Award Eligible Work 2015

Rabbit season, duck season, award nominatin’ season! It’s the time of year when all the cool kids are putting up their eligibility posts. I’m relatively certain I won’t have any other stories sneak out this year, and the wonderful thing about the internet is, I can update this post if they do. As you may have noticed, I’m keeping a running list of other folks’ eligibility posts and recommendation lists as a handy reference guide as we enter award season. If you have such a post, please let me know. In the spirit of sharing stuff we’ve done, here’s my own list of eligible work published in 2015.

Short Stories:

The Lion and the Unicorn (Lackington’s Magazine)

Troublemake (Phobos)

Letters to a Body on the Cusp of Drowning  (XIII/Resurrection House Press)

Evidence of Things Unseen (What Lies Beneath/Circlet Press)

Silver Buttons All Down His Back (Apex Magazine)

The Crane Wife (Lakeside Circus)

The Practical Witch’s Guide to Acquiring Real Estate (Uncanny Magazine)

All the Spaces In-Between (The Flesh Made Word/Circlet Press)

The Double Blind (The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk/Running Press Books)

We Are Not These Bodies, Strung Between the Stars (Whispers from the Abyss Vol. 2/01 Publishing)

Even in This Skin (Shimmer)


And If the Body Were Not the Soul (Clarkesworld)


The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again (Lethe Press)

Now here’s the tricky think about the Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again. It’s eligible as a collection, but the majority of the stories are also original. So, Roller Girls Have More Fun, Penny in the Air, The Devil Comes to the Midnight Cafe, The Story of M, and City of the Dead are all eligible in the Short Story category. Jewels Beyond Compare and The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again or The Great G-String Men Crossover Special are eligible in the Novelette category.


As John DeNardo at SF Signal kindly pointed out, my Women to Read: Where to Start columns are eligible as ‘related work’. You can find them all listed here by date.

I’m also eligible for editorial work as co-editor of Unlikely Story.

On top of all the usual eligibility categories noted above, I’m also Canadian, so I’m eligible for the Aurora Awards, if you’re the sort of person who votes for that kind of thing.

And that’s about it. I’ll be posting my favorite reads of 2015 sometime soonish, but the year isn’t over yet, and I’m still reading. So that’s about it. Check back for my recommendations of work I loved this year, and keep an eye on the meta post of eligibility and recommendation links for updates.

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What Have You Done This Year? What Have You Loved? (2015 Edition)

Last year I put together a meta post linking to various authors and editors’ posts about their award-eligible work for the year. The list also included recommended reading posts. Since folks seemed to find it helpful (heck, I found it helpful), I figured I would do it again this year. The Nebula Award nomination period just opened up for SFWA members, so now seems like a good time to start collecting links. This list will be an evolving creature, so keep checking back. If you have a link you’d like me to add, please drop me a note in the comments, on Twitter (@ac_wise), or by email a.c.wise(at)hotmail(dot)com.

First, up a few places that have been collecting recommendations from readers and editors throughout the year.

Some intrepid folks created a Wikia where you can recommend works you think are worthy of consideration, and check out what other people read and enjoyed in 2015. You can find it here.

Also worth checking out is the Tiptree Award recommendation site, which keeps a running list of reader-recommended works with a particular focus on works exploring gender.

The good folks at Lady Business have been collecting short fiction recommendations all year round and posting them quarterly:January to March 2015 and April to June 2015 have been posted. July to September 2015 and October to December 2015 are forthcoming. Overall their site is worth exploring; they post fiction reviews, media reviews, and fanwork recommendations among other wonderful things.

Sarah Pinsker started the hashtag #BestSF2015 on Twitter for people to recommend works they’ve loved. The tag is well-worth checking out, and it’s not too late to add your own recommendations as well. Similarly, a group of Year’s Best editors including Ellen Datlow, Steve Berman, Gardner Dozois, Paula Guran, Alisa Krasnostein, and Michael Kelly, among others, have been tweeting their recommendations through the @SFEditorsPicks twitter account.

There are several short fiction reviewers whose recommendations are worth following: Bogi Takács, who focuses particularly on diverse fiction and poetry; Charles Payseur, who maintains both Quick Sip Reviews and The Monthly Taster’s Guide to Speculative Short Fiction at Nerds of a Feather; Amal El-Mohtar, who reviews for NPR, and created the Rich and Strange review series; K. Tempest Bradford, who writes the wonderful Newsstand series for io9; and Charlotte Ashley, who contributed the Clavis Aurea review series to Apex.

And now, onto the linky-links!

Helena Bell has listed her award eligible works for 2015.

Largehearted Boy has a meta post collecting various ‘year’s best’ book lists.

Joyce Chng has her eligible work listed in her bibliography. (Scroll down for 2015.)

Circlet Press lists their award-eligible stories for 2015, and encourages readers to vote in the Ravishing Reads Award.

Scott Edelman lists his award eligible for for 2015. One short story, and one novelette.

Nin Harris is compiling a list of award eligible Malaysian authors (and encourages other authors to add their works to the list), and has a list of her own eligible work. She is also in her first year of eligibility for the Campbell Award this year. She’s also posted a list of her favorite reads of 2015.

Maria Dahvana Headley  lists her award eligible short fiction for 2015, and notes her novel Magonia is also eligible as well.

Alexis A. Hunter posted her award eligible short fiction for 2015.

J.M. McDermott lists his award eligible short fiction for 2015.

Sunny Moraine lists their award eligible short fiction and two award eligible novels for 2015.

Jessica Reisman has one award eligible story for 2015, The Demon of Russet Street.

Kelly Robson  lists her award eligible short fiction for 2015, and notes that she is in her first year of eligibility for the Campbell Award.

John Scalzi’s post discouraging people from nominating him this year, and encouraging folks to check out other award eligible work.

SWFA has made the Nebula Suggested Reading List public this year, with tabs for Novels, Novelas, Novelettes, Short Fiction, Media, and YA recommendations.

Shveta Thakrar has her eligible works listed in her bibliography. (The stories from Uncanny, Interfictions, and Faerie are from 2015.)

E. Catherine Tobler points readers to her favorite of her published works in 2015 (Blow the Moon Out), though she had several other pieces come out in 2015.

Fran Wilde lists her award eligible short fiction and novel for 2015.

Caroline M. Yoachim lists her eligible short fiction for 2015.

Obviously, this list will never be comprehensive, but I will do my best to gather as many links as possible. Send me your eligibility lists, your recommendations, and point me to other lists you’ve found. Let’s build this thing together!

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Philcon 2015

Next weekend, I’ll be attending Philcon, the local Philadelphia science fiction convention (which actually takes place in New Jersey). I’ll only be there on Saturday, but I am participating on programming. This is where you can find me.

Sat 3:00 PM – Executive Suite 623 – Reading

I’ll be reading something from The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again. There will be glittery cookies, maybe alcohol, and as far as I know, I’ll be sharing a reading slot with one of my critique-mates, Anna Kashina.


Panelists: John Ashmead (mod), Darrell Schweitzer, A.C. Wise, Walt Ciechanowski

Exploring how the Cthulhu mythos has evolved beyond its creator.


Panelists: Andi O’Connor (mod), Wen Spencer, A.C. Wise

SF&F has been more accepting of LGBTQA individuals for some time, even if it wasn’t discussed publicly. As more works have been developed, LGBTQA fans have become more open and accepted. Genre literature feature characters of all races, genders, sexes, and species…but is that enough? What more can be done to incorporate LGBTQA characters and LGBTQA fans?


Panelists: April Grey (mod), A.C. Wise, Siobhan Carroll

How do they differ? Has the current crop of writers spawned a new Lovecraft yet?

When I’m not paneling, I’ll be attending other readings and panels, hanging out in the dealers’ room, and hanging out at the bar. Hope to see you there!

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Fall Book Love

Carrying on the tradition I started in the spring wherein I read books actually published in this calendar year (*gasp*) and recommend them before the end of said calendar year so other folks might also have time to read them (*gasp*) I bring you several new books I’ve read and enjoyed this fall. If you’re curious as to what I read and enjoyed in the spring and the summer, you can find those posts here and here.

LetterstoZellLetters to Zell by Camille Griep wasn’t even on my radar until a friend lent it to me. It ended up being one of those books that took me completely off guard with how much I enjoyed it. I love fairy tale re-tellings, but sometimes the genre feels a little stale. I was fully prepared for an ‘okay that’s cute, I see what you did there’ take on fairy tale characters, but Letters to Zell is filled with genuine emotion, and it’s not always pleasant emotion either. As the title implies, it’s an epistolary novel with Cinderella (CeCi), Snow White (Bianca), and Briar Rose (Rory), writing to Rapunzel (Zell), about their day-to-day lives now that Zell has moved away. The classic fairy tales form the jumping off point for their stories, but once each character finishes their ‘Pages’, they’re free to live out the rest of her lives however they choose. Any deviation from one’s Pages (i.e. fate) could destroy the known Grimm world. As the story opens, Bianca has yet to finish her Pages, and she’s dragging her feet. She’s not super keen on the idea of marriage, and she resents the need to punish her stepmother just because her story says so. As for CeCi, she’s happy and in love with her prince, but not keen on the queen thing either. She and her husband have no interest in children, and her real passion in life is to become a chef. Rory, meanwhile, is trying to do the best to want she’s been told is her destiny. Long ago, her true love almost destroyed the world by trying to steal her Pages and set her free. He was banished from the realm, and she was put to sleep to save her life. Now she’s stuck with a husband who has no interest in her, is desperate for a child she can’t seem to conceive, and doesn’t really know where she fits in the world. All of this serves as the backdrop for a story of true and deep friendship. Female friendship in particular is often neglected in fiction – both written and filmed. We have the term bromance, but no feminine equivalent. Again and again we see stories featuring a lone exceptional female, or if there’s more than one woman, they’re either bitter rivals constantly at each others’ throats, never talk to each other, or only talk about their relationships with men. In Letters to Zell, Griep gives us a strong female friendship that is far from smooth, but feels all the more real because of it. Each character is fully developed, true to her own wants and desires, but with deep love and loyalty to the others. They misunderstand each other. They work at cross-purposes occasionally. They fight, but the love never goes away. Griep also gives us a novel with a full and satisfying arc for each of her main characters. CeCi, Bianca, and Rory all grow over the course of the story. It’s sweet at times, and heartbreaking at others. Despite the fairy tale setting, each character feels like someone you might meet in the real world, and someone you want to root for even when you don’t agree with all their choices. Just like a friend.

FallandRisingFall and Rising by Sunny Moraine is the sequel to Line and Orbit (co-authored with Lisa Soem), picking up the threads of the first novel and evolving them. In a way, it’s a more mature novel in its themes – not in terms of racy content, though it is a kissing book – but in the way it delves into choices and the consequences of those choices. The characters are dealing with the aftermath of a major battle, trying to cope with their trauma even as they’re facing a new threat. They’re dealing with loss at the same time as they’re simply trying to stay alive. As with Line and Orbit, romance and relationships are a major part of the novel, woven in-between the battles, desperate escapes, and daring fights. Fall and Rising tackles the natural evolution of Adam and Lochlan’s budding relationship from Line and Orbit. After the first heady days of a romance born in the midst of fleeing for their lives, they’re coming to learn more about each other, and learning to live with each other. They’re still fleeing for their lives, and at the same time, dealing with the difference in their cultures, figuring out who they are in relation to each other, and who they ultimately want to be within themselves. They’re learning who they are apart and together, how they strengthen each other, and where they’ll have to compromise to make things work. Love factors into the novel in other ways as well – the deep love of friendship, love for one’s people as opposed to the love of a specific person, and the ways love can tear you apart. The characters are faced with hard choices throughout the novel; they’re called on to make great sacrifices, and it’s wrenching to watch. The final scenes of the book especially are heart-hurting in the very best of ways. As always, Moraine’s prose is stunning, proving that a work can have it all – action, adventure, romance, strong characters, and gorgeous writing. I’m already looking forward to the next book in the series.

UpdraftLast, but not least, is Fran Wilde’s debut novel, Updraft, which I’ve been looking forward to since it was first announced. The worldbuilding in the novel is absolutely stunning, and while it’s far from the only striking thing about the book, it is likely one of the first things that’ll grab you. Wilde plunges (or perhaps lifts) the reader into a city of living bone high above the clouds, introducing them to a society that travels by wing. The city with its tiered towers is lovingly described, and its structure also lends its shape to the nature of the book, its layers of meaning. For instance, the bridges strung between bone towers are a sign of favor; they strengthen towers both in terms of political position and  literally – bracing them against the natural forces of gravity. The world of Updraft is one that begs to be explored. There are sung laws, mouths in the sky, and secrets deep in the city’s heart. Against this backdrop, Wilde tells the story of Kirit, a young woman earning her right to fly, her right to speak, and fighting to save her city, her family, and her friends. There are two sides to every story, and as Updraft progresses, Kirit must cope with the fact that the history she’s been taught all her life is only part of the picture. Through all the alliances and shifting truths she must navigate, Kirit remains fierce and loyal and determined. But while at her core Kirit remains true to herself, she grows immensely as well, and the world around her is irrevocably changed. Without giving too much away, I particularly appreciate the way Updraft isn’t afraid to shatter the natural order of its society. Many fantasy novels are about trying to ‘set things right’ – to restore the rightful ruler, lift the curse, put things back the way they were before. Updraft is a novel of revolution. The characters actions truly impact the world, and by the time the novel is done, it’s clear that nothing will ever be the same again and they will have to live with the consequences. It’s a fascinating novel on many levels, blending characters, politics, economics, engineering, and action, and the descriptions of flight are absolutely stunning. As with Fall and Rising, I’m already looking forward to Updraft’s sequel.

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Glittery Giveaways

CorgiGlitterDo you need more glitter in your life? Silly question – of course you do. Well never fear; I’ve got you covered! I’m giving away a signed copy of The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again at Goodreads. The giveaway runs until the end of November 2015. But wait, there’s more! From November 9-15, SF Signal will also be giving away a signed copy of the collection. Two chances to win your very own copy of glittery goodness.

And for those who have already picked up a copy of the collection, I’m giving away signed bookplates. I even have glittery pens to sign them with. If you’d like a  bookplate, just drop me a note at a.c.wise (at) hotmail (dot) com, and I’ll stick one in the mail. Spread the word and share the glittery love!

Many thanks to my shameless marketing corgi, who very patiently posed with the collection in exchange for treats and barely even tried to lick the book at all.


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Monster Mash

MonstrousJust in time for Halloween, several anthologies have made their way into the world dealing with the theme of monsters and the monstrous. By coincidence, I just happen to have stories in four of them. In my admittedly biased opinion, they all have gorgeous covers. I haven’t had a chance to dive into the stories yet, but, again in my admittedly biased opinion, they’re all worth checking out if you’re in the mood for something seasonal of the monstrous variety.

The Monstrous edited by Ellen Datlow reprints Chasing Sunset. The story has a kind of noirish vibe, mashed up with Lovecraft, mashed up with good old fashioned devilry. Father and son sling cosmic horrors at each other across the distance as the progeny tries to outrun the sire. The collection recently received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, which is a pretty good endorsement. Besides, its edited by Ellen Datlow, so you know you’re getting something good.


The Humanity of Monsters edited by Michael Matheson reprints Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife. Yes, the story is inspired by that Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife. It’s got tentacles and sexy times, and it isn’t all that monstrous in the traditional sense of the world. Which is exactly what I believe Michael Matheson was going for in putting together this collection – taking the concept of monsters, and turning it on its head. The line-up for this one is fantastic; I’m in extremely good company here.

ApotheosisApotheosis: Stories of Human Survival After the Rise of the Elder Gods edited by Jason Andew reprints my story Venice Burning. As you may have gathered from the title, this anthology is straight up Lovecraft. Say what you will about Lovecraft, but his world is a heck of a lot of fun to play in. As a matter of fact, it’s so much fun, that I’ve gone back to the particular Lovecraftian world I built for Venice Burning in two more stories so far. Which brings me to…

Whispers2Whispers from the Abyss 2 edited by Kat Rocha. Lest you think all these stories are reprints, Whispers from the Abyss has an original piece, We Are Not These Bodies, Strung Between the Stars. It’s not a sequel to Venice Burning, but it’s certainly adjacent, set in the same broken world where R’lyeh rose and has always risen and is rising and time is completely and utterly fucked. This one also has a bit of a noirish vibe. There’s also queerness, and the Great Race of Yith and their Library make an appearance. There’s a third story set in this world forthcoming, but I don’t know that I have dispensation to talk about it yet. As a side note, the first Whispers from the Abyss anthology was the original venue for Chasing Sunset, and that brings this post full circle.


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Non-Binary Authors to Read: Where to Start – Part 4

ETA: I mistakenly listed A.J. Fitzwater as non-binary when I originally posted this, so my apologies. Her story is still a damn good one though, so I’m moving it to the bottom of the post. Consider it a bonus Women to Read entry!

It’s been a while, but I’m back with another edition of non-binary authors to read. As mentioned in previous installments, non-binary is my term-of-convenience, meant to include agender, genderqueer, genderfluid, and various other terms not falling within the typical spectrum of strict male/female identification. (A note relevant to this series and my Women to Read: Where to Start series at SF Signal – apologies to any authors mis-gendered in either of these columns. If I’ve fucked up anywhere, and you’d like me to change anything, please let me know.) Now, on to the recommendations…

First up is Rose Lemberg, a bigender author and the co-editor of Stone Telling Magazine. My recommended starting place for her work is Grandmother-Nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds, part of her Birdverse series of stories, which was published at Beneath Ceaseless Skies. There are several things to recommend this piece. It is a story rich in imagery and sensory detail. It is a story about magic – who is allowed to use it, and what kind are they allowed to use. It is a story about language – who is allowed to speak, and what happens if they cannot. It is a story about love – what would you do for its sake, how far would you travel, what would you give up and leave behind. And it is a story about self – coming to know who you are, and seeing others more clearly in the process. Lemberg also uses the tale to explore gender in fascinating ways. Women and men live separate from each other and have different powers at their disposal. The protagonists’ brother, Kimriel (Kimi), cannot communicate verbally. As a result, the male scholars will not take him, and he must stay among the women. More than that, because he cannot speak and debate and talk the way scholars do, he is no longer considered male. He becomes the main character’s little sister, and is given a new name, Zohra, though she continues to answer only to Kimi. There is also Grandmother-nai-Tammah who wishes to be known as a man. My meager description of the story doesn’t do it justice. It presents the notion of gender as something both rigid and fluid, each binary choice coming with its own weight. As mentioned before, it’s soaked in sensory detail, transporting the reader to the world of the tale. Overall, it’s lovely on many levels and a wonderful starting place for Lemberg’s work. I will also selfishly recommend The Shapes of Us, Translucent to Your Eye, which we recently published at Unlikely Story.

My second recommendation is for David J. Schwartz, a genderqueer author. My recommended starting place for his work is the brilliant non-fiction essay, Masculinity is an Anxiety Disorder: Breaking Down the Nerd Box, recently published at Uncanny. The essay deals with and deconstructs the unreasonable and unattainable ideals of masculinity, and examines the places where masculinity and nerd culture intersect. To anyone familiar with nerd culture, Schwartz gives the easily recognizable example of a boy who isn’t good at sports, and therefore constructs a nerd version of masculinity to define himself. This version of masculinity includes things like fierce love of comic books, video games, and certain movies and tv shows. This boy then becomes very defensive and exclusionary around said interests, seeing them as something needing to be defended from others. This need to defend leads to the concept of the ‘fake geek girl’, and the idea that anyone outside the narrow ‘male’ box does not belong in nerd culture. They are in fact ruining that culture simply by loving it, because it is not theirs, it belongs solely to the person trying to defend it. The essay also touches on Schwartz’s own movement toward identifying as genderqueer and how it impacted his life. It’s a wonderful essay, well-worth the read, and an excellent starting place for Schwartz’s work. I would also recommend The Water Poet and the Four Seasons, which I included recently among my list of favorite pieces published by Strange Horizons over the years.

A.J. Fitzwater is a New Zealand author who was awarded the 2015 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best New Talent. My recommended starting place for her work is She Must, from the recently launched Capricious. She Must is an intriguing story on many levels. It breaks grammar rules, frequently eschewing commas and thus demanding the reader pay extra attention to catch meaning. It also plays with fairy tale themes, twisting them around to make the hero and the villain of the piece the same creature. Then, just when you think you have a grasp on things, it adds a modern flair, with real estate sales, fucking with the fairy tale motif. She Must tackles the weight of social expectation, gender roles, and many other themes, all within a relatively short tale. In their author interview, Fitzwater states her interest in breaking down the fairy tale form and moving beyond the boundaries of the traditional tale. The repeated refrain of ‘she must’, is woven throughout, bringing attention to the imperative, and the weight laid on women in particular. As Fitzwater says in her interview, there is a specific mold fairy tale heroines must fit in order to be worthy, and not become the villain. For example, most older women are relegated to the role of wicked crone, or jealous queen. Only the young, pretty, and marriageable girls are the heroes of their stories. The language used throughout She Must is striking, poetic and harsh all at once. I’m recommending this as a starting place for Fitzwater’s work for the way it plays with form, but there are many other worthy starting points, including A Fear of Falling Under at The Future Fire, and Cartography, and the Death of Shoes in the anthology Fat Girl in a Strange Land from Crossed Genres.

So there you have it – two fantastic non-binary authors whose work you should read, and a bonus woman to read. If you have your own recommendations, please leave them in the comments!

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An Interview with Marlee Jane Ward

Marlee Jane Ward was kind enough to drop by today to talk about her new novella, Welcome to Orphancorp. I’ll start things off, as I tend to do, by shamelessly stealing from her author bio…

Marlee Jane Ward is a writer, reader and weirdo living in Melbourne, Australia. She grew up in a small town on the Central Coast of New South Wales and studied Creative Writing at the University of Wollongong. In 2014 she attended the Clarion West Writers Workshop in Seattle, Washington. She has short stories in Interfictions, Hear Me Roar and Mad Scentist Journal. Her debut novella, Welcome to Orphancorp, won Seizure’s Viva La Novella 2015 and was published in August. She likes dreaming of the future, cats, and making an utter spectacle of herself.

OrphancorpWelcome! First off, congratulations on the publication of the novella, and congratulations on winning the Viva La Novella Prize. Without giving too much away, can you give readers a little taste of what to expect with Welcome to Orphancorp?

Welcome to Orphancorp is a novella-length dystopian riff about the indomitable Mirii Mahoney’s last week in an industrial orphanage. If she can just keep outta trouble, she’s going to taste freedom for the first time, but she’s fighting against the system, against the other kids, and against herself. It’s a heartfelt, emotional, funny, and diverse story.

Novellas are a tricky length to write. Authors often shy away from it as there aren’t that many publishers willing to take them on, and some readers might avoid them as too long to read in a single sitting, but too short to sink their teeth into in the same way as a novel. What appeals to you about writing novella-length work? Did you always plan for this to be a novella, or did it simply grow beyond the confines of a short story?

It started as a short story at Clarion West, written during Kij Johnson’s week, pretty much entirely just to impress her because she’s so rad and amazing. During the workshop session, she mentioned that it could be extended to novella-length.

When I got back home I found Seizure’s Viva La Novella competition and wrote the extended version in six weeks (and edited it in two) to meet the deadline. It was the longest thing I’d ever written at that point, but because I had the base short story, it was actually kind of easy. If it didn’t win the competition, I had no idea what I was going to do with it, maybe self-publish? But it did, so I was lucky I didn’t have to think about it.

Novella-length appeals to me for a bunch of reasons. One is that I’ve always focused on short stories, which involves paring a story back to its bare bones. Going the other way is a huge stretch for me, but something I need to do. A novella allowed me to work up to getting longer. I also really like that a person can read a novella in one long, or a few short sittings. It’s an immersive way to read.

The Orphancorp world seems like one that’s ripe for additional stories. Do you plan to revisit the world?

I’m writing the sequel now. I’m not finding it as easy. Because WTO is a story about leaving Orphancorp, I’m able to now jump out into the wider world. But the confines of the corp made it easy to tell the story. Outside of it, anything can happen, so I’m struggling a little, just like Mirii would be with taking the next steps of her life and into adulthood. That is a really fraught time for a lot of people – well, it was for me, and it’s been a scramble to get my thoughts sorted, and try to work out all the things I want to say. Right now it’s half-done and already as long as the original. I have a third book planned too, but that’s still hazy in my brain. I think it will solidify more when the second book is finished.

The first story of yours I encountered was, The Walking Thing, published at Interfictions. As I read it, it struck me as a perfect anti-zombie zombie story, inverting and subverting the idea of the walking dead. Was that at all in your mind as you wrote the story? What inspired the story in general?

I love Zombie movies, as well as movies and books about plagues. I read Stephen King’s The Stand at a very early age and the first part of that book really stuck with me. I’d always wanted to write a plague story and I didn’t think much about inverting the whole epidemic/zombie genre until I’d already written the first draft, which is what happens a lot when I write – yay for my subconscious! I love walking – bushwalks and trails, that sort of thing, and when I’m on a long walk I get this weird sense that I’m doing something my body is designed to do, something very primal, so I wondered what it might be like to have that compulsion turn on you.

I also wanted to capture the feel of small towns, one of which I grew up in. Small-town Australia is a very interesting and rough and amazing and scary place that really challenged me as a child and teenager. I wasn’t sure if it would translate well to a US market, but maybe small towns have a kinship, no matter where they are.

Lastly, I really wanted to explore a lot of the issues I had with relationships at that age, both familial and others. I tried really hard to convey that need to learn to stop caring about the people who don’t care about you, and recognizing the relationships that actually matter, which is something that gets very muddied when you are coming of age. So I just mashed all that together and The Walking Thing happened.

You attended the Clarion Writers Workshop last year. Could you talk a bit about that experience? What would you say to someone who might be considering attending? What was the most unexpected thing about Clarion?

Clarion West was one of the best times of my life. It’s so hard to accurately describe just how wonderful that experience was, and what it did for my writing and my life. It was intense, and I was very afraid that I might crumble. I had this intense fear as it was getting closer that they might find out what a nutcase I was and not let me come! At the time I was in a difficult place, mentally. But it was such a balm, the people were so wonderful and I loved them and they loved me. It made believe in my ability as a writer and my value as a person. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

I would recommend that anyone who is thinking about attending should try, and if they get in, make the most of it. Work as hard as you can and don’t waste the precious time you have there, because you’ll never be as productive again. But also, stay up every night playing games, go to all the parties, eat everything, make out with as many people as you can. Maybe don’t drink as much as I did though – unless you are Australian and can handle it.

As for the most unexpected part? It was all a surprise to me. But I think I was most surprised at how quickly so many people from so many different backgrounds bonded and how much I just adored everyone.

Outside of a workshop where you’re intensively writing on a tight deadline, do you have a preferred working method? Do you outline? Wing it? Is there a particular place you like to get your writing done?

I am the worst writer – I plan nothing, have no idea how I get my ideas, and don’t know what I’m doing most of the time, but somehow I make it work. I think that my subconscious does a great deal of puzzling stuff out while I’m thinking of other things, so I’m often pleasantly surprised and I’m learning to trust that more as time goes on. I think people just need to accept that they write the way they write and not compare themselves to others, even though that’s really hard. I berate myself constantly for not being more efficient or having more forethought, but I get stuff done, so maybe I should go easier on myself.

I do like writing in café’s most of all. I adore café culture and I’m always spending far too much money on coffee and food, but it’s the best place for me to get things done. The best cafes must have good wifi and powerpoints by the tables, and it helps that at my favourites the staff all know me and have my order ready to go when I show up.

I like to ask this question of my fellow Canadians, but I see no reason why I shouldn’t ask you as well… As an Australian, do you think there are certain characteristics – setting, theme, tone – to Australian speculative fiction that set it apart from other speculative fiction? (Or Australian writing in general, it doesn’t have to be speculative fiction.)

I don’t know if I’d say that Aussie spec fic has a distinct tone or theme, but there’s often a really distinct sense of place to it, which I would love to be able to capture in more of my work. The land and environment is pervasive in Australian fiction because it’s a really essential part of living here. When you write about Australia, the landscape is as much a part of the story as any character. There’s a kinship with the land that a lot of Aussie writers capture, and an ominousness too. I’ve lived through floods and bushfires and dust storms and that’s just from someone with a pretty tame experience of this country.

I’m really keen to read more Oz spec stuff. I’m about to jump into Justin Wooley’s A Town Called Dust, which has a very cool concept. Jane Rawson’s A Wrong Turn at The Office of Unmade Lists is an excellent novel about post-climate-change Melbourne. I love seeing places I know rendered in fiction. It just gives me an extra connection to it.

The Australian writing scene is very lit focused. So much so that when I began my creative writing degree we were told that genre fiction would not be accepted. It feels like there’s this great divide between the lit and the genre camps. I’ve always loved genre because I love action and because the real world is always all around us all the time, so I like to escape.

While I was growing up in the 90’s there was a lot of great Aussie YA spec fic coming out, from writers like Gillian Rubenstein, Isobelle Carmody, Victor Kelleher, Paul Jennings and John Marsden that I adored, and I’ve kept those books close to my heart. I scour second-hand bookstores for my old YA favourites and am getting a good collection of them again.

What else are you working on, or do you have coming up you’d like people to know about?

I’m still plugging away at the sequel to Welcome To Orphancorp and I hope to be done before the end of the year. In between I work on whatever short story comes to mind, which is like a quick and illicit encounter away from my main squeeze, you know? I’ve got a bunch of shorts second-rounded and accepted so I’m excited to find out if any of them might be available soon.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Sapphire’s Super Secret Speakeasy Tour

Glitter Cover

















The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again is here! Well, technically it’s been available for about a week, but since October 20th is the original release date I was given, I’m considering today the collection’s birthday. Or, perhaps coming out party, if you will. And that means it’s time to celebrate!

What exactly is the Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again? It’s a collection of inter-linked short stories about trans women, cis women, and queer women (with the occasional cameo by a few scantily-clad men), all looking fabulous while saving the world. Two of the stories are reprints, and the rest are brand spanking new. You can read the story that started it all – Doctor Blood and the Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron – in its original form at Ideomancer. The collection is available in paperback and Kindle format, and Publishers Weekly seemed to like it, so maybe you will too. But wait, there’s more! Even if glitter, high heels, gender-fuckery, and saving the world aren’t your thing, the book also contains cocktail recipes. So, if nothing else, at least I can help you getting drunk.

Which brings us to the title of this post, Sapphire’s Super Secret Speakeasy Tour. It’s not all that secret, but it does involve alcohol. What better way to celebrate a collection full of drink recipes than with more drink recipes? Over the next few months, I’ll be in various places in person and online, scattering drink recipes around me as I go. (It turns out people are more amenable to that than me scattering glitter. Silly people.) So if you want more cocktails designed by the Glitter Squadron’s supreme mixologist (and who wouldn’t?) here’s where you can find them.

Sapphire’s Super Secret Speakeasy Tour

Shimmer – October 19 – E. Catherine Tobler, chief badger-wrangler at Shimmer, was kind enough to interview me, and design a fabulous drag name/cocktail name generator. Use your first and last initial to create your name, and put your result in the comments for chance to win your own customized drink recipe and a glittery flask so you can take the party with you wherever you go.

Book Bites – October 19 – The wonderful Fran Wilde invited me to her blog to chat a bit about the collection. Of course, a cocktail recipe ensued.

Uncanny – October 21 -The Space Unicorn Ranger Corp gave me space to talk about listening to constructive criticism and using it to make your writing stronger. There’s a recipe for a shot at the end of the post, in case you ever wondered what sort of alcohol space unicorns favor.

Shimmer – October 23 – Because I behaved myself and didn’t spread glitter all over the carpet the first time around, Shimmer invited me back to do a guest post. I wrote about female friendships, and, of course designed them their very own cocktail recipe.

Browseabout Books – On November 14 from 2 – 4 p.m., I’ll be doing a signing at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, DE, and I’ll be bringing a fresh new cocktail recipe with me to hand out. If you’re in the area, drop by and get one!

Main Point Books – On December 10 at 7 p.m., I’ll be reading at Main Point Books in Rosemont, PA. Not only will I have drink recipes to hand out, I’ll have drinks themselves. Come by, have a cocktail, have a cookie, and listen to me read about glitter.

Links and additional information will be added as things crop up. Now, I’ll leave you with a recipe to kick things off.

From Sapphire’s Little Black Book of Cocktails

(Orange You Glad) It’s Party Time

2 sugar cubes
1 oz fresh orange juice
1 oz nectarine juice
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/4 oz Cointreau
Dash of orange bitters
Orange slice garnish

Crush one sugar cube, and use it to create a sugar rim on a champagne flute. Place other sugar cube in glass and splash with orange bitters. Add juices, Cointreau, and top with champagne. Garnish with a slice of orange.

This is it, honeys, our big debut. What better way to start the party than with champagne? So let’s pop that cork and get our glitter on.

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Music to Save the World

The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again was originally supposed to be released on October 20, but it seems a few copies are sneaking their way out into the world early. For instance, if you follow the link above, you can grab the paperback for a special discounted price. Or, if you you click here, you can get the Kindle version. While I’ll be launching the official celebration of the collection here on the blog next week, there’s no harm in getting the party started a little early. In that spirit, I asked each member of the Squadron what song they listen to in order to get pumped up for battle. After all, what’s a party without music to set the mood?

Starlight: Okay, I suppose I can get things started. I know it’s a little cheesy, but I like to listen to Dancing Queen by Abba. They used to play it all the time at the RollerRama and… I don’t know. It just feels like home.

Penny: Barbie Girl by Aqua. Not what you were expecting? It’s upbeat, it’s catchy, and nothing else is guaranteed to make me want to punch someone in the face faster.

CeCe: Jazz piano. Something like Dreamy by Erroll Garner. I keep my prep low-key.

Silk: I’ve always been fond of the classics. Lately, I’ve found myself coming back to Edith Piaf’s Non, Je Ne Regrette Rein. After…well…you know. It seems appropriate somehow.

M: [Instead of answering, M just stared until I got creeped out and backed away. I really don’t know what I was expecting. I should have known better.]

Bunny: Starships by Nicki Minaj. Ask me next week, and I might have a different answer, but right now, it’s my go-to song.  I mean, who could resist that video?

Esmeralda: Promise you won’t laugh? Vangelis’ Conquest of Paradise from the 1492 soundtrack. I know, I know, the story is all kinds of problematic, but the music is still beautiful. It’s uplifting. When I was really little, I wanted to be a sailor. Listening to this song, I could imagine the wind in my hair, the deck rolling under my feet. It made me feel like I could go anywhere, do anything, take over the world.

Sapphire: To tell you the truth, honey, I don’t listen to  music all that much. I suppose, if anything, I might want to listen to CeCe and Silk singing together. They do it sometimes when they think no one else is listening. It’s sweet. Mind you, I’ll call you a damn dirty liar if you ever tell them I said so. I can’t have them thinking I’ve gone all sentimental.

Ruby: It’ll probably make me sound like some kind of yokel, but Lost Highway by Hank Williams Sr. My grandparents loved his record. Those songs drove me crazy as a kid, but now that my grandparents are gone, listening to Hank Williams gives me a way to connect with them. I miss them.

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