Storm Constantine‘s first novel, The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit, was published in 1987 and is the opening book in her internationally best-selling Wraeththu trilogy. It was followed by The Bewitchments of Love and Hate and The Fulfilments of Fate and Desire. Storm’s work has always crossed boundaries, broken taboos and ventured into territory not normally encountered in the fantasy and science fiction genres. Her androgynous Wraeththu, with their hermaphroditic sexual magic, were certainly a shock to the genre. She has since written twenty three novels in genres ranging from fantasy, dark fantasy and horror to science fiction and slipstream. Immanion Press is bringing all of Storm’s back catalogue back into print. Storm’s new novel is The Moonshawl, a new Wraeththu story.
The Working Life of a Writer
by Storm Constantine
One of the things I get asked about a lot is what comprises my ‘working day’. For people with 9 to 5 jobs this is easy to answer. Get up, dressed, go to work, slave, come home, relax. If you work for yourself at home, imposing that kind of discipline is difficult.
Nick Mamatas is the author of several novels, including Love is the Law, The Last Weekend, and the forthcoming mystery novel I Am Providence. His short fiction has appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Weird Tales, Tor.com, Best American Mystery Stories, and many other magazines and anthologies. A significant number of his short stories are Lovecraftian—in addition to the ones collected in The Nickronomicon, he has pieces forthcoming in the anthologies Letters to Lovecraft and Shadows Over Main Street. After that, Nick will probably be done.
The Outsider and the Other: Why Write Lovecraftian Fiction?
by Nick Mamatas
Why would anyone write Lovecraftian fiction? is a question that goes unasked in these days of renewed attention for H. P. Lovecraft. Perennially popular within the field of speculative fiction, Lovecraft has been, over the last decade and a half, canonized. He’s been published by both the Library of America and Penguin Classics, and derivations are ubiquitous. Throw a few tentacles into a short story, or the final boss of a video game, and a significant fraction of Lovecraft fandom will materialize and consume. They’ll kibitz and complain, mind you, but with a mouthful of suckers. Writing about Cthulhu or cosmic horror generally is in essence like writing about sensual vampires, or generation starships that have been adrift so long that their inhabitants no longer realize that their home is an ark and not a planet-it’s a set of tropes. And here I am, with a collection of my own tropey and ropey Lovecraftian fictions, The Nickronomicon, just as the issue of H. P. Lovecraft’s racism and anti-Semitism are again coming to the fore.
Scarlett Amaris likes playing devil’s advocate on the dark side of the moon. She spends a large amount of time tracking through ancient ruins and decoding old texts in the Pyrenees. Her more esoteric work can be found at www.shadowtheatre13.com and www.terraumbra13.blogspot.com. She’s also co-written scripts for the infamous horror anthology, The Theatre Bizarre (2011), the award winning, critically acclaimed documentary The Otherworld (2013) and the upcoming feature films, H.P. Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space (director: Richard Stanley), and Replace (director: Norbert Keil). Saurimonde is her first novel and she’s currently finishing up Saurimonde II before getting started on Demon Priest – The Misadventures of Abbe Sauniere, her next erotic horror endeavor.
Melissa St. Hilaire likes to bask in the center of chaos watching supernova explosions. She spends most of her time daydreaming, researching, and scribbling. She wrote film and music reviews for The Heights Inc. Her poetry has appeared in the periodicals Shards, The Outer Fringe, and The Laughing Medusa. She co-authored several scripts for Tone-East Productions. Her debut book, a memoir titled In The Now, was released in 2012. In 2013 she released Saurimonde, a dark fantasy novel, with co-author Scarlett Amaris. After finishing up Saurimonde II, her next projects will include a follow-up to In the Now called Medicated and a sci-fi epic called Xodus.
The Pros and Cons of Co-Writing
by Scarlett Amaris and Melissa St. Hilaire
Scarlett: Collaborating is a tricky beast. Especially on a writing project.
Odyssey Writing Workshops is offering 3 new online classes for Speculative Fiction writing in January 2015.
More details can be found in the following press release…
Adrian Cole was born in 1949 (Plymouth, UK) and his first published work was a trilogy of sword-and-planet novels, THE DREAM LORDS (Zebra, 1975-77) written in his early twenties. He has since gone on to have 27 books published, including the acclaimed OMARAN SAGA, a four volume fantasy and the STAR REQUIEM books, another fantasy quartet. Some of his early short stories were nominated for the British Fantasy Award and the Balrog Award and he has been published in the Year’s Best Fantasy (Daw)and also the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror (St. Martin’s Press) More recently he has edited YOUNG THONGOR (Wildside Press) and has two new books released in September 2014, these being the science fiction THE SHADOW ACADEMY (EDGE Science Fiction & Fantasy Publishing, Canada) and also the pulp hero collection of shorts, NICK NIGHTMARE INVESTIGATES (Alchemy Press, UK), featuring the hard-boiled occult private eye, Nick Nightmare. Victor Gollancz have recently released the OMARAN SAGA and the STAR REQUIEM as ebooks and they are also to be released as audio books from Audible, who have already released THE SHADOW ACADEMY.
A Perspective on Writing: Then and Now
by Adrian Cole
As a kid I was a voracious reader and I’d always had an ambition to be a writer: even then I started scribbling down (longhand) various books, none of which ever got completed – horror, crime, westerns, science fiction. When I first started writing seriously, in the 1960s, I had at least graduated to a manual typewriter and set about a magnum opus called THE BARBARIANS, inspired by Tolkien, Edgar Rice Burroughs and, for variety, Dennis Wheatley’s occult books. My zest and enthusiasm paid off and the work was picked up by Zebra Books (New York) and the final revisions turned out as THE DREAM LORD trilogy. Convinced that a glittering career was ahead of me, I threw in my day job and rattled off novels and short stories at a good rate of knots. I did sell stuff, but none of my work reached best seller status and certainly didn’t earn me enough to make a living for me and my family.
Kenny Soward grew up in a small Kentucky suburb listening to hard rock and playing outdoors. In those quiet ’70s streets, he jumped bikes, played Nerf football, and acquired many a childhood scar. His love for books flourished early, a habit passed down by his uncles, and he spent many high school days in detention for reading fantasy novels during class. At the University of Kentucky, Kenny took creative writing classes under Gurny Norman, former Kentucky Poet Laureate and author of Divine Rights Trip (1971). By day, Kenny works as a Unix professional, and at night he writes and sips bourbon. He lives in Independence, Kentucky, with three cats and a gal who thinks she’s a cat.
Creating Fantastic Epic Battle Scenes
by Kenny Soward
Writing epic battle scenes in fantasy is demanding. It requires a lot of imagination and attention to detail. But these are the scenes the reader holds out for and appreciates, the things you’ve been building them up for over the course of your novel, and these scenes need to be bold, emotional, breathtaking, unique, and quite simply, cool.
Margaret Weis is the internationally bestselling author of The Dragonlance Chronicles, Darksword Trilogy, and The Deathgate Cycle. She lives in Williams Bay, Wisconsin.
Robert Krammes is a game designer and the general manager at Aztec Video Productions. He is the author of the Dragon Brigade Series along with Margaret Weis. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Writing As A Team
by Margaret Weis and Robert Krammes
ROBERT: I’m often asked, “How do you and Margaret write together?” The simple answer is, “Margaret is the primary writer and I am the primary world builder”. In truth, there’s is a lot more to it than that!
Timothy C. Ward is the former Executive Producer of Adventures in SciFi Publishing. His newest story, Scavenger: Red Sands (Scavenger #1), is available on Kindle for $.99, and is the first in a serialized, five-part epic. Scavenger: Blue Dawn (Scavenger #2), will be released October 1. His novel in progress, Order After Dark, is a Post-apocalyptic Fantasy set in the rift between Iowa and the Abyss. Sign up to his author newsletter for updates on new releases and to become a first 100 reviewer to get future stories for free.
The Problems with Writing Fan Fiction and How To Solve Them
by Timothy C. Ward
A few weeks ago I released Scavenger: Red Sands (Scavenger #1), an authorized fan fiction novelette set in the world of Hugh Howey’s novel, Sand. Hugh has opened up his world of Wool to fan fiction through Kindle Worlds, but Sand is not yet open and thus has only one other writer, Michael Bunker’s Dunes Over Danvar, writing in Sand‘s world. I’ve read all of the Silo Saga (WOOL, Shift, and Dust), but one scene in particular in Sand inspired me to create my own character in his story. Without that inspiration, I don’t know that I would have bothered. There are a lot of Wool fan fiction stories out there, and while the world is full of opportunity, I just never moved any into the top of my queue. Call that a case of running Adventures in SciFi Publishing and having a crazy reading schedule or maybe it’s a preconceived notion that I’ve already read the story of the Silo. The Last Prayer by Lyn Perry put a different spin on Silo life, focusing more on religious persecution, and while it was a good story, it felt very similar to Wool 1.
Armand Rosamilia is a New Jersey boy currently living in sunny Florida, where he writes when he’s not sleeping. He’s written over 100 stories that are currently available, including a few different series: Dying Days (extreme zombie series), Keyport Cthulhu (horror series), Flagler Beach (contemporary fiction), Metal Queens (non-fiction music series)…He also loves to talk in third person because he’s really that cool. He’s a proud Active member of HWA as well. His latest novel is Chelsea Avenue.
Write What You Know: Locale
by Armand Rosamilia
“I don’t come across books like Rosamilia’s CHELSEA AVENUE often. Infused with the dreamlike quality of memory, Rosamilia here fulfills the full measure of the promise I first saw in his DYING DAYS series. Beautifully dark, this book held me entranced. I couldn’t get enough!” – Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of DOG DAYS and PLAGUE OF THE UNDEAD
I bring up this wonderful blurb from author Joe McKinney for two reasons… first, because I want to brag about it. But second, because of one of the lines he used…
“Infused with the dreamlike quality of memory”…
After Joe was kind enough to give me the blurb, we chatted about the book in detail and he could tell this was a real place from my past, and I was writing from memory about many good times in Long Branch, New Jersey. And he was right.
Craig Cormick in an Australian science communicator and author. He was born in Wollongong in 1961, and is known for his creative writing and social research into public attitudes towards new technologies. He has lived mainly in Canberra, but has also in Iceland (1980–81) and Finland (1984–85). He has published 15 books of fiction and non-fiction, and numerous articles in refereed journals. He has been active in the Canberra writing community, teaching and editing, was Chair of the ACT Writers Centre from 2003 to 2008 and in 2006 was Writer in Residence at the University of Science in Penang, Malaysia.
Five Lessons on The Pitfalls of Writing A Sequel
by Craig Cormick
Everyone loves a sequel, right?
Well, not necessarily. They are great for those who enjoyed a book and want to continue the enjoyment and spend more time with those characters and in that land, or fighting those aliens or demons or whatever. But they can be the devil to write (not a paranormal reference).
I’ve been trying to find a good metaphor to best explain the particular problems that writing the second book in a series presents for an author? It’s not quite like having a second child. It’s not quite like visiting an exotic city for the second time. It’s not even quite like having sex for the second time with the same partner (not a paranormal romance reference).
But in a way it’s a little bit like all of these, as there is a certain undeniable special magic that goes with the first that is lacking in the second.
Susan Klaus was born in Sarasota, Florida. She has been published in several magazines including Cats, ELL, and SRQ. Klaus is the founder and president of the Authors Connection Club, and is also the host of a Web radio show called Authors Connection that went into syndication this year. Flight of the Golden Harpy is Klaus’s first novel. Follow Susan at her website, Twitter as @KlausSue and on Facebook.
Choosing Your Protagonist
by Susan Klaus
Okay, I’m a newbie here, newly published and new to blogging and posting, so I’m hoping you’ll cut me some slack. My first fantasy novel comes out this week, and my first thriller was released last Oct. and its sequel hits bookstores in August, three novels within ten months. As you see, I’ve been busy writing books and haven’t had time to dabble with Social Media but I’ll try to write a profound, inspiring blog that you’ll never forget. Therefore, let’s talk about Brad Pitt.
Kevin Lucia recently served as a Submissions Reader for Cemetery Dance Magazine, and his podcast Horror 101 is featured monthly on Tales to Terrify. His short fiction has appeared in several anthologies. He’s currently finishing his Creative Writing Masters Degree at Binghamton University, he teaches high school English and lives in Castle Creek, New York with his wife and children. He is the author of Hiram Grange & The Chosen One, Book Four of The Hiram Grange Chronicles. His first short story collection, Things Slip Through was published November 2013. His nw novel is Devourer of Souls, an original tale of cosmic horror.
Hiding In The Cracks Between Things
by Kevin Lucia
My initial attempts at writing horror resulted in very obvious attempts to “scare” the reader. I had monsters – vampires, werewolves, demons – and I had blood and pumping viscera. There were incantations, tentacles, and “unspeakable horrors from beyond the grave.” Frequently, I had awful people doing awful things, and awful things happening to those awful people as a consequence.
Though some of those early efforts glimmered with potential, most of them were cliché, on the nose, and very obvious “horror stories.” Most of them were rejected, for which I’m very thankful, today. Luckily, I was new and clueless and convinced I was the second coming of [Insert Horror Writer’s Name Here], so I kept plugging away.
Eventually my technique improved. I learned how to end stories. I learned how to cut, learned word economy. I started selling stories here and there to small press, semi-pro venues. Some folks found them entertaining, and hey: progress was progress.
But about the time I turned down invitations to both a vampire and zombie anthology, (thinking, “Geez, I don’t WANT to write those kinds of stories.”) I began turning my thoughts toward the kind of stories I DID want to write. I’d accepted the horror genre as my own, if only because my stories didn’t seem to fit anywhere else. Now I felt the need to stop writing stories for submissions calls, and start writing stories for me.
J. Kathleen Cheney is a former teacher and has taught mathematics ranging from 7th grade to Calculus, with a brief stint as a Gifted and Talented Specialist. Her short fiction has been published in Jim Baen’s Universe, Writers of the Future, and Fantasy Magazine, among others, and her novella “Iron Shoes” was a 2010 Nebula Award Finalist. Her novel, The Golden City came out from Penguin in 2013. The sequel, The Seat of Magic debuted July 1. Her website can be found at www.jkathleencheney.com.
Forgiving Anne McCaffrey
by J. Kathleen Cheney
Writers have an ingrained fear of being stuck in an elevator at a convention with the person who turns around and says, “On page 213 of Book 4, you contradicted a statement made on page 119 of Book 2. How do you explain that?”
I have to admit, I’ve got a bit of that reader in me. I’m constantly noting continuity errors in movies and TV shows. Don’t get me started on inconsistencies in The Big Bang Theory. And yes, I always noticed them in books. When I hit something that bothered me, I would go back to double check whether I’d simply misread something.
Now, I love the works of Anne McCaffrey. In high school, I voraciously read every word of hers I could find. But there were problems…
Betsy Dornbusch is the author of a dozen short stories, three novellas, and two novels. She also is an editor with the speculative fiction magazine Electric Spec and the longtime proprietress of her website, Sex Scenes at Starbucks.
Three things I Learned Writing Fantasy
by Betsy Dornbusch
Besides that it’s challenging, all-consuming, damned fun, and as addictive as those new churro ice cream sandwiches.
I’ve learned lots more than three things from writing fantasy, but I decided to tie this to Exile, The First Book of the Seven Eyes, my book that just came out in paperback. I wrote Exile eight years ago and these are the challenges that jumped out at me then. You’d think I’d have moved on by now. Except as I draft Enemy, the third book in the series, I’m finding these challenges have become more tenets I lean on. Problem is, they each have inner conflict. You know, to keep things interesting.
Sequels are utterly ubiquitous in fantasy, a genre that thrives on trilogies, quintets, cycles, songs, sagas, and every other form of length multi-volume narrative you can name. As a fantasy reader, I’ve been reading books in that format my whole life, but until I got started on The Shadow Throne, I’d never actually written one myself. It was a different experience than writing the first book, for better and for worse, sometimes in ways that were a little bit unexpected.
Some of the good parts are pretty obvious. One reason sequels are so popular in fantasy is because the genre embraces deep, complex world-building, and it’s difficult to explore the full breadth of a realistic world in a single book. Writing a sequel allows the writer to introduce new characters, new locations, new cultures, things that in the first book were only distantly referenced or place-names on a map. At the same time, because the first book has laid the foundation, the author doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel and lay the groundwork all over again. In The Shadow Throne, my characters leave the distant colony of Khandar and return to their home in Vordan, which gives me a chance to show off all kinds of interesting bits and pieces of culture, geography, and history.
Jo Anderton lives in Sydney with her husband and too many pets. By day she is a mild-mannered marketing coordinator for an Australian book distributor. By night, weekends and lunchtimes she writes science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Her short story collection The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories was published by Fablecroft Publishing in 2013, and won the Aurealis Award for Best Collection. Her novel, Debris was published in 2011, followed by Suited in 2012. Debris was shortlisted for the Aurealis award for Best Fantasy Novel, and Suited was shortlisted for Best Science Fiction Novel! Joanne won the 2012 Ditmar for Best New Talent. You can find her online at http://joanneanderton.com
What Finishing A Trilogy Has Taught Me About The Creative Process
By Jo Anderton
In my original ideas for the Veiled Worlds Trilogy, scribbled on a post-it note and carried around in my wallet for days, Tanyana’s suit had an ultimate form that involved giant silver wings. Also, her main romantic interest was a mythical being known as the gatekeeper.
Let’s all take a deep, relieved breath that none of that actually happened.
I still have that ratty post-it note. It’s stuck inside the unfortunate notebook that the cat vomited on, but it’s legible. All my notes – every random idea, every comment from a beta-reader – are kept in a set of three notebooks. I guess you could call them the blueprints for the trilogy, each one a sketch of the novel they ultimately became. But they’re also a record of the creative process itself, how ideas begin life, and the way in which they change.
Alison Sinclair is the author of the science fiction novels Legacies, Blueheart, and Cavalcade (nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award). She is presently living in Montreal where she is working on the next novel in the Plague Confederacy trilogy. Her latest novel Breakpoint: Nereis is avilable on Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound.
5 Lessons from Writing BREAKPOINT: NEREIS, or Old Dogs, New Tricks
by Alison Sinclair
1. Delegate the Power Struggles.
It’s embarrassing to admit to engaging in power struggles with figments of my own imagination. It suggests I haven’t quite got the grip on professionalism, not to mention reality, that I ought. I might jokingly claim my characters have minds of their own, but I know who’s in charge.
Or I did until I ran up against Creon McIntyre.
S.G. Browne is the author of the novels Big Egos, Lucky Bastard, Fated, Breathers, and the forthcoming Super Duper, as well as the novella I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus and the ebook collection Shooting Monkeys in a Barrel. He’s a Guinness aficionado, ice cream snob, and a sucker for It’s a Wonderful Life. He lives in San Francisco.
The Writing Life: We Are Not Alone
by S.G. Browne
“The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing: isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination and consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing, and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.”
The above quote was taken from Robert De Niro’s presentation for the screenwriting category at the 2014 Academy Awards. I don’t know who wrote the words that De Niro spoke but whoever it was nailed writers to the post.
NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from the incredible Elizabeth Bear! – Sarah Chorn
Elizabeth Bear was born on the same day as Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, but in a different year. This, coupled with a childhood tendency to read the dictionary for fun, led her inevitably to penury, intransigence, the mispronunciation of common English words, and the writing of speculative fiction. She lives in Massachusetts with a Giant Ridiculous Dog. Her partner, acclaimed fantasy author Scott Lynch, lives in Wisconsin. You can learn more about her books by visiting her website. On April 8, 2014 Elizabeth Bear released the third and final book in the Eternal Sky trilogy, Steles of the Sky.
On Writing Disabilities
by Elizabeth Bear
It’s kind of funny to realize as I write this that I originally wasn’t going to submit a piece to Sarah’s blog series, because I didn’t feel like I had much to say about writing disabled people in science fiction. But after the second colleague suggested that I would be a good fit for the series, I had to stop and consider why they would think so.
And I realized that it’s probably because I write a lot of disabled protagonists. From Jenny Casey and Genevieve Castaign in Hammered and the sequel books–an amputee with neurological damage and a girl with cystic fibrosis–to the aneurotypical Michelangelo in Carnival from Matthew Szczgielniak with his maimed hand and congenital adrenal hyperplasia sufferer Lily Wakeman in Whiskey and Water to Tristen and Perceval Conn in the Jacob’s Ladder books, one of whom has albinism and the other of whom has lost the power of flight–now that I actually stop and think about it, it seems like most of my protagonists are “imperfect” in some way.
I have written characters with forms of epilepsy and characters with bipolar disorder. I have written anxiety sufferers and paraplegics and I have helped invent entirely new, science fictional syndromes. I have written more than my share of characters with post-traumatic stress disorder. That last, frankly, is because I don’t know how to write people who don’t have PTSD.
I’ve been trying to learn, though. You all are so unpredictable.
Katherine Addison‘s short fiction has been selected by The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and The Year’s Best Science Fiction. Her new novel, The Goblin Emperor, was just published by Tor. She lives near Madison, Wisconsin.
Tolkien, Orcs, Elves and Goblins
by Katherine Addison
I write a lot of different things, but one of my first and deepest loves is the genre that sometimes gets called “epic fantasy” or “secondary-world fantasy”: stories that take place entirely in imaginary worlds. Unsurprisingly, I came to Tolkien early, I loved–and love–him deeply, and he is undeniably one of a handful of very profound influences on my writing. (Tolkien, Wolfe, and Kushner are the three fantasy writers I most want to be able to write like, which probably explains a great many things about my books.) I love the world he invented, and I strive in my own writing to give the same sense of depth that he does, the same intense sense of history. And if I could write travel narrative as well as he does…well…that would be shiny.