Journal

Why I’m excited about UNCANNY MAGAZINE

The short form of this post is that you should go back Uncanny Magazine on Kickstarter.

The long form is that I’m seriously excited about Uncanny, a new magazine created by Lynne and Michael Thomas. For full disclosure, Lynne and Michael are some of my dearest friends, so I am not unbiased in my excitement about the magazine. Now, part of the reason that I adore them is because they are smart, love the SFF genre, and are darn good editors. Have you seen the Hugos at their house?

Point being that when Lynne and Michael said that they were starting a new magazine, I knew that it would be filled with the sort of fiction I like to read. It would also be a magazine that was run by people who are aware of and involved in the conversations that our industry is going through right now, which means not only good stories but essays that are relevant.

Doesn’t that sound nice? SFF stories from around the world, diverse voices, understanding of gender, disability, race — or, to put it another way, Kick ass SFF for the twenty-first century.

Also, a space unicorn.

Oh, and I have a story in the first year.

Check out some of the other contributors.

We plan to showcase original poetry by

… and essays by

Uncanny will also feature cover art by

Now, please go back Uncanny on Kickstarter.

My Favorite Bit: Anna Kashina talks about THE GUILD OF ASSASSINS

My Favorite Bit iconAnna Kashina is joining us today with her novel The Guild of Assassins. Here’s the publisher’s description.

Kara has achieved something that no Majat has ever managed – freedom from the Guild!

But the Black Diamond assassin Mai has been called back to face his punishment for sparing her life. Determined to join his fight or share his punishment, Kara finds herself falling for Mai.

But is their relationship – and the force that makes their union all-powerful – a tool to defeat the overpowering forces of the Kaddim armies, or a distraction sure to cause the downfall of the Majat?

What’s Anna’s favorite bit?

TheGuildOfAssassins-144dpi

ANNA KASHINA

Thank you for hosting my post. It feels so rewarding to be able to talk about my favorite bit, since in “The Guild of Assassins” my favorite bit is the entire book. Seriously.

Its prequel, “Blades of the Old Empire”, was originally written as a standalone, but one important plot point remained open: what will happen to Kara after she had become an outcast from her Guild? (I hope I am not giving any spoilers here, since this spoiler is already partially given in the cover blurb.) In addition, despite the way love interests resolve in the “Blades”, I kept thinking there was more to it. Which was why, despite thoroughly wrapping up all the major plot lines in the “Blades” I continued thinking about things that may or may not happen beyond the scope of the book.

Some of the scenes in “The Guild of Assassins” were written long before I finished its prequel. At certain points, when writing the “Blades” I simply had to follow up on some of the tensions by playing them out to the end and developing possible future interactions between certain characters, which absolutely had no place in the story. I was not sure this was actually going to happen in these character’s future, but I just had to see how it plays out, so I wrote those scenes down. Over time, they naturally fell into a certain order. By the time I finished the “Blades” I was surprised to realize that I have unintentionally created an outline and a backbone draft of its sequel, and that if I chose to use all of these scenes in a later novel, all I needed to do was to fill in what happened in between. At that time, I had no publication plans for these books, so I set them aside and tried to ignore the regret I felt when I thought about it.

When Angry Robot offered me a 2-book contract, my main thrill (after the initial one, of becoming a traditionally published agented author) was about the fact that I will actually get to write the book I had been dreaming about. I still was not sure how all the events in the book would work out, but I just could not wait to sit down and put it all on paper–and see. I was so inspired that I finished the first draft of “The Guild of Assassins” in less than a month, and even though I did considerably edit it afterwards, the frame of the story and many of the key scenes remained the same.

Writing “The Guild of Assassins” felt exactly like being in love. I wrote at every possible spare moment, words forming in my head as if they already existed somewhere and just waited to be written down. I think, with this novel, I have experienced the essence of why I always wanted to be a writer. Nothing compares to this feeling, when the world you imagined effortlessly falls into place, when the characters behave like real people, and you can spend all the time you need interacting with them while also being the one calling the shots.

As with the “Blades”, one of my favorite characters, the one that drove the story, was Mai. He is a joy to write about. In fact, he always acts on his own and all I have to do is write down what he does. When approaching a dialogue with Mai in it, I always felt curious at what he was going to say, and was often surprised at his responses and actions. For certain, none of it ever felt dull or predictable. He is at his best when driven to the limits, and he also has great chemistry with nearly everyone he encounters, positive or negative. One of my favorite chapters in the book is called “Diplomacy”, where Mai and Kyth talk behind closed doors and get to say everything they think about each other. Writing it was so much fun.

I saw some of the early reviewers describe “The Guild of Assassins” as purely character-driven. For me, this was definitely true. Watching the characters’ interactions, the way the chemistry develops between them, was my favorite bit.

LINKS:

www.annakashina.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Anna-Kashina/215289654593

https://twitter.com/annakashina

BIO:

Anna Kashina grew up in Russia and moved to the United States in 1994 after receiving her Ph.D. in cell biology from the Russian Academy of Sciences. She works as a biomedical researcher and combines career in science with her passion for writing. Anna’s interests in ballroom dancing, world mythologies and folklore feed her high-level interest in martial arts of the Majat warriors.

Guest post: What Happened After I Reported by Elise Matthesen

Last year, I hosted a guest post from Elise Matthesen about how to report harassment at a convention. It was useful and touched on an incident she had experienced by way of example.

This is a follow up, which I think provides a representative example of why so many women who experience harassment don’t report it. This happened to Elise at the “world’s leading feminist science fiction convention.” Leading means setting an example and a standard.

Now, here’s Elise. Please, listen to her. As a community, we have to do better.

ELISE MATTHESEN:

Last year at WisCon 37, I told a Safety staffer that I had been treated by another attendee in a way that made me uncomfortable and that I believed to be sexual harassment.  One big reason I did was that I understood from another source that he had reportedly harassed at least one other person at a convention. I learned that she didn’t report him formally, for a lot of reasons that aren’t mine to say. I was in a position where I felt confident I could take the hit from standing up and telling the truth. So I did.

I didn’t expect, fourteen months later, to have to stand up and tell the truth about WisCon’s leadership as well.

More than a year after I reported, following an outcry when WisCon revealed that they had lost other reports of misconduct — and after the person in question had not only attended WisCon 38 but had been one of the volunteer hosts in the public convention hospitality suite –  WisCon appointed a subcommittee to investigate my report, along with others they had received about the same person, and to determine what action would best benefit WisCon.

That subcommittee made their statement on Friday, July 18.  Their decision seemed to focus on the rehabilitation of the person, and to understate the seriousness of the conduct. I found their decision inadequate and troubling, and could not understand how they had arrived at it. A week later, on Friday, July 24, I compared notes with Jacquelyn Gill, a member of that subcommittee. (I am incredibly grateful that she made a public statement about her experience on the committee, which allowed me to reach out to her.) We discovered to our mutual dismay that WisCon leadership never gave her all the details I had reported as evidence upon which she could make her decision. Instead, WisCon leadership gave her a version that watered down my account of the harassment, including downplaying the physical contact significantly enough to make the account grossly misleading.

I don’t know whether the relevant details were removed or summarized away from the report I made, or were never written down in the first place. As yet I have seen no evidence that the safety logbook itself contains them. I wonder whether the chairs at WisCon 37 were ever even given the details.

When the subcommittee was formed this year after WisCon 38, Debbie Notkin chaired it. While I can see the sense of having the Member Advocate – which was also Debbie — participating in the subcommittee, I was shocked to learn after the decision that the Member Advocate was also the chair of the subcommittee.  To my way of thinking, that was a clear conflict of interest which I would have balked at, had I been informed. Still, since she was present when I reported in detail, I can’t imagine why she didn’t see that the watered-down summarized version presented to the subcommittee was materially different than what I reported. Despite that knowledge, she allowed the subcommittee to base their decision on inadequate and frankly misleading information. And the subcommittee cooperated with that. The subcommittee performed no follow-up with me or the witnesses, or with other reporters and their witnesses.

What has happened here is beyond my comprehension.  People other than me will have to figure it out and do whatever needs to be done. I hear Ariel Franklin-Hudson has built improved systems for collecting information on incidents, and that’s needed, but what went wrong here is deeper than that.

A proper harassment investigation takes some thought and training, but it is well within the abilities of a good-faith WisCon committee to conduct one.  Experts who train people on harassment investigations emphasize the essential elements of an investigation:  (1) act promptly, (2) gather all existing written information and reports, (3) based on those, thoroughly interview the complaining witness, the accused, and any witnesses to the complained-of conduct, (4) ask those witnesses for other witnesses or evidence (like documents) that might help illuminate the situation; (5) document what you learn and maintain control and privacy of the documents, and (6) make a decision based on all of the information that you’ve gathered in a methodical and effective way.  WisCon, instead, lost reports of complaints, selectively interviewed only the accused, failed to conduct follow-up interviews with complainants and other witnesses, and failed to probe whether the reports on which they relied were complete or accurate.  In other words, in addition to disputing the result, I think that the process was haphazard.

I will not blame Debbie for everything that went horribly wrong, because this isn’t just one person. Debbie made a grave error of proper investigation and decision-making, but this is not just Debbie. This is the safety chairs who didn’t investigate further. This is the con-chairs who didn’t follow up and didn’t ever interview me and Lauren. This is the subcommittee members who didn’t push further and contact me and Lauren and Mikki. This is lots of people, some unwitting, some just preferring not to look at the ugly stuff, not to learn something that would require that they confront someone — or confront their principles.

This is a system. And it is fucking powerful and it is fucking broken. I’m not the only one who’s said so. I don’t like putting these details out here. But this is all I have left to do, at this point: stand up and tell the truth.

I would prefer that what this has cost all of us not be wasted. If you care about WisCon, rebuild it. I wish I knew how. I’m at my limits. But as Kameron Hurley said,

“There’s a future that needs building, but somebody who’s actually courageous and principled needs to take up the fucking spade and build it.

“Is it you?”

Happy 50th Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

If you wonder what a good marriage looks like, allow me to introduce you to my parents.

Mom and Dad met in ballroom dance class. I asked Mom once, what first caught her attention about Dad, and she said, “He was the best dancer.”  It’s something that they’ve continued doing, but if you spend any time with my folks, it’s very clear that this is not the only thing they have in common. I’ve heard both of them describe the other as “my best friend.”

Legend has it, that when Sadie Hawkins day rolled around, one of Mom’s co-workers said, “You better ask him to marry you, or he’ll get away.”

So she did.

Fifty years later, they’ve traveled through three continents, won rally races, raised two children and three grandchildren, hosted a long montage of parties, attended plays, concerts, gone to museums, celebrated the arts, gardened, restored antiques, and danced.

At my cousin’s wedding last month, I asked Dad if he and Mom were going to dance, and he said, “As long as we’re able.”

Here’s to many more years of dancing and laughter.

Why I’m spending today swapping out the dialect in my novel

My project today is replacing all the dialogue spoken by Antiguan characters in Of Noble Family with dialogue rewritten by Antiguan and Barbudan author Joanne Hillhouse.

Let me explain why I’m doing this.

I grew up in the American South — specifically the Piedmont of North Carolina and East Tennessee. The reason I’m being specific about this is that I grew up in a part of the US that has very clear regional differences. People talk about “the Southern accent” as if it’s a homogeneous thing, but it’s really, really not. Accent goes far beyond how the words are pronounced, or the cadences used, and very much into the word choices and sentence structures. Language reflects the culture of the people using it, precisely because we use it to express ourselves.

There are also very distinct class differences in the way English is spoken — this is true everywhere, but the American South is one of the places where it’s really clear. A Southerner will often try to scrub the “country” out of their voice to arrive at the “genteel” Southern accent so that people won’t think they’re uneducated. And then moving away, where that distinction isn’t recognized, requires scrubbing all trace of the South out in order to not be perceived as a “hick.”

Yet– when I go home, I’ll slide back into one when I’m in a store so I don’t seem like an outsider. It’s code-switching at it’s most basic.

So, when I decided to set a book with a lot of action in Antigua, I knew that I wanted to represent the Antiguan Creole English. I also knew, from having watched people mangle the Southern American English, that understanding the nuances was going to be really, really important and really, really hard.

Harder than making my books sound like Jane Austen?

Yes.

Why? Because Jane Austen has been researched, and studied, and analyzed so there’s no shortage of material available. It’s taught in school in the US. I could grab a representative text and use that as my base. Even there, when I had characters who were speaking with an East London dialect, I asked a friend to “translate” it for me. But the primary text? No shortage of material and it’s material that I had been exposed to since a very young age.

Trying to find a representative text of Antiguan Creole English written by a native speaker in 1818? Welcome to colonialism.

The next best choice was to read a lot of work written by contemporary writers. (I recommend the works of Jamaica Kincaid, Joanne Hillhouse, and Marie-Elena John.) It was very clear to me that I could come up with something that a reader unfamiliar with the Caribbean would accept. And it was also clear that I would completely screw up the nuances.

So — I hired Joanne Hillhouse to translate the dialogue.

I’m swapping the dialogue out right now, and there are places that I’m also rewriting sections of the scenes because she’s also made suggestions about places where the communication would be through non-verbal dialog. Language is complex and not simply what is said, but also what is unsaid.

Dialect, likewise, isn’t just people talking funny. It’s a reflection of culture.

 

That military SF audio play I was working on? You can pre-order it now…

So I’ve been tweeting some things about how I was working on a military SF.

And how I was working on an audioplay.

And how I realized that Alan Tudyk would be voicing one of the characters…

But I haven’t been able to tell you what it was, until today.

There’s a game — a really good game — called Defense Grid. For the second edition of it, Defense Grid 2, I’ve written a “A Matter of Endurance” a new original audio story. It’s part of the pre-purchase awards. Basically, the more people pre-purchase the game, the more rewards unlock. My story? Tier 3.
DG2-Steam-tier-3

It’s so good that I lost six hours the day that I play-tested it. Just saying…

And you can pre-order Defense Grid 2 here.

My Favorite Bit: Max Gladstone talks about FULL FATHOM FIVE

My Favorite Bit iconMax Gladstone is joining us today with his novel Full Fathom Five. Here’s the publisher’s description.

On the island of Kavekana, Kai builds gods to order, then hands them to others to maintain. Her creations aren’t conscious and lack their own wills and voices, but they accept sacrifices, and protect their worshippers from other gods—perfect vehicles for Craftsmen and Craftswomen operating in the divinely controlled Old World.

When Kai sees one of her creations dying and tries to save her, she’s grievously injured—then sidelined from the business entirely, her near-suicidal rescue attempt offered up as proof of her instability. But when Kai gets tired of hearing her boss, her coworkers, and her ex-boyfriend call her crazy, and starts digging into the reasons her creations die, she uncovers a conspiracy of silence and fear—which will crush her, if Kai can’t stop it first.

Full Fathom Five is the third novel set in Max Gladstone’s addictive and compelling fantasy world of Three Parts Dead
What’s Max’s favorite bit?

FFF-text

MAX GLADSTONE

The Eternal Lightness of Frozen Yogurt

Frozen yogurt has overrun my home.

I have no objection to the stuff in abstract. I welcome our new tart overlords. A good FroYopurveyor equipped with egregious topping options (Little mochi balls! Diced kiwi! Walnuts! Marshmallow fluff!) will more surely slake my summer thirst than your average ice cream parlor.

But you can have too much of a good thing, and I think my neighborhood passed “too much” a year ago.

Used to be we had our local ice cream shop, which makes a great frozen yogurt in addition to their Oreo cake batter swirl. But storefronts change handsas rents jut skyward. The little photo shop on the corner has gone the way of all little photo shops; it’s a salon now. Even the local McDonalds shuttered.

And every second store that swooped in to occupy vacant real estate has specialized in FroYo.

My wife and I welcomed the second store’s opening, but we were perplexed when the third set out its shingle one block away. The fourth opened across the street from the third. And there they crouch, like tigers growling over the carcass of a deer. Morricone music plays. Specifically, this Morricone music.

One of the bestparts of writing my kind of fantasy—secondary world fantasy with a post-industrial setting rather than the High Medieval milieu—is that I get to engage more directly with the world in which I live. All my Craft books, from Three Parts Dead through to my latest, Full Fathom Five, examine modern life through the lens of magic: necromancers in pinstriped suits, gods with board meetings, young wizards struggling with student loans, etcetera.

So, in Full Fathom Five, I wrote about offshore banking, false gods, a society dealing with the aftershocks of radical global change—golem punching, financial wizardry, spies, and not-for-profit madness—refugee communities, opera, slam poetry and outsider religion—clashing gender and sexuality norms in a small nation fighting cultural assimilation—the political hazards of serving as a tourism and financial services hub—

And all that stuff was big and complicated and took me a long time to get close to right. I’m proud of the work I put in. But there’s a difference between the elements of which a writer’s proudest in a work—the products of sweat, the scenes that came together on the tenth draft in the eleventh hour—and the bits which sit fondest on the writer’s heart. My favorites are tiny beats and jokes: the Evangelion reference I’ve slid into every novel so far, the Shrike trying to get a tan, the arguments about fantasy novels inside a fantasy novel, the squid-priests…

And, well. The frozen yogurt shop.

It’s a tiny, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene halfway through the book. Kai, our lead, is walking to a Creepy Police Station to report a divine theft (sort of). Scanning the street, she notices that since she last passed this way a little corner store that sold antique maps has failed, relinquishing its place to aFroYo shop.

Kai never bought anything from the map store.She does, though, stop for frozen yogurt.

We all deserve our little indulgences, especially when they’re delicious.

LINKS:

www.maxgladstone.com

www.twitter.com/maxgladstone

Amazon / Powell’s / Barnes & Noble / Signed Preorders

First Five Chapters

BIO:

Max Gladstone has sung in Carnegie Hall, been thrown from a horse in Mongolia and nominated for the John W Campbell Best New Writer Award. Tor Books published his most recent novel, FULL FATHOM FIVE, in July 2014. The first two books in the Craft sequence are THREE PARTS DEAD and TWO SERPENTS RISE.

Also, my father definitely does not own a DeLorean.

dad and me

I’m mean, sure, his mother’s maiden name was Walker which just happens to be the maiden name of Jane Austen’s mother. And yes, my parents live at Robin’s Roost, which is the old Walker farm that just happens to have been in our family since the mid-1800s, but that’s total coincidence.

Clearly, my family has a long history.

I mean, look at this picture of my Mom! It was taken in the mid-1950s, so clearly there’s no time-travelling happening. That would just be silly.

Mom and Grandma in the mid-fifties.

To answer your questions– I am not a Time Lord.

So, the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, has unveiled a forensic recreation of Jane Austen.

Mary Robinette Kowal

Allow me to tell you a story, that is purely fiction.

Jane Austen was very ill in 1817 and her family called for the Doctor. Though this good gentlemen did his best, there was nothing that could be done for her in that time. In another, later time, it could be imagined that much might be done to aid her.

If such a thing occurred, gentle reader, and the authoress were taken into a box of cobalt blue, thence to find herself in another era, how would she thank the man who saved her life? Perhaps, if you choose to entertain such thoughts, by writing him into a story– into every story, in the hopes that he would see and understand how deeply grateful she was.

It is is a pretty fiction, is it not?

Sale! Audio of three novels to Audible

I’m delighted that Audible will continue to produce the audiobooks for my novels. They have been very good about working with me to make the audiobooks what I want them to be. I get my choice of engineer, and they adjust the recording schedule around my crazy travel. Good people at Audible.

  • So! You can expect to here Of Noble Family, to be released at the same time as the print version.
  • Next will be Stagecraft — In answer to a question I know you’ll ask… No. I will not be narrating this one. It has two POV characters, a young black woman and a young white man. I would be the wrong narrator for both.
  • After that, comes Ghost Talkers, which is set in 1916 during the First World War. That hasn’t been written yet, so I have no idea what sort of narration it will want.

I’m tremendously pleased and excited.

My Favorite Bit: D.B. Jackson talks about A PLUNDER OF SOULS

My Favorite Bit iconD.B. Jackson is joining us today with his novel A Plunder of Souls. Here’s the publisher’s description.

Boston, 1769: Ethan Kaille, a Boston thieftaker who uses his conjuring to catch criminals, has snared villains and defeated magic that would have daunted a lesser man. What starts out as a mysterious phenomenon that has local ministers confused becomes something far more serious.

A ruthless, extremely powerful conjurer seeks to wake the souls of the dead to wreak a terrible revenge on all who oppose him. Kaille’s minister friends have been helpless to stop crimes against their church. Graves have been desecrated in a bizarre, ritualistic way. Equally disturbing are reports of recently deceased citizens of Boston reappearing as grotesquely disfigured shades, seemingly having been disturbed from their eternal rest, and now frightening those who had been nearest to them in life. But most personally troubling to Kaille is a terrible waning of his ability to conjure. He knows all these are related…but how?

When Ethan discovers the source of this trouble, he realizes that his conjure powers and those of his friends will not be enough to stop a madman from becoming all-powerful. But somehow, using his wits, his powers, and every other resource he can muster, Ethan must thwart the monster’s terrible plan and restore the restless souls of the dead to the peace of the grave. Let the battle for souls begin in Plunder of Souls, the third, stand-alone novel in Jackson’s acclaimed Thieftaker series.

What’s D.B.’s favorite bit?

PlunderofSouls_hi_comp150

D.B. JACKSON

Today is release day for A Plunder of Souls, the third novel in my Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy set in pre-Revolutionary Boston. It also marks the third release day in as many years that I have appeared here as a guest of Mary’s on “My Favorite Bit.” I’m deeply grateful to her for hosting me again.

As with previous Thieftaker books, I am most fond of the character relationships I have set up in A Plunder of Souls. In other ways, though, this novel differed in significant ways from its prequels and presented me with both special challenges and special opportunities. The book has its roots in a short story I published at Tor.com two years ago, just before the release of the first book in the series, Thieftaker. The story is called “A Spell of Vengeance,” and in it I introduce a character named Nate Ramsey.

I originally wrote the story intending merely to explore an episode from my hero’s past, one to which I refer briefly in that first book. But long after I finished “A Spell of Vengeance,” I continued to think about Ramsey and his interactions with Ethan Kaille, my conjuring, thieftaking protagonist. Eventually I realized that I wanted to bring Ramsey back, to make him a more integral part of the series, a sort of Moriarty character who would task Ethan in ways even Sephira Pryce, Ethan’s nemesis and rival in thieftaking, could not.

Like Ethan, Nate Ramsey is a powerful conjurer. He is also the captain of a merchant ship, as was his father before him. When first we meet him in the short story, he has been making threats against two wealthy merchants in Boston who hire Ethan to protect them. During their initial encounter, Ramsey informs Ethan that the two men swindled and hounded his father until the elder Ramsey took his own life. Naturally, Ethan regrets taking the job, but he feels honor-bound by the commitment he has made to the merchants. He attempts to convince Ramsey that he should leave the city without exacting his revenge. Eventually however, Ethan and Ramsey engage in a battle of spells that ends in a stalemate. Ramsey manages to kill the two merchants and then flees Boston.

Now, in A Plunder of Souls, Ramsey is back, and he seeks to avenge himself on Ethan. Some of my readers will have read “A Spell of Vengeance,” and they will know all of this history. But for the rest I need to reintroduce Ramsey in a way that conveys the sum of his past encounter with Ethan and establishes in no uncertain terms the threat he represents and the essence of who he is: a brilliant, twisted, broken man with staggering magical powers.

I do this in a scene aboard Ramsey’s ship, the Muirenn. At first, the captain greets Ethan as if they’re old friends, embracing him and insisting that they share a flask of Madeira wine. Ethan, of course, is perplexed by this and goes so far as to remind Ramsey of the circumstances of their last encounter. Until at last the captain says, “Leave it, Kaille. Friends, enemies. There aren’t that many people in this world who inspire passion in me one way or another. So stop arguin’ and drink with me.”

Their confrontation goes downhill from there, the tension between them building, their words as barbed as fish hooks. The scene was tremendous fun to write and is a highlight of the book. But more to the point, the encounter ends on what may be the best snippet of conversation I’ve ever written. In one line, Ramsey reveals all about himself: his madness, his cruelty, his unnerving sense of humor, and his brazen determination to destroy Ethan utterly and for all time.

I’ll not give away the line here; I think you’ll know it when you see it. I will simply say that this single moment establishes his character as fully as if I had reprinted the entire short story in the novel. And that is why it is My Favorite Bit.

LINKS:

http://www.dbjackson-author.com

http://www.dbjackson-author.com/blog

http://www.facebook.com/dbjacksonAuthor

http://twitter.com/dbjacksonauthor

http://www.goodreads.com/dbjackson

http://amazon.com/author/dbjackson

BIO:

D.B. Jackson is also David B. Coe, the award-winning author of more than a dozen fantasy novels. His first two books as D.B. Jackson, the Revolutionary War era urban fantasies, Thieftaker and Thieves’ Quarry, volumes I and II of the Thieftaker Chronicles, are both available from Tor Books in hardcover and paperback. The third volume, A Plunder of Souls, has just been released in hardcover. The fourth Thieftaker novel, Dead Man’s Reach, is in production and will be out in the summer of 2015. D.B. lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two teenaged daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.

A metaphor of cultural appropriation for SFF writers.

You know when a mainstream book goes really big, and it’s something that uses SF tropes. Like, for instance, if someone writes a books with vampires and then acts as though urban fantasy doesn’t exist. Her fans read it. They say, “OMG! These vampires that she’s invented are the best thing ever!”

And then they run across Dracula and are all, “Hey– this Stoker guy is totally ripping off vampires. And they don’t even sparkle.”

Or, say that there’s someone writing dystopian SF, who then says, “I don’t write science fiction” or disparages it as “”talking squids in outer space.” Then goes on to get all the interviews and the awards and completely eclipses the people in the SFF community who are writing dystopian SF.

And your head explodes with fury and outrage?

That’s your culture.

Now extend the metaphor and imagine that your culture has been systematically oppressed for centuries. That gives you the general idea what cultural appropriation is.

 

MRK’s Sunday Westercon schedule

So yesterday, Mark Osier, the Music Guest of Honor at Westercon did a Writing Excuses themed concert. It was wonderful. All four of us were sitting there grinning like idiots during the show. We recorded it, so hopefully we can play the truly awesome song he wrote about the podcast for you. Real soon now. You can watch to the video I took on my phone, although it’s missing the very beginning.

Where can you find me today?

10:00am – Researching your Costume: Historical, SF, Fantasy or Steampunk, Salon D&E
What’s the difference between Victorian & Edwardian clothing? A Tolkien wizard or one from J. K. Rowling? Star Trek: TOS & Star Trek: Voyager?

11:30am – Puppetry and Science Fiction, Deer Valley I & II
Much like science fiction and fantasy, puppetry is often seen as a childhood interest. Mary Robinette Kowal, professional puppeteer and Hugo award-winning author, talks about what speculative fiction writers can learn from the world of puppetry.

3:00pm – Closing Ceremonies, Salon D&E

MRK’s Saturday schedule + Regency dancing!

Westercon has been a blast so far. One of the highlights yesterday was listening to Bradley Voytek’s Guest of Honor presentation. He’s the science guest of honor and is a professor of neuroscience/cognitive science at USCD. Also, he’s written a book on the science of zombies. Awesome.

Today looks like it is shaping up to be good as well.

Here’s where to find me.

10:00 AM Salon D&E Jay Lake Memorial

1:00pm – Writing Excuses at FantasyCon SPCC Room 250
“Writing Excuses” is a local award-winning, nationally loved writing (FREE) podcast concerning writing. Join live tapings of this lively, instructive and just plain fun podcast.

4:00pm – Regency Dancing, Salon A – I am bringing all of my Regency dresses to this and will loan them to anyone who wants to wear one.

7:00pm – Tag Team Joepary & The Avenue of Awesomeness, Salon B&C&D&E
Author book signing and rotating jeopardy panels for your enjoyment – see how the authors let their fun out (This starts at 6:00 but I’m not on until 7:00.)

Where to find me on the 4th of July… at Westercon

I’m having a great time at Westercon in Salt Lake City, and here’s my schedule du jour.

10:00am – Guest of Honor: Mary Robinette Kowal, Salon D&E

1:00pm – Writing Excuses: w/Cory Doctorow, Salon D&E
“Writing Excuses” is a local award-winning, nationally loved writing (FREE) podcast concerning writing. Join live tapings of this lively, instructive and just plain fun podcast.

4:00pm – Singing Workshop for Folks Who Don’t Sing, Salon A
Do, re, mi, what? What does a casual singer need to know to sound fine?