MIND MELD: How to Avoid The Suck Fairy of Re-Reads

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This week we asked our participants to talk about the perils of re-reading. Going back to a book read in one’s golden age of SF reading can be a fraught exercise. Characters we thought we wonderful can turn out to be wooden. Settings we thought diverse and open turn out to be monochromatic. Plots that enthralled us can seem facile. Books we enjoyed can be rife with questionable material. Writers whose work we loved can turn out to be terrible human beings.

Q: Let’s talk about Jo Walton’s “Suck fairy”. How do you find the process of re-reading a book? How does a re-read of a book change your initial bliss and happiness with the book? Do you have any strategies for avoiding disappointment? What books have managed to escape the suck fairy for you?

Here’s what they said…

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From Bilbo traveling to the lonely Mountain and Frodo’s journey to Mordor, to Steven Erikson’s Malazan novels having armies crossing fantasy continent after continent…the road trip, as it were, is a staple of science fiction and fantasy, particularly epic fantasy. See the scenery, meet interesting characters and explore the world! What could go wrong?

Q: What are your favorite “road trips” in science fiction and fantasy? What makes a good road trip in a genre story?

Here’s what they said.

Gail Z Martin
Gail Z Martin‘s latest novel is Ice Forged.

My favorite fictional road trips include Canterbury Tales, David Edding’s Belgariad books, and David Drake’s Lord of the Isles series.

A good road trip reveals hidden truths about the people who are traveling. If you’ve ever gone on a long car trip with friends or family, you know what I mean! You don’t really know someone until you’ve been stuck in a vehicle with them for 12 straight hours—or on a sailing ship on the high seas during a storm. Since things go wrong on long trips, they provide insight into resourcefulness and character. A really good “journey” story reveals the world and the characters simultaneously, while moving the story forward—no small feat!
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Novels and stories about all things faerie have become extremely popular in the past few years, rather notably in young adult fiction. So we asked this week’s panelists…

Q: Why do you think audiences are fascinated with the world of faerie, especially the darker aspects of the myths and legends? What do you enjoy most about writing in the world of faerie?

Here’s what they said…

Julie Kagawa
Julie Kagawa is the internationally bestselling author of The Iron Fey and Blood of Eden series. Born in Sacramento, she has been a bookseller and an animal trainer, and enjoys reading, painting, playing in her garden and training in martial arts. She now lives near Louisville, Kentucky, with her husband and a plethora of pets. Visit her at JulieKagawa.com.

Faeries have always fascinated me. I love creepy tales and stories about things that go bump in the night, and I love the idea that there is this whole other world that exists right alongside ours, we just don’t see it. I think this is exactly why audiences are fascinated with the fey. They’re beautiful, seductive, mysterious, dangerous, and alluring, and we can’t help but be drawn to that.

For me, writing about the fey is like being turned loose in a fantasy playground. There are so many types of fey, so many myths and stories and legends. Nearly anything is possible when you venture into the faery world; not only do you have the denizens of Faery–goblins and piskies and kelpies and trolls–the very land can surprise you with how beautiful and dangerous it is. Trees are more than they appear. Flowers could very well be carnivorous. That bright red strawberry might turn you into a rabbit if you eat it, or put you to sleep for centuries. Nothing is safe, and anything can happen when you’re dealing with the fey. Creating the land of Faery, called The Nevernever in my books, was one of my favorite parts when writing The Iron Fey series.

My other favorite part was the cast of characters. From tiny brownies to deadly beautiful fey princes, to talking cats and faery queens, to bloodthirsty redcaps and brilliant faery tricksters, the world and legends of Faery has everything a fantasy lover could want. For authors and readers alike. They might be dangerous, they might be infuriating, seductive, devious and amoral, but when dealing with faeries, one thing is for certain. You might be eaten, seduced, made to dance forever or turned into a hedgehog for all time, but you will never be bored.
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MIND MELD: The Intersection Between Gothic Horror and Urban Fantasy

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This week, just in time for Halloween, we asked our distinguished panelists about Gothic and Urban Fantasy…

The theme of this year’s World Fantasy Convention is “Northern Gothic and Urban Fantasy”. The thesis is that Urban Fantasy represents the new Gothic; castles and haunted locations have been replaced by the Modern City.

Q: How do you see the intersection between Gothic Horror and modern Urban Fantasy? How connected are these two genres in your mind?

This is what they had to say…

Lyda Morehouse
Lyda Morehouseis the author of the Archangel Protocol novels, most recently Resurrection Code, out from Mad Norwegian Press. She also writes novels as Tate Halloway. Check out LydaMorehouse.com to find out more about her and her work.

I suppose if you go back far enough, this is a valid theory. It doesn’t, however, happen to be mine. Probably because I’m not literate enough. I’m not sure I’ve read a single book that Michael Ashley or John Clute references in their essays.
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MIND MELD: Great Genre Reads For Teenage Girls

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This week’s question was suggested by one of our readers:

Q: What genre books would you recommend to young teenage girls that read at an advanced level?

Here’s what they said…

Mari Ness
Mari Ness is a speculative short story writer. She lives in central Florida, and blogs weekly about children’s literature over at Tor.com.

I’m always a bit taken aback when I get a question like this, because my response is that young teenage girls that read at an advanced level should read, well, everything! At that point I was certainly still reading books that would be classified as young adult — but heading over to the science fiction and fantasy section whenever I could, and loving just about everything, the more epic and unrealistic, the better. (The one exception was The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, which I may have been a bit young for; I ended up loving Donaldson’s other, later stuff.) So I advise the same to any young teenage girl — go. Explore. Read whatever looks interesting. Some of it will suck. Some of it will make you babble endlessly to friends and family. Some of it will change your world.

Specific recommendations? That’s also tricky, without knowing what the girl might be looking for — epic? Funny? Romantic? I quite liked Ursula Le Guin’s Annals of the Western Shore series; Sorcery and Cecelia, by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Steverner, an amusing blend of magic and humor, and Robin McKinley’s Beauty and Deerskin, for fairy tale lovers, and nearly anything by William Sleator for science fiction fans. More recent young adult books that I can recommend include Inara Scott’s The Candidates, an entertaining superpowered high school tale; Rae Carson’s The Girl of Fire and Thorns, set in a land somewhat inspired by Spain, with a heroine who slowly learns how awesome she is; Justine Larbalestier’s Liar, which I can’t talk about without spoiling; Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series, ditto (but definitely start this series in the beginning); Nnedi Okorafor’s Zahrah the Windseeker, about a timid girl about to make a journey into a fabulous jungle. Jane Yolen’s Briar Rose still haunts me.

For those wanting to jump into adult stories — that was when I found Samuel Delany, Nancy Springer, J.R.R. Tolkien, Joe Haldeman, Douglas Adams, Julian May, Joan Vinge, Octavia Butler, Connie Willis, Lucy Maud Montgomery (I highly recommend seeking out her five volumes of journals) and other novelists that I really can’t exactly recommend, you understand. But it was a feast of reading, and something I encourage all readers to do: just explore, since this list is self evidently woefully incomplete.
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Right now, you can pick up the Kindle eBook version of Stina Leicht’s Of Blood and Honey (The first book of The Fey and the Fallen) for the low, low price of free!

Here’s the description:

Liam never knew who his father was. The town of Derry had always assumed that he was the bastard of a protestant – his mother never spoke of him, and Liam assumed he was dead. But when the war between the fallen and the fey began to heat up, Liam and his family are pulled into a conflict that they didn’t know existed. A centuries old conflict between supernatural forces seems to mirror the political divisions in 1970′s era Ireland, and Liam is thrown headlong into both conflicts! Only the direct intervention of Liam’s real father, and a secret catholic order dedicated to fighting “The Fallen” can save Liam… from the mundane and supernatural forces around him, and from the darkness that lurks within him.

This book is getting lots of positive reviews. (See Karen Burnham’s SF Signal review.) And you can’t beat the price of free! The second book, And Blue Skies From Pain, is due in March — grab this while you can!

[via Paul Weimer via The Tattered Scroll]

MIND MELD: Genre Resolutions for 2012

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It’s the beginning of 2012, a time for new beginnings, new vistas, and new resolutions to make the next year a good one.  Resolutions can come in many forms.

So I asked this week’s panelists:

Q: What are your resolutions with respect to genre in 2012?

Here is what they said:

Joe Abercrombie
UK fantasy writer Joe Abercrombie is the author of the First Law Trilogy: The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings, as well as the standalone fantasies Best Served Cold and The Heroes.

‘My genre resolutions are the same as every year – read more, write more.

Oh, and spend less time on the internet.

Having a bit of trouble sticking to that last one…’
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Free eBook: ‘Of Blood and Honey’ by Stina Leicht

Night Shade Books is running a promotion through March 29, 2011, wherein you can get a free eBook copy of Stina Leicht’s Of Blood and Honey, an urban fantasy novel set in 1970s Northern Ireland.

Here’s the book description:

Liam never knew who his father was. The town of Derry had always assumed that he was the bastard of a protestant – his mother never spoke of him, and Liam assumed he was dead. But when the war between the fallen and the fey began to heat up, Liam and his family are pulled into a conflict that they didn’t know existed. A centuries old conflict between supernatural forces seems to mirror the political divisions in 1970′s era Ireland, and Liam is thrown headlong into both conflicts! Only the direct intervention of Liam’s real father, and a secret catholic order dedicated to fighting “The Fallen” can save Liam… from the mundane and supernatural forces around him, and from the darkness that lurks within him.

Check out the Night Shade promotion page for details.

[via Paul Weimer via Bradley Beaulieu]