Silverblind is a historical fantasy written by Tina Connolly and published by Tor Books in October 2014. (For more on Tina’s work, read my spotlight on her podcast Toasted Cake.) It takes place in an alternate universe 1930s England, 15 years after the end of the Great War against the fae. Silverblind is the third book to take place in this setting, after her debut novel Ironskin and Copperhead. I was advised that Silverblind works as a standalone so I had not read the other two books at all before reading this one–this was largely true, although I tended to mix up the secondary characters of Jane and Helen whom I think were the protagonists of the first two books.
This week, we invited participants from the Six by Six Kickstarter collection of shorts stories to contribute their suggestions about what short stories people should be sure to catch. We asked them:
Here’s what they said…
In the previous podcast spotlights, I covered the three Escape Artists podcasts and their weird uncle Drabblecast. This month I’ll be talking about Toasted Cake, the idiosyncratic flash fiction podcast that’s edited, produced, published and often narrated by Tina Connolly who is probably best known for her books Ironskin, Copperhead, and Silverblind published through Tor Books–the last of which I’m reading right now (to be reviewed sometime soon) and which I’d highly recommend. If you listen to any fiction podcasts, her voice may already be familiar to you, because she does a lot of voice work.
Flash fiction is an interesting art form. Even though it’s still prose it can often have a very different feel from longer short stories because every word has to count even more. A well-written flash story can hit you like a punch in the face, and then it’s over before you have time to react. It’s a form that suits itself to things that can be difficult to pull off in other forms, quick emotional punches, twist endings, weird but vivid world building. And even if you don’t like a flash story, it might take 5 or 10 minutes to listen/read the whole thing and then you’re on to something completely different. It’s great to keep the driver awake on road trips, too, because the constant change-up of settings and characters keeps your mind more active. Flash fiction is my favorite form of prose, and Toasted Cake is my favorite source of flash fiction.
Tina Connolly lives with her family in Portland, Oregon. Her first fantasy novel, Ironskin, was a Nebula finalist, and the sequels Copperhead and Silverblind are now out from Tor. Her stories have appeared in Lightspeed, Tor.com, Strange Horizons, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. She narrates for Podcastle and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, runs the Parsec-winning flash fiction podcast Toasted Cake, and her website is tinaconnolly.com.
There’s a trope, it seems to me, of the friendless woman. The one who soldiers on through her story with no support, no network. There’s a valid writing reason to this-make your character alone and friendless and they are in a more dire position. Sometimes it comes out of the Smurfette problem (if there’s only one girl in a story, she’s not going to have the opportunity to form a relationship with any other girls.) Sometimes, I think, it’s an exceptionalism problem. This girl, this girl we’re writing about, is different from all those other girls. (The mean girls, the makeup girls, the whatever girls.) Of course she couldn’t possibly be friends with those sorts of ordinary girls! She’s as good as a man! (Something my grandfather on my dad’s side once said to my feminist grandmother on my mom’s side. She was not amused.)
Tina Connolly lives in Portland, Oregon with her family, in a house that came with a dragon in the basement and blackberry vines in the attic. Her stories have appeared all over, including in Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Her debut fantasy novel IRONSKIN wasd released by Tor Books in 2012. The sequel COPPERHEAD was reelased in 2013. Her latest book is SILVERBLIND. She is a frequent reader for Podcastle, and narrates the Parsec-winning flash fiction podcast Toasted Cake. In the summer she works as a face painter, which means a glitter-filled house is an occupational hazard. Her website is tinaconnolly.com.
This post is kind of a melange of issues as I thought through what had been important to me over the course of writing my trilogy. In the world of the Ironskin series, some people were hit by fey shrapnel in the Great War five years earlier-the ironskin. Each person hit by fey shrapnel has to deal with both the physical effects of the injury-grotesque scarring-and the mental effects-a sort of emotional curse. The ironskin must cover their scars with iron, or the curses will affect all those around them with rage, or fear, or depression, or…
Sure, we’d all like to own a Quidditch broom or a crystal ball, but what magical item would you want the most? That was our esteemed panel’s challenge this week. Next week we ask a new set of panelists about their favorite SF devices.
There are books we read once. There are books we re-read. And then there are the books that we wear out because we devour it again and again. These are the books for which we have to buy ourselves another copy immediately upon lending out because we’re sure we will never see it again — or just want to make sure we have it on hand.
[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]
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…
Here’s what they said…
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.