological background I dove headfirst into reading about the Druids, the folk traditions of pre-Christain/pre- Roman Britain, the enduring Arthurian tales, Tristan and Isolde, and the Four Branches of the Mabinogi, historical accounts, archeological studies, you name it. In the process my curiosity became a passion. I fell in love with the stories, the language, the physical beauty of the land, and the gumption of the Welsh people in hanging on to their distinct identity.

Thus Fair Folk in Knob’s End (the Daughters of Annwn) was born. The first novel in this planned series was released in March by Featherweight Press, and I’d love for you to take the journey with me to this magical land.

I asked Liz a few questions about writing and her life: When you were a child what drew your attention? Was it trucks and dolls? Were you quirky or just a regular kid?

I did love my Barbies, I will admit, but I did not play with babies or with the beautiful doll house my mother had made for me. I loved to read, draw, write, listen to music and spending time with the hoard of animals we had.

I was definitely quirky. Quiet and introverted—a lot more went in than I shared. I had a huge imagination and my comprehension and reading level was always way above my peers. Even back then I was fascinated with learning about the past, other cultures, and “ghost stories.”

How did you view the world and what were you reading?

I viewed the world as an endless source of information and things to make me wonder, I still do. I read pretty much anything. Started with things like the Three Investigators series, Choose Your Own Adventure, Sweet Valley High and very quickly moved on to authors like Stephen King. Once I found horror and fantasy I was hooked.

When did you take that step from being a reader to wanting to write?

I started writing as a very young child. Even before I could physically write, I dictated stories to my mother. She still has this series about a bird family that I thought up at about three-four years old.

What was your first publication?

My Love Eternal, the first novel in my Dark Kiss Series.

Where do you live and do you find your surroundings influence your writing?

I live in Kingston, Ontario. In some ways I am very influenced by where I live, and in others ways not at all. My mind is often chewing on many different images-places, people, art- at once and I find that transports me beyond my physical place and time. There’s that crazy imagination again.

Twitter: www.twitter.com/LizStrangeVamp

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Liz-Strange-Fan-Page/112390728847718

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3360700.Liz_Strange

Amazon profile: http://www.amazon.com/Liz-Strange/e/B0032GCOO4/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1363962324&sr=8-1

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Writing: Chi Reading Series Vancouver

fantasy, SF, horror, speculative fiction, Vancouver readings

The Chiaroscuro Reading Series Vancouver launches April 10

Beginning April 10th we will launch the inaugural Vancouver Chiaroscuro Reading Series. The ChiSeries began in Toronto with Sandra Kasturi of Chizine Publications organizing the monthly event. Now we’re launching in Vancouver, Ottawa and Winnipeg, with Edmonton and Halifax later on. Vancouver’s launch will be quarterly to begin with. We feature published authors of speculative fiction. If you’re near or around Vancouver come by to this free event and participate in the no-cost raffle.

Here’s a little bit more on our first three authors.

fantasy, speculative fiction, Malazan, Book of the Fallen

Steven Erikson

Archaeologist and anthropologist STEVEN ERIKSON‘s debut fantasy novel, Gardens of the Moon, was short-listed for the World Fantasy Award and introduced fantasy readers to his epic ten-volume Malazan Book of the Fallen sequence, which has been hailed “a masterwork of the imagination.”  His latest novel, Forge of Darkness begins a new trilogy.  A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, his novels and novellas are published in many languages, and his works have appeared on the New York Times Bestseller list.  Find out more at:   www.malazanempire.com and www.stevenerikson.com

Lost Myths, Objects of Worship, fantasy, horror, speculative ficton, editor

Claude Lalumière

CLAUDE LALUMIÈRE (lostmyths.net/claude) is the author of two books from CZP, the collection  Objects of Worship (2009) and the mosaic novella The Door to Lost Pages (2011). He has edited or co-edited twelve anthologies, including three being released in 2013: Bibliotheca Fantastica (co-edited with Don Pizarro, from Dagan Books), Masked Mosaic: Canadian Super Stories (co-edited with Camille Alexa, from Tyche Books), and Super Stories of Heroes & Villains (Tachyon Publications). With Rupert Bottenberg, Claude is the co-creator of the multimedia cryptomythology project Lost Myths (lostmyths.net). Originally from Montreal, Claude now spends most of his time on the West Coast.

fantasy, horror, SF, speculative writers,

Camille Alexa

CAMILLE ALEXA is a Canadian and US author currently splitting her time between Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, BC, whose lyrical language and thoughtful prose soften the edges of strange fiction and sharpen the corners of the mundane. She co-edited the anthology MASKED MOSAIC: CANADIAN SUPER STORIES, and her own collection of short works, PUSH OF THE SKY, earned a starred review in Publishers Weekly, was nominated for the Endeavour Award, and was as an official reading selection of the Powell’s Books Portland SF Book Club. More at camillealexa.com.

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Women in Horror: Sandra Wickham

Women in Horror Month is over but I’m still featuring Canadian writers. Today’s author is Sandra Wickham whose short stories have appeared in Evolve: Vampires of the New Undead, Evolve: Vampires of the Future Undead, Chronicles of the OrderCrossed Genres magazine and in the upcoming Urban Green Man anthology.  She blogs about writing with the Inkpunks, is the Fitness Nerd columnist for the Functional Nerds and reads slush for Lightspeed Magazine. Her friends call her a needle crafting aficionado, health guru and ninja-in-training.

vampires, dark fiction, dark fantasy, horror, Canadian authors, female writers

Sandra Wickham likes her dark fiction with bite.

SANDRA WICKHAM

1.     Why do you write dark fiction/horror? Some people consider it only a sensationalistic tableau. Why this genre over others or do you span the literary landscape?

I didn’t set out to write horror but for some reason the best things I write come out as dark and often horrible. Even with all of our knowledge and technology there are still many things we fear, including the darkness that resides within all of us and I can’t help wanting to explore those shadowy places. I also write fantasy and often go to the other end of the spectrum with light, humourous stories.

2.     What dark themes do you explore?

Fear of the unknown, including things we can’t explain, as well as the loss of loved ones. I tend to write the underdog, perhaps stemming from being a petite woman in a world that still favors aggression and strength.

3.    Do you feel horror/dark fiction is an important genre and why; what does it bring to the table or allow you to explore? Who inspired you?

It is an important genre for us as writers and readers to deal with the things that frighten us. We know a lot about our world these days, but there are still things that are unknown or unexplainable that we are afraid of and they’re worth exploring. (not to mention loads of fun)

Early on I was heavily inspired by Ray Bradbury’s short stories and of course, Stephen King. More recently, I’m inspired by the darker urban fantasy writers who manage to combine frightening gore with humor. There’s nothing like being scared out of our wits while laughing hysterically.

4.  Do you feel women are under-represented in any way in the speculative arena or do you think there is more focus on them than on men? (or examples of how there is a balance)human rights, womens rights, writing, horror,

Women are underrepresented across the genres of fantasy, science fiction and horror. The old school boys club still rules the roost.  I have to believe that with so many talented female writers currently producing amazing work, this will begin to shift.

5.     Abuse against women is worldwide: the gang rape of the Indian woman, women assaulted in various terrorist attacks or protests against regimes (Egypt, Syria, etc. throughout time), domestic violence and murder at the hands of boyfriends, fathers, families and husbands, sexist representation, being treated as second class citizens or possessions and made to dress in a particular way, etc. With all that’s going on, what do you want to say about where women are or what we can do to stem the tide?

rape, womens rights, abuse, sexual abuse, horrorI think the internet has been a useful tool in bringing these issues to light, in bringing awareness to the plight of women all over the world. We’re no longer in an era of hiding these awful things in the dark or turning a blind eye to it. It’s going to take more women and men standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves to make a significant change.

6.     Lastly, this is your space to add anything else you would want to say.

Thank you for highlighting Women in Horror and giving us a chance to spread the fear, I mean, love.  :)

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Women in Horror: Colleen Anderson

women's rights, equality, sexism, women in horror, fiction writing, horror

Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization

Yes, today, the last day of February and Women in Horror Month, I’m interviewing myself. After all, it’s only fair to subject myself to questions I gave the other writers. But stay tuned through March as there will probably be more women in horror and even a guy or two as well. I hope to expand on the interviews with some people.

I’m a twice Aurora Award finalist in poetry, and have received several Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror (or Science Fiction) honorable mentions, as well as being shortlisted for the Gaylactic Spectrum Award, the Rannu competition, the Friends of Merril contest and the Speculative Literature Foundation. The anthology Deep Cuts with my story  “Red is the Color of My True Love’s Blood” is hitting the shelves (and the virtual world) as we speak. Check out Evil Jester Press. Bibliotheca Fantastica is about to be released with “The Book With No End” from Dagan Books. Then, by April “Tower of Strength” in Irony of Survival through Zharmae Publishing, and “P is for Phartouche: The Blade” in Demonologia Biblica should also be released through Western Legends Publishing, with a poem out in Bull Spec later this year and a story in Chilling Tales 2 by fall.

COLLEEN ANDERSON

1.  Why do you write dark fiction/horror? Some people consider it only a sensationalistic tableau. Why this genre over others or do you span the literary landscape?

CZP, Chizine, dark fiction, women in horror, Canadian writer, female authors

Colleen works for Chizine Publications, full of dark and disturbed things.

I actually span the landscape from fantasy, SF, mainstream, poetry, erotica to horror or dark fantasy. I never did set out to write dark fiction but found even when I thought a story was just fantasy I was getting comments from magazines that they didn’t take horror. A few years ago I sold a dark tale to Evolve and one to Horror Library IV and I realized I was selling more of the dark fiction than other works. In fact, I guess I’m not as funny as I think I am because no one buys my humorous stories. I seem to be more a natural at digging into the viscera of a tale. I’ve only ever written one tale, a flash fiction piece where I set out to write something truly gruesome and horrible. In doesn’t dig much into a person’s psyche but is just a tale of terrible deeds. That’s probably why I could sustain it past 500 words.

2.  What dark themes do you explore in your fiction?

I was asked this once by a fellow writer and I had no clue but in the process of compiling my reprint stories for Embers Amongst the Fallen it became clear that I do a fair number of morality tales. These aren’t overt but the protagonist may be faced with making a hard decision: honor their dying partner’s wish or take revenge, follow the rules of society or satisfy their own desires, become a monster or give compassion, etc. We make decisions every day and many aren’t life or death or defining moral character but I find it fascinating and squirmy to put characters into these dilemmas. Through them, I define myself better and hopefully get people to think.

3.  Do you feel horror/dark fiction is an important genre and why; what does it bring to the table or allow you to explore? Who inspired you?

The fact that we separate tales into genre is a falsified categorization by marketing departments the world over. The dark side is inherently part of our lives. We cannot appreciate the light without the darkness to counterbalance it. This is in every tale from gods and heroes of the ancients to Luke Skywalker confronting his fallen father. If you have conflict, in some ways you always have darkness. Horror for the splatter and gore of it only isn’t that deep but some people enjoy it because of that thrill of terror that lets us know we’re alive and that our lives are better than what we’re watching.

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A collection of previously published speculative fiction, available through Smashwords and Amazon.

With the more fantastical tales, it lets me take something to an extreme, to show a story and make one think and ponder the what-ifs. Sometimes there’s too much political finger pointing and the world of the fantastic lets us explore these things or say, you know it could go this way if we’re not careful. Sometimes we write cautionary tales.

As a child I loved reading the Norse myths, then those of Ireland and Greece, and fairy tales of course. Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert, Edgar Allan Poe were probably the first to pull me onto the road of the fantastic. My older brother left a lot of his books behind, and then there were shows like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, not to mention scary movies with Vincent Price and Bela Lugosi.

4.  Do you feel women are under-represented in any way in the speculative arena or do you think there is more focus on them than on men? (or examples of how there is a balance)

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Demonologia Biblica comes out this spring with “P is for Phartouche: The Blade”

I can see how this could be a problem in the movie industry more, and there is still a predominance in mainstream literature to believe that only if you’re a dead white male was your writing worth studying. That’s shifting both in terms of the living and the non males. I don’t think it’s much of an issue anymore as some of the best writers out there are women. Though I recall a collection being put out last year called something like the Decade’s or the Centuries Best SF. There wasn’t one woman listed and the editors were lambasted so it’s not completely equal yet. But I don’t think I’ve ever run into my stories being taken or rejected because I was a woman.

5.  Abuse against women is worldwide: the gang rape of the Indian woman, women assaulted in various terrorist attacks or protests against regimes (Egypt, Syria, etc. throughout time), domestic violence and murder at the hands of boyfriends, fathers, families and husbands, sexist representation, being treated as second class citizens or possessions and made to dress in a particular way, etc. With all that’s going on, what do you want to say about where women are or what we can do to stem the tide?

I actually worry because some people feel that this is a backlash because women are getting stronger. Contrarily, I think it’s because religion is become less centralized and more dichotomized into fundamentalism. The fact that some men feel they need to fear and/or control women does not mean women are getting a better shake at things. A picture posted going around shows Mogadishu with women in front of a college in the 1960s and one in recent years. Only in the recent one is every single person veiled and covered head to toe. That’s not progress. That’s not giving equality to women but putting them back in the basket where women caused the downfall of mankind, or are vixens or seductresses. We have a very long ways to go yet.

What we can do is to not step back, not be complacent. Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” This goes for women as well. If we pretend or think it won’t happen to us, all you have to do is look to the US and how right-wing fundamentalism is trying to take away women’s rights. It’s partly why dark fiction lends us a canvas where we can paint something as simplistic as a revenge fantasy but we can also show the strength of women and that all people of any gender can be good or evil. We have to continue to speak against this or one day even women will believe they shouldn’t have the right to vote because they should be in the kitchen serving the power of their man. And it makes me sad that some women have no opinion about this. Really?

6.  Lastly, this is your space to add anything else you would want to say.

I have several pieces eligible to be nominated in this year’s Aurora Awards in which Canadians can nominate and vote.

I have three stories:

The collections is also eligible as well.

There are three poems:

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THE MISSION

Women in Horror Recognition Month (WiHM) assists underrepresented female genre artists in gaining opportunities, exposure, and education through altruistic events, printed material, articles, interviews, and online support. WiHM seeks to expose and break down social constructs and miscommunication between female professionals while simultaneously educating the public about discrimination and how they can assist the female gender in reaching equality.

THE VISION

A world wherein all individuals are equally given the opportunity to create, share, and exploit their concept of life, pain, and freedom of expression.

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Women in Horror: Sandra Kasturi

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Has Elvis entered the building or just possessed Sandra Kasturi? Photo by Weston Ochse

Today’s Canadian woman in horror is Sandra Kasturi. Besides being an award-winning poet, and a fiction writer, Sandra and her husband Brett Savory are co-owners and publishers of Chizine Publications. Not only do they publish dark fiction but they hold a reading series and sponsor the Rannu Fund competition. Women in Horror Month is sponsored by the Viscera Organization.

SANDRA KASTURI

Author of two poetry collections: The Animal Bridegroom (with an intro by Neil Gaiman), and Come Late to the Love of Birds (http://tightropebooks.com/come-late-to-the-love-of-birds-sandra-kasturi/).
I’ve been published in a number of venues, including: Contemporary Verse 2, Taddle Creek, On Spec, TransVersions, Chilling Tales, The Rhinoceros and His Thoughts (titled after my poem), A Verdant Green, Northern Frights 4, Star*Line, Abyss & Apex, Strange Horizons, Body Parts & Coal Dust, Evolve, Evolve 2, Shadows & Tall Trees, and several of the Tesseracts anthologies.
I’ve received the Whittaker Prize, the Lydia Langstaff Memorial Award, the Aurora Award (Best Fan Organizational), the Bram Stoker Award (for editing), and Arc Poetry Magazine’s Poem of the Year (first prize), and have been shortlisted for: the Rhysling Award, Arc’s International Poem of the Year, THIS Magazine’s Great Canadian Literary Hunt, and the Troubadour International Poetry Prize.

1.  Why do you write dark fiction/horror? Some people consider it only a sensationalistic tableau. Why this genre over others or do you span the literary landscape?

Because I read fairy tales and mythology in their original versions at way too early an age. I didn’t get the cleaned-up Disney versions til much later. Plus, my parents didn’t always think about whether or not some movies were appropriate for children…I saw a lot of Hitchcock and other sinister films before I was ten, for which I’m grateful! I do write in other landscapes, but I think my work always has a darker edge. Books about cheery shopaholics really don’t interest me the least bit.

2.  What dark themes do you explore in your fiction?

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Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization

Love, marriage, unhappy endings, the dark side of fairy tales, the absurdities of mythology, the humour in anthropomorphizing animals.

3.  Do you feel horror/dark fiction is an important genre and why; what does it bring to the table or allow you to explore? Who inspired you?

I think it’s the first genre that existed. When we first started telling stories (as a species), we talked about gods and monsters–those are horror stories. Horror allows us to explore the breaking of boundaries. It’s also domestic: it hits us where we live.

4. Do you feel women are under represented in any way in the speculative arena or do you think there is more focus on them than on men? (or examples of how there is a balance)

Of course they are. The genres (SF, fantasy, horror) still trend toward white men, at least in the English-speaking/reading world. Is it just that more white men are drawn to these arenas? Who knows. But there are certainly terrific women out there that are helping redress the balance. One hopes that attention is being paid to them.

5.  Abuse against women is worldwide: the gang rape of the Indian woman, women assaulted in various terrorist attacks or protests against regimes (Egypt, Syria, etc. throughout time), domestic violence and murder at the hands of boyfriends, fathers, families and husbands, sexist representation, being treated as second class citizens or possessions and made to dress in a particular way, etc. With all that’s going on, what do you want to say about where women are what we can do to stem the tide?

How about we teach boys not to rape anybody? Teach them at a young age. Boys are still raised with a sense of entitlement–that they will grow up to own everything, that they are special. I’m not sure hammering it into any kid’s head that he (or she) is the most special little snowflake that ever lived is a great idea. Growing up thinking that the world is there for the taking is kind of a rape mentality. So, how to raise boys (and girls, for that matter) so they grow up confident by don’t turn into rapey douchebags? Wish I had a real, workable answer to that. Maybe we should start with a question: Why do so many men still hate and fear women so much?

6.  Lastly, this is your space to add anything else you would want to say.

Buy my wee bookie-wook! It’s poetry that doesn’t suck.

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Women in Horror: Liz Strange

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Liz Strange likes to explore the vampire myth.

February is Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization. Its purpose is to highlight women who are under-represented in the artistic field. Today’s Canadian woman in horror is Liz Strange.  What a great name for writing speculative fiction, don’t you think? Liz has published the following novels: Love Eternal, A Second Chance at Forever, and Born of Blood and Retribution (The Dark Kiss Trilogy), a paranormal/horror series. She also has the following short stories: “Night of Stolen Dreams” (Bonded By Blood II: A Romance in Red), “The Memory Thief” (Unspeakable), and forthcoming,  “Riel’s Last Stand” (Dark  Harvest). www.twitter.com/LizStrangeVamp

1. Why do you write dark fiction/horror? Some people consider it only a sensationalistic tableau. Why this genre over others or do you span the literary landscape?

I am fascinated with world mythology, folklore, urban legends, all of it, and the idea that all people contain some level of “darkness.” The medium can be sensational and even exploitative, but it can also be a beautiful, gut-wrenching metaphor about human nature, fate, and triumph. In particular I am drawn to the vampire legend, in its many guises throughout history and cultural presentations.

I also write in fantasy and mystery genres, with a dash of romance/eroticism, but I find that all my works have a darker edge to them. I enjoy the freedom to let my mind take the story where it will, and to push the envelope a bit, make people react and think.

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Women in Horror Month, sponsored by the Viscera Organization

2. What dark themes do you explore in your fiction?

I like to explore what it is that draws people to darkness, madness and violence, what are the triggers that make people step over the line. I think there is a “breaking point” in all of us, it just takes the right circumstances or even just the right combinations of personalities to bring our hidden monsters to  light.

I’m also interested in the shared fascination with dying, death, the afterlife and the chance of immortality. Folklore and religion have delved into and speculated about this since the dawn of humanity.

3. Do you feel horror/dark fiction is an important genre and why; what does it bring to the table or allow you to explore? Who inspired you?

I do feel it’s an important genre, and one that is often overlooked and/or de-valued over other genres, as though horror writers are somehow less talented or legitimate. I think it gives writers the opportunity to get right to the core of what makes us human, or inhuman as the case may be. There is an opportunity to delve into our baser instincts: fear, lust, rage.

Authors that have inspires me are: Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Anne Rice, H.P. Lovecraft, Michael Slade, Clive Barker, Richard Matheson and many others!

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Born of Blood and Retribution, by Liz Strange

4. Do you feel women are under-represented in any way in the speculative arena or do you think there is more focus on them than on men? (or examples of how there is a balance).

Like many of the creative/artistic mediums I do feel woman are under-represented. Whether the focus is on men, or simply that not as many woman write/work in darker genres I can’t say, but suspect it’s a bit of both. Maybe it’s a bit of a hold on the traditional view that women are the “fairer sex,” and therefore not of the capacity to write stories to scare, repulse, and titillate?

I also dabble in screenwriting and see an even bigger discrepancy there.

5. Abuse against women is worldwide: the gang rape of the Indian woman, women assaulted in various terrorist attacks or protests against regimes (Egypt, Syria, etc. throughout time), domestic violence and murder at the hands of boyfriends, fathers, families and husbands, sexist representation, being treated as second class citizens or possessions and made to dress in a particular way, etc. With all that’s going on, what do you want to say about where women are what we can do to stem the tide?

I would like to see women own their place in society, be proud and true to themselves. Don’t accept second-class status, or abuse, speak up for yourself.

And most importantly, never be afraid to try.

6. Lastly, this is your space to add anything else you would want to say.

I’d just like to say thank-you for including me in such great company, and for taking the time to highlight the many wonderful, talented Canadian ladies we have writing in the horror genre.

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