Tag Archives: Claude Lalumiere

Playground of Lost Toys Interviews: Lalumière & Parisien

Lost ToysToday’s authors from Playground of Lost Toys are Claude Lalumière and Dominik Parisien. Their tales range from terror to nostalgic, but both cover grief in very different ways and look at the strong ties of family.

Claude Lalumière has authored many stories and several books. “Less Than Katherine” is a very visceral story, and disturbing. I like stories that make me think and leave a lingering sense, whether of joy or horror.

  1. What was your main reason for submitting a story to Playground of Lost Toys?

I have an obsession to try to be on the table of contents to as many Canadian (and sometimes non-Canadian) theme anthologies as I can. I love flexing that imaginative muscle, to try to find my own stories to tell within the context of a theme I might not otherwise think of.

  1. Does your story relate at all to anything from your own childhood?

Not at all. I have no idea where “Less than Katherine” came from. From Claudesome dark recess of my imagination I don’t have full conscious access to, I suppose.

  1. What theme or idea were you exploring in your story?

That’s for the readers to discover. Whatever I put in the story, consciously or subconsciously, has little or nothing to do with what readers will bring to it, what ideas and themes they will find in it.

  1. What else would you like to say about your story or the theme of the anthology?

The deadline was nearing for Playground of Lost Toys, and I feared I might not come up with anything. Then, one morning, probably too close to the deadline, I woke up with “Less than Katherine” in my mind, completely unbidden, and I wrote it as fast as I could, in three sittings.

  1. What other projects do you have in the works, or pieces people can buy, or places to find you in the coming year?

I’m the author of Objects of Worship (2009), The Door to Lost Pages (2011), and Nocturnes and Other Nocturnes (2013). My fourth book, Venera Dreams, is coming out in 2017 from Guernica Editions. Aside from Playground of Lost Toys, other recent Canadian anthologies that feature my work include: Licence Expired: The Unauthorized James Bond, edited by Madeline Ashby & David Nickle; Fractured: Tales of the Canadian Post-Apocalypse, edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia; Tesseracts Seventeen, edited by Colleen Anderson & Steve Vernon; Chilling Tales: In Words, Alas, Drown I, edited by Michael Kelly; Dead North: Canadian Zombie Fiction, edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. My website is at claudepages.info. I’m going to be at Eurocon in Barcelona on the first weekend of November 2016 (some other 2016 appearances are already scheduled, but I can’t talk about them yet).

Dominik Parisien’s story is ephemeral yet latches onto your heart and pulls. Ghosts may not be something you think of with toys and games, but the games of make believe are sometimes our most vital and imaginative.

  1. What was your main reason for submitting a story to Playground of Lost Toys? And What theme or idea were you exploring in your story?

Memory is a recurring theme in my work in general, but particularly in how it relates to children and the elderly. As Colleen mentioned in her introduction, the “playground of thoughts” is an ideal environment in which to explore memories, for individuals of all ages, so that’s what I decided to do here for Playground of Lost Toys.

2. Does your story relate at all to anything from your own childhood? 3.  What else would you like to say about your story or the theme of the anthology?

Dominik_ParisienI’ve wanted to write about a drowned village for years. My late grandfather, Alfred Joanisse, grew up in le Chenail, a village by the Ottawa River that was submerged (relocated for the most part) when the government built the Carillon dam near Hawkesbury. I grew up hearing stories about the village – he even brought me to the remaining stretch of land on several occasions and I still visit when I can–and le Chenail has haunted my imaginative landscape ever since. I tried writing about it repeatedly, but the emotional core of the story eluded me. After grandpa passed I could never quite manage to write about him, or his village. It felt too real, too close. Eventually, I decided to try my hand at the story again (it’s been five years since his death). This time everything clicked. The village here isn’t exactly le Chenail, it’s a composite of that and some of the Lost Villages of the Saint Lawrence River. The people here too are composites, drawn up from family, friends, and some of the elderly I’ve done volunteer work with over the years. It might just be my favourite thing I’ve written so far.

4. What other projects do you have in the works, or pieces people can buy, or places to find you in the coming year?

Other than “Goodbye is a Mouthful of Water,” I have several editorial projects coming up. The first is the very first anthology of Canadian steampunk, Clockwork Canada. The ToC can be found here and it includes two PLT writers: Rati Mehrotra and Kate Story–Clockwork Canada on BlackGate.com.  Clockwork Canada will also be published by Exile Editions in May 2016.

In addition, I co-edited an anthology of original fairy tale retellings with Navah Wolfe for Saga Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. The book features an all-star group of contributors and the ToC is available here: The Starlit Wood. It will published in October 2016.

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Publishing News

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Issue #71, only the third all-fiction issue in 25 years.

Okay, this is really sad, and I’m not talking about all the annoying changes WordPress is making. I’m talking about tooting my own horn. Sigh.  The following paragraphs in italics are what I started writing 8 months ago. Good God!

I’ve been so remiss on my updates here that I’ve neglected to mention the pieces that have come out this year and that I’ve sold. In May, “The Collector” came out in Cemetery Dance magazine. From submission to publication, this story took 6 years. That’s a record but it was worth the wait.

Last fall, “Gingerbread People” was published by EDGE Publishing in Chilling Tales 2: In Words Alas Drown I. Unfortunately many magazines and anthologies never get reviewed but there is a short one up at Bitten by Books and Tangent. However, be forewarned that Tangent reviews tend to give summations of the stories as well.

So, continuing on from there, just a note that “The Collector” is eligible for a Nebula, Hugo or World Fantasy nomination. Not that that will happen much as I’m still a fairly unknown pea in a pod. I actually had very little published last year. It sometimes happens like that, with sales happening one year and the publication in the next. I did also sell the poem “Family Tree” to They have to Take You in, a book published in Ontario and edited by Ursula Pflug.

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Imaginarium: Best of Canadian Spec Writing

Now, for this year, there is a ton of news! “The Book With No End,” first published in Bibliotheca Fantastica, was reprinted in the current Imaginarium 3: The Best of Canadian Speculative Writing, from CZP. It came out in February, and this month “Pearls and Swine” came out in The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir, editied by David Nickle and Claude Lalumière. Polu Texni has also published another one of my poems, “I Dreamed a World,”  which is up and can be read for free.

Later this month (I hope) Burning Maiden will be published and I’ll be the feature poet with three poems. It’s from Evil Eye Press. “Sins of the Father” was sold to Our World of Horror, (Eldritch Press) and “Symbiosis” to Shoreline of Infinity, a new online mag out of Scotland. And “Our Lady of Redemption” should be out in Nameless Magazine sometime soon. There are also a couple of articles on monsters.

Rhea Rose and I sold “Scar Tissue” to Bundoran Press’s Second Contact anthology, about aliens after the initial introduction. “The Hedge Witch” will be published in OnSpec this summer and there are rumors of an interview. And “Persephone Dreams” will be published this summer in the online magazine Eternal Haunted Summer. Also, Horror Library is being resurrected and “Exegesis of the Insecta Apocrypha,” which received an honorable mention in the Year’s Best, will be reprinted in The Best of Horror Library, sometime later this year. There is one other story sold to a dark fiction anthology but more on that later when I’m allowed to mention it. 🙂

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Cover for the Exile Noir book. Available now and a collection of all noir genres.

So yes, I’ve been rather busy. And I’m co-editing The Playground of Lost Toys as mentioned a couple of posts ago. On top of that, I’m trying to write 50 new and dark poems by Sept. That’s a lot so I am working on them now. I’m about to send a manuscript and outlines off to an agent to see what will happen there. And in the meantime I’m also working on a few stories. I’ll be taking a good old fashioned blank book with me to Spain to do some old fashioned writing, as well as a tablet. It will be a vacation but writing will be involved.

I’m off to my best year for published works so I’ll see what the rest of the year brings.

 

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Tesseracts 17 Interviews: Claude Lalumière

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

Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast to Coast (Canada has three coasts) is due out in October, from Edge Publishing. It features stories and poetry by Canadians and  those living in Canada. Edited by Steve Vernon and me, we were lucky enough to end up with at least one piece from every province and territory (Canada has three territories) except for Nunavut.  I’m doing short interviews with all of the authors over the next few months, so stay tuned to find out a little bit more about the authors and their pieces. The anthology begins with British Columbia, where Claude Lalumière was living at the time, and opens with his story “Vermilion Wine.”

CA: “Vermilion Wine” opens the the Tesseracts 17 anthology. Steve and I were immediately impressed and swept in by the mystical, mysterious feel of this piece. How did you come up with the idea of Venera, a shadow city to Venice, and is this anything like other mythical cites, such as  Shangri-la, Avalon, Bette Noire or Brigadoon?

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Claude Laumière is the author of many stories and has edited 12 anthologies including, Edge’s Tesseracts 12.

Claude:  I first conceived of Venera during my first visit to Venice in 2006. I was tremendously seduced by the sensuality of the place. I had just visited the (now defunct) Museum of Erotica (upon which is based the similar museum featured in “Vermilion Wine”) and Venera popped into my head while riding the vaporetto — the Venetian waterbus. I wasn’t consciously trying to come up with anything, but surrounded by the water and by the architecture of Venice, Venera started to take shape in my mind. Bits of Rome and Barcelona — both of which I also visited for the first time in 2006 — also contributed to the tapestry of Venera. “Vermilion Wine” was written during my third trip to Italy, in spring 2012. Venera is not so much kin to those mythical lands you mention, but more of a thematic hybrid of Ursula Le Guin’s Orsinia and J.G. Ballard’s Vermilion Sands, with perhaps echoes of Arthur Byron Cover’s strange future from his related novels Autumn Angels and An East Wind Coming and of Michael Moorcock’s End of Time society.

CA: Obviously, mythical lands have fueled human imagination for centuries. What do you think draws us to them? Are they all Edens or are some Hells?

Claude: Neither. I think it’s the romance of the unknown — that there might still be places in the world left to discover. That we can never know everything or everywhere.

CA: Will we see other Venera stories or are you done with this idea?

 Claude: Actually, I’m working on a book-length mosaic of stories about Venera. The project is called VENERA DREAMS, and “Vermilion Wine” is the fifth episode to appear. Venera first appeared online in “The City of Unrequited Dreams” in Chiaroscuro #43 (January 2010); it next showed up in “Vermilion Dreams: The Complete Works of Bram Jameson” in Tesseracts 14, then a third episode, “Xandra’s Brine” was published in the Dagan Books anthology Fish; more recently, “The Hecate Centuria” appeared online at Three-Lobed Burning Eye #23 (May 2013). There’s more on the way, too, but I can’t talk about those yet. I maintain a page on my website about the progress of the VENERA DREAMS project: http://lostmyths.net/claude/?page_id=1978

Claude Lalumière (lostmyths.net/claude) is the author of two books: the collection Objects of Worship (2009) and the mosaic novella The Door to Lost Pages (2011). He has edited or co-edited twelve anthologies, the most recent of which is Super Stories of Heroes & Villains. With Rupert Bottenberg, Claude is the co-creator of the multimedia cryptomythology project Lost Myths (lostmyths.net). Originally from Montreal, Claude is now something of a nomad.

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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 Trilogy of Books About Books

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Writing: Tesseracts 17 Unveiled

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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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Writing: Chi Reading Series Vancouver

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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.

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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

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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.

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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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World Horror and its Aftermath Part I

World Horror Convention 2011

This last weekend I was in Austin, Texas for the World Horror Convention. I arrived on Wednesday, relishing the heat after our record cold April, and was picked up by Portland author Camille Alexa, former resident of Austin. We were meeting up with Boyd Harris, publisher of Cutting Block Press and one of the committee members for the convention. Since Camille was off to her own meetings Boyd pretty much did two round trips from the hotel to the restaurant to get fourteen people together for dinner.

Now Texas is the land of tequila and barbecue; oh and Tex Mex so we ate at Polvos, a Mexican restaurant, with pitchers of tangy Margaritas. There were many people including Bailey Hunter, of the retired Dark Recesses magazine and cover artist for some (maybe all) of the Cutting Block covers, R.J. Cavender, editor with Cutting Block; Brett Savory and Sandra Kasturi of Chizine Publications and many other people. I ate camerons diablos, or spicy prawns. I would say it was pretty good but a couple of my prawns were off and with such a crowd I couldn’t get the waiter. After a seafood poisoning experience in Baltimore at a World Fantasy Con I decided not to eat the suspicious prawn. The salad that Camille had was pretty bland and unimaginative. She had to ask for salad dressing; what kind of salad has no dressing. That’s just rabbit food.

Afterward, many people went back to the hotel but Boyd dropped Bailey, Rena and me off at an Irish looking pub called Il Fado. I felt like I was in Lord of the Rings with its organic, meandering interior, polished trees crawling up the walls to the ceiling and various Viking art and plaques. Boyd and R.J. joined us after the two trips for dropping people off. By the time we got back to Boyd’s to sleep that night, and more talking it was about 4am, a typical start to a convention.

The next day we went off to the Crown and Anchor for lunch. In Austin, whose logo is “Keep Austin Weird” food and well-drinks can be very cheap with beer and hard alcohol only costing around $3. Wines are more on the average of $6-$8. Crown and Anchors food was pub food. My chicken sandwich was standard fare. Then we hit the Doubletree Austin, a nice and airy hotel with a central courtyard consisting of trees and fountains an a swimming pool on the second floor.

I missed the opening ceremonies, as I always seem to do and ended up spending most of the time in the bar, drinking and chatting with people. Friend and past editor (of a story of mine) Claude Lalumiere, an excellent writer, also met up with us. We walked down the street (Austin has a ring road/highway that encircles the downtown and it’s busy) to a little Japanese restaurant. I ate light since I’d had a late lunch. Friday truly began the convention.

I began with a pitch workshop. This is something unique to any con I’ve attended. Kudos to the WHC folks and Rhodi Hawk for putting together the workshop, and letting us practice how we would pitch our novels to agents or editors. I had to really work mine out as it’s a complex storyline so this truly helped. In the afternoon I interviewed Brett Savory and Sandra Kasturi, editors and owners of Chizine Publications. The hour-long interview covered Brett and Sandra’s writing careers and reasons for getting into dark fiction, as well as publishing. When I asked Brett, why dark fiction, his answer was “Why am I bald?” It’s that inherent to him. Sandra read a piece of Brett’s work and two of her poems, then we talked about the evolution of the magazine, the style of printing they do as well as where CZP is going and the bumps along the way. I hope to publish the full interview at some point in the near future.

After that I checked out the dealers’ room. Dark fiction has a lot of independent presses and there were publishers from the US, Canada and Britain. I might be biased since I edit for Chizine but by far the covers on CZP books are more imaginative and the best compared to the others. Edge Publications is getting better covers too. There are far too many red, bloody, skull-covered books in horror writing. CZP goes farther with great design and concepts. I’m going to do a cover art review of the books I brought home with me at some point soon.

The evening wound up…or began…with the art reception, which was small but had some stellar art, the Damnation Books launch party and then the Chizine launch party. Here we chatted, drank margaritas and wine, ate hot dogs (for those who dared like Dave Nickle and Peter Straub) and looked at the goods. A few people read excerpts from their stories so it was a great way to sample the merchandise and the hospitality. I met so many people, which to me is the sign of a good con, that I can’t remember them all. I met the minotaur guys who are working on a full length animation. I chatted with a writer who is slow on submitting, and I sampled wine and margaritas, Texas style. Most attendees are writers, editors and publishers but there was also the magician Jonathon Frost who’s interested it putting a dark slant to his prestidigitation. I should also mention that I got to put faces to all of the CZP staff since I’d only talked with them through email before the weekend.

The night was still young at 2 am but since I was fighting a cold I chose to go to bed and not be completely insane. This post will be continued in the next day or two with the rest of the convention.

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